Prolonged Well Flaring in Nicholas County, WV to End May 31

Three gas wells drilled in Nicholas County, WV last year began flaring gas, or burning it at the wellhead, on August 28, 2011. They’re still flaring and those who live close enough to see the orange glow at night have had enough. WV state law limits gas flaring to 30 days per year for each well, but the driller, Bluescape Resources Co. (BRC), says with no pipelines in the area it has been necessary to continue the flaring. They also say the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) knew about their flaring plans and told BRC no special permits would be needed for extended flaring. The DEP has given BRC until May 31st to end the flaring. The DEP has also assessed a $50,000 fine.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has set May 31 as the deadline for extinguishing a flare that has been burning gases from three Nicholas County Marcellus Shale exploration wells for more than six months, despite state laws limiting natural gas flaring to 30 days per year.

Dallas-based Bluescape Resources Co. began flaring gas from three Marcellus wells near Fenwick on Aug. 28 last year. Responding to citizen complaints about the prolonged flaring, mainly from the newly formed organization Stand Up Now, the DEP’s Division of Air Quality inspected the Fenwick area site on Oct. 12 and issued BRC a notice of violation Oct. 26.

On Nov. 14, in a response to the violation notice, company officials said BRC had to flare the natural gas produced by the wells since "no pipeline exists in the area" to collect and transport the gas. Lacking a pipeline, gas from the wells had to be released, measured and burned "to test the viability of the natural gas reserves in the area," they said.

A pipeline linking the Richwood area to Frametown is being planned.

The company response went on to state that BRC could not "shut in the wells or the flare without suffering irreparable financial damage." The Fenwick area wells "are generating data on natural gas reserves in a portion of the state that has previously not been tested. The information being generated is crucial not only to BRC but to the mineral owners and other lessees in the area."*

*The Charleston Gazette (Mar 7, 2012) – End in sight for Richwood-area gas well flare