WHITNEYVILLE - According to Scott Bruner, a professional engineer with Shell Appalachia, Shell plans to drill about 150 wells at three Tioga County locations this year.
The areas to be explored are a three-township area around Richmond Township, a three-township area around Wellsboro and an area around Roaring Branch and Liberty called Texas Creek. In the process, Shell will use up to 12 horizontal drilling rigs, Bruner said Tuesday evening at the Tioga County Fairgrounds in the second of Shell's three scheduled town hall meetings.
"I know some other companies have said they are picking up and going to Ohio and other places because of the low market price of natural gas right now, but our intention is to continue on into the foreseeable future," Bruner said.
CHERYL R. CLARKE/Sun-Gazette
Hundreds of people attended a Shell Appalachia town hall session at the Tioga County Fairgrounds community building in Whitneyville Tuesday.
Following that, the floor was opened for questions. At least two dozen people out of the hundreds who were in attendance asked questions ranging from setting up business relationships with the company to lowering lighting at well sites and compressor stations to keep them from interfering with the county's "dark skies" viewing.
Other questions dealt with safety issues, water use and recycling, well plugging once the well is tapped out, pipelines, rights of way and leasing.
One man expressed his frustration at not being able to set up a working relationship with Shell to sell it rock from his quarry, which he said he purposely developed when he learned the industry was coming.
Bruner told him to meet with him following the meeting and he would take his information.
Another question was from a woman wanting to know if Shell participates in the state law known as "right of capture" meaning if a landowner has not leased but is in a unit, the company literally can "suck the gas out from under" the unleased property.
Operations Manager Rick Mykitta said that the company has to stay within the unit, but can go 200 to 300 feet past where the line is.
With gathering pipelines going in this spring, one man asked how close to a building a line can be.
"In Jackson Township they are within 60 feet of a building," he said.
Mykitta said that depending upon whether the building is occupied or not, will "drive how thick that line is and how often it gets inspected."
Another man said he had heard that the seismic testing being done in Wellsboro is "cracking people's septic tanks."
"We'd like to hear about that," Bruner said.
A question about the type of fuel used to operate hydraulic fracturing pumps - diesel - from one woman prompted Mykitta to divulge that Shell is looking at changing some of its drilling rigs to compressed natural gas to cut down on diesel use.
"We'd like to do the same thing with smaller vehicles and pickup trucks as well, so that is where we are heading," Mykitta said.
The good neighbor hotline phone number that residents can call with issues or concerns is 662-9415, Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This year's final meeting in the county will be next Tuesday from 4 to 6 and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Mt. Zion Retreat Center, 287 Zion Road in Roaring Branch.