Explosion/Fire at Blue Racer’s Natrium, WV Processing Plant

Blue Racer Midstream logoAn explosion and fire was reported at Blue Racer Midstream’s Natrium, WV natural gas processing plant early Saturday morning. Area residents, some of whom were evacuated for several hours, reported an explosion that rattled homes miles away and the night sky lit up with an orange hue.

Fortunately no one was injured in the blast and the fire, which was “isolated to a small area of the plant” burned itself out. No word yet on what caused the explosion and fire…
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New OH Injection Well to be Drilled <8 Miles from Earthquake Site

American Water Management Services (of Howland, OH) is certainly braver than we are. In the “new couple months” the company plans to drill a new frack wastewater injection well in Weathersfield, OH. Where is Weathersfield? Close to (under 8 miles away from) the now shuttered injection well operated by D&L Energy–the well that caused earthquakes in the Youngstown, OH area in December 2011 (see ODNR Finds Youngstown Injection Well Caused Earthquakes).

Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) says the new injection well targets a different rock formation than the D&L well that caused the earthquakes around Youngstown. The ODNR has installed seismic monitoring equipment and is watching this new well very closely to ensure there are no tremors being caused. Still, you KNOW if there’s the least little tremor around Youngstown from now until eternity, everyone will blame this new well even if it’s not the cause…
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Vertical/Shallow Gas Wells in PA Try Going Horizontal

A fascinating story in Sunday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about a developing trend in Pennsylvania’s gas (and oil) fields–the trend of smaller drillers and even some larger drillers who are now targeting shallow rock layers with horizontal drilling. Vertical or conventional natural gas drilling produces a lot less gas than deeper unconventional/horizontal drilling. A LOT less. So how can “mom and pop” vertical drillers compete against the big boys? By going horizontal too.

Seems that some vertical drillers are giving horizontal drilling in their existing vertical wells a try. Instead of drilling down 5,000 feet to the Marcellus, they’re drilling down only 2,000 feet before turning the bit horizontal. The rock layers they’re targeting won’t be anywhere near as productive as the Marcellus–but hey, if you can goose production by 5-10X that of a traditional vertical-only well, it’s very profitable for a tiny fraction of the cost it takes to drill a Marcellus well. Thing is, we won’t know just how productive (or profitable) until next year because these shallower wells only self-report annually…
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No More “Acting” for Abruzzo – Nominated as Secretary PA DEP

Congratulations to Chris Abruzzo, Acting Secretary of the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Gov. Tom Corbett has just nominated Abruzzo to permanently fill the role as Secretary of the DEP. Abruzzo had big shoes to fill after the departure of Michael Krancer (see Developing… PA DEP Sec. Krancer Resigns).

When Abruzzo was appointed Acting Secretary this past spring, former DEP Sec. John Hanger, a Democrat, blasted his appointment by Corbett as “bizarre and irresponsible” (see Former PA DEP Sec. Hanger Blasts Interim Replacement for Krancer). Undeterred by such criticism, Abruzzo has done an outstanding job over the past six months (see PA Acting Sec of DEP Making his Agency a “Problem-Solver”). Abruzzo’s problem-solving approach has now been duly rewarded with a promotion…
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CA Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill into Law to Allow Fracking

Last Friday, California Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown signed Senate Bill 4 into law–a new law that allows fracking in the state. In less than a year California took up the fracking issue, investigated it, debated it, crafted new regulations, and passed it–with Democrats in charge. Credit where credit is due, so our hat is off to them.

New York’s fracking moratorium (and debate) is 5 years 2 months old as of today. We believe California’s actions (and the following article) speaks for itself. However, just so we’re clear on our reason for highlighting the California vote last Friday: New York is broken. Whose fault is it? The person sitting in the governor’s mansion…
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Hearing on Proposed TerrAqua Wastewater Recycling Facility in PA

A potential new frack wastewater recycling/treatment plant is on the way in Washington County, PA. If it can get zoning approval from Smith Township. TerrAqua Resource Management has applied for a zoning variance that would it allow it to build a Marcellus Shale wastewater fluid recycling facility near the village of Bulger. The original application was turned down by Smith, but TerrAqua refiled for the variance.

No one (from TerrAqua nor the town) is talking about this new request ahead of a public hearing tonight…
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Westmoreland County, PA Not in the Marcellus Wet Gas Sweet Spot

As drilling continues at a rapid pace in Pennsylvania, in particular in western PA, we learn more about where the wet gas/dry gas boundary lies. In addition to methane (or dry gas), “wet” gas includes natural gas liquids like butane, pentane and ethane. The extra compounds in wet gas make it more valuable than dry gas alone.

The head of the Keystone Energy Forum, speaking last week in Westmoreland County, PA, said Westmoreland County is not in the wet gas “sweet spot” of Marcellus drilling. But that doesn’t mean the county won’t profit from Marcellus drilling…
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What’s the Average Weekly Salary for WV’s Marcellus Workers?

An article from West Virginia does an excellent job of summarizing the wages of the average gas field worker employed during the drilling/extraction phase. WorkForce West Virginia tracks how many workers are employed full-time in various counties in WV in the gas & oil business. If you average it out, workers (mostly manual laborers) are making anywhere from an average $537 per week (in Roane County) to $1,430 per week (in Doddridge County). Guess which county we’d rather be working in?

Here’s a county by county rundown:
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The Wheeling Water Warriors Live! Rumored Sighting Today…

We’re glad to see that a complete and utter defeat hasn’t dampened the spirits of the anti-drilling Wheeling Water Warriors (cue echo, Water Warriors, Warriors…). You may recall that a half dozen or so people calling themselves that silly name opposed a new GreenHunter Water frack wastewater recycling facility due to be set up along the Ohio River in Wheeling, WV. The facility recently won approval from the Wheeling Planning Commission (see Wheeling, WV Approves GreenHunter Frack Wastewater Facility). You would think the Water Warriors would throw in the towel after a crushing defeat. Alas, you would be wrong…
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