Will West Virginia ever get its own ethane cracker plant? It will if Aither Chemicals, based in South Charleston, WV has any say in the matter. MDN has been following the Aither story for some time. Aither Chemicals, a spin-off/subsidiary of Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research & Innovation Center, was established to build and operate ethane cracker plants that use modern technology making the plants smaller and less expensive to build and operate than tradition cracker plants (see this MDN story for background).
Aither had a deal in principle with Bayer CropScience and MarkWest Energy to build one of these “new” kinds of cracker plants in the Charleston, WV area. That deal was set to be officially announced in mid-March (see this MDN story). But then the wheels came off the wagon and all was silent. No deal, no announcement. Until now.
MDN came across this handy map from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing the shale plays across all of the 48 lower U.S. states. Print it out and keep it handy for when you read the news, which each day seems to bring a new story about shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing. This map will be your guide to where the news is happening.
You certainly can’t miss the news in the mainstream media that Chesapeake Energy has appointed five new board members and has “stripped” CEO Aubrey McClendon of his chairmanship (“stripped” even though weeks ago McClendon announced he would voluntarily step down from the role of chairman when a new chairman was found, such are the vagaries of headline writers).
Gulfport Energy reports it has just completed drilling the two longest horizontal Utica Shale wells—ever. The horizontal portion for one of the wells, located in Harrison County, Ohio, went over 1.5 miles.
Sand is a key ingredient in the hydraulic fracturing process. A special kind of sand, referred to as crystalline sand, is injected into cracks made during fracturing and stays in the cracks, propping them open so the gas can continue to come out (which is why it’s called a “proppant”). More sand will be on the way to the Marcellus and Utica region due to a new agreement between U.S. Silica, the nation’s second-largest sand producer, and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP). CP will be the exclusive rail shipper for U.S. Silica’s new frack sand facility being constructed in Wisconsin.
From the CP press release announcing the exclusive deal with U.S. Silica:
A CNBC “special report” asks the question: Who’s Winning the Natural Gas Game? The special report is actually a series of articles they’ve posted looking at various aspects of natural gas, including the controversy over the hydraulic fracturing of shale gas.
Part of the special report includes a poll. The poll itself, although an unscientific sample, illustrates the ongoing split in opinion of the general population on the issue of fracking. The poll asks, “Is Shale-Gas Fracking Environmentally Safe?” Here’s the results as of this morning when MDN voted:
Sadly, we have to add the National Wildlife Federation to the list of rabid anti-drilling groups. In fact, a check of the NWF website shows they’ve drunken so deeply from the anti-everything pool they’re beyond redemption. The latest “wild” charge they’re making (pun intended) is that natural gas drilling, specifically fracking in Ohio and Michigan, will use excessive amounts of water from the Great Lakes and is an imminent danger to people and animals.