The Ultimate Price of PA State Forest Drilling
By Ted Auch, Matt Kelso, and Sam Rubright
PA DCNR recently released a draft State Forest Resource Management Plan. The draft plan, last revised in 2007, is an important tool that the Bureau of Forestry (BOF) uses to help manage Pennsylvania’s approximately 2.2 million acre state forest system. Approximately 1.5 million acres of state forest lands lie within the shale gas fairway and gas extraction – along with related issues like water resources – is among the numerous subjects addressed in the document.
In total, approximately 673,000 acres are available for oil and gas development in PA state forests, either because private interests own the mineral rights below the land or because DCNR has opened up state-lands for drilling where it controls the mineral rights.
Approximately 386,000 acres have been leased by DCNR to allow drilling. DCNR’s shale gas monitoring report in 2014 said that only 16% of available state forest lands have been developed, which means that 84% (or 328,700 acres) could still be accessed for oil and gas through DCNR leases. Another 287,000 acres of state forest land sits atop private mineral rights. Mineral rights supersede – or overrule – those of the surface rights.
By some estimates, the projected “drillout” of state forest lands may include an additional 2,000 to 3,000 unconventional natural gas wells. There are concerns that the draft plan also does not adequately address the full scale and scope of such drilling and the serious impacts associated with it.
Derived from available data, FracTracker has prepared the following portrait of the projected impact to Pennsylvania’s state forest estate with emphasis on the resource-intensive nature of hydraulic fracturing and its extensive footprint on this sensitive landscape.
View or print static infographic
If you are concerned about these risks and potential development, DCNR is holding twelve meetings to gather public input on this draft plan until Nov 12th. Written comments can also be submitted through November 30 at StateForestPlan2015@pa.gov.
More background information about PA’s Draft 2015 State Forest Resource Management Plan
Extra Resources: Projected Build out Statistics
Table 1. Projected land use needed to add 2,000 to 3,000 more wells on PA state forestlands
|Facility Type||Unit||Projected Drilled Wells|
|Limit Of Disturbance (LOD)*||Acres||7,130||10,695|
|Addtl. Mid/Down-stream Facilities||Acres||2,847||4,271|
*Limit of Disturbance includes infrastructure, mounded earth, etc. needed to access and service the well pads.
**1 compressor station is needed for every 25-30 miles of gathering lines, at 15-30 acres per station.
In Ohio, well pads average 4-5 acres, 3.4 laterals per well pad, and 8.5 acres of gathering line per acre of well pad. However, each pad has what we are calling a “Limit of Disturbance,” which includes infrastructure, mounded earth, etc. LOD likely represents a conservative estimate of miscellaneous land disturbance as it does not include the access roads; it was not possible with our current datasets to discern which roads were specifically added to access the well pads. LODs are averaging 10-14 acres.
Using the 2,000-3,000 wells proposed, the total acreage that could be disturbed by new well pads, well pad LODs, gathering lines, compressor stations, and related mid/downstream facilities in PA’s state forests would be between and 36,621 and 54,931 acres depending on the number and size of compressor stations (i.e., averaging 24 acres) (Table 1).
Table 2. Projected resource use and waste produced per well based on OH, WV, and PA historical figures.
|Variable||Unit||Avg||Increase / Quarter|
|Water Needed||Gallons||3.5 MGs||–|
|Gallons||6.2-7.0 MGs||405-410 K|
|Gallons||7.9 MGs||450 K|
|OH Stats||Tons||700+ (estimate)||4.7-5.2|
|Landfill Waste (Drilling Muds)||Tons / Facility||28,098||15,319|
|Injection Waste||Gallons / Quarter||117 MGs||5.4 MGs|
* 7-9% of injected fluids returns to the surface as fracking waste
** significantly dependent upon lateral length
We need to protect our forests not turn them into industry wasteland!!