Permit approvals encouraging sign

Natural gas industry transportation and related equipment sits idle at Adeva Energy’s site along Lycoming Creek Road awaiting the call for more drilling action. 
JIM CARPENTER/Central PA Shale Play

Natural gas industry transportation and related equipment sits idle at Adeva Energy’s site along Lycoming Creek Road awaiting the call for more drilling action. JIM CARPENTER/Central PA Shale Play

It may be a stretch to conclude that the natural gas drilling is returning in force to central Pennsylvania.

The boom days of several years ago are becoming a more distant memory each day for places such as Lycoming and Tioga counties and the Bradford County community of Towanda.

Still, signs are apparent that the industry is coming back in 2017.

According to information from the state Department of Environmental Protection, a number of permits have been approved for unconventional well drilling in recent months.

Companies including Seneca Resources, Inflection Energy, Chief Energy and Range Resources are among those issued the permits.

A total of 30 permits were issued for drilling in Tioga County between Nov. 1 and March 6, according to DEP.

At the same time, 31 wells already were drilled in Tioga County.

In Lycoming County, 12 permits were issued for drilling during that four-month period while two wells were drilled in the county over that time.

Six wells have been drilled in Sullivan County and another eight permits have been issued for drilling.

The drilling activity comes as welcome news to

some of the companies supporting the industry.

Troy Brown, of Aveda Transportation and Energy Services, Williamsport, said his company has been in a kind of “holding pattern” with regard to the industry.

“What we are doing right now is a lot of service work,” he said. “We are looking to move rigs. When they drill, they need to move.”

Brown said he certainly feels better this year about the gas industry than he did in 2016. And, his company is hiring workers in anticipation of more gas industry-related work.

“You have to be optimistic,” he said.

Keith Kuzio, CEO and president of Larson Design Group, of Williamsport, already has seen signs of the gas industry picking up this year. Calls have come into his company in recent months for the engineering and design work it performs.

That certainly was not the case last year, he added.

“Last year, there was basically no activity in the first and second quarters of the year,” he said.

As a result, his company was forced to lay off some people.

This year, LDG is looking to utilize existing people for gas industry-related work until it’s deemed necessary to bring on more people, he added.

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