MSC issues recommended practices for stray gas incidents

The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) released its Recommended Practices for Responding to Stray Gas Incidents, the fourth in a series of guidance documents. Stray gas can originate from coal beds, oil and natural gas wells, landfills, pipelines, and naturally occurring methane and microbial gas.

A long, well-document history exists of stray gas incidents occurring in rural communities across the country, including many Appalachian areas, MSC said.

“Over the past several years, our industry has frequently identified the presence of stray gas during predrill baseline water surveys,” MSC Pres. Kathryn Klaber said Oct. 16. “This document provides detailed steps that operators can take when stray gas is encountered—from developing proper plans of action, to notification of regulators as well as initial response actions and performing site reconnaissance surveys.”

These steps help mitigate environmental concerns and maintain safety for oil and gas workers as well as the general public, she said.

Stray gas can be influenced by numerous factors, including changes in barometric pressure, soil and bedrock permeability, temperature contrasts, and other weather-related conditions, such as rain or snow.

Depending on the identified levels and location of the methane, oil and natural gas producers can take a number of steps based upon initial response and assessment.

When dissolved methane is detected in a water source servicing a structure, operators should consider providing an alternate water source until additional testing is completed to determine the source of the stray gas, the recommendations said.

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