Anti-Drilling Objection: Shale Drilling Causes Boom & Bust

boomtownTwo and one half years ago MDN editor first heard about “boomtowns” at a talk by Cornell Professor Tony Ingraffea. Ingraffea is a well-known anti-driller who traipses hither and yon to spread the anti-fracking message—from the halls of Congress to local town libraries to college classrooms with young, impressionable minds. That night, Dr. Ingraffea talked extensively about how local towns in the Western U.S. went through a cycle of building up (or “boom”) due to energy exploration, and then almost overnight went “bust” once the energy was mined and the companies left town. It was quite a horror picture he painted (see this MDN story recounting Ingraffea’s talk).

MDN has heard the same argument on and off over the years since. The latest example is a story published yesterday titled, “Will Shale Create Ohio Ghost Towns in 2040?” Every time MDN editor hears that argument it makes us angry. Here’s why…

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Anti-Drilling Close-up: Trout Unlimited

One of the non-profit organizations that crops up in lists of those whom MDN would classify as anti-drilling is Trout Unlimited (TU). The 50 year-old organization is national in scope with 140,000 volunteers and 400 local chapters—really one of the country’s premier conservation organizations. The TU charter is “Conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds” according to their website.

MDN has noticed that over the past several years TU runs programs—mostly on the weekends and mostly in Pennsylvania—to train volunteers in how to test streams and rivers. The aim is to test before there is drilling (or pipelines or compressor plants) in an area, to test during drilling or construction and then to test after, to see if those streams and rivers are in any way affected by drilling and related activity. So what have they found?

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PA Rep. Jesse White Contacts MDN to Set Record Straight

Yesterday MDN brought you the story of Cecil Township in Washington County, PA and how Range Resources indicated, according to the town, that they could influence the town resident who has brought a complaint against the town which is keeping the town from receiving $246,000 in impact fee revenue to drop his complaint in return for a private meeting between the town and Range (see this MDN story).

MDN quoted PA State Rep. Jesse White as part of that story. Rep. White said such an overture by Range is “extortion, plain and simple.” As part of that story, MDN referred to Rep. White as anti-drilling. He contacted us to set the record straight on that score. We always like to be accurate! So we’re happy to convey what Rep. White said.

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Seneca Boasts First 100% LNG-Powered Drill Rig in Marcellus

EQT was the first driller in the Marcellus Shale to convert a drilling rig to run on electricity produced by LNG, or “liquefied natural gas” (see this MDN story). CONSOL has also been experimenting with converting some of their rigs to use LNG too (see this MDN story). You may now add a third driller to the list: Seneca Resources. Seneca is the gas drilling arm of National Fuel Gas Company.

Yesterday, Seneca announced they are converting two of their rigs to run on LNG. But unlike EQT and CONSOL which mix LNG with diesel fuel in a blend, Seneca is using 100% LNG to power their rigs—a first for drilling rigs in the Marcellus Shale. Seneca says they’ve already converted one rig that’s now in operation, a second rig will be finished in November, and a third rig is coming later this year. Seneca also says someday they’d like to use the gas coming out of the ground to power the rig that’s drilling it. Cool.

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Dominion Signs Deal with M3 to Pipe NatGas/NGLs to New Plant

Dominion Resources (a subsidiary of Dominion) has penned an agreement with M3 Ohio Gathering to hook up to wells in Ohio’s Utica Shale and move up to 180 million cubic feet per day of natural gas from those wells to the Kensington Processing Plant in Columbiana County, Ohio. The new plant is currently being built by Chesapeake Midstream, M3 and EV Energy Partners (see this MDN story for background).

Here’s the details on Dominion’s deal with M3 to pipe natural gas and gas liquids to the new processing plant:

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Nutjob Protester Stops NYC Pipeline Construction for 2 Hours

This story will help lighten the mood for Friday. Our entertainment for today comes courtesy the continuing antics of a small group of New York City protesters who object to what Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called “vital” to the city—more natural gas. Spectra Energy is building a pipeline from New Jersey, under the Hudson River, over to a pier in New York to help bring more badly-needed natural gas supplies to the city. Natural gas that will come mostly from the Marcellus Shale.

MDN told you a few weeks ago about protesters getting naked and painting themselves green (see this MDN story). On Wednesday of this week, one of the pipeline protesters (get this) didn’t even tell himself he was going to protest! He spontaneously chained himself to a  backhoe. Here’s what happened:

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Dominion 3Q12 Update: Profits Down from Warm 2012 Winter

Dominion is a huge utility and midstream (pipeline) company with customers and operations throughout the Marcellus and Utica Shale region. Yesterday Dominion issued their third quarter financials and it was not a pretty picture. Earnings for 3Q12 were down nearly half of what they were from 3Q11. Ouch. The reason? Dominion puts a lot of the blame on a hangover from a warm winter.

There’s not much in the way comment on their activities in the Marcellus in their statement below (they do mention the new Natrium, WV plant and a few other items). MDN includes their 3Q12 financial update because they are an important player in the Marcellus and Utica Shale and the overall health of the company is important to the industry.

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Noble Energy 3Q12 Update: Marcellus Production Up 38%

Earnings reports for the third quarter continue to roll out. Yesterday, Noble Energy provided their 3Q12 update. Noble is a large company with operations in a number of countries. Here in the U.S., Noble is actively drilling in the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia. They also have a joint venture in the Marcellus in Pennsylvania. Noble reports their Marcellus production grew to 102 million cubic feet per day in the third quarter, an increase of 38% over last quarter. They also report their first two wet gas wells have started to produce natural gas liquids and are doing better than expected.

Here’s the relevant portion of the Noble announcement that focuses on the Marcellus:

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New Book Released for PA Oil & Gas Law

Three attorneys (two of them from Pennsylvania) with extensive experience in oil and gas law teamed up and wrote a just-released, first of its kind book, titled: Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Law and Practice. One of the PA authors, J.C. “Jay” Wilkinson, and the publisher, George T. Bisel Company, issued the following press release about the new book:

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