Drilling Down

Hilcorp Stops Fracking at 2 Wells Near Earthquake

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Hilcorp Energy Co. has voluntarily stopped fracking two horizontal shale wells in North Beaver Township, Pa., following a small earthquake detected Monday near the company’s four-well pad across the state line in Lawrence County.

“Hilcorp stopped fracking operations and demobilized the same day from that location,” said Melanie Williams, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

No official link has been made with the fracking operations at Hilcorp’s four-well pad operated by subsidiary North Beaver NC Development, and Williams said the DEP is investigating. Two of the wells at the site, near the Carbon Limestone Landfill, were fractured beginning March 30 and were completed, and two were being fractured at the time of the earthquake.

Hilcorp has not responded to requests for comment.

The epicenter of the tremor was 5.6 miles west of New Castle, Pa. in Mahoning Township, just west of Mohawk School Road and south of Miller Farm Road, the U.S. Geological Survey. reports.

The quake was recorded shortly after midnight Monday.

In the past, seismic activity in the region has been tied to exploration of oil and gas in the Utica shale. In 2014, a hydraulic fracturing operation was shut down at a well pad in Poland Township just west Lawrence County after triggering a series of small tremors there.

Hilcorp has emerged as the dominant active prospector for oil and gas in the northern tier, which encompasses Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio and Lawrence and Mercer counties in western Pennsylvania.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.