In February of this year, Chevron completed a $3.58 billion purchase of Atlas Energy Inc. (headquartered in Moon Township, PA) with gas leases for 622,000 acres in the Marcellus Shale. Chevron is on the move again announcing yesterday it is acquiring an additional 228,000 acres of Marcellus Shale gas leases from Chief Oil & Gas, primarily in southwestern PA. Although Chief is selling off its southwestern PA gas leases, it plans to remain active with its remaining 125,000 acres of gas leases in northeastern PA.
Michael Krancer, secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), has tried (unsuccessfully) to defend a directive to make DEP field inspectors clear all drilling violation citations through Harrisburg first by saying that wasn’t really what he meant. The reality is the policy, whatever its intent, was poorly conceived and poorly executed. Krancer, who previously was an environmental law judge in PA, said the policy was meant to strengthen the citations so they would better stand up if challenged in court, and not an attempt to water down or prevent citations from being issued. Makes no difference. Krancer and the DEP lost the publicity battle and have now reversed the policy.
The borough of Etna, PA, located in Allegheny County (near Pittsburgh) plans to reverse its ban on Marcellus Shale drilling in the borough. The original ban is illegal according to Pennsylvania state law.
Marcellus Shale drillers and regional economic development agencies are trying to interest chemical companies in locating to southwest PA and northern WV by building “cracking plants” that would convert some of the compounds from Marcellus drilling into the raw material used to manufacture plastics and other chemical products. Just one such plant would mean a $1 billion investment, creating thousands of short-term jobs to build the plant, and hundreds of permanent jobs to staff it once built.