Alternative Fracking Method May Soon Debut – in New York!

fox in hen houseThe anti-drilling crowd is about to be tested as to their true reasons for opposing shale gas drilling, and it will happen in leftist paradise—New York State.

What if you removed 99 percent of the stated objections to fracking? Took away the millions of gallons of water needed to frack a single well? Took away almost all of the chemicals used? Took away fracking wastewater that either needs to be recycled or treated or injected into a deep well? Took away almost all of the heavy truck traffic and noise and other industrialization concerns? In short—what if you took away almost every reason to oppose gas drilling?

That’s the promise of using LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), a gel, instead of using water in the fracking process. LPG fracking is a process pioneered by Canadian company GASFRAC, and has been long touted by several MDN readers (“Hey Jim, why don’t you push this more!!”). MDN’s position is that there is nothing inherently wrong with traditional, water-based fracking, and no reason to abandon the method that has worked so well. Especially because LPG fracking costs a lot more to do, and in a low-commodity-price-for-natural-gas market, companies need every edge they can get.

However, the Tioga County Landowners Group—a group of 200 families with some 135,000 acres collectively, located in Tioga County, NY—is ready to push the envelope and sign a deal that will allow LPG fracking on their land. Here’s the beauty of it: LPG fracking would fall under the older, 1992 SGEIS law. That is, LPG fracking can happen now, under current New York State law.

The Tioga group has agreed in principle to a deal with eCorp International with the stipulation that eCorp use LPG fracking. According to the attorney for the landowner group, the motivation for using LPG is based on environmental concerns and not an attempt to circumvent or speed up drilling that has been on hold for the past four years in New York.

Chris Denton, an Elmira-based attorney representing the Tioga County landowners group, said the deal will be presented to the individual landowners in the group in the coming weeks. He said the decision to go with GasFrac was based on the environmental benefits of using LPG rather than an effort to speed the process up.*

How will this play at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), where an anti-drilling fox (DEC Commissioner Joe Martens) guards the fracking hen-house? DEC spokesperson Emily DeSantis doesn’t give LPG a full-throated endorsement, but she does indicate a permit for LPG fracking would not have to wait for the new SGEIS rules to be adopted:

“DEC has met with landowner group representatives and company technical people on this issue previously,” DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said in a statement. “If we receive a formal application, we will follow the current permitting process as set forth in the 1992 SGEIS, however, our review may require additional information and additional (State Environmental Quality Review Act) analysis, including an (environmental impact statement), if warranted.”

What that means is this: The DEC would review any formal permits for LPG fracking under the 1992 document, but it’s reserving the right to require further environmental reviews of the technique, which has been used in Canada but not in New York.*

So MDN asks, what will the enviro-left do when all of their stated reasons for opposing fracking are gone? That’s right, they’ll invent new reasons to continue covering the ugly fact that they are prejudiced against fossil fuels and that anything not “sustainable” and “alternative” is not acceptable in their worldview. It will be fascinating to watch how this develops.

*Albany Watch (Mar 28, 2012) – Tioga County Fracking Deal Leaves DEC With Choice

  • Anonymous

    Jim,
     You are a hard man to convince.  I hope I can get you to open your mind to one more new idea.
      LPG FRACKING DOES NOT COST MORE THAN HYDRO-FRACKING.
     Horizontal hydro-fracked wells cost more than vertical hydro-fracked  wells . But what is important is the total production per foot drilled over the life of the well.That is why the industry is doing more horizontally fracked wells these days. The same is true with LPG fracking. The company, Gasfrac, now has compilations of data from several basins that show 20% plus better long term production per drilled foot with LPG fracking compared to hydro-fracking.The Company recently said that it would be concentrating its efforts in those basins where it has a clear production advantage. One of these basins is the Marcellus/Utica. This is where the money is … production .
      There are other reasons related to  tighter state and federal regulations in the works that also will benefit LPG fracking over hydro-fracking ; a subject for a future post.

  • Anonymous

    See Thursday’s Ithaca Journal on Propane fracking.

  • Anonymous

    It’s about time that New York considers LPG fracking. If it works and eliminates all the objections and, at the same time allows drilling to go forward, I say go for it!

  • Anonymous

    Any place we can learn more about this technology? One of my concerns is gas emissions directly at the well-head and in surrounding aquifers. Does the gel become a gas at any point in the production? If not, sounds great! If it does degenerate into gas during the process, it will be much less viscous than either water or gel, naturally. And that could be a scenario for even more gas emissions associated with fracking.

  • Anonymous

    “LPG FRACKING DOES NOT COST MORE THAN HYDRO-FRACKING.” Exdent11, are you speaking of production costs only, or are you including the more extensive – and usually socialized – cost to health, water supplies and aquifers, air and land pollution, social dislocation, governance costs (extra police, EMT, health care facilities & personnel), and infrastructure degradation?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Reynolds/1109340902 Tom Reynolds

    One of – but not the only – reasons for the anti fracking frenzy has nothing to do with the environment.  NY is politically dominated by the left.  They want to rule.  One technique for keeping power in a democracy is to buy votes  (see DeToqueville’s quotes on this).  Note, as evidence, the problems with gov’t employee pensions and that NY’s Medicaid program is the most costly in the nation.  As has been often stated, “people vote their pocketbooks”. 

    The greatest threat to them is a strong private sector that creates jobs that are not dependent upon the government.  The last thing Sheldon Silver and his downstate cronies want is a healthy private sector that they cannot milk for votes.

    If the article’s movement comes to fruition, you can be sure they will try something…anything…to further delay it.  Probably, they’ll say it needs a health study.  Who knows.  But I’m sure they will try something. Health studies is an interesting strategy because every state or federal study has disproved the health claim issues.

    Be afraid on the far left.  Be very afraid of fracking.  It’s your worst political nightmare.  A voting base that is not dependent upon your government largesse.

  • Anonymous

    Not all objections to fracking are based on the use of chemicals and water in fracking fluid. There’s significant greenhouse gas pollution from fracking, as well as elevated ozone levels, neither or which would be eliminated by the use of LPG. And remember that the Marcellus is loaded with radon and we have not yet tested to see how much of that radon ends up in the produced gas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brownscustom Erwin Dale Brown

    Fracking is about the fact that the Marcellus Shale Region being an inland ocean. If you keep hyper-expanding the earth’s mantle creating these massive voids under the earth with wet or dry fracking you are turning the whole region into Swiss cheese. If earthquakes loosen this shale and cause a collapse….do you want another ocean where the ocean used to be?……with a huge flood of frack-chem jacking back up into that water? All the good folks out there have to understand that the fracking chemistry is just a piece of the issue. Nothing will change on the whole even if they stop with the chem.. The hyper-expansions will go on and the carbon problem will go on and the 30% of total well methane gas volumn releasing will go on. It will not be seen as a trade off or an end point for the protesting, sorry folks.

  • Anonymous

    Erwin,
    I must call you out on this statement :30% of total well methane gas volumn releasing will go on.”

    Where in the world do you get 30% from? Facts, Mr. Brown, how do you claim this???

  • Anonymous

     Responding to Dwain Wilder..
      I was writing directly about the production cost  which now favors LPG fracking. However , LPG fracking removes all of the reasonable environmental objections to fracking . No water is used , all fracking fluids  [mostly propane ] recovered as a gas which goes directly into pipeline to be sold or reused; no contaminated water to dispose of; does not bring salts ,metals or radioactive isotopes back to the surface; 80% less truck traffic; well completion requires almost no release of gases into the air unlike hydro-fracking [ this soon will be zero with the new mobile closed looped collection system ]. It is safe .
       If you are asking for zero impact  on the environment , you are asking the impossible. Renewables , which I strongly support , have some negative impact on the environment if you think it through; starting with their production.

  • Anonymous

     You are wrong . You do not fully understand the process.

  • Anonymous

    Ok, so explain why I’m wrong.

  • Anonymous

    I knew this article would drive the antis crazy. They are really reaching now for new objections to the fracking process that have never even been mentioned before.

     “—voids under the earth with wet or dry fracking you are turning the whole region into Swiss cheese.”

    “—do you want another ocean where the ocean used to be?”

    Thanks, I needed a good laugh today!

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  • Anonymous

    I guess I would be considered one of those ANTI’s.   I own a 70 acre piece of land in Tioga county and was concerned about contaminated drinking water. I was willing to wait until they figured out a cleaner way to proceed. This is what I was hoping for and I think this will turn a lot of anti’s around.

  • Anonymous

    What does his statement even mean? Did I miss that day in english class?

  • Anonymous

    Out of curiosity, would you lease part of your land for LPG?

  • Anonymous

    *crickets*

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. I actually do understand the process and I am not wrong.

  • Anonymous

    Zero environmental impact would indeed be impossible to expect, if your presumption is that it is sane to industrialize large swaths of populated and already productive rural landscape, making such arts as dairying, farming (particularly organic farming,  of which NY is #1 in the nation), wineyards, and a thriving tourist activity. The Finger Lakes would have the blessing of a few hundred feet setback from a drilling activity that can go thousands of feet horizontally. A few of these lakes are deeper than the Marcellus Shale, making them vulnerable to inadvertant or careless punch-through by fracking.

    But, as you say, zero environmental impact is impossible. Nice to hear all the ameliorations of LPG. It remains to be seen if they are actually achievable if they scale the method up, and if the Halliburtonites can be persuaded to drop hydrfracking.

    After watching what they’ve done to Pennsylvania, asking New York to accept hydrofracking because it can be regulated is like urging a woman to marry a man with a record of domestic abuse because she can always call the police.

  • Anonymous

     Spoken like a true Anti, you make no sense at all Dwain,if you have been on this site for some time Gasfrac has been a huge topic of discussion. We are a Country/ World that has and is dependent on fossil fuels ( for now). Our Country is in desperate need of Jobs, tax revenue, and economic growth. The free enterprise system comes up with a ‘new’  technology that is exactly what everyone is looking for a safer,cleaner, less intrusive way to extract this underground gold, and that is the best rebuttal you have to give to extent11. Please, get out of the way, vineyards and organic farming, really? I have seen dairy farm after dairy farm fold due to rising costs ( fuel, feed, etc). Organic farming , how many jobs has that industry created for the economy? Get a grip, We are country desperate to get jobs going here, I’m talking millions of jobs country wide, Dwain, the residual effects of those jobs equal a strong economy and turn around for rural NY and all other places NG exists. Instead of concentrating on any type of “negativity” that all you Anti’s try to exploit, how about looking at the benefits of a company like Gasfrac brings to the table. Uses NO Water in the process ( No draining of water from streams, rivers and lakes, GREAT!!) Uses LPG to extract the gas, ( NO Chemicals, GREAT!!), Can extract 20% more NG then the conventional methods,( More production,more product, more income, more taxes, GREAT!!) LPG can be recovered and immediately reused at the next well site,(less environmental impact, trucking, disposal, plants, etc GREAT!!) How in the world can you find any negative news in this.

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  • Anonymous

    Forget about the GasFrac, the real issue here is the attempted fleecing of semi desperate oil and gas owners.  While on the surface this “Partnership” may appear to be a good deal for the land owners, at the very most it provides some near term hope for NY landowners that they may begin to see some of the financial gains that they can currently only observe from North of the Border.
    Firstly GasFrac has no deal to Frack any of these acres, Secondly, ECorp has NO intention of developing any of this acreage……why would they put up all of the drilling cost for a minority interest?  The REAL DEAL here is that this proposed “Partnership” is a Landowner rip-off!!
    Here is my opinion of what WILL happen:  The newly formed “Company” will not drill a single well, the “company” will hold 87.5% of every strata of oil and gas interest within the proposed 25000 acre tract, for an indefinite time period.  The landowner will hold a State Mandated 12.5% royalty interest, (clever way of avoiding any future litigation).  Since we only know that ECorp will be a minority partner, lets assume 40%.  Given the FACT that ECorp has niether the interest nor the ability to develop 135,000 acres, they will do the following:
    Once drilling is approved in NY, (SOON!), there will be a genuine interest throughout the Oil and Gas industry to acquire leases in NY, thus driving up the values to that similar to PA, ($2000-$4000/acre, 15%-18% Royalty)  At this point the ECorp WILL inform the “company” that they do not have the resources to drill the “company”property.  They will then propose that the “company” sell their 87.5% to a REAL Oil and Gas Producer at the going market value, ($2000-$4000/acre 16% royalty).  As 40% owner of the “company”, ECorp will net $800-$1600/acre and retain 40% of the additional ORRI, 3.5%, (Ecorp retains 1.4% ORRI), on the entire 25000 acres, thus ECorp makes $20-$40 million dollars and retains 1.4% royalty  on potentially hundreds of wells, all for doing nothing!!!!!  The landowners will receive 60% of the going market value and 2.1% additional Royalty, (14.6% total).
    The bottom line is that this is yet another leverly diguised “LAND SCAM” intended solely to benefit ECorp and take advantage of unknowing semi-desperate Landowners.  It is unfortunate that a few previously respected pro-development “professionals” are encouraging this practice……Nick?  Chris??
    Think before you act!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I would think any contract with ECorp would have performance clauses .

  • Anonymous

    I would love to see the entire “arrangement”, as it is not a contract it is a formation of a corporation, in which the landowner commits ALL, (except12.5%) of his/her Oil and Gas Rights to the “corporation”……”Performance Clause”?, if you are indeed in the Oil and Gas business you are obviously aware that this IS a speculative business and performance is dificult to define.  If there is a multi-well drilling program, BONDED it may not look like such a SCAM, but I would be willing to “SPECULATE” my money that Ecorp will never drill the property!!!! 

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  • Anonymous

    The kick off meeting was a great let down yesterday. For lack of better words the entire “deal” smells like a bait and switch flim flam scam. I know Nick and Jim have been trying to get a deal going for four years and have worked tirelessly at trying to get something together. 
    I was begging God to summon the little guy with the hook to Pull Mr. Thrash off the stage. I have never seen someone beat a point to death like he did and still not get the point accross. I was wrything in my seat to not jump up evertime he spoke and yeall “GET TO THE F’IN POINT!” How many times was he going to tell us about how great his company did with Stagecoach. They sold it, done deal. What about our deal??? I did not understand 1 thing about the model or the way they tried to present it to us landowners. I pride myself to be a pretty intelligent man and I walked away scratching my head, and it appeared that about 1000 other people in the room were doing the same. I sure hope they come up with a way to better explain this deal and give us better insight as to how we will make our money. At this stage of the game I would say waiting for the next boom is the way to go. We missed the 2006-08 Boom (Thanks to the “Accidental” Governor) I think we need to wait for the market price to head north again and then look for a traditional lease deal. Just my .02

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