DEP: Cabot to plug well
BY LAURA LEGERE
Times Shamrock Writer
A natural gas well in Dimock Twp. that is a focus of a state investigation into leaking methane has been deemed “unviable” and will be plugged after the investigation is finished, a Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman said Friday.
Regulators have been studying the source of methane in two water wells in the Susquehanna County community since February when the water for one home became turbid and saturated with gas.
A spokesman for Cabot Oil and Gas Corp., the primary Marcellus Shale operator in the surrounding area, said in February that the problem appeared to be “a small and localized event” associated with a methane vent line that had frozen on the gas well during cold weather.
Regulators said the frozen vent helped them to identify the suspect gas well – Cabot’s Costello 1 – but they concluded that opening the vent is “not the answer to the problem.” Instead, during months of remediation on the well – one of the first vertical Marcellus wells drilled in the township – regulators determined that the well is “unviable” and will have to be plugged, DEP spokeswoman Colleen Connolly said.
“We know you can’t use this well,” she said.
DEP has not identified the precise source of the problem and it has not determined whether the gas well is to blame for the methane in the two water supplies, Connolly said.
“We’re still looking into, is there a problem with the casings, was it drilled improperly?” she said. The well will not be plugged until after the investigation is complete, she said.
Cabot has voluntarily provided drinking water to one home and the other has a treatment system, she said.
Cabot spokesman George Stark said in an emailed statement, “We continue to work in conjunction with the DEP to fully investigate and resolve this matter. All options are on the table as we work in partnership with the department.”
The gas and water wells being studied by DEP are in the same corner of Dimock where Cabot is still barred from drilling new shale wells because a past investigation found the company’s operations allowed methane to seep into 18 water supplies. The company is working to meet the terms of a 2010 DEP enforcement order in that case to bring an end to the ban.
The state eased some of its restrictions on Cabot’s operations in the area last August and allowed seven previously drilled wells to be hydraulically fractured, or fracked.
Some of those wells are also being evaluated as part of the ongoing investigation, Connolly said, but the focus has narrowed to the Costello well.