RETROSPECTIVE (2008 to mid 2011)
Ponderings from Pandora's Box
Chloe Kelly's Journal of Living with Unconventional Gas Drilling
Jan 23: A northeast PA breather, courtesy of Chesapeake's 2012 Operating Plan
Today I read a Chesapeake press release "Chesapeake Energy Corporation Updates Its 2012 Operating Plan in Response to Low Natural Gas Prices" that began
First, Chesapeake plans to further reduce its operated dry gas drilling activity by 50% to approximately 24 rigs by the 2012 second quarter from 47 dry gas rigs currently in use and by 67% from an average of approximately 75 dry gas rigs used during 2011. Chesapeake’s operated dry gas drilling capital expenditures in 2012, net of drilling carries, are expected to decrease to $0.9 billion, a decrease of approximately 70% from similar expenditures of $3.1 billion in 2011. This anticipated level of dry gas drilling capital expenditures is the company’s lowest since 2005. Specifically, during the 2012 second quarter, Chesapeake plans to have reduced its drilling activity in both the Haynesville and Barnett shales to six operated rigs each and to 12 operated rigs in the dry gas area of the Marcellus Shale in northeastern Pennsylvania.
For me personally, living in the Marcellus Shale hot spot, this article was the best news I have read in two years. I'm astounded that the protest groups aren't out celebrating, because I've been thrilled to the point of implosion since reading this article!!
I know, of course, that this impacts other areas in the same horrid way that we have suffered here since they invaded, but for now - just as we have been steeling ourselves for another, bigger year of invasions - our area (my beloved country) gets a breather .
Chesapeake is one of the biggest leaseholders and drillers in this part of northeastern PA so it's ebbing tide as it takes its rigs off to drill for 'wet gas' (as opposed to the mostly dry gas (methane) here), is notable. I did notice just this past week that the truck traffic is vastly reduced, and most of the traffic on the roads now isn't water and Mac trucks which support activity on the pads, but extra-wides which cart the pad construction materials.
Just yesterday, I actually walked outside my house and DID NOT HEAR commuter planes and truck traffic!! It was a wondrous silence, only bird calls and the wind through the trees.
The site nearest us is a Chesapeake pad. The well has been "completed" (ie fracked), but pipelines were supposed to be laid this year. Now it appears, according to this article which I've printed out and am memorizing (yes, I can't believe it's true, so I have to keep reading it as a pinch-myself that this isn't a dream), that they will "...defer completions of dry gas wells that have been drilled but not yet completed, and also plans to defer pipeline connections of dry gas wells that have already been completed. " (ie the gas well next to me)
Furthermore, it sounds as though they're going to hold us (the northeast) at minimal invasion speed for at least a couple years, giving more TIME for sustainable and green alternatives to come into being.
Feb 1: Reduced gas industry activity levels noticeable
The traffic in Forks Twp. is almost nil to my great celebration! The traffic on 220 is still pretty big, but the types of trucks have changed. Most are empty double wides -- going, I'm guessing, to pick up their stuff. I still see dump trucks, but their numbers are way down, as is the number of water trucks. I don't even see the latter filling up at water withdrawal stations when I drive by.
I keep trying to see if Chesapeake is leaving alone the 2 pads that they started next to the Route 220 Towanda exit last fall. Yesterday I saw lots of company trucks there, but no activity ... In fact, all the major activities with the pipelines seem to be on hold.
Last week, the Sullivan Review did not have the usual full-page Chesapeake ad featuring Chesapeake employees declaring that this area is their home too.
Bottom line, there's a definitely a change and a significant lessening of activity.
I feel as though the country here has been wounded, but not killed. It was on it's way to being killed -- now we get to lick our country wounds and hopefully recover.
Feb 19: Shock at an altered view over the Susquehanna River
In January I had a dentist appt. My dentist has built a new home high on a mountainside abutment overlooking this awesome river -- the parking lot of his dental office overlooks it as well. When I stood there last week to enjoy the view, I was shocked to see that the mountainside on the left of this gorgeous scene was becoming a vast, darkened void, with dump trucks in line to carry its gravel away to build pads. The trucks were arriving and leaving in such numbers that it reminded me of an army of termites gnawing away at wood. The sounds in the distance were the trucks' engines, drowning out the sounds of the winds through the trees.
If you're not here inside this "gas bubble", you think that it's only about the pads or the water. It's not. It's an industrial takeover of the entire country environment and the community within it, and it reaches ever deeper into neighboring communities to draw from their resources in order to grab that too in order to "drill baby drill".
Feb 22: Results from December water tests show methane finally gone
Today I received this note along with the results from the testing Chesapeake conducted on our water back in December:
Attached are the water test results from our 12/21/2011 sampling event. There were no EPA or public drinking water standard exceedances. The water results look very clean.
Please note, methane was detected at 0.0158 mg/L, which is below the 7mg/L EPA drinking water standard. It is also lower than the 20.5 mg/L that was detected in the 9/24/2010 sampling event