Flaring Marcellus Wells in SWPA Light Up Night Sky, 911 Called

Residents in western Lawrence County, PA had a bit of a scare when they noticed a red glow in the sky Saturday night. They took to social media to speculate what it might be. Some called 911 to report what may be a big fire. Turns out it was flaring from a couple of Hilcorp Energy Marcellus Shale wells. The wells are already drilled and producing, so why did they flare? Flaring–or burning of natural gas at the wellhead, is a safety precaution to prevent explosions from too much pressure in the well. A Hilcorp rep said what likely happened is that compressors that compress and send the gas down the pipeline sometimes get moisture in them, and with the freezing cold temperatures, that moisture can freeze and lock up the compressors. Instead of gas building up to dangerous pressures because it can’t flow on down the pipe, the automatic flaring mechanism kicked in to burn off some of the gas–creating the red glow in the night sky. It’s good to see technology–especially safety technology–working as designed…

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