Sunday, August 9, 2015

Chief Oil and Gas: Their Numbers Don't Add Up - So I Did The Math

My Comment Regarding Project #2014-081 submitted to the SRBC August 6, 2015

Chief Oil and Gas Forksville 2M/gpd Water Withdrawal Application

According to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), their decision will be based on 1) the impact to the Loyalsock Creek, and 2) the needs of the applicant.

I am not an aquatic specialist, so I will not comment directly on water quality or aquatic life issues; however I will address the alleged “needs” of Chief Oil and Gas for the taking of this water – our water.

In Pennsylvania, Chief Oil and Gas has acquired 468 drilling permits and has to date, drilled 281 unconventional gas wells, 81 of which have been found in violation, and have accumulated 292 statewide violations, according to the PA/DEP.

*Sources: PA/DEP,, the Sullivan, Bradford, Lycoming County Prothonatary Offices, and FracFocus)

Of these 281 drilled wells, water consumption has ranged from 2 million to 9 million gallons of fresh water, averaging out to be approximately 5.5 million gallons of fresh water ‘consumed’ by each well.

Chief Oil and Gas, like many other unconventional shale drilling operators, boasts about their “recycling of produced water” (as much as 80%) now used to drill new wells.

Over the years, Chief’s operations have been diminishing for various reasons: supply v. demand, low natural gas prices, and the lack of pipeline infrastructure needed to move Marcellus gas to markets – many of which are overseas markets.

Many of Chief’s earlier lease acquisitions have either expired, or been sold-off to other operators, most notably EXCO Resources.

Currently, in Sullivan, Bradford, and Lycoming Counties – the counties where Chief claims they need this water to develop their outstanding units, Chief presently has 105 outstanding permits for new wells.

Therefore, when you multiply the number of outstanding well permits by 5.5 million gallons (Chief’s average water consumption p/well) that indicates a “need” for 577,500,000 gallons of water.

However, when you multiply the proposed 2 million/gpd, that Chief is looking to extract from this watershed over a five year period, that totals 3,650,000,000 gallons of water.

That’s a difference of 3,072,500,000 gallons of water in excess of their current “needs”, and if the SRBC takes into account Chief’s intent on recycling, the discrepancy between their application request and their actual “need” is staggering and does not justify 2 million/gpd requested on this application.

That is, unless Chief is planning on “commodifying” this excess water – our water, which they would not be paying for, and selling it to other operators. (EXCO Resources, Anadarko Petroleum, and Southwestern Energy are three operators that immediately come to mind.)
*Chief claims that they have not discussed the possibility of selling water from the Loyalsock, however they have stopped short from ruling it out, or denying the possibility.  

Chief Oil and Gas needs to be transparent and forthright with their intentions for the “taking” of our water, and if their actual and verifiable “need” does not require this extreme volume of water, then it is the SRBC’s responsibility and duty to deny this application and not issue this permit.

I would also like to suggest that for all future water withdrawal applications, the SRBC require all applicants to agree not to sell and/or "commodify" this life-sustaining resource or allow it to be included as part of the sale, or selling off, of corporations assets.

I hereby would like to remind the SRBC that this resource is owned by the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and must be protected and preserved, as clearly stated in the Pennsylvania Constitution – which the SRBC as a “trustee” of these resources is bound to uphold.  

Article 1, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution:

"The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the common property of all of the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people."

John A. Trallo, Sr.
Sonestown, PA 17758

Chief Oil and Gas Forksville 2M/gpd Water Withdrawal Application
Project #2014-081
                                      Permits      Wells Drilled      Wells to be Determined        Sites
Sullivan County (All)        87                   50                                 20                                39
Bradford County             160                   92                                68                                 59
Lycoming County             23                    6                                   17                                  7
Totals:                               270                 148                               105                             105        

Sullivan County Townships
Cherry                                24                 20                                                                          7
Colley                                   0                   0                                                                          0
Davidson                              0                   0                                                                          0
Elkland                                40                 21                                                                       15
Forks                                    6                   3                                                                          5
Forksville                              7                   2                                                                          6
Fox                                      21                 24                                                                         6
Hillsgrove                             0                   0                                                                          0
Laporte                                 0                   0                                                                          0
Shrewsbury                          0                   0                                                                          0

·         Average water consumed for each well =  5,500,000 gallons
·         Estimated water needed to drill 105 proposed wells = 557,500,000 gallons      
·         Potential 5 year withdrawal @2M/gpd = 3,650,000,000 gallons
·         That’s 3,072,500,000 excess gallons than is needed for all of Chief's operations in Sullivan, Bradford, and Lycoming Counties.

Chief O&G PA statistics to date:
·         468 well permits issued
·         281 wells drilled
·         81 wells with violations

·         2010 inspections revealed 292 statewide violations.