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South Buffalo supervisors to decide on drilling bid

| Thursday, June 28, 2012, 9:33 p.m.

The South Buffalo Township Supervisors will decide next month whether to allow the township's first horizontal Marcellus Shale gas wells.

The township planning commission Thursday recommended that the supervisors grant a conditional use permit that XTO Energy needs to drill up to three wells on property off of West Scenic Drive.

However, commission members expressed concern about the condition of the narrow, gravel road between the drilling site and where trucks would exit onto Iron Bridge Road.

As many as 120 trucks a day could travel the approximately mile-long portion, off of which two homes are located.

"That's a road that's really going to take a beating with all that equipment," said planning commission member Kay Covone.

Shawn Gallagher, an attorney with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney who represents XTO, said crews would widen Scenic Drive, maintain it during drilling and restore the road once finished.

If the state Department of Environmental Protection grants the company's drilling permit, work on the drill pad would begin in December, company officials said.

The wells would be drilled into the Marcellus shale formation and then continue horizontally for 4,000 to 5,000 feet. It's unlikely the company will drill all three wells at once.

Each well takes three to four weeks, with 24-hour drilling.

Trucks likely would haul in the 4.5 million gallons of water needed for the hydraulic fracturing process needed to release the natural gas from the shale.

The well wouldn't be fracked until a transmission line agreement is in place, company officials said.

It could sit inactive for months while XTO secures township permission and rights of way to build a pipeline to connect with a transmission line.

2nd gas well OK'd

The commission also recommended approval of a request from MDS Energy, of Kittanning, to drill a shallow gas well, which doesn't extend into the Marcellus shale formation, on property near Ford City Road and Nicholson Road.

The gas well would connect to a larger MDS transmission line at McVille Airport.

Michael Knapp, president of Knapp Acquisitions and Production, a land leasing firm that works on behalf of MDS, said the company would eventually drill down to the Marcellus shale, but wanted to tap a pocket of gas closer to the service first.

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