Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cabot Drills Into Notoriety

By: Duane Craig

Well, pardon the pun, Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. is in the news again as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection investigates the problem of methane showing up in water wells in Susquehanna County. There is also some talk about a "bubbling pond" that contains combustible gas, although that is being disputed by the owner of the land -- a fellow who leased the land to Cabot so it could do some hydraulic fracturing there, or fracking.

Methane shows up in water wells

Cabot is being looked at because it is the company with the closest gas wells to the contaminated drinking water wells. Cabot's name was linked to the Dimock, Pennsylvania incident where a private water well exploded, ultimately making that community the poster child for the anti-fracking movement, according to this article in The Eventually Cabot was stopped near Dimock after the DEP linked gas in 18 water wells to its operations there. It's unclear how long Cabot will be allowed to continue drilling in Pennsylvania but the company has placed methane alarms in three homes near this incident and has vented its wells there to mitigate risks of contamination.

To see just how top-of-the-mind the environment is to Cabot you can read its 2010 annual report where its CEO writes for six pages about all levels of the company's operations but only gets close to any word remotely related to the environment, just one time. And that was to describe natural gas as an "eco-friendly fuel source."

Cabot made a net income in 2010 of a little more than $100 million.

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