Oil and Gas-Feb 2000

Oil And Gas in Mt. Lebanon

Although Mt. Lebanon may not look like Texas, this area has a rich history in the production of oil and natural gas. The late 1800’s and early 1900’s saw a boom in the drilling for oil and gas in western Pennsylvania. The fuels supplied the industrial revolution , heated homes, and provided lighting here.

Oil and gas are found hundreds to thousands of feet below the ground surface in sandstones. The fluids are in small holes between the sand grains and in cracks in the rocks. When the wells were drilled, the high pressure of gas and oil pushed the fluids to the surface, sometimes erupting into a ‘gusher.’ The pressure quickly diminished, and the oil had to be pumped. The gas, however, continued to flow to the surface. The oil and gas were formed over millions of years by the ‘cooking’ of plant debris and algae that were deposited in ancient seas with the sediment that formed the rocks.

Most of the local wells were drilled on the edges of Mt. Lebanon. Three main centers of production are found in the area. They are the Castle Shannon field, the Woodville field, and the Bridgeville field.

The Castle Shannon field included nine gas wells located along Castle Shannon Blvd., Mt. Lebanon Blvd, McNeilly Road and Connor Road. The wells were drilled by the Manufacturers Light and Heat Company in the early 1900’s. The gas comes from Upper Devonian age sandstones that are located between 2,000 and 2,400 feet below the surface.

The Woodville field included over 28 oil and gas wells that were located along Scrubgrass Road, western Greentree Road and downtown Heidelberg. These wells were drilled in the 1890’s. The oil and gas comes from the Upper Devonian Thirty-foot sand and the Hundred-foot sand at depths of 2,000 to 2,200 feet; and the Pennsylvanian age Salt sand at a depth of only 900 feet. The first well produced over 100 barrels (42 gallons per barrel) per day to start but quickly tapered off to a few barrels per day. The old Woodville field gas wells can still be seen today along Scrubgrass Road. An old oil derrick and pump-jack sit next to the Tedco building across from the Scott Township Municipal building.

The Bridgeville field contained twelve gas wells located near downtown Bridgeville and along Painters Run Road. These wells were drilled in the early 1900’s by the Philadelphia Company. The gas comes from the Upper Devonian Thirty-foot, Gantz, and Fifty-foot sands at depths of 1,800 to 2,400 feet.

Most oil wells produced for a few years. Then, as production tapered off, the wells were abandoned. However, some produced until the 1960’s. Many of the gas wells, though, still produce gas that goes into gas pipelines for residential and industrial use.

Closed oil and gas wells may still pose environmental dangers. When the wells were drilled over 100 years ago, little care was taken to prevent the spilling of oil and byproducts. This was especially true if the well was a ‘gusher.’ Much of the land around the oil wells is still contaminated with oil today. Some gas wells also produced salt water, which may have been allowed to flow out onto the ground surface. Today, many of the old gas wells are still leaking natural gas into the air.

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