Estate of D&L Energy Seeks Permits to Plug Wells

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – D&L Energy Inc., the now-defunct company whose injection well here triggered a series of earthquakes in 2011, intends to plug and abandon a similar well and four more conventional wells in Trumbull County, according to records.

The company’s estate, still winding its way through Chapter 7 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio, filed for permits last month to plug and abandon its Northstar United well on South State Street in Girard.

That well was a companion to D&L’s Northstar #1, a well drilled just off Martin Luther King Blvd. that officials say triggered hundreds of small and large tremors in the Mahoning Valley, including a quake Dec. 31, 2011, that registered 4.0 on the Richter scale .

The temblors caused the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to suspend all injection well activity within five miles of the Northstar #1 well. As a result, work on Northstar United was abandoned.

D&L wells were used to store wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations – a process drillers use to inject water, sand and chemicals under pressure into wells to stimulate production.

In 2014, the bankruptcy court approved the sale of a portion of D&L’s assets to a Denver company. However, 75 wells in Ohio and Pennsylvania were excluded from the sale, according to court papers.

The permits, filed under the D&L name Oct. 26, call for plugging and abandoning five wells, the Northstar United well and four others in Trumbull County that targeted the Clinton sandstone formation.

These wells are in Vienna, Warren, Brookfield and Howland townships in Trumbull County.

Under a process mandated by ODNR, all Class II injection wells must be plugged to the wellhead with concrete.

D&L filed for bankruptcy in 2013 shortly after its owner, Ben Lupo, was charged with violating the Clean Water Act. Lupo pleaded guilty for ordering his employees to unlawfully dump oilfield wastewater into a sewer drain on the company’s property on Salt Springs Road.

The discharge ended up seeping into and contaminating a tributary of the Mahoning River. Lupo was sentenced in 2014 to 28 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution of $25,000.

Pictured: The Former D&L Energy’s Northstar #1 injection well site in Youngstown.

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