Appalachian Basin

*Update I* ODNR Records Help Separate Myth from Fact on Mangan Case

Update I (5:30p.m. EDT;  March 14) – The Cleveland Plain Dealer today highlighted Mr. Mangan’s efforts to have a federal court consider his lawsuit after the Medina County Court of Common Pleas threw out a previous legal suit.  Among other items, the article highlighted the inaccuracies in Mangan’s claims stating his  declaration of  impacts from hydraulic fracturing were made “several weeks if not months before the (gas) wells were actually fracked”.  The article also highlighted ODNR’s  investigation which found that an abandoned natural gas well, developed in 1942, was the likely source of methane entering the Mangan well.  The ATSDR report  also noted that neither the Mangan or Boggs’s well posed any threat to human health (page 3).

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The Network for Oil & Gas Accountability & Protection (NEOGAP), an organization committed to banning oil and gas development in Ohio, makes a victim out of Medina County resident Mark Mangan, who is in many respects becoming the poster child for NEOGAP and the anti-development crowd here in Ohio.  Mr. Mangan, a volunteer firefighter, shows up at local town hall meetings with a jug of dirty water and contends that the water well at his house was impacted from development of a natural gas well at the nearby Allardale County Park property (Allard #3A) in 2008.  The facts tell us this is far from the truth.

The Allard #3A oil and gas well is approximately 2,000 feet  from Mark Mangan’s property according to reports from investigators at the Division of Mineral Resources Management (DMRM). The 11-3/4″ conductor casing at the natural gas well was set on September 29, 2008 at a depth of 62 feet (151 ft higher in elevation than Mangan’s well) and there was an attempt to cement the well and casings in place. However, cement did not circulate initially and the DMRM inspector, Harold Moravy, who was onsite overseeing the job, had the company apply remedial cement down the conductor by pumping cement along the backside of the conductor casing.

The Claims of Mr. Mangan

Mark ManganEnter Mr. Mangan.  He claimed he lost his water supply at 4:00 p.m. on September 29, 2008. He also claimed there was cement in his water well. According to DMRM investigators, it is scientifically impossible for cement from the Allard #3A oil and gas well to migrate 2000 feet through subsoil sand and gravel deposits to arrive at his water well.  This is a fact confirmed by DMRM officials in the investigation who have a combined experience over 110 years in regulating, overseeing and working in the development of oil and natural gas.  Here’s why Mangan’s claims don’t add up:

Point 1: According to Tom Tomastik,  a Geologist 4 with DMRM at the time of the event who helped investigate the claims, the depth of the conductor in the natural gas well is 62 feet.  Based upon the surface elevations of both wells, and the casing depth in Mangan’s water well, the natural gas well is not only 2,000 feet removed from Mangan’s well but is nearly 151 feet higher in elevation than the sandstone aquifer where Mangan’s water well is located.  Therefore there is a total distance between the two wells of approximately 2,151 feet.  Tomastik,  with his years of experience in geology and overseeing natural gas production and regulations, states its not possible for lost cement to migrate 2000 feet in one direction underground and then travel downwards an additional 151 feet to the aquifer where Mangan’s well is located.

Point 2:  Water and cement applied at the well-site would flow out radially around the conductor borehole (360 degrees).  Given this dynamic it would be incredibly difficult for the fluid and cement volumes to build enough pressure to migrate in one direction for over 2000 feet in the subsoil.

Point 3: According to Ohio investigators, the most likely source of the chloride and natural gas contamination in the Mangan water well is an old oil and gas well located across the street on a neighbor’s property. The DMRM has approached this landowner requesting right-of-entry onto his property to properly plug and abandon this well under the Idle and Orphan Program. The landowner refuses to approve the right-of-entry as he has a water well that has not been impacted and is concerned that plugging the old well may change this dynamic. Without property owner consent the Division has no authority to plug an idle and orphan oil and gas well.

This quote from Scott Kell, Deputy Chief at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mineral Resources Management, sums up the Mangan situation quite succinctly:

Based upon consideration of water chemistry and other factors, the DMRM appropriately concluded that your water well was not contaminated by oilfield operations. In summary, the DMRM has concluded that drilling operations at the Allard No. 3-A and 4-A wells have neither affected the yield or quality of your private water supply. This concludes the DMRM investigation of your water supply complaint. The DMRM recommends that you consult with your personal physician and state or county health departments regarding the salinity issues with your private water supply

However, none of this stopped Mr. Mangan from filing a lawsuit on the matter which was later dismissed because it was determined there was not a legitimate case to be argued.  This is noticeable in the affidavit of Steve Swain filed in the Court of Common Pleas, Medina County:

I am Head of Field Operations at Landmark 4 LLC. Landmark 4 LLC is an oil and gas well operator. It has received permits from the ODNR, DMRM to drill and/or operate more than 30 wells in Ohio. After receiving the permit, Landmark 4 LLC. hired Wildcat Drilling to drill a hole for Allard well No. 3-A. Before Wildcat Drilling drilled the hole, Landmark 4 LLC took all required precautions to avoid having Wildcat Drilling drill a hole that could cause contamination of any land or water on the surface or subsurface in proximity to the drilling. These precautions included, but were not limited to, ensuring that the appropriate conductor pipe and surface casing were on-hand and installed in the hole; monitoring at the drill site, along with a representative from ODNR, the setting and cementing of the conductor pipe and surface casing.  I was personally on site during this process, as was the ODNR representative who confirmed that the conductor pipe and surface casing was properly set and cemented.  I also personally confirmed with the ODNR representative, the driller and the cementing subcontractor that the appropriate cement was used to cement and fully seal the conductor and surface casing and that the cementing operation was performed appropriately.

NEOGAP Has One Objective and Its Not Public Welfare

The NEOGAP agenda is not directed to the public good or reasonable compromise. Their agenda is to stop oil and gas development by generating misinformation to feed the media frenzy and create public distrust of the Ohio oil and gas exploration and production industry. Want proof? Go to http://www.neogap.org/neogap/ and read about it. This sentiment is also noticeable in the following videos from the Medina Town Hall meeting (hosted by Vanessa Pesec, NEOGAP) on September 15, 2011.

However, given Ohio’s long history of oil and natural gas development there are plenty of landowners who have a much different story to tell than the one offered by Mr. Mangan.  I paid a visit to one of these landowners in Medina County where I spoke with Bill Bramley.  Bill has four existing oil and gas wells (drilled in the early 1980’s) on his 80 acre farm property. After 30 years, Mr. Bramley still uses free gas from the wells to heat his home, along with his children’s homes during the winter.

Let’s see what Mr. Bramley has to say about his water aquifer.

Looks like Mr. Bramley was thinking about his children and grandchildren 30 years ago when he decided to enter into an oil and gas lease agreement and drill four wells on his property!

Facts on Oil and Gas Development in Medina

As we mentioned, oil and gas development is nothing new to the State of Ohio or Medina County in particular.  These activities have been occurring here for generations with little to no issues.  An example of the extensive presence of oil and gas development here is noticeable in the below statistics.

 

  • Total number of producing wells: 1,307
  • Total number of wells drilled: 6,517
  • Annual Domestic Energy Production: 897,933,000 cubic feet of natural gas
  • Annual Landowner Royalties: $1,023,124.72

Given Ohio’s strong regulatory framework  the DMRM is able to consistenltly ensure the safety of our citizens and environment, as well as the safety of drill-site employees.  This was the case when the Allard well was developed and remains the case today.  In fact, current regulations which became  effective in 2010 further strengthened the oil and gas production inspection process including stronger protection of groundwater resources.

Groundwater Protections In Place During Well Development

During initial development steel casings are inserted to the well bore and cemented in place. There are multiple layers of casing present including a production casing, intermediate casing and surface casing.  All are interspersed with special cement between the layers of casing to ensure the natural gas well is isolated from nearby groundwater resources.   ODNR inspectors place a high priority on witnessing this critical phase to make certain of proper installation (well construction). They also observe the testing of blow-out prevention devices, which controls pressure (well control) and monitor the company’s handling of the fluid (fluid control).

Once the cement has set, the wellbore is continued from the bottom of the first cemented steel casing to the next depth, and the process is repeated using smaller steel casings each time until the oil and gas reservoir is reached.  The reality is that steel-and-cement casing prevents any contamination of the groundwater, protecting public health and water aquifers from contamination. See the illustration below:

Vertical Well Casing Protections

 

Wrap-Up

As mentioned earlier, Ohio has a long history with oil and gas production.  Due to this experience, and our strong regulatory regime and inspections and enforcement activity, the state has had little problems as a result of this development.  In fact, despite  producing more oil at the turn of the 20th century than any other state, and contiued development since that time, Ohio has never had a major issue with groundwater pollution as a result of oil and natural gas development.  Our state has had oil and gas development since only weeks after Col. Edwin Drake made his famous discovery in Pennsylvania.  One-hundred-and-fifty years later, more than one billion barrels of oil and nine trillion cubic feet of natural gas have been harvested from Ohio, with commercial wells developed in 67 of the state’s 88 counties. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are some 29,000 active oil wells and nearly 35,000 active natural gas wells producing energy in and for Ohio today.  All of this activity occurring with little to no problems.

 

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