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Marcellus Shale in PA

In the past few months, you might have heard that E. J. Breneman is working on the Marcellus Shale in the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania and you are probably wondering what are we getting into now?

The Marcellus Shale is a natural gas deposit located under Pennsylvania as well as parts of West Virginia and New York State. There are actually four other shale deposits in the United States, notably two in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas. This Marcellus Shale deposit is thought to be the largest deposit of natural gas in the Country, estimated at approximately 1500 trillion cubic feet with an estimated worth of approximately 1.2 trillion dollars. There are approximately twenty six gas companies involved in the exploration and extraction of natural gas in this Marcellus Shale deposit, some more active than others. While the gas has always been there, the process of locating and removing it from the ground has been the challenge.

The gas is located approximately 8000 feet beneath the ground and the technology to remove it from the ground is expensive and fairly new. Once the price of gas reached a certain point, this process, called fracking, became economically viable. In order to extract the gas, the first step a gas company does is set up a well site. This initial task involves approximately 250 tractor trailer loads of supplies and equipment. Once the well is established, the site is now ready to produce gas. In order to release the gas that is locked in the shale deposits, the well is fracked, which is a process where a charge is set off at the end of a well bore. This perforates the casing and cement and starts the fracture of the shale formation. Then water mixed with sand is injected under high pressure to break open the formation which allows the natural gas to flow into the well head.

During the fracking process, there is four to five hundred truck loads of water hauled to the well site...per day!! Of course, what goes in must come out. All of that cement, sand and water is flushed back out of the well and stored on site where it is dried and then hauled to a landfill. The drying involves lime additive which requires additional trucking of materials in and then of course, the dried material gets trucked out to landfills. Keep in mind that this is for one well and one gas company.

The process is repeated on a daily basis and as a result the infrastructure in the area is in shambles. After many months of hard work and with the help of some fortuitous meetings, we were finally able to get some people interested in stabilizing the roads with cement and then paving those roads in order to protect them. as you can imagine, the gas companies are being inundated with ideas and schemes on how to “fix” everything — whether it is a road problem, a security problem or a housing problem.

As a result they have adopted a cautious approach to new ideas because the impact of everything they do is magnified. After several months of discussions, meetings and a few pilot projects, the work has exploded. Not only full depth reclamation but road work in general. Once again, we have established ourselves as the leader in doing the right thing and providing a cost effective solution to a major problem.

We are continuing to work to entrench ourselves with the high quality gas companies in order to continue to grow as they continue to grow. The development of the Marcellus Shale has significant potential for growth for both the gas companies and E.J. Breneman. it is both exciting and rewarding to be part of a new industry and to provide quality solutions to the community.

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