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Chevron reps explain gas well process at G7 Summit

| Saturday, April 20, 2013, 1:16 a.m.

The G7 Summit continued on Friday with two sessions that covered recycling and environmental protection.

Representatives from Chevron spoke about Marcellus shale. Approximately 40 people from the participating towns of Connellsville, Scottdale, Everson, Mt. Pleasant, South Connellsville, New Stanton and Youngwood attended.

Working with a power-point presentation, Bryce Yeager, asset team leader for Chevron, explained the process of drilling, fracking and the reclamation of a gas well site, relating the process in detail for those attending the event.

“We want you to get as much of a sense as you can,” Yeager said. “We welcome open dialogue and we want to explain what it is we do at Chevron.”

Yeager explained how a site and pad are set up, how the drilling takes places, then how the fracking is done to release the gas to then be recovered from the depth of the site, which averages about 8,000 feet below the surface.

The process of locating a site, requiring all necessary permits, testing, and drilling takes about two years from beginning to end for the company.

“We predict that the sites will then produce from 40 to 50 years, so the two-year start is just a small snapshot in time for the process,” Yeager said.

Yeager also explained the new types of technology the company was working with, and also the new features, like movable reclaimed flow-back water storage units that can hold water recycled from the wells which can then be used at other sites, cutting down on the need to use fresh water at a site during the fracking process.

Several questions were asked about problems the sites have created, like damaged roads from trucks, safety of sites and site workers, and the potential of ground water being contaminated by the fracking.

“There is a fear that the fractures rise up and meet your aquifer and those fears are totally unfounded,” Chevron representative Mikal Zimmerman said.

He explained that the fracking process is completed far below that water level and there in not one reported incident in the entire country of contamination.

“There are no confirmations in the country that hydraulic fracking contaminated ground water,” Yeager added.

Bud Santimyer of Scottdale voiced his concerns for the safety of the sites and also for the safety of those working the sites.

“If we are not a safe operation, then we are not going to be here very long,” Yeager said, adding that any site that experiences any safety issues is addressed immediately.

Clyde Martz of South Connellsville said he had concerns about the water that is brought up from the fracking, that is mixed with chemicals to complete the fracking process.

“I am not so concerned with the hydraulic fracking as I am with the water,” Martz said. “How are you disposing of that and where is it going.”

Yeager said the water that is not reused at other sites is sent to special licensed disposal wells.

“These wells are well below the water table,” Yeager said.

Santimyer asked if the water can be filtered to be used again as fresh water.

Yeager explained that it can be turned into distilled water, but it was a long process.

Yeager and Zimmerman also talked about how the sites are reclaimed.

“Chevron is here with a business model that spans decades,” Zimmerman said. “We have made a generations commitment and we want to become responsible members of this community. We may move at a slower pace than others, but there is always time to do it right.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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