Tough New Air Standards for PA Marcellus Drillers Start Next Week

door a or door bStarting next week, Marcellus Shale drillers in PA will face strict new rules on air emissions at drill sites. The new rules (i.e. “technical guidance”) won’t officially be released until Saturday, August 10 when published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The rules will limit noxious emissions, including nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants. The rules also include an almost-total ban on flaring of wells–only short-term or emergency flaring allowed.

Drillers will be given one of two choices for compliance under the new rules: either get an air quality plan pre-approved by the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) for each well drilled–adding a lot of time to the drilling process, or comply with new DEP standards that are even more strict than federal standards issued in April 2012–in essence have your drilling operation certified as complying with super-strict DEP standards. Which option will drillers chose? The Marcellus Shale Coalition says drillers are mulling it over now…
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EVEP/EnerVest Cuts Deal to Sell 22.5K OH Utica Acres for $284M

In September last year, EV Energy Partners/EnerVest put more than a half million acres of Ohio Utica Shale acreage on the market. Near the end of last year, a deal for 104,000 of those acres seemed to be almost done, but in April of this year, the deal fell apart (see EV Energy Partners Deal to Sell 104K Utica Acres Dead, What Now?). EVEP then changed gears and said instead of putting big blocks up for sale, they’ll look at selling off smaller chunks (see EV Energy: Changing from Big Deals to Small for Utica Land Sale). Looks like the change in strategy worked.

Today, EVEP announced they’ve made a new deal to sell 22,535 acres in Guernsey, Harrison and Noble counties in Ohio for $284.3 million to an unnamed buyer. According to EVEP, the deal works out to be a very high $12,900 per acre. We ran the math and came up with $12,616 per acre. Either way, EVEP is getting a LOT of money for unloading Utica Shale acreage they don’t want. This deal is scheduled to close in the third quarter–the next few months. Let’s see if this one actually happens.

The announcement from EVEP/EnerVest (with a map of the acreage sold):
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Seneca Resources: Shale Gas Production Up 54% Thx to Marcellus

National Fuel Gas Company, the parent of Marcellus driller Seneca Resources, released its third quarter (everyone else’s second quarter) financial and operational update yesterday. CEO Ronald Tanski called Seneca’s PA Marcellus production in the previous quarter “robust” and was the biggest reason why they saw a 54% increase in production from the same period last year. He also said Seneca’s early results from four new wells in Elk County, PA are promising.

Select portions of the National Fuel Gas report issued yesterday:
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Ohio’s Abandoned Railroad Lines Become Hot Commodity

Yes, we’re suckers for a good railroad story–always have been, always will be. Especially railroad stories tied to shale drilling.

Here’s a railroad/drilling story with a twist: In Ohio, abandoned right-of-ways from railroads long gone are suddenly a hot commodity. Why? Midstream (pipeline and processing plant) companies are snapping them up to run pipelines along them…
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NiSource Wins Friends in Mahoning County with Road Repair Project

Pennant Midstream, an entity created by NiSource and Hilcorp Energy, is developing a $300 million natural gas gathering and processing network in northeastern Ohio that extends from Mercer and Lawrence counties in Pennsylvania, through Mahoning County, and into Columbiana County. The project, called Hickory Bend, will gather natural gas produced from Hilcorp wells exploring the Utica shale and transport the gas to a $150 million cryogenic processing plant under construction in Springfield Township. By all accounts the project is on track to be completed by the end of this year (see OH Hickory Bend Pipeline/Plant Makes Excellent Progress).

NiSource is making new friends with their latest initiative. As part of the Hickory Bend project, NiSource (i.e. Pennant Midstream) will spend $1.5 million to rebuild roads in Mahoning County, OH likely to be damaged from heavy trucks working on the project. According to county officials, the amount of roadways that will be rebuilt, and the way NiSource is doing it (not just repaving but rebuilding from base layers) goes “well above and beyond the minimum that was required”…
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Anti-Drilling Enviros Gradually Turning Maryland into Dystopia

An excellent column appears today in the Gaithersburg Gazette by Blair Lee, chairman of the board of Lee Development Group in Silver Spring, MD. (BTW, who knew there were such strong voices of reason left in arguably the most liberal state in the union after Rhode Island?) Lee’s thesis in today’s column: The “fanciful”–we’d say harsh–environmental policies of leftists in Maryland state government threaten the state with a predictable economic collapse. It is a cautionary tale of what happens when anti-drilling/anti-fossil fuel/global warming true believers (“warmists”) get their hands on an entire state. Maryland’s policies exemplify the end result of warmists’ extreme views. And it sure ain’t pretty.

Like all Utopians, the policies of Maryland’s warmists are slowly-but-surely turning the state into a miserable dystopia, free of “evil” things like cars and single-family detached homes:
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