Universal HDD

Marcellus shale beneath Washington county

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Source: Universal HDD

The commercial discovery of natural gas in the Marcellus shale beneath Washington County in 2004 has set off the biggest Pennsylvania land rush in the 150 years since Col. Edwin Drake drilled the world's first oil well in Venango County.

Marcellus is a rock formation that runs a mile underground from New York through Pennsylvania and on south to Tennessee. Geologists believe the rock could contain 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas – 10 times more than all of the gas Appalachia has released since Drake's find. With American consumers using 23 trillion cubic feet of gas each year, that would be enough fuel to supply the entire country for more than two decades.

Two of the sweet spots for tapping that natural gas are in the Pittsburgh area and in north central Pennsylvania. To reach the gas, drillers use a process called hydraulic fracturing – or fracking, for short – in which they shoot millions of gallons of water, laced with chemicals and sand, into the ground. Much of that water comes back to the surface along with the gas it releases.

Shawn Pengilly, owner of HDD company, Str8 To The Point Directioal Drillig, (STTP), located in Gibsonia, PA, has been drlling on the Marcellas project for fifteen months. ' We have been using HDD for steel gas line installation ranging in sizes from 2 to 12 inch, and currently we are drilling and pulling SDR9, HDPE, 24 inch ID, 28 inch OD. This pipe will be utilized for drawing water from frack wells'.

A Penn State University researcher found that Marcellus shale gas drilling companies reused at least two-thirds of the water returned to the surface during 30 days of drilling.

'The industry is striving to reuse as much flow back as possible,' said David Yoxtheimer, a hydro-geologist with Penn State's Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research.

That's largely due to the millions of gallons of water needed to drill the horizontal wells about a mile below the surface that are necessary to fracture the shale and allow the natural gas to flow to the surface, he said. Reusing the water reduces reliance on groundwater or municipal sources of water, reducing the environmental impact, said Yoxtheimer.

Universal HDD, formerly CMS (Contractors Manufacturing Services) and Robbins HDD, located in Lake Zurich, IL, designs and builds HDD machines from 12 to 500 thousand pound capacity and sells through domestic and international dealers.

Shawn purchased his UNI-70x70 in February, 2010 from the Lake Zurich factory. Tom Pengilly, Shawn's father, helps supervise crews and operates the UNI-70. 'We use a 5-3/4 down-hole air hammer when drilling rock. Our UNI-70 has been very productive and we have experienced very little down time compared to the drills we have owned in the past. The ground conditions have varied from rock, shale, clay, sand and cobble. We have noticed more rotational torque and exceptional push-pull power under load pulling 1000 foot shots of 12' steel pipe. Our UNI-70 is simple and fast to setup and has a very compact foot print for the power and performance that we have experienced in other similar class drills.'

Shawn and Tom both agree, 'We have pulled in some very impressive bores with our UNI drill rig, and with measurable less down time, simplicity of the design, UNI will definitely be our next machine purchase'!

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