Monroeville company starting work on first Plum fracking project
Construction of the well pad at oil and gas exploration company Huntley & Huntley's first Marcellus shale drilling project in Plum will start next month.
The Monroeville company in September received the state Department of Environmental Protection permit allowing it to begin work at the project called "Midas" on 92 acres at 191 Coxcomb Hill Road, Huntley & Huntley Vice President Paul Burke said.
Drilling is scheduled to start in February and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is expected to begin at the site in April, according to company spokesman Ed Valentas. Fracking is a process of extracting gas by injecting rock with high-pressure water, sand and chemicals.
The company is considering development of wells at several locations in Plum.
"But it's pure speculation right now. We could change locations (being looked at) and there are no permit applications other than Midas," Burke said.
Valentas gave a presentation to Plum Chamber of Commerce members Wednesday to dispel fears about the controversial drilling method. About 15 business leaders attended. The program featured a short video explaining the process of horizontal drilling, which includes fracking.
"There's a lot of misinformation out there. A lot of scare tactics by opponents who don't want any fossil fuels used," Valentas said at the presentation.
Burke said Huntley & Huntley started as a geological consulting firm in 1912. Starting in 1990, the company began exploration and production and has since drilled around 400 conventional wells in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The company started drilling jointly with Texas-based Range Resources for Marcellus shale in 2009 with its Yutes well in Frazer near the Pittsburgh Mills Mall. Since then, the company has been involved in 73 horizontal drill operations.
Doug Shields, Western Pennsylvania Outreach Liaison for environmental advocacy group, Food and Water Watch, said other communities should take Huntley & Huntley's plans in Plum as a fair warning that drilling could happen anywhere.
"Those that think, 'they're not coming here because our population's too large,' should note that is not the case. Certainly not in Plum," said Shields, who was not at the company's presentation. "Every local official is duty-bound to recognize this activity is not going away and they need to update their laws to make sure they're protecting their community."
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, email@example.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting.