By Amanda Nicholson
The Marietta Times
With one well pad under construction in Salem Township, and at least one more definitively planned for 2014, Pennsylvania-based EdgeMarc Energy is relatively new to the oil scene in Washington County, but has longterm plans to remain in the area.
Though EdgeMarc is a young company, having just been formed in late 2011 to early 2012, Operations Manager Callum Streeter said it has been trying to expand to the area, looking for lease acquisitions and places to drill wells throughout the county.
"Really, the first 18 months were lease acquisitions," he said. "We started leasing in three (areas): Butler County in Pennsylvania and Washington County and Monroe County in Ohio. We've got about 15,000 acres in Washington County and about 10,000 in Monroe County."
The company started setting up wells in Pennsylvania last year and is currently drilling, said Streeter, adding that drilling would start at the Merlin well pad in Salem Township around mid-June.
"We're really excited about that well; we're hoping for good results," he said.
About 30 to 50 people have been hired to attend operations at the Merlin well site, which Streeter said consists of many contractors as well as EdgeMarc employees.
In addition to the Merlin well, Streeter said residents can expect a few more.
"We've planned another three wells; one definitely in Washington County, and potentially two more down the road this year," he said. "We're also actively looking into pipeline solutions (for more infrastructure)...so we can get the gas to market."
Streeter said a big part of the company's ideals includes finding ways to help the local area through community outreach.
"We kind of decided it was going to be focused on youth and education in the communities we work in," he said. "There are a lot of different things we can donate money to, but we felt that added the most value."
Streeter said the company did some research into the local school districts.
"There were some shortfalls with the local school districts," he said. "This is how we can make the biggest impact; it would have the most meaningful impact on our community."
Two school districts that have already been helped locally are Frontier Local Schools and Switzerland of Ohio Schools in Monroe County.
Frontier Superintendent Bruce Kidder said EdgeMarc gave the district $10,000 to put in a handicapped accessible ramp at the football stadium.
"It's very difficult to watch a football game with the crowd at the lower level," he said. "We're going to attach it to the front of the current bleacher system. It's a platform for wheelchairs and includes the ramp."
Kidder said the estimate for the project is $7,500, but that was without actual measurements.
"When (EdgeMarc) offered to help the schools, that's a great thing," he said. "I appreciate it; it's trying to be a good neighbor...We don't have any industry out here or the opportunity for corporate sponsors. We appreciate all the help we can get."
Switzerland of Ohio Treasurer Lance Erlwein said he's very impressed with EdgeMarc's outreach.
"The nice part was they contacted us," Erlwein said. "They called and asked, 'Can we come out.'...What impressed me was they actually took the time to consider things other than athletics."
The $10,000 went for textbooks and athletics, $5,000 to each cause.
"We have three high schools in our district which makes funding a real challenge," Erlwein said, adding that the failure of a 2.5-mill levy hurt funding for textbooks.
"All the districts are struggling in our area so to have that support is nice," he said. "I think it says a lot about a small company...It was a nice show of support for the local community."
Streeter said other schools would most likely get some help down the road.
"That's just kind of the beginning of that program down there," he said. "We look at it on a project-by-project basis...We want to be active participants in the communities we work in."
Streeter said EdgeMarc will continue to stay in Washington and Monroe counties.
"Once we have a center of mass, the plan is to open a field office in that region," he said. "We're excited about the potential...We're certainly in it for the long-haul. We have plans for extensive development in that region."