VIENNA - Road construction continued this week along Warren Sharon Road near the Wollam Racing Stables as work crews prepare for the large trucks that will bring Trumbull County's first Utica Shale drilling rig.
It began last month when a tree was cut down at the planned access point, and this week, Youngblood Paving of Wampum, Pa., laid down the blacktop for the access road onto the farm property, where the well will be drilled.
County Engineer Randy Smith said the road milling also took place Monday and will be followed by the chip-and-fill process and resurfacing, weather permitting.
Canonsburg, Pa.-based CNX has signed a road maintenance agreement with Trumbull County, posted a $100,000 road bond and certified $1 million in liability insurance. CNX is a subsidiary of CONSOL Energy.
County officials negotiated with CNX for road-strengthening work that will prepare Warner and Warren Sharon Roads to handle the heavy truck traffic that comes with a drilling operation, including transport of the drilling rig itself.
To prepare Warner Road for the traffic, 2 inches of blacktop will be added to the existing surface. The section of Warren Sharon Road will be milled, chipped and sealed, then re-paved.
Smith said trucks exiting state Route 82 will then take Warner Road north to Warren Sharon Road and west about half a mile to the well site.
CNX Spokeswoman Lynn Seay said key infrastructure work needs to take place before and site construction can begin.
Seay said CONSOL'S director of operations in Ohio, Harry Schurr, said the company is planning on a July drilling date, but no specific day has been set.
The well was permitted at the end of April, and road construction was expected to begin by May with a June drilling date.
The drilling pad will be approximately 200 yards south of Warren Sharon Road and about 150 yards west of Warner Road.
The county is also in talks with Houston-based Carrizo Gas for another well in Vienna, along Ridge Road. Carrizo has obtained a permit for one along Hayes Orangeville Road in Hartford.
The Hartford site is purely speculative for now, Carrizo sources said, because the company does not know what the Utica shale play may yield in their acreage. A permit obtained in Mercer County, Pa., likely will be Carrizo's first exploration of Utica shale, and Hartford may be drilled later if they believe it will be productive.
A drilling permit for rural land lasts for two years.