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Drilling planned at U.S. Steel's Edgar Thompson mill

Drilling planned at U.S. Steel's Edgar Thompson mill
Issue Time:2017-12-30
  Release time: 2017/12/28 18:07:00  Author: 

A New Mexico oil and gas company is preparing to drill wells on the site of U.S. Steel's Edgar Thomson works in the Mon Valley and supply the company with natural gas for its mills. 


Merrion Oil and Gas will locate six wells on a single drilling pad in North Versailles, said Ryan Davis, Merrion's operations manager. He said the company hopes to drill by the third quarter of 2018. 

“We're really in the initial stages of permitting,” he said. “It's all dependent on the timing of permits.” 

The North Versailles Planning Commission and commissioners have approved the project, according to the township office. 

Davis said U.S. Steel would receive royalties in gas instead of typical cash payments. A broker approached Merrion with the possibility of drilling on the plant site, he said. 

U.S. Steel spokeswoman Meghan M. Cox said the company considered it an opportunity to offset costs of natural gas and “enhance the long-term cost competitiveness of our local Mon Valley works facilities, including Edgar Thomson plant.” She said U.S. Steel is leasing Merrion 10 acres on the eastern edge of the plant. 

Braddock Mayor John Fetterman said he was initially skeptical of the plan because of environmental concerns, but U.S. Steel made a compelling argument for the wells. Fetterman noted that Edgar Thompson employs around 550 workers. 

He credited Merrion and U.S. Steel with “being up front” about what they were planning and briefing local officials on safety procedures. 

“They need to do this to remain competitive and keep the plant open,” he said. “Given what goes on there on a daily basis, no one would even notice. It would be like somebody baking a loaf of bread in a pizza shop.” 

A community group, North Braddock Residents for Our Future, has criticized the plan saying it would expose residents to industrial hazards, including pollutants. 

“In terms of public concern we plan to have some town hall meetings where we can hopefully educate them on what we're doing and allow them to ask questions,” Davis said. “A lot of times people are uneasy simply because they don't understand it.” 

Fetterman, who lives on the edge of the plant, said he expected opposition and shared some of those concerns. 

“They're burning this gas already,” he said. “All they're doing is changing the sourcing of it.”

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