The Pittsburgh International Airport is about to get a huge cash infusion from the shale drilling industry—and it’s not from more passengers passing through the terminal (although that’s happening too). The airport previously floated a request for bids to allow drilling on and under its 9,263 acres. Wednesday morning they opened bids from two drillers: CONSOL Energy and EQT. One bid offered twice the lease payment per acre of the other bid.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited New York’s Southern Tier region yesterday—specifically Binghamton—to get a first-hand update on the Southern Tier’s economic development plan. (Short version: our local economy is and has been in the crapper for years.) Gov. Andy was greeted by anti-drilling and some pro-drilling protesters. During a press conference, he was asked by reporters to comment on whether and when fracking would come to the state. His answer was non-committal—he’s a good politician that way.
Albany-area lawyer Tom West addressed the annual meeting of the New York State Association of General Contractors. He gave them his latest thinking on whether, and when, fracking may begin in New York. Why does Tom West’s opinion matter? He’s the lead attorney for two cases working their way through the court system now, both cases dealing with the right (or non-right) of local municipalities to outright ban shale gas drilling in their communities.
Tom has a better insight than most into what’s happening with fracking in New York. And he sees a teeny, tiny light at the end of a very long tunnel…
According to the latest periodic Siena College Research Institute Poll, the trend that started in the previous poll showing a clear majority of New Yorker’s supporting fracking has continued in the most recent poll. In a poll taken Nov. 26-29, 42% of New Yorkers support fracking vs. 36% who oppose it. Those numbers are identical to the poll taken Oct. 22-24 (see this MDN story).
However, if you think that’s the end of the story, you would be wrong. A longer term trend we see in the underlying numbers is that there is stronger support for fracking in both in New York City and the suburbs of NYC than in upstate. In October, 43% of upstaters polled supported fracking vs. 41% who opposed it. In November, 39% of upstaters supported fracking vs. 45% who opposed it. Why the swing against fracking with upstaters?
The Moon Township Board of Supervisors (Allegheny County, PA) voted last night to ban fracking in areas zoned for residential, commercial or educational uses. The vote revises Moon’s existing zoning ordinance to comply with the new Act 13 law which stipulates local municipalities cannot completely ban fracking.
Since no permits to drill have been applied for nor granted (yet) in Moon, the newly revised ordinance means landowners who previously signed leases and live in one of the banned districts will never be allowed to drill. A map showing where drilling is allowed indicates drilling will only be allowed in perhaps 25% of the town (see map below).
Noble Energy, Inc.’s senior management is hosting a conference today in Houston, Texas with analysts and investors to discuss the company’s current operations, future plans and operational outlook. In advance of the conference, Noble issued a preview of what they will talk about. Part of the preview includes an update (an important update) on their activities in the Marcellus Shale. One of the predictions: Noble will achieve an eye-popping 800 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) in production of natural gas in the Marcellus by 2017—within five years. Currently they’re at 140 MMcf/d.
Not only do the number of jobs grow when shale drilling comes to a region, but the salaries for those working in those jobs grows as well. Case in point comes from a new report released by WorkForce West Virginia. The average (average!) increase in salary for someone employed in the oil and natural gas industry in West Virginia went up by $8,100 from 2008 to 2011. When was the last you you even had a raise, let alone $2K per year? The average increase for pipeline workers was even more—$2,800 per year.