More on Antero’s Frackin’ Accident in Doddridge County, WV

by S. Tom Bond on October 5, 2014

Antero is distributing drinking water where drilling accident occurred

Original Article by S. Tom Bond, Resident Farmer, Lewis County, WV
When the Stella 1H unconventional well was drilled by Anterio’s crew into the Callie 2H well about 1:00 AM on September 29th it made a spectacular mess that has been in the news for days. At 9:23 PM Anterio decided it could not be “managed” under the radar and called the WV-DEP.  A UPS man delivered a package to the house where the stuff came up out of the ground and spread the news around Doddridge county.
According to our sources, the well pad, one of those “mountain-top-removal-light” jobs, was only 4.11 acres.  The second well was only 10 feet from the first, remarkably close.  They are too close, apparently.  At 621 feet down, the new well ran into the older one that was already producing gas.  Probably the pad was so small because they wanted to avoid the expense of moving more dirt.
There were some irregularities we know about.  It was a very small pad.  Second, the wells were remarkably close.  It has been speculated this was to save money.  The well should have gone down 4500 feet more before beginning to break over to horizontal.  The Callie 2H well was already in production, producing gas at high pressure.  A more prudent procedure would have been to avoid drilling adjacent to a producing well.
Anterio advertises itself as a “low cost driller.”  (Look them up on the Internet.) They have two good reasons to keep costs down, one is to attract investors.  Shale drilling is a cash poor industry which is forced to splash a lot of money around. It must employ workers who will do the awful work with ridiculous hours and tremendous physical demands with great danger but effectively no OSHA oversight. So, big bucks for that. 

Much must be spent in Charleston, the state capital, to get favorable legislation and enforcement.  Public perception must be managed, lest those who actually experience drilling get the word out about how bad it is for people, animals and the land.
The plan is explosive expansion, regardless of exceeding market demand. Information is that Anterio presently has 15 rigs employed to drill more Marcellus wells, and that takes a pile.  So there must be constant investment.
The second reason to keep costs down is that Anterio may have the sale of their product hedged (sold to a middle man) at very little above production cost.  This takes away risk of low prices, guarantees sales (for Anterio), and really cracks the whip to increase the scale of drilling. Both reasons encourage “cutting corners.”
Don’t drilling rigs bore holes go straight down?  Those nice pictures we see are conceptual, not what actually happens.  The nice straight lines and the layer cake appearance of geologic strata on diagrams are easy to understand, so they are used.  However, if the pipe down the well was open and you dropped a penny down it, it would hit the sides many times, before reaching the point where the turn toward horizontal begins, because of twists and bends. These reflect changes in resistance of the rock and random effects from the drill.  The angle between 10 feet at the top and the intersection at 621 feet is pretty small!  The wells didn’t have to be much out of line.
We are accumulating a small zoo of these drilling errors right here in our region. Sometime back, after the small town of Sardis got public water, the abandoned water wells erupted because of gas drilling.  The Anterio drilling was still at the earliest phase, where they removing cuttings with air pressure. The drill with high air pressure hit the aquifer and fountains came up in yards from the old water wells no longer connected to the houses.  And Stone Energy had an intersection in Wetzel county a couple of years ago.
“Communication,” connection between wells through strata, is a poorly kept secret.  It is known to people in drilling areas, civilians as well as workers in the industry.  Phenomena such as dramatic increase in production of shallow wells, escape of gas through unplugged conventional wells, even to the extent of frosting the wells is observed.  (Expanding gas cools, called “adiabatic cooling.”)

Drilling and fracking can also affect existing gas wells. I know of one family that experienced a surge in a conventional gas well that leaks near their house three times when fracking of Marcellus wells took place in their neighborhood.
Three water wells appeared to be affected almost immediately.  They were disconnected and Anterio supplied water buffalos to supply those families. How long will they continue to supply water is a good question.  Certainly not for as long as people live in the houses.  Subsequently, nine more were investigated and water buffaloes provided.  Two other area gas wells were affected, one producing and one abandoned and presumably unplugged.  One or both of these wells were providing a place for gas from Callie 2H to flow elsewhere.
The Office of Oil and Gas has cited Antero with a cease and desist order, a notice of violation, along with a pollution violation citing methane gas. Antero is required to gain control of the well, demonstrate the ability to safely resume operations and must contain any methane on site.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Vera Scroggins October 6, 2014 at 11:09 pm

… horrible chain of poor workmanship and cutting corners;
good to finally hear of a “cease and desist order” from WV-DEP;
may Antero cease permanently …

this is criminal behavior and more than fines need to be assessed…


Skylark Report July 20, 2016 at 10:10 am

Energy Corporation of America worker found unresponsive at rural WV job site

By Sarah Tincher, Energy Reporter, State Journal

Posted: July 19, 2016

An Energy Corporation of America employee was found dead at a job site in rural Roane County, West Virginia, July 18. Paul Batten, a 55-year-old production foreman out of the company’s Glenville office, was found unresponsive at the site Monday morning, according to a statement from ECA President Kyle Mork.

The company said local authorities and the appropriate officers at the state and national levels have been notified, and the situation is under investigation at this time.

There is no immediate indication of what caused Batten’s death.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Paul’s family – we will do whatever we can to support them during this difficult time,” Mork said.

This incident happened days after ECA announced it would be cutting 67 positions across its operations due to persistently low natural gas prices. 


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