COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120
Independent Report Faults Clearfield County
Gas Well Operators for June 3 Blowout DEP Outlines Proper Procedures
for all Marcellus Drilling Firms
DEP Secretary Says Blowout ‘Could Have Been a Catastrophic Incident’
07/13/2010 HARRISBURG -- Untrained personnel and the failure to use
proper well control procedures were the principal causes of a June 3
natural gas well blowout in Clearfield County, according to an
independent investigation that was released today by the Department
of Environmental Protection.
DEP Secretary John Hanger said the blowout, which allowed natural
gas and wastewater to escape from the well uncontrollably for 16
hours, was the result of failures by the well’s operator, EOG
The company and its contractor, C.C. Forbes LLC,
lost control of the well while performing post-fracturing well
“The blowout in Clearfield County was caused by EOG Resources and
its failure to have proper barriers in place.
This incident was preventable and should never
have occurred,” said Hanger, who added that EOG Resources has been
ordered to take nine corrective actions; C.C. Forbes ordered to take
six corrective actions and both companies were fined more than
Following a 40-day suspension of operations in Pennsylvania, EOG
Resources and C.C. Forbes were permitted to resume all well
EOG Resources, formerly known as Enron Oil & Gas
Co., operates approximately 297 active wells in Pennsylvania, 139 of
which are in the Marcellus Shale formation.
The report was compiled by John Vittitow, whom DEP hired to conduct
a thorough and independent investigation into all aspects of EOG’s
drilling operation based on his respected reputation in the industry
as an experienced petroleum engineer.
The investigation was conducted alongside, but
independently of, DEP’s investigation.
“Make no mistake, this could have been a catastrophic incident,”
“Had the gas blowing out of this well ignited,
the human cost would have been tragic, and had an explosion allowed
this well to discharge wastewater for days or weeks, the
environmental damage would have been significant.”
In light of the investigation’s findings, Hanger said his agency has
written each company drilling into the Marcellus Shale to ensure
they understand proper well construction and emergency notification
The letter stated that:
• A snubbing unit, which prevents pipes from ejecting uncontrollably
from a well, may be used to clean out the composite frac plugs and
sand during post-fracturing (post-frac) if coil tubing is not an
• A minimum of two pressure barriers should be in
place during all post-frac cleanout operations.
• Any blowout preventer equipment should be
tested immediately after its installation and before its use.
Records of these tests should be kept on file at the well site or
with the well site supervisor.
• A sign with DEP’s 24-hour emergency telephone
number and local emergency response numbers, including 911 and the
county communications center, should be posted prominently at each
• At least one well site supervisor who has a
current well control certification from a recognized institution
should be on location during post-frac cleanout operations. These
certifications should be in possession at all times.
• A remote-controlled, independently powered
blowout preventer unit, which allows workers to control what’s
happening on the rig at a safe distance, must be located a minimum
of 100 feet from the well and operational during all post-frac
The fines assessed to EOG Resources and C.C. Forbes—for $353,400 and
$46,600, respectively—will cover the cost of DEP’s response to the
incident and the investigation. In addition to the financial
penalties, DEP ordered EOG Resources to implement practices and take
nine corrective actions to avoid a repeat of this incident. C.C.
Forbes was ordered to implement similar practices and to take six
To review a copy of the complete investigation report and related
visit website and click on the report graphic under the “Latest
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
DEP Plans Thorough Investigation in to
Marcellus Shale Well Blowout in Clearfield County
EOG Resources Well Released Fracking Fluid, Natural Gas for 16 Hours
06/4/2010 HARRISBURG -- Department of Environmental Protection
Secretary John Hanger said today that his agency intends to
investigate aggressively the circumstances surrounding a blowout at
a Marcellus Shale natural gas well in Lawrence Township, Clearfield
County, and take the appropriate enforcement action.
At approximately 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 3, the operators of the
well, which is owned by EOG Resources, Inc., lost control of it
while preparing to extract gas after hydrofracturing the shale.
As a result, the well released natural gas and
flowback frack fluid onto the ground and 75 feet into the air. The
well was eventually capped around noon on June 4.
“The event at the well site could have been a catastrophic incident
that endangered life and property,” said Hanger.
“This was not a minor accident, but a serious
incident that will be fully investigated by this agency with the
appropriate and necessary actions taken quickly.
“When we arrived on scene, natural gas and frack fluid was flowing
off the well pad and heading toward tributaries to Little Laurel Run
and gas was shooting into the sky, creating a significant fire
That’s why emergency responders acted quickly to
cut off electric service to the area.
“Right now, we’re focused on limiting any further environmental
damage, but once that work is complete, we plan to aggressively look
at this situation and see where things went wrong and what
enforcement action is necessary.
If mistakes were made, we will be certain to take
steps to prevent similar errors from happening again.”
DEP learned of the leak at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Friday after
it was informed by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. DEP
immediately dispatched its Emergency Response and Oil and Gas
program staff to the site.
PEMA, which elevated its activation level to coordinate resources
among multiple state agencies, also worked with PennDOT to initiate
an airspace restriction above the well, which the Federal Aviation
Administration authorized on a temporary basis earlier today.
The restriction prohibits flights at and below
1,000 feet of ground level within a three nautical mile radius of
the well site. The restriction is in effect until further notice.
The EOG well pad is located in a rural area near the Penfield/Route
153 exit of Interstate 80 in northwestern Clearfield County.
Three other wells on the same pad that have been
drilled and fractured remain plugged and are not in danger.
EOG Resources, formerly known as Enron Oil & Gas Co., operates
approximately 265 active wells in Pennsylvania, 117 of which are in
the Marcellus Shale formation.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA