A steel slab mill in Pennsylvania plans to welcome a complementary industry to its grounds. U.S. Steel has leased 10 acres of land at its Edgar Thomson Plant at Mon Valley Works to Merrion Oil and Gas for the purpose of gas drilling and fracking in the Marcellus shale region. The agreement reportedly will provide U.S. Steel with 20 million cubic feet of gas per day for its steelworks.
“We view this project as a potential opportunity to enhance the long-term cost competiveness of our local Mon Valley works facilities, including the Edgar Thomson plant,” said a statement from U.S. Steel. Edgar Thomson operates two blast furnaces at the plant.
Merrion Oil is applying for a drilling permit with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and plans to drill six horizontal wells at the Braddock, Pa., site. A well drilling pad will be constructed inside the eastern property line of the U.S. Steel mill. The wells will be approximately 6,000 feet deep and extend horizontally 8,500-10,000 feet.
The project represents the first shale gas wells for Merrion Oil and Gas. The New Mexico-based company is experienced in drilling conventional wells in the western U.S.
Fracking operations are exempt from air permits in Pennsylvania as long as they comply with Department of Environmental Protection emission restrictions. The Edgar Thomson plant was cited for air pollution violations in the past two years and the addition of gas wells to the community has some local residents concerned about increased levels of pollutants.
Merrion Oil and Gas considers the location of the wells in an industrial area a plus since any noise or traffic created by the operations will be less noticeable, said Ryan Davis, operations manager. Merrion will pay the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission about $45,000-$50,000 in impact fees per well, which will be split between local municipalities.
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