On January 12, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission ordered Texas-based Novus Operating, LLC, a natural gas drilling company, to immediately cease all water-related activities at two drilling pad sites in the Marcellus shale formation in Brookfield Township, Tioga County, who began drilling two wells without prior approval from SRBC.
Natural gas drillers must have SRBC approval before any drilling activity occurs or any water-related facilities are constructed. The SRBC order also prohibits Novus from continuing to drill or withdrawing water for use at those two drilling pad sites, or any other location that may not yet be disclosed.
“The Commission considers these violations by Novus to be intentional, and we will respond accordingly,” said SRBC Executive Director Paul Swartz. “Commission staff had clearly informed company officials of the need for prior approval before undertaking the projects.”
Swartz said, “While the Commission’s order also prohibits withdrawals or use of water, we did not find any water resource impacts at these sites since the company had not gotten to the point of withdrawing, transporting or using any water.”
Novus has 30 days to submit an application to SRBC for water withdrawal and consumptive use, as well as the construction activities it has already completed. The company is prohibited from any further water-related actions until SRBC reviews and acts on the application.
SRBC may likely impose civil penalties against Novus for its willful violations.
For information on SRBC’s regulation of natural gas well development projects, go to SRBC’s website.