These are tales of two well pads – one related to fracking by CNX Corp. in Greene County, the other by Range Resources at a pad in Imperial.

Following several requests to various companies in recent years, the Observer-Reporter was invited recently to tour a frack site by each of these oil and gas producers, both headquartered at Southpointe. The 90-minute tours revealed these are large, meticulous operations with many moving parts – literally and figuratively. Safety is paramount on a pad, and multiple measures are in place to assure that, yet a newbie must navigate the vicinity with care. Danger exists.

Fracking – hydraulic fracturing – is a controversial process. It is decried by those concerned about possible impacts to groundwater and air, especially at a time when a heightened incidence of Ewing’s sarcoma cancer cases is being examined in the Canon-McMillan School District. Yet fracking is staunchly defended by the industry as a safe and efficient way to process natural gas, an affordable energy source for consumers. Fracking is an intricate operation, which essentially entails shooting water and sand into a mile-deep well, permeating the rock below it and releasing gas to the surface.

There are many aspects related to fracturing, and we are focusing on one at each tour site. CNX is using an all-electric fracking fleet at the RHL71 well site in Richhill Township, months after becoming the first producer to deploy one in the Appalachian Basin. That story begins here. Range’s water operations may be similar to those of other drillers, but the former striped bass biologist who supervises that unit makes it somewhat distinctive. That story begins on Page B1.

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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