UPDATE 2-Pennsylvania natgas well has blowout during fracking

Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:11pm GMT

* Pennsylvania natgas well blows out during fracking

* Local residents have been evacuated

* Fluid initially spilled into local waterway

* Incident comes exactly one year after BP oil spill

By Edward McAllister

NEW YORK, April 20 (Reuters) - A natural gas well spilled thousands of gallons of hydraulic fracking drilling fluid water in Pennsylvania on Wednesday after a blowout, state and local regulators said.

The well, operated by Chesapeake Energy (CHK.N: Quote), began spewing fluid at 11.45 p.m. on Tuesday during the controversial "fracking" drilling process which involves blasting shale rock with water, sand and chemicals to release trapped natural gas.

The spill comes at a sensitive time for energy drillers, exactly one year on from the massive BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and just as regulators are mulling whether to allow fracking in neighboring New York State.

"An equipment failure occurred during well-completion activities, allowing the release of completion fluids," Chesapeake said in a statement.   Continued...

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