Range Resources fined nearly $300K for misclassifying wells, Company did not disclose that wells weren’t producing gas, should have been plugged by Reid Frazier, State Impact Pennsylvania, Feb 10, 2021
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says Range Resources misclassified over 40 conventional gas wells while submitting inaccurate information to the state. The agency fined the gas drilling company $294,000 for the violations.
State law says that when wells stop producing gas, they should be declared abandoned by their owner and plugged. DEP said Range requested these wells be considered ‘inactive’–a kind of dormant status that doesn’t require the company to plug the well–even though they no longer produced any gas.
“It’s the law: inactive wells need to be viable for future use. If wells are not viable for future use, then they should be classified as abandoned wells and are required to be plugged,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a statement.
The DEP began investigating the status of the company’s wells when it received an internal company document stating that one of them, the Shirocky Unit #1, a conventional gas well in Lower Tyrone Township, Fayette County, no longer produced any gas.
In its Sept. 29, 2017 application to reclassify the well as “inactive,” the company contended that the well was “of future utility and that signIfIcant reserves remain in place that Range Intends to produce.”
However, in an internal company memo Range sent to the DEP, dated three weeks earlier, a Range employee wrote that the well “has become incapable of economic production.”
DEP spokesman Jamar Thrasher said the conflicting information contained in the memo led the state to investigate other wells. The agency subpoenaed Range “for information related to other wells that Range Resources had requested inactive status,” the agency said in a statement. The DEP found the company had improperly requested inactive status for the 42 wells between 2013 and 2017.
The state says there are between 200,000 to 500,000 orphaned or abandoned wells in Pennsylvania. These can leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and other contaminants into the environment.
“Abandoned wells can be an extreme hazard to the health and safety of people and the environment,” Thrasher said. “That contributes to air, water and soil contamination, so it’s an environmental hazard.”
In a consent agreement, the DEP said that the wells “do not have future utility or significant reserves remaining in place.” Range has plugged all but one of the wells. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Range Resources pays $294K DEP penalty over conflicting well activity by Scott Beveridge, Feb 11, 2021, Observer Reporter
Range Resources has paid a $294,000 civil penalty after the state Department of Environmental Protection found conflicting and inaccurate information on the status of a well in Fayette County.
The DEP said it received information in a company interoffice communication that Range’s Shirocky No. 1 well had no viable future use, which would not have qualified it for inactive status at the DEP, the department stated in a Tuesday news release. Wells that do not meet inactive status classification must be listed as abandoned and sealed, the DEP said.
The discovery prompted the DEP to issue a subpoena for the other Range wells in inactive status and discovered 42 that were never used again between July 2013 and October 2017, the department said.
The wells with no viable use were eventually plugged by the Southpointe-based company, the DEP confirmed. The outcome satisfied the DEP.
The money Range paid Jan. 9 will be used for the state’s program that plugs abandoned wells.
Leaky frac’d well will cost CNX millions of dollars; PA Regulator gives notice of violation. Compare to AER & Alberta govt helping Encana bully, lie & cover-up explosive concentrations of methane & ethane contaminating Rosebud water wells after Encana illegally frac’d into drinking water aquifers
Companies walking from their responsibilities is bad across Canada in every oil and gas producing/exploring area. Canadian energy “regulators” – provincially and federally – are cowards and deregulate more than they regulate.
BNN Interviews Alberta Oil Patch Consultant Brent Nimeck on Lexin and AER’s Orphan Wells: “This problem is 30 years in the making. … I would call it a Ponzi Scheme…. This is an orchestrated fraud from multiple angles: Industry, CAPP and the Alberta Energy Regulator have enabled this to happen. … Through our independent analysis and we’ve confirmed this at multiple sources within the energy regulator, the liabilities are over $300 billion. That’s what’s on the hook for Alberta taxpayers right now – $300 billion.”