UTICA — Preliminary work at Devon Energy’s drilling site in Morgan Township is almost done and the big equipment will start moving in next week. That’s when significant road damage is likely to occur and Morgan Township’s trustees find out if Devon lives up to its promises to keep the roads maintained and repair any damage.
So far, things are looking good. Morgan Township Trustee Rod Booth said Devon is living up to its agreements and is keeping up the roads.
Knox County Engineer Jim Henry said Devon “seems to be stepping up and acting responsibly.”
He has been involved in hammering out the Road Use Maintenance Agreement (RUMA) between Devon and the townships where roads will be affected (Morgan in Knox County and Washington and Burlington townships in Licking County.
“We’ve settled on a bond amount and the final draft was sent to all parties Tuesday,” he said. He said it was a struggle due to the number of parties involved.
It comes just in time, he said, as he was told the trucks with the drilling equipment could start arriving Monday. Some of those loads may weigh up to 140,000 pounds.
Meanwhile, flatbed trucks hauling earthmoving equipment and truckloads of gravel have been heading back to the turn where Torrens Road turns into Kirkpatrick Road and the access road to the drill site has been built. Beyond a stand of Christmas trees can been seen the area where trees have been cleared and the gravel is being laid to form the drilling pad. Shoulders have been built up with gravel on Torrens and part of Kirkpatrick roads, turns have been widened and a trailer sits at the entrance to the access road. An off-duty deputy sheriff is on hand to help with security.
The site is nearly ready for the drilling rig to be moved in. Chip Minty, spokesman for Devon Energy, said the rig that just completed drilling their well at Medina is being removed and will be moved to the Morgan Township site next week.
Once the rig is in place, drilling will take four to five weeks, after which the drilling rig is removed and the well is “completed.” This is when the hydraulic fracturing takes place. It usually takes four to six days.
After completion there may be a pause of a few weeks, until the team can come in to open the well and allow the flowback to start. Part of the water that was injected to “frack” the well flows back out of the well. After a couple days they should start seeing production from the well and maybe by the end of June know whether the well is going to be profitable.
Minty said Devon plans to drill 15 wells in Ohio in 2012. The well outside Utica is in an area they hope will prove to be rich in oil.