The Appalachian Basin is one of the oldest hydrocarbon producing regions of the United States. After over 100 years of drilling and production, the industry was very comfortable drilling behind hills, in isolated areas, and generally away from population. To demonstrate modern oil and gas exploration industry practices and the ability to operate responsibly in a challenging environment, a well was proposed on the football field of the University of Charleston. Located in the heart of the city, the well was within sight of the West Virginia State Capitol, on a mineral lease owned by the University. In order to accomplish this project, a successful well required a tenuous journey through geological identification, regulatory hurdles, resident opposition, logistical restrictions, location stability concerns, drilling surprises and reclamation procedures.

This paper will detail the planning and process that resulted in a successful drilling project in an environmentally sensitive location. In addition to being on the banks of a major waterway, within sight of a State Capitol, and adjacent to an office building, the real hurdle was cooperating with a neighborhood that was as close as 501 feet from the wellbore. The project drew a significant amount of local media attention, as each aspect of the operation was cross-examined in various public forums.

The project brought together an E&P company and six of its major vendor partners, each donating their products or services to a project that earned strong community support. Working under intense public scrutiny, each part of the drilling and completion process was pre-planned, including noise generation, dust control, spill response, and evacuation procedures. In fact, an observation tent was erected on-site for the purpose of public viewing, an action that proved to be very much accepted by the residents.

As a result, the local University has their own source of energy, but more importantly, the industry has a greatly enhanced reputation in the community of operating in a clean, efficient and professional manner. This paper will journal the steps of the process, effectively outlining a template for future projects in sensitive urban environments.

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