Drillers Resume Pipeline Activity

MOUNDSVILLE – Natural gas drillers who saw production levels drop after the April 5 Williams Energy 12-inch pipeline blast in Marshall County should be able to resume full production, according to company spokeswoman Helen Humphreys.

“Williams’ customers are no longer impacted by the breach. We continue to assess the cause,” Humphreys said.

Gastar Exploration is one of several drillers for whom Williams processes and transports natural gas drawn in Marshall County, with others including Chesapeake Energy, Chevron, Stone Energy, Noble Energy and Trans Energy. Most of Gastar’s operations are in the southwestern portion of the county, as the driller fracks wells just up the hill from the Axiall Corp. plant along W.Va. 2.

According to Gastar information, the driller saw its levels of production plummet because of the rupture.

About two-thirds of the company’s production was “shut-in” from April 5-9 due to the pipeline problem.

Gastar officials said Marshall County production resumed with no restrictions Tuesday.

The company has 50 wells that are producing natural gas, with seven additional wells temporarily shut-in due to drilling and fracking operations at its well pads.

Along with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Williams continues to investigate the cause of the blast, while assessing the damage it caused. DEP spokeswoman Kelley J. Gillenwater said DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas, which is the arm of the agency tasked with issuing drilling permits, turned the investigation over to the Environmental Enforcement division.

“The explosion created a 10-foot crater, and the resulting fire scorched trees over an approximately 2-acre area,” she said regarding the April 5 rupture and blaze.

According to Williams, the ruptured pipeline leads to the Oak Grove site, which is one of three Williams points of operation the company has in Marshall County, along with the Fort Beeler site along U.S. 250 and the fractionation site along W.Va. 2.