A representative of Chief Oil and Gas LLC of Dallas said Thursday that the company may have its first gas wells in Lycoming County in production by this fall.
The company has secured right-of-ways from landowners for pipeline and two sites for compressor stations, according to Kristi Gittins, vice president of communications.
"It's looking like we'll have gas (online) by this fall, if all goes as planned," she said during an open house and barbecue hosted by the company at its new field office in Fairfield Township.
Chief Oil and Gas donate $25,000 to Lycoming County 4H during it's open house and barbecue held at their new field office in Fairfield Township. The contribution was designed to be an endowment, the proceeds of which will go to a scholarship to county 4-Hers with financial needs.
Chief Oil and Gas new field office open house was attended by state, county and local officials, Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce officials, area business owners and local residents.
"We're excited. Everyone has been very willing to work with us on the right-of-ways," she said.
The company is one of a handful of gas exploration companies that have set their sights on the Marcellus Shale formation, which runs from the Southern Tier of New York, through Pennsylvania and into Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.
The formation is believed to contain trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.
Chief opened the field office at 700 Fairfield Road in mid-May. The office was opened to manage the company's gas drilling, right-of-way and gas gathering and transportation operations, according to a company news release.
About 35 employees are working out of the office, Gittins said. About half of them were local hires, she said, adding that she expects the company to hire even more people.
The company has drilled four vertical and two horizontal wells in the county, Michael Hallford, operations manager for Chief's Appalachia region, said during a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Another horizontal well is being drilled, Hallford said.
The ceremony and open house was attended by state, county and local officials, Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce officials, area business owners and local residents.
State Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, said he has visited Chief's drilling sites in the county and believes the company will be an asset to the area.
County Commissioner Rebecca A. Burke told Hallford that county government would do what it could "to make your stay here as easy as possible."
"I think it's going to be a wild ride," she said. "You need to let us know what you need earlier, rather than later."
Chamber president Vincent J. Matteo said he believes the gas exploration industry will provide a lot of opportunities to county residents.
"This is the start of a great partnership," he said. "(Chief) is here to make money, but they are also here to be a member of this community."
The company made a $25,000 donation to the Lycoming County 4-H program.
According to Lycoming County Cooperative Extension educator Evelyn R. Simmons, the contribution was designed to be an endowment, the proceeds of which will go to a scholarship to county 4-Hers with financial needs.
"We thank Chief very much for the donation," Simmons said. "This is an outreach to the community and an investment in our youth."
According to Gittins, the company plans to be a presence in the area for a long time.
The company already has invested about $250 million in Pennsylvania, she said. According to the news release, the company has leased 500,000 acres throughout the Marcellus Shale region and expects to drill 20 to 25 more wells there this year.
"You don't put this type of investment in an area and leave any time soon," she said. "We are excited about Lycoming County."
How profitable an area will be can only be determined when gas wells are on line and in production, Gittins said.