New Castle News

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March 13, 2014

More earthquakes recorded near drilling site

NEW CASTLE — Five earthquakes have been confirmed near Hilcorp Energy Co. well pads in Poland Township, Ohio.

Hilcorp has oil and gas drilling well pads on the Carbon Limestone landfill property, which is adjacent to the state line and Mahoning Township.

Mark Bruce, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said the agency is continuing to gather and examine data connected with the well production “to find out what happened.

“It is very premature to draw any conclusions,” he added.

Well operation was halted indefinitely by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Monday after 3.0 and 2.6 magnitude earthquakes were recorded that morning.

U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist John Bellini confirmed Wednesday that the survey has recorded four earthquakes Monday and one Tuesday.

Monday’s quakes were measured at 3.0 at 2:26 a.m., 2.4 at 2:42 a.m., 2.2 at 11:03 a.m. and 2.6 at 11:44 a.m. On Tuesday, a 2.1 magnitude quake was recorded at 3:01 a.m.

Bellini said the epicenters of all the quakes were all in the same general area, within three miles of the wells. He said it is difficult to pinpoint it closer than that.

A company spokesman said Hilcorp has stopped all drilling operations at the site and agrees with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ statement Monday that an “abundance of caution” is needed in conducting a full review of the situation.

Hilcorp confirmed it has seven wells on two pads on the site and only one well was producing gas and oil Monday. The depth of the vertical wells is 7,900 feet.

They said drilling on the first pad began in November 2012 and on the second, in October 2013. The second pad is in the final stage after drilling before a well produces oil and gas.

Bellini said an earthquake’s magnitude would have to be in the “mid to upper 4 range” to cause lasting damage.

A series of 12 quakes in Youngstown around Dec. 31, 2011, were determined by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to be related to the Northstar 1 wastewater injection well, which later was closed down.

Ohio has since put new rules into effect for injection wells near certain geological formations.

However, the Hilcorp wells in Lowellville are not injection wells, but are oil and gas drilling wells, which do not inject such large amounts of water or as deeply as injection wells. Bruce said he knows of no other earthquakes involving drilling wells in Ohio.

(Email: grzebieniak@ncnewsonline.com)

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