Drilling Down

Application Filed to Plug Well that Triggered Quakes

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The injection well that was responsible for triggering a series of earthquakes in the Mahoning Valley six years ago is slated to be shut-in for good.

An application to formally plug and abandon the closed Northstar #1 disposal well was filed April 6 and is under review by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Oil and Gas Division, said Steve Irwin, ODNR spokesman.

North Star Disposal Services LLC, whose address is given as 18 Hogue Street, Youngstown, is the company requesting the well be plugged. The business housed at that address is listed as Marucci & Gaffney Excavating.

Initially, the well was owned by D&L Energy Inc. of Youngstown, which received a permit in 2010 to drill a Class II injection well at the Ohio Works Business Park in Youngstown. The well was developed to accept and store drilling wastewater from wells in the Utica and Marcellus shale formations in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In 2011, after injection activity began at the well, a series of earthquakes struck the Mahoning Valley, including one that measured 4.0 on the Richter scale that New Year’s Eve.

The well was immediately shut down after the earthquakes, and the governor’s office placed a moratorium on new injection wells within a five-mile radius of the Northstar #1 site.

Although the well was shut down, it had not been plugged.

“The division received the application on Thursday and it remains under review,” Irwin told The Business Journal via email.

Irwin explained that plugging a well entails removing all debris and casing from the well, and then using new cement to plug the bottom across the injection zone, across any producing formations in the region, the top of the Big Lime formation, and at the top of the surface casing.

Irwin added that once a well is plugged and abandoned, it is unlikely to return to use.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.