Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Nov 27, 2013

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


Natural gas remains good energy option, state’s petroleum group leader says
Cumberland Times-News
Natural gas continues to make good economic and environmental sense, said Drew P. Cobbs, executive director of the Maryland Petroleum Council. It causes far fewer carbon emissions than burning coal, said Cobbs, who is also the eastern regional director for the American Petroleum Institute. Whether drilling for natural gas in Marcellus Shale will occur in Maryland remains an open question, he said. The price of natural gas will always be a factor in that decision-making process. While some of the initial leases in Western Maryland for rights to drill for gas remain in effect, a large number have expired. “I?think that’s somewhat of a signal” about how some companies view the prospects for drilling in Maryland, Cobbs said. Many of those leases that remain in effect have been transferred from relatively small companies to large oil and gas companies, like Chevron.

New York

Proposed Hurley [Ulster County] moratorium on fracking draws concern
Kingston Daily Freeman
A local group is asking the Town Board to strengthen language of a proposed town moratorium on the gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing. At a board meeting Monday, Tobe Carey, a spokesman for the group Sustainable Hurley, said critics of hydraulic fracturing, also known as hydrofracking or fracking, want to avoid seeing the moratorium invalidated. “Once a solid moratorium is in place, we can focus on our mutually agreed upon goal of enacting zoning changes that are in line with the requirements of the town’s comprehensive plan,” Carey said. The group’s concerns include the absence of a standard state Department of State local law filing form and the need for wording that conforms to state Municipal Home Rule Law. “A local law must say ‘Be it enacted by the (local government board),’” Carey said. “Failure to include an enacting clause renders a local law invalid.”


Utica Shale play experiencing growing pains
Platts Gas Business Briefing (paid or free subscription required)
While Utica Shale production is expected to grow substantially, the Ohio portion of the play is still experiencing growing pains as drillers perfect techniques to get the most gas and oil from each well. Producers have yet to “crack the code” of the Utica, according to Jim Palm, CEO of Gulfport Energy. He said there may be a case for changing casing size, or even fracking without sand in order to complete the wells. “Maybe we’ve got to think of something like, instead of five-inch casing, maybe it’s 4.5-inch casing,” Palm said. “What if we didn’t use any sand to frack wells? In the Barnett, producers did better where they used less sand, or, rather, gels. We need to do some crazy thing things and radically change how we approach it. The rock is brittle in the Barnett, like in the Utica. Maybe just a tiny bit of sand is all we need.”

Belmont College Training New Crop of Natural Gas Pipeliners
Shale Play Ohio Valley
Belmont College officials believe full development of the Utica Shale natural gas and oil play will require workers to weld together thousands of miles of pipelines across the Ohio countryside. Thursday, college leaders showed Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor how they are working to train local residents to perform jobs that are mostly now going to those from southern states. “We want these jobs to go to Ohioans,” Taylor said during the tour of the college’s Energy Institute. “We need to address the demands of this industry. Belmont College is helping us meet the demand.”

Students Told of ‘Rewarding’ Futures in Oil, Gas Industry
Shale Play Ohio Valley
To get a better understanding of the career paths available to young people in the gas and oil industry, nearly 200 seniors from John Marshall and Cameron high schools heard from representatives from several local gas companies about their own careers Tuesday at John Marshall High School. Organized by Energy Speaks Education, students spent the day listening to presentations on the types of jobs available in the industry, the different degrees students would need to obtain to enter the field, salary amounts and the nature of the work on gas and oil sites. Companies represented included the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, Eagle Manufacturing Company, Gastar Exploration, Select Energy Services and Baker Hughes.


As Pace Of Natural Gas Drilling Slows In Pa., State Holds Large Share Of Nation’s Wells
CBS Philly
Pennsylvania’s top energy official says the natural gas industry in the state has changed in recent years, but remains strong. Patrick Henderson, the governor’s top energy policy advisor, says there has been a decline in the number of wells drilled over the last two years in Pennsylvania. Drilling began on 1,900 wells in 2011, and only 1,300 last year. But he says it’s misleading to draw conclusions from that statistic alone. “The wells drilled in 2009, 2010, 2011 – we’re seeing a lot of capital spent in putting them into production.” Henderson says there was a frenetic pace of well-drilling early on, because leases stipulated that wells had to be drilled to hold the land. Now, he says the emphasis in Pennsylvania has shifted toward building the infrastructure to get gas out of the ground and out to market.

Senate Committee To Consider Nominations Of Ferretti, Abruzzo Dec. 4
The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to meet on December 4 to consider the nominations of Ellen Ferretti as Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources and Chris Abruzzo as Secretary of Environmental Protection. Gov. Corbett’s nominees for DEP and DCNR were announced September 20, but the 25 legislative days the Senate has to consider nominations officially began on October 20 with both nominations because that’s when the paperwork got to the Senate. Both nominations are now on day 16. The Senate is scheduled to return to voting session December 3 and will be in session a total of five days in December. If the nominations are not acted on in December, the Governor will have to re-submit the nomination paperwork in January, including new financial disclosure statements, and the Senate will have 10 additional legislative days to consider the nominations. The meeting will be held in Hearing Room 1 North Office Building starting at 10:00 a.m.

Duryea unveils CNG truck
Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
Borough Street Supervisor Gino Marriggi didn’t bother opening the garage doors before firing up his new compressed natural gas-powered, CNG, recycling truck for a demonstration group of local and state officials. “It’s just water vapor,” said the salesman from Pocono Peterbilt, Ron McHale. McHale coordinates natural-gas engine sales for the company based in Bartonsville. Borough officials gave demonstrations Tuesday of the new truck funded heavily through a state Department of Environmental Protection recycling grant. The truck emits almost no particulate matter, so there’s no black smoke, and it burns fuel in the form of compressed natural gas stored in cylinders behind the cab. The trickiest part, planners said, was installing a fueling system for the truck. Natural gas is not a liquid and must be pumped from utility lines below the ground, compressed and moved into the truck’s tanks.

Nova Plans PE Capacity Expansions
Plastics Technology
At October’s K 2013 show in Dusseldorf, Nova Chemicals, Moon Township, Pa., unveiled details of its PE capacity plans. In late 2015, Nova will start up production of a gas-phase LLDPE plant with close to 1 billion lb/yr capacity at Joffre, Alberta. The company is also revamping its Corunna, Ont., ethylene cracker to utilize up to 100% natural-gas liquids by early 2014. Nova plans to be the first in the industry to utilize ethane from the Marcellus Shale Basin for making PE by end of this year. Nova also is considering adding PE production in either Ontario or on the U.S. Gulf Coast and expects to firm up plans by the end of the year.

Beneath the Surface, the DRBC Helps to Deny Landowner Rights
Natural Gas Now
There is another DRBC meeting coming next month and we are informed that, yet again, nothing will happen regarding the draft gas drilling regulations completed over two years ago as the agency delays, obfuscates and, beneath the surface, helps deny landowners their rights. If you’re like me, you probably don’t know there is a malady called “paddling duck syndrome.” A pop psychologist (therapist, actually) by the name of Dr. Carol describes it as follows…

Gas drilling cash flows into Evans City
The Cranberry Eagle
EVANS CITY — The revenue stream the borough hoped to see from selling water to shale gas drillers has begun to trickle in. So far the trickle has added up to about $75,000. Public works director Norm Nelson said on Monday that water from the borough’s former water plant on Route 528 has been sold to several drillers. Tanker trucks pull up to the plant, fill up, and take the water to drilling sites. Shale gas drillers use millions of gallons of water to hydrofracture, or “frack,” the shale rock covering natural gas pockets one mile or more underground. When borough council in February 2012 decided to connect to Pennsylvania American Water instead of using its own plant, it opened the reservoir to drillers. Nelson said 8 million gallons of water was recently sold to Rex Energy for the fracking of the six wells on a hill behind the former water plant.


The Latest Meteorologist Survey Destroys The Global Warming Climate ‘Consensus’
Barely half of American Meteorological Society meteorologists believe global warming is occurring and humans are the primary cause, a newly released study reveals. The survey results comprise the latest in a long line of evidence indicating the often asserted global warming consensus does not exist. The American Meteorological Society, working with experts at George Mason University and Yale University, emailed all AMS members for whom the AMS had a mailing address (excluding associate members and student members) and asked them to fill out an online survey on global warming. More than 1,800 AMS meteorologists filled out the survey, providing a highly representative view of scientists with meteorological, climatological, and atmospheric science expertise.

My Favorite Shale Plays Share This 1 Key Virtue
In today’s energy market, investors often try to distinguish between oil plays and natural gas plays, but the distinction is often moot — most of today’s wells produce a healthy amount of both. The key to finding winning investments is to focus on the relative productivity of a firm’s well.

FERC Chairman Wellinghoff Departs
John Wellinghoff officially resigned his post as Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Sunday, November 24, 2013. Wellinghoff, the longest serving FERC Chairman in history, will be joining the law firm of Stoel Rives LLP. The now-departed FERC Chairman announced his intention to leave the agency in May 2013, but agreed to stay on until his replacement could be named and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. President Obama’s first choice to fill the position, former Colorado energy regulator Ron Binz, recently withdrew from consideration in the face of opposition. The White House has indicated that another current FERC Commissioner, Cheryl LaFleur, will serve as acting Chairman until a permanent replacement is confirmed.

New Study Underscores Urgent Need to Reduce Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Operations
Environmental Defense Fund
You may have seen news reports about a new methane emissions study conducted by climate researchers from Harvard and seven other institutions and just published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The new paper provides an improved estimate of the total methane budget of the US – in other words, how much methane is being released into the atmosphere each year from all sources, including livestock and oil-and-gas production.

CT: Regulators Give Thumbs Up To Natural Gas Expansion, Angering Heating Oil Dealers
CT News Junkie
A trade association of more than 600 home heating oil and propane dealers is considering all of its options, including legal action against the state for approving a plan that allows three natural gas companies to convert 280,000 customers to natural gas. Chris Herb, president of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association, said legal action is just one of the many options his organization is examining as a result of Friday’s decision by state regulators. “Something is fundamentally wrong in America when the government has the power to convert 280,000 customers from one fuel to another,” Herb said Saturday. The Public Utility Regulatory Authority gave final approval to a plan by three natural gas companies to expand their footprint in the state. The final decision concluded that all new natural gas customers will be able to spread the cost of conversion over a period of 10 years.

NJ: Area residents protest natural gas compressor
The Progress
About 100 area residents protested the nearly completed natural gas compressor station on Eagle Rock Avenue on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 23. With signs proclaiming “Protect Our Town Shut This Station Down,” “Shutdown the Dangerous Compressor Station, Protect Roseland” and “Gas + Electricity = Danger,” the residents were getting the word out about what they say is a dangerous compressor station run by Williams/Transco transcontinental pipeline company. The station operated by the Tulsa, Okla., company helps transport natural gas through a pipeline that goes along the eastern seaboard by pressurizing it at various intervals. The project in Roseland is the installation of 25,000 horsepower natural gas compressor station that would double the pressure through an existing natural gas pipeline.

Don’t let extremists undermine fracking boom
The Hill
States are taking the initiative to regulate hydraulic fracturing operations to produce oil and natural gas — and environmentalists, as well as industry, support them. Colorado just unveiled new rules to limit methane emissions from fracking by using improved well-sealing techniques and technologies, such as infrared cameras. This approach meets the objectives of state officials who understand and regulate industry operations, and it helps attain the goals of responsible environmentalists, though not the pipe dreamers who want the immediate end of all fossil fuel use. Those people persist in obstruction, no matter what the truth. On this issue, a clear consensus is forming: State governments should have authority over drilling, including fracking operations. The Environmental Protection Agency has already supported this regulatory shift in states like Wyoming and Pennsylvania.