New Castle News

Local News

March 24, 2014

DEP postpones ‘forced pooling’ hearings for oil, gas drilling

NEW CASTLE — Hearings which could lead to “forced pooling” for gas and oil drilling have been postponed because holdout landowners were not notified.

The Department of Environmental Protection announced that hearings set for tomorrow and Wednesday at the Albert P. Gettings courthouse annex will not take place, but instead will be rescheduled for a later date.

Those hearings were scheduled on a request by Hilcorp Energy Co. of Texas for four gas well drilling units on 3,267 acres in the Utica Shale Formation in Pulaski Township, Lawrence County and Shenango Township, Mercer County.

If approved, the request could lead to forced pooling in these areas, which would require landowners to sign gas drilling leases, even if they are unwilling.

Deputy DEP Secretary Scott Perry said DEP decided to postpone the hearings until further notice once they discovered that all the potentially impacted residents had not been identified by Hilcorp Energy Co. in its application. Perry said the delay is “...to ensure that all potentially impacted residents would have ample time to be informed and prepared for a hearing.”

He said Hilcorp agreed to the delay so that DEP “...could provide notice that goes above and beyond what the law requires.”

While Hilcorp had identified more than 200 of the property owners in the area subjected to the well spacing reequest, it had not listed property owners who had not entered lease agreements or the other operator that has property interests the area subject to the requested order, Perry stated.

(Email: grzebieniak @ncnewsonline.com)

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