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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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DEP Investigating Potential Shell Methane Migratio

https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania...ation-by-shell/

As Gov-er-nor Cor-bett pushes to give Royal Dutch Shell a $1.65 bil-lion tax credit, the Depart-ment of Envi-ron-men-tal Pro-tec-tion is inves-ti-gat-ing a poten-tial methane migra-tion prob-lem in Union Town-ship, Tioga County, involv-ing the company’s nat-ural gas drilling arm.

A Shell spokes-woman says the company’s tests show “a very low haz-ard risk to peo-ple, veg-e-ta-tion, and fish in the imme-di-ate area,” but Shell has nev-er-the-less asked peo-ple who live within a one-mile radius of the drilling site to tem-porar-ily evac-u-ate their homes.

DEP spokesman Daniel Spadoni con-firmed the probe in an email to StateIm-pact Penn-syl-va-nia. “DEP was noti-fied of the prob-lem by Shell on June 17,” he writes. “Shell is fully coop-er-at-ing with the response and investigation.”

Accord-ing to Spadoni, a drink-ing water well located 4,000 feet from a Shell drilling site began over-flow-ing this week-end. “Shell has sev-eral well pads in the area in var-i-ous stages of com-ple-tion. They stopped all oper-a-tions in the area when noti-fied of a prob-lem,” he wrote, not-ing “bub-bling was also noted at mul-ti-ple loca-tions in a nearby stream.”

The Wells-boro Gazette has posted a pic-ture of that “bub-bling,” which looks more like a minia-ture geyser shoot-ing fluid more than a foot above the ground.

Methane migra-tion occurs nat-u-rally, but has also been asso-ci-ated with faulty well cas-ing. DEP blames well con-t-a-m-i-na-tion prob-lems in Dimock on the issue.



Mean-time, Cor-bett and leg-isla-tive lead-ers have reached a ten-ta-tive agree-ment to grant Shell a $2.10-a-barrel tax break on ethane pur-chases. The bill would save Shell up to $66 mil-lion a year if it builds an ethane cracker in Beaver County. Shell would already ben-e-fit from a 15-year tax exemp-tion, due to leg-is-la-tion passed ear-lier this year.

You can read the rest of Spadoni’s state-ment below. We’ll post more infor-ma-tion when we have it.

DEP Oil and Gas staff col-lected water and iso-topic sam-ples from the hunt-ing club well and stream on June 18. A Shell con-trac-tor drilled a hole in the water well cas-ing and installed an over-flow line to stop the over-flow, installed methane alarms in the cabin, and will vent the well to the out-side today. DEP has rec-om-mended the cabin not be occu-pied until fur-ther notice.

Addi-tional sur-face expres-sions of gas along the road lead-ing to the hunt-ing cabin were dis-cov-ered on June 18, and Shell has placed secu-rity guards at both ends of the road to limit access. Shell is mon-i-tor-ing con-di-tions con-tin-u-ously in this area for any changes that may require addi-tional controls.

On Tues-day, June 19, Shell’s con-sul-tants had sev-eral teams begin screen-ing within a one-mile radius of the hunt-ing camp to check for methane gas and sam-ple any pri-vate drink-ing water wells poten-tially impacted. That screen-ing con-tin-ued yes-ter-day, June 20, within a one-mile radius of the three Shell gas well pads in the area. Shell is con-duct-ing fur-ther inves-ti-ga-tion and oper-a-tions on their nearby well pads. Yes-ter-day, June 20, DEP Oil and Gas staff mon-i-tored the hunt-ing cabin and sur-face expres-sions. No deter-mi-na-tion has been made regard-ing the source or sources of the methane, and the inves-ti-ga-tion is continuing.


Link to Wellsboro Gazette pictures:

http://www.tiogapublishing.com/news/the_...age&photo=2
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-23-2012, 06:50 PM
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Re: DEP Investigating Potential Shell Methane Migratio

Pictures or it didn't happen...oh...wait...on another note, this could lead to a real boom in tourism in Tioga county. Wyoming attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year to see Old Faithful. We now have methane geysers, the Fourth of July is coming, we could light those puppies on fire!! (Facepalm)
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-23-2012, 11:58 PM
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Re: DEP Investigating Potential Shell Methane Migratio

You miss this part of the puzzle?

Quote:
Nev-er-the-less, Tioga County has mapped out an evac-u-a-tion plan for the more than 100 peo-ple who live within a two-mile radius of the inci-dent. Cole-grove said he doesn’t think the extended evac-u-a-tion will be needed.

What’s caus-ing the methane migra-tion? The inves-ti-ga-tion is still early, but the pri-mary sus-pect is an unmapped, aban-doned gas well more than 70 years old. Shell is dig-ging near the site to gather more infor-ma-tion. Cole-grove pointed out Tioga County has expe-ri-enced methane migra-tion prob-lems for decades, and “every case that I’m aware of has gone back to improper pro-ce-dures [at extrac-tion sites] that were done decades, or gen-er-a-tions past.”
There's an old gas well that I've been told dates to pre WWII days, within about 500 yards of my Tioga Co. camp. It is capped, but the steel pipes/valve are pretty rusty. As long as I can recall, that thing has periodically "hissed" a bit of gas. You geet close enough, you can sometimes get a whiff, but it's nearly oderless. We used to joke about takin' a whack at it during deer season to see if we could set it afire.

Some folks' learnin' curves just look like circles...3A Camp/also hunt 4B
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-24-2012, 08:31 AM
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Re: DEP Investigating Potential Shell Methane Migratio

Although I haven't been able to speak to anyone personally connected to this incident yet, I suspect that a new well impacted an older well in the general vicinity. This happens often in the ANF area where there are many old oil wells that are not known about and when a new well is drilled to or through the same formation and fraced it may express itself at the surface from the old well. Records for these old wells are very limited or nonexistent. Old "preact wells" (drilled prior to any state laws or regulations) were never cemented and were usually plugged with what was called a brush plug. My opinion is that legacy wells are the #1 concern causing methane migration.
Hopefully, Shell and the DEP can locate the exact location of the old well, put a drilling rig over top of it, clean the old well out to total depth and plug and abandon the well using modern technology and methodology. When they do that, the migration issue will be stopped and the new well can produce safely and within the regulations. If Shell cannot plug the old well effectively, they may be required to plug their well that is found to have effected the old well.

Understand that when the old well is plugged, the methane migration issue should stop and any methane that got into the aquifer will dissipate and eventually stop. I know of this happening at least 3 times in southwest PA and the problem was corrected when the old well was located and plugged properly.

Oh and this is a good lesson to all the folks that claim their water wells have been fraced into. If you introduce well fracing pressures to a shallow water well this is how it would express itself. There would be no doubt in anyones mind that the water well was affected by fracing.

This is not the norm but it does happen, with conventional vertical wells and with horizontal unconventional wells. It is an ongoing issue and should be addressed with good geological investigation prior to ever drilling the well. That being said, you may never know where all of the older wells are located.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-24-2012, 08:41 AM
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Re: DEP Investigating Potential Shell Methane Migratio

Quote:
Originally Posted by DennyF
You miss this part of the puzzle?

Quote:
Nev-er-the-less, Tioga County has mapped out an evac-u-a-tion plan for the more than 100 peo-ple who live within a two-mile radius of the inci-dent. Cole-grove said he doesn’t think the extended evac-u-a-tion will be needed.

What’s caus-ing the methane migra-tion? The inves-ti-ga-tion is still early, but the pri-mary sus-pect is an unmapped, aban-doned gas well more than 70 years old. Shell is dig-ging near the site to gather more infor-ma-tion. Cole-grove pointed out Tioga County has expe-ri-enced methane migra-tion prob-lems for decades, and “every case that I’m aware of has gone back to improper pro-ce-dures [at extrac-tion sites] that were done decades, or gen-er-a-tions past.”
There's an old gas well that I've been told dates to pre WWII days, within about 500 yards of my Tioga Co. camp. It is capped, but the steel pipes/valve are pretty rusty. As long as I can recall, that thing has periodically "hissed" a bit of gas. You geet close enough, you can sometimes get a whiff, but it's nearly oderless. We used to joke about takin' a whack at it during deer season to see if we could set it afire.
YIKES! I know you are kidding, but NEVER shoot at any old or new well equipment. You could go from geezer emeritus to geezer goner-us

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-24-2012, 12:29 PM
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Re: DEP Investigating Potential Shell Methane Migratio

Yep, which is why I said "we've joked" about taking a whack at it. No one around there is crazy enough to actually do that.



Before that particular pasture became partially overgrown with multiflora rose and other bits of brush, the well top (pipe/valve sticking up about 6') was fairly easy to spot down there. The owner now runs beef on the family farm (was a dairy farm for generations), just spent several days early in the spring grinding pasture brush.

He didn't mess with the brush around the well. According to him, he didn't want to get near it with the rented brush grinder due to safety reasons and decided it was better off being slightly hidden for now.

Unlike the undocumented and unplugged old wells, everyone pretty much knows of this one.

Quote:
Old "preact wells" (drilled prior to any state laws or regulations) were never cemented and were usually plugged with what was called a brush plug. My opinion is that legacy wells are the #1 concern causing methane migration.
The old timers tell me that whittlin' up a pine tree and driving it into well openings, was once the usual approach, hence "brush plugging". I've also noted that many of the current exploration outfits are actively seeking those old, abandoned wells and taking care of plugging them properly.

Some folks' learnin' curves just look like circles...3A Camp/also hunt 4B
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