Planning For Marcellus Shale Activity Is ‘a Reality’
Published: March 30th, 2010
By: Melissa deCordova

Planning for Marcellus Shale activity is ‘a reality’

HAMILTON – In a response to a Binghamton Press & Sun article on Sunday about hydrofracking into the Marcellus Shale, a Chenango County planner said yesterday that natural gas exploration and the importance of planning for it are “a reality,” not the far off in the future fantasy as so described.

The Chenango County Natural Gas Advisory Committee and its economic development consultant have been actively educating themselves and county residents on how the community “can all benefit as well as protect our resources from the reality of natural gas exploration,” said Planner Rena Doing in an e-mail distributed yesterday. 

“(We are) keeping this door open, working toward economic development, as well as opening doors for education and job opportunities. This is sometimes a thankless job, but when dealing with the reality before us, it is appreciated.”

As far as Chenango County is concerned, when it comes to exploring the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale, energy companies won’t be as interested in the northern half of Chenango County because the formation there is much too shallow. Geologists say the Marcellus lies only 2,000 to 3,000 feet deep north of the town lines of Smithville, Oxford and Guilford versus more than 4,000 feet deep below the demarcation.

Hydraulic fracturing, the controversial technique used to extract natural gas from fissures in organic rich black shale, simply won’t work in formations less than 4,000 feet, and is more likely in depths almost twice that amount.

New York State Department of Education Museum geologist Taury Smith, during a tutorial at Colgate University in February, explained how the overlay of marine matter was collected in deep basins that were formed during tectonic plate convergence millions of years ago. The black shale that resulted has been widely publicized for its potential, and is known in eastern parts of the United States as the Barnett, the Fayetteville, the Haynesville, and the Marcellus.

The Marcellus is considered the mother lode, with about 500 trillion cubic feet of gas and the potential to supply the nation’s domestic needs for up to two decades. With more than 5,000 Marcellus wells permitted to be drilled in Pennsylvania this year alone, and a handful of multinational oil and gas companies poised to drill anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 sites in neighboring Broome County, it’s no surprise that companies are also eyeing southern Chenango County.

George Seneck, Town of Guilford supervisor, said the town was recently approached by a land coalition to sign up the 200 acres that it owns. And natural gas companies have already purchased four large properties in the town.

“It’s beginning for us now,” he told county lawmakers in committee this month.



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