Drilling Down

Rex Energy Seeks ‘Limited Injections’ at Coitsville Well

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — An activist group opposed to hydraulic fracturing is calling on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to uphold an order it issued in September denying a request to operate a Class II injection well in Coitsville Township — and not approve “limited injections” there.

Frackfree Mahoning Valley says it wants ODNR oil and gas chief Richard Simmers to maintain his order that the brine disposal well remain shut because it sits in an area the agency found to be “in close proximity to an area of known seismic activity.”

The well, initially drilled and owned by D&L Energy Inc., was sold to R.E. Disposal LLC, a subsidiary of State College-based Rex Energy Corp. after D&L filed bankruptcy.

The Sept. 24 order from ODNR found that the well, known as the Khalil #3, is 3.8 miles away from the Northstar #1 well, which in 2011 triggered an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.0. That well was shut down and remains shuttered.

A letter from Rex Energy dated Dec. 1 to Simmers, which FrackFree released to the press, indicates Rex Energy is willing to make certain adjustments at the Coitsville site, and is withholding its appeal of ODNR’s ruling pending a report on induced seismicity of the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

“We are optimistic that the work of that group, under your leadership, will find common ground among all the parties working to safely develop our domestic oil and gas resources,” the letter to Simmers says.

The letter requests the company be given permission to “make limited injections into the well during your work group’s deliberations, so that we can together gather information on seismicity associated with the injections,” which could add valuable information to the group’s work.

Rex Energy’s Khalil well is six miles away from Hilcorp Energy Co.’s Poland Township Carbon Limestone well pads. A hydraulic fracturing operation there was tied to a 3.0 earthquake in 2014.

And, the Coitsville well is 11.4 miles from a American Water Management Services’ injection well in Weathersfield Township that was linked last year to small tremors.

Injection wells are used to hold millions of gallons of wastewater generated from the practice of hydraulic fracturing, a process that injects water, sand and chemicals under high pressure into oil and gas wells. The pressure helps crack open tight shale formations so the rock can release trapped oil and gas.

Frackfree Mahoning Valley is urging the state to remain vigilant, not waver from its order of Sept. 24 and keep the Coitsville Township well shuttered.

“It is astonishing that the company in question would request permission for ‘limited injections’ despite ODNR’s original denial if the permit finding that this is an ‘area of known seismic activity,'” the organization said in a statement Monday. “To us, it appears as though allowing ‘limited injections’ would amount to experimenting and thereby gambling with the public safety of residents in order to provide data for a work group.”

Frackfree Mahoning Valley has rallied in the past to stop injection wells throughout the region, arguing that it poses a health risk to the community.

“The continued injection of millions of gallons of fracking waste is putting the public health and safety of our communities at greater risk of man-made earthquakes,” the statement said. “This is too high a price to pay.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.