(11/30/2010)
Chesapeake Energy says there is no correlation between earthquakes recorded in Braxton County linked to gas well drilling.

Some of the quakes were felt near the southern Calhoun County line.

Chesapeake operates an underground injection well near Frametown, an area that has experienced earthquake episodes.

Chesapeake stores fluid used in drilling gas wells in the area, the fluid is basically water laced with salt and other chemicals, so it can't be disposed of in rivers or at wastewater treatment plants.

The fluids are injected into old wells.

Delegate Brent Boggs of Braxton County, experienced one of the quakes at his home, saying the jolt rattled his china cabinet. He thought a car had hit his house.

Boggs said, "This was certainly, a cause of alarm, because when you have several events that happen in a close proximity, in one time period, it raises the level of concern."

Boggs told state media since the earthquakes happened, Chesapeake has decreased the amount of fluid it's putting underground.

"Since that time, we've had no events," he said, indicating he would not make a correlation.

Chesapeake Energy's Vice President for Corporate Development and Government Relations, Scott Rotruck, says the company doesn't think it's to blame.

"We believe the evidence is overwhelming," that the injections are not causing the quakes, "But we can't say it conclusively."

Rotuck explained, "The pressures under which we introduce that water into the formation is very, very small, so we are almost certain that we have not had an effect."

Delegate Boggs says several private water wells in the area are being tested for contamination, and the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey may monitor the area more closely.

Some seismic monitors are being installed in central West Virginia.

Legislative interim committees are looking into oil and gas issues this year, including how drilling operations effect roadways, landowners, water and the economy.


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