Range Resources Must Repair Texas Gas-Well Leak, EPA Says
By Mike Lee - Dec 7, 2010 6:50 PM CT
Business ExchangeBuzz up!DiggPrint Email .The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered Range Resources Inc. to fix a gas well leak that it said is contaminating water wells in Texas.
The move is the EPA’s first federal action in years against an oil-and-gas operator in the state, said Al Armendariz, an EPA regional administrator who oversees operations in Texas and four other states.
The EPA has the legal authority to investigate groundwater contamination, and typically leaves that job to state regulators, Armendariz said. In this case, the Texas Railroad Commission didn’t do enough, he said.
“This is the first time we’ve used those authorities for an aquifer that has been impacted by oil and gas activity in Texas in recent years,” he said. “It is regrettable the Railroad Commission hasn’t acted up to this point.”
The EPA said Range allowed methane from natural-gas wells in Parker County, west of Fort Worth, to seep into two families’ water wells. The order requires Range to provide safe drinking water for landowners and fix the wells. The company could face a fine of as much as $16,000 a day, David Gray, an EPA spokesman, said.
Range Resources has conducted tests which show that the company is not responsible for the contamination, Matt Pitzarella, a company spokesman, said. The test results have been shared with the EPA, Pitzarella said.
“We don’t believe the methane that is found in that water has any connection to our activities, not only in that well but in nearby wells in the area,” Pitzarella said.
Range, based in Fort Worth, Texas, has operations in the Barnett Shale field in Texas and is one of the largest leaseholders in the Marcellus Shale, the gas field that underlies Pennsylvania and New York. In July, the company began revealing the chemicals it uses in hydraulic fracturing, in which drilling fluid is forced into the earth at high pressure to crack rock.
The EPA is conducting a nationwide study to see if hydraulic fracturing of natural-gas wells contributes to water pollution.
Armendariz said the wells in question were fractured between April and August 2009.
“We confirmed the natural gas that is entering the water wells is the same natural gas that Range is producing,” he said. “We don’t at this time know whether it was the hydraulic fracturing or a poor cementing job or a faulty casing or a number of other factors.”
The Texas Railroad Commission did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Lee Mlee326@blooomberg.net
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If this Forbes article is accurate, the EPA adminstrator should be held personally liable for any costs incurred by RRC and fired: "The EPA seems to be driven more by politics than science. The EPA Region 6 administrator who issued the report on Range Resources, named Al Armendariz, featured prominently in Gasland, has been paid by the Environmental Defense Fund to produce a study (subsequently debunked) about the air effects of drilling in the Barnett Shale. Armendariz’s C.V. says that he’s done work for the Sierra Club, Public Citizen and Downwinders At Risk"
RRC has said that the gas in question is not Barnett gas based on their test results, the EPA while not releasing their test results first notified the media before the affected parties-not surprising. RRC has been completed transparent and responsible while the EPA has engaged in a jurisdictional issue with the Railroad commission.
when you say "jumped" do you mean they accused Range prematurely? Anyway, the stock looked like crap today. But it seemed like a lot of buying came in right at the end. I think the bottom was set today and we rise sharply from here. Bump!