CNX Resources Corp. has stopped construction and canceled plans for a pipeline that would have served a multi-well pad in Indiana County, PA, where the company was testing a deep Utica Shale well to delineate the formation in the western part of the state.
The company told the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in May that it no longer intends to build and operate the Marchand 3 Pipeline to gather gas from the pad, raising questions about the test well in the area, which is near other prolific deep Utica wells, but still further north of successes in Westmoreland, Greene and Washington counties.
In late March a DEP inspection of the Marchand pipeline construction revealed that earth disturbance activities had caused sediment laden water from unstabilized construction areas to escape erosion and sediment controls, leading to a discharge into what are state-designated high quality waters. CNX agreed to pay a $250,000 fine and has corrected the violations.
The company has focused on building its Utica program in Ohio and Pennsylvania in recent years, while the Marcellus Shale has anchored sales volumes. CNX has applied completion designs from its Ohio Utica program and other lessons from newer wells in Pennsylvania to delineate the deep, dry Utica core in the southwest part of the state, where it’s been increasingly focused on stacked pay potential.
Spokesman Brian Aiello reiterated that the company is still in “delineation mode” in Indiana County and the surrounding region. Instead of the new pipeline, “there is existing infrastructure there which is gathering gas from the pad currently as we continue to evaluate our future infrastructure needs in the area,” he said.
After DEP discovered the violations at the Marchand Pipeline site, it issued a field order the next day requiring CNX to immediately cease the unauthorized discharge, achieve temporary stabilization and take corrective actions by April 3. DEP said, however, that the company failed to comply with the field order and was issued a notice of violation.
DEP entered a consent order and agreement (COA) with CNX, setting out a schedule for the company to achieve erosion and sedimentation control, permanent site stabilization, removal of illegal temporary road crossings, and site restoration. The COA also required submission of progress reports and plans for DEP approval.
CNX said it has taken corrective measures toward permanent stabilization and worked cooperatively with the DEP to address the issues and “move forward.”
The company added that “due to one of the wettest late winter periods on record in Pennsylvania, we worked diligently to mitigate highly unusual erosion control challenges experienced at this particular site. Despite our best efforts to contend with mother nature, some soil did make its way into the stream in question.”
Management said in May that the Richhill 11E deep Utica well in Greene County, PA, and the Marchand 3M deep Utica well in Indiana County came online and were flowing on managed pressure drawdown to enable CNX to collect more data for its delineation efforts. The company already has operations in Indiana County, where it holds more than 30 unconventional drilling permits, according to DEP data.
CNX’s Utica volumes have spiked sharply. The company said they were up 184% year/year in the first quarter, rising to 43.5 Bcfe from 15.3 Bcfe.