Cabot ordered to cease Marcellus fracs

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Sept. 28
-- State regulators ordered Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., Houston, to cease hydraulic fracturing in northeastern Pennsylvania in connection with surface spills.

After three spills in one week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ordered Cabot to develop within 14 days an updated and accurate Pollution Prevention and Contingency Plan and Control and Disposal Plan for all permitted well pad sites in Susquehanna County.

The department required Cabot to perform an engineering study of all equipment and work practices associated with hydraulic fracturing at all wellsites in the county within 21 days. The study must include a detailed evaluation and explanation of the causes of the three spills and establish corrective measures.

Cabot is required to implement within 21 days recommendations and requirements contained in DEP’s approved Pollution Prevention and Contingency Plan, the Control and Disposal Plan, and the engineering study.

The company also must place the approved Pollution Prevention and Contingency Plan and Control and Disposal Plan in a conspicuous location at each permitted wellsite and provide a copy to each contractor and subcontractor working at any wellsite. Contractors and subcontractors cannot begin work at any wellsite until they receive the two plans.

Cabot is cooperating with the agency, said Dan O. Dinges, chairman, president, and chief executive officer.

“The only acceptable practice for Cabot is to be in full compliance with all environmental and regulatory policy; therefore, we are working cooperatively with the regulators,” Dinges said.

Cabot, which said its drilling and production operations aren’t affected, said its Marcellus production reached a high of 52 MMcfd at the end of last week. The company is drilling seven wells.

“Contributing to the increase was our most recent horizontal completion which experienced a 24-hr initial production rate greater than 10 MMcfd and a 30-day average rate of 10.8 MMcfd,” said Dinges. The well is making 11.1 MMcfd.

The combination of this well, other primarily vertical completions, and initial production streams from two horizontal wells that are cleaning up led to the 52 MMcfd rate.

From the first seven horizontal wells that have been producing for varying time frames, two have produced more than 1 bcf, and combined those two wells have a 90-day production average of 6 MMcfd.

Separately, DEP issued a notice of violation to Cabot for the third spill at the Heitsman well in Dimock Township that occurred Sept. 22. The violations noted are nearly the same as in DEP’s Sept. 22 notice of violation issued to Cabot for the other two spills.

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