A Utica Shale well that XTO Energy Inc. and its contractors lost control of on February 15, 2018 was still spewing raw methane three weeks later in Ohio’s Belmont County.  

About 24 people were working at the Schnegg pad in York Township when contractors lost control of the well as they were pulling plugs and finishing up completion operations. The well exploded and caught fire. It’s unclear what caused the incident, in which no one was hurt.

Local authorities estimated that about 100 people living within one mile of the well were evacuated after the incident. The evacuation zone had been reduced to a half-mile radius on the following Monday, but residents living in five homes were still waiting to return.

Three other producing wells on the affected pad were shut-in during the completion operations, but it was too early to determine if they also were damaged.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with first responders and the well control specialists, were on scene monitoring the situation.

ODNR spokesman Steve Irwin said XTO is working with state agencies to conduct air quality tests. Booms have also been placed in a nearby creek to collect runoff from the pad. Irwin added that crews are also working to restore power in the area after heavy rains caused flooding over the weekend.

The ExxonMobil Corp. subsidiary has more than 82,000 acres scattered across the Utica Shale strongholds of Monroe and Belmont counties. Operators have received more than 550 horizontal permits to drill in Belmont County alone, or about 20% of all the Utica permits issued in the state, according to ODNR records.

Source: Natural Gas Intelligence