Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Jul 11, 2013

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

New York

Are the Finger Lakes the place to store natural gas? Yes!
North Country Public Radio
It’s something few people think about, but all the natural gas and other fossil fuels being produced by hydrofracking have to be stored somewhere before they get to the consumer. Often used for the job: underground salt caverns like the ones near Watkins Glen in the Finger Lakes.

LNG port slated for NY coast. Will gas come or will it go? Shale gas exports/imports stir energy policy debate
Shale Gas Review
The controversy over fracking began with the process of extracting gas from shale. Now it involves where the bounty goes and how it gets there. First, about where it goes: In response to a glut from an onshore drilling boom, President Obama has voiced support for plans to boost sales by exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries in Asia and other places where supply is low and prices are high. It’s a strategy opposed by anti-fracking groups because global markets = more demand = more fracking. Export plans have also drawn resistance from the manufacturing sector and petro-chemical industry, which use natural gas both as fuel and feedstock to create products.

Hydrofracking seen as having heavy impact on society
Center for Health, Environment and Justice
Even if natural gas wells are never drilled in the Glens Falls region, the process of hydraulic fracturing is going to have an impact on our economy, politics and environment. The process of extracting natural gas from deep rock formations using high-pressure water containing sand and chemicals is considered a bane to the environment by many. Many more believe it is the best hope for reducing greenhouse gases and saving the planet from disastrous climate change.


Texas oil and gas services firm expanding in Central Ohio for Utica shale work
Columbus Business First
Surveying and Mapping Inc. is a prime example of a company that’s expanding in Central Ohio because of its involvement in the Utica shale play. The company, which goes by SAM Inc., moved into 6,000 square feet of office space off Eastwind Drive in Westerville last week after running out of room in smaller quarters near Polaris, said Kevin Richardson, who manages the regional office for the Austin, Texas-based company.

Chesapeake Energy opens new Belmont Co. offices, still hiring for positions
WTOV Channel 9
The smell of fresh paint and new construction was still in the air at the new Chesapeake Energy offices at Fox Commerce Park in Belmont County. Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday as they continue looking for new workers. “This is more of a central area for our operations for Utica and for Marcellus shale development, which is bringing us great natural gas energy supply,” said Gary Gould, district manager of Marcellus South.


Coal Power Generation Is Being Cut. Will Natural Gas Be Next?
The Motley Fool
The old saying used to be: “If you can’t beat them, join them.” It turns out that it doesn’t quite work out that way all the time. At least that’s the case for FirstEnergy which is shutting down two coal-fired power plants due to low natural gas prices. The problem is it can’t economically justify replacing those plants with natural-gas-powered units.


Alternatives Are Needed Too, But Hydrocarbons Are a Gift
Natural Gas Now
Everyone is aware of the impacts and costs of oil, gas and coal. Some are aware of the myriad of products and services they provide beyond power generation and perhaps plastic. A few are aware of the true financial costs per Kw/hr of nuclear energy. Then there are the alternatives. People understand these even less than the other. For some they are a liberal waste of money while others view them as the panacea for our energy and pollution problems.

Innovative solutions for processing shale oils
Hydrocarbon Processing Magazine
The refining of shale oil (also known as tight oil) extracted through fracturing from fields such as Eagle Ford, Utica and Bakken has become prevalent in many areas of the US. Although these oils are appealing as refinery feedstocks due to their availability and low cost, processing can be more difficult. The quality of the shale oils is highly variable. These oils can be high in solids with high melting point waxes. The light paraffinic nature of shale oils can lead to asphaltene destabilization when blended with heavier crudes.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap – Will NGL Prices Continue to Drop?
RBN Energy Blog
Over the past few weeks, NGL prices have dropped to levels relative to other hydrocarbon prices that we have not seen since the bad old days of 2009. Since early April 2013, the frac spread has averaged less than a bargain basement level of $5.00/MMbtu. For months ethane at Mont Belvieu has been valued at no better than the price of natural gas at the Henry Hub. Propane at Mont Belvieu languishes below 40% of the value of crude oil, and normal butane at 50% of crude oil, levels not seen in years. Even natural gasoline (being exported in record volumes to Canada for diluent) is down to only 85% of crude. Must NGLs do some kind of dirty deeds to recapture their historical valuation? Or is this the new normal? Today we kick off a three part blog series to explore the sad case of rock bottom NGL prices.

An Open Letter to President Obama from Gasland Director Josh Fox (Warning, High BS Factor)
Common Dreams
I write to request a meeting with you and families directly impacted by oil and gas drilling and fracking—as documented in Gasland Part II—together with a small group of scientists and engineers who are also featured in the film. We would like to discuss health and economic impacts felt by communities located near the oil and gas fields, share our first-hand stories, and provide you with evidence on rates of well leakage, water contamination, air pollution and methane emissions.

Fiction Masquerading As News In The Oil And Gas Shale World
Trying to get accurate, truthful information regarding the oil and natural gas industry to the public has always been a struggle, a struggle that has never been more difficult than today, when editorial practices at many media outlets have become lazy and suspect, as they struggle to remain relevant in the fast-paced digital age. Misleading and just outright false information seems to be ubiquitous, as standards for what appears as “news” to the public seem to be lowered on a daily basis. The premier of Gasland II on HBO Monday night is a good case in point. I’m not going to do a complete review of the film, but you can find a really good review of it here, at EnergyInDepth.

CarLab Mixes Natural Gas and Gasoline for More Efficient Vehicle
New York Times
When engineers convert gasoline cars to run on natural gas as well, they typically install a large pressurized tank and figure that the driver will go 100 miles or more, use up the gas and then switch back to gasoline. But for cars in the United States, the idea hasn’t caught on. Now Eric Noble of the CarLab, a California consulting company, is trying a different approach. At a recent meeting in Washington, the Alternative Clean Transportation Expo, he showed off several vehicles with relatively tiny natural gas tanks – not much bigger than the propane tank in a backyard gas grill – with an all-gas range of 55 miles or so. Unlike most bi-fuel vehicles, there is no switch to change back and forth between natural gas and gasoline. And at any given moment, the car could be running on a mixture of the two.

Will Natural Gas Resume Its Downward Trend?
Seeking Alpha
The natural gas market hasn’t done much during the last week. According to the latest EIA update, last week’s buildup in natural gas storage was roughly identical to the five-year average. Will natural gas prices resume their downward trend? Let’s analyze the latest developments in the natural gas market.

Hydraulic Fracturing Slashes Demand for OPEC Oil
Energy in Depth
As Gasland-director Josh Fox continues his misinformation tour across the country, he’s certainly hoping his phony talking points will distract Americans from the reality of hydraulic fracturing: namely, increased energy security and a stronger economy. To wit: the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is admitting that demand for its crude oil – long held as an economic weapon over the United States – will be significantly diminished next year. The key factor? Much to Josh Fox’s dismay, it’s the process he’s determined to stop: hydraulic fracturing, which has unlocked vast supplies of shale oil that otherwise would be unreachable.


U.S. shale booms is threatening Iran’s LNG plans
Bloomberg/Akron Beacon Journal
Iran’s ambition to exploit the world’s biggest natural gas reserves, stymied for years by U.S. sanctions, faces an even sterner test as rising global output and the North American shale boom threaten to erode prices. The Persian Gulf state would need a decade to build planned export capacity of at least 40 million metric tons a year of liquefied natural gas even if unfettered by economic curbs over its nuclear program, say analysts including Tony Regan at Tri-Zen International Pte. A surge in U.S., Canadian and Australian gas from shale deposits may depress prices for new LNG projects by 35 percent, according to Barclays Plc and Royal Bank of Canada, reducing Iran’s potential profit from selling the fuel.