Is Michigan the next place where horizontal drilling and fracking of shale will take off? Maybe. The U.S. has a myriad of shale plays across it. It just so happens the Marcellus is the largest (land-wise) and the Utica is right now one of the hottest (with oil and natural gas liquids).
Part of the Utica formation underlies Michigan. But the formation of note in Michigan is the Collingwood Shale layer. The Utica is above it, so it’s often referred to as the Utica-Collingwood. The Collingwood is two miles (or more) below the surface. Encana and others have been testing the Utica-Collingwood in Michigan, but lately, it seems like activity in the state is picking up beyond the “just testing” stage (see the map below). Is this a sign of things to come?
The third Utica Shale well to be drilled in Mahoning County, Ohio is set to begin any day now. The well is being drilled by CNX Gas (subsidiary of CONSOL Energy). While the fact that a new well is being drilled may not seem like news (it’s the third well to be drilled in Mahoning County), where it’s being drilled in the county is big news: in the watershed of the Meander Reservoir, which provides drinking water to 300,000 people in the Mahoning Valley.
When completed, this will be a great example of the fact that drilling and fracking is safe—even in watershed areas (pay attention New York):
Earlier this year, Enterprise Products Partners announced a 1,230 mile ethane pipeline called the ATEX Express (Appalachia to Texas) that will run from Pennsylvania to the Gulf Coast (see this MDN story). Part of the pipeline repurposes an existing pipeline from Cape Girardeau, Missouri south to Texas. But part of the line is new construction through Ohio.
Not long after the new pipeline was announced, there was a dispute over whether or not Enterprise would need permission from the Ohio Power Siting Board to build new line through the state (see this MDN story). Apparently the issue is now resolved because construction in Ohio is beginning in Coshocton County:
Interfax Energy’s Natural Gas Daily ran a highly interesting and useful article on the advantages of the Marcellus Shale, why it’s attracting capital investments, along with who is ramping up and who is scaling back drilling in the Marcellus.
MDN has heard of many uses for natural gas, and of many companies moving to or expanding in states like Pennsylvania to take advantage of the low price of Marcellus natural gas. But this is a new one for us.
Last week, Calumet Special Products, with a chemical plant in Karns City, PA, announced they will likely build a new gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant at their facility in Karns to convert natural gas into feedstock (raw materials) they will then use to manufacture white mineral oils, petrolatums, aliphatic solvents and other gelled hydrocarbon products at the plant. They believe the price of natural gas in the Marcellus is so economical, and will remain so, that they can convert it themselves at a better price than buying the raw materials. How cool is that?
Merrick Systems just announced the release of new software to keep track of “produced water” (i.e. wastewater) from shale drilling operations, including wastewater from the Marcellus and Utica Shale. The company says their new software helps measure and track the source, transportation and final disposition of wastewater, which helps with both regulatory compliance and cost savings.
Is there such a thing as a reasonable anti-driller? MDN doubted it, until we read a guest viewpoint in today’s Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, by John Orzel. Mr. Orzel is a Democrat, former social studies teacher, resident of Broome County and running against Republican incumbent Tom Libous for the 52nd State Senate seat in New York.
Most anti-drillers attempt to obfuscate the fact they oppose drilling because of their bias against fossil fuels. Mr. Orzel owns up to it. Refreshing! He also owns up to the fact we still live in a free country with the best system known to exist for the fair distribution of wealth: capitalism. In MDN’s book, he constitutes one of the few examples of a reasonable, and truthful, anti-driller.