On February 11, 2014, three gas wells exploded at Chevron’s gas well site in Dunkard Township, Green County, Pa. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), as of March 6, all three of the gas wells involved—6H, 7H and 8H—are now secure. The cause of the explosion and subsequent fire is still unclear, and PA DEP is currently investigating the event.
The explosion killed one contractor—Ian McKee, 27, a field service technician for Cameron International who was working on the well site—and slightly injured another. In a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PA DEP deputy secretary Scott Perry reported that prior to the blast, workers on the well site claimed to have heard a noise coming from one of the wells, and at least two people—McKee and another Cameron contractor—“approached the well when it lost its integrity.”
Immediately after the explosion and resulting fire, a half-mile radius safety perimeter was established around the site. Five days after the explosion, the flames seemed to extinguish themselves, leaving white smoke clouding the well pad. Wild Well Control gained control of the wells on February 25, two weeks after the initial blast. Shortly thereafter, two of the gas wells were successfully plugged so Chevron could conduct gas leak tests on the third well, 8H, to ensure that it did not catch fire. After no leaks were confirmed, a new wellhead was installed on March 1.
PA DEP, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and the Pennsylvania State Police are carefully reviewing all of the events that led up to the explosion, as well as collecting information and examining all materials removed from the well pad during the plug operation in order to reach a firm conclusion as to what caused the explosion.
In mid-December 2013, Chevron was cited by the PA DEP for an unpermitted gas production pipeline installed on the pad. In addition, on March 18, 2014, Chevron was issued a Notice of Violation for six violations of Pennsylvania regulations, including failure to use casing of sufficient strength and other safety devices to prevent blowouts, explosions, and fires; failure to prevent gas and other fluids from lower formations from entering fresh groundwater; and hazardous well venting; among others.
In an immediate response to the explosion and well fire, Chevron released a statement on its site—which has now been regularly updating visitors on the progress of the Pennsylvania incident—expressing its sincere regrets to those who may have been affected by the explosion. In another act of outreach, Chevron distributed 100 gift certificates for Bobtown Pizza to various homes in the area as a “token of appreciation.” However, some recipients were less than enthusiastic about the peace offering, according to a CNN U.S. report. A resident who wished to remain anonymous told CNN, “‘I do not feel that they’ve addressed anything. I haven’t even called their hotline yet because I’m so upset. A pizza coupon? I mean, come on!’” (Malloy and Morton, cnn.com). According to a March 8, 2014 philly.com article, other residents, such as Mr. Pete Novak, were not offended by the offer and felt that the outrage “… was something outside groups generated.”
On March 7, 2014, the PA DEP Bureau of Radiation Protection announced that radiation levels are normal. The agency stated that PA DEP inspectors visit the Chevron site daily to monitor activities on the well pad, and continue to conduct air quality and soil samplings. The results of these tests will be made available once the reports and analyses are completed.
For more information on this story and the various reports surrounding the Chevron gas well explosion, go to the following resources.
For more news and information about the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Oil and Gas Management, visit http://www.depweb.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/oil_and_gas/6003.
To learn more about Wild Well Control and the services it provides to the oil and gas operator industry, visit http://www.wildwell.com/.
Born, Molly and Sean D. Hamill, “Chevon halted drilling on all of its Pennsylvania gas wells following explosion,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. www.post-gazette.com. http://www.post-gazette.com/local/marcellusshale/2014/02/21/Chevron-halted-work-on-all-of-its-Pennsylvania-gas-wells-following-explosion/stories/201402210175.
March 18 DEP Office of Oil and Gas Management Compliance Report
“Operations Winding Down at Site of Gas Well Explosion in Green Co.,” DEP News for March 6, 2014.
To read more about hot tapping and how it is performed, Koppl Pipeline Services, Inc. offers a detailed brochure here.
To view pictures of the well site after the explosion and read the entire Marcellus-Shale.us article, “Chevron Appalachia Well Explosion & Fire LANCO 6H & 7H, Greene County near Bobtown, Pa.,” go to http://www.marcellus-shale.us/Lanco-well-explosion.htm.
To read Chapter 78, “Oil and Gas Wells,” of the Pennsylvania Code, visit http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/025/chapter78/025_0078.pd
To read the entire CNN article by Allie Malloy and Lauren Morton, visit http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/18/us/chevron-pennsylvania-explosion-pizzas/.
To read the full press release regarding radiation levels at the Greene County Chevron well site, visit http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/newsroom/14287?id=20400&typeid=1.