Appalachian Basin

French and Canadian Officials Visit Northeast Marcellus for Tour

A group of French and Canadian media, as well as members of the French delegation traveled to Dimock, Pennsylvania for a natural gas well site tour last weekend.  France sent the government officials to Pennsylvania specifically for them to gather information about natural gas development and report what they learned. This group was part of a larger tour consisting of activists from Quebec and members of their legislature conducting a “window” tour of natural gas activity in the Marcellus Shale.  It was the same organizers who came down in the big yellow BANANA bus a few months ago, although this time, their third trip to the region, the bus was a little less conspicuous.

Original Tour Plans Leave Something to be Desired

As mentioned above, this smaller group was part of a larger tour.  Unfortunately, upon arriving in Montreal, members of the French delegation who had been informed by organizers they would be able view well site operations, learned this did not mean they would get to interact with industry on a well site. Rather, the organizers planned to drive them around in a bus and show them activity from a distance with resident explanations, rather than those of experts.

On Friday we were contacted by journalists from a Quebec production company seeking to provide a balanced view of the ongoing discussion around natural gas development in Canada. They asked if we could put together a tour with a company and allow the French delegation members to attend.  We happily obliged and spent Sunday with this group and Cabot, in lieu of their original plans to tour the region with local activist, Rebecca Roter.  The fact they chose to come with us was beneficial to them because they can go online and research all the topics we and even Roter discussed, but nothing clarifies the data more than seeing the process in action and speaking with the experts who perform these operations every day.

Saturday this past weekend they traveled around with people against natural gas development and heard their arguments. We encouraged them to ask all the questions they could think of, as we were there to help them get a better understanding of the process. They asked several questions pertaining to what they had heard the day before from our friends on the other side of the natural gas debate and were extremely pleased to hear our answers were supported by hard facts, numerical/quantitative data, and statistics.

Tour of Cabot Oil and Gas facilities for French delegation

Touring Dimock with Cabot Oil and Gas

The group toured a Cabot Oil and Gas natural gas well site, being actively drilled, to see how natural gas is developed in Pennsylvania. We brought them to the well site and where they asked questions pertaining to the development process from how does the drill turn for the horizontal leg to what kinds of additives are used in hydraulic fracturing and everything in between.  The group had many  questions and now they have information to report back to Canada and France directly from a source of experts.

French delegation tour group

The site they toured is located in Springville, Pennsylvania and is called the Flowers site. It is currently being developed and the group was able to see the process and talk to experts about what they were doing from start to finish. The well site we visited was being developed vertically 6,000 feet down then turned horizontally to reach a final depth of 12,500 feet.

natural gas rig

Bill desRosiers explained every detail from the beginning stages of natural gas development to the end results. He even went into details about how the drill bits are attached and how they functioned. The engineers and other site workers were available and kindly answered site specific questions, as well when Bill was busy discussing the overview.

discussion on parts involved in development process

Unfortunately, we had a few more people than originally anticipated and could not accommodate everyone to travel to locations. Nicole stayed behind with these individuals and answered their questions from Cabot’s office. A few of them have already began talking with us about visiting again in the near future to get another tour.  She also shared information with them for contacts in Quebec to learn more about the development potentially occurring there.

Similar Yet Different

Canada is vastly different from the United States because in Canada the government owns all mineral rights; landowners do not have any.

Quebec and France don’t have any active shale development occurring so visiting the Marcellus was the first time many in the group had seen an active site.  According to the folks on tour, it was difficult to understand the process of natural gas exploration living in France. They greatly appreciated being able to come to Pennsylvania. More shockingly to them, they got the answers to those questions in full detail from an industry they had heard throughout the weekend from the activists they were with, was not very forthcoming with information.

By the end of the tour  the delegation felt they had learned a lot about natural gas development and they seemed pleased with the process. They all took notes and many got pictures and videos on site. We pointed them to many great sources for information including the Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency.

All in all it was a great day. We learned a great deal about potential development, regulations, and mineral rights in their countries and were able to share a great deal about Marcellus development. Hopefully, they will go back to their home countries and share all of the information they learned throughout the weekend, and will reach out to us again if they plan to visit in the future.


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