Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. was granted permission by the Department of Environmental Protection to resume hydraulic fracturing in the area of Dimock Twp.
The move comes nearly 2 ½ years after methane contamination prompted regulators to shut down drilling operations.
The company is now able to frack seven wells that were drilled at the time the work was halted in April 2010. Drilling, however, remains on hold.
Cabot’s operations were stopped in 2010 after the DEP found that wells allowed methane to contaminate 18 drinking water wells in Dimock.
Cabot denies the claim, but agreed to a $4.6 million settlement with the state in 2010 that required the company to fix the wells and stop the gas from migrating.
The repair included patching dozens of wells, which in May 2011 did not pass DEP inspection. The DEP concluded that 22 of the 43 wells were still flawed.
Recent tests have shown that the wells are up to standards (below pressure limits) and that gas is not escaping from the wellbore.
The company does have two wells that have never been fracked, and they will have to perform and report pressure tests on both wells within 60 days of initial fracking.
Also part of the state’s settlement, Cabot was required to deliver fresh water to those residents impacted by the water contamination. This requirement ended in October after the DEP determined that Cabot had met its obligations of the settlement by offering the families twice the assessed value of their properties as well as methane removal systems for their homes.
The final step for Cabot is to prove that the source of the methane has been eliminated or that the gas in the aquifer has returned to acceptable levels. Only then will the company be permitted to resume drilling.