The convergence of mines with oil and gas wells has recently become more of an area of concern for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
Nationwide, thousands of oil and gas wells penetrate coal seams that are being actively mined, and an accidental intersection could cause problems for miners.
MSHA and state agencies evaluate thousands of requests to mine within 150 feet of oil and gas wells every year.
Those evaluations are conducted under the “Pennsylvania Joint Oil and Gas Well Pillar Study,” which was published in 1957.
Coal mines today are deeper than ever before and the proliferation of high-pressure gas wells has increased the potential consequences of an incident, according to MSHA.
New scientific information is now available, most notably downhole gas well surveys that show that depth has a big effect on the possible deviation between a well’s surface location and its location at the coal seam level.
MSHA urges mine operators to review the agency’s best practices for mining near oil and gas wells, which can be found here.