June 4 (Bloomberg) — A Pennsylvania natural-gas well operated by EOG Resources Inc. had a “blowout” last night, sending natural gas and drilling fluids onto the ground and 75 feet (23 meters) into the air, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection said.
EOG said in a separate statement the well had a “control issue” at about 8 p.m. New York time yesterday and was secured by 12:15 p.m. today. No injuries were reported, the company said.
A “blowout,” the industry’s term for a surge of pressurized oil or gas that causes an eruption at a well, is what caused an explosion and fire at BP Plc’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico April 20, resulting in the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.
Environmentalists were quick to compare the two blowouts and call for tighter regulation of the growing use of hydraulic fracturing to extract gas from shale formations. Drillers using the process inject a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to crack open shale and unlock gas deposits.
“We see a lot of parallels,” said Amy Mall, senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York- based advocacy group. “This is a very complex process with a lot of risks and involves a lot of complicated technology. The strongest standards need to be in place.”
There is a need for federal regulation of drilling in shale formations so there is a “minimum standard”, Mall said. Pennsylvania is in the processing of revising its rules on fracturing, “but not every state is,” Mall said.
Regulation to Rise?
ClearView Energy Partners LLC, a Washington-based policy analysis firm, said it expects members of Congress who are critical of hydraulic fracturing to use the EOG accident as grounds for greater regulation.
“Odds for explicit regulation have now increased,” Kevin Book, managing director at ClearView Energy wrote today in a research note.
The well is located in the Marcellus Shale gas formation in Clearfield County, about 11 miles from Penfield, Pennsylvania, EOG said. Buffalo, New York-based National Fuel Gas Co. said today one of its subsidiaries is an equal partner with EOG in the well.