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.


  • The author has no clue.  The well was drilling, it was 900′, and they were nowhere near ready to fracture it.  They hadn’t even run and cemented surface pipe.  They hit an unexpected shallow gas sand before they had run and cemented surface pipe, thus they did not have blow out preventers rigged up to shut in the well and “kill” it by pumping in heavier grade mud.

    Some of us earned engineering degrees at Texas, some people go to J-school, party a lot, and write about things they have no clue about.

    • Thanks for reading and for commenting, Edward. The well was intended to be hydraulically fractured. It was going to be drilled vertically 12,000 feet before going lateral. As you note — and as we noted in the article above — operations were at a very early stage when the blowout occurred. But the well was going to be fracked, and is one of many in Chesapeake’s lineup of wells used for fracking. 

      Also, Terrence Henry did not attend “J-school,” he went to Brigham Young University. You can read his bio here: http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/author/thenry/

      Thanks again for reading.

  • Fourpaw_5


  • Radata2003

    again these folks dont have a clue , fracing dont go on until the well is drilled and time to be completed with a completion frac , they will trow in tyhe dirty (frac ) word in ever oppertuinity they can get , fracing is only known to cause issues when fracing shallow coalbed methane within 100 meters to surface , just like the earth quake in okey !! this wasnt cause by fracing , it was an injection well for wastewater , if these folks are gonna try to stop fracing they need to get thier information correct cause it makes them look like liers !!!

  • Chuckie3d

     This rig burning down had nothing to do with Fracking, Mr BYU

  • Douglas Charles Freeman

    Just wondering why there has been no earthquakes I. West oklahoma, lots of fracking goes in there

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