DAMASCUS - A Chesapeake Energy representative visited with a local community organization Thursday night to discuss shale drilling in the area.
The Damascus Ruritans hosted Keith A. Fuller, senior director-government affairs and corporate development for Chesapeake, who spoke to the club and several community members about the shale industry and the role of Chesapeake.
Fuller explained that the area is still early in the drilling process, with the company still determining where the product is most plentiful. He said the entire production process requires 10 to 20 years of just drilling, then a period of piping and gathering, before landowners begin to see a money return.
Currently Chesapeake has 11 operational drilling rigs for Uttica shale in Columbiana County, Fuller noted, and said the company doesn't want to sink money into a place without knowing if there is a sufficient product. He said the company starts with test wells to determine whether it is efficient to continue drilling, and if a "sweet spot" of high production is found, multi-well pads are built.
Fuller said the gas is collected and sent through gathering lines to the cryogenic facility in Kensington where the temperature of the gas is dropped in order to pull off the methane. It is then sent to a fracanation plant that separates the wide grade gas into its individual components. The products are sent to whatever market as needed and it is still to be determined if it will stay in area, he said.
"For the county to have the (Kensington) plant come online alleviates pressure to get to market, there's more flexibility in production," Fuller said. "The more wells going online will mean greater royalty streams, and oil companies come to where the product is."
He added that the timing of drilling is dictated by circumstances such as area infrastructure, lease holds and terms of the leases, noting that Chesapeake currently has approximately 1 million acres under lease and that they can't all be drilled at once.
Fuller also said that the area of Columbiana, Carroll and Harrison counties is part of the very attractive wet gas (burns hotter) window and that it is unknown the extent of that window. He said that attraction means a lot of test drilling and jobs created directly in the industry and indirectly in related industries such as construction, excavation and aggregation, as well as industries such as hospitality and food service that respond to increase in workers.
He said contact information for individual leases can be found at askchesapeake.com.