Gas well failure releases gas, water |

Gas well failure releases gas, water

Jeremy Heiman
Glenwood Springs correspondent

Failure of a valve at a gas well near Rifle allowed the release of an unknown quantity of natural gas and water Friday night and Saturday.

The incident, which did not result in any injuries, happened at the Snyder A-1 well, located at the LaFarge gravel pit between Silt and Rifle on the north side of Interstate 70, at about 7:48 p.m. Friday, according to Antero Resources, the owner of the well. The leak was brought under control at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Terry Dobkins, vice president of production for Antero’s Piceance Corp., said the break released a quantity of water that had been used in fracturing the rock deep underground. In the fracturing process, water and various chemicals are injected under high pressure into the well, to release gas from surrounding layers of rock. This water remained under pressure underground, and flowed back up the well when the valve broke.

The well was drilled about one month ago and crews had been preparing it for routine production of gas when the incident occurred. He said the well is in a commercial area with several gravel pits, and he estimated it is at least one-half mile from the nearest residence.

Dobkins said the water escaping from the well was controlled by earthen berms around the well pad.

“It’s part of the spill containment measures that we always take,” he said. The water was then allowed to flow from the bermed area into a pond owned by the surface owner of the property, Jim Snyder.

The incident was probably not the result of equipment failure, Dobkins said.

“Our guess is that it was human error, at this point,” he said.

He said it’s impossible to estimate the amount of natural gas that escaped, because the rate of flow is not known.

“We really don’t have a way to measure it,” Dobkins said. He said the company has been in close contact with regulatory officials of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Garfield County, and he doesn’t anticipate any repercussions, because it was a minor incident with few consequences.

“It was basically a nonevent,” Dobkins said.

Gas field service workers from Halliburton stopped the flow of gas and water by pumping a substance called “weighted fluid” into the well, and then installed a new valve.

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