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Ohio Utica Shale

PDC Energy cleaning up oily fluid spill at Morgan County well

By Bob Downing Published: May 9, 2014

From the Associated Press:

A Colorado-based energy company was cleaning up hundreds of gallons of oily fluid that leaked into a nearby creek while it was drilling an oil and gas well in southeast Ohio.

An oil-based lubricant known as "mud" spewed from a well head Sunday during drilling for a hydraulic-fracturing well near Beverly, Ohio, just west of Marietta. About 1,600 gallons leaked from the drill site into a creek that is a tributary of the Muskingum River, said Heather Lauer, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The spill thus far has been confined to that creek, Lauer said. The agency is overseeing the cleanup work, which is being performed by a contractor for Denver-based PDC Energy Inc., the site’s owner.

Michael Edwards, of PDC Energy, said Thursday that workers noticed high pressure at the drill site but could not contain the subsequent leak because of an equipment failure at the well head. PDC Energy has 15 active wells in Ohio and permits for 18 more. There are two other prospective wells on the same pad where Sunday’s leak occurred.

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Department and fire departments were called soon after the leak occurred, Edwards said. Several residents accepted the company’s offer to temporarily move away from the well site, he said.

Contractors were using containment dams to prevent the drilling liquid from drifting further. He said the company is working with the state and federal officials on the cleanup.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources oversees gas and oil drilling permits in the state and will investigate the accident. Bethany McCorkle, a department spokeswoman, said the company had drilled vertically about 8,600 feet and had turned the drill horizontally about 1,200 feet when the drilling liquid gushed to the surface.

PDC Energy has not had any other reported spills in Ohio. It did have a spill of fracking water at an oil and gas well near Fort Collins, Colorado, in February 2013.

Fracking fluids contain a number of toxic chemicals. Edwards said the company had not yet begun fracking at the well where Sunday’s leak occurred.

"The well has been secured and we’re doing repairs as we speak," Edwards said. "At some point, we expect to complete those wells with hydraulic fracturing."

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Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.