After two years of research and experimental drilling, Chesapeake Energy announced yesterday they have struck oil, natural gas liquids and natural gas in Ohio’s Utica Shale. This new find will boost Chesapeake’s company value by 15-20 billion dollars and is causing quite a sensation among Ohioans.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday released a 604-page set of rule changes that will force oil and gas drillers that use hydraulic fracturing to use new or improved processes and equipment in an attempt to cut the level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other air pollutants they say are emitted during the completion of new and modified hydraulically fractured wells. There are some 25,000 oil and gas wells that are fracked on land in the U.S. each year, so this is will have a major impact on the entire industry.
The new rules will cost the industry 3/4 of a billion dollars by 2015 according to EPA estimates, although they also say the rule changes mean that more methane (natural gas) will not escape into the atmosphere as it is now, and therefore the cost of complying with the new rules will be offset by extra revenue from selling the gas that doesn’t disappear into the atmosphere—that is, “it all comes out in the wash” and evens out. (Gotta love EPA math.)
Here and there, some city municipalities in West Virginia—like Morgantown—have banned hydraulic fracturing and Marcellus shale gas drilling inside, and even outside of their borders. The latest WV city to do so is New Martinsville (Wetzel County). The West Virginia Independent Oil & Gas Association has had enough and is threatening to stop supporting local businesses in cities that have enacted bans.