William Zagorski, “Father of the Marcellus Shale”

William Zagorski, geologist and musician, is credited as being the “Father of the Marcellus Shale.” It’s an interesting story how he convinced Range Resources to try drilling in the Marcellus using hydraulic fracturing. Mr. Zagorski even has a music CD! Read the story of the beginning of drilling in the Marcellus Shale and about the man who pioneered it:

PA Observer-Reporter (Mar 7) – Riding high on the range, the ‘Father of the Marcellus Shale’ leading a busy life these days

While Albany Dithers on Marcellus Drilling, Landowner Profits Evaporate

George Phillips, a Republican candidate for the 22nd Congressional District in New York State, penned a viewpoint article in today’s Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin on the topic of drilling in the Marcellus Shale. In short, Mr. Phillips is pro-drilling while the man who currently holds that office, Maurice Hinchey (Democrat) is anti-drilling and supports federal government interference. While the article takes political aim at his opponent, Mr. Phillips makes strong arguments on why drilling should commence—now.

He closes his article with this:

But the window of opportunity may be closing. As more areas of the country move forward with plans to develop these types of resources, prices naturally fall as supply increases. This leaves our residents waiting, watching potential profits and opportunities evaporate as others reap these benefits while our government dithers.*

Ah yes, the dithering officials in Albany. Albany needs to move forward now. Other shale plays are becoming active, and the Pennsylvania Marcellus is red hot. If Albany drags on much longer with their obstruction of drilling, landowners will be the ones who suffer.

We also hope, along with Mr. Phillips, that the federal government (and Mr. Hinchey) stay out of states’ business.

*Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin (Mar 8th) – Clear way for drilling

Marcellus Leasing & Drilling in the West Virginia Panhandle Heats Up

West Virginia Marcellus Shale is getting hot. From an article* in the Steubenville (OH) Herald-Star, we get a mountain of good intelligence on what energy companies have and are paying in the West Virginia panhandle:

  • AB Resources is paying the New Vrindaban Hare Krishna Community in Marshall County $2,500 per acre for approximately 4,000 acres, and 18.75 percent production royalties. That works out to $10 million in lease payments.
  • Chesapeake paid $750 per acre and 14 percent royalties to the Wheeling Park Commission for leases in the Oglebay and Wheeling Parks in 2009. The park commissioner is not happy that Chesapeake is planning to pay more this year to lease public lands in neighboring Ohio County.
  • Chesapeake paid $2,800 per acre and 18.75 percent production royalties last month to the Marshall County Board of Education for rights to 177 acres in Sherrard.
  • Chesapeake has 11,000 acres under lease in Ohio County, and 45,000 acres (with 26 wells drilled) in Marshall County.
  • Trans Energy owns and operates 300 active wells in Marshall, Wetzel and Marion counties, with 40,000 acres under lease.

Also, according to the article:

Current lease contracts range from as low as $5 per acre to as high as $2,800 per acre, with production royalties ranging from 12.5 percent to 18.75 percent. Landowners are being urged to think carefully before signing any contract.*

*Steubenville Herald-Star (Mar 8th) – Steubenville Herald-Star – Natural gas could bring riches to Panhandle

Skaneateles High School Airs Both Sides of the Marcellus Drilling Debate

Kudos to the Skaneateles High School Environmental Club for the public meeting they held on hydraulic fracturing on January 23rd at the High School auditorium. Yes, the members of the club are no doubt anti-drilling and they had several speakers who presented the anti-drilling viewpoint. And yes, they showed the biased anti-drilling “documentary” Split Estate.

But to their credit, the Environmental Club also balanced it with someone who presented the pro-drilling side of the argument. That person was David Palmerton, a geologist and environmental consultant, and someone who’s actually developed oil and gas wells.

With regard to the likelihood that chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing will pollute water aquifers, Mr. Palmerton said:

“I can tell you as a geologist that putting water in 7,000 feet down, which is some 6,500 feet below any possible water supply, is not going to reach that water supply,” Palmerton said. “It’s trapped by the pressure of the rock.”

A question was also raised about what is done with the “frack fluid” once it is reclaimed.

Palmerton agreed with [Onondaga Nation General Counsel Joseph] Heath’s earlier point that there were not enough facilities to treat the wastewater.

“But, once it’s clear that oil and gas development can proceed, companies will come in, will develop those facilities,” he said. “There’s a lot of money that’s out there that’s ready to be invested in those facilities.”*

Some common sense words. Let’s hope the young members of the Environmental Club were listening. Hats off to them for airing both sides.

*Skaneateles Press (Mar 8th) – Fracking finds supporters, opponents at SHS