UPDATE 3: Natural gas leak in Orange County

UPDATE 3: Natural gas leak in Orange County

Workers attempting to cap a natural leak that reportedly resulted from a drilling operation at an oil well on Gulf Road near FM 408 in the Orangefield area of Orange County on Wednesday, June 25, faced some delay on Friday, June 27, due to weather conditions but got right back to work as soon as the rain cleared, says Chris Barteau, General Counsel for Benchmark Oil and Gas Company, a subsidiary of Dome Energy.

According to the latest press release from the Orange County, workers repairing the leaking well are making good progress and are in the process of removing the old rig so they can have room to repair the blown out line.  Work on the rig will continue during daylight hours only.  The work may need to continue through the weekend until the well head is repaired.

Residents of Gulf Road and Scales Lane who are displaced from their homes and need to retrieve some items should go to Gulf Road and FM 408 and a company representative will escort them to their home with detector equipment to ensure their safety.  Displaced residents can also speak with company officials at that location if they have any questions or concerns.

Gulf Road and Scales Lane will remain closed off until the Sheriff’s Office receives word from company representatives that it is safe to return.

Total Safety, area firefighters, sheriff's deputies, Acadian Ambulance and other agencies had staff on site June 27 working on repairing the leak and keeping citizens safe. Barteau said the agencies are laboring to ensure the success and security of the operation.

Benchmark is doing their best to repair the leak and keep residents whose homes are located in the vicinity safe, Barteau asserts. He said the residents are being provided with accommodations at local hotels, and Benchmark personnel located in a white tent on Gulf Road near the road blockade are escorting any residents who need to retrieve items or pets from their homes.

"We brought in the best of the best, Wild Well Control (of Houston), to do the heavy lifting," said Barteau. "They are well-known in the industry for controlling wells that are out of control...We have people out here every hour during daylight, but we also have someone here, along with a sheriff's deputy, overnight. If people need to get into their homes for basic necessities, like medication."

Barteau said fixing the well is a priority for Benchmark, and so are the residents affected by the leak. 

"Other than fixing the well, the residents are our primary concern," Barteau related, adding that the evacuation was mostly a "precautionary measure."

He said the displaced residents have been gracious, especially considering the circumstances.

"We appreciate that the residents are handling it as well as can be expected," Barteau commented. "We sincerely appreciate their patience with us."

Residents will not be able to return to their homes until the area is cleared, and Barteau said the repair operation would likely be going on through the weekend, and there is no timetable yet as to when the repairs may be complete.