VIENNA - Trumbull County has recorded its first Utica Shale well permit. Drilling is expected by June.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, a horizontal hydraulic fracturing well was permitted on April 16 across from the Wollam Farm on Warren Sharon Road in Vienna.
Roadwork will begin by Saturday, and drilling is expected about June 9, according to CONSOL Energy subsidiary CNX Gas Co. spokeswoman Lynn Seay.
She said the well is only exploratory, and she is uncertain whether they will seek a permit for a horizontal extension to the well at a later date.
"We're still evaluating the potential of the Utica Shale within our acreage in the county at this point," she said.
She also addressed what residents can expect over the next few months.
"Residents can expect to see clearing on the site, installation of safety procedures, such as the digging of a containment pond and liners covering the surface of the drilling pad, as well as installation of key infrastructure needs such as access roads to the drilling pad and trailers moving on-site to house drilling personnel and other necessary equipment."
CNX has signed a road maintenance agreement with Trumbull County, posted a $100,000 road bond and certified $1 million in liability insurance.
Trumbull County officials have been in negotiations with the Canonsburg, Pa.-based CNX regarding road-strengthening work that will take place first to prepare Warner and Warren Sharon roads to handle the heavy truck traffic that comes with a drilling operation, including transport of the drilling rig itself.
To prepare Warner Road for the traffic, 2 inches of blacktop will be added to the existing surface. The section of Warren-Sharon Road will be milled, chipped and sealed, then re-paved.
Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith has said trucks exiting state Route 82 will then take Warner Road north to Warren Sharon Road and west about half a mile to the well site.
The agreement was finalized Friday along with an overweight hauling permit but won't be effective until approved by county commissioners. Those approvals are on the agenda for today's commissioners meeting.
A meeting will be held at 11:30 a.m. today in the commissioners hearing room, when Smith and other officials will go over permitting and bonding, among other issues. County officials and some of CNX's people will be present.
Don Barzak, engineer's office director of governmental affairs and grants and special projects coordinator, said all plans and specs have been submitted for the preconstruction work.
Barzak said it would cost $631,000 to build one mile of road from scratch. He said the sections of road that CNX will be repairing could be estimated reasonably at between $200,000 to $300,000.
Vienna trustee Heidi Brown said the activity will not be taking place on township roads so the trustees had no input in the process, but were notified when the permits were issued.
Brown said residents have voiced concerns including road conditions, traffic and water contamination.
"I heard from a woman on Warner Road who said they're already out there testing their well water, so that's encouraging," Brown said. "I don't know. I'm cautiously optimistic, might be the word, and I hope it all works out well."
ODNR spokeswoman Heidi Hetzel-Evans said the rural permit is good for two years.
Trumbull County has also been in discussions with Houston-based Carrizo Oil and Gas regarding potential drilling operations on Ridge Road in Vienna and Hayes Orangeville Road in Hartford.
Seay said the company's plan overall for Trumbull County is two drilling sites with one well each. Work on the second drilling site is projected to begin in late July.
Calls were made Wollam Farms without response.