Just because they can't drill in Marcellus doesn't mean that there's no gas activity in upstate NY. In fact, just last month the Dryden town council members learned that the Anschutz Exploration Corporation has applied for a permit to drill a well into the Trenton-Black River formation.
"This came as a complete surprise," says councilman Jason Leifer. There are no active wells in the town, though there have been a half-dozen dry holes drilled in the past few years.
Trenton-Black River wells are drilled deep - about 10,000 feet down into the dolomitic limestone that underlies the layers and layers of (possibly more productive) Marcellus and Utica shales. They are relatively new wells, like the Stoscheck well above (drilled in 2006). They are drilled with the latest technology and the wellheads, tanks and gathering lines are shiny.
But not all the wells in this area are bright and shiny. Even fairly young ones drilled only a decade ago don't age well in our northeastern winters.
This is the Koabel well located just off Rumsey Hill Rd in Van Etten (Chemung County) NY. Drilling started in June of 1997 and by July 18 the well was completed.
The Koabel well goes down 3732 feet to tap into the Oriskany formation. Folks who used to get royalty checks say that they haven't seen any money from the well for the past four or five years, and they figured that the well had been plugged and abandoned. But according to the DEC website it's still an active well, producing gas - though at a level too low to provide enough energy to fuel a single home for one day.
Then there's the gathering pipeline that connects the Koabel well with another well uphill of it, and carries the gas down to an even larger pipeline. It's been said that a thrifty farmer can repair his tractor using chewing gum and baling twine, but one would hope that a pipeline ostensibly carrying gas from producing wells might receive a bit more TLC than this.