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How Hurricane Sandy Spared Marcellus Oil & Gas Operations


Operators working in the Northeast battened down the hatches last week in preparation for what was said to be the storm of the century. As we now know, Hurricane Sandy confirmed those beliefs the night of Monday October, 29th as it slammed the region with torrential downpour, heavy winds and massive power outages.

Earlier the same day, it was reported that several companies in the Marcellus Shale had shut down their operations and were taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of their sites in advance of the storm. Adding runoff and drainage protection to drill sites, securing storage tanks and laying down rig masts.

State Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Krancer said he was pleased by the response of Pennsylvania’s drillers to Hurricane Sandy. Krancer said the agency had reached out to industry trade groups, such as the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association and the American Petroleum Institute (API) to tell “them what they already knew, and that was that a storm was coming and they should be ready for it, just like we were preparing to be ready for it.“

Picking up the Pieces

Drillinginfo Search Showing All Marcellus Wells in PA

In the aftermath of the chaos, the industry worked quickly to return to site to inspect their equipment, perform damage evaluations, and get back online. In some cases, extreme flooding can make it nearly impossible to navigate roads in remote areas of Pennsylvania. API suggested that operators first commence flyovers of the facilities to assess damage that could potentially stop them from returning to site.

The immediate action taken by producers in the area aided in providing a clean bill of health. Today there have been no reports made to the Marcellus Shale Coalition regarding environmental impact or workforce injury.

Today, our hearts go out to the victims of the storm who are picking up what’s left of their homes, businesses, and life. In light of the aftermath, It’s safe to say that the impact of Sandy will be felt and seen for months to come.

Despite the severe devastation, the influence the storm has had on operations in the Marcellus is minimal. The year-to-date average gas flow for 2011 was about 5.17 Bcf/d, according to Bentek, and year-to-date for 2012 is at 8.51 Bcf/d, with the current 30-day average coming in at 8.73 Bcf/d.

As with any natural disaster, we can only learn from the past and continue to plan for the unknown. Understanding the environmental conditions in the area, and heading the advice of regulatory agencies helped operators in the Marcellus dodge Mother Nature…this time.

Now it’s your turn. Were your operations affected by Hurricane Sandy? Please, leave a comment below.

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