Drilling Down

AWMS Appeals Well Shutdown to Ohio High Court

WARREN, Ohio – A company that owns an injection well that has sat idle since 2014 per the order of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has appealed to the state high court and the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission that could lead to it being reactivated.

AWMS Water Solutions LLC on April 5 filed a notice of appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court asking it to reconsider a March ruling in the Trumbull County 11th District Court of Appeals that upholds the decision of ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Management to keep the well shut down. 

On the same day, the company filed a measure with the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission that would have the chief’s decision vacated.

It’s the latest in years of legal maneuvers the company has pursued in order to restart the operation.

AWMS, a division of Avalon Holdings Corp., received permits in 2013 to drill two injection wells along state Route 169 in Weathersfield Township. The wells were completed and began commercial operations the following year.

Injection wells are used to store contaminated wastewater generated from drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations used in the oil and gas industry. However, a series of earthquakes in 2011 – one of which registered 4.0 in magnitude – was linked to an injection well in Youngstown, and the state shut the well down.

In July 2014, small tremors measuring a magnitude of 1.7 and 2.1 were detected near the AWMS #2 well, the deeper of the two injection wells. The oil and gas division then ordered the operations suspended until the company submitted a comprehensive plan that addressed the seismic issues.

Though AWMS submitted a plan to ODNR, the oil and gas division found the plan was “generic and inadequate,” according to court documents. 

Three years ago, the company filed a petition for writ of mandamus in the 11th District, alleging the suspension order interfered with AWMS’ property rights. Simultaneously, the company appealed ODNR’s decision in the Franklin County Common Pleas court, which ruled that the suspension order was lawful, but unreasonable. 

The Franklin County 10th District Court of Appeals, however, upheld the division’s decision and the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

In March, the 11th District Court ruled that the oil and gas division’s “suspension order is neither unfair nor arbitrary,” according to court documents. And, the court denied the company’s petition for writ of mandamus, court papers say. 

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.