Seeking to shore up relations with communities in Susquehanna County, PA, where state officials say Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. is responsible for contaminated groundwater, the Houston-based producer hosted an overflow crowd of thousands of residents at a free community picnic Saturday in Montrose, the county seat.

In addition to free food and refreshments, representatives from Cabot and its contractor firms were on-site to provide information about the drilling process and the equipment used in the process.

"On display was seismic equipment, drill bits, all of the pieces that would put pipeline in the ground, and information about how to run a compressor station. We tried to go from start to finish in the exploration and production of natural gas," Cabot spokesman George Stark said.

The company had expected about 1,000 people would show up for the event and a local newspaper estimated 2,300 attendees, but the amount of food consumed at the picnic indicates the number was probably about 3,500-4,000, Stark said.

"It truly was a very impressive showing off the community coming forward to get information and ask questions and learn," Stark said.

Cabot's activities in Susquehanna and Wyoming counties result in the employment of about 400 people, he said.

The company has a history of being a good corporate neighbor in the area and recent community events, including a training event for Susquehanna and Wyoming county fire departments and a program to prepare students for careers in Pennsylvania's natural gas industry, and the community picnic simply continued that effort, according to Stark.

"The company is committed to outreach and providing the opportunity for dialogue and education," Stark told NGI.

In April the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) suspended its review of Cabot's pending drilling applications statewide and barred the company from drilling new gas wells "for at least one year" in Dimock Township in Susquehanna County because of contaminated groundwater (see Daily GPI, April 19). Last month DEP extended until next month a deadline for Cabot to permanently fix water supplies that were affected by the company's gas drilling operations (see Daily GPI, July 22).

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