Feds Deny Private Landowers the Right to Drill in PA

Kangaroo News Service (Nov 2):
Local Citizens, Civic and Business Leaders Launch Petition to Resume Oil and Gas Development in the Allegheny National Forest

This one should make every landowner shudder–with anger and fear. The Obama Administration has illegally shut down drilling on private land in Pennsylvania. Landowners who own land in the Allegheny National Forest are now denied access to drill and sell the natural gas under their own land by fiat from the U.S. Forest Service, part of the executive branch of the federal government (i.e., Obama). This naked and forceful grab of individuals’ rights by the federal government cannot go unanswered. Make your voices heard!!

We have to go all the way to an Australian news service for this one folks:

In a petition distributed by the Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Association (POGAM) and Allegheny Forest Alliance (AFA), nearly 2,000 citizens, and civic and business leaders from Elk, Forest, Warren and McKean counties have called for President Obama and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to lift a ban on oil and gas development by the U.S. Forest Service, which effectively has halted drilling on privately owned mineral lands underlying the Allegheny National Forest. The petition was also mailed to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to encourage a greater effort by the Commonwealth to support a critical element of northwestern Pennsylvania’s economy.

In a historically unprecedented action, local and regional managers of the Allegheny National Forest have banned oil and natural gas exploration and barred mineral owners from accessing their property throughout the forest, effectively seizing the development rights to privately owned oil, gas and mineral resources. The ban has shut down oil and natural gas exploration and stymied production in the forest, where the industry has operated for decades in cooperation with the U.S. government. The petition maintains that the ban illegally violates Pennsylvania’s grant of consent to the United States in 1921 to acquire the forest and also violates the protection of private property rights in the federal law, the Weeks Act of 1911, under which it was acquired.

“The behavior by the Forest Service is most irresponsible, and it amounts to the unlawful taking of private property,” said Stephen W. Rhoads, POGAM president. “State records show that fewer than 50 wells, all of them permitted prior to the drilling ban imposed on January 1, have been drilled in the Allegheny National Forest during 2009. The Forest Service has prevented the drilling of between 200-300 wells that would have otherwise occurred. These undrilled wells translate into private investment of nearly $100 million and jeopardize hundreds of good-paying jobs in the region. The action of the Forest Service amounts to a full-scale assault on the economic health of the families and communities living in and around the Allegheny National Forest.”

Private oil and gas development within the Allegheny National Forest accounts for at least 20 percent of Pennsylvania’s oil production and as much as 10 percent of Pennsylvania’s natural gas production. It contributes tens of millions of dollars annually into the regional economy of northwest Pennsylvania and western New York.

For decades, the U.S. Forest Service and the oil and natural gas industry have worked cooperatively to manage oil and gas development. The petition represents a strong consensus among citizens and local community leaders about the importance of this industry and the condemnation of the Forest Services’ current management practices to immobilize the region’s economic recovery and progress.

St. Mary Completes First Two Wells in McKean County, PA

St. Mary Land & Exploration (Nov 2):
St. Mary Provides Operational Update; Updates Performance Guidances for 2009

From a press release from St. Mary Land & Exploration, a drilling company headquartered in Denver, CO:

St. Mary has drilled and completed its first two horizontal wells in this program. The wells are the Potato Creek 1H and the Potato Creek 3H (both SM 70% WI). These wells are located in McKean County, Pennsylvania. The Company is currently laying a temporary sales pipeline to test the first well. As a reminder, St. Mary has a total acreage position of approximately 41,000 net acres in McKean and Potter Counties in north central Pennsylvania.

Six Regulators Police Drilling in Eastern Half of PA

Wayne Independent (Nov 2):
Few regulators in place for natural-gas drilling

At a recent meeting in Preston Township (Pennsylvania), Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officials talked about their role in inspecting gas drilling operations in the Marcellus Shale. The article attempts to make the case there are far too few inspectors for the growing number of drilling locations. In the eastern half of Pennslvania there are only six DEP officers whose job it is to monitor drilling activity and water supplies. The DEP is requesting three more, but with the recent state budget cuts, the additional positions are not assured.

There was one bit of interesting information for landowners in Wayne and surrounding counties in the article:

Although Wayne County has had only two natural gas wells drilled in the past two years, other areas in the region have experienced a rapid proliferation of production sites including in Susquehanna, Bradford, and Tioga counties. Hundreds of drill sites are expected to come online by the end of next year in the eastern office’s jurisdiction.

Talisman Energy Expanding in Pennsylvania

Talisman Energy (Nov 3):
Press Release: Talisman Energy Reports $838 Million Cash Flow in Third Quarter

Talisman Energy, an oil and gas drilling company headquartered in Calgary, Alerta (Canada), reports the following in a recent press release:

The Company has added over 170,000 net acres of high quality land in the Pennsylvania Marcellus and Montney shale plays, investing approximately $570 million, the majority of it subsequent to September 30.

Production from the Pennsylvania Marcellus shale play was over 50 mmcf/d [million cubic feet per day] at the end of October. A total of 31 gross wells have been drilled year-to-date and a third rig has been added, with plans to move to six rigs by year end.