Will OH Utica Turn Out to be Steak, or Just Sizzle? Eye on April

sizzle or steak Ohio will soon compile and release annual production numbers for Utica Shale wells drilled and in production during 2012. Ohio is one of the “least transparent states” when it comes to reporting energy output with annual filings. Drillers are required to provide production numbers for 2012 by March 31. Last year the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) posted production numbers in just a few days—on April 2nd. However, last year’s reporting (from 2011) was for 5 wells—all from Chesapeake. This year the reporting will be from multiple drillers for 50-60 wells. Everyone is waiting, with baited breath. There’s a lot riding on the numbers reported this year.

Will the Utica numbers turn out to be like the Eagle Ford—a play prolific in profitable oil and natural gas liquids? Or will it be more of a less-profitable, methane-only play? A Reuters article takes a look at that question. The article also highlights some interesting information for just how far production numbers have fallen from initial peak rates for a pair of Gulfport wells…

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Former PA DEP Sec. Hanger Blasts Interim Replacement for Krancer

Last Friday Gov. Tom Corbett announced the disappointing resignation of PA PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) Sec. Michael Krancer (see Developing… PA DEP Sec. Krancer Resigns). In comments clearly tainted by his own run for governor against Corbett, former DEP Sec. John Hanger (who served under Gov. “Fast Eddie” Ed Rendell) blasted the temporary appointment of Corbett’s deputy chief of staff, E. Christopher Abruzzo, to serve as acting secretary while a new person is found to fill the position.

Hanger called Abruzzo’s appointment “bizarre and irresponsible”…

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Williams Methane Pipeline Ruptures in Marshall County, WV

Early Friday afternoon, a 24-inch methane-only natural gas pipeline built and maintained by Williams near their Fort Beeler cryogenic processing plant ruptured. The pipeline is located 4 miles south of Cameron (Marshall County), WV.

Fortunately the blowout did not ignite and there were no injuries:

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WV Scores Another Shale Supply Chain Company – from Italy

West Virginia is working hard to attract all kinds of businesses to the state that plug in to the shale industry supply chain—and it’s paying off. Reporting that the state gave them “some very interesting support,” Italian company Pietro Fiorentini, a pressure regulator and valve manufacturer, said they first need to gage interest to their products, but they’re already feeling good about WV and making plans to build a new, $9 million manufacturing plant in Weirton, WV.

Support from the state (and local municipalities) is not the only reason for the company’s interest in the northern panhandle of WV—geography is the other prime reason…

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PA Newspaper Wants New CSSD Drilling Standards Adopted as Law

Right on cue and easily predicted, a left-leaning (mostly anti-drilling) mainstream newspaper, the Scranton Times-Tribune, has published an editorial not only endorsing the new Center for Sustainable Shale Development (see Important: Drillers & Enviros Form New Group, Launch Cert Program), they’ve breathlessly posited the “brilliant” idea that the standards proposed by the CSSD should be adopted as regulatory law throughout Pennsylvania. Which of course was the endgame all along…

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Altoona Area Getting $200M Marcellus Gas-to-Liquids Plant

Gas-to-liquids (GTL) plants appear to be catching on in the PA Marcellus Shale. Last September MDN told you about plans to build a GTL plant in Karns City, PA (western part of the state, see Chemical Manufacturer to Build Gas-to-Liquids Plant in PA). GTL plants convert natural gas to other products like diesel fuel and gasoline.

Last week, a company announced in Altoona, PA that they plan to build a GTL plant in Blair County (central PA). Marcellus GTL said they will build a new $200 million (!) GTL plant in Duncansville. While the plant is being built it will provide 120 construction jobs. After it’s built, the plant will provide 30 full-time permanent positions working at the plant, and 60 “secondary jobs” in the area as well. The Duncansville GTL plant will produce sulfur-free gasoline and propane.

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Ohio Enviros Not Happy with Sustainable Shale Center

Last week MDN pointed out some of the initial reaction against the pronouncements of the newly formed and self-appointed Center for Sustainable Shale Development, or “CSSD” (see More Groups Weigh In For/Against New Sustainable Shale Center).

You can add the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) to the list of those groups not in love with the CSSD, even though they haven’t bothered to read the CSSD’s standards yet. Why are they down on the CSSD? Because (pout, whine) they didn’t have a seat at the table. Then again, the OEC is calling for a moratorium on all drilling—an extremist and unreasonable position. Perhaps that’s why they weren’t invited…

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Affidavit in Range PA Settlement Shows No Drilling Health Impacts

frowny face There was a bit of media buzz last week when a sealed court case between Range Resources and the Hallowich family was unsealed at the litigated insistence of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Washington Observer-Reporter (see Judge Orders Range/Landowner Settlement in PA Made Public). The headlines about the payout from Range to the Hallowich’s ($750,000) implied and continue to imply there was a cover up—that Range had somehow contaminated water by fracking and affected the health of the Hallowich’s and their children.

Problem is, it’s not true. The Hallowich’s signed an affidavit—a court document—in July 2011 stating neither their health nor the health of their children has been negatively affected by drilling (see the signed affidavit below). Which, of course, has led to a lot of frowny faces at the P-G and O-R.

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OH Group Wants to Launch Neighborhood Watch for Shale Wells

When we started to read an article about a “neighborhood watch” program for Utica and Marcellus Shale wells that’s being discussed in Ohio by the anti-drilling Southeast Ohio Fracking Interest Group, we kind of grinned. We thought it sounded like the typical nutty stuff anti-frackers do to try and put a veneer of respectability on their extremist, hate-all-fossil-fuels philosophy. However, when we read further, we found there is such a “well watching” group operating in West Virginia, and it’s members are level-headed and don’t have the attitude that they’re going to stop drilling—they just want to open a line of communication with drillers so everyone is a little bit happier with the process.

The WV group’s constructive attitude is the kind of attitude more people on the other side of the issue (in OH) should adopt…

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List of Mid-Hudson Valley Towns & Companies Supporting Frack Ban

In a recent article from a Middletown, NY newspaper we find a handy list of not only towns who have voted to ban fracking in the mid-Hudson Valley area, but also some of the businesses who have signed on as “friends of the court” to support the fracking bans of Dryden and Middlefield (see Town Frack Ban Cases Heard in NY Supreme Court Appellate Division). These are businesses you may want to consider avoiding in future business dealings—we know we would choose to not do business with them if we lived in Sullivan, Ulster or Orange counties…

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Luddites of Luzerne: UGI Scraps Plan for PA Compressor Station

The forces of anti-drilling and anti-progress have won in Luzerne County, PA. UGI Energy has scrapped plans to build a new pipeline compressor station in Luzerne after facing stiff opposition from citizens and the county zoning board. The zoning board refused to permit the new compressor station last year and UGI was in the process of appealing it with a local court (see UGI Plans Start of PA Marcellus Pipeline Despite Zoning Appeal). Apparently UGI has lost its appetite to fight the Luddites of Luzerne County (maybe there’s a new HBO series in there somewhere?):

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Natrium, WV NGL Plant Behind Schedule, Will Open “Late Spring”

A $500 million natural gas liquids processing plant in Natrium (Marshall County), WV was supposed to go online by the end of 2012 and didn’t (see Dominion $500M NGL Processing Plant in WV to Open in December). It was then supposed to be online “in a few weeks,” as of the middle of February (see Bomb Threat at Natrium, WV NGL Plant Doesn’t Slow Construction). It’s now the end of March and the facility is still not online. Blue Racer Midstream, the joint venture owner of the plant, is now saying it will go online “later this spring.”

An update on progress at the facility:

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