Leak shuts down drilling operation at Michigan well

Leak shuts down drilling operation at Michigan well by The Associated Press, February 10, 2011, Bloomberg
JOYFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A leak that forced the shutdown of operations at a more than 1,000-foot-deep natural gas well that was being drilled in Michigan’s northwestern Lower Peninsula with a technique called hydraulic fracturing likely will lead to a review of some drilling regulations, the state said Thursday. The leak at the well in Benzie County’s Joyfield Township was detected late Monday or early Tuesday, and the leak was stopped and contained Tuesday, the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment said. The department said there was no imminent danger and an initial review found the spill was limited to a small area right around the well. “The company had just installed a new well,” said DNRE spokesman Brad Wurfel. “They turned it on and found liquid bubbling.”

The state said cement used to contain a steel sleeve where liquid is pumped apparently failed, causing the leak in the well that was being drilled through a rock bed called Antrim Shale. But Joe Quandt, a lawyer representing Presidium Antrim West LC, the company drilling the well, said Thursday afternoon the company still was investigating and it was too soon to say a cause. “We are developing a response plan,” Quandt said. The company doesn’t anticipate an environmental impact around the well, located about 25 miles southwest of Traverse City, but will continue to monitor the well, he said. The leak may lead to a review of some regulations related to permits and monitoring for such wells, the state said. Current regulations require companies to disclose details of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing only if there’s a spill, for example, and Wurfel said the state previously was looking at whether companies should be required to routinely reveal that information.

The company immediately contacted the state and began efforts to stop it, and has poured more cement into the well, the department said. About 62,000 gallons of liquid that included nitrogen and a hydrochloric acid additive was being used in the hydraulic fracturing process, the state said, and the leak was spotted when nitrogen and water were seen bubbling in an encased housing at the surface of the well. At the drill site, the nearest water well is about a quarter mile away, the state said, and any nitrogen that escaped was expected to dissipate quickly. An investigation and monitoring was planned to determine what longer-term cleanup might be needed.

This entry was posted in Global Frac News. Bookmark the permalink.