Gulfport Energy agrees to pay a fine and to make production upgrades at 17 Utica Shale locations after Clean Air Act violation accusations
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday it has reached an agreement to end an enforcement action against Gulfport Energy that accused the company of violating air emissions standards at 17 well pad locations it operates in eastern Ohio’s Utica Basin.
EPA officials said the settlement, which includes an agreement by Gufport to pay a $1.7 million penalty, addresses Clean Air Act violations regulators assert they found at the locations during inspections they conducted in 2015.
The company, investigators found, failed to capture and control emissions from storage vessels on the pads.
It also failed to comply with associated inspection, record-keeping and reporting requirements related to operations at those locations.
The violations were issued in December 2016.
In addition to paying the penalty, Gulfport also agreed to spend about $2 million to make needed improvements to production systems on those pads.
Those upgrades, the EPA stated, are expected to help reduce volatile organic compound emissions from those locations by about 313 tons per year.
Volatile organic compounds include a variety of chemicals that may cause adverse health effects, they also stated.
“Gulfport has agreed to improve its operations to address these issues and to reduce air pollution,” EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede stated as part of the announcement.
“EPA is committed to reducing pollution and improving air quality throughout Ohio, helping residents breathe easier.”
The lion's share of Gulfport’s production comes from its wells in Ohio’s Utica Basin.
Data published on the company’s website Wednesday indicated its wells’ average daily production there is about 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent.
The company has about 210,000 acres in the play and holds proved reserves of about 3.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent.
Its site states about 77% of its production there is dry natural gas.
A spokesman for the company declined Wednesday to comment on the settlement agreement, which is part of a proposed consent decree filed Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice with a federal judge in the Southern District of Ohio.
However, the violations cited by the report happened when the company was under different management.
The company has been working the past year to overhaul its leadership ranks since selecting David M. Wood, former chairman at West Virginia-based and natural gas-focused Arsenal Resources, as its CEO.
It also has been working to revamp its board of directors.
The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and the judge’s approval, the EPA stated.