Natural Gas Information

Overview

Natural Gas Development in Bradford County

Since 2008 Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling in Bradford County has increased by 20% and has hundreds of natural gas wells drilled. The area has attracted national and international investment. Gaining knowledge and an understanding about this growing industry in our area is important. Bradford County is presenting the information throughout these web pages to help residents and visitors understand the development of the industry and how it may affect our county and state for years to come.

Bradford County Natural Gas Advisory Committee

The Bradford County Commissioners appointed the Natural Gas Advisory Committee on July 10, 2008 to provide the commissioners and related agencies with necessary information and feedback in regards to the development of the Marcellus Shale in our communities.

The members of the committee were selected from different sectors of the community to examine issues and take action in regards to the many ways in which the development of natural gas is affecting our county. Members of the committee continue:

  • To develop relationships with the industry and our community
  • To encourage a diverse forum from which to learn about this developing industry
  • To develop opportunities for public education and understanding

The committee meets on a quarterly basis and the sub-committees meetings are held monthly. Please check the calendar for upcoming meetings.

Marcellus Shale

The Marcellus Shale is a black, low density, organic rich shale that lies beneath much of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York. It is projected that nearly 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be produced from the Marcellus Shale. The Marcellus Shale was not widely considered to be an important gas resource until technology for tapping it had been proven in other natural gas shale plays. Many national and international companies are actively drilling or leasing Marcellus Shale properties in Bradford County.

Hundreds of thousands of acres above the Marcellus Shale have been leased across the commonwealth with the intent of drilling wells. Infrastructure needed for the drilling and production of natural gas pipelines are being proposed and built to transport the millions of cubic feet of natural gas per day to major markets. In addition to major pipelines thousands of miles of natural gas gathering pipeline systems must be built to connect individual wells to the major pipelines. The drilling of natural gas wells into the Marcellus Shale is a highly technical process. Capturing the gas that is locked away in the shale requires drilling companies to use processes such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

The Drilling Process

The drilling process begins with pad site construction, which typically lasts approximately one to four weeks depending on the location. Next, the set up of the rig and the drilling of the well will take approximately three to four weeks per well. During this time, operations run continuously 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Multiple wells are sometimes drilled from a single padsite. Although the rig is the most visible part of drilling operations, it is temporary and will be removed once drilling is completed. Once the layer of rock that holds the natural gas (pay zone) is reached, the well will be completed and prepped for production.

As with any construction site, there will be additional truck traffic for the setting up and taking down of the equipment. There can be noise, dust and traffic. After the wells are completed, the company regularly returns to monitor and maintain the site. At some well sites, trucks may return to remove water produced by the gas well, which is separated from natural gas during the gathering process and stored in tanks located on the site. A typical drilling pad site is three to five acres in size.

The information contained in this web site is provided to you “AS IS”, does not constitute legal advice, and we are not acting as your attorney. We make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site and its associated sites.


Related Links

Natural Gas Exploration on State Forest Lands

Marcellus Shale Informational Links

Helpful Information compliments of Penn State Cooperative

Energy Companies with Interest in the Development of Local Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Resources


FAQs

Do I need a Lawyer?

Answer: Yes. The assistance of a lawyer that is well versed in gas leasing is strongly recommended. Do not enter into a contract with a company without much research and advice from a qualified attorney. You may be giving up certain privileges and ownership rights to your property. You are signing binding contracts which will affect your rights for many years to come. An attorney that is knowledgeable in gas and mineral leasing can guide and help throughout the negotiating process. There are many aspects of these contracts, including payment provisions, the location of wells, tanks and pipelines, as well as access to your property and other terms.

What is DEP’s role in water supply protection?

Answer: The Oil and Gas Act of December 19, 1984, provides certain protections to public or private water supplies. The Act states that an oil or gas well operator who pollutes or diminishes a public or private supply shall restore or replace the water supply with an alternate source of water adequate in quantity or quality for the purposes served by the supply. Any landowner whose water supply is polluted or diminished as a result of the drilling activity may submit notice and request that DEP conduct an investigation. Within 45 days of the request, the Department will make a determination.

What is DEP’s role in regulating the oil and gas industry?

Answer: DEP enforces Pennsylvania’s oil and gas laws relating to resource management, well construction, drilling safety and waste management practices. Drilling companies must secure a bond before applying for a well permit. DEP approves bonds and well permits, inspects wells and environmental controls, and permits and inspects waste disposal facilities and waste management activities. Operators must submit reports on well completion, waste management, annual production, and well plugging. DEP has the authority to take action to enforce compliance with applicable laws and to seek penalties for violations of these laws.

Under the PA Clean Streams Act and appropriate authorities, DEP also regulates, and when applicable, permits, all earth disturbances, wetland and stream crossings or impacts and any other water quality impacts related to site development, pipelines, compressor stations, staging areas, road work, pipeyards or any similar activity. As a part of these reulations and permit reviews, threatened and endangered species locations and habitats must be reviewed and cleared by appropriate authorities.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is not involved in regulating lease agreements between mineral property owners and producers, except that minimum royalty payment is prescribed by law. Lease agreements are contractual matters between private parties. DEP does not audit payments, calibrate meters or tanks, or otherwise get involved in lease matters. Well operators are required to report production annually, and state agencies must keep this information confidential for five years, as provided in Section 212 of the Oil and Gas Act, 58 P.S. § 601.212.

Can a heavy hauler travel a road with vehicles in excess of the posted weight limit?

Answer: Yes. The heavy hauler needs to be bonded and have entered into a maintenance agreement with the road owner so that they are responsible for excess maintenance costs to the roadway arising from their heavy hauling activities.

What is the penalty to heavy haulers for violating posted weight limit restrictions on public roadways and who enforces these restrictions?

Answer: In accordance with PA Consolidated Statutes – Section 4902, any person operating a vehicle or combination upon a highway or bridge in violation of a prohibition or restriction imposed under subsection (a) is guilty of a summary offense and shall upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $75, except that any person convicted of operating a vehicle with a gross weight limit in excess of a posted weight shall upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $150 plus $150 for each 500 pounds, or part thereof, in excess of 3,000 pounds over the maximum allowable weight. The road owner enforces the weight limit restriction with assistance from the PA State Police, PennDot Motor Carrier Enforcement Teams and local police departments..

Where can I find Information on well locations and other natural gas related facilities?

Answer: Bradford County updates its information on this website quarterly showing the locations of gas wells, pipelines, water withdrawal and compressor station sites. DEP also has this information available on its website. DEP maintains a permit notification system called e-notice that anyone may subscribe to that will automatically notify you as to any action related to permits in the area you enroll in the subscription.

How long does it take to drill a well and begin producing natural gas?

Answer: Horizontal drilling currently takes approximately 18-25 days from start to finish. The well needs to be fracked in order to release the gas. It is then connected to a pipeline, which transports the gas to the market. Some companies estimate that from start of drilling to sending the gas to marketplace can take up to 3-4 months.

What is fracturing?

Answer: Marcellus Shale wells do not produce commercial quantities of natural gas until they have been fracture stimulated (fraced). Fracing involves placing sand, water and a frac fluid down the well at high pressures to create very small fractures in the shale. The sand holds the fractures open to allow the gas to flow to the surface.

How much water will the drilling process use?

Answer: The Susquehanna River Basin Commission estimates that at the height of production gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation is expected to use about 28 million gallons per day. Each well is estimated to utilize somewhere on the average of 3 to 6 million gallons, primarily during the fracing process.

What is DEP’s role in protecting water?

Answer: Under the PA Clean Streams law, DEP has primary responsibility to protect water quality from any physical, biological or chemical pollution. These responsibilities are formalized under a number of additional laws and regulations that outline and clarify them as well as the penalties for violating these laws and regulations.

Who regulates how much water the gas industry can use?

Answer: The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) along with DEP and input from PA Fish and Boat Commission. SRBC along with these partners, evaluates stream/river flow, biological and physical impacts of withdrawals and determines the amounts that may be withdrawn. Withdrawals are metered and permitted. SRBC permitted sites can be viewed on their web site, along with the regulations and conditions that are considered in granting these permits.

Where can I find information about when and why I should have my water tested?

Answer: See the informational links on the Bradford County Web Page under DEP and Penn State University. Owners of water systems, both public and private, should test their water quality to assure that they are safe and healthy to begin with and also to establish the base or background quality of the water prior to any type of activity that may impact on that quality. Such activities may include mining, gas drilling, industrial operations, fueling stations, farming or any other activity that will utilize materials, fuels or chemicals that may impact on ground water quality.


More information regarding the Bradford County Natural Gas Exploration Advisory Committee