Sunday, March 28, 2010

Marcellus Shale Talk Some More

Source: The Blairsville Dispatch)trackingBy Jeff Himler, The Blairsville Dispatch, Pa. Mar. 26--INDIANA -- It's been estimated that companies moving into or expanding in the region to tap Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits could create nearly 200,000 jobs and generate more than $13 billion in Pennsylvania over the next decade.
In the past few years, techniques for drilling vertically and then horizontally have made it feasible for operators to profitably unlock the Marcellus Shale gas deposits located thousands of feet underground in Appalachia -- including under large sections of Western Pennsylvania.
Through Nov. 30 of last year, 594 Marcellus Shale gas wells were drilled in Pennsylvania, mostly in the western part of the state. That activity was expected to produce more than $3.8 billion in economic impact while creating more than 48,000 jobs, according to a report from Penn State University.
Indiana County, with its history of developing natural gas resources, has seen an initial share of what many predict will be a Marcellus-driven "boomlet."
In addition to the financial rewards awaiting companies that drill for and produce natural gas, pursuit of the area's Marcellus Shale deposits has had a positive spin-off effect on other firms that serve and supply the industry.
Among the new businesses that have been attracted by Marcellus Shale opportunities is Aztec Well Servicing, located on Airport Road in White Township.
Headquartered in New Mexico, Aztec was founded in 1963.
"The opportunity that is available due to the technological advances in securing natural gas from the shale was most definitely the reason we moved to Pennsylvania," said Jason Sandel, executive vice president of the company that has been under his family's management for three generations.
Sandel indicated Aztec was drawn to the Marcellus Shale region as were other companies it serves in the gas well industry.
"The shale play gets our customers involved, and then we want to service their needs," he said. "We see Pennsylvania as a long-term investment for our company."
Employing a total of more than 500 people, the company services wells and also drills them. Sister operations include rental of tools and sales of items such as safety supplies and hauling of both equipment and water to and from drilling sites.
After drills have penetrated to the deep pockets of Marcellus Shale gas, large amounts of water are needed for the fracturing process. Water is pumped down the well in combination with sand to create openings in the rock structure that will allow the gas-bearing material to flow to the surface.
Once production is under way, wastewater that results from the process must be trucked away for proper treatment.
In addition to 13 drilling rigs, Aztec operates 33 service completion rigs, according to Barry Wieland, director of corporate relations and engineering manager. He explained the latter rigs, brought to a well site after other companies have completed the drilling and fracturing processes, perform such clean-up tasks as drilling out plugs that initially are placed until the well is ready for production.
Aztec also can install wellheads and can remove pumps from producing wells if needed to repair the well's inner tubing.
"Oftentimes, that tubing will become corroded," Sandel explained. "We address those problems on behalf of our customers."
Wieland noted Aztec mobilized its first two service completion rigs from its new Indiana location in February, for work at Marcellus Shale sites in Westmoreland County and near Williamsport, and is planning to transfer two more rigs to Indiana County next month.
He said the company additionally is considering moving some of its water-hauling trucks to Indiana County.
In support of its new operations, Wieland has been spending three weeks at a time in Pennsylvania. Other company personnel have relocated to Indiana County on a long-term basis.
"We have 10 people on the ground there now," he said. "They're Pennsylvania residents living in Blairsville and Indiana."
"We're also looking to bring a drilling rig to the area sometime by mid-summer," Sandel said. "Our employee count will triple almost overnight."
At the Airport Road site, Wieland said, the company has developed a gravel yard and is converting an existing house into offices. Once sufficient income has been generated at the new location, "We'll erect an office and a shop," he added.
Factors that prompted Aztec to settle on Indiana as its base for Marcellus operations include the town's central location, its amenities and the receptive attitude of local officials.

1 comment:

evision said...