EPA Director of Drinking Water Protection says States are “Doing a Good Job Already” Regulating Hydraulic Fracturing

Brad Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, recently responded to an article in The Buffalo News supporting regulation of hydraulic fracturing by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Marcellus Drilling News considers the EPA proposal way out of line and a federal power grab that is unwarranted and illegal. Seems that Mr. Gill thinks so too. From his letter to the editor:

All processes related to natural gas exploration and extraction are regulated by the states which, because of their vast geological differences, can do a more thorough job. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency would never be able to regulate these processes efficiently or cost-effectively. In fact, Steve Heare, director of EPA’s drinking water protection office, recently said states are “doing a good job already” regulating hydraulic fracturing, adding that there is no evidence that suggests the process contaminates water.*

Be sure to click through and read the rest of the letter. Great summary of why hydraulic fracturing is safe, and why drilling should move forward now.

*The Buffalo News (Mar 22) – Brad Gill: Hydraulic fracturing issues are already answered

Mesa Energy Using Conventional Vertical Drilling for Two Marcellus Gas Wells in Western NY

It seems hardly a day doesn’t go by that Marcellus Drilling News doesn’t observe a new press release, interview or other mention of Mesa Energy and their recent drive into gas drilling in Western New York State. The latest is a clever move by Mesa—they’re converting two of 19 gas wells they own in the Java Field from Medina sandstone to Marcellus Shale wells.

For about 30 years, the 3,235-acre site called Java Field has been home to 19 natural-gas wells, all of them sunk into Medina sandstone. Mesa Energy Holdings recently took ownership of the site, and it has submitted applications to the state Department of Environmental Conservation to convert two of those wells into Marcellus Shale wells.

The DEC hasn’t issued the permits yet, but has posted a notice saying it intends to.

Because Mesa is proposing traditional wells, rather than a deep horizontal well that would use hydraulic fracturing, its project can move ahead.*

What remains to be seen is if the vertical well transformation will yield production levels profitable enough to make it worthwhile.

*Rochester City Newspaper (Mar 22) – Marcellus Shale’s northern promise

Enbridge Building a Pipeline from Southern PA Marcellus Shale to Chicago

Canadian oil and gas pipeline company Enbridge has announced plans to build a pipeline from the Marcellus Shale in Southern PA to the Chicago area.

From the Enbridge press release*:

Enbridge Inc. today announced it intends to develop a natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline from the Marcellus Shale in Southern Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia to markets in the Midwestern United States.

The proposed pipeline is currently targeted to deliver into existing NGL infrastructure in the Chicago area including the Aux Sable facility which processes gas from Alliance pipeline and fractionates NGLs from various supply sources. Additional NGL fractionation capacity is available at the plant.

“The Chicago area has substantial markets to accommodate the large volumes of NGLs that are expected to be associated with future Marcellus production. Other NGL markets, including Ontario, can also be accessed from Chicago utilizing existing infrastructure. This proposed pipeline will provide an excellent long term solution for development of this promising play, as it will enable NGL production to grow unconstrained for many years,” said Stephen J.J. Letwin, Executive Vice President, Gas Transportation & International, Enbridge Inc.

“Enbridge has extensive knowledge and expertise in the areas of NGL fractionation, transportation and marketing. With this proposed pipeline, we are uniquely positioned to help Marcellus producers obtain greater value for their future NGL production” Mr. Letwin said.

Enbridge will develop, construct, own and operate the planned NGL pipeline. The Company is currently evaluating various routing and market alternatives and anticipates moving forward with an open season in the second quarter 2010.

*Enbridge (Mar 22) – Enbridge Announces Plans to Hold Open Season for Proposed Natural Gas Liquids Pipeline from Marcellus Shale to Chicago

Binghamton Natural Gas Summit: How Many Jobs Does Drilling (Really) Create?

Marcellus Shale Workforce Needs Assessment Beyond random speculation, is there really any way to know, scientifically and accurately, just how many drilling-related jobs are being created in the Marcellus Shale? Yes there is! And two of the speakers at the Natural Gas Development Summit held in Binghamton on March 18th at the Regency Hotel, who have extensively studied the issue, laid out their findings for the assembled group.

The speakers were Larry Michael, Executive Director for Workforce & Economic Development with the Pennsylvania College of Technology (PCT), and James Ladlee, County Extension Director with Penn State Cooperative Extension. Both have put in a great deal of time studying the jobs issue. Larry Michael spent six months on the Marcellus Shale jobs issue as a contributing author of PCT’s Marcellus Shale Workforce Needs Assessment study.

What follows are MDN’s notes on this informative session. But we won’t make you read to the end for an answer. According to Messrs. Michael and Ladlee’s findings, every well drilled in the Marcellus Shale generates the equivalent of 12 full-time jobs, in perpetuity—for at least 20 years, as long as the well is active. The slightly longer explanation is, there are many people who work for varying periods of time on a well project, but if you add all of their time together, it would work out to 12 people full-time, ongoing, working directly or indirectly on the well project.

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Binghamton Natural Gas Summit: Video Interview with Bryant La Tourette

At the Binghamton Natural Gas Development Summit held on March 18 at the Binghamton Regency Hotel, Marcellus Drilling News had the pleasure of speaking with Bryant La Tourette, Vice President of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY), the organization sponsoring the event. Bryant is also the president of the Oxford Land Group, a landowner coalition in Chenango County, NY. Bryant unveiled the brand new JLCNY website at the Summit. In our interview, he briefed MDN about the JLCNY and it’s mission, and told us a bit about the new website.

The JLCNY is made up of 37 member landowner coalitions from 17 counties in New York State. In all, there are 800,000 acres and 70,000 people represented in the combined 37 member coalitions. Bryant said to think of the the JLCNY as “the next Farm Bureau,” referring to the American Farm Bureau, an advocacy group for farmers and others who work in agriculture, to give them a voice. In the same way, the JLCNY seeks to give a voice to landowners who want to profit from their land via natural gas drilling.

The new website, which can be found at //jlcny.org, provides information for landowners from the very beginning stages of signing a lease through receiving royalty payments and beyond. Bryant points out, however, that the site will be particularly helpful as a resource for landowners who have already signed. For those landowners, it will answer the question, “What comes next?”