Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Beauduy’

Gas drilling raises water concerns

Agency said Susquehanna River has enough water, but withdrawal timing is key.

WILLIAMSPORT – The Susquehanna River watershed has enough water to supply drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, members of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission assured at a public hearing on Tuesday.

The trick is to take it when there’s a lot available, and that requires planning.

“It’s not so much the consumptive use,” said Thomas Beauduy, the SRBC’s deputy director.

“It’s when it’s being used. It’s how it’s being used.”

To illustrate the point, Michael Brownell, the commission’s Water Resources Management Division chief, used a local drilling site owned by Chief Oil & Gas LLC as an example.

The site, tucked along rolling ridges east of Hughesville, is permitted for water withdrawal from a creek almost six miles away, meaning the water must be trucked. Water could probably be piped in from a smaller creek about half a mile away, but only in certain seasons when its flow is high enough, Brownell said, which would require forethought.

It’s a matter of submitting the application early, doing the research and picking the right time, he said.

Water use is a major factor for drilling in the shale about a mile underground.

Companies use an innovative horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing process that’s succeeded in similar gas-containing formations in Texas. Each fracturing process can use as much as four million gallons of water. Only about half of that is recovered, Beauduy said.

And while the commission is interested in recycling and reusing water, he acknowledged that every use is assumed to be a complete loss of the water from the watershed so that any recovery is seen as a bonus.

That said, both SRBC representatives noted that, in the aggregate, water withdrawal for well drilling would equal perhaps 28 million gallons per day, which is about half as much as PPL Corp.’s nuclear Susquehanna Steam Electric Station in Salem Township.

The hearing, which was meant to discuss proposed SRBC regulation changes, brought out concerns from both the industry and residents.

Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel, who was representing the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, noted two concerns.

First, that the chemicals used in the fracturing process haven’t been identified, and second, that it was unclear if the industry would be allowed to withdraw water during drought conditions.

Scott Blauvelt of East Resources, Inc. represented the Marcellus Shale Committee, which is made up of 28 members of regional gas and oil associations.

Copyright: Times Leader