By Tom Grace
Cooperstown News Bureau
Last Thursday, a delegation of Otsego County officials visited a gas well being drilled by Gastem USA in the town of Maryland, and according to a couple of reports, they liked what they saw.
``I’d say it’s definitely less intrusive than a logging operation,’’ said Rep. Stephen Fournier, R-Milford, a member of the Otsego County Board of Representatives. ``I was prepared for worse.
``The access road was nice, and they’d cleared an area about the size of a football field.’’
The well site, owned by Ronald Ross of Maryland, is well off Shutter Road, and although the drilling was noisy up close, it could not be heard from the road, he said.
Fournier said the officials’ tour was guided by Gastem USA President Orville Cole.
Cole would not allow photographs to be taken, although several in the entourage had cameras, Fournier said. ``They’re worried someone might gain a competitive advantage from a picture.”
David Parker of Worcester, a member of the MOSA board of directors, said it appeared to him that Gastem USA, a division of a Canadian firm, ``wants to make absolutely sure there are no problems here.’’
Water used to flush out the bore hole is kept in a contained system to minimize the danger of contamination, he said.
Parker had visited the site before because waste was being hauled off the premises without going to MOSA.
When alerted that Otsego County would prefer that waste go to a Montgomery-Otsego- Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority transfer station, Gastem USA complied, he said.
The well in Maryland was begun in September and is behind schedule because the drillers hit a pocket of brine at about 3,000 feet, according to Otsego County Planner Psalm Wyckoff, who was on the trip.
Depending on what they encounter, drillers have to set up differently, which takes time, she said.
To power their way past the brine, the drillers, she was told, had to inject ``mud’’ into the well, enabling the drill head to go deeper.
Wyckoff said county officials asked how deep Gastem USA intended to go and were told that information is confidential. According to the news service Yahoo Finance Canada, this well, ``a key component of Gastem USA’s New York State Utica Shale Project,’’ is likely to go down 5,000 feet ``to test the gas potential of the Utica Shale.
``This first well, one of three vertical wells that were permitted by the New York State authorities, is expected to reach target depth within one week.’’
Yahoo also notes that Gastem USA ``intends to fracture stimulate the well following geochemical and geotechnical analysis of the core samples.
``Gastem is operator of the project and has an 80 percent working interest in 35,000 acres in this area.”
By Tom Grace
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