Locally, gas companies largely unaffected by Hurricane Sandy
Published: November 20, 2012
Hurricane Sandy pounded the Northeast in late October, causing widespread power outages, dangerous winds and even heavy amounts of snow along areas in its path. It was described by some as a “Superstorm” that many may not see again in their lifetimes.
For northeastern Pennsylvania, it brought back recent memories of the destruction caused by Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene over a year ago, when record flooding devastated the area. It brought back memories for the gas companies operating in the area as well, and they all took numerous steps to make sure they were prepared yet again.
Within a week after the storm, the following natural gas companies provided information about how they fared.
Chesapeake Appalachia LLC
“Chesapeake continued to monitor the storm as it progressed; however, there has been minimal impact to drilling, completion, and production operations in the Marcellus region thus far,” a statement issued by Chesapeake Appalachia during the storm said. “Chesapeake Energy’s field operations are well prepared for the expected weather event and actions to ensure the safety of our employees, the public and the environment have been employed well in advance of Hurricane Sandy’s arrival in our Marcellus Shale operating region.
“Equipment at field locations has been inspected and secured, and employees and contractors have been alerted to the possible weather hazards,” the statement continued. “Rigs and other field locations have been stocked with necessities in advance of the storm. If weather conditions deteriorate, procedures will be initiated to suspend operations.”
The statement went on to detail Chesapeake’s environmental precautions.
“Environmental controls at field locations have been reviewed to ensure they are performing as designed to accommodate significant rain and wind,” it said. “Several water-source locations in flood-prone areas have been proactively suspended. Chesapeake staff will continually monitor river-level forecasts and conditions throughout this weather event to determine if additional sites need to be addressed. Water impoundments have been inspected and have sufficient capacity available to contain expected rainfall.
“As part of Chesapeake’s robust safety system, producing wells are designed to shut in automatically in the event of a power loss, and no issues are anticipated. Immediately following the storm, sites will be inspected to assess conditions, equipment and environmental controls.”
Cabot Oil & Gas
Cabot also issued a statement in response to Hurricane Sandy and was glad to report that no damage was sustained to the company’s operations.
“Lessons learned from last year’s hurricane, Irene, reinforce the notion that a company can never be over prepared for possible natural disasters,” the statement read. “While super storm Sandy demonstrated its overwhelming strength by knocking out power to millions of people in the northeast, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation did not suffer any operational or environmental damage in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, thanks to astute preparedness and the high standards it sets for Marcellus Shale development.”
The statement continued by detailing the steps Cabot took to ensure safety to its employees, operations and the environment.
“Cabot’s preparations for this storm started (several days before the storm) with the securing or removing of anything from active sites which could blow over or tip,” according to the statement. “Pumps and necessary equipment for water withdrawal along the Susquehanna were also removed in case of flooding. At active locations, drilling pipe was removed from the derricks and staged on the ground. The derricks themselves did not have to be lowered; a decision each individual contractor made after analyzing all available information about the storm. All drilling operations were suspended during the storm.
“Completions activities continued until the storm reached the area. During the storm, equipment remained on location and did not incur any damage.
“At Cabot’s production locations, no well heads or processing units were damaged,” the statement continued. “The high standard to which Cabot builds its pad sites and the stringent erosion and sedimentation controls it employs prevented negative impacts to the local environment.”
The statement ended by explaining what Cabot did after the storm and to help the community in the aftermath.
“GasSearch Drilling Services (GDS) prepared for the subsequent cleanup of the storm by staging equipment at various locations,” it read. “A number of Cabot’s contractors also had manpower and equipment ready for deployment. The primary concern following a storm like Sandy is clearing debris that might affect access to existing site or prevent Cabot from resuming operations.
“As part of its commitment to the community, Cabot offered aid to the county EMS by securing extra generators and stand ready to dispatch manpower to help clean up as needed.”
Southwestern Energy also took extensive steps in preparation of Sandy.
“Our hearts go out to all those affected by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy,” it said. “Thankfully, Southwestern Energy’s Marcellus Shale operations were minimally impacted by the storm.
“Multiple precautions were taken in preparation for high winds and potential flooding forecasted. Information about the forecasted conditions was shared with employees throughout the shale, with instructions that their personal safety was the utmost priority. Reminders were given about avoiding the dangers of traveling in high water and gusty winds, and all were told to contact their supervisor if such conditions prevented them from being able to safely come in to work.”
The statement went to explain what specific steps the company took to mitigate the storm’s effects.
“In preparation for the anticipated heavy rains and flash flooding, all freshwater extraction operations were shut down. Equipment within flood plain areas was pulled and moved to higher ground to prevent the likelihood of it being washed downstream and creating blockages during a flood event.
“All construction projects ceased operations on Friday (Oct. 26) morning,” the statement continued. “This included the construction project for freshwater extraction on the Susquehanna River. Southwestern employees moved all equipment on the location to higher ground and brought in large rocks to rip-wrap any exposed soil to prevent erosion of the river bank from the heavy rains.
“All overhead equipment, excluding the drilling rigs, was rigged down and secured in anticipation of high winds. Additional fluid was also kept in produced water tanks to ensure they did not blow over.
“Drilling operations continued, with the understanding that should any severe conditions such as high winds or lightning occur, they had to immediately stop operations and go to a safe location,” the statement added. “The rigs were also supplied enough diesel and water to last throughout the storm.”
The statement finished by noting that Southwestern sustained only minor damage as a result of Sandy.
“Southwestern Marcellus Shale locations suffered only minor damages,” it said. “One four-foot antenna at one of our well pads was broken, and two well signs denoting the well locations as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection were blown down. All have since been repaired and put back up, and all the roadways used for our operations have been cleared of downed tree limbs.”
According to a statement released by Talisman, the company “implemented contingency plans in preparation for Hurricane Sandy.”
“Our primary focus is the safety of our employees and for the people in the communities in which we operate,” it said. “We have been in close communications with county commissioners and local emergency management authorities to offer assistance and equipment as needed.
“Our staff and external contractors actively worked to monitor and respond to any event that may have arisen from this storm event,” the statement continued. “The firm also focused on protection of the environment. In this case we lowered water levels in tanks and impoundments in anticipation of the rain associated with the storm. Further, we moved and secured equipment that may be exposed to rising water levels. We continued to monitor operations and communicate with local authorities over the days (of the storm).”
K Leonard of EOG Resources stated that the storm did not vastly affect EOG’s operations.
“EOG’s operations in Pennsylvania were largely unaffected by Hurricane Sandy,” she said. “As is the case during any severe weather event, the company has appropriate plans in place to protect its employees, the environment and the communities in which it operates.
“As a safety precaution, EOG ceased Marcellus drilling operations for about 24 hours,” Leonard continued. “However, no production was shut in during the storm. Operations are now back to normal.
“The company appreciates the diligence with which its employees prepared for this storm and extends its thoughts and prayers to the thousands of people who are dealing with the aftermath of this widespread natural disaster,” she added.
“Hurricane Sandy did not have an impact on our operations due to precautionary safety steps and proper planning,” Communications Specialist Mark Windle said. “We made sure all of our workers were safe and our equipment secured before the storm reached our operating area.”
“As we all know, weather is something we are prepared for any day of the year due to the seasons we have here in Pennsylvania,” he continued. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who have been injured or without power at this time.”
Chief Oil & Gas
Chief also reported that Sandy did not give the company any troubles during her trek across the Northeast.
“We didn’t have any issues,” Vice President of Industry and Public Affairs Kristi Gittins said. “We have procedures for all types of contingencies, including weather. Precautions were taken and there were no problems.”
Johnny Williams can be reached at (570) 265-1639; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.