Findlay approves first 3 gas wells

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Findlay's first Marcellus Shale wells have gained approval, and more are in the pipeline.

Supervisors voted 3-0 on May 8 to approve a proposal by Range Resources-Appalachia LLC to drill three natural gas wells along Clinton-Frankfort Road.

Gas firm representatives said drilling of a single well could begin as early as August or September on about 10 acres of private agricultural land.

"This really will be a test well to see what kind of production we get, and then the company will make plans on not just the other two wells on this well pad, but the development of other wells in the area," said Glenn Truzzi, environmental engineering manager for Range Resources in Cecil.

In addition to Range Resources projects, supervisors are expected to eventually hear plans for Consol Energy Inc. to drill at Pittsburgh International Airport in Findlay. Consol has a $500 million deal with Allegheny County to drill about 50 wells on 9,000 acres.

The Range Resources project approved last week includes constructing a well pad and a 1,128-foot-long access road, vertical and horizontal drilling, fracking and flaring.

The 10-acre drilling site is part of a 254-acre property at 213 Clinton-Frankfort Road owned by Dominick Dalbo of Cecil. The site is in the West Allegheny School District.

"The gist of this whole board is to make sure every step of the way we have a notification process, an explanation process, for the residents, especially those in the area most affected," supervisors chairman Tom Gallant said.

Supervisors granted Range Resources two modifications to the township drilling ordinance.

They allowed the company to go without fencing during active operations because the entrance will be protected by round-the-clock security. And, they permitted up to 15 rig workers to live on-site for three weeks in temporary trailers.

The ordinance normally prohibits temporary housing, and the planning commission had recommended allowing accommodations for only a couple of site supervisors.

Mr. Truzzi of Range Resources asked for leeway during three days of around-the-clock flaring that he said will exceed noise standards and cause a nuisance.

The gas burning will be done to test well production, he said.

Mr. Gallant said temporary noise and other minor downsides of development are worthwhile in the long run to help keep tax rates down.

Supervisors tabled a related proposal by Seitel Data Ltd. of Houston, Texas, to conduct seismic testing in the Clinton area.

To map underground shale formations, the geophysical company proposes about 15,000 vibration points -- generated by thumper trucks and by explosives placed in 30-foot-deep holes -- plus about 20,000 geophones to receive the seismic waves.

Testing would affect 22 township-owned roads, planning director Chris Caruso said.

The company also wants to test in adjacent areas of Moon and Beaver County, he said.

The conditional-use applications from Range Resources and Seitel Data were the first ones that Findlay officials considered under their ordinances covering Marcellus Shale drilling and geophysical testing.

Adopted in January 2011, the Marcellus regulations initially prohibited drilling in all residential zones. But late last year, supervisors revised the law to allow drilling on low-density residential properties of at least 30 acres, including the Dalbo property.

The Dalbo gas well plan meets local rules and the state's Act 13 regulations, said Adrian Markocic, a local government affairs specialist with Range Resources.

He said the entire project, from site preparation to completion, will take about 100 days, not necessarily consecutive.

At its peak, the project will generate more than 100 trucks trips per day. Most days, there will be 50 or fewer truck trips, according to Range Resources.

Mr. Markocic said the proposed truck route involves all state roads -- Turnpike 576 (the Findlay Connector), Route 30 and Clinton-Frankfort Road.

Richard Lamb of Hebron Road said truck traffic is likely to cause backups, and he asked that the drillers pay for a Findlay police officer to monitor the intersection of Route 30, Clinton-Frankfort Road and Hebron Road.

"You're going to have a real problem with proper traffic flow and safe ingress and egress," he said.


Andrea Iglar, freelance writer:


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