Small Marcellus Well Pad Fire in Somerset PA Leads to Evacuations

This is the second day in a row we’ve had to bring you news of a fire at a Marcellus Shale well site. Yesterday we told you about a fire at an EQT well pad in Marshall County, WV (see Fire at EQT Well Pad in Marshall County, WV). That fire started in gas processing equipment near the well. Like yesterday’s WV news, today’s news of a fire in Pennsylvania also concerns equipment being used at the well pad–NOT a fire in the actual well itself nor anything to do with drilling or fracking. The well pad in question is the first location where Marcellus wells were drilled in Somerset County–a decade ago. Yesterday a fire ignited around 9 am at the Menhorn well pad, owned by Xtreme Energy. The fire “was in a flange next to the cooling tower” at the well pad. The fire was out within an hour. Nobody was injured, although firefighters did evacuate four nearby homes (eight people) just to be safe. The all-clear was given by 10:30 am. The state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is on the site and a preliminary report concludes “the equipment associated with the well failed and caught fire, but the wellhead was not on fire.” Here’s the details as we have them…
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PA Drill Equipment Company Predicts Diesel Rigs Gone in 5 Years

For some time now MDN has written about Marcellus drillers who now use dual-fuel drilling rigs–rigs whose big engines are powered by a blend of diesel fuel and natural gas, with some drillers using 100% natural gas-powered engines (see this list of MDN stories). Three weeks ago, CONSOL Energy announced a first–they will use electric motors for drilling near the Pittsburgh Airport (see CONSOL to Use Electric Motors for Drilling at Pittsburgh Airport).

One of the primary suppliers of drilling equipment for Marcellus and Utica drillers, Keystone Drill Services in Somerset County, PA, recently made this startling prediction: Within five years diesel-powered engines will be gone from drill sites. Keystone should know since they’re creating the future now at their Somerset facility…
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PA Counties Band Together for Grant to Create Marcellus Jobs

A regional economic development group made up of officials from Blair, Cambria, Somerset, Huntingdon, Fulton and Bedford counties in Pennsylvania is asking the state for a $700,000 grant to help them help businesses located in the southern Allegheny region identify new business opportunities in the shale gas drilling industry. The group hopes that their geography, strategically located between PA’s northeastern and southwestern Marcellus gas fields, will bring new business to the area, and along with that new business, more jobs.

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Chief Oil & Gas Pays $180K Fine for Spilling Oil and Overfilling a Wastewater Pit

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection assessed a $180,000 fine against Chief Oil & Gas after Chief failed to report the spillage of “a small number of gallons” of oil at a drill site, and because they came close to overflowing a fracking wastewater pit, back in June 2010.

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Marcellus Shale Drilling May Provide a Solution to Coal Mine Water Runoff Problem

Pennsylvania has a decades old problem with abandoned coal mines. The mines fill with rain water. The water becomes highly acidic and contains dissolved metals such as iron, aluminum and manganese. The water then runs off into waterways and is responsible for thousands of miles of streams that are uninhabitable for wildlife and not suitable for human use. Marcellus Shale gas drilling may provide at least a partial solution to the problem.

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Number of Permits Issued & Wells Drilled in Select PA Counties, including the County with the Most Wells

In a story about how Armstrong County, PA has to keep the County Courthouse open late one night a week so researchers can review property records for potential Marcellus shale gas well development, we get some interesting numbers on recent drilling activity in PA:

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Penn Virginia Corporation Acquires 10,000 Marcellus Shale Acres in PA for $19.5M

Penn Virginia Corporation (“PVA”) announced it has acquired approximately 10,000 net Marcellus Shale acres primarily in Potter, Somerset and Tioga Counties, Pennsylvania in two transactions for approximately $19.5 million in cash and overriding royalty interests on a portion of the acquired acreage.

The first acquisition was from a private oil and gas firm who was PVA’s joint venture partner. The acquired leases were located primarily in Potter, Somerset and Tioga Counties, including approximately 7,900 net acres with Marcellus Shale rights and approximately 23,000 net acres with deeper rights. In connection with the acquisition, PVA granted the seller a 1.5 percent overriding royalty interest on the acquired acreage. After taking into account the override, PVA’s net revenue interest in the joint venture acreage is approximately 84 percent.

The second acquisition was from another private oil and gas firm of leases primarily in Potter County covering approximately 2,100 net acres, with rights to the Marcellus Shale and all other formations.

A. James Dearlove, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are pleased to have expanded our Marcellus Shale acreage position from approximately 35,000 net acres to 45,000 net acres, and to have accomplished this expansion at a very attractive cost. We plan to begin testing the acreage in these areas later in 2010. In addition, we continue our leasing efforts and our review of other acquisition opportunities, as we seek to establish a significant presence in this emerging play over the next few years.”

Source: Penn Virginia Corporation Announces Acquisitions in the Marcellus Shale (May 28)

Chief Oil & Gas Drilling Wells in Dauphin and Somerset Counties, PA

Chief Oil & Gas (based in Dallas), is in the process of drilling wells in Jefferson Township in Dauphin County, and Addison Township in Somerset County, both in Pennsylvania. According to a Chief spokesman, if those wells do well, it “could lead to large-scale development in the region.” Chief owns the rights to 580,000 acres across the entire Marcellus Shale area.

For more details on Chief and a recent meeting they held for area residents, see:
Somerset Daily American (Mar 11) – Gas reps seek community support

Drilling Begins in Somerset County, PA

The Somerset County Daily American newspaper reports drilling by Samson Investment Co. has commenced in the county:

Paul Menhorn is among the very first area landowners to get an in-person look at natural gas drilling operations. A drilling rig is now boring a gas well on his 157-acre dairy farm, which is located a few miles from Berlin.

It was last August when a representative from the Tulsa, Okla.-based firm told Menhorn that they would in fact begin to explore his property. By November, trucks were on the land, moving dirt and preparing the drilling site.

Equipment was shuttled onto his land March 2. A drilling rig now towers over a telephone pole near one of his barns.

According to Menhorn, it’s been life as usual, despite the sudden additions to his farm.

As for noise:

“When they’re drilling you can hear a little chattering, but it’s not bad,” Menhorn said, adding that his sleep has been unaffected by the sounds.

The newspaper article also reports:

The rig on Menhorn’s property could be the first of many. According Samson’s Web site, the company has doubled its work force over the past five years – a sign of growth and production.

The article gives an honest and frank view of what life has been like for the Menhorns since drilling started, along with a talk about the Menhorns’ concern about their water supply and how they approached ensuring there would be no problems with water contamination. The article is well written and worth your time to read all of it.

Read the full article: Drilling company taps Marcellus shale