In the shale world, you know things are getting serious just by watching the developments.
The latest serious development, I think, is the seismic testing.
A company called Front Runner Seismic based in northern Pennsylvania has stationed about 25 workers in the area to conduct underground tests to determine where the gas and oil are. The workers have been going door-to-door asking about 11,000 landowners for permission to conduct the tests to determine the amount of minerals and gases in the ground.
A drilling company called Halcon has signed on to purchase the results from Front Runner Seismics' advance work.
The workers have been in the area for about two months, staying in the Hubbard area in hotels and apartments. They will be here for several more months trying to get permission from landowners in a 140-square-mile area including Trumbull and Mahoning counties.
After that, surveying of the properties will begin and the testing is hoped to begin in the spring and summer.
Here is how the testing process works. They bury small explosives in a grid pattern, set them off one at a time, and record the sound waves. The information gathered is then analyzed by geophysicists to figure out the amount of natural gases and where they are. Then, that information is used by drilling companies to determine the best places to drill.
Drilling is going to occur. The Marcellus and Utica Shale gases and oil apparently are here. Right now, they are in the early stages of pinpointing exactly where the gases are. The folks who will be doing the seismic testing are basically the first ''boots on the ground.''
Like the gas and oil, money is going to be flowing in the area. That's good news for everyone, from restaurant owners to real estate agents to auto dealers.
When companies start putting explosives into the ground to basically get a map of where the gases are in the area, you have to know that the shale boom is right around the corner. These guys don't waste time or money.
Now, let's just hope the tests turn up good news.
Robinson is the editor of the Tribune Chronicle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org