West Virginia: 58 Horizontal Marcellus Shale Wells Drilled in 2010, But 433 Permits Were Issued – More Inspectors are Needed

Drilling in West Virginia is heating up, but according to state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman, it’s not “out of control”—yet. Huffman and others do see a critical need for more inspectors, something they hope will soon be approved by the WV legislature.

Natural gas companies drilled 58 horizontal Marcellus Shale wells in West Virginia last year, but state regulators issued permits for 433 wells in 2010.

West Virginia Sen. Orphy Klempa, D-Ohio, and Randy Huffman, state Department of Environmental Protection secretary, both know there is likely more natural gas drilling headed to the Northern Panhandle, calling for the hiring of more inspectors to oversee the well sites.

“We just have to get more people out there so that we can know what is going on,” Klempa said.

Huffman said his ability to increase inspectors – or maintain the current number – in the field now hinges on adoption of two bills by the House of Delegates that were approved by the West Virginia Senate this week.

“Right now, we are $1.25 million short of even being able to fund our current staff of 32,” Huffman said of all permit handlers and inspectors working in the Office of Oil and Gas, noting he hopes to increase the total staff to about 39.

“This drilling is not out of control. But we realize it is going to continue to grow, and we are trying to prepare for it,” added Huffman. “All indicators are that we are going to have more drilling over time, not less.”

*The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register (Mar 4) – More Drilling Help Is Sought