Report: Bazetta likely to pollute

BAZETTA – A conventional natural gas well located in Bazetta is the only Ohio well identified on a federal government report that lists wells more likely to pollute.

But more than a dozen inspections of the well conducted by state and federal agencies since drilling began in 2010 have never turned up a violation, said both the well’s owner and a spokesman with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The well, like all Ohio natural gas and oil wells, is regulated by ODNR. But this one also is monitored by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management because it was drilled directionally under Mosquito Creek Reservoir, a water body controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A message left with the Bureau of Land Management seeking comment about the report released by the Associated Press was not immediately returned.

The AP reports that Ohio is among 19 states with an oil or gas well recently drilled on or under public land that was identified by the federal government as having a higher risk of pollution.

The well, owned by Canton-based M&M Royalties Ltd., was drilled from private property in the area of Mosquito Lake. It is a “conventional well,” drilled 5,000 feet in a straight, but diagonal direction ending below the reservoir, ODNR spokesman Mark Bruce said.

While federal data indicates that four in 10 new oil and gas wells near national forests and fragile watersheds or otherwise with higher pollution risks escape federal inspection, that was not the case with the Bazetta well.

Bruce said records indicate state inspectors checked the well six times during the drilling phase and twice for routine inspections since it was put into production, in 2011 and 2013, Bruce said. In addition, M&M co-owner Matt Egnotovich said the well was inspected eight times by federal inspectors and another inspection is expected sometime this summer.

“They delineated what land we were able to disturb. Everywhere we disturbed land was already tilled soil,” Egnotovich said. “It was just that it was drilled in an area close to wetlands, that’s the reason it was determined a high risk.”

Egnotovich said none of his company’s other 130 or so wells have been singled out as “high risk,” including several others also drilled directionally under Mosquito Creek Reservoir.