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Chevron Says One Missing After Well Fire in Pennsylvania

Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp. said one person was hospitalized and another is missing after a fire at a well south of Pittsburgh that was in the final stage of development before starting to produce natural gas.

The fire was reported at about 6:45 a.m. local time at the Lanco Unit 7H well in Greene County, Pennsylvania, the company said in a statement on its website today. A crew from Superior Energy Services Inc.’s Wild Well Control is assessing the blaze, John Poister, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said in a phone interview.

Before the fire, workers “were lowering pipe into the well hole and the pipe would be connected to their line to then get the gas into their system,” Poister said. Two other wells on the pad are unaffected by the fire, he said.

The Marcellus Shale, which stretches across Pennsylvania and West Virginia and into Ohio and New York, is the largest source of U.S. natural gas, IHS Inc. said in a March report. Helped by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, output was expected to exceed 13 billion cubic feet a day in December, up from less than 2 billion cubic feet in 2010, the Energy Information Administration said.

Chevron owned the third-largest acreage in the Marcellus Shale as of the third quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Lanco 7H well was drilled to a depth of 8,068 feet (2,459 kilometers), according to a company filing.

The cause of the fire, which continues to burn, isn’t known, Poister said. Kent Robertson, a spokesman for San Ramon, California-based Chevron, didn’t respond to e-mailed questions about the fire’s cause or what work was going on when it erupted. Chevron said in a statement the person who went to the hospital suffered “minor injuries.”

Fracking Well

Drilling started on the horizontal well on March 15, 2012, according to state records. Crews began fracking the well about March 15, 2013, according to a company filing on FracFocus.org, a national registry used by the industry to disclose chemicals used in fracking.

A state inspector cited Chevron for a violation Dec. 9 at the drilling site, Poister said. The citation, for failing to comply with a state permit, appears unrelated to today’s fire, he said.

Five horizontal rigs targeting gas were operating in Greene County as of Feb. 7, data compiled by oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. show. All of them drill development wells 5,000 feet to 10,000 feet deep, according to Baker Hughes.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Polson in New York at jpolson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net

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