Energy Corp. Well Scrapped 

Site in Masontown turned down for its lack of easy access

Morgantown Dominion Post
19 April 2014
By David Beard

Energy Corp. of America (ECA) has decided not to pursue development of an underground injection Control (UIC) well for disposal of waste fracking fluid at a site in Masontown, Preston County.

ECA said in a statement sent to The Dominion Post on Friday, “A number of different factors led to this decision. … These factors included well integrity, ease of site access, environmental sensitivities, and many others. In the end, our exploration simply concluded this well is not a good candidate for conversion to a Class II injection well at this time.”

ECA was exploring converting a depleted conventional vertical gas well on a site between W.Va. 7 and Sand Bank Road, in Masontown, into a UIC well to support its area horizontal gas well operations.

Late last summer, the proposal drew community opposition, spearheaded by Friends of Deckers Creek, because of its proximity to the creek and an entry point for the Deckers Creek Trail, and because of concerns about seismic activity that studies have linked to UIC wells elsewhere in West Virginia and other parts of the nation.

Friends of Deckers Creek Board President Rich Dennis said Friday, “This is outstanding. That’s tremendous news to FODC and the community, at least as I see it.”

ECA is based in Denver, with a satellite office for local operations in Charleston.

Up until Friday, according to ECA, the site was still in the running. ECA took The Dominion Post on a visit to the site last week. The well sits in the center of a circular pad about 200 feet across, on a slope above the rail-trail and the creek. The wellhead sits about 500 feet from the edge of the creek.

The well pad is reached by a gravel road, about a half-mile long, that branches off of Sand Bank Road. Vehicles going to the pad would cross a short concrete bridge over the creek onto Sand Bank. A parking area for the rail-trail sits to the right at the end of the bridge. The rail-trail crosses Sand Bank at that spot.

The opposition coalesced into a community group that dubbed itself, which FODC joined. The group expressed concern about potential spills at the trail crossing and at the well pad possibly contaminating the creek. It also worried about truck traffic disrupting access to the rail-trail.

“I think the work on the creek and that whole trail system has been a real benefit to the community,” Dennis said last week. “To put that kind of industrial facility that close to a public recreational site, I think it’s bad business and bad for the public.”

Dennis emphasized that FODC historically has received funding from the gas industry and is not against the industry. “We ’re just against that well at that spot.”

NoInjectionWell had posted an online petition against the proposed well, and had planned to present a resolution against the well for Morgantown City Council to consider April 29.

ECA did some preparatory work at the well, based on a re-work permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection last summer. During the site visit, Ryan Deaderick, ECA production engineering manager, said the well reaches down below the Marcellus shale into the Oriskany Sandstone and Huntersville Chert. ECA replaced and pressure tested the casing and sealed off some perforations into the Marcellus formation so frack fluid would only go into the depleted gas field.

ECA was happy with the structural issues of the well, he said at the time, but was still weighing such things as the geology, engineering, the land, its off-the-beaten-path access, and the outspoken opposition to the project. “We ’re still assessing whether or not we think this is the candidate we want to continue to pursue or not.”

Landowner opposition to the project may have played a role in ECA’s decision. The surface and minerals are owned by Preston County Coal and Coke, a subsidiary of Greer Industries.

On Thursday, Greer Executive Vice President Bob Gwynne said he didn’t think the project was going to happen. “This is not something that Greer does,” he said, referring to UIC wells.

Asked if Greer had some kind of opt-out provision in its lease to ECA, Gwynne said he did not have a copy at hand and couldn’t speak to that question.

Prior to speaking with Gwynne, The Dominion Post asked ECA spokeswoman Jennifer Vieweg about the lease. She said, “I cannot speak to the specific terms of this particular lease, however I can tell you that in many cases leases contain language designed to address injection opportunities, like those presented with this potential project.”

After speaking with Gwynne, The Dominion Post called Vieweg late Thursday. On Friday morning, she supplied the release announcing the decision.

ECA concluded its announcement: “While we had hoped the project would come to fruition, our approach was responsible and produced the most comprehensive decision possible. We will continue to operate as we have for more than 50 years, focusing on the well being of our employees, safety of the environment, and ongoing commitment to the communities where we operate.”

GREER LIMESTONE CO. is a division of Greer Industries Inc. John Raese and David Raese are co-owners of West Virginia Newspaper Publishing Co., publisher of The Dominion Post. The Raese brothers also co-own the West Virginia Radio Corp. and Greer Industries Inc.