This is a “man bites dog” kind of story. Typically when we read about drilling on Pennsylvania state-owned land, the drilling happens on private land adjacent to the state land with the lateral reaching under state land (leased for that purpose). This time we spotted a story about a new well due to be drilled this year in Elk County, PA that sits directly *on* state land, and will reach under private land!
Seneca Resources has a permit to drill a new Utica well on state-owned land in Fox Township (Elk County), PA. We spotted the following story, which says the well pad is located “on” state-owned land. Seneca recently provided an update to Fox Twp. supervisors and says drilling of the well will happen in the September/October time frame, and fracking will happen by the end of this year.
An update on a new shale well was provided by the Fox Township Supervisors during their monthly meeting on Wednesday evening.
The Utica Shale well will be located on Department of Conservation and Natural Resource’s Elk State Forest land along Boone Mountain Road.
The supervisors recently met with Seneca Resources regarding the project timeline. Drilling will take place in September and October with fracking to follow in November and December.
Construction plans include timber clearing which resulted in 20 loads and was completed in April; earthwork, slated to be completed by May 20; pad stone hauling to take place from May 20 to June 1 estimated at a total of 450 loads with trucks hauling 64 loads a day over seven days; and road improvements set to conclude on June 15 involving 200 trucks loads of material.*
*St. Marys (PA) The Daily Press (May 2, 2019) – Utica Shale well being constructed in Fox Twp.
When we read the article above, we thought maybe the reporter was taking liberties with language and/or assuming the drilling would happen “on” state-owned land, when in fact it would not be. So we checked with MarcellusGas.org (best $20 we spend each year!) to get details on Seneca’s proposed well in Fox Twp.
We pulled the following maps from MarcellusGas.org (they get them from the state Dept. of Environmental Protection and make them easy to access).
You’ll notice the map on page 1 shows the location of the well as being smack in the middle of “GOVERNMENT LANDS STATE”.
Moving on to page 2, you will see the owner of the property where the well pad will be drilled is “PA DCNR – Elk State Forest”. So we know for sure, this well is getting drilled “on” state-owned land.
Another interesting thing to note on page 2 is that the deepest formation the drilling may go is “Black River”–not the Utica. The “Trenton Black River” sits just below the Utica and is often the named layer for drillers just in case the drill bit needs to go a little deeper.
Finally for page 2, notice that the lateral length is expected to be 12,783 feet long (2.4 miles).
Scroll down to page 3 and this is where we had our “man bites dog” revelation. Although the well is being drilled on PA state land, most of it (the lateral part that gets fracked) will be under land owned by Fox Township, and by private landowners Jude and Theresa Vavala. In fact, most of the well (and royalties) will be under Vavala land.
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