Meadville Tribune

Local News

December 31, 2012

Gas drilling, remains of soldier come to county

MEADVILLE — The Meadville Tribune continues its review of the top Crawford County news stories of 2012. It’s likely that all of the stories are familiar to Tribune readers, and more than 100 of you took part in helping to limit the list of headlines to just 15, then choose their order of importance to the community.

We started with the story rated number 15 on Friday, and will proceed through the list to number one, the story voted as most important of the year, in Tuesday’s Tribune.

3-Gas drilling comes to county

Natural gas drilling activity within the Utica Shale rock formation in Crawford County began this past summer with the drilling of an unconventional natural gas well near Cochranton and a second well this fall near Atlantic.

The Marcellus and Utica shale regions extend through New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio and portions of Kentucky and Tennessee. They are important geologic formations because they hold large reserves of oil and natural gas.

Utica and Marcellus shale gas wells are considered unconventional since they are drilled both vertically then horizontally to get into the gas pockets. Natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales is valuable not only for the natural gas itself, but for conversion of liquids in the rock into other hydrocarbons used in plastics and other industries.

The Marcellus Shale is at a depth of about 5,000 feet while the Utica Shale is at a depth of about 7,000 to 8,000 feet. Crawford County has more of a prevalence of the Utica Shale formation.

Most of the natural gas well drilling activity in the Marcellus and Utica shales has been taking place either south or east of Crawford County — in southeast Ohio and southwest Pennsylvania, and in northeast Pennsylvania.

Range Resources of Fort Worth, Texas, commenced work on its Lippert Unit #1H Well off Pettis Road in East Fairfield Township, outside of Cochranton, in late June.

Range Resources was issued a permit for the well, the first Marcellus or Utica shale permit issued for Crawford County, by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources’ northwest regional office in Meadville on June 5.

On Nov. 20 the regional DEP office issued a permit to SWEPI LP for its Byler 2083 4HD Well off County Line Road in East Fallowfield Township, south of Atlantic. SWEPI LP is a limited partnership with Shell Energy Holdings its general partner.

But the Lippert and SWEPI wells aren’t the only potential Utica Shale wells in Crawford County.

Range Resources has plans for another potential Utica Shale well in Greenwood Township while Halcon Resources of Houston, Texas, has proposed one in North Shenango Township, but no additional permits have been approved by DEP as yet.

With an eye toward anticipated increased in natural gas drilling activity within the county, Crawford County commissioners this summer approved formation of an oil and gas task force.

The task force set up various subcommittees to meet on topics as environment, economic development, public safety, infrastructure and roads, and education and outreach.

Commissioners said they formed the task force to assess the influx of additional people and a potential economic boom if natural gas drilling takes off within the county.

“It impacts infrastructure like roads, planning, jobs, housing, social services and even jails,” Commissioner Jack Lynch, head of the task force, said at the time of its formation. “There’s nothing it doesn’t touch. Maybe it doesn’t touch every single individual, but ultimately it will (touch every aspect of life).”

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