Since 2008 we've examined 30 producing natural gas well sites in Kanawha and Putnam counties in West Virginia just outside Charleston. We've been surprised by the numbers of problems we've come across.
The percentages given in the video are based on initial examination of a site in the case of API numbers or storage tank secondary containment. In some cases problems have been corrected since that visit. This can be seen in our follow-up visits in 2010 to some of the sites we looked at in 2008.
A surprising number of wells show signs of exposed pit waste. Environmental assessments for 47-039-02026, 47-039-05714, and 47-079-01492 made in 2009. We made a video record of a reexamination of three sites in 2011. Evidence of surface contamination is determined by the presence of pit liner and/or above background level chloride.
We have anecdotal evidence that there were blowouts at 47-039-02026, 47-079-01288 and 47-039-06155. In the last two instances nearby groundwater drinking water sources were contaminated. After 47-079-01288 was fractured (the well is on a ridge) the hollow below was filled with acrid sulfurous fumes for some time.
We first became aware of the issue of an operator not reporting a wells production in 2010. This was at 47-079-01314. Checking the state's database again while gathering images for the video we find that 2010 production has been filed and the well is no longer considered abandoned. The operator still has not provided production figures for 2005-2009. Checking the database for another well by a different operator, 47-079-01492, earlier this year we found that neither the production reports nor the completion report had been filed.
The legislature was not able to pass revised oil and gas regulations during the session earlier this year and there has been talk of an interim session to get the necessary work done. We feel that new regulations alone won't solve the problem.
We plan to make other videos discussing issues related to creating new regulations for the state. In our 2008 Gas Well Study we recommended that the state and state industry associations either together or separately create concise manuals for operators, crew members and contractors about the state's regulations and requirements. This has not been done.
A short paper with tables showing the wells (by API number) and problems is available for download. The percentages are slightly revised and are the most up to date.
An Underground Injection Control Class 2 Well in Putnam County, WV
Three videos about issues at a UIC Class 2 well in Fayette county
Two Problem Wells
You Get Used To It
They Don't Do It That Way Any More: Fracturing with Explosives
Drilling Causing Problems in Wetzel County, West Virginia
Gas Well Study Cooking Class: Making Fracking Gel
Natural Gas: Blunders and Numbers
Bad Well Bad Well Bad Well
Natural Gas: Trashing the Surface Owner
Three Natural Gas Wells
Gas Well Study is the examination of natural gas wells in West Virginia.
Underground Injection Control Class 2 Wells
These wells are used either for the disposal of oil and gas liquid waste or for the enhanced recovery of oil or natural gas.
Gas Well Study Site Visits
Annual reports, environmental assessments, and individual well information.
Select videos from the Gas Well Study YouTube channel.
What Happened at Fernow
An investigation into what caused the vegetation death in the land application area after landspraying hydraulic fracture flowback waste.
The Spill at Buckeye Creek
An investigation into a spill from a Marcellus well site into Buckeye Creek in Doddridge county.