Wastewater Injection Wells in Ohio – Comprehensive Update

updateOn Sunday, the Akron Beacon Journal ran an excellent article on injection wells in Ohio. Their findings: Portage County disposed of more frack wastewater via injection wells than any other county in Ohio last year–disposing of 2.3 million barrels of brine and frack fluid wastewater. Brine, you may recall, is naturally occurring water from the depths that comes out of drilled wells long after the fracking fluid has been pumped out. Brine is very “salty” with a high concentration of minerals.

What may be a surprising statistic for some: Nearly two-thirds of the wastewater disposed of in Ohio wells was from out of state–most of that from Marcellus drilling in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Here’s part of the article, which details a list of Ohio counties and how much wastewater they disposed of via injection wells:
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Shareholder Rebellion at Epsilon Energy – New Board as of Today

Apparently there’s been a shareholder rebellion at Marcellus driller Epsilon Energy. MDN reported a year ago that Epsilon, headquartered in Ontario, Canada, was scaling back its focus on drilling in the Marcellus due to low natural gas prices, and instead concentrating on oil drilling in the Bakken Shale region of North Dakota (see Epsilon Energy 2Q12 Update: Scaling Back in the Marcellus). At that time (perhaps still), the company owned a 35% stake in the Auburn gas gathering system in the PA Marcellus.

The company released the following statement on Friday that virtually the entire board of directors will resign as of today, July 15, and be replaced by a new slate of board members:
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MarkWest: $2.2B in Marcellus/Utica, Bring on the Cracker Plants!

MarkWest Energy, a major Marcellus and Utica midstream company, is investing $2.2 billion in the Marcellus/Utica region in pipelines, processing and fractionation plants. According to MarkWest, they have enough work in the northeast to keep them expanding for the next five years. One of the main services offered by MarkWest is removing ethane from raw natural gas. Their plan is to ship the ethane to either Canada or the Gulf Coast via pipelines. However, they’d love it if the region had “several cracker plants.” Here we go again with more cracker talk!

A good overview of MarkWest’s several billion dollar investment in the northeast, and their belief that the region needs its own cracker plant:
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Cuomo and Fracking and Comments (Oh My!)

Kind of a strange editorial in the Rochester, NY Democrat and Chronicle (D&C) newspaper last Friday. The gist of the editorial is that Gov. Cuomo has not distinguished himself by fence-sitting on the fracking issue (we agree with that point). However, the editorial writer(s) have angst that because Cuomo and his lieutenants at the Dept. of Environmental Conservation and State Dept. of Health have taken so long with their respective reviews, that the 200,000 comments from the public filed by a deadline earlier this year will go un-responded to and that the public’s input will be “dismissed” and not considered in the final decision.

Here’s what the D&C editorial says:
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PA Landowner Issue: Title Washing & How it May Affect Your Lease

Pennsylvania landowners entering into leases for oil and gas drilling on and under their property need to be aware of an issue exclusive to PA called “title washing.” Lawyer Ronald L. Hicks, Jr. from the firm Meyer, Unkovic & Scott writes about title washing in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

What is title washing? As Hicks explains, it is a now-dormant practice whereby landowners who owed back taxes on a property would let the property go to a tax sale and then buy it back themselves at a discount because the tax sale would be accepted as a payoff of the old tax debt (pennies on the dollar). This happened mostly from 1900-1950. As part of the “washing” process, title to both the surface and the subsurface was provided free and clear. But recent PA court decisions have said oil and gas rights were not a part of the subsurface “washing”. It’s a tangled, complicated mess. Bottom line, according to Hicks, landowners should have their titles researched before signing a lease–and make sure any tax sales in the history of the lease are examined very closely to see if title washing was involved…
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Wheeling Delays Vote Again on GreenHunter Wastewater Facility

It looks like the Wheeling Water Warriors will live to fight for another month. The Wheeling (WV) Planning Commission was due to finally vote to allow GreenHunter Water to build a frack wastewater recycling plant at a facility along the Ohio River in Wheeling. After some initial bumps, it seemed as if things were going along fine and that the Commission would vote last week (see GreenHunter’s Wheeling Frack Wastewater Plant Up for Vote July 8). However, the Commission has once again tabled the vote–this time until August 12th.

The latest machinations from Wheeling and what’s holding up the vote this time:
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WRLC Says, “Why Can’t We be Friends?” in the OH Utica

The Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC), a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to preserving the natural resources of northern Ohio, has the mission of working to “permanently protect natural areas and farmland.” The good news is that the WRLC believes Utica Shale drilling in Ohio can be done safely and wisely–with some effort. They also believe that if the Utica becomes “a battlefield” in the fracking wars, all Ohioans will lose. The WRLC says what’s needed by both sides is cooperation and creativity.

We like the WRLC’s sentiment. Only problem is, when dealing with extreme and unreasonable people who view all fossil fuels (and those who want to use them) as the enemy, cooperation and creativity is not possible. There is no middle ground when dealing with unreasonable (as in you can’t rationally reason with them) people who demand a ban on fracking…
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Cabot to Plug Unviable Gas Well in Dimock, PA

Cabot Oil & Gas announced last week that they will plug one of the first Marcellus wells they drilled in Dimock Township (Susquehanna County), PA as soon as the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) concludes an investigation into the gas well and two nearby water wells that may have been contaminated with methane from the Cabot well. The well is “unviable.” Cabot (and the DEP) stress that the investigation into whether or not the well is creating methane migration is not done and in the meantime Cabot is supplying water to one of the two affected homes…
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