The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has just released their first official assessment (i.e. estimate) of how much recoverable natural gas, oil and gas liquids is located in the Utica Shale throughout Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Virginia (a full copy of the USGS assessment is embedded below).
The USGS estimates the Utica is #3 in size behind the Marcellus (#1) and Green River Basin (#2) for volume of recoverable natural gas in the U.S. Here are the numbers from the USGS, along with and a brief introduction to their first-ever assessment of the Utica:
The story line for development of the Marcellus and Utica Shale going back to the beginning of this year was, “Drillers are leaving the dry gas areas and going after wet gas,” meaning natural gas liquids. Why? Because the price for liquids is more favorable. That meant drilling activity was lessening in places like northeast Pennsylvania and (supposedly) moving to southwest PA, northern WV and eastern OH. To some degree that has happened.
However, the price for natural gas liquids has fallen due an abundance created by Marcellus and Utica Shale drilling. So the more recent story has been a move toward drilling for crude oil, especially in Ohio. But drilling for crude in Ohio isn’t working out so well—at least for some drillers.
The Keystone Sanitary Landfill, located on the borders of Dunmore and Throop, PA (Scranton suburbs) applied to the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) last December to increase the amount of Marcellus shale cuttings—rock and soil leftover after drilling—from 600 tons to 1,000 tons per day. They also applied to accept “unprocessed” cuttings from drillers (see this MDN story for background).
The permit was granted in early March. Elected officials in Throop fought the increase but eventually dropped their fight from lack of interest and money (see this MDN story). Keystone just filed a new request to double the amount of cuttings again, from 1,000 to 2,000 tons per day. They also want trucks to be allowed to haul it in 24/7.
At a Chamber of Commerce dinner in Marshall County, WV held last night, Darrell Bull, the general manager of Williams Ohio Valley Midstream (a division of midstream giant Williams) paid a huge compliment to West Virginia and dissed Pennsylvania.
On Monday, the anti-drilling organization PennFuture filed an appeal with the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board over a permit granted by the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) that allows treated Marcellus Shale wastewater to be used for purposes like keeping dust down on roads, and as a source of roadway salt (for wintertime).
According to PennFuture’s appeal (full copy embedded below), the DEP held public hearings were held for one use—simply treating the wastewater at a certain facility—and then the DEP turned around and issued a permit for a different use. PennFuture calls it a “switcheroo” in their official appeal.
There’s a new kid on the block when it comes to pro-drilling organizations in New York State: Landowner Advocates of New York (or LANY for short). LANY is organizing what they hope will be the largest mass protest demonstration of pro-drillers ever in Albany, NY on Monday, Oct. 15. Although the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) is not involved with organizing the LANY event, they are supporting it by sending their members to march and protest. (JLCNY represents 77,000 landowners throughout New York.)
Here’s the email MDN received from the JLCNY and LANY announcing the mass protest:
The industry-backed Marcellus Shale Coalition, headquartered in Pittsburgh, not-so-gently chided the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette over a recent story it ran on shale gas drilling—a story with a number of inaccuracies. Here’s the letter MSC sent to the newspaper:
CONSOL Energy has ordered an additional three dual fuel electrical generator conversions at a second drilling rig in the Marcellus Shale. MDN previously reported that CONSOL was experimenting with three dual fuel generator conversions—blending liquefied natural gas with diesel—at one location (see this MDN story). Looks like the experiment is going well enough that CONSOL has ordered another three conversions for a different location.
EQT was the first driller in the Marcellus to convert electrical generators used at a drilling site to burn liquefied natural gas, or LNG (see this MDN story). EQT announced yesterday they’ve commissioned a second drilling rig, located in West Virginia (as was the first converted rig) to be converted to the new LNG technology.
New Jersey and New York City need more natural gas. There’s plenty of Marcellus natural gas produced in Pennsylvania. There’s also a big interstate pipeline, called the Tennessee (one of many pipelines) that carry natural gas from Pennsylvania and other states into northeastern markets including NJ and NYC. In order to meet growing demand, the Tennessee previously applied for and received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to expand their pipeline.
The expansion plans have not been without controversy (see this MDN story). The latest controversy revolves around a planned route for a 7-mile portion of the expansion in New Jersey.