Possible New Case of Methane Migration in Wyoming County, PA

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sent a violation notice to Chief Oil & Gas on Jan. 4 for three gas wells in Nicholson Township (Wyoming County) saying there is 100 percent combustible gas between the cemented steel casings, which the DEP uses as a sign of flaws in construction of the well. The investigation began after a nearby resident complained of high methane levels in well water supplies. The DEP is still investigating two nearby water wells with high levels of methane and has not yet determined if Chief’s wells are the cause.

Chief claims that pre-testing before drilling began show the same exact levels of methane in the nearby water wells that are present now, and that Chief’s gas wells are not the cause—that the methane is naturally occurring.

State environmental regulators are investigating a potential case of methane gas leaching into two water wells in Nicholson Twp. and have cited a nearby gas driller for failing to report "defective, insufficient or improperly cemented casing" in three of its Marcellus Shale wells.

The Department of Environmental Protection’s investigation, which began on Dec. 9 with a resident’s complaint, has not yet determined the source of the methane in the two Wyoming County water wells.

On Dec. 19, regulators found 100 percent combustible gas between the cemented steel casings in three natural gas wells on Chief Oil and Gas’s Polovitch well pad, according to a violation notice sent to the company on Jan. 4. State regulators view methane between a well’s casings as evidence of flaws in a well’s construction.

The DEP measured methane in one nearby water well at 42.1 milligrams per liter and the other at 22.1 milligrams per liter. The department has called methane levels above 28 milligrams per liter the "true level of concern" because at that point water can no longer hold the gas, which begins to escape to the air.*

*The Scranton Times Tribune (Jan 15, 2012) – DEP investigating methane in Wyoming County water wells