PA Oil and Gas Association, Independent Oil and Gas Association Merging into One Organization

From the press announcement:

WEXFORD, PA – The Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association (POGAM) and the Independent Oil and Gas Association of Pennsylvania (IOGA) today announced they have unanimously voted to merge their organizations to create a single, comprehensive trade association representing oil and natural gas interests throughout Pennsylvania.  The new organization, named the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA), will represent approximately 700 members, including oil and natural gas producers, drilling contractors and service companies, as well as various professional firms, individuals and royalty owners.

“The Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association will draw upon the combined expertise of our independent associations to better serve the needs of our member organizations, which represent the leading oil and natural gas producers working in the Commonwealth,” said PIOGA President and Executive Director Lou D’Amico. “By joining forces as one, unified voice, we will expand our mission to achieve even greater success for our members, including our role as liaison with other associations, companies, government and regulatory agencies to foster proactive communication, regulatory and policy development, work force and safety training, and continued education and growth within all segments of the industry.”

PIOGA will be based in Wexford, Pa. and will employ a five-person staff, responsible for planning and implementing the association’s mission. In addition, PIOGA’s merged 29-member board will provide oversight, as well as govern the strategic planning and direction of key deliverables, while various committees oversee transportation, safety, environmental, and exploration and production initiatives. PIOGA will host an annual meeting, a large-scale conference and trade show, as well as yearly industry seminars, public educational meetings, and community events.

“This merger is an important milestone in leveraging the industry’s common goal to operate under a unified framework that advances the responsible exploration and production of both the Marcellus Shale and other oil and gas producing formations throughout the Appalachian Basin,” said current POGAM Chairman Frederick Fesenmyer. “The entire industry is experiencing unprecedented growth, and the importance of a united, cohesive industry and community advocate cannot be overstated.  PIOGA will equally represent all facets of Pennsylvania’s oil and natural gas industry.”

“We look forward to working closely with other states’ associations to collaborate on key initiatives that advance the industry and ensure the responsible development of our region’s promising domestic energy resources,” said current IOGA Chairman Craig Neal.

The PIOGA board of directors will meet on April 1 to determine the structure and officers of the new association.

*Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association (Mar 30) – Members give unanimous approval to merge PA’s historic, independent oil and gas advocacy groups

Delaware River Basin Commission May Become Roadblock for Drilling in Wayne County, PA and Other Watershed Counties

The City of Philadelphia is voicing their concerns to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) about Stone Energy’s request to hydraulically fracture two previously drilled wells in Wayne County, PA. Stone has also made a request to the Commission to withdraw up to 700,000 gallons of water from the West Branch of the Lackawaxen River in Mount Pleasant Township for drilling. Philly’s 17-member City Council voted unanimously to ask the DRBC to not approve the drilling permits until an environmental impact study can be done first.

An environmental impact study, an intensive and time-consuming endeavor, would determine whether natural gas drilling poses a legitimate threat to the Delaware River watershed, a 13,539-square-mile area that encompasses nearly all of Wayne County and is known for its pristine water quality and world-class trout waters.

Commission spokesman Clarke Rupert said Monday the regulator is considering conducting such a study. A decision on a $250,000 appropriation request by the commission is not expected until late 2010.*

In addition to permission from the State Department of Environmental Protection, drillers in the Delaware River Basin watershed area also need permission from the DRBC before they can drill. If the DRBC is not going to make a decision about whether or not to spend $250K on a study “until late 2010,” and if that study is a “time-consuming endeavor,” that means Stone’s request to drill will not be approved until sometime in 2011 at the earliest.

If you’re a landowner (or driller) in Wayne County, or in other counties located in the Delaware River Basin, you may be in for major delays before drilling begins. Let’s hope the DRBC speeds the process along.

*Water World (Mar 30) – Philadelphia dives in to gas drilling issue in Wayne County

Not All Chenango County, NY Landowners will Benefit from Marcellus Shale Drilling

The Chenango County (NY) Natural Gas Advisory Committee views drilling in the Marcellus Shale as a reality, not a “far off fantasy” that a recent string of articles in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin (from neighboring Broome County, NY) seem to indicate. Good for Chenango County. They’re researching and planning, and they will be ready when drilling begins.

But it seems only the southern parts of Chenango County would be suitable for drilling. Some interesting details (if you’re a landowner in Chenango County) from a recent article:

As far as Chenango County is concerned, when it comes to exploring the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale, energy companies won’t be as interested in the northern half of Chenango County because the formation there is much too shallow. Geologists say the Marcellus lies only 2,000 to 3,000 feet deep north of the town lines of Smithville, Oxford and Guilford versus more than 4,000 feet deep below the demarcation.

Hydraulic fracturing, the controversial technique used to extract natural gas from fissures in organic rich black shale, simply won’t work in formations less than 4,000 feet, and is more likely in depths almost twice that amount.*

MDN points out that hydraulic fracturing is only controversial because anti-drillers make it so. The practice has been around for years (since the late 1940s). So has horizontal drilling. The “new” thing is combining the two together—but even that has been around for years.

Landowners in Chenango County will need to figure out if their land is suitable for drilling. Consult with local landowner groups, and with the County Natural Gas Advisory Committee.

*Norwich Evening Sun (Mar 30) – Planning for Marcellus Shale activity is ‘a reality’

PA Marcellus Shale Coalition Responds to Gov. Ed Rendell’s Fibbing

It seems that someone in Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell’s office is telling fibs about the Marcellus Shale industry (say it ain’t so!). The PA Marcellus Shale Coalition has issued a statement to “set the records straight.” Forthwith:

CANONSBURG, Pa. – Marcellus Shale Coalition President and Executive Director Kathryn Klaber today issued the following statement in response to claims that the natural gas industry declined a meeting requested by Governor Ed Rendell to discuss state policy issues:

“It is important that the Marcellus Shale Coalition clarify the record regarding a meeting planned among industry representatives, Gov. Ed Rendell and other groups, scheduled for the morning of January 19, 2010. The industry did not decline the Governor’s request for a meeting. In fact, invited CEOs went one step further and requested that every member company of the MSC’s Executive Committee and their representatives participate in the meeting along with leaders of the Pennsylvania House and Senate in order to make real progress on the opportunity natural gas presents for the Commonwealth. The MSC team was en route to this scheduled meeting when we were notified by the Governor’s office that the meeting had been canceled due to an emergency trip to Haiti that demanded the Governor’s attention. We regret that the meeting didn’t take place, but understand that he needed to make relief in Haiti his priority that day. In addition, we have clearly indicated our willingness to meet with all engaged stakeholders, including Senate and House leadership, to discuss upcoming policy and legislative issues in the Commonwealth. In fact, our industry reiterated this commitment in a February 9 press statement.

“The Governor has also made reference to public opinion regarding our industry. Our research and observations in the communities where we do business shows that support for our industry continues to grow. Just last week a poll released by a leading Pennsylvania newspaper found that most Pennsylvanians do not support the Governor’s proposed severance tax, which would be the highest in the nation for shale gas producing states. Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians have become partners in the development of our vast natural gas resources by actively signing leases with natural gas producers. Natural gas producers receive requests daily from interested landowners who have not yet signed a lease. Our industry has paid more than $4 billion to landowners in the form of lease and royalty payments, and those numbers will only increase. Thousands of Pennsylvanians are working in the gas industry today, and workforce development programs are expanding across the Commonwealth. Most importantly for the Governor to observe is the $1 billion in total state and local tax revenue that this still-growing industry will create in 2010.

“All of this positive economic activity for Pennsylvanians is taking place at a time when producers will not recover these significant investments for several more years. This is just the beginning and we must work together to maximize the opportunity for the betterment of all Pennsylvanians.”*

*Marcellus Shale Coalition (Mar 30) – Marcellus Shale Coalition Releases Statement to Set the Record Straight on January Meeting with Gov. Rendell