Shale Daily / NGI All News Access

Chesapeake Agrees to Finance West Virginia Road Repairs

Chesapeake Energy Corp. has agreed to spend millions for repairs to roads in four counties in the West Virginia Panhandle, in order to mitigate damage done to the roads by trucks hauling equipment and water to its wells sites in the region.

Stacey Brodak, Chesapeake's director of corporate development, told NGI's Shale Daily that the Oklahoma City-based company was still reviewing what roads would be repaired and how they would be designed, but anticipated that the review process would be completed by September.

"Chesapeake is committed to keep roads we use in a safe and passable condition and to repair any road damage that results from our operations," Brodak said Thursday. "We take continuous, proactive steps to keep roads as safe as possible for both residents and our workers."

According to the Brodak, Chesapeake has agreed to pay for repairs to eight roads in Ohio County, seven roads in Brooke County, and four roads in both Marshall and Wetzel counties. She added that not all of the roads would be repaired for the full length.

"Some roads that are stone will remain stone roads," Brodak said. "Some roads will be patched while some will be rebuilt. We also will be upgrading before the start of our operations to help prevent and minimize damage, as well as provide a safer road for residents. We do anticipate spending millions of dollars on road repairs in West Virginia, though."

Jim McCune, oil and gas coordinator for District 6 of the West Virginia Department of Transportation's Division of Highways (WVDOH), told NGI's Shale Daily that Chesapeake isn't the only oil and gas company to pay for repairs.

"All of the companies are required to maintain and repair the road to the existing condition or better," McCune said Thursday. "Chesapeake is traveling certain routes to every well they have. It's no different from any other exploration company, but Chesapeake just happens to have more so naturally they are going to impact more roadways than some of the smaller companies."

Paul Mattox Jr., the state's transportation secretary and WVDOH commissioner, unveiled a new oil and gas road policy on Feb. 1. Under the policy, bonding is required for "state local service roads," which excludes roads with an interstate, state or corridor system designation. Operators must give written notice to the WVDOH of their intent to conduct operations and must provide the exact location of the project and any proposed routes.

For operators hauling more than 5,000 bbl of liquids to a well, this notice is followed by an on-site meeting with WVDOH officials within 14 days to determine if the roadways are designed to meet the requirements of the operator and the WVDOH. The roadways are then filmed, and within one month the operator is given a permit to haul liquids to the well. Similar policies are in force for operators hauling less than 5,000 bbl of liquids to a well.

The policy also set bonding amounts for 5,000 bbl/well sites at $100,000 per paved mile, $35,000 per tar and chipped mile, and $25,000 per gravel mile. Otherwise, bonding amounts are set to a maximum of $5,000 per well. Operators also have the option of securing a blanket bond to cover one of the WVDOH's 10 districts or the entire state.

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