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
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you truly expect the Texas Railroad Commission to do it's job? They have been in bed with the oil and gas industry for decades...
That would be like Bush or Cheney promoting clean energy, or enforcing environmental laws...just won't happen.
RRC has clearly stated that it is not responsible for the water issue in the Barnett. Appears to be the EPA looking for a test case with a new administrator in the region. In the marcellus, cog has to deal with a similar existing methane issue. Maybe it's time that these adminsitrators be held personally liable for actions proven to be incorrect that cost responsible companies money and market share. Hopefully, the new Congress will take a look look at the EPA
Even if one concedes the EPA's position, which I do not, the $16,000/day fine, which may be modified anyway, amounts to 3 cents per 1000 cf sold by RRC at $5.00 gas until the well is "fixed". Worst case, this is a minor cost of doing business.
RRC has a very good track record of responsible drilling with few complaints. Again, even if one concedes the EPA findings, this is likely a one-off event per hundreds of wells drilled.
One wonders if the EPA guy, a college professor, picked by obama may have an anti energy agenda
I am with "Brow". I added today at $42.29. At least we know where the resistance lies on the stock based on today's action. PA and Ohio are the Red states. Happy to be diversified today with some GDPAN! DAYYF and PMGYF Advantage and a few of the other suspects in the FSNGX! Just a litle gas bubble today in RRC.
Natural gas occurs quite frequently in surface water,I live in south Texas and my water well has a lot of natural gas in it and it will burn when lit. I have talked with some old timers that live here and they told me they used the natural gas off of the water well at their school to heat the place. No wells are in the area and all the water wells in this area have gas in them
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!
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.