There’s a storm brewing you need to know about. But it’s actually more like a tempest in a teapot. There’s nothing “there” in this story, except posturing by anti-drillers. With that proviso…
The Albany Times Union reports in today’s edition (in a story posted online last night) that last year, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) sent preview drafts for a few sections of the proposed new drilling rules (called the SGEIS) to “the industry” in August, a few weeks before the official release of the latest version of the SGEIS in September. Why would the DEC “leak” it to the industry first? Conspiracy? Cozy relationship? No. The DEC shared a few select portions because state law requires the DEC to seek feedback from those who would be regulated by the new rules.
Here’s the non-news news: About 100 protesters from Ithaca and New York City showed up for a 30-minute “hit and run” protest in front of Talisman Energy’s offices in Big Flats, NY (near Corning, in Chemung County). The rabble rousers, led by Shaleshock, made wild claims about Talisman polluting the environment and read a statement claiming they’ll lay down in front of trucks if drilling begins in New York. In less than a half hour from the time they arrived, they were “escorted” from the premises, where they were illegally protesting (it’s private property).
There’s a new name in drillers coming to the Marcellus Shale: Yaterra Ventures. In a press release yesterday (see below), Yaterra announced they they are close to concluding negotiations to take over the leases for 150 wells on 1,600 acres in western Pennsylvania. Yaterra does not mention who the potential seller is. It strikes MDN as unusual that Yaterra would issue a press release prior to the deal closing, but sometimes these high finance deals escape our understanding!
One thing we do understand from the release: Yaterra is not after natural gas in the Marcellus. They’re after shale oil.
A topic we don’t write very much about is Marcellus Shale drilling in Virginia. The reason? Two reasons really: There’s only a small sliver along the western edge that sits in the Marcellus play, and most Virginians are dead set against fracking (even though it’s already in use in the state today). So there has been no Marcellus drilling in VA to date. Will that change?
A wide-ranging article in Virginia Business titled “Virginia’s Burning Question” addresses the issue of whether, and when, drilling will take place in the state. A small section of that article:
CONSOL Energy’s drilling in Ohio’s Utica Shale is now under way and ramping up rapidly, according to CONSOL’s Harry Schurr who spoke Wednesday at a workshop on the campus of Kent State University. They’ve already drilled their first Utica well in Tuscarawas County, and they plan to drill 15 more this year. CONSOL also has a joint venture with Hess. Hess plans to drill six Utica wells this year.
Last year the Philadelphia region was hard-hit when both Sunoco and ConocoPhillips announced they would shut down a combined three refineries in the area. Since then, ConocoPhillips sold its refinery for $180 million to Delta Air Lines which will convert and use the plant for jet-fuel production. Sunoco is in talks to sell its one of two refineries (in Philly) to a joint venture headed by the Carlyle Group—but if that doesn’t develop, they’re going to shut it down.
And then there’s the Marcus Hook refinery, which closed it doors “for good” in April. Officials from the town of Marcus Hook and Delaware County are working hard to get it reopened. As part of that process, they commissioned a $100,000 study, just released, from IHS Consulting. The study identifies seven possible uses for the idled refinery, and pegs its best chances of reopening based on the abundance of natural gas and gas liquids coming from the Marcellus and Utica Shale region.
In a speech delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson said fears about climate change, drilling and even energy dependence on other countries are all overblown. He said he believes burning fossil fuels does lead to global warming, but it’s no big deal and certainly not an impending cataclysm. He also said the press and environmentalists are manufacturing fear about fracking and fossil fuels.
Perhaps the most controversial thing he said is that the general public is “illiterate” when it comes to science and math.