MDN Weekly Update – Mar 18, 2012: Shell Cracker, Dimock Water

Shell plant locationIt certainly has been an eventful week. Two stories loomed large. The first was Shell’s announcement on Thursday that they have signed a letter of intent with Horsehead Corporation for a zinc processing plant location in Monaca, PA (Beaver County) as the location where they intend to build a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker plant (see this MDN story). See an aerial photograph of the plant location by clicking the image on the right (courtesy of ShaleNavigator).

Building a petrochemical plant of this size in the Appalachian region is an amazing benefit to the entire northeastern economy and will be for years to come. The only “downside” (if you can call it that) is that construction to build the plant is at least two years away. Still, this is a huge vote of confidence in the Marcellus and Utica Shale and it’s potential. As one commenter pointed out, Shell has run the numbers in their spreadsheets, basing their decision on economics—and their spreadsheets tell them the Marcellus and Utica are winners.

The other major news from this past week was that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the first round of water test results from their own testing in Dimock, PA and has found the water is safe to drink (see this MDN story). The families suing Cabot Oil & Gas hoping for a big payday are not happy with the EPA results. MDN wondered where Josh Fox and his banjo, and Mark Ruffalo and his “spotless mind” were? They were no place to be found around Dimock—but then Dimock was always just a stage prop for them anyway—a way to gain yet another 15 minutes of national attention.

The EPA test results are not yet all done, but this first round certainly seems to indicate the EPA will perhaps finally butt out of Dimock.

The Dimock situation fosters this week’s poll question: Were you surprised that the EPA found no water problems in Dimock? Not, “Were you happy?” or “Were you distressed?” But, did it surprise you? It would be a surprise if you expected the EPA to find water problems. MDN is interested in knowing what your expectations were with EPA’s testing.

Head on over to the right side of any page and register your vote.

poll resultsLast Week’s Poll Results

Last week MDN asked your opinion on whether or not plans like that being promoted by Gov. John Kasich in Ohio to “spread the wealth” by taxing drilling (one group) to give it to another group via lower taxes, is a good idea. The majority said no, it’s not a good idea.

Is it OK to tax shale drilling and share the proceeds with all citizens via an income tax cut?

No (52%, 135 Votes)
Yes (40%, 105 Votes)
Not sure (8%, 22 Votes)

Total Voters: 262

Coming This Week – MDN’s First Paid Publication

MDN editor Jim Willis is super excited to announce MDN’s first paid publication will become available this week. It’s called “Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook 2012.” The Databook is a 116-page comprehensive guide to drilling in the Marcellus and Utica Shale. Chock full of maps showing where permits have been issued, including details on drillers, pipelines and regulations, I believe you will find this new publication indispensable if you have an interest in shale drilling in the Marcellus and Utica. Watch the MDN site this week for a special announcement!

Below are the most recent “top 5” lists and the calendar of Marcellus-related events for the next two weeks.

Happy reading,
Jim Willis, Editor

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