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Natural Gas Industry Copes With The Cold

DIMOCK TOWNSHIP — Natural gas drilling sites and well pads in our area operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week no matter what the weather is. That means many workers on the job in temperatures near zero, trying to keep equipment running, and millions of gallons of water from freezing.

We met up with workers from Cabot Oil and Gas in Susquehanna County.

While homes many miles away use natural gas for heat, workers there in Susquehanna County are on the job nonstop through the bitter cold to continue getting that gas.

“Once it gets down close to zero and the negative temperatures, you add the wind in with that, that’s when we really have to take precautionary measures,” said Chad Gorman of GasSearch Drilling Services.

“It presents all sorts of challenges on the drilling rigs,” said Mike Bail.

Bail is a drilling engineer with Cabot. On the drill rigs he says canopies are up to block some of the wind. Strategically placed steam helps with some heat.

Cabot also provides workers with winter gear.

“During the winter months, they issue a thicker coat, overalls, you can get a variety of hats, beanies, face covers,” explained Bill Desrosiers with Cabot Oil and Gas.

A lot of the well pads are on hilltops in wide open areas where the wind whips through and the workers will tell you the wind chills are brutal.

“The wind is harsh on some of these hills up here.”

But the conditions aren’t just harsh on the humans.

“The equipment itself typically operates fairly well. It’s the fueling of that equipment.  It really puts us in a bind. When temperatures fall to zero degrees, we really have to start to manage the fuel in there. We add some additives to the diesel to keep it from gelling up,” Gorman said.

And what about water?  Tanks haul more than a million gallons to be used at each well.

Steve Brominski says the key is to keep the water moving.

“The guys are local guys, they’re understanding.  They have had pipes frozen in their houses so they know the simplest thing as much as leaving a faucet open can keep the pipe from freezing. The same concept holds true in what we do,” Brominski said.

Workers say it’s all something to think about, in warm, gas-heated homes.

“You hope those folks appreciate what we’re doing up here!”

Cabot points out in just one day it produces enough gas in Susquehanna County to heat 40,000 homes for a year.  Adding that up, in only 10 days that locally produced gas can heat 400,000 homes for an entire year.


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