NY DEC Continues Secret Meetings with Anti-Drilling Groups

secret meetingIt’s now after Labor Day and still no word about a release of new drilling rules in New York State from the Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Last week MDN passed along word from the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) sounding the alarm that Gov. Cuomo was being pressured to postpone a decision on releasing new fracking rules until after the November election (see this MDN story).

We may now know why they sounded the alarm. In what appears to be a troubling trend, the DEC continues to have informal (we would call them secret) meetings with anti-drilling environmentalist organizations, like the Sierra Club, NRDC and Riverkeeper. If the DEC were doing this with landowner groups there would be an outcry from those very same organizations. At any rate, the latest attempt by anti-drillers to stall the release of fracking rules seems to center on the call for yet another study—this one on potential so-called health affects from drilling.

From the New York Times late last week:

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BP Landmen Very Active in Columbiana County, OH

More evidence of BP expanding their lease purchases in Ohio: Gunter Land Services, a landman agent for BP, has set up offices in Lisbon, Canton and Poland, OH. BP has also set up offices in Warren, OH. The landmen are actively canvassing landowners in the area in hopes of stringing together a new large block of acreage that BP can begin drilling “sometime next year.”

From the Youngstown Business Journal:

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New Shale Wastewater Injection Well Opens in WV

A new deep injection well for oil and gas drilling wastewater has just opened for business in West Virginia. GreenHunter Energy today announced the beginning of official operations for their new 6,100 foot deep injection well in Ritchie County, WV. According to GreenHunter CEO Jonathan Hoopes, they’re already near full capacity with incoming Marcellus and Utica Shale wastewater.

From the press announcement:

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Anti-Drillers Hijack the Keuka Watershed Improvement Cooperative

The board that oversees the Keuka Watershed Improvement Cooperative has voted to request Gov. Andrew Cuomo grant the Keuka watershed (Finger Lakes area of New York) protection against hydraulic fracturing—to put it “off limits”—as will be done with both the New York City and Syracuse watershed areas (if the draft version of the SGEIS drilling rules are passed as written).

But at least one village trustee in the area is concerned that the board has turned the Keuka watershed group into a lobbying (i.e. political) organization, and Penn Yan’s village attorney says the request’s language goes well beyond drilling restrictions.

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PA Lawyers in Act 13 Lawsuit Say State Legislature has “Supreme Authority”

A quick update on the Act 13 lawsuit before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court: Lawyers for the state, on behalf of the governor, the Dept. of Environmental Protection and the Public Utility Commission, filed a 45-page brief yesterday defending the law. The seven towns suing the state to overturn the zoning portions of Act 13 (the part that disallows local municipal control over the siting of drilling and compressor plants, etc.) will file their brief later this month.

Among the arguments made by the state in defending the zoning portion of Act 13:

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Another Gulfport Utica Well in Harrison County Coming Online

Gulfport yesterday reported initial peak results for its Utica Shale well called Boy Scout 1-33H, located in Deersville (Harrison County, OH). Although the flow rates are not as great as Gulport’s recently reported “alpha dog” well, the Wagner 1-H, also in Harrison County (see this MDN story), the new Boy Scout 1-33H is turning in respectable numbers:

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Dominion Turns On Appalachian Gateway Project Pipeline

Dominion Transmission “threw the switch” (or rather opened the valve) to the Appalachian Gateway Project yesterday. The project was 3/4 of a billion dollars spent by Dominion to upgrade and expand existing infrastructure, and to build 110 miles of new pipeline. The end result is a big increase in the amount of Marcellus Shale gas flowing from West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania to markets along the eastern seaboard.

From the Dominion press release:

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An Update on Ohio’s Utica Shale – Facts & Figures

An article in Crain’s Cleveland Business yesterday takes a look at the pattern of investment in the Utica Shale play in Ohio. According to the article, the Utica follows the same model found in other areas of the world: First smaller independent oil and gas companies invest doing the “retail” work of going house to house to get leases signed. They may even drill a few wells. But soon after, larger o&g companies, the “majors” descend and buy up many of those investments.

The article shares some interesting facts and figures about the current status of investment and development of the Utica in Ohio, among them:

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Luzerne County Denies UGI Permit to Build Compressor Station

Sadly, the Luzerne County, PA zoning hearing board has voted to deny UGI Energy Services a permit to build a much-needed compressor station in West Wyoming. The station would help bring low-cost shale gas to local customers. Apparently local customers in Luzerne County prefer paying higher costs for their natural gas.

Here’s what happened last night:

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Delaware Utility Cuts NatGas Rate 14.4% Thanks to Marcellus

Delmarva Power is a utility company serving over a half million residents throughout the state of Delaware. Some 124,000 of those residents also purchase natural gas from Delmarva, and the price they pay for natural gas is plunging 14.4% thanks to the Marcellus Shale and the miracle of hydraulic fracturing. And no, there is no Marcellus drilling in Delaware! The shale gas comes from Pennsylvania and other states.

This is just one (of many) examples of how shale gas benefits everyone—not just energy companies and the landowners who allow drilling on their land and the hundreds of thousands who have jobs because of drilling. Natural gas customers are big beneficiaries too.

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Cabot Effort Raises $4.4 Million for PA Physicians Clinic [Free]

Earlier this year, Cabot Oil & Gas committed to donate up to $2 million to help fund building a new physicians clinic and hospital for the Montrose, PA area (see this MDN story).

This is “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey used to say. Cabot indeed contributed an initial $1 million and then worked hard to encourage others to give. Local businesses and organizations like the VFW stepped up with big contributions and gave $1.2 million on top of Cabot’s initial $1 million. Cabot then went above and beyond, matching their donations with another $1.2 million! In addition, the Weinberg Foundation wrote a check for $1 million too. Total raised? $4.4 million. (Be sure to watch the video below.)

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Stone Energy CEO Gives Marcellus Update at Barclays Event

Dave Welch, Chairman, President and CEO of Stone Energy presented at the Barclays Capital CEO Energy-Power Conference yesterday. In his prepared remarks, Mr. Welch had a fair bit to say about Stone’s drilling activities and future plans for the Marcellus and Utica Shale (variously called Appalachia and the Devonian shale below).

Among his remarks: Stone has drilled 55 Marcellus Shale wells to date, 25 of which are currently online and producing about 56 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. They have another 200 drilling locations in Marcellus/Utica wet gas areas. For now, they’re going to stick with one drilling rig in the Marcellus region because it’s “gotten so efficient.”

Here’s a transcript (courtesy of Seeking Alpha) of Mr. Welch’s comments relevant to the Marcellus and Utica region:

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New Production Milestone Achieved by Cabot Oil & Gas

Cabot Oil & Gas CEO Dan Dinges released a statement yesterday highlighting a new milestone just achieved by the driller: Natural gas production for Cabot averaged over 700 million cubic feet per day (Mmcf) for the last two weeks, reaching as high as 752 Mmcf during one 24-hour period. Cabot is one of the largest producers in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale.

From the press release:

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