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Fracking fluid blows out nearby well

Cleanup costs, competing technologies at issue

By Tina Jensen

  1. Updated: Saturday, October 19, 2013, 9:52 AM MDT

  2. Published: Friday, October 18, 2013, 11:41 PM MDT

COUNSELORS, N.M. (KRQE) – More than 200 barrels of fracking fluid, oil and water blew out of a traditional oil well on BLM land in the San Juan Basin in late September raising questions about who is responsible for the spill.

State regulators say the blowout on a Parko Oil well happened because of pressure from nearby fracking operations run by Encana Oil.

Fracking–short for horizontal fracturing–is a controversial practice that uses chemicals pumped under pressure to break up underground layers of shale to release oil and natural gas.

“The spill has been contained,” said Jim Winchester, spokesperson for the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, which houses the state regulator Oil Conservation Division. “Fluids from the spill were removed by a vacuum truck quickly after the release.”

On Sept. 30, one of Encana’s fractures reached Parko’s neighboring vertical well. The pressure was too much for the older well to handle.

“Our highest pressure is around 150 pounds,” said Parko Oil pumper Johnny Aragon. “The pressure we were experiencing was in excess of 2,000 pounds, which is a lot more than what the wells are designed to hold.”

Encana’s operations were approximately 0.5 miles from the Parko well that had the blowout.

“An Encana well, undergoing stimulation operations, may have communicated with the well of a nearby operator,” said Encana spokesperson Doug Hock. “That operator’s well became over-pressurized resulting in the release of fluid from both the wellhead and a nearby tank.”

“When Encana was made aware of the situation, it immediately ceased its own operations.”



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