Drilling at second Lake Twp. well begins

By Elizabeth Skrapits (Staff Writer)
Published: September 24, 2010

Encana Oil & Gas USA Inc. recently started drilling on Zosh Road in Lake Township, the second of its two exploratory natural gas wells in Luzerne County, after wrapping up drilling at its first.

Encana Community Relations Advisor Wendy Wiedenbeck said via e-mail that “drilling is under way at the Salansky location and activity is going as expected.” She estimates the drilling activity will last for about 30 days.

Prior to starting work in Lake Township, Encana finished drilling operations at its first exploratory site, the Buda well behind the Ricketts Glen Hotel on Route 118 in Fairmount Township. Wiedenbeck said the well was drilled 7,000 feet deep and 4,400 feet horizontally.

Since April, the state Department of Environmental Protection has made eight site inspections at the Buda well, and found no violations. Additionally, DEP has issued permits for Encana’s two Kent North horizontal wells, which are planned just down Route 118 from the Buda well site in Fairmount Township. Encana is still awaiting DEP permits for three more wells in Fairmount Township and five more in Lake Township.

A schedule has not been set to complete the first two wells, including hydraulic fracturing to break up the shale and release the gas, according to Wiedenbeck.

She stated it is “just a matter of all the business needs aligning at the same time: specialty contractor availability, equipment availability and water resources. We anticipated that completions activities wouldn’t take place immediately following drilling.

Exploratory projects are by nature limited in scope and as such needed services and supplies compete with already full schedules.”

Wiedenbeck said Encana anticipates completing both wells either later this year or early 2011.

A potential headache for natural gas companies, including Encana, is that dry conditions are leading to a growing scarcity of the large quantities of water needed for hydraulic fracturing.

Last week, DEP declared most of Pennsylvania’s counties to be either in a state of drought watch or the more severe drought warning.

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission, which monitors water levels and controls large-scale water withdrawals, has temporarily shut down some of Encana’s sources in Wyoming County.

“The drought does impact our ability to access water,” Wiedenbeck confirmed.

Drilling starts in Benton

Another exploratory natural gas well is under way in Benton, in neighboring Columbia County.

Williams Production Appalachia LLC has drilled other wells in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, but this is the company’s first in Columbia County, Williams Spokeswoman Susan Oliver said.

The drill site is part of acreage originally leased to Citrus Energy Corp. In April, Citrus sold leases for 10,000 acres in Columbia County and several hundred acres’ worth of leases in Fairmount Township to Williams.

Williams representatives met with about 250 community members in the Benton High School on Tuesday to talk about the company and its plans. She said questions ranged from the economic development effects of natural gas drilling to what hydraulic fracturing is.

“We’re very open to meeting with landowner groups and other organizations,” Oliver said.

eskrapits@citizensvoice.com, 570-821-2072

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