Thursday, June 10, 2010

West Virginia DEP orders Drillers to Halt Work

According to AP reports, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection issued two violations against an Ohio gas company and ordered it to stop all operations in West Virginia until the cause of a rig explosion that injured seven workers is determined. DEP regulators cited AB Resources PA LLC of Brecksville, Ohio, for failing to comply with its permit plan, and said those failures may have created the conditions that led to Monday's blast near Moundsville.

Union Drilling Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas, was sinking a well for AB Resources and another company, Dallas-based Chief Oil & Natural Gas, when it struck a methane pocket in an abandoned coal mine it had been drilling through. As the crew began to remove the drill string early Monday morning, the methane exploded.

According to DEP  the crew failed to set casing - the steel pipe that seals off water and gas - at the required depth. AB Resources also inaccurately reported the depth of the coal seam underneath its operation, the agency said.

None of the companies involved in the Moundsville explosion had been charged with safety violations in West Virginia, but federal records show that Union Drilling has paid $226,000 in fines for safety violations over the past five years. According to the AP report, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted 20 inspections of Union Drilling operations around the country since February 2006, and 13 of those resulted in violations. Read more here.

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