The Behavioral Differences Between Anti- and Pro-Drillers

Over the years of covering the debate on fracking and shale drilling, MDN editor Jim Willis has, on many occasions, sat in public meetings and personally witnessed those who oppose drilling (anti-drillers) behaving badly. We understand people having a different viewpoint–wrong viewpoints, but different. We respect that. However, those with an opposite viewpoint don’t reciprocate that respect. It’s not uncommon for anti-drillers to boo, clap, hiss and engage in all manner of theatrics and histrionics–especially if there are cameras and microphones in the room. No camera or microphone? They bring them along to record their own rude behavior! Seems it’s a source of pride for them. As we’ve pointed out many times before, many of these people are hippie retreads–either actual hippies from the 60s who seem to have found a new purpose for otherwise dull lives, or college-aged kids who somehow romanticize and view themselves as being cut from the same radical cloth. MDN is not the only place to notice anti-drillers behaving badly. Forbes magazine has too…
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EnerVest’s Grand Experiment: Fracking Clinton Sandstone in Ohio

the grand experimentLong before the words “Marcellus” and “Utica” entered the public discourse and consciousness of Ohioans, there was the Clinton Sandstone. For years conventional drillers have been sinking wells in the Clinton, which is found 4,500 feet below the surface (the Marcellus and Utica Shale layers are deeper). The Clinton lies under 25 counties in eastern Ohio. Over the years, some 35,000 conventional (vertical) wells have tapped the Clinton Sandstone in Ohio. EnerVest, one of the largest acreage holders in the Utica Shale (and in the Clinton Sandstone), has embarked on a great experiment. What if you turned a Clinton Sandstone well horizontal, like a Utica or Marcellus well? Would it work? Could you get more gas out of the sandstone by fracking it like shale? EnerVest has drilled seven horizontal wells so far, with a permit to drill another and a request to drill a ninth. Here’s the details, along with the differences between a Clinton horizontal well and a Utica horizontal well…
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Ohio to Get “Baby” Ethane Cracker Originally Slated for WV

In February 2013 MDN told you about plans from Appalachian Resins (AR) to build a polyethelene (PE) manufacturing plant complete with a baby ethane cracker (see “Small” Ethane Cracker Plant Coming to Wheeling, WV). The company, at that point, said they would begin construction somewhere south of the Wheeling, WV area by the end of 2013. That didn’t happen. Now we know why. Last week, AR’s CEO Jim Cutler announced he had signed a letter of intent with the Monroe County (OH) Port Authority to build the plant in Monroe County instead. The location for the plant moved just across the Ohio River, from the WV side to the OH side of the river. The cost to build the new facility is a cool $1 billion. No doubt both sides of the border will benefit, but this is definitely a loss for WV and a big gain for OH…
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Dominion Commits to Major New Marcellus/Utica Pipeline Project

What a difference five months can make in the midstream business. In April Dominion launched a nonbinding (“feeling out the marketplace”) open season to gauge potential interest in a pipeline that would carry Marcellus and Utica Shale gas from West Virginia into Virginia and eventually to North Carolina (see Dominion Announces 2 New Pipeline Projects from Marcellus/Utica). The project was called the Dominion Southeast Reliability Project. At the end of May, Dominion was still saying the proposed pipeline, which would cost around $2 billion to build, was still “very preliminary” and that the company had “not decided to do this” (see More Details/Proposed Route of Dominion Marcellus to NC Pipeline). We couldn’t even locate a map of the proposed route! Looks like the nonbinding open season was a big success. Yesterday Dominion announced not only is the pipeline going forward, they’ve formed a joint venture with three other companies to build it. We have a map of the route, a name change for the project (now called the Atlantic Coast Pipeline), and the price to build it has more than doubled–from $2 billion to $5 billion! Here’s the details…
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Hilcorp Drops Forced Pooling Request in W PA

On a day filled with big news, here’s even more big news: Last Friday Hilcorp announced they would withdraw their request for forced pooling for several properties in Lawrence County, PA. As MDN has reported a number of times, this issue has now gone on for years. As we’ve also told you, PA law allows Utica wells to be pooled under a 1961 law (below a certain depth), but Marcellus wells cannot be pooled. Just last week the state Dept. of Environmental Protection rescheduled new hearing dates–for the 4th time! (see PA DEP Rescedules Hilcorp Forced Pooling Hearing 4th Time). Now it’s a moot point. Here’s the kicker: the three families with a combined 35 acres that didn’t want to lease won’t see a penny from Hilcorp, while their neighbors will rake in the big bucks. All of the same truck traffic, etc. will still happen for the obtuse people who didn’t want to sign–except now they get all of the headaches and none of the benefits. Sounds like a real “win” to us!…
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EQT & NextEra Tie the Knot on WV-VA Pipeline Joint Venture

There’s a big difference between nonbinding and binding–as in open seasons. When a pipeline company wants to see if they can get any interest for building a pipeline (which involves millions of dollars of investment, sometimes billions) they start with a “nonbinding” open season. Think of it as an elaborate marketing exercise in lead generation. If the company gets good vibes from the nonbinding open season, they then move to a binding open season. It’s one thing to say “Yeah, we’ll use X capacity on that pipeline if you build it.” It’s a whole other thing to sign on the dotted line, committing to a binding contract for the next 10-20 years. It is a huge financial commitment. EQT and their joint venture partner NextEra Energy announced a new pipeline project in June. The 330-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline project would run from Wetzel County, WV to Pittsylvania County, VA (see EQT Announces New Marcellus/Utica Pipeline to Southeastern US). EQT announced yesterday the previous nonbinding open season changed to binding, an important change…
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Penn State to Study Effects of “Mailbox Money” in PA Marcellus

Have you ever heard the phrase “mailbox money” used to describe royalty checks (and singing bonuses) landowners receive for Marcellus Shale wells? We hadn’t either–but apparently that’s the phrase that’s used, somewhat pejoratively, to describe this economic miracle. We wonder how money flowing to snotty rich people who inherited their wealth is described–maybe “lazy money” or “daddy’s money” or “trust fund money”? But we digress. Researchers at Penn State University have received a $150,000 grant (“grant money”) to research whether or not Marcellus money going to previously poor, dumb farmers in PA (our interpretation) makes a difference to the health and well being for the kids in those households, vs. the poor, dumb farmer kids across the border in NY who are kept in poverty by the actions of NY’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, who refuses to allow Marcellus drilling. The study will evaluate whether or not Marcellus money affects a child’s well-being–ranging from behavior, psychological and health factors to school success…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Sep 3, 2014

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading:
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Odebrecht Moves Forward with WV Cracker Plant Plans

It's a done dealThe previously announced ethane cracker plant that is slated to be built near Parkersburg, WV is coming along very nicely, according to Odebrecht spokesman David Peebles. A talk at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting and Business Summit at The Greenbrier last week, along with conversations with the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, provided some key details about just where the project sits. Once again MDN notices how quickly (and convincingly) the Odebrecht cracker project is progressing after being announced just last fall, as opposed to the ponderous path being taken by Shell with their planned cracker plant, announced 2 1/2 years ago. Neither plant is a done deal, yet. But in light of Odebrecht’s full-speed-ahead attitude and news from last week, it sure seems like the WV cracker is a lot closer to being a done deal than the Shell cracker…
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Antero Waits for NE Cracker Plants, Pipeline to Sell Ethane

Antero Resources is a big and getting bigger driller focused on the Marcellus and Utica Shale region. The company now has 493,000 acres leased and projects they could potentially drill wells on up to 5,000 locations across that acreage (see Antero Boasts 5K Potential Drilling Locations in Marcellus/Utica). From the wells already drilled, Antero is now pumping (or close to pumping) 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (see MDN Welcomes Antero Resources to the 1 Bcf/d Club). Since a lot of Antero’s operations are in the “wet gas” area, they also produce a lot of ethane. Right now that ethane is largely considered a “waste product” because they can’t readily sell it. However, that change. The question is, when?…
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SWPA Drillers Seriously Underreport Drill Cuttings at Landfills

We’re not quite sure what to make of this story. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which has trended anti-drilling in recent months, has an article that claims both EQT and Range Resources, among the largest of Marcellus drillers, are underreporting the volume of drill cuttings they send to area landfills in southwest Pennsylvania. EQT is by far the biggest “offender” in the PPG article. According to documents filed with the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), EQT estimates it sent 21 tons of drill cuttings to landfills in 2013. According to hard copy records from six landfills in SWPA, EQT actually sent 95,000 tons of drill cuttings! Yikes, that’s quite a discrepancy…
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MD Report on ‘Potential’ Health Impacts from Marcellus Drilling

Back in April MDN told you that Maryland anti-drillers were lobbing an opening preventative strike against a forthcoming study on potential health impacts from Marcellus drilling, should it ever happen in Maryland (see Maryland Anti-Drillers Say Fracking Health Report Will Fall Short). Anti-drillers pre-judged the study even before it was released. The study, titled “Potential Public Health Impacts of Natural Gas Development and Production in the Marcellus Shale in Western Maryland,” was released on August 18, all 203 pages of it (full copy embedded below). We predict anti-drillers may find a lot to like in this study and perhaps were a tad hasty in their knee-jerk reaction. What was the study supposed to cover, and what did it find?…
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Law Firm Uses Maryland Health Study to Drum up Business

Below is a classic public relations effort called “newsjacking” in the marketing business. Newsjacking is the use of a story currently in the news–with which your company has zero connection–in an attempt to associate your story and your company name with that other event. Because people will be searching for that other news, your story/name will pop up in search results. A form of spam. Below is an example of what we consider to be the lowest of low lifes–personal injury attorneys playing on people’s fears of the shale drilling industry in order to drum up business. We find it disgusting and loathsome. Since the release below has a tie-in with another MDN story today–the recently released potential health impact study in Maryland–we include the press release below to illustrate how anti-drillers and low lifes operate (hard to tell the difference between the two)…
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DRBC’s New Director is Listening & Learning

In March MDN brought you the good news that the replacement for the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) director Carol Collier–a strident anti-driller–would be (thank God) someone from the private sector who has a fresh perspective on balancing good environmental stewardship with a healthy dose of real-world practicality (see DRBC Selects Steve Tambini as New Leader, Enviro Groups Unsure). Mr. Tambini was previously vice president of operations at Pennsylvania American Water. He’s now been on the job for a month “listening and learning.” Of course the nutters at Dasmascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS) are very concerned that their “special relationship” with previous director Collier will not survive with Tambini. They’re afraid they won’t have unfettered access to try and bamboozle Tambini the way they did Collier–so DCS wrote a letter to Tambini to express their concerns…
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Drilling Under the Ohio River in WV – Smart or Dumb?

As MDN reported last week, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin wants to lease the area under the Ohio River that runs through WV for Marcellus and Utica Shale drilling (see State of WV Looks to Lease Area Under Ohio River for Drilling). Tomblin wants a 20% royalty and no deductions (!) from the royalty check for expenses. Other than that, the lease will go to the driller who pays the largest per-acre signing bonus. Will any drillers bother to file a bid if they can’t deduct expenses from royalties? Is Tomblin crazy like a fox with his proposed lease for drilling under the Ohio River? Or is he just crazy? While a former WV Dept. of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) inspector doesn’t call Tomblin crazy, he does think drilling under the Ohio tends to the nutty side…
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Cooperstown Refuses $20K Grant from Williams for Fire Equipment

Back in March, MDN wrote an article highlighting the practice by Williams and their Constitution Pipeline of handing out grants to worthy causes and organizations, like fire departments, the Boy Scouts and local Chambers of Commerce. Anti-drillers typically call it payola, or greasing the skids to make those communities more accepting of the pipeline when it comes time to build it (see Constitution Pipeline Payments to Groups – Donations or Payola?). To be honest, we struggle with the issue ourselves. We think it’s great to make those payments–but we think it’s probably better to make the payments after the pipeline is fully approved and ready to be built (or already built). For us the issue is one of timing, not about the payments themselves. However, for the dunderheads in the Village of Cooperstown, NY (yes, where the Baseball Hall of Fame is located), officials there refuse to allow the local fire department to apply for a $20,000 matching grant with Williams to purchase new equipment–simply because they’re so opposed to anything to do with natural gas and fossil fuels…
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