Marcellus Shale advisory board members rack up violations

Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 12:00 AM     Updated: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 6:38 A By DONALD GILLILAND, The Patriot-News

Eight of the drilling companies with representatives on the Pennsylvania governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission were cited with environmental violations last year. One of them led the state in violations. All of them contributed to Gov. Tom Corbett’s campaign.  That lends some ammunition to environmentalists’ complaint that Corbett populated the commission henhouse with industry foxes favored for their largesse rather than careful business practices. Industry officials say the representatives bring valuable expertise and talent to the panel.

According to an analysis of violations from the Department of Environmental Protection conducted by Clean Water Action, an environmental group, the companies represented on the governor’s commission accounted for 42 percent of all drilling violations last year — 514 out of a total 1,227.  “It’s pretty shocking,” said Myron Arnowitt, Clean Water Action’s state director. “Some of the very worst companies are on the commission.”  With 174 violations, Chief Oil & Gas led the state last year; Chief’s vice president of government and regulatory affairs, Terry Bossert, sits on the commission. Attempts to contact Chief for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful. Chesapeake Energy had the third-highest number of violations at 132; Chesapeake’s vice president of government relations, Dave Spigelmyer, was appointed to the commission, but chose to step off prior to the beginning of its work.  Other companies with violations serving on the commission are: East Resources (74 violations), Exxon Mobil (66), Range Resources (32), Chevron (16), EQT (15) and Consol (5).  The violations range from administrative oversights to illegal discharge of industrial waste. About one in six wells had problems.

“We’re concerned that some of the folks on the commission are really part of the problem, and we don’t see how they’re going to be part of the solution,” Arnowitt said.

Companies represented on the commission also donated more than $790,000 to Corbett’s campaign, he said. Ray Walker of Range Resources is serving on the commission as the representative of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group he chairs.

“The commission’s objective is to develop a comprehensive, strategic proposal for the responsible and environmentally sound development of Marcellus Shale,” said the coalition’s spokesman, Travis Windle. “Having subject matter experts — like Ray Walker and others — whose understanding of these highly technical issues is second to none only makes sense.” Range is also widely recognized as one of the most environmentally responsible of all the companies drilling in Pennsylvania. It was Range that told DEP the state’s regulations had to change or its rivers would be destroyed.
That’s not good enough for Clean Water Action.  It’s one of 17 groups that plans to stage a rally outside the commission’s meeting at the Rachel Carson Building in Harrisburg at noon today. The groups are calling for the governor to disband the commission unless citizens groups are given seats at the table. “The rally is really to address the fact — from our perspective — [that] the makeup of the commission is not what it should be to address the problems Marcellus Shale drilling has brought to the state,” Arnowitt said.

Arnowitt was part of an April 13 meeting between environmental groups and both the governor’s energy executive and the DEP secretary. The groups were denied seats on the board, but the officials asked them to supply specific ideas of how to incorporate more public comment into the proceedings. That has not been done. “We’re still putting together ideas,” Arnowitt said. “We’re happy to talk more about how to include more input, but that’s a separate question.”

That disparity between public and private action is telling, said Chad Saylor, spokesman for Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, who leads the commission.The proceedings are open and transparent, he said, and public comment is still welcome.


To read this article in full online, click here:

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/04/gas_panel_members_rack_up_viol.html



Failing to Pass a Severance Tax…

Below some comments from the press and PennFuture about the state of the State’s budget sans a tax on drilling.

Inaction on drill tax has a bad odor to it
Sunday, October 24, 2010
By Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

…. Its [PA's Legislature] latest gaffe is passing on collecting tens of millions of dollars in revenue from the oil and gas industry, which is making huge money in our state (and passing a good bit of it around Harrisburg). Nearly all of the nation’s natural gas comes out of the ground in states that have severance taxes, but we won’t have any….

Bill Holland is associate editor of Gas Daily, which covers the natural gas market in North America. He said, “Industry analysts have never been very concerned” about paying a tax in Pennsylvania. Even the House bill passed largely by Democrats last month wasn’t that big a deal, Mr. Holland said. “They expect a tax eventually — like there is everywhere else drilling occurs,” he said.

It’s not as if profit margins are low. Mr. Holland pointed to Chesapeake Energy’s recent statement that its break-even selling price for drilling Marcellus Shale gas is $2.45 per thousand cubic feet, and Friday’s closing price for gas futures was $3.35. Now drillers don’t have to worry about even a pin scratch on that pretty price spread….

To read the full opinion online, click here:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10297/1097325-155.stm

PennFuture’s Drilling Fact of the Day

October 22, 2010
The refusal of the Pennsylvania Senate leadership to consider a severance tax bill leaves Pennsylvania citizens in the lurch, with a $70 million hole in this year’s state budget, and with local communities holding the bag on covering the public safety and social costs that drillers bring with them….

To read the full PennFuture Drilling Fact of the Day, click here:

 

Refracking wells?

In an Q and A interview in the Williamsport Gaurdian, Richard Adams , a spokesman for Chief Oil and Gas said—
“Re-fracking is not a common event in the Barnett or any other shale field at this time and I would not expect it to be common in the Marcellus at any point in the future.”

If this were true, it would be a good thing.

If a well is only fracked once, then the number of fracks would equal the number of wells but if wells are refracked every few years the number of fracks grows exponentially larger than the well count.
Each refrack uses more water than the last, 25% more is the given figure.  Each refrack generates a new load of highly contaminated waste water. Each refrack restresses the well casings with 6000 to 8000 pounds per square inch of pressure.  Each refrack invites the danger of surface contamination by spilled or leaked concentrated chemicals.

When some folks in the Barnett Shale area of Texas were asked if Adam’s statement was true they gave these replies.

“Baloney!  I don’t have time to find references now but they are available. They don’t have to get a permit so no one really keeps track but it’s common knowledge.”

“Chk (Chesapeake) has told folks they plan to refrack many times over the life of the reserves..like every 3 or 4 years.”

“If they are on the lease side trying to say you will make lots of money…,and they refrack When they are talking about the environmental side, they say the opposite.”

“FALSE.  One of the pad sites near my home is refracked regularly due to several wells on the site. The frack trucks are also a common site on the highway. Ubiquitous is the word.”

“Absolutely they will refrack  and have already at many wells. The Industry folks I talked to relayed the probability of  every 3 to 5 years  depending on the well.”
And here’s what the industry has to say about it.

“It has been established that only 10% of GIP [gas in place] is recovered with the initial completion. Refracturing the shale can increase the recovery rate by an additional 8% to 10%. Simple reperforation of the original interval and pumping a job volume at least 25% larger than the previous frack has produced positive results in vertical shale wells.”

source:  Halliburton. Jan. 2007. “Developing Gas Shale Reserves .“ Advances in Unconventional Gas. A Hart Energy Publication. p. 28.
Focus on the Marcellus Shale By Lisa Sumi
FOR THE OIL & GAS ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT/
EARTHWORKS, MAY 2008
According to Halliburton, an oil and gas service company:
It is important to note that a well drilled in the Marcellus shale may have to be fracked several times over the course of its life to keep the gas flowing, and that each fracking operation may require more water than the previous one.

From a Devon investor report: (Devon is one of the major gas exploration companies in the Barnett shale)

In addition to the refracs, we have also drilled and completed several wells on 250-foot spacing rather than the 500-foot spacing that our existing proved reserves are based on. If the early success of the first several wells drilled on 250-foot spacing continues, there may be substantial additional reserves to be recognized in the Barnett Shale over the coming years.

Our gas drilling in the Barnett Shale and Selma Chalk continues to provide additional production and reserves as we continue to test the limits of each field, whether it is from down spacing, extending the limits of each field or refracking of existing wells. (emphasis added)

As an example of a successful refrac, Devon Energy has reported on a well from which production had declined from 2,000 mcfe/day to 500 mcfe/day after 4.5 years. A re-frac restored production to 1,600 mcfe/day initially, declining to 1,000 mcfe/day after 3 months, and has probably doubled the remaining reserves from this well.
I suppose this information speaks for itself.

Tuscarora Township Incident

From a report in thedailyreview.com on 1/29/10:

TUSCARORA TWP. – An accident Thursday at the Mowry natural gas well on Clapper Hill Road sent three people to the hospital and sparked an investigation into how the incident occurred. …Two employees of a contract company at the scene were transported to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment of non-critical injuries, according to the press release. They were later released after treatment. A third contractor, who also suffered non-critical injuries, was later taken the hospital for treatment as well, and remains hospitalized as of 6 p.m. Thursday. … In a press release issued by Chesapeake Energy, the accident occurred at approximately 4:30 a.m., and was caused by equipment failure that occurred during completion work on the well….

Read more at these sites:

http://thedailyreview.com/news/questions-remain-in-gas-well-accident-1.580356http://www.poten.com/NewsDetails.aspx?id=10333860

PA police catch gas company truck 41 tons over weight limit

Friday, Jan. 29, 2010

Pa. police catch truck 41 tons over weight

limit


- The Associated Press

TOWANDA, Pa. — Police in northern Pennsylvania say they discovered a natural gas well-drilling service truck that was more than 41 tons over the weight limit for the road it was on.

Cpl. Roger Stipcak said it is the latest of numerous examples of state troopers finding overweight natural gas trucks inflicting damage on area roads.

Drilling crews are flocking to Pennsylvania as they rush to extract natural gas from the potentially lucrative Marcellus Shale formation.

Police say they found the truck Tuesday. It was parked illegally and without a valid permit for its oversize load on a Bradford County road posted with a 10-ton weight limit.

It is owned by a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy Corp. of Oklahoma City. The driver drew traffic citations worth more than $25,000.


Backlash to Natural Gas

The pictures did not carry through with this article but you get the idea by reading it. Our water supplies are at risk and hydraulic fracturing is too new a technology to really be sure what may or may not happen. (This is not news to many of us living in shale country) There is a lot of info and history laid out in this article and it is worth the time it takes to read it. Exxon (who now owns XTO Energy) has been lobbying in Washington this week because they do not want Congress changing the drilling regulations in regards to the Safe Drinking Water Act.

DRILLING TACTIC UNLEASHES  a TROVE of NATURAL GAS – AND a BACKLASH // WSJ 1/21/10

SHREVEPORT, La.—A mounting backlash against a technique used in natural-gas drilling is threatening to slow development of the huge gas fields that some hope will reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and polluting coal.
The U.S. energy industry says there is enough untapped domestic natural gas to last a century—but getting to that gas requires injecting millions of gallons of water into the ground to crack open the dense rocks holding the deposits. The process, known as hydraulic fracturing, has turned gas deposits in shale formations into an energy bonanza.

The industry’s success has triggered increasing debate over whether the drilling process could pollute freshwater supplies. Federal and state authorities are considering action that could regulate hydraulic fracturing, potentially making drilling less profitable and giving companies less reason to tap into this ample supply of natural gas.
Exxon Mobil Corp. placed itself squarely in the middle of the wrangling when it agreed last month to pay $29 billion for gas producer XTO Energy Inc., a fracturing pioneer. Wary of the rising outcry, Exxon negotiated the right to back out of its deal if Congress passes a law to make hydraulic fracturing illegal or “commercially impracticable.”
On Wednesday, Exxon Chairman and Chief Executive Rex Tillerson faced questions about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing at a Capitol Hill hearing on the merger.
“We can now find and produce unconventional natural-gas supplies miles below the surface in a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible manner,” Mr. Tillerson told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Criticism of hydraulic fracturing was muted at the hearing, with most representatives focusing on the potential benefits of increased gas use. But the merger has given drilling opponents a new target.
“It puts Exxon at front and center of this whole issue,” said Michael Passoff, associate director of As You Sow, an environmental-minded investment group.
Even before the Exxon-XTO deal, the controversy over hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking” or “fracing,” was growing.
Oilmen were injecting water into wells to free up valuable oil and gas as far back as the 1940s. But in the past decade the technique has really taken off. First in East Texas and in the outskirts of Fort Worth, companies began pumping water under enormous pressure to see if they could break open dense shale-rock formations to release gas.

These initial efforts were largely welcomed by communities, with homeowners and landlords often receiving lucrative checks for the mineral rights that allowed companies to drill on their land.
When early efforts succeeded, the companies began running bigger fracturing jobs, using more water and higher pressure—and in turn searching for even more gas-bearing shale deposits.
This took the gas industry into places where drilling was less common in modern times, including downtown Fort Worth, northeastern Pennsylvania and within the city limits of Shreveport, La.
Hydraulic fracturing and some other technology improvements have created a way to tap a domestic fuel source that has proved abundant. U.S. natural-gas production has risen about 20% since 2005 in large part because of these developments, making gas a much bigger player in energy-policy planning.
Natural gas heats more than half of U.S. homes and generates a fifth of America’s electricity, far less than coal, which provides the U.S. with nearly half its power. The industry and its allies are promoting natural gas a bridge fuel to help wean the U.S. off coal, which emits more global-warming gases, and imported oil until renewable fuels are able to meet the demand.
What most worries environmentalists isn’t the water in the fracturing process—it’s the chemicals mixed in the water to reduce friction, kill bacteria and prevent mineral buildup. The chemicals make up less than 1% of the overall solution, but some are hazardous in low concentrations.
Today, the industry estimates that 90% of all new gas wells are fractured. Shale—a dense, nonporous gas-bearing rock—won’t release its gas unless it is cracked open, and other types of formations also produce more gas when fractured. Easier, more porous formations, which don’t require fracturing, were tapped in earlier decades and have largely dried up.
As the industry has honed its techniques, hydraulic-fracturing operations have become more complex, requiring far more water and chemicals—millions of gallons per well, rather than tens or hundreds of thousands of gallons in the past.
Environmentalists and some community activists fear hydraulic fracturing could contaminate drinking-water supplies. They point to recent incidents that they say are linked to fracturing, including a water-well explosion in Dimock, Pa., and a chemical spill here in Shreveport.
The industry says fracturing is safe and argues that there have been only a handful of incidents among the millions of wells that have been fractured over the past 50 years. “Hydraulic fracturing has been used since the 1940s in more than one million wells in the United States. It’s safe and effective,” says Exxon spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman.
Even if the industry can make its case, it still must deal with the public-relations and political fallout from some of the questionable incidents.
On a recent Friday morning, a crew from Cudd Energy Services worked to fracture a Chesapeake Energy Corp. well in Caddo Parish, La., the heart of the Haynesville Shale gas field. While cattle chewed grass in a field across the street, a team of Chesapeake and Cudd employees monitored computer readouts as 21 diesel-powered pumps forced nearly 3,800 gallons of water a minute down a well that reached two miles into the earth.
It is a process Chesapeake says it has learned how to do both efficiently and safely. “We’ve done it 10,000 times in the company’s history without incident,” said Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake’s chairman and chief executive officer, in a separate interview.
But in a coffee shop in nearby Shreveport, Caddo Parish Commissioner Matthew Linn said he had concerns after more than a dozen cows died during a Chesapeake Energy fracturing operation last year. A preliminary investigation linked the deaths to chemicals that spilled off the well site into a nearby pasture. A Chesapeake spokesman says the company compensated the cattle’s owner and has taken steps to prevent a similar incident in the future.
“I’m all for drilling, and I want to get the gas out from underneath us,” Mr. Linn said. “But at the same time, how do you balance human life and quality of life and clean water against that?”
Natural-gas companies say what’s at work is fear of the new. “When you introduce something like hydraulic fracturing in a part of the country that hasn’t had any experience with it, I think it’s natural for there to be questions about the procedure,” says Mr. McClendon.
Regardless, the industry faces a real prospect of tightened rules that could make it harder, or impractical, to use hydraulic fracturing. In June, congressional Democrats introduced legislation that would regulate fracturing at the federal level for the first time. The bills remain in committee. In October, the house formally asked the Environmental Protection Agency to study the risks posed by fracturing.
Several states, including Colorado, Pennsylvania and New York, have either passed or are considering tightening regulations on fracturing and related activities. Members of the House of Representatives pushing for new legislation argue that federal oversight is needed to protect water supplies because state regulations vary widely.
The industry worries that new regulations would hurt the thin margins on many gas wells and cut the financial incentive to tap the U.S.’s vast supply of gas. “There is an anticipation that more federal oversight would add enough costs to make it uneconomical, even it wasn’t outright prohibited,” said Gary Adams, vice chairman of Deloitte LLP’s oil and gas consulting division.
Already, the growing concerns about the practice are causing some companies to rethink where they drill. Chesapeake last fall publicly abandoned plans to drill in the watershed that provides New York City with its drinking water after opposition from city officials and others who feared a spill could contaminate the water. Talisman Energy Inc. is shifting its drilling effort away from New York as well.
There have been attempts to regulate fracturing before. The 1974 Safe Water Drinking Act regulated wells that injected liquids underground. The federal courts ruled the law covered fracturing in a 1990s lawsuit from Alabama. But the technique was exempted from federal oversight in the 2005 Energy Bill.
Some argue there is little really known about whether fracturing poses a genuine risk to water supplies. Hannah Wiseman, a visiting law professor at the University of Texas, Austin, says tighter regulation may be warranted. “There just isn’t enough information out there right now about the effects,” she said.
Some of the potential threats are clearer than others, however. Gas-bearing shale formations typically lie a mile or more below the surface, with thousands of feet of nonporous rock separating them from even the deepest freshwater aquifers.
Most people agree that means that if a fracturing job is done correctly, it would be virtually impossible for water or chemicals to seep upward into drinking water supplies.
The industry argues that there has never been a proven case of water contamination caused by fracturing. But regulators have tied multiple incidents to oil and gas drilling more generally. Environmental groups point out that wells aren’t always constructed properly. Moreover, they say, storage ponds that hold chemical-laced water after fracturing is complete can overflow, and trucks carrying chemicals can crash.
A poorly sealed well is the alleged cause of gas escaping into an underground aquifer in Dimock, Pa. Gas also built up in one resident’s water well, causing an explosion in January 2009.
The company that drilled the wells, Cabot Oil & Gas, paid a $120,000 fine to settle the matter with the state, but has denied responsibility for the contamination and says fracturing couldn’t have been the cause.
“I could never sell this house now,” said Dimock resident Craig Sautner, who now has drinking water shipped to him by Cabot. “Our pristine water that we used to have? It’s done.”
Whether it is the act of fracturing itself or the risk of contamination from related activities is somewhat beside the point, says Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that has raised concerns about fracturing. “Ultimately it’s semantics. Somebody’s water got contaminated,” she says.
Still, for Exxon, the hearings this week presented an opportunity to highlight its investment in developing U.S. energy supplies and creating jobs. Most of its investments in recent years have been overseas. And Exxon executives usually face congressional grilling only when oil and gasoline prices skyrocket.
“This should probably be a very pleasant change of pace for Exxon Mobil because it’s not going to be an argument about high oil and gasoline prices,” says William Hederman, an energy analyst with Washington research firm Concept Capital.

—Siobhan Hughes contributed to this article.

Cancer-causing toxin found in air near gas facilities

Here’s some info from the responsible Drilling Alliance in PA.

11:16 AM CDT on Friday, October 30, 2009    By CHRIS HAWES / WFAA-TV

FORT WORTH — Drilling for natural gas began to take off in the Barnett Shale around 2002, when there were nearly 2,000 wells.

Since then, that number has grown to more than 12,000 wells. So, many might wonder which government agency has been testing the air at each of those sites to check for any potentially harmful elements in the air.

The answer is: No one.

Now, for the first time, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is conducting a Barnett Shale air quality study. The results have surprised the highest levels of the commission.

http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dws/wfaa/latestnews/stories/wfaa091029_mo_drilling.2669d39e4.html#

http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dws/wfaa/latestnews/stories/wfaa091030_wz_benzene2.26be63b79.html#

http://www.dentonrc.com/sharedcontent/dws/drc/localnews/westdenton/stories/DRC_Dish-Report_1030.267021ddb.html#

It is worth a few minutes of your time to click on the links above, especially the top one and view the video.  The city government in Fort Worth went gung ho into drilling inside the city. They have allowed Chesapeake among others to drill in city parks, neighborhoods, and near schools.   I mention Chesapeake because of their presence here.

This issue came up over a year ago and the mayor and city council in FW turned aside the concerns of a noted researcher and took the side of the industry. Now they are acting surprised.

Air pollution from gas drilling can be greatly reduced in the same way it was greatly reduced in automobiles by capture and reuse. It is inexpensive to do and can even turns a bit of a profit.

Why don’t they do it?  Because no one makes them.  We have 50 companies drilling here and good regulations are the only way to avoid what is happening in Texas.  If regulations are in place as the industry ramps up here, they can be factored it in and not present us with a fight later on to force an expensive retrofit. Best for everyone.

Will our DEP be able to do the job? Not likely when they are overwhelmed with water issues from gas drilling and have had their budget cut 27%.

Gas Companies say one thing but think another…

http://www.propublica.org/feature/does-chesapeakes-no-drilling-pledge-do-enough-to-protect-nycs-watershed-110

Another well written article from Propublica.  Just seems to reinforce the old “you just can’t trust ‘em!”.

Proposed ‘man camp’ could bring changes to the Valley

This article from the Morning Times brings up a topic that I’ve heard lot of talk about and have my own concerns as well. The proposed “creation of many jobs” by the gas industries drilling in the Marcellus Shale. So far I have only heard of a few locals who have secured work through the energy companies and there seem to be a lot of folks from Wyoming and Colorado working here for 6 to 8 months at a time instead. It would seem to me that if a company is willing to build/fund an entire facility for housing it’s employees, then those employees probably don’t live in the area, hence this doesn’t really bode well for lots of career opportunities for PA and NY residents. I also think that one companies policies about drug and alcohol usage may differ quite a bit from another. I know some fellows who have been hired by the natural gas companies and these guys are local, and most of them drink and spend most of their cash on drugs…..but they were hired anyway. I am curious how the gas companies can keep tabs on this and what their workers are doing while on the job site? If there is a spill or something else goes wrong I’d like to think that those workers would dial 9-1-1 immediately, but I just don’t have that confidence in them.
By Steve Reilly

ATHENS TOWNSHIP — Natural gas drilling activity in the region is, as one local official recently described it, still in its “stakes and red tape” phase. But with leases signed on much of the available land, the industry is poised for nothing less than a complete transformation of the area’s economic and social life.

One of the most highly anticipated additions to the Valley is a planned temporary housing facility — often referred to as a “man camp” — that has been proposed for development in Athens Township. The purpose of the planned 180-bed facility will to house employees of Nomac Drilling, a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy.

The purpose of the facility is to house temporary gas drilling workers, or “roughnecks,” while they work on rigs in the area.

The plans, as they were presented to the Athens Township Supervisors in July, showed a 15-acre complex consisting of four dormitory-style buildings. The planned facility includes a kitchen, dining hall, office, lounge area, recreation facility, and laundry unit. Plans include a 130-space parking lot, and a fence surrounding the facility manned by 24-hour security.

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Chesapeake and Nomac officials have stated that 25 to 30 full-time and part-time positions that could be filled by local workers will be created by the construction of the facility.

While such housing facilities are a new phenomenon on the Eastern seaboard, parts of some gas-heavy states west of the Mississippi have already seen the temporary facilities come — and go — along with gas extraction activities.

Athens Township Supervisor Jack Walter was among a contingent of 20 local officials who were flown in a Chesapeake Energy private jet to inspect a housing facility in Searcy, Ark.

Walter stated that his experience there has led him to be a proponent of the addition of a similar facility in Athens Township.

“The way they do business — I couldn’t find anything wrong with them (drilling workers) at all,” he stated. “Those are nice jobs and they’ve got to pay attention. They’ve got to be on the ball, and you don’t get that from hiring criminals.”

“I absolutely did not see anything that should alarm any of the citizens here. I just don’t believe that’s the case at all. And I saw one in operation and I didn’t see anything to be afraid of,” he added.

Walter praised the company’s no-tolerance drug and alcohol policy, and described the drilling workers as “absolutely top citizens.”

Terrie Swift, executive director of the Sublette County Chamber of Commerce in Sublette County, Wyoming, echoed Walter’s observations about the restrictions drilling companies have placed on their workers.

“Most of them have pretty strict restrictions in terms of drug and alcohol policy. Some of them even go as far as saying zero tolerance for anything. And some of them even have curfews as well,” she stated.

However, Swift added that the economic impact of the transitory workers living in temporary housing quarters has been, if anything, impermanent.

“At that level of employment with the gas company we don’t see a lot of people moving permanently,” she stated. “There’s not a lot of incentive for them to move their families because it’s not the nature of their profession to stay in one place…(drillers) are a level of the workforce that is the most short-term, and I think it’s not in the nature of the business for them to stay.”

Swift stated that another reason roughnecks choose not to settle permanently is that increased population during drilling activity can drive up the cost of housing.

“The extraction cycle usually drives the local cost of housing up quite considerably — especially rural areas — so it’s not very cost-effective for them to move here,” Swift said.

However, Swift also added that while the temporary housing quarters was able to add housing for some, it did not completely alleviate the pressure that drilling activities put on Sublette County’s housing prices.

“I haven’t seen that because you have several different levels of employment here in the extraction cycle,” she said, alluding to the numbers of managers, technicians, attorneys, and office personnel that a drilling-centered economy added to the area.

New location may be sought

During previous Athens Township meetings, Chesapeake and Nomac officials expressed interest in establishing the housing facility at a site on Round Top Road in Athens.

However, according to Ed Reid, Athens Township’s zoning officer, Chesapeake Energy may currently be pursuing a different location for the housing facility.

Chesapeake Energy officials did not respond to a request for further information concerning the alternative location.

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