The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 12, 2014

Chevron Marcellus Shale well still burning in southwestern PA

The Associated Press

— DILLINER, Pa. — State environmental officials and expert firefighters brought in by Chevron were continuing to monitor a burning Marcellus Shale natural gas well in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The well about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh in Dunkard Township erupted into flames Tuesday morning, injuring one worker and leaving one still unaccounted for Wednesday. State Department of Environmental Protection officials said the fire may burn for days, and that it will take time for multiple investigations to determine its cause.

DEP spokesman Jon Poister said experts from Houston-based Wild Well Control arrived on the site Tuesday evening to begin working on a plan to extinguish the fire. The Texas company specializes in responding to well site fires around the country, including one in Indiana Township, near Pittsburgh, that killed two welders in 2010.

Chevron said in a statement that there was no drilling or hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, taking place at the well pad at the time of the fire. Crews had been preparing to run steel tubing, which is used to hook wells up to pipeline networks and start production.

DEP officials said the remote well pad site, which is on top of a ridge, isn’t near homes or businesses and thus poses no threat to public health. But Chevron expressed “sincere regret to those who may be affected.”

Chevron said its normal operations in the Appalachian region have been reduced “in order to ensure we are able to dedicate the appropriate personnel and resources to respond to this.”