MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources—also known as MarkWest Energy—announced today it is expanding its processing and fractionation capacity in the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia (Marshall County) and Pennsylvania (Washington County). What exactly does that mean, and why should landowners care? MarkWest is a “midstream” company, providing processing, storage, transportation and marketing for natural gas. Think of midstream companies as bridges between energy companies that do the drilling, and the large pipelines that deliver natural gas to buyers. Along the way the gas must get from the well to a processor where it’s cleaned up and separated into different products. There are different types of chemical compounds in “natural gas” and impurities must be removed before it’s saleable. MarkWest provides processing, fractionation (a separation process), pipelines, compressor facilities and more.
The MarkWest announcement means drillers will have more capacity to clean up, transport and market the gas they discover. More capacity expands the market. The MarkWest announcement says they have “reached definitive agreements” which will allow them to expand operations, but it does not say which energy companies those agreements have been made with.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a good account of a meeting between Range Resources and residents from the Murrysville (Westmoreland County, PA) area about Range’s plan to drill a Marcellus Shale gas well in that area.
Range Resources has submitted a plan to drill on a 6.1-acre parcel that is near the intersection of Saltsburg and Logans Ferry roads, an area that is in close proximity to the Murrysville/Plum border, along with the heavily traveled Golden Mile Highway and several business and residential areas.
A packed audience in the Franklin Regional High School auditorium listened intently, then lathered the Range Resources contingent with questions about how the drilling—scheduled to begin in late 2010 or early 2011—will affect those living in the affected area.*
Water contamination, truck traffic, road damage and other questions were discussed in a 3-hour session with Range. Read the full article for more.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is not happy with what it says is lack of progress on the part of Cabot Oil & Gas in the remediation of methane contamination of water supplies in Dimock Township, PA. The DEP blames Cabot for the methane contamination. Cabot claims they really aren’t at fault and are being unfairly blamed for a naturally occurring phenomenon (migrating natural gas).*
Today’s consent order from the DEP stipulates that Cabot must:
Plug three wells believed to be the source of the migrating methane gas—within 40 days.
Install permanent water treatment systems in the affected 14 homes.
Pay $30,000 per month in fines, starting in May, until all obligations are met.
The DEP is immediately suspending reviews of any pending Cabot permits to drill elsewhere in the entire state.
Cabot is barred from drilling any new gas wells in Dimock Township for at least one year.
HARRISBURG, Pa., April 15 — A road use permit issued to Chesapeake Energy Corporation for moving its drilling trucks and other equipment over State Route 1007 in Bradford County was revoked because of the company’s failure to deal with severe damage to the roadway, Transportation Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E., announced today.
Chesapeake was granted a permit to put heavy trucks and equipment on the road, known locally as Spring Hill Road in Tuscarora and Stevens townships. The road normally has a 10-ton weight restriction, and Chesapeake’s permit carried the understanding the company would be responsible for repairs.
“Chesapeake may not use this route until it makes the required repairs,” Biehler said. “We understand the importance of Marcellus Shale drilling to the region’s economy, but we will remain vigilant in requiring action to keep the roads safe and properly maintained for public use.”
PennDOT revoked the permit after Chesapeake failed to respond to two notices of unsafe conditions on the roadway. Under the terms of the permit, Chesapeake is to proactively monitor pavement conditions and immediately begin repairs as needed to keep the road safe.
On March 1, PennDOT revoked Chesapeake’s permit for State Route 1001 in Bradford County for the same reasons. The permit was restored after the road was closed for about one week and the company made the required repairs.