The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 20, 2013

Chevron to drill gas well in Somerset County

David Hurst
dhurst@tribdem.com

DAVIDSVILLE — Work could be underway this fall to put a Marcellus Shale well in Somerset County.

It’s the second well that energy giant Chevron is planning in the region. The other is a Jackson Township project announced in April.

Chevron officials say they hope to drill one well this fall in Conemaugh Township. The yield would help them gauge whether additional drilling should occur in that area.

“It’s going to be an appraisal well, just like in Jackson Township,” said Mikal Zimmerman, policy and public affairs officer for Chevron Appalachia, the company’s natural gas drilling arm.

“Information we gather from (the well) helps us determine how we should proceed.”

The horizontal well is planned on an undeveloped multi-acre field along Keafer Hill Road between Somerset Pike and Tire Hill.

Property owners for the proposed drilling site are listed as Dorsey, Joyce, Orville and Linda Thomas, records show.

Conemaugh Township supervisors approved Chevron’s stormwater man­agement plan for the project on Wednesday, following a recommendation by the township’s planning commission earlier this month.

The company would use three township roads for hauling, accessing the site via Soap Hollow, Weber and Keafer Hill roads, Supervisor Steve Buncich said, adding that all three roadways have been bonded.

“It’s going to be a little bit like an army coming in there when they are getting going,” Buncich said, noting the company will be hauling in massive equipment to prepare the site and, eventually, drill.

In some ways, it will be a lot like any other mining operation, township Solicitor William Barbin said.

“There will be noise, lights and truck traffic. But in totality, it’s going to be on a significantly smaller scale, because Chevron will come in and get to work for a few months and then suddenly it will be quiet up there again,” Barbin said, noting that mines, by comparison, often work around the clock for years at a time.

Zimmerman has said it’s not uncommon for the company to set up a well pad site but then wait months before drilling begins. After the initial drilling, the company often takes months to review data before returning to the site to work again.

“What we constantly emphasize with our workforce and business partners is that we do a project safely or not at all – it’s about taking the time to do it right,” she said in April.

Zimmerman said the typical well site requires numerous construction jobs and 18 workers once drilling is ready to get underway.

The company still needs to acquire several permits, including a state drilling permit, before beginning any construction, Zimmerman said.

She noted the township’s approval this week was a precursor to an erosion control permit.

Zimmerman said it will likely be a few months before the company has all necessary approvals to begin work.

Buncich described the company as “up-front and accessible” regarding its project plans.

“We’re aware they’ve alerted neighboring property owners about getting water quality studies completed before the work gets underway,” Buncich said, adding that Chevron first approached the township about the project six months ago.

“They’ve been easy to deal with up to this point.”

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