Today is the latest deadline from New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens to file comments on New York’s proposed new drilling rules, known as the SGEIS. Yesterday, both pro- and anti-drilling groups descended on Albany with thousands of letters of support (or opposition). Prior to yesterday the DEC reported having received over 20,000 written statements. That number, after yesterday, is likely to double.
According to police reports, between midnight and 8:30 am early Tuesday, someone intentionally tampered with a tank on a well pad in Bradford County, PA, resulting in a spill of up to 20,000 gallons of fracking wastewater. Fortunately the wastewater was contained in a plastic liner designed for just such a scenario. There are no reports that the wastewater escaped the containment area. PA State Police are investigating.
An update on the Teamsters’ strike that has brought Marcellus Shale pipeline construction to a halt in several locations. On Jan. 3, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) announced that as many as 700 pipeline construction workers were preparing to strike against the Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA) over a contract that originally expired in January 2011 but was extended until Dec. 31, 2011 (see this MDN story). The Teamsters said the PLCA “wants to force Teamsters into a 401(k) savings plan and ultimately eliminate all traditional defined benefit pensions.”
The PLCA has responded with their side of the story. Their response? The Teamsters “misstate the facts” of the dispute (i.e., they’re lying). The PLCA says they do not want to end traditional defined benefit pensions, and that if the PLCA were to put retirement benefits into the new pension fund preferred by the Teamsters, it would put workers’ retirement at risk as the new fund (like the old one in dispute) is nearing insolvency without a government bailout.
Two days ago MDN reported, based on copies of paperwork filed with Monroe County, Ohio, that Exxon Mobil via its subsidiary XTO Energy had acquired 13,200 acres of Utica Shale gas leases from Beck Energy (see this MDN story). It turns out there’s more to the story.
MDN received a copy of an additional purchase agreement between Beck and Exxon for another 7,627 acres, for a total deal between the two companies of 20,827 acres of leases in Monroe County. The new/second agreement appears to be property held by Beck with delayed rental payments—that is, property where there is currently no active drilling.
An analysis of hotel occupancy rates in northeast Pennsylvania by PKF Consulting, published on Hotel Online, shows the huge impact Marcellus Shale gas drilling is having in the region. PKF reports that revenue per available room (RevPAR) has grown at an annual rate of 14.8 percent from 2007 to 2011. Additionally, the average daily room rate (ADR) has grown a “remarkable” 7.8 percent annually during the same period. Compare PA’s northeast Marcellus hotels with national averages for the same period, which were 1.7 percent RevPAR and 0.7 percent ADR.