Appalachian Basin

Marcellus Shale Violations Down More than 25 Percent

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) year to date inspections this week and it was clear that innovations by the Marcellus Shale industry have really paid off.  The oil and gas industry had a 25 percent decrease in violations – and that’s with a 16 percent increase in inspections.

“’It’s proof positive that the industry is focused on being compliant and doing a good job,’ said Dave Spigelmyer, president of the North Fayette-based Marcellus Shale Coalition.”

At the same time, DEP hired 25 new employees and conducted roughly 1700 more inspections of oil and gas well operations. And this trend isn’t new as the Tribune-Review reports, (emphasis added)

“The decrease in violations among shale producers continues a five-year trend. Last year’s 412 violations were a third of what the industry logged in 2010.”

“Walliser said the decline shows the shale industry has “jumped the learning curve” as it improved over the past 10 years.

It proves Pennsylvania was right to not ban shale drilling early on, [Scott] Perry [the deputy DEP secretary who oversees the oil and gas office] said. Improvements in how drillers build well pads to protect land and water around them and ways to safely handle waste could only happen in the field.

“Sometimes you need to operate in order to innovate,” Perry said.

Violations have been a focus of activist groups throughout the last decade, who have even changed the definitions of violations to fit their anti-fracking agendas. The reality is, though, that the Marcellus industry has taken great strides to improve best management practices in the Commonwealth ahead of regulatory requirements. Technological advancements will only continue to spur increased production and innovations. With the incredible strides made during the first 10 years of Marcellus development, one can only imagine what the next decade will bring.

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