Best is Yet to Come for Carroll County

Photographer: Gus Chan/The Plain Dealer/Landov
David Miskimen is a busy man these days.  Carroll County is the epicenter of the energy boom in Ohio, and no one is feeling it more than the county engineer, according to a recent article in the Columbus Dispatch.

“It’s pretty much a nonstop thing, meeting with the different consultants, and the testing, and the different company reps,” Miskimen says. “We’re kind of ground zero at the moment.”

127 drilling permits have so far been approved for drilling in Ohio’s Utica and Marcellus shales.  More than one-third are for sites in Carroll County.  New roads and reinforcements for old ones are all necessary to complete the oil and natural gas drilling work, and Miskimen’s office must approve all of these requests.

Results are already apparent.  Four wells are producing oil and gas, 16 are in various stages of being completed, and 23 more are in planning stages.  This activity is a shot in the arm to a flailing economy, but it is far from the full extent of what is going to happen.
“In my opinion, we’re in our infancy,” said Ken Mariana, who serves as CEO of Enervest Operating Corp.  The Houston based energy company holds 10 drilling permits in Carroll County.  According to Mariana, “it will probably take several hundred wells to fully understand or better understand” the extent of the oil and gas that can be produced.

Not everyone is ready to sign off on the drilling, however.  Environmental advocates have expressed concerns over the fact that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has not yet enacted rules designed to strengthen drilling standards and protect the environment.

These environmental advocates feel that fracking, a process in which vast quantities of water are mixed with chemicals and injected down wells to break up the shale and free the desired resources, is a threat to soil and groundwater.  Industry officials, on the other hand, state that this process is safe.

Mariana stated that geological data indicate the rock beneath Carroll County can be an outstanding source of liquids and gas.  “It’s most favorable in Carroll County,” he says.

According to state officials, drillers are being held to high standards.  However, there are stronger regulations in the works.

State officials say they are holding drillers to high standards even though tougher regulations have yet to be approved.

Environmental advocates have offered suggestions to strengthen the well-construction rules, including new regulations on how long cement should be left to set in well casings and how much training should be given to state inspectors.  Without such changes, they feel the rules are simply not stiff enough to protect the environment.

Despite these concerns, the oil and gas boom is clearly getting off the ground and will continue to have a huge impact on Carroll County in the weeks, months, and years to come.  How has it impacted you?  Are you concerned, excited, or both?  Sound off in the comments below and share your thoughts in the Daily Digger Forum!

Read the full article in the Columbus Dispatch here.

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