Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oil and gas companies study drinking water wells in Texas, Pennsylvania

Some oil and gas companies are starting to consider testing water wells before they drill oil and natural gas wells. This stems from the debate about whether hydraulic fracturing threatens the safety of drinking water.

Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. faced water-contamination questions in Pennsylvania while Range Resources Corp. faced similar questions regarding its Barnett shale operations in Texas. The accusations have caused some within the oil and gas industry to question the quality of drinking water before any oil and gas drilling was done.

Meanwhile, Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael L. Williams on Dec. 7 accused the US Environmental Protection Agency of “Washington politics of the worst kind” and of “grandstanding in an effort to interject the federal government into Texas business.”

Williams made his comments after the EPA suggested that gas operations by Range Resources contaminated two water wells in southwest Parker County, Tex., where gas was found in the water. Range Resources issued a Dec. 8 news release saying research indicates its operations did not cause any methane in the water wells.

For months, Range Resources worked with the RRC and others on extensive testing of both its gas wells and the water wells of concern.

Cabot Oil and Gas said in an Oct. 19 release that it has proof that methane gas has been present in water wells around the Dimock Township, Pa., area for generations. Four Dimock-area water wells have methane levels in the water that exceeds levels suggested by the US Department of the Interior.

“We do not believe that our operations caused the Dimock water-quality issues,” a Cabot spokesman said.

All of this is causing oil and gas companies to consider testing the water before they drill.

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