Funny how those who oppose drilling want there to be plenty of rules (i.e. regulations) that would govern every aspect of drilling, but when it comes to following rules themselves, they don’t want to. Witness the arrest yesterday of Josh Fox, so-called documentary film maker and creator of the anti-fracking propaganda film Gasland when he tried to film a House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee hearing without proper credentials:
In a U.S. House subcommittee hearing yesterday, EPA Regional Administrator James Martin backed off EPA’s previous stance that fracking causes groundwater contamination—at least not anywhere outside of Pavillion, Wyoming. You may recall the hubbub when the EPA released a preliminary report in December that “theorized” hydraulic fracturing in the Pavillion, WY area “may have” caused chemical contamination of “some” water wells in the Pavillion area (see this MDN story).
According to David Sterman, a 20-year investment analyst writing on the Seeking Alpha website, the commodity price for natural gas has likely bottomed out in the U.S. and will now slowly rebound. Natural gas is currently trading around $2.45 per thousand cubic feet (mcf). Goldman Sachs believes by the end of this year prices should be around $3.75 mcf, moving to $4.25 in 2013, and $5.50 in 2014.
How does the commodity price of natural gas affect landowners? It costs drillers roughly $2.30 mcf to drill, pipeline and sell natural gas, so if prices hit that level, production stops. As the price falls into the sub $3.00 range, drillers slow production, stop production, or shift production from dry gas (methane-only) areas to more lucrative wet gas (natural gas liquids) areas.
In areas where there is active drilling, like northeast and southwest Pennsylvania, near the end of completing a gas well is a process called flaring—when some of the gas and other impurities are burned off. Sometimes flaring a well, which results in a large flame coming out of the well, can be seen up to 10 miles away, which catches neighbors by surprise. Tony Gaudlip from Range Resources explains the flaring process, and why it’s not used as much as it once was.
Commissioners for Washington County, PA will vote today on modifying an agreement they have with Range Resources to allow drilling for gas at a county-owned park. The revisions will limit how much time Range has to complete drilling and extracting natural gas, and it also ups the royalty percentage.
NiSource, which owns and operates over 15,000 miles of interstate natural gas pipelines, will build a new Marcellus Shale pipeline “through western Pennsylvania” they announced yesterday. Details, including the one driller signed on so far, are thin. Here is what we know:
The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: