New fee, big impact

Posted February 17, 2012

Barbara S. Miller

A new state law dealing with the gas well impact fee uses the term "spud wells," but in the case of Washington County, the fee will not be small potatoes.

After off-the-top allocations, the county will be receiving between $1.5 million and $5 million late this year, a figure dependent on the number of unconventional wells in the county and statewide.

"That's a big span," said county Commissioner Harlan Shober after Thursday's meeting. "We'll have a better handle on the amount of revenue in the next couple of weeks or so."

As to the number of wells in Washington County that would be included in the 2011 base year, Shober said, "I've heard an 841 number. I'm asking for information on it now.

"Chartiers has at least 57 wells that I'm sure of," said Shober, who was a Chartiers Township supervisor until he took office as a county commissioner earlier this year. He personally has a lease with Range Resources for Marcellus Shale gas under his two-acre home in Chartiers.

Shober has estimated Chartiers Township could reap between $300,000 and $500,000 from the impact fee.

Contiguous communities that have no drilling also will receive money from the impact fee.

As expected, the commissioners agreed unanimously Thursday to advertise a proposed ordinance allowing the county to impose an impact fee and adopt it as soon as March 1.

In a related matter, the commissioners, in a unanimous vote, approved a revision for a fourth well pad in Cross Creek County Park, Hopewell Township, near Route 844, that repositions it slightly and brings the pad back to a rectangular shape.

"It's really not going to be an additional impact to what's already there," said Lisa Cessna, planning commission director.

Under the terms of the current lease with the county, Range Resources is limited to seven well pads in the park, including one vertical well.

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