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Our look at
RESTORED MARCELLUS GAS WELL SITES

Many of us have heard group presentations by gas drilling companies proclaiming to restore the land to its original condition. Some gas drilling companies are even bolder, claiming to restore the land to even better condition than it was originally. Unfortunately, both claims can seem far-fetched when you look closely, or walk the ground, at former gas drilling sites.
 

SECTION VI
WELL SITE RESTORATION

A. Well Site Restoration

1. Within nine months after completion of drilling the well, the oil and gas well owner or operator must restore the land surface within the area disturbed in siting, drilling, completing and producing the well. This includes:

a. Removing or filling all pits used to contain produced fluids or industrial wastes. Standards for disposal of drill cuttings and wastes, and closing the pits are discussed in Section V.

b. Implementing erosion and sediment control measures to minimize the potential for accelerated erosion and sedimentation. Standards for erosion and sediment control area discussed in Section II.

c. Removing all drilling supplies not needed for production. Drilling supplies and equipment not needed for production may be stored at the well site if the express written consent of the surface landowner is obtained.

2. Within nine months after plugging a well, the owner or operator must remove all production or storage facilities, supplies and equipment and restore the well site.

3. The Department may extend the restoration period for an additional six months upon application of the well owner or operator providing evidence of inability to comply due to adverse weather conditions or lack of essential fuel, equipment or labor.

4. Requirements for site restoration are contained in Sections 206 and 603.1 of the Oil and Gas Act and 25 Pa. Code §§ 78.53 to 78.65 of the Oil and Gas Well Regulations (refer to Appendix 1).

B. Well Site Restoration Report

Within 60 days after the restoration of the well, the operator must submit a “Well Site Restoration Report” to the Department. The report is to be made using form 5500-FM-OF0075 “Well Site Restoration Report.” The report contains information on land application of tophole water, on-site waste disposal, and on-site cutting and waste disposal. Waste volumes reported on this form are not to be included on the “Annual Well and Waste Production Report.”

Well Site Restoration Report PA DEP
Well Site Restoration Report (PDF-107KB)

Source: Pennsylvania DEP

The photo below, of a site restoration in progress, begs these questions:
What contaminants have been buried onsite?
Who holds the liability once the driller is gone?
Will any spilled or buried toxins seep into a water well or aquifer?

Needless to say, some companies are better than others, but this photo gallery will provide photos of restored sites, semi-restored sites, and sites that may never get fully restored.
  

Restored Harold Ward Unit
Harold Ward Unit - April 6, 2013
 
Restored William Black Unit
William Black Unit - April 6, 2013
 
Restored Bednarski Unit
Bednarski Unit - April 6, 2013
 
Restored Chappel Unit
Chappel Unit - April 6, 2013
 


The ground around a restored drilling
site is never the same again
 

Restored natural gas drilling pad in Pennsylvania
Nine completed Marcellus wells
on one pad
 

Soil slip on drilling location
Drilling site soil-slip at Cowden pad
near West Middletown, Pa.
Repairs are in limbo

  
 

 
BEFORE
AFTER
  
  

     

BEFORE
AFTER
FENCE ADDED LATER
  
  

  

E&S CONTROLS?
  
  
  
HIGH WALL CRACK
  
  
  
GAS PIPELINE WITH STUMPS LEFT ON SIDE
Sloppy job!
  
  
  
"RESTORED" WELL PAD
  
  
  
NOT THE PASTURE IT ONCE WAS
  
  
  
POOR RESTORATION WORK
  
  
  
CONTAINMENT AROUND CONDENSATE TANKS
  
  
  
ROAD TO A GAS WELL
  
  
  
RESTORATION STATUS UNKNOWN
Stuck on Ugly!
  
  
  
GAS WELL ROAD
  
  
  
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
  
  
  
GAS WELL ACCESS ROAD
  
  
  
TANK BATTERY ON "RESTORED" GROUND
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
HUGE IMPOUNDMENT REMAINS
MUCH LONGER THAN EXPECTED
  
  
  
WELL ACCESS ROAD
  
  
  
ANOTHER "RESTORED" GAS WELL AREA
  
  
  
LARGE PIECES OF STONE REMAIN IN HORSE PASTURE
  
  
  
TANK BATTERY ON RESTORED GROUND
  
  
  
 
 
BURYING A PENNSYLVANIA PRODUCTION PIT IN PLACE...
WHAT WAS LEFT BEHIND?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  

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