When Coal and Gas Overlap
Speaker: Barb Dunst, PG, C.P.G., President of the Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists.
Barb has over 30 years’ experience primarily in energy, specifically coal and natural gas working for consultants, industry and the PA DEP doing permitting, hydrogeological analysis, contaminant investigations and some engineering geology.
Her latest role was a regional manager for a shale gas production company responsible for coordinating all well locations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Barb’s department worked closely with the mining companies in those areas to approve shale gas well sites primarily over active and abandoned underground longwall coal mines. Her talk dealt with the interactions and complexities of those two major industries in Pennsylvania.
Barb highlighted the economic importance of the shale gas and underground mining industries in southwestern Pennsylvania and provided a brief overview of horizontal drilling and fracking operations. She explained how a coal casing string is installed through all mineable seams before extending the well to the pay zone over a mile beneath the surface. Barb also discussed locating well clusters in active mines through abutment pillars and summarized the TGD developed by the TAB Coal and Gas Subcommittee for shale wells drilled in chain pillars prior to longwall mining development. Barb also provided some examples of the hazards encountered when drilling into inactive mines such as blown mine seals, gas pockets over gob areas, shallow subsidence and stray gas migrating through subsidence fractures.