When the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently told Marcellus Shale drillers in the state to stop hauling wastewater from fracking to municipal sewage treatment plants that are not equipped to fully treat the wastewater by May 19 (see MDN story here), they all committed to comply and indeed did comply. But the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jumped in and demanded detailed plans from six drillers as to just how they planned on treating and disposing of the wastewater once the they stopped using the municipal plants.
The EPA’s deadline for the six drillers to file plans was Wednesday, May 25. Five of the six complied by the deadline:
Wilkes University held a Marcellus Shale drilling forum on Wednesday. According to press reports, the upshot of the meeting was that it will not be impossible, but will certainly be difficult, to get a consensus on natural gas drilling that uses horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Read an excellent roundup of the meeting by clicking the link below.
One bit of information offered during the meeting is interesting to note:
Dominion Transmission, the pipeline transport subsidiary of energy giant Dominion, is being sued over a lease deal in Preston County, West Virginia signed in 1955. Dominion drilled a single well in 1959 which let it retain rights to develop more wells in the future in perpetuity. According to the lawsuit, Dominion assigned the lease rights to its subsidiary Dominion Transmission with plans to someday use the geological formations of the land as a natural gas storage field. Such activity would yield no royalties for the landowners who want to nullify the lease and find someone who will actually drill gas wells on the property, specifically tapping the Marcellus Shale.
A somewhat technical, but informative article on how hydraulic fracturing technology is getting more environmentally friendly was recently published in Drilling Contractor. Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger, Weatherford International, GasFrac Energy Services, Universal Well Services and Frac Tech Services went on the record with Drilling Contractor about the environmental aspects of hydraulic fracturing and “green” developments.
From the introduction of the article we see the critical role fracking plays in natural gas development: