Who We Are
Every company in every industry talks about core values and the obligation to act in a socially responsible way in today’s world. Especially in an industry where extraordinary scrutiny is a fact of life, the imperative to live and breathe a core set of values and guiding principles really is second to none on the list of priorities. We embrace that reality, knowing that our employees and contractors are providing a vital service to their fellow citizens, and constantly obsess over ways to minimize risks. In our business, just as in life, it’s how you respond to challenges that defines who you are.
On January 25th, just such a challenge presented itself to our team. Our Shaw 1G Utica shale well in Washington Township, Westmoreland County experienced a drop in pressure during completions operations. It should be noted that this area of the Appalachian basin has the potential to be the most prolific area of the Utica shale play across the entire basin, so we knew the stakes were high. We, along with our partners at the local and state level, mobilized an extensive effort to bring the well under control, ensure the safety of our employees, contractors and the local community and protect the environment. Following successful remediation of the Shaw well and a comprehensive investigation, it was determined that a failure in the casing, which was caused by a confluence of factors including environmental conditions, pressures and a material failure in the variety of pipe that was used in the well, resulted in a casing breech. The well has since been secured and is in the process of being permanently plugged. All credit goes to our dedicated employees and contractors who worked around the clock alongside our local partners at the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, Washington Township, Westmoreland County emergency management officials and the professionals at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to ensure a positive result to a difficult situation.
It has been said that every challenge—every adversity—contains within it the seeds of opportunity and growth. That’s exactly the approach our team took in the aftermath of the Shaw event. Being the leader in the Utica play and knowing the vast potential of our Westmoreland County acreage, we knew this was our chance to make a lasting mark on our company and our industry—to search for improvements and apply those across our entire development program. We had to get this right, and we are confident we did. We labored through an exhaustive review as to what happened on the Shaw well and went even further, extending that review to all our operations. The material failure that appears to be the cause of the Shaw incident is a result of a type of pipe that, when exposed to certain environmental factors combined with high pressures over a prolonged period, tends to become brittle, raising the possibility of a casing breech. These findings were confirmed by independent experts. Across our footprint, we identified four wells that met the criteria of both the environmental factors and pressures that led to the issue on our Shaw well. Those four wells, including the remaining three on our Shaw pad, will be isolated with the use of liners—essentially an additional string of pipe designed to ensure their integrity—before completions operations are commenced. As a precautionary measure, on a forward-looking basis, we have ceased all use of such pipe across our operations where the identified combination of factors could be present.
Now, back to those core values I mentioned at the outset. Responsibility is first on our list of values for a reason. We know that if we can’t perform our work in a safe and environmentally compliant manner, then nothing else matters. What we did and how we responded following the events on the Shaw well is who we are and who we always will be. This region is our home, it’s where our families have lived and worked for generations. This is more than business to us, it’s personal. We don’t manage this company by the day, week or quarter—we are focused on the long game, getting this generational opportunity right and creating lasting value for all our stakeholders. The Shaw incident tested that philosophy—would we stay true to our values in a difficult moment when it counted most? We showed the world that our values, our responsibility to this region and all our stakeholders and our social license to operate are non-negotiable. With the efforts of our team over the past three months, we’ve breathed new life into our values and sowed the seeds of opportunity and growth for our company for years to come.
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