Meadville Tribune

July 20, 2012

State's gas boom comes to town with first Utica Shale well in county

By Keith Gushard
The Meadville Tribune

— The when, not if, in increased natural gas drilling activity is happening now in Crawford County.

Work on one Utica Shale natural gas well has already started and, soon, there’s expected to be a second.

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.

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.

Range Resources of Fort Worth, Texas, commenced work on its Lippert Unit #1H Well off Pettis Road in East Fairfield Township, outside of Cochranton, late last month. The company was issued a permit for the well by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources’ northwest regional office in Meadville on June 5.

The company owns the site though how long Range has owned it wasn’t determined by the Tribune.

Range plans to drill vertically approximately 7,060 feet before it then drills horizontally about 7,600 feet into the Utica formation, according to its application.

Utica and Marcellus shale gas wells are considered unconventional since they are drilled both vertically then horizontally to get into the gas pockets.

The Lippert Unit #1H is the first Marcellus or Utica shale permit issued for Crawford County, S. Craig Lobins, oil and gas program manager for DEP’s Meadville regional office, confirmed.

But the Lippert Unit #1H Well in southeastern Crawford County isn’t the only Utica Shale well Range wants to drill in Crawford County.

“We are planning to drill in Greenwood Township,” said Mary Patton, director of regulatory services for Range’s Northern Marcellus Division confirmed.

The company recently notified both Crawford County and Greenwood Township officials it plans to submit permit applications to DEP for a well pad and access road in the area of Bradley and Brick Church roads in Greenwood Township.

“We’re still putting together the application,” Patton said of the Greenwood Township well site, located in south-central Crawford County.

Patton declined to answer how many Utica Shale wells Range was planning to drill in Crawford County.

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



Gas reserves look good

The news of Range Resources wanting to drill more than one Utica Shale well underscores the confidence the company has in oil and natural gas reserves in Crawford County, according to Brian Pitzer of the Northwest Pennsylvania Land Owners Group. A non-profit land owners group that formed in 2011 to get better lease terms from drilling firms has more 500 members who own more than 40,000 acres.

“If the wells are successful, they will transform the region economically,” said Pitzer.

The wells could be the most important energy development in the region since Col. Edwin Drake successfully drilled the first oil well near Titusville in 1859, according to Pitzer.

Pitzer said it’s important for land owners to get information and understand terms of a lease.

“An oil and gas lease is a long-term commitment,” said Pitzer. “We are urging our members to be patient and not sign the first lease offered to them.”

Just a year ago, oil and gas leases in Crawford County were going for about $50 an acre, now they’re at $3,000 and higher an acre, Pitzer said.



Did you know?

Range Resources of Fort Worth, Texas, commenced work on its Lippert Unit #1H Well off Pettis Road in East Fairfield Township, outside of Cochranton, late last month. It’s the first well being drilled in Crawford County in either the Marcellus or Utica shale formations, two deep rock formations that contain natural gas.



In anticipation of the potential economic boom from increased drilling activity, Crawford County government formed its own countywide oil and gas task force in May to meet on topics such as the potential impact on environment, economic development, public safety, infrastructure and roads, and education and community outreach.



Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.