A mechanical problem led to a blaze at an oil and natural gas well near Kingsley, MI, officials said.
Clean up at the Schumde Oil and Gas Company well began soon after Grand Traverse Rural firefighters put out the fire on Sunday.
Rick Henderson, field operations supervisor for Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Office of Oil, Gas, and Minerals division, said the incident occurred after workers completed the well March 4 and began flow tests to see whether it would produce more oil or natural gas. He said oil went toward a flare meant to burn natural gas.
“Some oil escaped the separator out to where the flare was and caught fire,” Henderson said.
Firefighters got the call at 2 p.m. to the well and had the fire out about 40 minutes later, after crews cut off the natural gas and oil supply to the flare.
Henderson said he’s “reasonably sure” a mechanical problem is to blame, but DEQ inspectors still need to investigate the fire. He said the company will have to clean any oil sprayed from the flare and make sure no environmental damage occurred, a task made easier by the frozen ground.
“They’ll probably have to remove some soil,” he said. “We don’t know the full extent until they get into it.”
Henderson said cleanup is “pretty straightforward” and inspectors expect no lasting environmental damage.