North Strabane approves first well pad in township

September 24, 2013

The North Strabane Township board of supervisors unanimously approved what will be the first natural gas well pad in the township at their legislative meeting Tuesday. The Range Resources vertical well pad will be constructed on 91.7 acres of land owned by William and Marilyn Magnotti, of Christy Gas Co., on Christy Road.

Supervisors approved the well pad one week after a public hearing regarding the agenda item was held at the municipal hall, which was attended by more than a dozen residents and Range representatives.

During the hearing, Jim Cannon, manager of local government relations, described the plan for the proposed well site as short-term, exploratory and noninvasive. He said vertical drilling of the shallow well would determine whether or not there is dry gas (primarily pure methane) or wet gas (a number of liquid constituents) in that area.

Cannon said drilling would only enter a sandstone formation that is about 3,000 feet deep and would not hit the deeper Marcellus formation, which makes the process faster and less extensive – about a month from start to finish.

Cannon said Tuesday he is unsure when construction will begin on the well pad, because Range’s timeline had to be adjusted becauseof confusion that led Range to believe that the board would vote on the rig after the public hearing last week.

“It kind of derailed us. We’re going to have to adjust our timeline accordingly,” Cannon said. “We were on a different timeline seven days ago than we are tonight. I don’t have a definitive start date.”

Cannon said Range would prefer to begin construction, which includes constructing a road and leveling off the site area, by November to ensure ideal weather conditions.

During the second set of public comments, Peter Overcashier, of Christy Road, spoke in place of his neighbor and asked when Range’s test results for their well water – a pre-drilling requirement for the company – would be made known to the property owner.

Brett Sutton, also of Christy Road, asked the board if Range could proceed with drilling before the property owner receives the test results. Cannon said Range could begin drilling because doing so would not impact the water samples that have already been taken.

“If there’s some sort of damage to the wells … if we impact them at all, by state law we’re responsible for addressing that and mitigating the issue,” Cannon said. “If we start drilling, it doesn’t matter if you have the results with you or not. That water has already had samples taken. The results are sitting somewhere in a lab.”

Also during the meeting, supervisors again voted to table an agenda item for an oil-and-gas lease agreement between either Range Resources or Rice Energy for non-surface occupancy on 81.8 acres of township property on Route 519. Township Chairman Steve Motzer recommended the item be tabled because he said there is no finalized agreement with either company.

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

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