Railroad Commissioners Find Range Resources’ Natural Gas Not Source in Parker County Water Wells


AUSTIN - At their bi-monthly conference, Texas Railroad Commissioners found that Range Resources’ natural gas wells be allowed to continue to produce as the wells are not causing or contributing to contamination of any Parker County domestic water wells.

The three commissioners upheld staff examiners recommendation, also known as a Proposal for Decision, that followed a January 2011 hearing called by the Commissioners to determine whether the Range wells were the source of natural gas in two Parker County domestic water wells.

Evidence presented during the hearing included geochemical gas fingerprinting that demonstrated the gas in the domestic water wells came from the shallower Strawn gas field, which begins about 200 to 400 feet below the surface. The natural gas tested did not match the gas produced by Range from the much deeper Barnett Shale field, which is more than 5,000 feet below the surface in that area. Range also presented information to demonstrate that the two Range gas wells were mechanically sound, without any leaks. Evidence presented at the hearing showed that hydraulic fracturing of gas wells in the area could not result in communication between the Barnett Shale gas field and shallow aquifers from which water wells in the area produce.

On Dec. 7, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its Emergency Administrative Order to Range that concluded the natural gas in the water wells is likely to be from the same source as gas produced from Range’s wells and that Range caused or contributed to methane in the two nearby water wells that were the subject of the Railroad Commission hearing.

The Commission invited the EPA and the two domestic water well owners to present their evidence at the hearing. However, no EPA officials or water well owners appeared to testify. The Commission’s ongoing investigation continues into the source of the gas found in the domestic water wells, and the Commission’s Site Remediation staff will be using the evidence presented during the Jan. 19-20 administrative law hearing as part of their ongoing investigation.