Last week, we sat down with Golder Associates’ Martin Derby and Lynse Stafford to discuss their capabilities in assisting the natural gas industry in the Appalachian region. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q. To start, could you introduce Golder Associates and give a brief history of your practice?
Martin Derby: Golder is a fairly large company, with about 6500 employees with 165 offices located in about 30 different countries. We are mostly geotechnical engineers and environmental scientists, but we are very diverse in our engineering services and capabilities. One thing that’s interesting about us is that we are employee-owned company , , with a global consulting footprint that specializes in the earth, environment and energy through technical excellence – and it’s really great team to be a part of.
Q. How did Golder come to develop the practice in the Appalachian Basin?
Lynse Stafford: In 2010, a colleague at the time opened a small field office in Horseheads, NY to help support local energy clients with environmental services; spill response led into waste management that led into compliance reporting. That’s how Golder got involved with oil and gas in the basin, and it’s grown from there.
MD: Shortly thereafter, we started our office in Pittsburgh. We had some oil and gas work, that included geotechnical and industrial hygiene services; I came on board about three years ago, and my history has been with the Appalachian Basin region for the past 12 years or so, so my knowledge in basin/region and the Marcellus Shale has helped us expand and grow our geotechnical and environmental services.
Q. How do you support your clients in the energy space?
MD: On the geotechnical side, our major focus is geohazard investigations for pipeline corridors, geotechnical design for compressor stations, and geotechnical slope investigations/remedial design. When our clients have landslide issues, we mobilize our field teams, assess the geohazards and then design a remediation. We also and provide construction oversight to ensure the quality control is done properly to minimize future pipeline integrity issues.
LS: On the environmental side, we provide emergency spill-response, management of oil & gas wastes including state and federal regulatory reporting, well pad screening services, waste disposal and treatment facility environmental compliance auditing, environmental site investigations, and environmental remediation services. Our technical expertise and innovative solutions help us form strong, lasting relationships with our clients and local regulators alike.
Q. What would you say differentiates Golder from other engineering and environmental consultancy firms?
MD: We are, very technically engaged. It’s part of what our lifestyle is here at Golder. And because of that, we’ve put a name to what we can do. For example, where there’s difficult slope conditions, that’s usually when the Golder team plays a big part in the solution because of our in-depth knowledge and technical experience to solve the problem and provide a timely solution. We have offices throughout the basin including Columbus, Pittsburgh and the southern tier of NYS (serving the central PA region).
LS: I think what differentiates us ties into Golder being an employee-owned company. The employees are very “Golder-proud” and are fully invested in the company and therefore our clients. We strive to form relationships with our clients, and I think we add a personal touch through our pride and care.
Q. How long has Golder been a member of the MSC, and what value have you experienced since becoming a member?
MD: Golder was a member of the MSC several years ago, but that had kind of fallen off, and so when I came on board, I said how valuable the MSC was to Golder. So, three years ago we reactivated our membership. What’s really special is the technical committees and subcommittees that the MSC has set up. The MSC technical committees allows our technical team to attend those groups and participate. It’s great to have a coalition like the MSC where you can have people from all different facets provide insights and guidance to one another.
LS: The purpose of a coalition is to combine efforts and work together on a shared goal, which in the MSC’s case, is to make this industry thrive within our communities. I love that the MSC allows us to gather, whether we’re strangers, competitors, or colleagues, and share in each other’s triumphs and failures to better service our industries, let alone our individual companies is a unique space. Every time we come together, individuals and/or companies extract information, become educated in some manner, and build upon that knowledge, and it’s an all-in effort to make this industry stronger.
Q. If there is one thing you want to tell a neighbor or friend who is unfamiliar with the industry, what would that be?
MD: Well, the media has very much portrayed unconventional drilling/hydraulic fracturing as not being environmentally friendly. When I discuss our industry to friends and neighbors, I take the time to discuss the technical aspects of the drilling process and the environment controls that are put in-place. The natural gas companies are extremely proud of what they do,, and I’m really proud to be part of the shale natural gas renaissance.
LS: First and foremost, I’m an environmentalist and a native of Pennsylvania. However, I lived in Vermont for many years. I experienced Vermonters very narrow view of this industry. Having that first-hand experience I would ask people to look beyond their little bubble, dive into information outside of the social media mainframe, and challenge them to expand their viewpoint. I am deeply engaged in this culture, but that doesn’t mean I have to compromise my love for maintaining this planet’s integrity.
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