Natural gas is no longer venting from the Combs Ranch Unit 29-33-70 1H well north of Douglas as of 11:05 a.m. today (Friday), according to a state official.
Well control specialists Boots & Coots and oilfield services company Halliburton had initiated well-plugging efforts at 9:25 a.m. today at the Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) drilling location 10 miles north of Douglas, according to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC). The well had been venting gas since a blowout on Tuesday afternoon.
Chesapeake is one of several operators testing the Niobrara and other deep formations in the southern Powder River Basin for shale oil potential. The rig is owned by Canadian-based Trinidad Drilling (TSX:TDG).
“At 11:05 am April 27 OGCC field inspector reported that pumping of drilling mud continues into the Combs Ranch well and that the natural gas venting to the atmosphere as ceased, approximately 68 hours after the loss of well control and venting of natural gas occurred,” commission supervisor Tom Doll said in a prepared statement this morning. ” I will get another report before 2:00 pm today confirming the time venting ceased and the duration. It is expected by then that the well capacity should be filled with drilling mud.”
No workers were injured in Tuesday’s blowout, according to company officials. The incident occurred at about 4 p.m. Tuesday as a crew was installing steel casing. Venting occurred at the mouth of the well below the rig. According to Chesapeake, the well also spewed oil-based drilling mud, which is mostly contained on location.
Well control specialists Boots & Coots (a division of Halliburton) was on location and prepared to implement plugging operations on Thursday morning, but had to delay the operation due to variable wind conditions that day, Chesapeake spokeswoman Kelsey Campbell told WyoFile. No local fire crews are on hand, said Converse County Emergency Management coordinator Russ Dalgarn, because Boots & Coots is prepared to fight a fire if there is an ignition.
Approximately 50 of the 70 residents living within a 2.5 mile radius of the Chesapeake well had voluntarily evacuated their homes on Tuesday evening.