Are cutting-edge oil/gas technologies too dangerous?

We’re drilling deeper and deeper and more aggressively than ever before. I suspect that’s why the accidents seem to be more frequent and more severe.

Another accident — nearly catastrophic — just happened in Pennsylvania:

Natural gas and polluted drilling water from an out-of-control well shot 75 feet into the air in a remote area of Pennsylvania before crews were able to tame the flow of explosive gas more than half a day later, officials said Friday.

The well was brought under control just after noon Friday, about 16 hours after it started spewing gas and brine, said Elizabeth Ivers, a spokeswoman for driller EOG Resources Inc. She said she could not immediately respond to questions about how the accident happened.

The well never caught fire and no injuries were reported, but state officials had worried the gas might explode before the well could be controlled….

“The event at the well site could have been a catastrophic incident that endangered life and property,” Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said in a statement. “This was not a minor accident, but a serious incident.”

…The crew had just finished a process called hydraulic fracturing – in which millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are blasted underground to shatter tightly compacted shale and release trapped natural gas – and were clearing out debris from the well when gas shot out of it, he said.

Posted by James on Tuesday, June 08, 2010