Posts Tagged ‘Lake’

Council: Don’t use lake water for drilling

Harveys Lake officials cite environmental concerns in opposing the water use.

EILEEN GODIN Times Leader Correspondent

HARVEYS LAKE – Council members on Tuesday night voiced concerns over a gas company’s interest in using lake water for the drilling of the Marcellus Shale.

Environmental scientists from Gannett Fleming Engineering are interested in drilling in the Marcellus Shale region, which runs through Northeastern Pennsylvania. The shale contains pockets of natural gas.

The gas company wants to use 20 million gallons of water from Harveys Lake for a process called hydrofracing. Hydrofracing is the use of high pressure water to create cracks in the rock surrounding the shale so that the gas can be recovered.

Council Chairman Lawrence Lucarino said the shale is located a mile or more below the earth’s surface.

Council members say they oppose the practice because they are trying to protect the state’s largest natural lake.

But even though the council can deny it the use of the water, “the federal government can override the council’s decision,” Councilwoman Diane Dwyer said.

The council has asked attorney Charles D. McCormick to draft a letter stating the borough’s position and reasons against using the lake water.

“Who knows how well they will filter out the contaminants before letting the water back into the lake,” Dwyer said.

She asked residents to “please be watchdogs and keep an eye on your backyard.”

The Marcellus Shale fields are located in the Appalachian Basin, running through Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia. According to the Web site, the Appalachian Basin could provide 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas for the United States. The United States now produces 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

In other news, emergency 911 street maps have been returned to the borough. Council members Carole Samson and Charles Musial will review the maps to make sure all the street names are correct.

This process should take about one to two weeks, Samson said. Once approved by the borough, the maps will be sent to the County 911 office for final approval.

Copyright: Times Leader

Gas lease interest leads to owners holding on to land

Real-estate pros say chance of lucrative deals causing less land to be available for sale.

By Rory
Staff Writer

Listings for land are virtually nonexistent in northern Luzerne and Wyoming counties, thanks to landowners hoping to cash in on natural-gas leasing rights.

“If people want to come up to buy land, there’s really not much to show them, if anything. And that’s a factor of the gas situation,” said Donna LaBar, who owns Century 21 Sherlock Homes Inc. offices in Clarks Summit and Tunkhannock.

It’s an unfavorable situation for anyone hoping to join in on the profits from gas exploration in the area. Companies are banking that a vast, but deep, layer of rock called Marcellus Shale contains natural gas deposits.

Landowners in Wyoming County and other northern counties have been offered $2,500 per acre to sign away the gas rights. Those offers have skyrocketed with recent drilling success.

In January, some landowners signed for just hundreds of dollars per acre.

Early estimates hold that the amount of gas that potentially could be extracted from the entire layer, which stretches from upstate New York to Virginia, including parts of Luzerne County, could fulfill the country’s natural gas consumption for two years.

The deposits have been known for decades, but technology only recently has improved enough to make extraction economically feasible.

LaBar, a real-estate broker since 1984, said prices in the residential market are holding steady and properties are available.

“The normal market, which would just be the residential sales market, is still pretty much normal. Average market for this time of year,” she said.

However, the number of available tracts larger than 5 acres drops off significantly, she said. “People just aren’t really selling their land right now because they’re looking forward to royalties for the gas leases,” LaBar said.

The effect is more pronounced at her Tunkhannock office, she said. “It’s mostly the northern tier,” she said.

Several Luzerne County real-estate agents said land is still available in northern townships, such as Franklin and Lake, where shale deposits are predicted.

The industry is in its infancy, and few landowners who’ve signed up have actually seen royalty checks. However, if the deposit is anything like the Barnett Shale in Texas that it’s being compared to, drilling could become lucrative. Barnett has proven results, and The Dallas Morning News recently reported that leases are being signed near Fort Worth for $25,000 per acre.

LaBar said local landowners are now viewing their land differently. Before, it was simply an investment that had a tax liability.

Now, she said, “it could be actually an income asset for them, and it’s all yet to be seen.”

Rory Sweeney, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 970-7418.

Copyright: Times Leader