Efforts to test Marcellus in upstate New York produces leaky well Carrizo crews on site to fix casing problem in Owego

Efforts to test Marcellus in upstate NY produces leaky well Carrizo crews on site to fix casing problem in Owego by Tom Wilber, May 15, 2013, Shale Gas Review
A Houston company’s pioneering venture into the Marcellus Shale in upstate New York has produced a leaky gas well that the company is trying to fix before abandoning the project or turning it over to another company. A service crew is now working on the Wetterling Well in the Town of Owego after state inspectors found gas leaking from the ground between the bedrock and the cement casing last fall. Carrizo Oil and Gas drilled the vertical well in October to test the Marcellus Shale. … Problems were first confirmed at the Wetterling well on Oct. 25, according to DEC records, when an inspector, responding to updates from company representatives, found levels of combustible gas leaking from the well bore. The leak averaged about 20 cubic feet per day and was coming from somewhere between the cement casing and the ground – an area known as the annulus.  According to the records, a company representative asked the agency last fall if it would be “OK to abandon the well with a vent pipe.” The DEC inspector, who is not identified by name on paperwork released in response to a Freedom of Information Request to an area resident, reported in notes:

I told him that I did not know and the New York has no specific guidelines about the matter. I went on to say that I have seen other companies re-entering wells of their own accord to fix small leaks. We agreed to continue monitoring the well and that Carrizo would submit an interim plugging report…

The leak at the Wetterling well was allowed to continue over the winter, before the company began work to fix the problem this spring. Richard Hunter, vice president of Investor Relations for Carrizo, confirmed that a service crew had set up a rig at the Wetterling site to attempt to locate exactly where gas was leaking from. Hunter explained that crews inserted audio equipment into the hole to listen for the leak – similar to listening for a leak in an inner tube. When they locate the spot, he said, they will “squeeze in more cement” to plug the void between the casing and the ground. Methane leaks, and the extent to which they are disclosed, have caused major problems for the industry’s image in Pennsylvania. Chronic problems in Dimock, Pa. became a showcase for the anti-fracking movement after methane leaked from production wells into an aquifer used by area residents. The problem became apparent after one water well exploded in 2009, leading to greater public awareness of risks related to shale gas development. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has documented dozens of other cases of methane leaks from gas development, some of them fatal.

Industry officials say problems with methane migration from drilling are exaggerated, and point out that methane can leak into water naturally.

Area resident Gerri Wiley provided records obtained by the Freedom of Information Law from the DEC… [Emphasis added]

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