Marcellus Hiring Practices “Under a Microscope” by DOL

microscopeAre you a driller, oilfield services or other supply chain company whose primary activity revolves around the PA or WV Marcellus Shale? If so, there’s a good chance you’re going to get audited by the U.S. Labor Department (DOL). Best to get your records (and hiring practices) in order now.

The biggest violation found by the DOL’s so-called Marcellus Shale Initiative: improperly classifying workers as independent contractors instead of salaried or hourly employees. Hiring workers as independent contractors is coming back to bite a number of companies, large and small. If the DOL finds a violation, they helpfully pass it on to the IRS, so after the DOL is done fining you, the IRS typically shows up on your doorstep for a second pound of  flesh. Sweet…
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USGS Finally Issues Report for Selling Water from 3 OH Reserviors

In June 2012, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) board flip-flopped on a decision to make water sales from their considerable inventory of lakes and reservoirs to Marcellus and Utica Shale drillers. At first they voted to move forward with water sales, then a few days later, reversed their decision pending a full-blown study by the U.S. Geological Survey (see Muskingum Watershed Reverses Decision to Sell Water to Drillers). Thankfully, the MWCD didn’t wait for the USGS study, which was supposed to be issued by the end of last year, before they went ahead with more water sales in September (see Muskingum Watershed Moves Forward with Water Sales to Drillers).

Perhaps the reason the MWCD moved forward before getting the results of the USGS study was a premonition about how long the study would take. The 33-page USGS report, titled “An analysis of potential water availability from the Atwood, Leesville, and Tappan Lakes in the Muskingum River Watershed, Ohio” was just released today (full copy embedded below)–seven months later than anticipated. Although the study offers analysis only and no conclusions or recommendations, the MWCD says the data in the study is “helpful”…
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The Marcellus Continues to be Star Performer for Chesapeake

Different media outlets have analyzed the comments made last Thursday by Chesapeake Energy officials, looking for Chessy’s “take” on their particular region. A newspaper in West Virginia published the report below that looks at Chessy’s update on the Marcellus Shale in the southwestern corner of the play–otherwise known as the “wet gas” area. Bottom line: Although everyone continues to focus on the Chesapeake’s love affair with the Utica Shale, the Marcellus Shale is the play actually contributing to the company’s bottom line–in a big way. The Marcellus is helping turn around the good ship Chesapeake.

Of particular interest to MDN in this brief article is a short paragraph that mentions the signing bonus/royalty deals landowners in the Upper Ohio Valley have recently landed with Chesapeake and other drillers–some of the highest bonus and lease terms we’ve seen to date in the Marcellus…
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NiSource: 5 Marcellus/Utica Projects, $744M Investment

NiSource, a major gas & electric utility company operating in the northeast and southwest (and parent of Columbia Gas and Columbia Pipeline), is increasingly a major midstream–pipeline and processing plant–player in the Marcellus and Utica Shale region.

Here’s a handy roundup of the projects NiSource and its subsidiaries have underway in the Marcellus/Utica, representing roughly 3/4 of a billion dollars of investments:
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Heinz Endowments Fires Head of Enviro Grants – Change Coming?

Caren GlotfeltyAnti-drillers are nervous that one of the big-money spigots for funding their so-called research into the dangers of fracking is about to be shut off. In a developing soap opera, the “longtime head” of environmental grant making for the Heinz Endowments, Caren Glotfelty, has been shown the door. A number of anti-drilling studies have been funded by Glotfelty during her tenure at Heinz. Bobby Vagt, president of Heinz Enowments, will fill in for Glotfelty until a replacement is found. Vagt, you may recall, is involved with the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (see Important: Drillers & Enviros Form New Group, Launch Cert Program). It was also recently disclosed that Vagt sits on the board of natgas pipeline company Kinder Morgan (see Heinz Endowments President Owns $1.2M in Kinder Morgan Stock).

Anti-drillers have broken out the tea leaves, chicken feet and anything else they can to divine whether or not the move to oust Glotfelty is an indication of a change in (funding) priorities for Heinz…
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U.S. Senate Bill Would Prevent Feds from Regulating Fracking

A ray of hope that the federal government might actually do the right thing and let the individual states (as provided for in the U.S. Constitution) regulate fracking in their own states? Stranger things have happened!

A new bill just introduced by two U.S. senators from shale states–John Hoeven from North Dakota (Republican) and Mary Landrieu from Louisiana (Democrat)–would prevent the federal government from interfering with states’ rights to regulate fracking and drilling within their own borders. Three cheers! However, don’t hold your breath that this bill will go anywhere with BHO sitting in The White House…
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