Multiple leaking, problem wells, Maralex Resources draw Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s notice

Leaking well, Maralex Resources draw Colorado state’s notice by Dennis Webb, January 6, 2014, The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction
A state inspector last March determined Maralex Resources was in violation of a requirement for mechanical integrity testing for an oil and gas well where a leak was discovered Dec. 14 southwest of De Beque. In addition, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in October fined Maralex $50,000 after finding the company had failed to comply with the same requirement in the case of nine other wells in Mesa and Garfield counties. Also, the Bureau of Land Management says it has required the company to repair about 20 wells with small gas leaks over recent years in western Colorado.

Maralex’s history of problems concerns Commissioner Rich Alward of Grand Junction, who does oil and gas reclamation consulting work. He says Maralex’s problems go even further and he sees them firsthand. “They’ve got a number of well pads with failed reclamation and that are poorly maintained, they have old equipment lying on their well pads, and that (observation) is from my actual being on the ground, seeing the weed cover, lack of reclamation, lack of revegetation,” he said. He said that most of the time when he’s working on another project in the field, “I can identify a Maralex (well) pad from a mile away.”

Gas and fluids were discovered leaking around the problem Maralex well on federal land on Jaw Ridge about seven miles southwest of De Beque. It was drilled in 1981 and was shut shortly thereafter but remained capable of production. Authorities are investigating whether the recent hydraulic fracturing of a horizontal Black Hills Exploration & Production well that passed an estimated 400 feet within the Maralex well underground may have triggered the leak. Some fluids initially ran off the pad, but the BLM says no surface waters appear to have been impacted. The well was opened and flow is being diverted to a containment pit, and work has been ongoing to permanently plug the well based on a BLM order. So far, two, 200-foot plugs have been installed that have isolated the Dakota sandstone target production zone of the well. A plug in the above-lying Mancos shale formation, which the Black Hills well was targeting a part of, probably will be installed today. The well has leaked thousands of gallons.

Oil and gas commission records show Maralex owns more than 220 wells in Mesa, Garfield, Rio Blanco and La Plata counties. … In 2009, Garfield County and the BLM dealt with problems at a Maralex site in the Soldier Canyon area off Douglas Pass, including poor fencing that let deer and a bear get into a fluid-filled pit. The company reportedly at first cited a lack of money to address the problems, but at least some problems eventually were fixed.

According to a statement from the BLM, provided by spokesman David Boyd, Maralex operates 110 oil and gas wells involving federal lands or minerals in western Colorado. “Of these, 24 are producing and 86 are shut-in. Forty of the shut-in wells have been shut-in for more than 20 years. … The BLM said it can’t inspect each Maralex well each year, but typically does so every two years. “We have documented some issues with their wells and well pads during these inspections,” the agency said, and it has written up what it calls instances of non-compliance. [Emphasis added]

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