Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Jan 7, 2014

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading:

New York

Busing Crowds to a Fracking Protest Is Entertainment, Not Sacrifice
Natural Gas Now
Following up on my post of the other day regarding the Albany rally being planned by FrackAction, I decided to make a special request of the organizer. Her name is Renee Vogelsang and she claims to a “community organizer who has worked on energy, water, environmental and human rights issues since 2002, specializing in political, membership, fundraising, and legislative based campaigns.” She says she’s worked with Food & Water Watch, Clean Water Action and the New York Public Interest Research Group and “lives on the road and sometimes in Syracuse, NY.” FrackAction is a front for the Sustainable Markets Foundation, a Rockefeller entity run by the head of the New York Public Interest Research Group. Both the Sustainable Markets Foundation and Food & Water Watch are also funded by the Park Foundation, while Clean Water Action (Clean Water Fund) is funded by the Heinz Endowments. The Rockefellers, Park Foundation and Heinz Endowments are the three biggest financiers of the anti-fracking movement, all run by trust-funder descendants of old industrial families. Renee is on their payroll and they finance her current life “on the road.”

New York Residents Tire of Cuomo’s Shale Delay
Energy in Depth
New York is coming up on its five and half-year anniversary for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. For more than a half decade, Governor Andrew Cuomo has dangled hope in front of residents in New York’s Southern Tier but refused to follow through, even as many of them live in dire economic straits. Unsurprisingly, a recent snap poll by the Rochester Business Journal shows nearly two-thirds of the 540 respondents are exhausted by the delay and empty promises from the administration, and they are ready to move forward with responsible, job-creating development. Here’s the first relevant question from the poll:


Ohio’s Latest Utica Shale Well Production Data Shows Natural Gas and Oil Hot Spots
The latest well production data released by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Oil and Gas shows 245 producing wells in the Utica Shale Play in Q3, 2013. According to the data, Gulfport’s Harrison County well is the top oil producer while Belmont County has the top 5 natural gas producing wells, also Gulfport wells. Chesapeake Energy’s 162 wells showing production made it the driller with most wells in the region, while Carroll County’s 138 producing wells makes it the most active producing County. Wells by Antero and Rex Energy joined Gulfport and Chesapeake as top 5 oil producing well owners in the 3 month reporting period. As a service to it’s Subscribers, ShaleNavigator® has developed a Ohio production map showing the oil and gas hots spots revealed in the Q3 production report as well as pipeline infrastructure. ShaleNavigator has has also added a free well lookup map tool that allows site visitors to conduct quick lookups based on well name, well operator, or County.


Cold will have little impact on Marcellus production
Pittsburgh Business Times
The bitter cold that’s closing schools and curtailing other activity probably won’t affect the Marcellus Shale. Range Resources Corp. and Consol Energy Inc. said Monday they don’t foresee much of an impact on the companies’ production operations in southwestern Pennsylvania, even with temperatures that will drop to about -12 degrees F with double-digit wind chills. “We do not anticipate any delays or disruptions as a result of the weather. All of shifts in the field begin and end with a safety meeting, and we’re spending a lot of time reminding employees and contractors of their training and encouraging good situational awareness for all weather conditions,” said Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella. It’s much the same at Southpointe-based Consol Energy.

Penn Virginia jumps 10% on deal speculation
Philadelphia Inquirer
Shares of Penn Virginia Corp., the Radnor firm that’s exploiting Marcellus Shale and Texas-area fuels, jumped 10% in trading today to around $10 — a better-than-two-year high, but still below its late-2000s peaks — after brokerage SunTrust Robinson Humphrey put out a report saying the company is worth more like $18 and should attract takeover offers. Penn Virginia has been way up and low down in the past alongside energy prices and exploration prospects.

Optimism Over Shell Chemical’s Land-Option Extension
Sunny 106 FM
Shell Chemical LP is interested in building an ethane cracker facility that would turn natural gas into chemical products such as plastics. Senator Solobay says with the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry continuing to grow in Pennsylvania, it makes sense for Shell to locate its plant in the heart of the Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale deposit. Shell also announced that beginning early next year it will begin demolishing select building at the site and it’s looking at purchasing other properties in the area. Senator Solobay says while everybody would breathe a lot easier if Shell Chemical would make a positive announcement soon that it will build the cracker facility in western Pennsylvania, he says the company said up front that it would be a multi-year process before a final determination of if and where the plant would be located. A spokesperson for Shell said last week that this would be the last request for a land-option extension but would not say how long this extension is good for. Previous extensions were granted for six months.

Act 13 Poses Complex Questions for Local Control in Ohio, Other States
NGI’s Shale Daily
With the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recent decision that localities can enforce or change zoning laws to contain gas and oil drilling within their boundaries, thousands of townships and municipalities in the state are now enmeshed in a regulatory quagmire that could slow permitting. While Pennsylvania producers decide to drill or not to drill in the Keystone state, the court’s decision could have an impact on similar battles over local versus state regulatory control that are occurring in other shale states.

10 Things to Consider about the Marcellus Shale
Houston Chronicle Fuel Fix Blog
For today, my friends, we are going to talk about the crazy cat that is the Marcellus Shale, via ten different considerations. So let’s get this show on the road, and start the countdown from ten to one: 10) If the Marcellus Shale were a country, it would rank 8th in the world in terms of natural gas production, producing more than Saudi Arabia. 9) The Marcellus Shale produces about 13 Bcf a day, up from 2 Bcf a day in 2010. This is approximately 18% of total US production.

West Virginia

Legislative Committee Reviews Landfill Waste Disposal Of Drilling Material
West Virginia Natural Gas Blog
The W.Va. Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary met January 5, 2014 to discuss the depositing of drill cutting material and waste into landfills as a result of drilling activities across West Virginia. West Virginia University (“WVU”), which had conducted a sampling of several vertical drilling sites, shared findings of a study it had done. WVU’s study provided that certain components were elevated, but not alarming. It was suggested that additional information be collected and studied including the best way to determine how to obtain samples and how to characterize the waste. Additionally, it was suggested that a sampling of horizontal drilling sites take place. There was discussion about the general concern of radioactive elements within the rock being brought to the surface during drilling. While the element of radioactivity appears to be low, some thought additional studies would be beneficial. The W.Va. Department of Environmental Protection informed the interim committee that it has plans to require a very similar approach to that which is already in place in Pennsylvania. This approach will help with properly detecting radiation and will also improve the safety of workers at landfill sites.


Natural Gas Rises as Coldest U.S. Weather in Decade Boost Demand
Bloomberg/Washington Post
Natural gas futures rose in New York as arctic air sweeping across the U.S. boosted demand for the heating fuel. Gas rose 0.1 percent as the National Weather Service said the central U.S. will see the lowest temperatures in almost 20 years as the cold is heading toward the East Coast. The futures, which have climbed 23 percent since Nov. 1, moved between gains and losses for most of the day as forecasts showed milder weather next week. “We’ve got that ridiculous cold in the Midwest and it’s certainly significant, but you have to appreciate that we’ve had one heck of a run-up,” said Stephen Schork, president of Schork Group Inc., a consulting group in Villanova, Pennsylvania. “Even though it’s brutally cold in the Midwest, temps are starting to ease here in the East, so that’s a significant amount of demand destruction.” Natural gas for February delivery rose 0.2 cent to settle at $4.306 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Trading volume was 34 percent below the 100-day average at 2:59 p.m. Gas has risen 31 percent from a year ago.

Moody’s predicts gas prices will remain ‘under pressure’ in 2014
SNL Financial
Natural gas prices will remain low in 2014 as producers continue to look for increased demand, Moody’s Vice President and Senior Analyst Andrew Brooks said in an investors note released Jan. 6. In the note, which included a series of predictions about the oil and gas industry, Brooks said North America’s abundant production of gas will keep prices “under pressure” in 2014. As domestic demand continues to rise at a slower pace than supply, he said, interest in gas exports is increasing. “By the end of this decade, producers are counting on exports of LNG to help re-balance the supply and demand dynamics of North American natural gas, and to give gas prices a modest lift,” he said. “For the near term, market participants will focus on the massive capital costs and financing that export projects and infrastructure will require.” Citing LNG costs between $14/MMBtu and $16/MMBtu in Asia and between $10/MMBtu and $11/MMBtu in Europe in 2013, Brooks said American producers are trying to break into the international market as quickly as possible to solve the supply glut.

Barges and Fracking: Separating Fact from Fiction
Energy in Depth
When the Coast Guard published its Proposed Policy Letter to allow wastewater from hydraulic fracturing to be shipped by barge, anti-fracking activists flew into hysterics, rampantly spreading misinformation and alarmism about the supposed risks. It’s worth noting that these same activists have been silent about the numerous other substances – such as jet fuel, gasoline, kerosene, benzene, fertilizers, toluene and ammonia – that are transported safely by barges every day. At this point, however, raw opportunism from the activist crowd should surprise no one. As we’ve seen time and time again, it’s clear these claims from anti-fracking groups are based solely on their commitment to anti-fracking advocacy, not the facts. Let’s take a moment to examine some of their claims in depth.

AP Drilling Story Underscores Safety of Shale Development
Energy in Depth
This weekend, the Associated Press published a story with an eye-catching headline — “Some States Confirm Water Pollution From Drilling.” But anti-fracking activists hoping for proof of their claims that shale development is “inherently dangerous” better not pop the champagne corks just yet. A deeper dive into the details reveals a much more nuanced picture. In fact, the data obtained by AP actually tell us a lot more about the historic safety of shale development than any sort of uncontrollable risk. AP investigated wells in four states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Texas. Out of literally tens thousands of wells, only a small fraction resulted in any complaints related to water – and only a fraction of those wells were actually linked to water quality issues. Let’s have a look at what AP had to say:

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