The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is hiring more inspectors for gas and oil wells. Right now there are 125 inspectors statewide. By the summer, an additional 68 will be on board bringing the total to 193 inspectors. Which is a good thing according to the York (PA) Dispatch, which notes:
In the last year, to cite two examples, inspectors noted that a brine pipeline operated by Range Resources Corp. was spilling production fluids into the ground at Cross Creek Park near Avella, resulting in a $23,500 penalty for the Texas-based company; and Atlas Resources was fined for violations at 13 of its wells in Washington, Fayette and Greene counties.*
MDN agrees. More inspectors are a good thing. It keeps everyone honest, and reassures the general public that drilling can be done safely.
*York Dispatch (Mar 10) – Marcellus Shale: Drilling inspectors welcome
Morrisville State College, part of the State University of New York system and located in Morrisville, NY with a satellite campus in Norwich, NY, is looking to launch a program to train workers for drilling in the Marcellus Shale. According to an article in the Norwich, NY Evening Sun we get this interesting comment:
Many natural gas industry followers are predicting a June release date for the state’s revised hydrofracking regulations. Energy companies and their suppliers have been waiting in the wings for 18 months for the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement to be released.*
If and when drilling commences starting in June as predicted:
[I]f it’s anything like what happened when the Marcellus Shale action began heating up two years ago in neighboring Pennsylvania, there will be hundreds of jobs available at well sites within the first 18 months.*
Initially, Morrisville is looking to create a 2-year program, with the possibility of extending that into a 4-year program. Let’s hope Morrisville has many students in their program, and that those students will have jobs drilling in the Marcellus when they graduate.
*Norwich Evening Sun (Mar 10) – Morrisville readies to train natural gas drilling workforce
PVR Midstream, a division of Penn Virginia Resource Partners, has signed an agreement with Range Resources to construct and operate pipelines and compression facilities for Range’s drilling in the Marcellus shale in PA.
According to the press release:
PVR Midstream and Range have agreed to an area of mutual interest (AMI) that covers parts of Lycoming, Tioga and Bradford Counties in north central Pennsylvania, in which Range currently holds a substantial acreage position. Within this AMI, PVR Midstream will construct approximately 16 miles of 24- and 30-inch gathering trunklines, smaller-diameter field gathering lines and compression facilities required to gather Range’s production from the AMI. The gathering system will have over 700 million cubic feet per day (MMcf per day) of throughput capacity, and the initial phase is expected to become operational in the fourth quarter of 2010. The agreement provides Range significant firm gathering capacity in the system, and PVR Midstream will be compensated for the gathering and compression services provided to Range through a combination of volumetric fees, with no direct commodity exposure. Excess capacity on the system and the location within a core area of Marcellus Shale development should allow PVR Midstream to develop additional revenue by providing gathering and compression services to area producers.
A lesson for Owego and Tioga County, NY from Marion County, West Virginia where a new wastewater treatment plant is a big success. The AOP Clearwater Plant is located just outside of Fairmont.
According to AOP Clearwater President Louis Bonasso, they have had no problems getting customers from oil and gas drilling companies in the Marcellus Shale. In fact, the trucks are “lining up” at the facility.
“We are a distillation-crystallization process, available to the oil and gas producing community in the area for clean-up of flow back and production brine waters,” said Bonasso.
Which means, the contaminated water is brought in on trucks, put through an extensive cleaning process, and pumped back out–as clean water for the oil and gas companies to reuse.
“We offer a very rapid unload-reload opportunity for trucking companies. Instead of sitting in line, we unload in about 11 minutes and we can reload in about the same time,” said Bonasso.*
Beside creating 16 jobs and bringing revenue to the county, there is this positive side benefit:
Through the cleaning process, salt is removed from the contaminated water and is able to be re-used to treat winter roads.
“All the salt that we produced since the plant started operations in November was sold in Marion County to independent contractors and the city,” explained Bonasso.*
*The State Journal (Mar 9) – AOP Clearwater Plant Open in Marion County
Last week, Patriot Water LLC withdrew their application to convert a former car dealership on the edge of the Village of Owego, NY (in Tioga County) into a wastewater treatment plant to deal specifically with wastewater from Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania, and from New York, when drilling finally begins there.
Each well drilled in the Marcellus will use approximately 3 million gallons of water during the process of hydro fracturing. Much of that water comes back out of the ground and needs to be treated so it can be re-used in drilling. Some of it will be treated and returned to area waterways, which is no different than the local sewage treatment plant. The fluids entering the environment from any wastewater plant must pass rigid tests to ensure no pollution occurs.
So the news that Patriot Water was planning to build and operate such a plant was good news for the Southern Tier of New York, bringing jobs and tax revenue to Tioga County. But one problem: The proposed site was very close to residential areas. Yes, it is zoned industrial, but it would mean four trucks an hour, 24 hours a day running down residential streets, and local folks didn’t want it. Can’t blame them.
But! Could Tioga County not have come back with a counter offer? Another location nearby that is not close to residential areas? Was there any kind of effort made at all? It appears not. And so, on March 3, Patriot Water said “no thanks” to Owego and Tioga County.
MDN recommends Patriot have a look at nearby Broome County, NY. There’s a couple of industrial parks close to Interstates 81 & 86 (NY Route 17) in the Conklin and Kirkwood areas, and those locations have truck traffic all the time. Perhaps the members of the town planning boards in Broome County will actually show up for meetings (unlike the Tioga County Planning Board, five members of whom abrogated their duties by not showing up for a crucial meeting on the Patriot request). Come on over to Broome, Patriot!
Owego Pennysaver (Mar 3) – Patriot Water, LLC withdraws application for Taylor Road site