CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A draft state report released Wednesday on a possible explanation why well water in a central Wyoming gas field smells foul and tastes bad points away from leaky gas wells as a source of the problem.
Testing showed no evidence gas wells in the Pavillion area are leaking produced gas into the ground or providing a route for deep gas to seep into aquifers tapped for household water, according to the draft report by the agency that regulates oil and gas development in Wyoming.
The release of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission report, which examined 50 gas wells within a quarter-mile of 15 water wells, opens a 30-day period for the public and others to weigh in on the draft findings.
Encana, the petroleum company that owns the Pavillion gas field, pointed to the latest findings as evidence their gas wells aren't to blame.
"The report confirms that the natural gas wells in the Pavillion Field were soundly constructed and provide no migration pathway into domestic water wells," Encana spokesman Doug Hock said in an emailed statement.
Local residents say their well water turned foul around the time gas drilling picked up in their area eight years ago. The draft report on the problem is the first of three planned by the commission and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in a 2011 draft report, theorized gas development, including hydraulic fracturing, played a role. The report caused a nationwide stir as environmentalists cited it as evidence that upheld their long-held concern that fracking — the process of splitting oil- and gas-bearing rock with a high-pressure mix of water, fine sand and chemicals — can contaminate groundwater.
However, the EPA has yet to finalize its draft report or submit it for peer review. Last year, the EPA handed its Pavillion area investigation over to the state.
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