Contrary to what anti-drillers say, lack of drilling in New York does have serious consequences—the latest consequence being the bankruptcy of Norse Energy Corp. MDN has reported over the past several years on Norse, the “little energy company that could” (we had hoped) hang on until New York released new shale drilling rules. But New York’s moratorium has now stretched on nearly 4 1/2 years and frankly, there’s no end in sight.
In mid-November Norse issued a press release saying they would run out of money in December unless they could restructure their debt (see this MDN story). They only had $1.5 million cash on hand at the time. Then, a few weeks later, a judge ordered Norse to put $7.65 million into an escrow account to cover potential losses in a dispute (see this Norse press release). Apparently the escrow judgment pushed Norse over the financial cliff. They’ve now filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection:
Good old American ingenuity…Drillers are not waiting for processing plants to be completed or pipelines to come online in order to sell their natural gas liquids (NGLs) from the Marcellus and Utica Shale region. A few weeks ago, one million gallons of NGLs were loaded on a tanker barge originating at the port in Weirton, WV. The barge floated first down the Ohio River, and then the Mississippi River on its way to Houston, TX for processing.
The Akron Beacon Journal ran an excellent round-up article on Sunday looking at the mammoth infrastructure investments (pipelines, processing facilities, etc.) being made in Ohio’s Utica and Marcellus Shale region—like in excess of $10 billion of investments already under way or planned for the near future.
The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) launched a new round of phone calls and a letter-writing campaign to encourage Gov. Andrew Cuomo to not delay any further the release of new fracking rules for New York. The JLCNY wants its members and supporters to call and print and mail a draft letter (embedded below).
As the Ohio General Assembly comes to a close later this month (the end of their two-year term), Democrats have introduced a number of bills aimed at restricting the Utica and Marcellus Shale drilling industry in the state. Fortunately the Assembly is controlled by Republicans, so these bills will go nowhere. Still, it’s instructive to see what’s on Democrats’ hearts and minds, and possibly what the future holds if the political winds in Ohio change.
Here’s the list of bills recently introduced, and a summary of what they would do:
Wheeling Jesuit University and West Virginia University are teaming up to study water samples from the Ohio and Allegheny rivers for the presence of bromides to see if bromides are coming from shale drilling wastewater discharges into the rivers. Bromides themselves are not toxic, but in sufficient quantities bromides can lead to the formation of cancer-causing trihalomethanes.
The study is a precaution to ensure bromides, which are found naturally, are not coming from drilling activity (i.e. drilling wastewater discharges).
The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department and West Virginia University are together collecting data in the greater Wheeling, West Virginia area to see if drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale has a detectable impact on local air quality.