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Murrysville drilling meeting to focus on rights

| Monday, July 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

An informational meeting on seismic testing and pipeline agreements hosted by Marcellus Education Team experts from Penn State Extension will be held Wednesday in Murrysville.

The meeting is in response to numerous phone calls to the municipal building, chief administrator Jim Morrison said.

“We want people to know what their rights are,” he said.

During the past two months, Morrison has received up to three calls a day from residents questioning seismic testing fliers left on their doors, he said.

Seismic testing uses underground sound waves to map hydrocarbon areas that could be suitable for hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, to extract natural gas from the deep Marcellus shale formation.

A land services company based in Greensburg has been contracted through a Texas-based company to do the mapping, Morrison said.

The company is mapping 102 square miles of land in Westmoreland County, which includes northern and eastern pockets of Murrysville, he said.

“Westmoreland County is a county that drilling companies have focused on,” said Jon Laughner, a Marcellus Education Team expert with Penn State Extension.

The presentation will cover the procedure of seismic testing, the types of equipment involved and long- and short-term impacts.

Experts will explain the benefits and disadvantages of allowing seismic testing on property, Laughner said.

The biggest potential benefit would come if the testing leads to a land lease and property owners earn royalties from the company doing the drilling, Laughner said.

“If a drilling company has better information on how to drill a particular well, that means they'll produce more gas, which means there will be more gas going through the meter and the landowner could see more royalties,” he said. “On the other side of that, it is a disruption. It is a sunup-to-sundown operation.”

Some of the most common complaints Laughner said he has heard from landowners in lease agreements involve crews on the property at varying hours, drilling holes left behind and concerns about water supplies.

Laughner said landowners should consult an attorney with a background in oil and gas contracts before signing any leases.

Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6220 or adolasinski@tribweb.com.

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