MSC Issues Guidance on Responding to Stray Gas Incidents

Fourth in a series on recommended practices for responsible natural gas development

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Today, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) published its Recommended Practices for Responding to Stray Gas Incidents, the fourth in a series of such guidance documents. Stray gas – which can originate from various sources, including coal beds, oil and natural gas wells, landfills, pipelines, naturally occurring methane and microbial gas – is the migration of gas from one of these sources into groundwater, a structure, surface water and soil. There is a long, well-document history of stray gas incidents occurring in rural communities across the country, including many areas throughout Appalachia.

“Over the past several years, our industry has frequently identified the presence of stray gas during pre-drill baseline water surveys,” said MSC president Kathryn Klaber. “This document provides detailed steps that operators can take when stray gas is encountered – from developing proper plans of action, to notification of regulators as well as initial response actions and performing site reconnaissance surveys. Each of these key steps helps ensure that public safety and environmental concerns are mitigated and resolved in a responsible and timely manner.”

Stray gas can be influenced by a number of factors, including changes in barometric pressure, soil and bedrock permeability, temperature contrasts and other weather related conditions, such as rain or snow among others.

When responding to a stray gas incident, maintaining lines of communication with state regulators, local officials, first responders and homeowners is crucial. Depending on the identified levels and location of the methane, oil and natural gas producers can take a number of steps based upon initial response and assessment. Should stray gas be detected in a structure, ventilation and methane-specific alarms may be installed as a precautionary measure.

Similarly, vents may also be installed if methane is detected in water wells at heightened levels. When dissolved methane is detected in a water source servicing a structure, operators should consider providing an alternate water source until additional testing is completed to determine the source of the stray gas.

“Our organization, as laid out in our Guiding Principles, is committed to operational transparency and environmental protection,” continued Klaber. “This product will further assist operators in addressing cases of stray gas when encountered. Core to this document is the importance of safety of our employees, contractors and the general public.”

To review this full document online, click HERE.

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