By Ed Runyan
While much of the Trumbull County attention in recent years relating to injection of brine waste from the oil and gas industry has been focused on two wells in Weathersfield Township just north of Niles, the more significant activity has been taking place in Vienna and Newton townships.
Since late 2011, Kleese Development of Warren, also known as KDA Inc., has been using two former gas wells at the family farm along Warren-Sharon Road east of Vienna Center to accept wastewater.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources allowed the company to use two more wells at that location for injection in early 2013 and two more in Warren Township on U.S. Route 422 one mile north of the state Route 5 outer belt, also in early 2013.
It put a fifth injection well on the family farm into use in August 2013 and received permission that same month for an injection well — it will be KDA’s sixth in Vienna Township — on state Route 193 just south of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.
The Route 193 site, which previously didn’t have a well on it, has been cleared of trees, and the company is planning to drill there in the coming months, said Matt Kleese, KDA field operations manager.
The company also received ODNR permission Dec. 30, 2014, to prepare KDA’s third well in Warren Township — its ninth overall — according to Matt Eiselstein, ODNR spokesman. There are 23 permits countywide, and four of the wells are not yet operational.
Looking at statistics, KDA accepts and injects the most Pennsylvania brine waste in Trumbull County and probably Ohio.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided The Vindicator with data showing every load of Pennsylvania brine waste received by Ohio brine-disposal facilities in the first half of 2014. It showed that KDA’s five Vienna wells and two Warren Township wells received about 25 percent of all waste Ohio took from Pennsylvania drillers. The Vienna wells received at least 1,228 loads during that time. It received a small amount at the Warren Township location.
Across Ohio, 5,081 loads were received during those six months, most from horizontal wells, the kind that use hydraulic fracturing. Other Trumbull County communities receiving loads include the townships of Weathersfield, Newton and Fowler, plus the city of Warren.
The Patriot Water treatment facility in Warren is one of the few that treats wastewater rather than inject it underground.
Other communities receiving waste include Poland Township, Hiram, Garrettsville, Jefferson, Rootstown and Hartville. A few farther south and west include Coshocton and Cambridge.
In raw numbers, the five Vienna wells injected about 19 million gallons underground during those six months, according to Vindicator calculations based on about 454,215 barrels of waste the EPA said KDA wells received.
The trucks traveled across the state line into Vienna from Marcellus wells throughout western and central Pennsylvania, with Butler, Lycoming and Armstrong being among the most common counties of origin, but a long list of other counties also is represented.
Matt Kleese says KDA probably will drill its new injection well south of the airport in February and bring it online several months after that. He said the company is taking a “conservative approach to growth.”
The recent drop in gasoline prices probably won’t affect KDA operations as much as some other oil-related companies because most of the brine KDA receives comes from areas producing natural gas, not gasoline.
Vienna is a good location for brine disposal because it’s close to the Pennsylvania line, which saves in trucking costs, Kleese said.
Kleese and his cousin Krissy Burrows, chief operating officer of KDA, are the fourth generation of their family to run the family’s oil and gas business, Kleese said.
It’s possible that the new well near the airport won’t receive much truck traffic, Kleese said, because the company is thinking of running a pipeline from the existing facilities on Warren Sharon Road near Sodom Hutchings Road to the new site to pipe the brine to the well.
“We don’t want trucks running all over the place,” he said.
Among the other injection-well companies in Trumbull County, the biggest may be Heckman Water Resources, which has five injection wells in Newton Township and one in Fowler Township. There were 850 loads of oilfield brine injected into Heckman wells at two Newton Falls locations — on Windham Road and Butts-Kistler Road, both northwest of Newton Falls and on either side of state Route 5 near the Portage County line.
The total amount of fluid injected was 138,367 barrels, or 5.8 million gallons.
American Water Management of Howland has two injection wells on Route 193 just north of Niles that began operation in March 2014.
ODNR shut down both wells after a 2.1-magnitude earthquake at the site Aug. 30. One of the wells reopened a couple of weeks later. ODNR is still investigating whether to allow the second well to reopen.
AWM received 56 loads of oilfield brine during the first six months of 2014, which resulted in injected brine of 30,884 barrels, or 1.3 million gallons.
The Carbon Limestone Landfill in Poland Township received 36 loads, 11,805 barrels, or about a half million gallons.