Gas well at root of blast sealed

Chevron reports success Sunday in Greene County; work begins to contain other leak

February 23, 2014
Katie Roupe/Observer-Reporter One worker remains missing after a gas well explosion near Bobtown in Dunkard Township on Tuesday, February 11. The intensity of the flames prevented crews from getting close to the fire at the Lanco wellhead.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said workers Sunday sealed a Marcellus Shale natural gas well that had been leaking in Greene County for two weeks after an explosion at the site killed a worker.

Chevron, which owns the well and another that has been leaking at the site in Dunkard Township, also issued a news release about having a “successful day” in sealing the Lanco 7H well Sunday, said Kelly Burch, the DEP’s executive director for oil and gas explorations.

Burch said the San Ramon, Calif.-based Chevron was making plans to seal the other well that has been leaking since the Feb. 11 explosion that claimed the life of Ian McKee, 27, a native of Warren who was working at the time for Cameron International.

The leaking 6H well should be sealed by Wednesday, he said.

“This is a very complex problem, which requires complex solutions,” said Burch, who was on-site Saturday and Sunday to monitor progress in the sealing operations. The fire at Chevron’s Lanco wells raged for days before it self-extinguish Feb. 15.

Burch said a jet abrasive cutting tool was used to cut and cap the 7H well and that “all tests indicate the closed seal is intact and the flow of gas has been stopped.”

He said work also began Sunday to demobilize the 7H well and move equipment to 6H.

Chevron spokesman Stanley Luckoski said the company issued the statement Sunday afternoon that the 7H well had been capped and sealed at 2:25 p.m. by its contractor, Wild Well Control headquartered in Houston, Texas.

Once the second well is capped and sealed, Wild Well Control will inspect a third well at the site and make any necessary repairs to it to ensure it’s secure, the Chevron statement indicated.

The operation could result in the flaring of gas.

“We are working to be efficient in our efforts to minimize the duration; however, the safety of the workers and operations will determine the appropriate pace,” the news released stated.

Greg Leather, director of the Greene County Emergency Management Agency, also confirmed the first well was sealed Sunday.

He said continued monitoring at the site showed no dangerous levels of pollution in the air from leaking gas.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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