Huntley & Huntley aims to drill near Murrysville Community Park
A Monroeville-based drilling company hopes to obtain the rights to drill under Murrysville Community Park as part of a plan to bring Marcellus shale drilling to the municipality as early as 2018.
An official with Huntley & Huntley said the company is interested in drilling below the 305-acre park, but would not want to build any drilling pads on the parkland.
“Our crack crystal ball says (Murrysville) is out a couple of years — we are leasing there to develop,” said Michael Hillebrand, executive vice president of Huntley & Huntley. We are always interested in (Murrysville Community Park). We have all of the property surrounding the park.”
The municipality owns the oil and gas rights to the park. If municipal officials were to agree to lease the oil and gas rights, a portion of the profit from the sale of any gas extracted from the Marcellus shale — a rock formation located more than a mile underground — would be paid to the municipality.
No proposal has been made to the municipality, officials said. Chief Administrator Jim Morrison said he expects the company to make an offer eventually.
“No question, their intent is to drill here,” Morrison said.
In late 2012, Huntley & Huntley spent almost $1.2 million to buy 202 acres in the northeastern part of Murrysville. One of those properties, the 94-acre Caywood estate located along Beulah Road, is near Murrysville Community Park. An additional 108 acres straddling the Murrysville-Export border also was purchased.
Hillebrand, a Murrysville resident, said the company isn't going to invest in land it doesn't plan to use.
“We're very focused with our leasing — we can't afford to lease without plans to develop,” Hillebrand said. Western Westmoreland County and eastern Allegheny County have been the company's “playground,” he said.
Council President Joan Kearns noted that council is aware that Huntley & Huntley is trying to “sew up” gas leases in the municipality. She was not surprised to hear that the company is interested in the parkland.
Councilman David Perry said he knows residents have environmental concerns about potential drilling in Murrysville. Any proposal made will have to be discussed publicly to ensure that council's decision would be in the best interest of the residents, he said.
“Drilling is going to occur within Murrysville regardless of whether a lease is signed to allow extending laterals under MCP,” Perry said. “Therefore, successful negotiations with a producer would allow us to have far more input into controlling environmental impacts and disturbances to our residents, as well as providing an income source that doesn't increase taxes on the residents.”
Hillebrand said his company won't rush shale development and wants to do it right.
“I don't want to see anything done other than the right thing – good, common-sense use of surface property,” Hillebrand said.
Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.