Thursday, March 8, 2012
The company has until May 31 to extinguish the flare that has been burning since August 2011
Great reportage by Rick Steelhammer, Charleston Gazette.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state Department of Environmental Protection has set May 31 as the deadline for extinguishing a flare that has been burning gases from three Nicholas County Marcellus Shale exploration wells for more than six months, despite state laws limiting natural gas flaring to 30 days per year.
Dallas-based Bluescape Resources Co. began flaring gas from three Marcellus wells near Fenwick on Aug. 28 last year. Responding to citizen complaints about the prolonged flaring, mainly from the newly formed organization Stand Up Now, the DEP's Division of Air Quality inspected the Fenwick area site on Oct. 12 and issued BRC a notice of violation Oct. 26.
On Nov. 14, in a response to the violation notice, company officials said BRC had to flare the natural gas produced by the wells since "no pipeline exists in the area" to collect and transport the gas. Lacking a pipeline, gas from the wells had to be released, measured and burned "to test the viability of the natural gas reserves in the area," they said.
A pipeline linking the Richwood area to Frametown is being planned.
The company response went on to state that BRC could not "shut in the wells or the flare without suffering irreparable financial damage." The Fenwick area wells "are generating data on natural gas reserves in a portion of the state that has previously not been tested. The information being generated is crucial not only to BRC but to the mineral owners and other lessees in the area."
BRC maintained in its response letter that prior to installing the wells, the company consulted with the DEP's Office of Oil and Gas about flaring plans at the Fenwick site, and was told that no permits were needed.
In late November, the company filed a request for a temporary permit to continue operating the flare. On Dec. 7, a meeting was held with Division of Air Quality personnel to discuss the permit and resolve the notice of violation. On Dec. 15, the DAQ sent BRC a Notice of Deficiency letter seeking more information from the company in order to process the temporary permit.
In the recently released consent order, dated Feb. 22, BRC agreed, among other things, to convert the flare from a vertical to a horizontal configuration, to monitor for visible emissions, and to cease operating the flare "on or before combusting a total of 1,321 million standard cubic feet, or no later than May 31, 2012, whichever is sooner."
BRC also agreed to pay an administrative penalty of $50,000 to resolve all DAQ violations.
BRC's permit application lists maximum possible hourly emissions from the flare as 35,163 pounds of carbon dioxide and 110 pounds of carbon monoxide.
"I'm glad to know that the state has established a limit" regarding how long natural gas flares are allowed to burn, said Stephanie Hamilton, among those opposing the continued flaring of the Fenwick wells.
Hamilton said she would like to see BRC's fine money be used to add a Richwood-area air quality monitoring station to the Division of Air Quality's current network of 23 monitoring sites across the state. The nearest station to the Fenwick wells is found at Sam Black Church in Greenbrier County, "many miles and several mountains away," she said.
With 13 Marcellus wells under permit in the Richwood area, and 12 in the vicinity of Craigsville, and up to 10 wells possible per drilling pad, "the potential for hundreds of new wells and new flares is possible in Nicholas County," Hamilton said.
Hamilton said state law allows for fines of up to $250,000 per well for the nonpermitted flaring done by BRC. "I wonder how the DEP justified a $50,000 fine," she said.
Hamilton said the orange glow from the flare can be seen from Richwood and Craigsville at night, particularly during overcast conditions.
Posted by Caroline Snyder at 4:21 PM
Monday, March 5, 2012
BRC Operating Company, LLC, who have been illegally operating a gas flare near Richwood, Nicholas County WV for several months, finally gets a paltry fine from the DEP of $50,000.. bear in mind that they could have been fined the maximum of $250,000 per well.. and that they were flaring THREE wells up there. They have been ordered to construct and monitor a horizontal flaring system. "The Company shall install a horizontal flare on or before March 1, 2012". Has this been done? If not, then they could be in violation of this consent order.
My spies are out!
west virginia department of environmental protection
Division of Air Quality
601 57th Street SE
Charleston, WV 25304
Phone: 3049260475 FAX: 3049260479
Earl Ray Tomblin, Governor
Randy C. Huffman, Cabinet Secretary
ISSUED UNDER THE AIR POLLUTION CONTROL ACT, WEST VIRGINIA CODE, CHAPTER 22, ARTICLE 5, SECTION 4
TO: BRC Operating Company, LLC
Mr. C. John Wilder, CEO
200 Crescent Court
Dallas, TX 75201
DATE: February 22,2012
ORDER NO.: CO-R13-E-2012-05
FACILITY ID NO.: 067-00108
This Consent Order is issued by the Director of the Division of Air Quality (hereinafter Director), under the authority of West Virginia Code, Chapter 22, Article 5, Section 1 et seq. to
BRC Operating Company, LLC (Company).
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. The Company owns and operates the Rupert Pad Site 2, consisting of three natural gas exploration wells to determine the viability of future production development, (Facility) located near Fenwick, WV. The Facility is a Marcellus Shale horizontal natural gas well, which includes a temporary flare.
2. On October 12, 2011, personnel from the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) conducted an inspection of the Facility in response to citizen complaints related to operation of the temporary flare at the well site. The DAQ determined the natural gas temporary well flare exceeded the maximum number of cumulative days of operation allowed within a twelve (12) consecutive month period in accordance with Section 6.1 of 45CSR6 (Rule 6) to exempt the Facility from being required to obtain a 45CSR13 (Rule 13) temporary permit.
3. On October 26, 2011, the DAQ issued a Notice Of Violation (NOV) to the Company for violating Rule 6 for not obtaining a permit in accordance with the provisions of W.Va. Code §22-5-1 et seq. and Rule 13. The NOV required the Company to respond within ten (10) days to address the violation.
Page 2 of6
4. On November 14, 2011, the DAQ received the Company's response to the NOV. The Company stated "The Site is located in a remote part of Nicholas County, and to date no natural gas pipelines have been installed on or in the vicinity of the Site ..... The Site is the first location in Nicholas County to test the viability of the natural gas reserves in the area. Because no pipeline exists in the area, BRC must flare the natural gas that is produced by the three wells at the Site."
5. On November 16, 2011, the Company submitted a 45 CSR 13 (Rule 13) temporary permit application to the DAQ for construction and operation of the flare.
6. On December 7, 2011, the Company met with the DAQ to resolve the violation and discuss the temporary Rule 13 permit application.
7. On December 15,2011, the DAQ sent the Company a Notice of Deficiency (NOD) letter to request additional information to process the permit application and to deem the permit application technically and administratively complete.
ORDER FOR COMPLIANCE
Now, therefore, in accordance with Chapter 22, Article 5, Section 1 et seq. of the West Virginia Code, it is hereby agreed between the parties, and ORDERED by the Director:
1. The Company shall revise the 45 CSR 13 (Rule 13) permit application submitted to make it administratively and technically complete for construction and operation of a temporary natural gas flare on or before March 15,2012.
2. The Company shall expeditiously correct any deficiencies and errors found in the Rule 13 permit application submitted providing necessary, omitted, or supplemental information identified to the Company by the Director or his authorized representative. After March 1, 2012, the Company shall submit a written and certified mail response to any further written Notice of Deficiency (NOD) forwarded by the Director or his authorized representative within fifteen (15) calendar days of receipt of the NOD. If the Company does not respond
within fifteen (15) calendar days, then the Company may be subject to stipulated penalties.
3. The Company shall comply with all state and federal applicable rules and regulations.
4. The Company shall not exceed the mass emission limitations set forth in the submitted Rule 13 permit application (R13-2904T) and/or any updates thereto. The Company shall comply with all other requirements set forth in the submitted Rule 13 permit application (R13-2904T) and/or any updates thereto.
Page 3 of 6
5. The Company shall install a horizontal flare on or before March 1, 2012 using good engineering practices so as to maximize the combustion efficiency. The Company may operate the vertical flare as a back-up to the horizontal flare and also to start-up the horizontal flare.
6. The Company shall maintain records of all inspections of both flares and/or preventive maintenance procedures.
7. The Company shall design, maintain, and operate both the horizontal and/or vertical flares to ensure proper destruction efficiency of .air pollutants and to ensure proper combustion efficiency.
8. The Company shall operate the horizontal and/or vertical flares with a flame present at all times.
9. The Company shall install, maintain, and operate a thermocouple or any other equivalent device to detect the presence of a flare pilot flame on both flares. The Company shall maintain records of the date, time, and duration each time the Company does not detect the presence of a flare pilot flame.
10. The Company shall design, maintain, and operate both flares with no visible emissions as determined by the Method 22, except for periods not to exceed a total of 5 minutes during any 2 consecutive hours.
11. The Company shall conduct an initial Method 22 visual emission observation on both flares to determine the compliance with the visible emission provisions. The Company shall take a minimum of two (2) hours of visual emissions observations on both flares. The Company shall conduct Method 22 visual emission observations on both flares on or before March 15, 2012.
12. The Company shall conduct daily Method 22 visible emission observations of both flare stacks to ensure proper operation for a minimum often (10) minutes each day the flares are in operation.
13. The Company shall maintain records of all visual emission observations. If Company observes any visible emissions, the Company shall notify DAQ within twenty-four (24) hours.
Page 4 of6
14. The Company shall not combust greater than a total of 1321 million standard cubic feet (scf) and shall not exceed a maximum 7 million standard cubic feet per day. The Company shall cease operation of both the vertical and the horizontal flare on or before combusting a total of 1321 million standard cubic feet or no later than May 31, 2012, whichever is sooner. The Company shall maintain daily records of the amount of natural gas combusted by the flare and the total scf combusted.
15. The Company shall install, maintain, and operate instrumentation to continuously monitor the gas combustion rate in to both flares in standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM). The monitor(s) shall be installed, maintained.. and operated according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
16. The Company shall maintain records of all startups, shutdowns, and/or malfunctions of the flare. These records shall include the date, time, and duration of each event. For each such case associated with an equipment malfunction, additional information shall also be recorded:
(1) The cause of the malfunction,
(2) Steps taken to correct the malfunction, and
(3) Any changes or modifications to equipment or procedures that would help prevent future recurrences of the malfunction. The Company shall notify the DAQ within twentyfour (24) hours of all startups, shutdowns, and/or malfunctions.
17. The Company shall install, maintain, and operated all above-ground piping, valves, pumps, etc. that service lines in the transport of potential sources of regulated air pollutants to prevent any substantive fugitive escape of regulated air pollutants. Any above-ground piping, valves, pumps, etc. that show signs of excess wear and that have a reasonable potential for substantive fugitive emissions of regulated air pollutants shall be replaced. The Company shall maintain records of any replacement made under this Section.
18. Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Order, the Company agrees to pay a total civil administrative penalty of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) to resolve the violations described in this Order. All payments shall be made by check payable to the Air Pollution Education and Environment Fund and shall be sent to the Division of Air Quality, Attention:
John A. Benedict, Director, 601 57th Street, SE, Charleston, WV 25304. In addition, if the Company fails to pay the foregoing amount timely or to complete any of the requirements contained in this Order to the satisfaction of the Director or within the time limits set forth herein, the Company agrees to pay a stipulated penalty of one thousand dollars ($1,000) to the Air Pollution Education and Environment Fund for each day that the action remains incomplete. The Director shall first notify the Company in writing that the facility is in violation of the terms of conditions of the Order, and the stipulated penalty shall then become immediately due and payable. Payments made pursuant to this paragraph are not
tax-deductible expenditures for purposes of State or federal law.
Page 5 of 6
1. The Company hereby waives its right to appeal this Order under the provisions of Chapter 22, Article 5, Section 1 of the Code of West Virginia. Under this Order, the Company agrees to take all actions required by the terms and conditions of this Order and consents to and will not contest the Director's jurisdiction regarding this Order. However, the Company does not admit to any factual and legal determinations made by the Director and reserves all rights and defenses available regarding liability or responsibility in any proceedings other than proceedings, administrative or civil, to enforce this Order.
2. The Director reserves the right to take further action if compliance with the terms and conditions of this Order does not adequately address the violations noted herein and reserves all rights and defenses which he or she may have pursuant to any legal authority, as well as the right to raise, as a basis for supporting such legal authority or defenses, facts other than those contained in the Findings of Fact.
3. If any event occurs which causes delay in the achievement of the requirements of this Order, the Company shall have the burden of proving that the delay was caused by circumstances beyond its reasonable control which could not have been overcome by due diligence (i.e., force majeure). Force majeure shall not include delays caused or contributed to by the lack of sufficient funding. Within three (3) working days after the Company becomes aware of such a delay, notification shall be provided to the Director and shall, within ten (10) working days of initial notification, submit a detailed written explanation of the anticipated length and cause of the delay, the measures taken and/or to be taken to prevent or minimize
the delay. If the Director agrees that the delay has been or will be caused by circumstances beyond the reasonable control of (i.e., force majeure), the time for performance hereunder shall be extended for a period of time equal to the delay resulting from such circumstances. A force majeure amendment granted by the Director shall be considered a binding extension of this Order and of the requirements herein. The determination of the Director shall be [mal and not subject to appeal.
4. Compliance with the terms and conditions of this Order shall not in any way be construed as relieving the Company of the obligation to comply with any applicable law, permit, other order, or any other requirement otherwise qpplicable. Violations of the terms and conditions of this Order may subject the Company to additional penalties and injunctive relief in accordance with the applicable law.
5. The provisions of this Order are severable and should a court or board of competent jurisdiction declare any provisions to be invalid or unenforceable, all other provisions shall remain in full force and effect.
Page 6 of 6
6. This Order is binding on the Company, its successors and assigns.
7. This Order shall become effective immediately upon signing by both parties.
8. This Order shall terminate upon the issuance, withdrawal, or denial of the Rule 13 permit required to be obtained under this Order and the payment of all penalties required under this Order.
BRC Operating Company, LLC
Mr. C. John Wilder, CEO -'''-'Da"te__
J0 . Benedict, Director
ivision of Air Quality
Posted by Caroline Snyder at 5:19 PM