No timeline for capping of blown well

POWHATAN POINT — Debris must be cleared from the site a well pad explosion before work can begin to cap a leaking natural gas well in Powhatan Point, XTO spokeswoman Karen Matusic said Saturday.

Matusic said people within a 1-mile radius of the well site still are not allowed back in their homes. She did not have an estimate regarding when the well might be capped. Air and water in the area still are being monitored for methane, but Matusic said the levels have not been found to be harmful to people or animals.

“Today we’re basically getting ready for our well control crew,” she said, noting the company Cudd Energy Services will conduct the work. Matusic described Cudd as the “premiere” well control company, adding that is why XTO chose to hire that firm.

According to its website, “the Cudd family of companies offer a broad range of specialized oilfield services and equipment to businesses engaged in the exploration and production of oil and natural gas worldwide. Cudd Energy Services experienced professionals will design a solution, provide the engineering, and mobilize the resources required to safely execute the planned objective in both onshore and offshore environments. Services include stimulation, coiled tubing and e-coil, hydraulic workover, nitrogen, industrial nitrogen, slickline, braided line, electric line, special service, water management, and well control.”

Images and video from a drone are being used to give workers a better look at the site.

Matusic said no one was injured during the Thursday explosion, and XTO wants to keep it that way. That’s why the debris, such as a damaged crane, must be cleared before an attempt at capping the well can begin.

“Today the state director of the DNR and Ohio EPA were here visiting operations headquarters and looking at the drone footage,” Matusic said Saturday.

Matusic said when the explosion occurred workers were in the middle of the completion phase, which means the site already had been drilled and fracked and was being prepared for production. Earlier this week, officials said the work was being done on a fourth well on the Schnegg pad, located along Cats Run Road.

After the well is capped, Matusic said work will begin to try and figure out what went wrong.

She noted the Powhatan site is the first well that XTO has had blow in Appalachia. She said she was not sure how long the process to get it capped might take, adding she had not been involved in similar situations in other parts of the country.

Matusic said XTO will continue to pay for displaced residents’ hotel bills, along with reimbursing them for items, such as toilet paper, that they have had to purchase while away from home.

Local officials, including those with the Belmont County Emergency Management Agency and Powhatan Volunteer Fire Department, could not be reached for comment on Saturday.