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Seeps seem to subside

by Donna Gray

No new gas seeps have been detected in a 9-square-mile area around an EnCana gas well on Divide Creek south of Silt, which was found to be leaking natural gas last spring.That is the conclusion of a report by Universal Geoscience Consulting Inc. of Houston, and Environmental Services Network, of Golden, which conducted a soil gas survey around the seep. The report was issued Feb. 1.The survey also found that gas from an EnCana well pad, the P3, had contaminated the nearby Dietrich water well -not gas from the EnCana Schwartz 2-15B gas well, as had been originally suspected, said report co-author Anthony W. Gorody. Gorody, a hydrogeochemist with Universal Geoscience Consulting, and scientists with Environmental Services Network were hired by EnCana to fingerprint or determine the origin of the gas at the original seep. The survey was ordered by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission after a violation of COGCC regulations resulted in a natural gas release at the Schwartz 2-15B well. EnCana was fined $371,200 for the violation.During the course of the survey, over the month of October, a local inspector for the COGCC noticed gas bubbling out of the P3 well pad, Gorody said, so the survey was expanded to include that area. The well pad is 0.2 miles north of the Schwartz well.Gas seeping from the P3 pad was of shallower origin than the deeper Williams Fork Formation, the source of EnCana’s production gas, that occurs between 8,000 and 10,000 feet below the surface, Gorody said. “I don’t believe it’s the Cretaceous (Williams Fork) gas they drill for,” he said. He said it’s likely the gas originated in the shallower Wasatch formation, at about 1,000 feet.”There’s reason to believe it was shallow gas that no one knew about. It was not a problem with (drilling) operations, but there was shallow gas no one knew was there,” and it was not cemented in during routine operations in drilling the well. Gas from the Schwartz 2-15B well was identified as originating in the Williams Fork Formation. Both the P3 and Schwartz well gases were identified as thermogenic, or gas formed by the burial and heating of organic material beneath the surface, a process that generates natural gas. Thermogenic gas in domestic well water raises concerns because water-soluble hydrocarbons such as benzene can occur in that type of gas – and benzene can be carcinogenic.As part of the COGCC order resulting from the gas seep violation, EnCana is collecting gas samples from 28 domestic water wells, two irrigation wells, a pond, two springs and 27 ground water monitoring wells along West Divide Creek. To date, with the exception of the monitoring wells along the creek, no benzene, ethylbenzene and xylenes have been detected in any of the samples.Data from the monitoring wells shows “a localized shallow ground water BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) plume coincident with the area of main gas seepage,” according to a COGCC monthly report on the organization’s Web site, http://www.oil-gas.state.co.us.Both the Schwartz well and the wells at the P3 pad have since been cemented to prevent further seepage.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com


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