By PETER H. MILLIKEN
Mahoning County commissioners approved an agreement with Chesapeake Exploration LLC of Oklahoma City, under which Chesapeake improved 1.7 miles of Calla Road east of state Route 534 before its planned drilling of a 6,000-foot-deep oil-and-gas well into the Utica Shale formation.
Chesapeake spent about $1 million to improve the road in Goshen Township before the drilling rig and the heavy truck traffic associated with the well drilling use the road, said Marilyn Kenner, chief deputy county engineer.
Chesapeake has performed “a full-depth reclamation using a cement-based stabilization method,” with a 4-inch asphalt overlay on the road at its expense, she said.
“It’s not just the big rig. It’s the constant materials delivery. They have to bring in water to do the fracking. They have to bring in stone. They have to bring in concrete to build their pad, so there’s a lot of heavy loads that will be traveling constantly on this road, and that’s why they did the road improvement,” Kenner explained.
Fracking is the process in which water, chemicals and sand are blasted into rocks thousands of feet below the ground to unlock natural gas and oil.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has issued a permit to drill the well off Calla Road, and the county engineer’s department inspected and gave final approval to the completed road improvement Wednesday. The commissioners approved the agreement Thursday.
It’s better to have the company perform the road improvement before drilling than to have the county pursue the company afterward to pay for road repairs, Kenner said. “It’s a win-win situation for everybody,” she said.
Chesapeake has performed post-drilling repairs and improvements this fall on Newton Falls, Robinson, Gladstone and County Line roads in Milton Township.