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<a href="" target="_blank">Pa. blowout report cites mistakes, training

A natural gas drilling company failed to use a proper backup pressure-control system last month when hooking up a well to a pipeline, leading to a major blowout in Pennsylvania that spewed gas and wastewater for 16 hours, a state investigation has found.

EOG Resources Inc. of Houston, which operates nearly 300 wells in Pennsylvania, cut corners by not using a second set of pressure-control devices, a consultant hired by the state concluded in a report issued Tuesday.

EOG took similar safety shortcuts on at least some of its other wells in Pennsylvania, where about half of its drilling operations are in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale reserve, a lucrative source of natural gas that has drawn scores of companies to the state.

"I don't know any company that would cut corners like this on this kind of well," said consultant John G. Vittitow, a Texas-based petroleum engineer. "This was just a bad decision and it caught up with them."

In signed papers released Tuesday, EOG and its contractor, C.C. Forbes Co. of Texas agreed to maximum fines of more than $400,000 combined and to take corrective actions. But they also were allowed to resume all activities in Pennsylvania after the state had shut down some operations since the June 3 blowout.

State regulators also sent a letter ordering all drilling operators to adhere to a set of safety standards designed to prevent another such incident.


A rather detailed explanation of what happened.
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