Gas industry pays for road repairs related to drilling, leader says

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state’s oil and gas industry gets a lot of blame for damaged secondary roads, but Anne Blankenship, the executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, noted the industry, by law, covers whatever problems it creates.

Companies are required to work with the state Division of Highways and come up with a maintenance plan and post a substantial bond to cover the cost of repairing any damage they may cause before any work on a drilling or pipeline site can begin. It’s not uncommon for those companies to actually do the work to make repairs and in some cases, they’re going beyond the scope of what’s required in state code.

“We’ve gone outside of this policy to help maintain those roads,” Blankenship said. “Last year alone we had three major companies spent over six and a half Million dollars in Marshall County alone in one year to help with that road maintenance.”

The deteriorating condition of the state’s roadways is a problem not only to those who live along those roads, but to gas companies as well. Blankenship said they too need the roads to conduct business and when the roads are destroyed, it impacts their work.

The industry, according to Blankenship, has already contributed to the solution through bonding and work outside the state’s policy. She added companies stand ready to do more.

“We absolutely are and we’ve started those conversations with the DOH,” said Blankenship. “We had a really nice meeting toward the end of the year and set the ground level moving forward.”

Exactly what arrangement the DOH and the Oil and Gas Industry will be able to create is yet to be determined.

“We hope to be able to work together with the DOH with something outside this policy,” she said. “We can help fund, staff, or manage some of the wear and tear outside of the wear and tear done by the industry.”

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