Crew To Repair Leaking Gas Well

Wednesday, July 18th 2007, 10:43 am
By: News On 6

MARLOW, Okla. (AP) _ A ruptured natural gas wellhead in southern Oklahoma forced seven families to evacuate their homes, and authorities said Wednesday they did not know when the families will be able to return.

The gas well, operated by Chesapeake Energy Corp., ruptured on Tuesday when the wellhead was struck by a maintenance rig being pulled by a truck, officials said.

``The thing rolled back unexpectedly and knocked the wellhead off,'' said Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner.

No one was injured, but an estimated 1.6 million cubic feet and 108 barrels of oil is escaping from the wellhead each day, said Chesapeake spokesman Jim Gipson.

``There's not much controlling the flow,'' Skinner said. He said there was no risk to the environment.

Gipson said crews were assembling equipment to lift the 85,000-pound rig off of the wellhead and cap it. Well control specialists from Boots and Coots in Houston were at the site.

``We're going to pick it up with a couple of cranes,'' Gipson said.

Skinner said there is a big danger of fire at the site. Gipson said the wellhead will be doused with water and other precautions will be taken to lessen the fire danger as the maintenance rig is removed.

Gipson said there is no timetable for the well to be capped.

``We're moving as rapidly as possible,'' Gipson said. ``It's in everybody's best interest to regain control of the pressure well as soon as possible.''

The seven evacuated families lived within a one-mile radius downwind from the natural gas well. Five stayed with family members overnight and two stayed in hotels at Chesapeake's expense, officials said.

The well, which began production in May, is about 1.5 miles east of Marlow in northern Stephens County.