Northeast Pennsylvania is blessed with picturesque landscapes, rolling hills, bountiful farm land, and pristine waterways. It is also blessed with an enormous energy reserve. That is why Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation takes great pride in being an industry leader when it comes to developing Marcellus Shale natural gas and protecting the environment.
Given the time constraints and the distance traveled by the tourgoers throughout the day, Cabot offered to host Trout Unlimited at two locations, a drilling rig and a water withdrawal, the latter being of most interest to the group.
The drilling location is perhaps the best display of where industry meets environmental stewardship. On location, the group was split up and shuttled around to points of interest, including: the drilling rig, a Precision Drilling Super Triple; the closed-loop circulatory system, which separates rock cuttings from drilling fluid, cleans the fluids, and stores fluids in steel containers before it is reused in the drilling process downhole; the edge of the pad site to demonstrate the environmental controls; and the natural gas tube trailer and step-down skid, special equipment used to offset diesel consumption with natural gas for power generation. At each point, Cabot representatives discussed the equipment present, the technology behind it, the specific process it’s used for, and any special initiatives to protect the environment.
At the water withdrawal location environmentally consciousness engineering controls were demonstrated, including: a buried water intake that limits disturbance to the stream bed and stream bank benefitting the ecosystem; Hydrowatch™, a water management technology system that prevents backflow to stream preventing cross contamination; and integrated satellite communication to control withdrawals from the stream based on USGS stream gauge real time data as well as preventing over withdrawals based on daily limits.
Patrons of the tour raised some unique questions at the water withdrawal having to do with the oversight of water resources and what is done with the water after it is used in the hydraulic fracturing process. The Susquehanna River Basin Commission, an interstate compact that governs the conservation, development, and administration of the Susquehanna River Basin, regulates water withdrawals and consumptive water uses. They establish and approve the daily volume of water Cabot is allowed to take from each withdrawal and implement restrictions when levels are low. As for the handling of water after the hydraulic fracturing process, Cabot works with a company called Comtech Industries, which specializes in treating all sorts of fluids, to recycle over 99% of our waste fluids. Through our commitment to recycle, Cabot has been able to offset its fresh water tremendously.
As a goal of Cabot’s outreach and education, we strive to provide an understanding of how we are committed to responsible energy development and environmental care. This tour with TU allowed its members and up close and personal visit to learn all the work and professionalism that goes into developing clean burning natural gas.
About Trout Unlimited
Trout Unlimited is a national organization with more than 150,000 members organized into about 400 chapters from Maine to Montana to Alaska. The organization remains committed to applying “the very best information and thinking available” in its conservation work and has developed cutting-edge tools such as the Conservation Success Index (CSI), a sophisticated framework for assessing the health of coldwater fish species throughout their native range. Whether this range encompasses a few hundred miles or multiple states, the CSI helps the organization target its efforts toward those populations most in need of protection or restoration.