Statoil to lay cable for seismic monitoring of fracking well

WOODSFIELD — An oil and gas subcontractor asked the Monroe County Board of Commissioners on Monday to permit the temporary installation of a network of cables to monitor seismic activity as a result of a new fracking operation in Salem Township.

Statoil, an international energy company with operations in 37 countries, is set to begin fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, of its Pirl South Well for production, but the company wants to lay 24 linear miles of surface-based seismic monitoring equipment, starting from the well pad and reaching out in all directions. The company hired Cougar Land Services to help with the permitting process and to install the system.

“Statoil hired us to go out to landowners and county commissioners to obtain permits to do seismic (monitoring),” Joe Brown of Cougar Land Services said. “Seismic cables pick up seismic vibrations, and they make an image of those vibrations. … We are not asking anything more than to lay these cables.”

The equipment is designed to be laid out and retrieved quickly, with “minimal intrusion on property,” according to MicroSeismic, the manufacturer of the equipment. The equipment will provide Statoil non-invasive, real-time monitoring and mapping of well stimulation and, “unlike other monitoring techniques, passive monitoring does not require the drilling of additional wells or the use of heavy recording equipment.”

Brown said the cables are much like extension cords and likely will be in place for six weeks. There are about 100 different landowners in the affected area, and Brown is in the process of informing each one and obtaining permission from them. Most of those landowners already have leases with Statoil and are set to earn royalties from the well’s production. Landowners will be paid $400 per linear mile of cable placed on their property.

The cable will cross several county and township roads in Salem and Adams townships, and a few county-owned properties.

There will be a total of 11 lines, each averaging 2 miles in length. Brown said he expects surveyors to begin mapping and placing flags and ribbons where the cable will be laid within the next two weeks, after all permits are obtained.

Commissioner Tim Price said he would go over the permit with county Prosecutor James Peters and the commissioners would likely be able to give the go-ahead next week.

County Engineer Amy Zwick said companies have been monitoring seismic activity from their fracking sites for a few years now.

“I’m not a geologist, but I just know that a lot of these companies, when they get ready to frack these wells, they do this. The more information they have, the better,” Brown said.

Zwick said she would assist with permit applications, and that she would keep Brown posted on chip and seal road work that may affect the laying of the cable. She also noted that the cable should be marked with “obvious flags” around roadways that the county mows.

Commissioners on Monday also received an update from Monroe County Ohio State University Extension Office Community Developer Mary Jo Westfall on a community development grant for the Sardis Community Center, which was formerly the Sardis Elementary School. Following the closure of the school, the Lee Township trustees purchased the building and grounds to serve the community for entertainment, education and other events.

“The Sardis Community Center will receive six new windows as part of the 2015 neighborhood revitalization grant. I only received one bid from Dennis Miller Doors and Windows for $12,120,” Westfall said. The original estimate was $16,000.

Most of the new, insulated windows will replace those on the second floor of the center. Two of the windows have dimensions of 52 x 96 inches and four are 52 x 64 inches. The $12,120 bid includes all labor costs for installation, plus removal and disposal of the old windows. Westfall expects the new windows to be in place by Aug. 31.

According to Westfall, the project will help close out the 2015 Community Development Block Grant from the state of Ohio. She and the commissioners said an earlier CDBG grant from 2008 used for improvements in Woodsfield will be closed out soon as well, freeing the county to apply for another grant in two years worth up to $500,000.