PDC Accident: Drilling Mud Spills into Creek in Morgan County, OH

In the hubbub of news that comes from Utica Shale drilling in eastern Ohio, one county we don’t hear much about is Morgan County (southeast part of the state, below Muskingum County and left of Noble County). So it was with interest we noted last November that PDC Energy was issued permits to drill three wells in Morgan County (see Morgan County, OH Looks to Join the Utica Shale Well Club). The drilling has been under way and we didn’t know it! Except now.

Last week there was a “mishap” at the drill site for one of the wells and about 140 barrels of drilling mud spilled at the site (something like 5,800 gallons). Around 100 barrels of the semi-liquid mud was contained on the drill pad, but about 40 barrels spilled into a nearby creek where it was contained. Apparently PDC hit a pocket of gas which escaped and forced the mud out of the hole faster than they could contain it. The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources is now investigating to determine whether PDC can move forward with drilling or will need to plug that well and abandon it. Here’s what we know at the moment…

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