Garrett County has a long history of energy production due to the presence and abundance of natural resources including natural gas trapped in a subsurface shale formation known as the Marcellus Shale. Traditional resource extraction has played a significant role in the county and previous natural gas extraction has generated revenues supporting the needs of the county and its citizens. This tradition will likely continue and newer technologies may create additional opportunities. The discussion around Marcellus Shale Gas development continues to evolve in the State of Maryland during the study period being conducted by the Governor’s Safe Drilling Initiative Advisory Commission appointed in July of 2011. The State commission includes Garrett County representatives: Senator George Edwards; Commissioner Jim Raley; Oakland Mayor Peggy Jamison; Representative of Beitzel Corporation and Farm Bureau Shawn Bender; and Local representative and business owner Paul Roberts.
The State of Maryland has embarked upon producing a “gold standard” for the development of Marcellus Shale gas in Garrett County and a small portion of Allegany County. The most recent report that was generated by the Maryland Department of the Environment was titled, “Recommended Best Management Practices for Marcellus Shale Gas Development in Maryland”.
The Garrett County Shale Gas Advisory Committee members will generate documents as deemed appropriate, provide review of state-wide reports and legislative initiatives and suggest policy that will allow the Garrett County Board of Commissioners to make broad based decisions. The development of shale gas in Garrett County shall be viewed in a manner of maximizing economic benefit and mitigating any negative impacts.
The drilling process begins with pad site construction, which typically lasts approximately one to four weeks, depending on the location. Next, the set up of the rig and the drilling of the well will take approximately three to four weeks per well. During this time, operations usually run continuously 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Multiple wells are sometimes drilled from a single padsite. Although the rig is the most visible part of drilling operations, it is temporary and will be removed once drilling is completed. Once the layer of rock that holds the natural gas is reached, the well will be completed and prepped for production.
As with any construction site, there will be additional truck traffic for the setting up and taking down of the equipment. There can be noise, dust and traffic. After the wells are completed, the company regularly returns to monitor and maintain the site. At some well sites, trucks may return to remove water produced by the gas well, which is separated from natural gas during the gathering process and stored in tanks located on the site. A typical drilling pad site is three to five acres in size.