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2013 was a big year in Shale

Published: Wed, January 1, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Before starting the review of fracking-related events in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania in 2013, I need to give a shout-out to someone who has contributed greatly to my research since early 2010.

This contribution started when Youngstown and Girard were being shaken by earthquakes and tremors and continues to this day. I often refer to her as “Garcia,” in reference to the fictional Penelope Garcia from the TV show “Criminal Minds.”

This is because, like Garcia, Cathy Ross-Panchik of Lordstown has an unbelievable talent of finding anything on the Internet.

Also a five-year veteran of the Girard Board of Health, Cathy can find anything on any topic — a talent rivaled only by the TV show’s fictional character.

The year started with V&M Star, renamed Vallourec Star later in the year, beginning its sales of small-diameter Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG). The $1 billion expansion project also began to wind down.

Although happy to have long-term jobs provided, the cities of Youngstown and Girard undoubtedly missed the infusion of income tax they received in 2011 and 2012.

Most likely related to the V&M expansion, the 36-mile-long Youngstown & Southern Railroad was purchased for $3 million by MarkWest Energy from the Columbiana Port Authority.

Probably the most-notable event in 2013 was the double defeat of the Youngstown “Community Bill of Rights.”

The initiative to ban fracking-related activities was put on the ballot in the primary and general elections and was defeated both times.

In October, a month before the general election, it looked like there would be a local groundswell resistance to injection wells starting when the city of Niles and Weathersfield Township passed ordinances banning injection wells within their borders. Niles later repealed its ordinance, and an injection well was permitted near Main Street in the city.

In terms of moving the industry forward in our area, 2013 permitted a number of new wells in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties.

It was determined by the industry, however, that the Utica “sweet spot” was located in Carroll County. Unflattering test drilling in Trumbull County determined that the shale play was most productive in southern Trumbull County rather than in the north as first anticipated. Northern Mahoning County will be a focus as well in the coming year.

In July, plans for a $70 million oil storage and rail-loading terminal were underway.

A subsidiary of Houston-based Halcon Resources announced its plans to build the terminal inside the Ohio Commerce Center industrial rail park along state Route 45 in Lordstown.

This is the first part of the three-phase project expected to be complete next year.

Also, if you live in Lordstown, you learned about industry seismic testing as 2013 was a summer of loud noises by many resident accounts.

Also in 2013, there was a movement to expand the usage of compressed natural gas as a transportation fuel. A natural-gas fuel company is partnering with a local manufacturer to build an alternative gas station in Youngstown.

In November, state Reps. Sean J. O’Brien of Brookfield, D-63rd, and Dave Hall, R-Millersburg, introduced legislation that would provide tax incentives for entities that buy or convert vehicles to compressed natural gas.

The events mentioned in this article are just a few of the highlights from throughout the year.

For a more complete listing of events occurring throughout 2013, see Garcia’s Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania — ONG 2013 Timeline on Vindy.com.

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