Potential sources of this naturally occurring methane include thermogenic gas-chargedsandstones in the Catskill formation, which are tapped by most water wells in this region.These sandstones exhibit an extensive network of fractures, joints, and faults that serve asprinciple conduits of groundwater flow and potential pathways for the movement of shallow-sourced dissolved methane.While this is one plausible source of ambient thermogenic gas in groundwater, it does notaddress the issue at hand: the contamination of groundwater by drilling operations. If
such an “extensive network of fractures, joints and faults” can serve as conduits for
thermogenic methane, they can be conduits for drilling contaminants
drilling mud,frack fluid, and fugitive gas from aging well bores.
Methane in Susquehanna County groundwater
From May 2008 through 2009, in accordance with current Pennsylvania DEP guidelines,Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. collected water samples from all existing water wells within1,000 ft of
proposed gas well drilling sites.
From 2010 to the present, the sampling program was extended to include all water wellswithin 2,500 ft
of proposed gas well drilling sites
in anticipation of revised PennsylvaniaDEP guidelines.
“Proposed gas wells” refers to new horizontal wells. No information is
given on existing gas wells.Collectively, these samples were submitted for "predrill" analysis of water qualityparameters including concentrations of dissolved gases (methane, ethane, propane) andgeneral chemistry analyses pertaining to primary and secondary drinking water standards.Cabot also collected an extensive background set of water samples in an 80 sq mile areain Brooklyn, Harford, and Gibson townships in 2011 for analyses of dissolved gases. Intotal, these 1,713 measurements (dating from 2008 through 2011) provide a baselinecharacterization of groundwater conditions
prior to proximate oil and gas drilling,
hydraulic fracturing, or production activities (Fig. 1).