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Oil/Gas/residential gas well problems

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Question
We have a gas well on our property that supplies gas natural gas for 10 homes. The well has been running fine, no problems until Christmas Eve when suddenly it quit. Usually we could put some dry gas into it and it would start again but not this time.  We haven't been able to find anyone that will come and look at it. Do you have any idea what could have happened and do you think it is fixable. We really have no idea what to do but would really like to have some direction as to where to start. The well is about 40 years old, it was relined several years ago. I thank you for any help you may be able to offer. I hope you have a wonderful New year and thank you for your time.  Carol Duke Chester, WV

Answer
Hi Carol,
I appologize for taking so long to answer, I have been thinking about your problem while finishing New Years with my daughter and new son-in-law.

With the information you have given it is really impossible to make even a good guess. In the past, injecting gas into the well and re-gaining production suggests that there is water associated with the flow of gas and some of the water, being heavier than the gas, remained in the tubing until it accumulated enough to stifle the flow. Injecting gas would push the water back into the formation and the cycle would start over.

If you can respond with a few things we may be able to come up with something more. Any information on well depth, casing size, if any tubing its size and length, any packers, is the casing perforated for gas flow or is it a barefoot (open ended) completion, well pressure during normal production and pressure when injecting gas and presence or absence of sand and/or water while flowing.

Hydrocarbons, gas and oil are also accompanied with water. The gas provides the pressure to lift any oil or water to the surface. This is true with a gas, drinking water or oil well. When a well is first completed, the gas/water interface are separated and the well flows gas with no or very little water. As a well ages and gas is taken from a gas bearing sand formation, this gas/water interface moves and the amount of water coming into the well will increase to the point that the gas flow stops. When this happens to commercial wells, the wells perforations are cemented and the casing is re-perforated a little higher.
Another thing that could have happened is the production over 40 years has taken enough gas that the structure of the gas bearing formation has weaknd and the well bore has slowly filled with sand. This also happens to commercial wells and it requires a work over unit to remove any tubing, run in a bit to wash the sand out of the casing and the do the above operations.
Either one of these problems would require a work over rig, aka pulling unit, and would likely cost a minimum of $10,000 to wash sand with out doing any tubing removal. If the well is shallow, a water well driller might consent to do it but the risk of fire on a gas well is too great to allow anyone inexperianced to do it. The majority of well fires, explosions and burn injuries occur during work over operations, not initial drilling.

Please let me know about those pressure readings and in the mean time you might check with a water well driller to see if they have worked on residential wells. I worked in West Virginia about 40 years ago and I would bet that the state regulations concerning such wells have changed so it may be that you would need a state permit to re-enter this well. I suggest goggleing the W.V. department of conservation. Thanks.  

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Carl Alexander

Expertise

READ THIS! Do NOT ask me questions about LEASING, MINERAL RIGHTS, ROYALTIES, POOLING, etc. I am not qualified to give accurate answers on these subjects. If you DO ask, I will NOT answer! I CAN help you understand the technology and equipment involved in drilling oil and gas wells on land or offshore and the production process after the well is drilled. I prepare the programs for the rigs that get oil and gas out of the ground and direct activities on the drill rig so questions concerning the engineering process and preparing drill sites and roads or marine transport are welcome, those concerning the legal process less so. I work with wells on land or offshore, U.S.A. or other countries. I can also answer environmental, regulatory and safety practices questions.

Experience

35 years working in the 'Patch' all over the world. I have drilled for oil & gas on land and water in the U.S.A, Brazil, Guatemala, Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Tunisia, England, British North Sea, Iran, Oman, Pakistan, Vietnam, Philippines. I have drilled in water depths up to 2000 meters and on land in desert and artic conditions. Some were in countries where environmental and safety concerns were non-existent and others when they were primary. I have certification for well control/blowout prevention, have attended water/helicopter/boat survival school and am certified for spill cleanup. I am currently working as a consultant for drilling projects and spend half my working time at the drill site and half in my office and most of my "off time" traveling between the two.

Organizations
Society of Petroleum Engineers

Education/Credentials
BA/BS - Petroleum Engineer

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