LOCK HAVEN - Despite the low price of natural gas, and the perceived lack of Marcellus Shale drilling operations in the area, officials say companies are still drilling... waiting for the price to go up to make it profitable for them.
"The rigs are down to around 80 in the state, but Lycoming County is still active," said member Matt Henderson, business consultant for the Lock Haven University Small Business Development Center at Tuesday's Clinton County Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Task Force meeting. "There is a lot of well pad construction. They're just getting ready for the price to go up... The pipelines keep going up and there are more plans for them."
Members got an overview of the industry at Tuesday's meeting, but with many members on vacation, the meeting was short.
Bruce Jones, Lock Haven CareerLink director, gave a written report, noting there were 66 new hires last month, five directly due to the Marcellus Shale play in the county.
Kevin Fanning, county Department of Emergency Services director, said he plans to have a meeting in the near future with a representative from the state fire academy to educate interested officials about the various aspects of Act 13, the state law that governs Marcellus Shale activity in Pennsylvania.
Further, he said, he went with the county's response team to a shale exercise in Lycoming County last month, and the county now has 69 addressable locations for Marcellus Shale companies in the county, with one still pending.
Gerald Lacy, from the Environmental Sub-Committee, said those members went to a formal training from Anadarko for its spill prevention procedures last week.
"It gives you some kind of idea of how they respond to a spill and what type of chemicals they use," he said.
Also, he said, Anadarko is interested in possibly bringing a frack water truck to the parking lot of the county courthouse to give the task force members a tour.
Clinton County Commissioner Jeff Snyder, who was filling in for the vacationing Commissioner Pete Smeltz as chairman, said the commissioners would like to organize a tour of one of the drilling sites in the county.
In the future, Lacy said he would like the committee to look at the various types of well construction - vertical and horizontal - and the construction involved in the containment.
Clinton County Economic Partnership President and CEO Mike Flanagan said the partnership, with the financial help from SEDA-COG, is putting together a new list of potential properties in the county for Marcellus Shale and related industries.
Currently, he said, there are about 30 businesses either directly or indirectly related to the shale drilling in the county.
Doug D'Amore, state forester for the Sproul State Forest, said XTO has one drilling operation on State Forest land in the county.
The state has imposed a limit on water truck activity in state forest land on July 4, with the county imposing a similar limitation that weekend, he said.
Further, D'Amore said, CGG Veritas continues seismic operations in the county, mapping out the underground of the county south of Route 120 and south of the Susquehanna River on state forest land. The state has restricted the use of helicopters for such activities, he said.
Lock Haven City Police Chief Skip Hocker, also a Gallagher Township supervisor, told the members Anadarko recently paved the area around the old Springer schoolhouse in that township along Route 664 to allow the state police to conduct weight inspections of frack trucks.
"We are very grateful to Anadarko for doing that," he said.
Snyder said Smeltz would like the commissioners to start investigating either in July or August to find an "anchor business" to possibly bring a natural gas filling station in the county.
Due to the summer months, attendance was low at yesterday's meeting due to various vacations, prompting Snyder to ask whether next month's meeting, scheduled for July 31, should be cancelled until August.
Flanagan said many of the sub-committees have several meetings on their own and the task force may want to start meeting every other month.
Commissioner Joel Long suggested members e-mail Smeltz, giving their opinions on the matter.