Live from Columbus, OH… Utica Shale Confab – Day 1

confabMDN editor Jim Willis is in Columbus, Ohio attending the 2nd Utica Shale Development & Growth Forum. Jim is moderating a panel today (Wednesday) called “Utica from the Media’s Perspective.” On the panel with me are Bob Downing, staff writer with the Akron Beacon Journal, Rick Stouffer, editor of Platts Gas Business Briefing, and Peter Behr, reporter with EnergyWire. All top notch writers from premier publications. I feel honored to sit on a panel with them!

Yesterday (Tuesday) was the first day of the main program and speakers tackled the Utica Shale from their unique perspectives. We heard from the relatively new Access Midstream (formerly Chesapeake Midstream); a geologist; Blue Racer Midstream; and an economist who is head of the Ohio State University’s Sub Surface Energy Resource Center (“Utica Shale Center” for short). Since most MDN readers couldn’t be here, I took good notes to pass along. Below are highlights and interesting tidbits from Day One…

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Feb. 27: (In)Decision Day for Gov. Cuomo and Fracking in NY

It’s D-Day (Decision Day) in New York. Today, Feb. 27, is the final day for the Dept. of Environmental Conservation to release new fracking rules or the process is once again delayed—by at least 45 days and likely much longer. What can we expect? Nothing. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proven he’s indecisive and and not worthy to lead the state, let alone pursue “higher office.” The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) is gearing  up for a major lawsuit to sue the state for illegal de facto “takings” of its citizens’ private property. If the state is going to deny landowners the right to allow drilling amidst overwhelming evidence it’s safe, the state will have to pay them the equivalent amount of money they would have made by leasing and drilling (certainly billions, maybe trillions?). Hello bankruptcy for New York.

The only thing MDN sees that might postpone a lawsuit by the 77,000-member JLCNY is if DEC Commissioner Joe Martens were to issue a few provisional permits to drill—and issue them today—as a sign of good faith that the state really is serious about completing and adopting new fracking rules. Will that happen? “Not bloody likely” as our Brit friends say…

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New York Democrats Try, Once Again, To Ban Fracking

led by the noseAlthough the evidence has always been there for all to see, it’s now abundantly clear that New York’s Democrat party wants to outright kill oil and gas drilling in the state. They prefer economic suicide to facing down the fracking extremists in their own party.

Yesterday, 30 Assembly Democrats, led by the nose by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Environmental Conservation Chairman Robert Sweeney introduced a bill that would ban high volume hydraulic fracturing in the state until 2014. You might as well say it will ban it “forever” because that’s the true intent. They have zero interest in “waiting a little longer for yet one more study.” If you believe that, I have bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you…

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Range Resources 2012: Production & Revenue Up, Profit Down

Range Resources, the first company to drill a horizontal Marcellus Shale well (in 2004) released it’s fourth quarter and entire year results for 2012 yesterday. Among the highlights: Range reported producing an average 753 million cubic feet per day of natural gas over the entire year—36% more than 2011. By the end of 4Q12, Range was producing 844 Mmcf/d. Much of their production comes in the oil and wet gas rich area of the Marcellus play in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Range’s CEO Jeff Ventura pointed out Range has over one million Marcellus Shale acres and the Marcellus is largely what fueled its growth in 2012. Revenues were up 18% in 2012 over 2011, but profits were down 78% (from $58 million to $13 million) largely due to the low commodity price for natural gas and NGLs. Range spent $234 million to drill 64 wells in 4Q12 and $1.36 billion to drill 298 wells for the year.

Below are select portions from the Range update impacting and reporting on the Marcellus Shale:

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GPX Gets Off Easy After Using Illegal Aliens for PA Survey Crew

Last June MDN told you about GPX, a Texas-based seismic surveying company doing work in Pennsylvania for the oil and gas industry that was caught trying to sneak in illegal aliens to work on their surveying crews in PA (see Surveying Company Caught Sneaking Illegal Immigrants to PA). Those in charge faced the prospect of 100 years in prison and paying $5 million in fines. Looks like they’re going to get off easy with a slap on the wrist—a $25,000 fine:

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