Gas well scrutinized in Silt-area seepage |

Gas well scrutinized in Silt-area seepage

Jeremy Heiman

A gas well that was inadequately sealed could have been the source of a natural gas seep in West Divide Creek near Silt, industry officials say.

Owned by EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., the Schwartz well stands about four-fifths of a mile from where natural gas was found bubbling up in the creek March 30.

Joel Fox, an engineer for EnCana, said it is possible that the Schwartz well bore may have conveyed natural gas from a shallow, nonproductive gas deposit to a natural fissure or fault, which gave the gas an avenue to the surface in the form of “seeps.”

Fox, team leader for EnCana’s South Piceance Group working in the Dry Hollow area south of Silt, said his company is trying to determine the source of the seeps by process of elimination. The Schwartz well was one possibility the company has studied. He insists that the idea is very speculative at this time.

Natural gas was found to be seeping out of the ground and the streambed in West Divide Creek on March 30 by landowner Steve Thompson. Area residents soon began to question EnCana and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state agency charged with regulating the gas drilling industry, as to what had gone wrong to create the seep.

Fox said it’s conceivable the Schwartz well could be the cause of the seep. The gas could be coming from a higher sandstone formation called the Wasatch, which contains natural gas, but not in commercially useful concentrations.

“If there’s any gas in the Wasatch that you don’t have covered with cement, it could have migrated up to the surface,” Fox said.

On April 5, EnCana subcontractors did what Fox calls a “remedial squeeze job” on the Schwartz well. The well was cemented from top to bottom.

“If that was the source of the seep, we’ve taken that well out of the equation,” Fox said.

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