BRADFORD County, Pa. — UPDATE: Chesapeake personnel monitored the Atgas 2H well throughout the overnight hours between April 21 and 22. The well remains in a stable condition, and there continues to be no fluid flowing from the well.
As reported previously, no fluids have been released from the wellhead since early April 21 morning, and all fluids have been contained to the pad location since April 20. Chesapeake is hopeful that efforts to finalize full structural integrity of the wellhead equipment will commence in the afternoon April 22.
A natural gas well owned by Chesapeake Energy Corp. is being killed after spilling drilling waste fluids for more than 12 hours April 20.
A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection, said a cause has not been determined.
The well blowout reportedly occurred during the hydraulic fracturing process, overflowing the well pad into a field, small tributary and Towanda Creek, according to DEP.
Chesapeake released a statement attributing the problem to an equipment failure which released the brine water to the surface. While the majority of the brine water was controlled within containment structures on the site, portions of earthen berms surrounding the location were weakened by recent precipitation events and allowed some of the fluid to escape off of the location.
By midday April 20, full containment was reestablished, and all water flowing from the well was completely confined to the well location. Emergency-response procedures and many of Chesapeake’s best management practices in location design and construction significantly minimized the impact.
Tests by both Chesapeake and the Pennsylvania DEP indicate little, if any, impact upon local waterways and aquatic wildlife. Additional testing will be done in conjunction with DEP to fully assess and remediate any environmental impacts.
There has been no word on how much fluid was released.
According to DEP, they are now focusing on sealing the well off or killing it.
Late April 21 efforts to seal the leak and regain control of well pressure were successful.
“We will monitor the well over night to assure stability. If conditions remain unchanged, as expected, efforts will commence in the morning to regain full control of the wellhead,” said Brian Grove, Senior Director – Corporate Development.
A company specializing in well capping, Boots and Coots, of Texas, is on the scene and is working to kill the well. They are reportedly in the process of setting up a mechanical system which is pumping material such as old rubber tires and other plastic material into the well. After that phase is finished, they will pump heavy mud into the well. DEP officials said that if the combination works effectively it will plug the well.
According to DEP, the flowback did spill through the pasture where cattle were being pastured. The cattle were fenced off from the fluids. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture are on scene to investigate the issue.
In addition, the flowback fluid flowed into an unknown tributary and the Towanda Creek. The DEP has already conducted extensive water testing to see if the fluids are affecting the creek. There has been no evidence of a fish kill as of yet.
“We regret the incident and the inconvenience that it has caused neighboring families and the community. Even though the environmental impact appears to be minimal and temporary, we have zero tolerance for any accident, and we will make additional improvements to our operations if any opportunities for development are identified during the investigation,” said Grove.
The cause of the equipment failure remains undetermined at this time, and as a precaution, Chesapeake has voluntarily shut down all completion activity in its Eastern Division. A full investigation will be conducted to determine the root cause of the failure, evaluate best management practices and make any and all necessary corrections before returning to normal operations.
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