Drilling Begins in Somerset County, PA

The Somerset County Daily American newspaper reports drilling by Samson Investment Co. has commenced in the county:

Paul Menhorn is among the very first area landowners to get an in-person look at natural gas drilling operations. A drilling rig is now boring a gas well on his 157-acre dairy farm, which is located a few miles from Berlin.

It was last August when a representative from the Tulsa, Okla.-based firm told Menhorn that they would in fact begin to explore his property. By November, trucks were on the land, moving dirt and preparing the drilling site.

Equipment was shuttled onto his land March 2. A drilling rig now towers over a telephone pole near one of his barns.

According to Menhorn, it’s been life as usual, despite the sudden additions to his farm.

As for noise:

“When they’re drilling you can hear a little chattering, but it’s not bad,” Menhorn said, adding that his sleep has been unaffected by the sounds.

The newspaper article also reports:

The rig on Menhorn’s property could be the first of many. According Samson’s Web site, the company has doubled its work force over the past five years – a sign of growth and production.

The article gives an honest and frank view of what life has been like for the Menhorns since drilling started, along with a talk about the Menhorns’ concern about their water supply and how they approached ensuring there would be no problems with water contamination. The article is well written and worth your time to read all of it.

Read the full article: Drilling company taps Marcellus shale

$25K Per Acre for Lease Deals? Not in the Marcellus — Yet

An interesting tidbit from a story about energy giant ConocoPhillips. The article, published on the Houston Chronicle’s website, was about recent efforts by ConocoPhillips to “debunk Wall Street’s view that the Houston-based oil major grows by acquisition rather than finding its own oil and gas.” Buried far down the story is a statement (not a direct quote but a summary statement) from Larry Archibald, company vice president of exploration and production. The statement, as summarized by the reporter, was this:

He [Archibald] said ConocoPhillips shied away from “feeding frenzies” at high-profile shale plays where some companies rushed in and spent $25,000 or more per acre amid the pre-recession boom in gas production. Those plays included the Haynesville in East Texas and northern Louisiana, and the Marcellus in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia.

He said ConocoPhillips will keep spending in more established plays, such as the Barnett shale near Fort Worth, and the lesser-known Eagle Ford in South Texas, where the company has a leading acreage position.

Everyone drools to see energy companies spending $25K per acre for leasing rights. But don’t get your hopes up too high. Marcellus Drilling News has not (so far) found any instances of leasing deals that approach anything near $25K per arce. It’s been more like $5K per acre on the high side in the Southern Tier of New York. If you know of high paying deals in the Marcellus, please let us know!

The other interesting point about the statement is this: It looks like ConocoPhillips will not be a major player in the Marcellus anytime soon, which is unfortunate.

Read the full article: ConocoPhillips flaunts its exploration finds

West Virginia Professor Touts Benefits of Shale Gas

A positive opinion article by Donald W. Lyons, professor of engineering at West Virginia University, recently ran in the Huntington, W.Va. Herald-Dispatch. Among the points he makes are these:

The United States needs to greatly reduce the amount of imported oil. To achieve this, we need more energy conservation, more wind, solar and nuclear energy and more bio-fuels. But even as we work to increase all of these, we also need more domestically produced natural gas. The failure to diversify our energy policy will lead to further consumer pain and a continued dismantling of key portions of our economy.

The economy of West Virginia can benefit by the production of Marcellus shale natural gas. West Virginia is fortunate that the state will continue to be a major contributor to the “fuels of the future” and the good jobs associated with energy production.

Read the full article: Shale gas could move U.S. toward energy independence

Water Technology Magazine Gets it Wrong on Dimock Water Situation

Marcellus Drilling News pointed out the problems in yesterday’s Reuters news story coverage of the contaminated water wells near a drilling site in Dimock, PA (see Reuters News Service Runs Hit Piece on Drilling in Dimock, PA and Cabot Oil & Gas). Exhibit A in how the slanted mainstream media perpetuates lies is Water Technology Online, the website of Water Technology Magazine (owned by EBSCO Industries). An editor at Water Technology saw the Reuters story and unquestioningly, and without research, dashed off a quick article with the headline, “PA residents blame ‘fracking’ for illness,” citing the Reuters piece as its source. The opening two paragraphs say this:

DIMOCK, PA — Families in this northern Pennsylvania rural community and elsewhere are reporting that the gas drilling method known as hydrofracking is tainting their well water and making them and their animals sick, Reuters reported on March 13.

Energy companies are using hydrofracking, also known as “fracking,” to tap the Marcellus Shale formation. During fracking, water mixed with chemicals is pumped into deep wells under pressure to crack rock formation and release trapped natural gas, a process that also contaminates the water. There also is concern about the chemicals used in hydrofracking water, as WaterTech Online® reported.

Without explicitly saying so, and leading readers to the wrong conclusion, the article implies the water wells in Dimock are contaminated with chemicals used in the fracking process, which is not true. The wells have been contaminated with natural gas itself, not with chemicals from fracking. But the Water Technology article makes no mention of that little fact.

Such is how media works. Again, my advice: Read the mainstream media’s coverage of this issue with a critical and questioning eye.

Read the full article: PA residents blame ‘fracking’ for illnesses