By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
The oil and gas drilling process is starting in southeastern Mercer County, where a Katy, Texas-based company will soon prepare to begin seismic surveying.
Findley Township supervisors at their Aug. 1 meeting said they were notified by Discovery Acquisition Services that the company is planning to do seismic surveying across a portion of Lee Road and Hartwick Road.
The township has never had that kind of testing done. The surveying "might vibrate some windows" but isn't expected to cause any damage, said township Chairman Andrew Tomson and Vice Chairman Patrick Suhrie.
Secretary/treasurer Karen Shipton confirmed DAS will be checking for Marcellus Shale deposits.
The surveying itself is supposed to take about two weeks and DAS will provide a traffic crew if necessary, Tomson said, later adding he's not aware of any shale drilling permits issued in the township.
The Marcellus Shale is a mile or more underground in parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, takes millions of gallons of chemically treated water and sand and injects it into wells to break up shale thousands of feet below the ground and release trapped gas or oil.
The controversial process has opponents worried about health, safety and pollution while industry officials say it's safe if done properly.
Seismic surveying is one of the first steps to determine whether viable shale sources exist, said Jim White, president of business development at DAS, which provides permitting, surveying and drilling services.
"We just commenced the permitting process about two months ago," he said of southeastern Mercer County, where seismic activity could start in a few weeks.
White, a Norristown, Pa., native and University of Pittsburgh graduate, said the entire seismic survey process takes about a year to complete.
Right now DAS is talking to area landowners about getting their permission to use their properties to set up survey sites. Then the sites will be marked and the equipment will be delivered, followed by the survey itself and interpretation of the data.
"You don't necessarily finish one phase and then start another one," White said of how each step takes a few months with some parts overlapping.
DAS uses 3-D mapping during the survey process and the results have a good success rate of showing where the shale is located.
"We can prevent a lot of unnecessary drilling," he said of pinpointing the deposits.
For more information about the seismic survey process itself, White referred Allied News to these websites: geophysicsrocks.com and iagc.org
"There's a wealth of information out there on the web," he said.
The Geophysics Rocks! website was created for the general public by the International Economic Development Council and several videos on the site describe three-dimensional seismic surveying, calling it a "secret weapon" to finding oil and gas deposits.
The process uses acoustic imaging and large trucks with vibrators attached to cables and a recorder.
The vibrations reflect back to the cables and the recorded data is later processed by geoscientists who study the 3-D images to look for gas and oil.
Seismic technology is a technique that records sound and leaves no lasting impact by using non-invasive technology, according to the website.
The website for the International Association of Geophysical Contractors provides more technical information. IAGC is the international trade association representing the geophysical industry that provides geophysical services to the oil and gas industry.
Yet another website explains seismic testing, saying it could also involve dynamite. Marcellus-Shale.us, which calls itself "the top Marcellus Shale gas drilling source," says 3-D imaging is sometimes used in conjunction with boring holes 20-feet deep in a set pattern where 2-to-4-pound dynamite charges are detonated.
Springfield Township officials also received word the seismic surveying process could be starting soon there.
The agenda for their meeting Tuesday night indicated DAS will be surveying Holstein and Lee roads.
Published Aug. 8, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.