EQT has suspended all new natural gas drilling operations in eastern Kentucky, saying falling prices for the commodity forced the move.
EQT officials said 39 jobs are being eliminated, but employees would be given a chance to move to the company’s operations in the regions that encompass the Marcellus Shale area, where drilling operations continue.
Carla Olson, manager of public relations for EQT, told the Hazard Herald the suspension could be temporary.
“When I say we’re suspending the drilling of new wells, we’re not closing the door,” Olson told the newspaper.
EQT spokewoman Natalie Cox told The Appalachian News- Express in Pikeville that the drilling suspension will not impact EQT’s construction of a regional headquarters building at Scott Fork in Pike County, because the company will still have 200 employees overseeing its Kentucky operations.
“With the price of gas less than $2.48 (per million BTU), it’s right now the appropriate thing for us to do,” Cox said.
Pike County Judge/Executive Wayne T. Rutherford said Thursday he’s not concerned about the company’s future in southeastern Kentucky.
“The company will survive this just like the coal industry has,” Rutherford said. “It’s just that EQT’s 2012 drilling program in Kentucky has been put on hold.”
Last year, a company representative said it had scaled back its drilling earlier in the year, only drilling 58 wells.
“We still have more than 5,000 wells in Kentucky, and they are producing wells,” told the Hazard Herald. “We will still have a big presence in Kentucky with about 200 employees.”