Is the Lucky Five counties in New York that will see drilling now the Lucky Four? You may recall a few weeks ago the New York Times, using an unnamed source inside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration (cough *Andy* cough), floated a “trial balloon” plan that will allow high volume hydraulic fracturing, i.e. fracking, for a limited number of permits in five Southern Tier counties for a two-year period: Broome, Chenango, Chemung, Steuben and Tioga (see this MDN story).
One of New York’s largest landowner coalition groups, CNY Landowner’s Coalition, represents Chenango County—one of the Lucky Five. They have reliable “inside” sources that tell them Chenango County may not be included in the limited, two-year experiment. And they are marshaling their members to make noise about it.
Below is an email received by MDN on July 3 from the CNY Landowner’s Coalition outlining the rumor they’ve heard, and what they want members to do about it.
Eastern parts of Pennsylvania that sit within the boundaries of the Delaware River Basin have been locked in a drilling moratorium since the Marcellus drilling boom began. Eastern PA has the misfortune of sitting inside the boundaries of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), which delayed a vote to allow drilling in November 2011. That vote has still not taken place.
Carol Collier, executive director of the DRBC, made an impromptu visit with Wayne County, PA landowners while in the area last week, and updated them on the “progress” being made on adoption of new drilling rules. She told landowner coalition representatives there are two reasons why new drilling rules for the Delaware River Basin will not be voted on before November 2012 at the earliest: (1) They’re waiting to see what New York does, and (2) they’re waiting for the Nov. 6 election.
Some West Virginia landowners who feel shortchanged with low drilling signing bonuses ($5 per acre) and royalty rates (12.5%) are holding out for better deals to run pipelines across their property, and that’s leading to a slow-down of new wells coming online in the state, according to a former DEP representative.
Counties being affected by the slowdown include Ohio, Brooke and Hancock. Typically pipeline easements are a one-time payment, like a signing bonus, and are based on a per foot price. How high will those prices go? Some of the numbers being tossed about are breathtaking.
Drilling rigs take a lot of horsepower to run, and the engines that run them are big and use a lot of fuel. That fuel is typically diesel, and the emissions may (or may not) cumulatively contribute to air pollution if there are enough drilling rigs in a particular region. At least that’s the contention of the federal EPA.
EQT, in a public relations coup, is the first to start converting its Marcellus Shale drilling rigs from running on diesel to running on liquefied natural gas (LNG). LNG has a couple of advantages: it costs about 40% less than diesel, and it pollutes less when burned. EQT’s first conversion is a rig operating in northern West Virginia.
The City of Salem, Ohio, which straddles both Columbiana and Mahoning counties, is due to sign a three-year oil and gas lease with Chesapeake Energy today for 381 acres of land owned by the city.
The deal calls for an initial $3,500 per acre signing bonus and 20% royalties, with an additional $3,500 per acre for a three-year extension. All told, it will be $7,000 per acre for a six-year lease—one of the highest amounts MDN has seen (if the three-year extension is exercised).
It wasn’t a happy July 4th at the Yoder Unit 1H Marcellus well in Leroy Township (Bradford County), PA. The well, in the process of being drilled by Chief Oil and Gas, experienced a leak of 4,700 gallons of hydrochloric acid from a faulty valve. Most of the acid stayed on the drill pad, but some of it ran off into a local “plunge pool” constructed by Chief and killed some minnows. Fortunately, the acid never reached nearby Towanda Creek and did not create a safety hazard for nearby landowners.
Oh joy. Anti-fossil fuel, anti-drilling hippie wannabes will convene in (where else) Washington, D.C. on July 28th for a protest against fracking (the sex is free but bring your own drugs). Hollywood stars and starlets will be in attendance to whip up the faithful—like Mark Ruffalo, Ed Asner, Josh Fox and Margot Kidder.
Titled “Stop the Frack Attack,” community organizers and other protesters will lead a rally and march from the West Lawn of the Capitol at 2 pm on Saturday, July 28.