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New app helps state conduct 2,000 more oil and gas inspections in 2017

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Dan Speicher | For Trib Total Media
A crew works to plug an old natural gas well in 2013 near Northmoreland Park in Allegheny Township, Westmoreland County.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced this week that it will complete 2,000 more inspections for its oil and gas program in 2017 because of a new iPad app.

The innovation is timely as DEP oil and gas compliance inspections have jumped by more than 300 percent in the past decade, from 10,566 in 2007 to almost 35,000 in 2016, according to a DEP press release.

Previously, all inspections were done with paper forms in the field, followed by data entry in the office.

The app, which launched earlier this year, was created with technology developed at PennDOT, according to the Governor’s Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management and Efficiency,

DEP Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management Scott Perry remarked: “Making the inspection process completely electronic has transformed the way our inspectors do their job, increasing productivity, customer service, and transparency.”

Duplicate entry has been virtually eliminated, and trips between field sites and offices are significantly reduced, according to the DEP

The first phase of the app for surface activities launched in February 2017.

By the end of year, surface inspectors were using it for almost all of their inspections.

The state estimates that the app has bolstered productivity by almost 30 percent this year, achieving more than $500,000 in productivity saving, which is equivalent to adding six additional inspectors.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

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