August has been a busy time for Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation in Pennsylvania. While other operators have reconsidered development strategies during a period of low gas prices, Cabot has continued its drilling schedule as planned.
This year, Cabot is on pace to drill upwards of 70 new wells in Susquehanna County. For external affairs in the field, this means our activities have not slowed down either. Community outreach during fair season has brought our team to Harford Fair, Kiwanis Wyoming County Fair, and soon the Luzerne County Fair. These events have given us a chance to interact with fair patrons about compressed natural gas (CNG) as well as our operations in the county. When we were not
eating funnel cake working at fairs, our team has been conducting many site tours. Here is a recap of the some of the tours:
Marcellus Shale, Gaining International Popularity
If you are familiar with our educational campaign, you might see one that explains why the Marcellus Shale is so extraordinary. The particular focus of this piece is how natural gas from shale basins across the USA, especially the Marcellus Shale, is redefining domestic energy security. Not discussed though is how much of an international game changer Marcellus Shale really is. As our domestic energy profile changes, the rest of world is significantly impacted from looking to develop shale deposits previously thought to be non-productive or looking to the USA as a new supplier of natural gas; which in turn will limit depended on energy from Russia, Saudi Arabia, or Venezuela. Whether you realized it before, now you can see how much of a game changer the Marcellus Shale really is.
Looking to capitalize on its own shale deposit, representatives from Lithuania, Simonas Satunas (Deputy Chief of Mission) and Evldas Stankevicius (First Lithuanian Cultural Attaché to the United States), visited Cabot’s operations during a recent culture visit to Scranton; Lithuanian heritage has significant history in Scranton, Pennsylvania, specifically from the coal-mining era. As a nation, Lithuania exclusively relies on imports for its natural gas supply from countries like Russia. Looking to reduce this dependency, the Lithuania government is exploring the possibility of developing a shale formation found under its country. While not expansive as Marcellus Shale, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates Lithuanian shale could produce 113 Billion Cubic Metres (BCM). This amount could supply the country for at least thirty years.
While this amount of natural gas is significant to Lithuania, its government is concerned about the environmental impacts it has heard so much about. Much to the surprise of the Lithuania representatives, responsible natural gas development is preserving the landscape, protecting the environment, and has a significant smaller footprint than previously imagined. After a well is drilled and completed, its footprint is reduced to acre sometimes two. This in particular amazed the Lithuania representatives especially when they compared it to other energy sources like solar and wind, which require significant surface disruptions.
Across the Pond - Oxford University
Later in the month, a student from Oxford University traveled to beautiful Susquehanna County, researching our operations for her upcoming dissertation. The focus of her studies has been on corporate responsibility and environmental protections. For Cabot, environmental protections are never sacrificed in our operations, and this is something our company is extremely proud of. During this particular tour, I stressed Cabot’s insistence to go above state requirements in order to further ensure the environment is protected while natural gas is extracted, citing specifically closed-loop development, multiple containment protocols, erosion and sedimentation controls, our goal of 100% recycling & reuse of all fluids.
During lunch following the tour, Larry Fulmer, Cabot’s Superintended of Hydraulic Fracturing, discussed the technical details of completing a well. He stressed among other things, that this process has not changed much over the last 60 plus years. Bill Kelley, owner of Taylor Rental, also had the opportunity to sit down and discuss the impacts of gas development in the area. As a long time resident of Susquehanna County, this industry has done an amazing job balancing the community, environment, and development of Marcellus Shale gas.
Out of State Visitors
To finish off the month, representatives from three different municipalities in New York came to Cabot looking for a first hand account of natural gas development. While Cabot is not currently active in New York, we believe it is important for everyone understand the development process.
So often, individuals who visit our operations have this preconceived notion about gas development. That quickly changes as they learn about the best practices our industry fully displays for anyone willing to learn.
Another hot topic during many tours is horizontal drilling and what makes it possible. Many assume that our horizontal laterals originate from 90-degree turn at the bottom of our vertical wellbore. In reality, to make a horizontal lateral properly, the process takes roughly a quarter-mile to complete as a special string of pipe bends the well bore 2 to 8 degrees every hundred feet or so. The company man in charge of the rig we visited took every liberty to demonstrate this process. Many of the participants left this tour feeling much more comfortable about the development that might be coming to New York soon.
As you can see, August was a busy month. Stay tuned to read about our adventures in September.