Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, May 20, 2013

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading:


Utica shale boom talk not as loud
Columbus Dispatch
The warm-up is almost over in Ohio’s Utica shale country. Now, it is time to see whether the flurry of activity, the billions of dollars of investment and the hyperbole about its potential will produce substantial results. Oil and gas now are being pulled from the layer of rock known as the Utica, located as deep as 9,200 feet under the eastern and central parts of the state. Figures released last week show that energy companies nearly doubled their production in the Utica last year. Based on those results, industry experts now have a better sense of what the Utica is and what it isn’t.

Analysts: Early results show Utica is no Eagle Ford
SNL Financial
The Utica Shale may not be able to replicate the oil results of the Bakken and Eagle Ford, but early results show it could be a major wet gas play. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources on May 16 reported 2012 Utica oil production of nearly 636,000 barrels and natural gas production of more than 12.8 Bcf. Only 87 of the 215 wells drilled in 2012 reported some form of production, and the majority produced for less than half a year. Self-described “Utica bears” found the results to be encouraging.

Ohio’s Production Numbers Don’t Tell All
Energy in Depth – Ohio
After at least an extra month of guarded anticipation, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) finally released oil and gas production data on 86 wells producing from the Utica shale during 2012. Oddly enough, an article from Reuters appearing in Friday’s papers dismisses the Utica play as a bust.

Lack of infrastructure limiting Utica shale drillers, energy expert says
Columbus Business First
The production numbers in a new state report on Ohio’s Utica shale play are positive but could be even better if drilling companies had more pipelines and processing plants to support their operations, said energy industry expert Don Fischbach. The lack of such infrastructure is limiting drillers from showing what their wells can do, said Fischbach, who has more than 30 years experience in the oil and natural gas business. He heads the energy practice group at Calfee Halter & Griswold LLP, a law firm with offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

How long will the shale boom last?
Columbus Dispatch
Oil and gas companies nearly doubled their production from Ohio’s Utica shale last year, part of an energy surge that is still in its early stages and whose potential is far from clear. Industry leaders and analysts were cautious in their response to the report, however, saying there is not enough information to make any broad statements about the shale formation’s potential. They noted that the oil and gas from the Utica last year is worth about $100 million at current market prices, which isn’t much, considering the high cost of developing shale wells.

ODNR makes “State of the Play” available online
Akron Beacon Journal
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is making its “State of the Play” update on Thursday from Columbus on the Utica shale available online. ODNR Director James Zehringer, Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management Chief Rick Simmers and JobsOhio Managing Director David Mustine offered an update on the development of the Utica shale play in Ohio during the release of the 2012 well production results.

Antero Gives Update On Utica Development
Energy in Depth – Ohio
In January 2013, Antero announced in its corporate budget that it would be investing roughly $150 million in the Utica/Point Pleasant this year, while bringing in two rigs to develop its leasehold. On Monday, Antero updated its shareholders during a 1st quarter earnings call to inform them of progress-to-date in the Utica. Staying true to its word, Antero is now operating two rigs in the wet/condensate window in the southern portion of the Utica/Point Pleasant. Both rigs are currently located in Noble County, roughly five miles apart in Seneca Township.

Academic article provides a high-level summary of shale litigation matters throughout Ohio
An article featured in the latest issue of the online publication Ohio State Law Journal Furthermore provides a high-level summary of various oil and gas litigation matters in Ohio, including decisions concerning state regulation of drilling and production; tort issues such as trespass, negligence, nuisance and strict liability; and actions seeking to invalidate, terminate and interpret leases. The article, “Ohio Oil and Gas Litigation in the New Fracking Era,” was written by Blake A. Watson, professor of law at the University of Dayton School of Law. Read the full article here.

Peoples Bank establishes new energy department
The Marietta Times
Peoples Bank is renewing its roots in the energy sector. The company announced recently it has established a new department focused exclusively on providing financial services to upstream (exploration/production) and midstream (transportation/storage/ marketing) energy companies.

Landowners join to handle pipeline
Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune
How to negotiate for the best interests of landowners along the route of a proposed Sunoco Logistics pipeline was discussed Monday by a landowner group. About a dozen people met in the garage of Ken Detterman of Bloomville to ask questions and begin making decisions on what the group hopes to achieve by organizing.


Pennsylvania landowners can get cash on spot for mineral rights
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A wave of investment firms hoping to cash in on drilling in the Marcellus Shale is appearing in deed books across the region. They operate much like traditional land agents, negotiating with landowners to secure rights to the lucrative shale gas underneath the acreage. The difference? The landowners have already leased access to the land to gas drillers, and signing away the rights now can mean forfeiting any future royalties that may come with gas production.

A unique Place: The face behind the Center for Sustainable Shale Development
Andrew Place once planted 5,500 trees on his 210-acre farm in Greene County, providing 42 acres of native hardwoods to expand the habitat of a rare salamander he found on the land he has owned for 25 years. And yet a drilling site sits a mile away from his farm. Place is also the corporate director of energy and environmental policy at EQT Corp., a company that had nearly 80 billion cubic feet of natural gas production in the Marcellus shale in the first quarter of this year. And he sits at the helm of the newly formed Center for Sustainable Shale Development.

Scientists find new tools for tracing fracking impacts
Scranton Times-Tribune
Sherlock Holmes used a magnifying glass to trace a fingerprint to its source. Andrew Barron favors miniscule rust particles, millions of gallons of water and a magnet. Researchers in the Rice University chemistry professor’s laboratory have developed nanoparticles that will flow with the fluid used to hydraulically fracture oil and gas wells, slip through rocks and travel wherever the water ends up – in a holding pond at the surface, a tanker on the highway or, in a worst-case scenario, a nearby drinking water well.

Range says Worstell impoundment at ‘low’ level
Washington (PA) Observer-Reporter
Cecil Township officials are planning to meet with state environmental regulators to discuss the Worstell water impoundment, although its importance to Marcellus Shale drilling in this area varies depending on whom you ask. Both Range Resources and state regulators say the pool level is low inside the impoundment and used only sporadically, but one of the township supervisors who is pushing for more information continues to see trucks heading into the property from the Swihart Road entrance.

‘All of the above’ outreach fuels powerhouse gas coalition’s rapid growth
Greenwire/E&E Publishing
For companies looking to break into the natural gas business here, a Marcellus Shale Coalition membership is key. Four years ago, MSC was little more than an informal umbrella over a smattering of energy companies exploring the Marcellus Shale’s potential to yield natural gas. Today, the industry group is a 300-member, five-office powerhouse that has made itself a household name in the region that birthed the U.S. natural gas boom and brought new wealth and prosperity to drilling communities.

Reed Smith Marcellus Shale Tax Update – Recycle, Reuse, Reduce Your Tax Burdens
JD Supra Law News
Pennsylvania’s broad mining exemption from sales and use tax also includes an exemption for pollution-control devices that is less well known than the general exemption for mining equipment. The pollution-control exemption covers all purchases or use of equipment, machinery, and supplies used to control, abate or prevent air, water, or noise pollution generated in mining operations.

Fracking Can Be Done Safely, but Will It Be?
Scientific American
Out of sight (and smell), natural gas slowly bubbled up into Norma Fiorentino’s private water well near the town of Dimock in northeastern Pennsylvania—in the heart of the new fracking boom in the U.S. Then, on New Year’s Day 2009, when a mechanical pump flicked on and provided the spark, Fiorentino’s backyard exploded. She and many others blame the blast on fracking—the colloquial name for the natural gas drilling process that combines horizontal drilling and the fracturing of shale deep underground with high-pressure water to create a path for gas to flow back up the well.


Senate Committee Votes in Favor of McCarthy
Today (May 16) the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works voted 10-8 in favor of advancing Gina McCarthy’s nomination for EPA Administrator. The nomination now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Report says LNG exports will create jobs, not impact domestic prices
API/Akron Beacon Journal
U.S. LNG exports could create tens of thousands of domestic jobs while having only minimal impacts on domestic U.S. natural gas prices, a new report for API by ICF International finds. The report also concludes that LNG exports would spur strong growth in U.S. GDP but that U.S. companies would face considerable competition for LNG sales abroad, with at least 63 international LNG export projects currently planned or under construction.

Illinois close to vote on new fracking rules
AP/Akron Beacon Journal
Supporters of high-volume oil and gas drilling said Wednesday that they hope for a quick vote on a bill to regulate the practice in Illinois after reaching agreements on hiring and environmental concerns.

U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hosting Public Forums to Address Natural Gas Policy Issues
The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is hosting a series of three “public listening sessions” to gather information from stakeholders with an interest in federal policy concerning natural gas issues. The first session, held in a roundtable format, occurred on May 14 and addressed Infrastructure, Transportation, Research and Innovation. The remaining two sessions are scheduled for May 21 (to address Domestic Supply and Exports), and May 23 (to address Shale Development—Environmental Protection and Best Practices). A complete list of witnesses, which include natural gas producers, distributors, utilities, environmental groups, regulators, consumers and exporters can be found on the U. S. Senate Comiittee on Energy & Natural Resources website.

Number of women landing jobs in oil, gas industry growing
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
As a paid engineering intern the last two summers at Exxon Mobil’s Joliet Refinery in Channahon, Ill., Megan DeGraaf worked on projects that her full-time colleagues considered low priority. But the results she produced on equipment and pipe designs were solid enough that the oil giant offered her a permanent position. In August, the recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh will join Exxon Mobil as a mechanical contact engineer at the Joliet downstream refinery where oil is processed for retail consumption.

Fracking – Are Water Quality Concerns Legit?
Discover Magazine
A paper published this week in Science reviews what we know about the water quality impacts of shale gas development and hydraulic fracturing. And the conclusion is… still not that much. This despite the fact that “fracking,” as it is commonly called, has been in play since the 1940s – for nearly 80 years – to extract hard-to-reach natural gas deposits.