New Castle News

February 18, 2013

Shale Update: Gas from 2012 wells entering pipeline

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Wells drilled a year ago in Lawrence County are producing natural gas that is entering a pipeline for consumers.

Natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation under Lawrence County is now being pumped from two wells on the Harry Patterson property in the New Beaver Borough area into a major pipeline and is being sold, said Joe Minnitte, case manager for Shell Exploration and Production Co.

“The Patterson well is in production,” Minnitte said. “We connected it at the end of November to the Tennessee pipeline. It’s pretty large. Basically, we just tie right into it.”

Upon connection to the pipeline, Shell’s job is done with it, Minnitte said. “Once the gas flows to the meter it belongs to whoever runs the pipeline and it has nothing to do with Shell.”

The Patterson well is perhaps the first in the county to have natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in production.



DRILLING TO CONTINUE

Meanwhile, as spring approaches, shale drilling companies are continuing with plans to tap into the region’s rich natural gas reserves located within the Marcellus and Utica shale resources.

There are no new permits yet this year in Lawrence County, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection oil and gas information website.

According to Minnitte, Shell’s plans for Lawrence County this year include drilling a few wells, but its drilling operations primarily will involve returning to sites where drilling already has been done and they will continue to drill more wells at those locations.

Those will be at the Twentier site in Perry Township, he said, and a couple more at the Anne Clark Kephart property off Route 551 in North Beaver Township, where one well is being flared.

He said the company expects to bring its rigs back to the county in the spring to resume drilling.

“We’re still gathering results,” he said. “I couldn’t speak to Hilcorp, but as far as what we’re doing, we’re still collecting data so it’s not in full development yet. We’re still in the evaluation and appraisal process, as far as finding out how much natural gas is actually here.”

Attempts to reach a Hilcorp spokesman were unsuccessful.

So far, Shell has drilled three wells at the Mayberry site in Washington Township, four at the Patterson site, two at the Twentier site in Perry Township and two at the Kephart site.

From Jan. 1 last year through last week, the DEP has issued 301 permits statewide for unconventional gas well drilling and operating. A total of 102 of those are in Bradford County. Thirty-five permits were issued for oil and gas wells in Lawrence County during the past year.

Also within the past year, 19 wells have been drilled in Lawrence County, according to the DEP website. Shell and Hilcorp Energy are the only two companies that have secured permits or have done any drilling here so far.



SEISMIC TESTING

And while wells are being drilled, seismic testing also is going on throughout the county, including locations in Union, Mahoning, Neshannock and Wilmington townships.

“Seismic testing is a three-dimensional shoot of dynamite to help in building a 3-D model of what the shale areas look like,” Minnitte said. “When we get those results, it will give us a clear picture of the shale layers underground for drilling more effective wells.”

He said testing is not being done by Shell, rather, two Texas-based companies called Discovery Acquisition Services and Dawson Geophysical Co. are doing it and selling their results to the drilling companies.

“We’re going to purchase the results from them,” Minnitte said.



LAYING PIPELINE

Pipeline installation, another phase of the work, has been under way in the Pulaski area since last year. A company called Mark West is doing that work for Hilcorp.

Minnitte said Shell has not yet started installing any pipeline.

“No one’s doing anything on behalf of us yet, in terms of installing pipeline.”

However, a firm named Hanover Engineering Associates Inc. of Bartonsville, Pa., wrote a letter to the county commissioners Dec. 12, notifying them it intends to apply to the DEP for installation of pipeline in New Beaver Borough and Little Beaver and North Beaver townships.

The work is being done on behalf of Shell, and will involve installation of about 3.8 miles of high-grade steel oil/natural gas-gathering lines across 12 contiguous properties, a fresh water line, a fiberoptic cable, associated access roads and work staging areas.

The area identified for the lines is referred to as the Bessemer quadrangle and has four well point connections identified on a map, the letter indicates.

The gas lines will be installed at a minimum of four feet below the existing ground level, within a 40-foot permanent right-of-way that Shell has set in place, the letter said. The company will secure a general permit from the DEP’s Bureau of Oil and Gas Management for minimized impacts to wetlands and water courses associated with all the installations.

“The project will not impact any federal or state listed endangered or threatened plant or animal species or their habitats,” the letter said.

State law requires that each applicant for a DEP permit give written notice to the municipality and to the county where the permitted activity is to be located.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)