Appalachian Basin

Joint Operator Tour Sheds Light on Marcellus Development

Last week, EID Marcellus partnered with Cabot Oil and Gas, Chesapeake Energy, Chief Oil and Gas, Halliburton and Talisman Energy to hold our first “Joint Operators Tour” of the Marcellus Shale throughout Bradford and Susquehanna counties. The tour took about 40 media professionals from across the country and elected officials, or members of their staff, on an excursion to see natural gas development from beginning to end, as well as provide  the opportunity to speak with local residents on their viewpoints on natural gas development. It was quite an adventure that helped to shed some light on an industry heavily reported on and scrutinized by many individuals who have not had the opportunity to see these operations up close.

The Tour

Attendees met at the Riverstone Inn in Towanda (Bradford County), PA, a restaurant that has prospered greatly as a result of the natural gas industry operating in the area. Because of this, owners have since added a hotel behind the restaurant and bought the local Comfort Inn. It is an incredible representation of the economic development occurring as a result of the Marcellus.

Safety First

Each attendee was required to wear the proper protective equipment (or PPE) necessary to be on or work at a well site. This included steel toe boots, fire resistant clothing, safety goggles, a hard hat, and in some locations a mask or ear plugs.

Chief Oil and Gas

The first stop of the day was a Chief Oil and Gas site in Bradford County actively drilling a Marcellus well. Attendees were split into four groups where they received a safety meeting similar to that employees receive before beginning a shift and then a guided tour of the site. Points of interest included:

  • Chief employs a closed-loop system when operating, placing all drill cuttings directly into containment.
  • One well being drilled currently, with 5 planned on the site.
  • 3 layers of containment were employed to prevent any accidents effecting the local environment. There was a wooded platform all over the location, plastic containment around the rig and finally an elevated berm running along the perimeter.
  • The day shift of this rig is 75% Pennsylvania employees. The night shift is 100% local!

Take a look at some of the videos from the site below.

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Chesapeake Energy Hydraulic Fracturing Site

Next, we traveled to a Chesapeake site where a hydraulic fracturing operation was being performed by FracTech. Again, attendees were given a safety meeting explaining the “muster points” to go to should an incident occur and the rules of the site.Take a look at the following video explaining how Chesapeake hydraulically fractures a well:


Here were some of the highlights of the site we toured:

  • Chesapeake employs a closed-loop system on all sites. Any water recovered from the well is placed in containment and 100% of that is recycled to be used in future operations.
  • Hydraulic fracturing is done in stages. While we were there they were about 45 minutes into the 7th of 12 stages that will take place on the one well that is located on this pad.
  • A berm walk showed that water was being pumped into the site from a nearby freshwater pond. The use of ponds is a way that operators help to limit the amount of truck traffic to a site. Only freshwater is kept in the ponds.

Check out some of the videos from the various parts of the operation below.

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As we stopped in at the Wysox Firehall for lunch, Halliburton met with tour participants to give them a tour of a simulated hydraulic fracturing operation in one of their data monitoring trucks. Three of the 5 individuals who  run these types of operation were on hand to answer any questions and explain how each does their job as well as the multiple safety precautions and systems in place to avert any potential unforeseen occurrences.

This allowed attendees to further ask questions about the operation they had just come from, especially technical ones that can be better explained by the very individuals who perform  fracturing operations on a daily basis. It also gave a view of how a company can control what they are doing from 7,000 feet above where fracturing is taking place!

All of the individuals who run this truck were from Pennsylvania or Ohio. Another great example of the efforts by companies to hire locally!

Cabot Oil and Gas

The last stop of the day brought the process full circle as we visited Elk Lake School District in Susquehanna County to view a remediated well site currently in production. This showed attendees what a site will look like when all industrial activity is complete, the well is producing and there is no intention of adding further wells to the pad.

Representatives from Cabot answered questions from attendees, and since the group stayed together for this part, you can see the video of this portion below. Can you hear the cross county competition taking place at the school in the background, only yards away from the site?

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Other Activities

Along the way participants also heard from others who live or work in areas being impacted by natural gas development. Watch the following videos to hear their perspectives on economic development and methane migration.

Tony Ventello, Bradford County Progress Authority discusses economic development and other impacts in the county.

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Brian Oram, local professional hydrologist with over 20 years experience discusses methane in Pennsylvania.

Brian Oram provided a very detailed briefing on the water quality challenges present in northeastern Pennsylvania.  To watch Brian’s presentation please follow this link.

All in all it was a great day with a lot of educational take-aways. Thank you to all of the companies for your help in making this idea a reality, and to all of the participants for taking the time out of your busy schedules to come view these operations first hand. We hope that you were able to have all of your questions answered and will use the information you gained  to help educate the local and national audiences on natural gas development.

For those of you out there that have never been on a tour, but would like the experience, please keep an eye out on our Facebook for information on upcoming tours we will be planning, as well as to see more pictures from this one.


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