Chesapeake suspends completion ops following equipment failure in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale

By Phaedra Friend Troy

The second largest producer of natural gas in the United States, Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) is working to resolve a blow-out on one of its Marcellus Shale wells in Pennsylvania. 

On the evening of April 19, the wellhead equipment failed while Chesapeake was conducting completion operations at Atgas 2H, a Marcellus Shale natural gas well in Leroy Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania.
This caused a release of brine water to the surface, which was mostly contained. 

“By midday on Wednesday, April 20, full containment was reestablished, and all water flowing from the well was completely confined to the well location,” said Brian Grove, Senior Director – Corporate Development for Chesapeake. “Emergency-response procedures and many of Chesapeake's best management practices in location design and construction significantly minimized the impact.” 

Initial tests conducted by the Pennsylvania DEP and the company confirm that there was little impact on local waterways due to the release. Additional testing is under way. 

Chesapeake worked alongside well-control specialists Boots & Coots to control the well through Wednesday and Thursday, when the specialists were able to regain control of the well. 

Although slow-going due to adverse weather conditions, additional work is ongoing to provide further integrity to the well, allowing surface equipment to be removed and replaced. 

While drilling operations continue in the Marcellus Shale region, Chesapeake has voluntarily suspended all completion operations while the company investigates all the wellheads currently in use in the region. 

According to Reuters, this completions suspension includes hydraulic fracturing activities until the well can be permanently sealed and inspected.

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