COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120
DEP Orders EOG Resources to
Halt All Natural Gas Drilling Activities in PA
HARRISBURG -- The Department of Environmental
Protection today ordered EOG Resources Inc. to suspend its natural
gas well drilling activities in Pennsylvania after a June 3 blowout
at one of the company’s Clearfield County wells sent natural gas and
at least 35,000 gallons of drilling wastewater into the sky and over
the ground for 16 hours.
DEP Secretary John Hanger said that while the order bans all
drilling and hydrofracturing, or fracking, operations for specified
periods of time, the suspension will remain in effect until DEP has
completed a comprehensive investigation into the leak and the
company has implemented any needed changes.
“DEP staff, along with an independent expert,
will conduct a detailed investigation of not just the incident that
occurred last week in Clearfield County, but of EOG Resources’
drilling operations, as a whole, here in Pennsylvania,” said Hanger.
“The Clearfield County incident
presented a serious threat to life and property. We are working with
the company to review its Pennsylvania drilling operations fully
from beginning to end to ensure an incident of this nature does not
prohibits EOG Resources from drilling activities up to seven days;
from engaging in fracking operations up to 14 days; and from
completing or initiating post-fracking operations for 30 days in any
wells throughout the state. These actions and operations cannot
resume until the department agrees that the investigation has been
The results of the investigation will also help determine whether
DEP should take additional enforcement action against the company,
such as fines or penalties.
Hanger added that EOG Resources has been fully cooperative and in
agreement with the department’s ongoing investigation and order.
The leak began at approximately 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 3, when the
well’s operators lost control of it while preparing to extract gas
after fracking the shale.
As a result, natural gas and flowback frack fluid
was released uncontrollably onto the ground and 75 feet into the
The well was capped at around
noon on 4 June.
well pad is located in a rural area near the Penfield/Route 153 exit
of Interstate 80 in northwestern Clearfield County, near Moshannon
The department’s Emergency Response and Oil and Gas programs
responded to the incident, along with the Pennsylvania State Police,
the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, and local fire and
PEMA elevated its activation level to coordinate resources among
multiple state agencies and worked with PennDOT and the Federal
Aviation Administration to institute a temporary airspace
restriction above the well.
The restriction was lifted at
approximately 1:45 p.m. on June 4.
“Fortunately, the well did not ignite and explode, and there were no
injuries to the well crew or emergency responders,” said Hanger.
“Our preliminary assessment is that the
environmental damage was modest as the frack fluid was contained and
did not appear to reach any streams, but DEP is continuing its
monitoring efforts because sometimes the impacts of a spill like
this are delayed.
We have noted that a spring in
the area has shown a spike in conductivity and that discharge is
being collected by EOG for proper disposal.”
The secretary noted that the company expects to have a more accurate
estimate of the amount of fracking water that was leaked after it
finishes draining the pits and waterboxes it deployed to collect the
As of June 7, initial estimates
totaled 35,000 gallons, although more was certainly released and the
company believes this accounts for a majority of the leaked water.
DEP’s preliminary investigation has determined that a blowout
preventer on the well failed, but the agency does not yet know if
that failure was the main cause of the incident.
preventer has been secured and will be one piece of the
EOG Resources, formerly known as Enron Oil & Gas Co., operates
approximately 265 active wells in Pennsylvania, 117 of which are in
the Marcellus Shale formation.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA