It seems the entire country watched with morbid fascination as Hurricane-now-Super Storm Sandy slammed into the northeast yesterday. The exceptionally large and powerful storm—some 1,000 miles across—lingers over what is essentially the Marcellus and Utica Shale region of the U.S. As of early Tuesday more than 5 million people are without power due to storm damage. New York was heavily hit with the highest storm surge to hit Manhattan in over 200 years, flooding subway tunnels and covering some city streets. The New York Stock Exchange is closed for two consecutive days for the first time since 1888. Truly history in the making.
How will Sandy affect drilling, production and refining in the Marcellus? Reports came in yesterday that refineries were shutting down in advance of the storm. Production coming from the field likely will not be affected all that much, but drilling is another matter. Some drilling operators reported they would lay down rig masts until the storm passes.
EXCO Resources released their third quarter financials and operational update yesterday. The company lost $346 million ($1.62 per share) in 3Q12, mostly because of an accounting “write-down” on the value of some of their oil and gas properties.
With most of their Marcellus drilling activity concentrated in Lycoming County, PA, EXCO reports year-over-year production for their Marcellus operation increased 35% from 3Q11. EXCO currently operates one drilling rig in the Marcellus and says although they previously committed to drill 49 wells this year, they “continue to evaluate” their 2012 drilling program. Translation: Don’t count on a full 49 wells being drilled this year.
NiSource has announced plans for what they call the East Side Expansion project—a project to expand and extend pipelines on the east side of the Columbia Gas Transmission system to pipe natural gas from northern PA to the East Coast and mid-Atlantic region (see the map below). NiSource previously announced they would spend $4 billion to upgrade and build new pipeline infrastructure throughout the Marcellus and Utica Shale (see this MDN story). The newly named East Side Expansion project appears to be one (large) component of that effort.
Sometimes anti-drillers, especially those in the media, behave like prepubescent teen boys who have just started to swear and like to show off new words to their friends. Case in point: Mother Jones. The so-called news magazine/website Mother Jones (on the way way wacky left fringe of the political spectrum) regularly bashes the energy industry. Their latest hit piece is called “Meet the Frackers.” My how those editors at MJ are so clever. Wonder who thought that one up?
The post on the MJ website is intended to be a “hall of shame” displaying photos and quotes from CEOs of top energy companies that use the miracle of hydraulic fracturing to provide low-cost, clean-burning natural gas here in the U.S. But what MJ means as a hall of shame MDN considers a “hall of fame.” And so we celebrate the country’s biggest frackers:
Sadly, but predictably, movie star Robert Redford is lending his star power to the anti-fracking movement in New York, no doubt because his long-time friend Debra Winger (Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy) asked him to. Redford has cut five radio commercials misrepresenting the miracle of hydraulic fracturing, encouraging New Yorkers to contact and tell Gov. Andrew Cuomo “fracking is a bad deal for New York.”
Unfortunately, either knowingly (or perhaps ignorantly) Redford repeats the lie that fracking is somehow responsible for the contamination of drinking water “all across the country.” That statement is 100% false. Give this latest anti-fracking lie a listen (below).
In a bid to get more money for its natural gas, Statoil, a Norwegian company with major operations in the Marcellus Shale, said late last week they will start shipping gas to Canada effective Nov. 1. They also plan to build a new natural gas pipeline to Manhattan, NY.
America’s good friends the Brits are in Pennsylvania taking a look at how we’re fracking the Marcellus Shale as an example they may want to follow. Britain has its own shale deposits in the northern part of the country. They also have their own dedicated anti-drilling crowd, preventing them from moving forward (see this MDN story on Europe’s energy suicide).
British Consulate General Danny Lopez arrived in Pittsburgh yesterday just ahead of Super Storm Sandy: