Monday, January 6, 2014

Was the Shenango, Mercer Co. PA garage explosion caused by gas drilling?

Was the Shenango, Mercer Co. PA garage explosion due to gas drilling?
Published news reports:

According to published reports, on Jan 4, 2014, Thomas R. Kobielus, 43, of 659 Bedford Road, West Middlesex Borough, Shenango Township, Mercer County PA, and a friend were working on their snowmobiles in Kobielus' garage.

Suddenly, the garage exploded, killing Kobielus due to flash burns.  Kobielus' friend and son were also injured experiencing severe flash burns.

Was the cause a gasoline explosion and fire?

It is extremely rare for gasoline to explode like this, due to its low vapor pressure. Gasoline is extremely stable, especially in these bitter cold temps.

Was it a natural gas leak from a local distribution line?

Possibly. An investigation is still under way. However, gas from local distribution lines is odorized with mercaptin, so someone would have likely smelled the characteristic smell of odorized gas. (Methane in its pure state is odorless).  

Was the explosion from a leak from a local gas well?
Possibly. Here is an inventory of the gas wells within 2 miles.
  • Hagash-1 well -- Permitted April 2002, in production from 2003-2008. No production in 2010. Operator D&L Energy cited by PA DEP in 2003 (rat hole not filled) and in 2013 for failure to plug an abandoned well.
  • Milly-1 -- conventional/vertical gas well. Operator: BOCOR Holdings. Spuded July 2007. Still in production. 
  • Farkas-unit-1 -- conventional/vertical gas well. Operator: Wilkes Energy. Spuded Dec 2005. Still in production.
  • Holzshu-1 -- conventional/vertical combined oil+gas well. Operator: D&L Energy. Spuded Sep 2007. Still in Production.
  • Radkowski-3,4,5,6,9,10,11,12. -- Unconventional/Horizontal gas* wells. (* Radkowski 3H is listed as combined oil+gas).  Operator Hilcorp Energy. Spuded Sept-Nov 2013. Active/in production. 
There is also a gas transmission line running through the area (blue line) operated by National Grid.

Industry date from several sources has revealed that gas well casing failures are a pervasive industry problem leading to methane migration. (See: Ingraffea, )

A recent report by the Kevin Begos of the Associated Press reports that methane migration is a problem in many areas where gas drilling is occurring. (See: )

Shenango Garage Explosion, Local gas drilling.
NOTE: the Radkowski spacing unit is estimated based on 5,000' laterals
and a typical NW - SE orientation.

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