Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Chesapeake Fracking Well Fire in Oklahoma

Fracking has suffered some particularly bad PR over the past few months. First, the EPA linked the hydraulic fracturing drilling process (where a mix of water, sand and chemicals are blasted deep underground through horizontal wells to release oil and gas deposits) to contamination of water in Wyoming. Then, on New Year’s Eve an intense earthquake struck Youngstown, Ohio. It was the eleventh quake since March, and seismologists linked it to a deep well used for disposing fracking wastewater. State officials suspended the well, and the Mayor of Youngstown went so far as to buy earthquake insurance for his home.

And last night in Oklahoma, a fracking well caught fire. Here’s the video from the website Drilling Ahead:

A report from the website says the rig, owned by Nomac, a subsidiary of the fracking giant Chesapeake, “drilled into a shallow gas pocket soon after spudding in at a drilling depth of 900′ northwest of Sweetwater, Oklahoma” around 6 p.m. on January 5. There are no reported injuries.

The company confirmed the blowout to Upstream, a paper that covers the oil and gas industry. They learned that:

“The rig had spud the Davis 30 12-26 well four miles northwest of Sweetwater in western Oklahoma. It was drilling ahead at 900 feet when it hit a zone of pressurized gas, which quickly flowed back up the well and caught fire.

Operations were at such an early stage that a raft of safety equipment had not been hooked up yet, including the blowout preventer and gas separator.”

You can read an account of the blowout and hear what workers and residents had to say on Drilling Ahead’s website.

What happens when a well blows out? Special teams of “well wranglers” jump in to extinguish the fire and cap the well. You can read our report from Thursday on Texan emergency blow out teams working on wells in Pennsylvania here.


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