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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Will Swepi Frack the Farmers Wife?

By Laurie Barr, Tuesday Aug. 07, 2012

Throughout the shale gas play in Pennsylvania (PA), NY and Ohio an unknown number of lost, orphan and abandoned oil and gas wells exist in great numbers.

Some of the early wells have had their locations recorded on maps and their depths have been recorded in geological surveys and other publications, however a large number of these legacy well’s  records have not been reconciled with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (PADEP)  current oil and gas well records.
Most of these legacy wells are shallow, however, in Pennsylvania an extensive deep well drilling  campaign took place in the 1930's with the discovery of large volumes of gas in the Onondaga, Oriskany, Salina, Lockport and Albion formations and by the end of 1949, five hundred and ninety five “deep wells” were drilled across PA.  These deep well locations and depths are recorded in the Topographic and Geological Survey, published in 1950 titled “Summarized record of Deep Wells in Pennsylvania,” which states wells in PA “reached depths greater than 10,000 feet.”

The Farmer’s wife, a woman who naturally raises chicken, turkey, pigs, beef and dairy cattle, on her “Certified Naturally Grown” farm, raised an objection recently, after the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued seven well permits to Swepi,LP, which operates as a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell.

The Henry Family Farm, North Beaver Twp.Lawrence County is situated in the historic oil and gas field known as The Bessemer Oil Pool as is the Kephart well pad where Swepi’s permits to drill  the wells have been approved by the PADEP.

Locations of the historic wells are marked on a USGS farmline map. To view the map go to page 22 at the following link:

According to Daniel S. Fisher’s (Hydrogeologist) affidavit, E-filed on 07/07/2012, “There are between 1,100 and 1,500 abandoned oil and gas wells in the Bessemer Oil Pool, and 229 documented oil/gas wells in North Beaver Township (DeWolf, 1929).”

The risks associated with active drilling near abandoned wells are fairly well documented by the PADEP, detailed in a draft report dated 10/28/2009 titled “Stray Gas Migration associated with Oil and Gas Wells.”  
After methane migration caused flooding in a building owned by the Ral­ston Hunt­ing Club  near Shell’s Cochran well pad in Union Town­ship, Tioga County,  StateIm­pact Penn­syl­va­nia, (published on July 30, 2012), wrote “Shell sus­pects an old, aban­doned gas well on the club’s prop­erty is respon­si­ble for the migra­tion prob­lems, and is con­struct­ing a new well pad next to the 80-year-old hole in order to plug and seal the well.”
On Monday, The Farmer’s Wife, with representation through the University of Pittsburgh Environmental Law Clinic, will be facing off with SWEPI and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, appearing before the Environmental Hearing Board ,scheduled to begin on Monday, August 13, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. Before Judge RICHARD P. MATHER, SR. at the Pittsburgh Office and Court Facility, Piatt Place, 301 Fifth Avenue, Suite 310, Pittsburgh, PA.

The stakes are high for the Farmer’s wife in her fight to protect her farm and the naturally raised products of The Henry family farm as she and the University of Pittsburgh Law Clinic blaze the trail. The trail toward getting the many health, safety and environmental risks that are known to be associated with lost, orphan and abandoned oil and gas wells in the vicinity of active drilling addressed.


Case Number: 2012030, Appellant #1: MARGARET HENRY

The Farmer’s Wife:

PADEP, Oil and Gas, Office of Oil and Gas Management > Abandoned & Orphan Well Program

Orphan and Abandoned Wells,  Fractracker:

StateImpact Pennsylvania:

Protecting our Waters, House Explosions in Bradford Pennsylvania tied to Migrating Methane Gas from Drilling Activity:


Summarized record of deep wells in Pennsylvania:

Casey Calls for Federal Help With Gas Explosions in NW PA:

After McKean County house explosions, Casey sends letter to Department of Energy asking for help and coordination with local and state officials