CONSOL Energy is a long-time coal producing company and now the third largest player (by acreage) in the Marcellus Shale after buying Dominion Resource’s gas exploration and production division (for $3.5 billion). So what’s next for CONSOL? Water!
CONSOL already traps and treats millions of gallons of water from the coal mining operations they have. They now plan to reuse that water for their Marcellus Shale drilling operations, and perhaps even sell it to their drilling competitors.
“We already have access to all this water that we already own and already treat,” running from underground mines such as the Bailey-Emerald complex in Greene and Washington counties, [Consol CEO J. Brett] Harvey said.
“We are actually going into the water business, I would say,” he said. Natural gas “was a byproduct of coal, and we built a gas company. Now it looks like water is a byproduct of all this (coal production), and we’ll probably develop great water resources for the state.”
Each [coal] mine treats and discharges millions of gallons each year. Consol will spend $200 million to $300 million over the next five years to build four or five new water treatment plants in Marcellus areas, he said, adding, “I’d love to be in the position where I am selling water to all our competitors” who now buy water from municipalities and other sources.
The idea is gaining momentum elsewhere.
“The reusing of acid mine drainage for fracking is a viable alternative to using surface and ground water,” Radisav Vidic, chairman of the civil and environmental engineering department at the University of Pittsburgh, told an audience at a Marcellus Shale conference yesterday at Duquesne University.*
*Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (May 5) – Consol pegs water as next business move
A recent meeting of the Wyoming County (PA) Chamber of Commerce saw over 400 members, mostly from area small businesses, networking and listening to presenters who have already reaped financial rewards from Marcellus drilling activity in the area. Two examples:
Early on as the industry developed in Susquehanna County about 18 months ahead of Wyoming County, [Bill Kelley of Taylor Rental] noted an occasional need for drillers to borrow rental equipment when something broke down. Not only did Kelley enhance his inventory, but in the intervening months he saw a need and created a new spinoff business known as BX3 Oilfield Supply. He enlarged his workforce to handle the clients.
Art Carpenter who oversees the Skidder Shop just out Rt. 92 south of Tunkhannock said his business has become a franchise dealer for water tankers and frankly can’t keep the rigs that run around $170,000 on the lot long enough.*
It’s not only landowners and energy companies who benefit from drilling—the entire community benefits.
*The Susquehanna Independent Weekender (May 5) – Gas boom creating opportunity
Talisman Energy is selling off its conventional gas properties and shifting investment to shale gas properties:
Talisman Energy Inc, Canada’s No.4 independent oil and gas explorer, said on Wednesday it is boosting its U.S. shale gas holdings, as it reported an operating profit that trumped expectations.
Shale gas regions have emerged as the leading source of new natural gas supplies over the past few years, pushing up production of the fuel as new drilling techniques lower the cost of exploiting the massive reserves locked in the shale.
Talisman is selling off much of its conventional gas properties to concentrate on its shale holdings, with the bulk of its spending on the Marcellus shale region around Pennsylvania and the Montney region of northeastern British Columbia.*
*MSN/Reuters (May 5) – Talisman says shale strategy at turning point
Below is an “Issue Alert” published by Energy in Depth (EID) on May 4th—reprinted here with permission. EID is an online educational website sponsored by oil and gas producing associations from across the U.S. It’s mission is to respond to half-truths and outright falsehoods with science and facts. They do an excellent job. The piece below is an important read to help set the record straight about hydraulic fracturing. In recent months, “fracking” has been made out to be dangerous and unsafe and the hue and cry is to outlaw it as a method of harvesting natural gas. EID does a great job in responding to the charges being leveled against this important and safe (and 60-year-old) technology.
Energy in Depth (May 4 Issue Alert) – Evidence is Not the Plural of Anecdote
EID responds to NRDC’s running list of conjectures and distortions targeting safety, performance of hydraulic fracturing
Last month, our friends over at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) started up a running tally on their blog identifying “incidents where drinking water has been contaminated and hydraulic fracturing is a suspected cause.”
Of course, in a country with more than 470,000 active natural gas wells in operation, providing American consumers with more than 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas each year, the unfortunate (and inevitable) reality of the situation is that the occasional incident will occur. And since a good number of these wells depend on fracturing to be viable, it’s also inevitable that those who oppose the use of hydraulic fracturing on ideological grounds (as opposed to scientific ones) will continue to blame the heavily regulated, 60-year-old technology for just about everything that may go wrong under the sun.
In a lot of ways, hydraulic fracturing has become the victim of its own success. Almost universally regarded as the sine-qua-non of energy production in America today, hydraulic fracturing—coupled with horizontal drilling technology—allows operators today to produce more than 10 times the amount of energy by drilling fewer than 1/10th the number of wells.
That this is great news for the environment is so self-evident as to require no further explanation. But smaller footprints aside, it also allows us to tap an abundance of resources that simply could not be accessed without it. And that’s the thing: NRDC would prefer these resources be kept in the ground—and at least has the courage to say so. But it knows the way to do that isn’t to attack the jobs, revenue or people associated with bringing this extraordinary resource to the surface. It knows it can’t attack the carpenter. So it’s decided to attack his tools instead.