Leaky Westmoreland County well will cost CNX millions of dollars by Anya Litvak, February 20, 2019, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
There will be no Utica gas flowing from CNX’s Shaw pad in Westmoreland County, at least not anytime soon.
After a problem with the vertical casing of a deep Utica well last month pushed gas to nine shallow wells near Beaver Run Reservoir and sent CNX Resources into a scurry to control the leak, the Cecil-based company said it will permanently plug the problematic Shaw 1G well and won’t be completing the remaining three Utica wells on the same pad this year.
All of the wells had already been drilled and one was being fracked at the same time as Shaw 1G when casing about a mile underground gave way.
CNX noticed the problem because of a sudden drop in pressure in its well, and at the same time, gas pressure readings spiked at nearby vertical wells that were drilled to an average depth of 3,800 feet. To relieve the pressure in the shallower wells, the company began to burn off the excess gas by flaring the wells.
The opportunity to complete the three wells that didn’t trigger the problem still exists, the company told investors on Monday. But that’s not on the budget for 2019 or the carryover budget for 2020.
These large Utica wells — which CNX pioneered in this area of southwestern Pennsylvania — are voluminous, both in gas production and expense. They are about a mile deeper than their Marcellus cousins and the gas they tap is therefore at greater pressure than in the shallower layers.
In the most recent company earnings call, executives said they’re spending around $14 million per well for development, but they’re shooting to get that down to $12.5 million.
On Monday, CNX disclosed that all told, the Shaw pad will account for $30 million in capital spending this year. That includes the cost of drilling and partially fracking the four Utica wells, as well as the remediation costs, which are anticipated to include plugging the leaky well with cement.
This week, the company submitted a formal notice to state regulators that it plans to plug the defective well.
That won’t happen until the company completes its root cause investigation, which remains ongoing, said CNX spokesman Brian Aiello. At this point, the company believes the problem is isolated to the one well that leaked.
The state Department of Environmental Protection issued CNX a notice of violation last week, saying that the company failed to construct its well in a way that protects health, safety and the environment and that it didn’t install a strong enough casing and other safety devices to prevent a blowout. [Compare to AER issuing no notice of violation to Encana for intentionally fracturing Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers]
CNX says Utica well now under control, after more shallow wells saw pressure spikes
The notice also asked CNX to submit documents about the well’s development history, the contractors that worked on it and what the company has done to, among other things, “ensure public safety.”
While the violations notice did not propose a fine, the state can still issue an enforcement action at a later time.
Last week, Mr. Aiello said the company’s consultants had “canvassed (about) 300 properties within the area of Shaw and the wells that were flared, and tested approximately 50 water wells.”
Encana in Alberta, Canada, keeping secret it’s illegal frac’s directly into Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers, lying to the community and affected water well owners, proclaiming the company always frac’s/frac’d deep, far below the fresh water zones.
Encana lied. Instead of providing safe alternate water to the community, the company kept fracing in fresh water zones around it with the regulators enabling the enslaught while abusing the harmed citizens, even during the govt’s farce of a drinking water contamination investigation.
Photos above are of Ernst’s explosive water, taken in 2006, after Encana’s illegal fracs into the aquifers that supply her water well
End Compare Check.]
The company concluded that none were impacted by its activities.
CNX also installed air monitors downwind of those facilities and found no elevated readings.
The number of wells flaring excess gas had decreased from a high of nine two weeks ago to one by the end of last week.
As of Tuesday, all the flares are out.
CNX reports suspected cause of Utica Shale well problem near Beaver Run Reservoir by Anya Litvak, Feb 9, 2019, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
CNX Resources Corp. said a problem with the casing in its compromised Utica Shale well in Westmoreland County was the likely root of high pressure gas that flooded nearby shallower wells two weeks ago.
The Cecil-based company told investors that the problem at its Shaw 1G well in Westmoreland County occurred about a mile underground.
It’s still early in the investigation, the company cautioned in its annual report filed on Thursday, “but based on the information we have at this time, we believe the issue is isolated to this well and was caused by a casing integrity issue that occurred at a depth below approximately 5,200 feet, allowing gas traveling up the wellbore to escape at that point.”
At that depth, according to the well record filed with the state, there were two pipes in the ground, one a 9.6-inch diameter steel casing and inside of it a 5.5-inch diameter production casing.
The narrower pipe, which is the conduit for the gas to travel up the wellbore, was cemented to the wider one at that depth. But the cement stopped a few hundred feet above that. Operators are not required to cement the production pipe all the way to the surface.
When the gas escaped from the wellbore at that depth, it made its way to nine vertical wells, drilled to a depth between 3,700 feet and 3,900 feet, according to the DEP.
Those were the ones that the company was flaring to relieve the pressure as it worked to “kill” its problematic well. When that was accomplished late on Monday by pumping heavy mud into the wellbore below the 5,200 foot mark, the pressures at the impacted shallow wells began to drop.
By Friday evening, only four of the nine were still flaring. The others had returned to an acceptable pressure, CNX said.
CNX spokesperson Brian Aiello said the conventional wells continue to be monitored “on a 24 hour basis.”
The company is also “actively testing private (water) wells” in the impacted area, he said. There are at least four such drinking water wells within 3,000 feet of the Shaw pad, according to the company’s permit documents.
Casing failures — which could mean a breach in the pipe, the cement, or both — are not thought to be common in Appalachia, although their frequency isn’t a well-known metric.
A number of academic studies from earlier in the decade used DEP violation records to calculate the rate of shale gas wells with problems in their casing integrity. The estimates varied from less than 1 percent of wells to more than 6 percent.
State regulators strengthened casing and cementing requirements in 2011 after poorly built barriers failed in several early Marcellus Shale wells and contaminated water supplies with natural gas.
[Never mind poorly built barriers! Think of the natural gas contaminated drinking water in Rosebud Alberta after Encana perforated well casings and intentionally, illegally frac’d right into the fresh water aquifers]
They also required operators to do quarterly well integrity checks and report that data to the state.
It’s not clear what will happen to the Shaw 1G well — whether CNX will opt to remediate and refrack it or plug it permanently.
The three other wells on the same pad remain suspended, Mr. Aiello said. One of those was being completed at the same time as the Shaw 1G, while the other two were drilled but not yet fracked.
DEP spokeswoman Lauren Fraley said the DEP has asked CNX for additional data on the wells and for the company’s plan going forward. The documents have been coming in regularly, she noted, with more expected over the weekend.
As far as resuming activity on the pad, neither CNX nor the DEP could provide a timeline.
“I think we want to just see everything before we give our okay,” Ms. Fraley said.
CNX says Utica well now under control, after more shallow wells saw pressure spikes by Anya Litvak, Feb 4, 2019, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
CNX Resources Corp. reported Tuesday morning that the operation to bring its problematic Utica Shale well in Westmoreland County under control was successful.
“While we continue to evaluate the cause of the initial pressure anomaly, we believe it is isolated to this well,” the company said in a statement. “As a precaution, we will continue to monitor the well for the next several days.”
Containing the deep, horizontal well meant pumping very heavy mud into the wellbore, a process that began Monday afternoon.
The problem began a week from Saturday, when CNX was fracking its Utica Shaw 1G well and lost pressure on it. Over the next week, the company discovered pressure spikes at nine nearby conventional wells, which it was flaring on Monday to relieve the pressure.
The company has expanded the search for pressure anomalies in nearby conventional wells to a 2-mile-radius from the farthest impacted well, Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Lauren Fraley said Monday. “This includes the discovery of an unpermitted private gas well,” she said.
This means that more wells could potentially be diagnosed as impacted, as the company works its way through the area.
It is still not clear what went wrong with the Utica well or how its problem ended up impacting wells thousands of feet away.
Ms. Fraley noted that no environment damage has been reported by field staff at the agency’s oil and gas, safe drinking water and air quality departments.
None of the impacted conventional wells are in the path of the Shaw 1G, which runs more than a mile in a southeast direction. Instead, the overpressured wells are to the north, west, and east of the Utica well.
Seven of the wells being flared belong to CNX, while two others are owned by two other operators.
So far, the problems seem confined to shallow wells: “DEP has not received any reports of pressure anomalies at nearby Marcellus wells,” Ms. Fraley said.
CNX has been contacting residents, company spokesman Brian Aiello said, and has sent contractors to assess water quality at nearby private water wells, although the three property owners closest to the Shaw pad reported they had not yet heard from the water contractors at mid-day on Monday.
The flaring on Sunday night lit up the sky “like Armageddon,” said Washington Township resident Jeff Pope. The flames came from across the reservoir, some north of the Shaw pad and others to the southwest.
Mr. Pope has two main hopes for the situation: “One, that it’s nothing catastrophic, and two, that it slows them down.”
Mr. Pope wasn’t the only one anxious about another CNX Utica well pad that’s slated to be built next to Fox Road. “We’ve lived through all of this since it started in the early 2000s with these shallow wells,” he said.
On Sunday, a CNX official reached out to Robert “Butch” Shimizzi and told him there’s nothing to worry about with the shallow gas well that delivers heat to his home. But if it would put his mind at ease, the company offered to switch him to propane.
Mr. Shimizzi declined — at least for now — choosing to accept CNX’s assessment that he is safe.
Washington Township Supervisor Rich Gardner said CNX told him on Monday that “the problem is just about resolved.”
He didn’t know when the flaring would stop, but said “they believe the pressure (on the conventional wells) will be reduced later today,” Mr. Gardner said on Monday.
He stressed that there have been “no negative effects to residents,” that the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County has been monitoring Beaver Run Reservoir and has noted no spills or impacts, and that “everything has been well controlled and contained.”
CNX asked county emergency management to establish a no-fly zone within a five-mile radius of the Shaw pad.
The limitation applies to all but “relief aircraft operations under direction of Westmoreland police” and is scheduled to expire on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Gas well pressure issue leads to testing of water supply for northern Westmoreland County communities by Stephen Huba, Feb. 4, 2019, Trib Live
The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County uses the Beaver Run Reservoir to provide water to about 130,000 people.
The following communities get water from Beaver Run Reservoir (George R. Sweeney Water Plant) through the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County:
- Allegheny Township
- Bell Township
- Conemaugh Township
- East Vandergrift
- Gilpin Township
- Hyde Park
- Kiskiminetas Township
- Loyalhanna Township
- North Apollo
- Oklahoma Borough
- Parks Township
- Penn Township
- Washington Township
- West Leechburg
- Burrell Township
Source: Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County
The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County has asked for an extra water sample from Beaver Run Reservoir after a gas well located near the water source recently lost pressure.
CNX Resources suspended fracking operations from its Shaw 1G well, a deep Utica well on the northwestern side of Beaver Run Reservoir, because of a “pressure anomaly” observed last week, the Canonsburg-based energy company said over the weekend.
The Municipal Authority serves more than 400,000 people in five counties. Beaver Run Reservoir provides water to about 130,000 people in northern Westmoreland County through the authority’s George R. Sweeney Treatment Plant. It also serves small portions of Armstrong and Indiana counties.
CONSOL Energy began establishing gas wells on seven pad sites near the reservoir in 2011.
Since then, the authority has contracted with Indiana University of Pennsylvania to do a quarterly analysis of water from the reservoir and runoff from the various well sites.
IUP chemistry professor Nathan McElroy, co-director of the Beaver Run Project , said a water sample was obtained Sunday, and the majority of the analysis should be done by the end of the week.
“It’s my understanding that MAWC just wanted to make sure that (the well anomaly) would not have an impact on the surface water quality,” McElroy said.
As of late Monday morning, CNX had been in contact with 130 area residents “to make them aware of our efforts and to answer any questions they may have,” company spokesman Brian Aiello said.
CNX said in a statement over the weekend that there was “no immediate impact to the local community or the environment.”
The Municipal Authority said in a statement over the weekend that there was no impact to the reservoir.
“Our water quality surveillance is increased any time there is any activity on our property. It is very comprehensive and has not noted any changes,” the statement said.
The seven well pads on authority property have 45 Marcellus wells and seven Utica wells, Aiello said. The Shaw pad was “spud” in July 2018 and completed Jan. 5. Fracking began the following day but was suspended after the pressure anomaly, he said.
In response, CNX has begun to remediate the well and “arrest the subsurface flow of gas,” the company statement said.
Company personnel and consultants “are monitoring existing nearby gas wells and are continuing to manage any potential gas communication to those wells,” the statement said.
Washington Township supervisors released a statement Monday reiterating what CNX and the Municipal Authority said about a lack of impact to the reservoir. They said the air quality in the area also is being monitored.
“CNX personnel are flaring some of the wells on and near the property and are actively monitoring many of the smaller shallow wells surrounding the Municipal Authority,” the supervisors said.
The supervisors said CNX and (Great White Well Control) are “working diligently to alleviate the well site issues, including having all the tributaries and sites diked and pumps on scene to insure that if any water does come from the wells that it should not reach the reservoir.”
McElroy said that in the eight years of analysis provided by the IUP Beaver Run Project, no changes in water quality have been detected due to drilling activities. He said it’s up to the Municipal Authority to interpret the data provided by IUP.
Karen Cardinale, who lives in nearby Bell Township, said she has seen flaring activity from wells off Route 380 since late last week.
“People are wondering what the heck’s going on,” she said.
The Mountain Watershed Association said on its Facebook page that it has been organizing concerned residents but that “more can be done to protect the thousands of people who rely on this drinking water source.”
Westmoreland residents remain concerned about flaring, ongoing deep gas well issue by Ashley Murray, Feb 3, 2019, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Residents in Westmoreland County remain concerned after increased traffic and flaring at nearby natural gas wells continued following a “pressure anomaly” last week at one of CNX Resources Corp.’s horizontal Utica Shale drilling sites last week.
“When you came through there last night, the sky was on fire,” Robert Schimizzi of Washington Township said Sunday. “The wells were burning, and nobody knew why.”
As of Sunday, CNX was flaring seven nearby conventional wells, which can reach as deep as 3,000 feet, CNX spokesman Brian Aiello said.
Gas pressures increased last week at nearby shallow wells after the company was fracking at the much deeper — a little more than 2 miles below the ground — and horizontal Shaw 1G well site between Tower Run Road and the Beaver Run Reservoir on the property of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.
Fracking is the process of pumping fluids and sand at high pressure to break shale formations and release gas.
CNX suspended fracking operations at the well on Jan. 26 and began flaring the first nearby shallow well last Tuesday.
The municipal authority said Saturday that there was no threat to the roughly 1,300-acre Beaver Run Reservoir, which provides drinking water to about 130,000 people.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection officials told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Saturday that a crew will be stationed at the site round-the-clock.
Mr. Schimizzi said CNX called him Sunday and “they assured me that they have it under control.”
Other neighbors, including Jeff Pope, whose property borders Mr. Schimizzi’s, said they hadn’t received calls.
“We would appreciate some communication. We’ve tolerated a lot,” Mr. Pope said, referring to increased traffic through the township since the Marcellus Shale drilling boom began.
Harmed citizens in Rosebud Alberta got lies and more lies from Encana, regulators and politicians. The worst lies that hit the impacted community were from ex-Encana manager Mark Taylor, now an executive at the corrupt Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)
Snap above taken July 12, 2019 from: https://www.aer.ca/providing-information/about-the-aer/governance/executive/mark-taylor
CNX contends that it has been in “regular contact with approximately 70 local residents … focusing on and communicating regularly with those residents in closest proximity to the flaring,” Mr. Aiello said.
State, crews monitoring problem in deep gas well in Westmoreland County by Anya Litvak, Feb 2, 2019, Pittsburg Post-Gazette
CNX Resources Corp. has spent the past week trying to get a Utica Shale well near the Beaver Run Reservoir in Westmoreland County under control after a problem there was followed by gas pressures spiking at nearby shallow wells.
The Cecil-based oil and gas firm was fracking its Shaw 1G well in Washington Township on Jan. 26 when it detected a strong drop in pressure, the company told environmental regulators. It stopped fracking and found some type of obstruction in the well bore, said state Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Lauren Fraley.
CNX also told the DEP that four conventional — that is, shallower, vertical wells — nearby showed spikes in pressure, a sign of communication between the gas in the Utica well and the four other wells in the vicinity.
Neighbors described a parade of trucks and hard-hatted workers dispatched to the Shaw pad and to properties with shallow wells, some of which are being flared to relieve the pressure. Residents were on guard about the activity — and what it might mean for conventional wells on their properties.
A DEP crew has been stationed at the site around the clock and will remain there until “we feel confident that the situation is under control,” Ms. Fraley said.
A special well control team had been summoned from out of state to “kill” the well, a procedure that involves pumping heavy mud into the wellbore to stop the flow and keep it down.
That had not yet happened by Saturday evening.
Ms. Fraley said at this point, the agency is not aware of any pollution or impacts to environmental resources as a result of the situation.
A statement from the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, which operates the Beaver Run Reservoir and supplies water to more than 120,000 customers, assured that water quality has not been compromised.
“Any activity on our watershed is monitored intently,” the statement said. “Our water quality surveillance is increased any time there is any activity on our property. It is very comprehensive and has not noted any changes.”
Representatives from the authority could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
The path of the well travels under the reservoir but it isn’t clear how far along that path the well had been fracked when the problem occurred. …
According to the well records available in DEP’s database, the Shaw 1G well plunged 13,740 feet below the surface, more than 2 miles deep, and extended some 8,000 feet horizontally. It is not yet known how the gas from it impacted the four conventional wells that are many thousands of feet shallower.
CNX would not answer questions beyond the statement that the company issued Friday evening.
It said, in part, that “company personnel and specialized consultants are monitoring existing nearby gas wells and are continuing to manage any potential gas communication to those wells.”
“There have been no injuries and no impact to the local community or the environment,” the statement said, noting that the company is in close contact with MAWC and other stakeholders and would provide “further updates as appropriate.”
Shaw 1G is on the same pad as three other shale wells and within a half mile radius of more than two dozen other oil and gas wells, including Marcellus Shale wells, operating conventional wells, plugged wells, and those considered inactive.
Two of the impacted conventional wells are close to the Utica well pad, Ms. Fraley said, and the other two are “a few thousand feet” away.
The conventional wells don’t belong to CNX. The DEP did not identify the owners of the impacted conventional wells.
Paperwork that CNX submitted to the DEP when it was about to drill the Shaw 1G well shows there are at least four private water wells within 3,000 feet of the pad.
One is on the property of Robert Schimizzi.
Mr. Schimizzi said he returned from out of town on Friday to find hundreds of trucks bustling about the area, with dozers and tanks stationed at conventional wells that don’t typically get this kind of attention.
He has one of those gas wells on his property that is operated by a firm other than CNX. It supplies gas to his home. When he was gone, his girlfriend said someone working in the area asked if it would be OK to shut off the gas well, but given the temperature she declined.
His water well is fine and his gas remains on, although he did have to reignite pilot lights Saturday, Mr. Schimizzi said.
Three other neighbors with water wells also reported no impacts to the Post-Gazette, but all were concerned that no company or regulatory officials have been in touch to check or inform them of the situation.
“Hey guys, I live there. Am I in danger?,” Mr. Schimizzi said. “At least somebody tap on my door and tell me.”
He said he planned to turn off his connection to the gas well before going to sleep on Saturday night.