Did Range Resources Cover-Up Spill at Well Site in PA?

operation cover-up

Here we go again. A lawsuit has been filed against Range Resources in Amwell Township (Washington County), PA by a group of neighbors close to the Yeager well drilled by Range with claims that they were “sickened” (no word on how) by drilling at the well site. The big news is that there was an alleged spill at the drill site in 2010 (three years ago!) and that the spill was “covered up” and not properly reported by Range. A juicy rumor like that is all PA Rep. Jesse “fake online ID” White needed to demand that state Attorney General Kathleen Kane (an anti-driller) and a host of other government officials should investigate this forthwith. Jesse, you may recall, was caught red-handed using fake online IDs to impersonate and slander his own pro-drilling constituents. He still hasn’t had the decency to resign and the Democrat Party in PA hasn’t had the decency to remove him from office. A new low in PA politics.

Here’s the rumor about a three year-old spill that may or may not have happened and the dreaded cover-up by the evil villain, Snidely Whiplash Range Resources (sarcasm intended):
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Erie County, NY Falls for the FWW Lie, Bans Fracking & Road Salt

On Monday MDN told you about an eminent vote in western NY to ban fracking (see Erie County (Buffalo) NY to Vote on “Near-Ban” of Fracking). Yesterday, legislators for Erie County, NY fell into the trap set by the odious Food & Water Watch–legislators voted 9-2 to ban the use of road salt and dust suppressant safely manufactured from brine water that comes from oil and gas drilling. They also voted to deny taxpayers in Erie County the right to profit from drilling on county-owned land, when and if it ever comes to the county.

Right at the front of the hit parade gloating was FWW agitator, er, “organizer” Rita Yelda, who continues to falsely slander fracking and the products made as a result of fracking, like deicer (road salt). We hope Erie County residents enjoy paying for steep legal fees when this illegal law is challenged next year by Buffalo-based National Fuel (Seneca Resources)…
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Very Cool Map from ODNR Showing OH Utica Wells Permitted/Drilled

Last week the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) released a very handy map that shows where Utica Shale drilling is happening in the state. It has different colored dots to denote where permits have been issued, where wells have been drilled, and where wells have been drilled and are now producing. Running along the right bottom corner is a tally (as of 12/6/13) for how many permits have been issued by driller, which now totals over 1,000 permits.

We really like this map, and you think you will to! Here it is:
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WV Residents Express Concerns over Drill Cuttings in Landfills

Drill cuttings (leftover rock and dirt from drilling wells) sometimes contains low levels of naturally occurring radiation–that’s a fact. The typical way of disposing drill cuttings is via landfill. Loads are tested for radiation to be sure it doesn’t exceed safe limits, but any time you use the “r” word folks understandably get a little bit antsy. Visions of nuclear waste dumps run through their heads. Recently a rash of media-manufactured stories have appeared that West Virginia has a “loophole” that allows dumping of “radioactive shale waste” in local landfills. That’s not happening, and as stated, when/if there’s radioactivity in the cuttings, it’s usually so low it’s below that of medical waste that goes to the landfill.

But the media has now done it’s job and people are in a dither about this issue. So it’s no surprise that in an area of WV where there is no shale drilling–the eastern panhandle–folks turned out in large numbers to express concern over drilling in general and landfilling of cuttings in particular that may (or may not) be happening in their area…
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CU & NOAA Do Fly Over of Marcellus to Measure Methane Leaks

Is there too much methane leaking from shale drilling operations and electrical generating plants that burn methane in the Marcellus Shale? A plane ride last summer hopes to help answer that question.

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration did a fly over of the Marcellus Shale in northeastern PA, along with fly overs in two other major shale plays. They’re still studying the data from they collected. In reading the news story about the study and the fly over, it all appears a bit murky to us. Lots of “estimates” and comparing this study with that study and “top down” and “bottom up” estimates to come up with answers. We like real, hard science. Things you measure–things that are testable and repeatable. Not political science where you spin fanciful theories. Was this fly over and the resulting study the former, or the later? Time will tell…
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WV County Health Dept Investigates Wells for Air Pollution

Is Marcellus Shale drilling in West Virginia causing elevated levels of cancer-causing benzene (and other pollutants) to spread near well sites? That’s the question being investigated by the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department. They’ve been sampling air around wells in Ohio County and have concerns, particularly about benzene levels. They’ve sent their findings to Michael McCawley, chairman of the Department of Occupational & Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University. McCawley, you may remember, has been beating the drum for some time that setbacks for drilling in WV are not enough and that air pollution coming from drilling operations is a serious issue (see WVU Prof Keeps Up Pressure on Improved Air Quality at Drill Sites).

The source of the benzene is not from what’s coming out of the borehole–it’s from heavy equipment running at the drill site and trucks coming and going to the site. Benzene is found in diesel fuel and a lot of equipment at a drill sites runs on diesel…
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Magnum Hunter 2014 CapEx: Utica/Marcellus

In our season of 2014 guidance statements, Magnum Hunter Resources has just issued theirs. And what do we find when we open this particular Christmas present? The company will spend $400 million on capital expenditure projects in 2014, and the vast majority of it will go to the Utica and Marcellus Shale. Magnum Hunter plans to lease more acreage in the Marcellus/Utica, increase drilling rigs from two to three, and build out more pipelines in the northeast too. The Ohio Utica is a particular focus for Magnum Hunter in 2014.

Here is their 2014 blueprint, including which counties in OH and WV will see drilling action from Magnum Hunter in 2014:
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ExxonMobil Annual Energy Report: NatGas Fastest Growing Fuel

Understanding the global energy picture is helpful so we know where the shale energy piece “fits” in that picture. Each year ExxonMobil prepares an annual energy outlook. Yesterday they released the 2014 ExxonMobil Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040 report (full copy embedded below). Some interesting tidbits from the report: ExxonMobil says global energy demand will be 35% higher in 2040 than it was in 2010. Not surprisingly, they figure 60% of the world’s energy needs for the foreseeable future (until 2040) will be met by oil and natural gas, although renewables continue to grow.

Something else they note of great interest to MDN readers: “Natural gas will continue to be the fastest-growing major fuel source as demand increases by about 65 percent. Natural gas is projected to account for more than one quarter of all global energy needs by 2040 and it is expected to overtake coal as the largest source of electricity.” Here’s ExxonMobil’s press release announcing some of the key findings in this year’s report, followed by a full copy of the report:
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2 NE PA Wastewater Recycling Plants Get Upgrades

The Marcellus Shale wastewater recycling plants in Williamsport and Towanda, PA, operated by Eureka Resources, have been upgraded. A crystallizer and a methanol recovery system have been installed at both plants allowing Eureka to separate out minerals and compounds that they have been trucking to Ohio for disposal in an injection well. The side benefit: They’ll now begin producing and selling oil, methanol and sodium chloride–a new revenue stream for the plants.

The two plants will bring the new upgrades online in January…
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PA DEP Launches Public Comments on New Drilling Rules, Roadshow

The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) and their Environmental Quality Board are launching a 60-day public comment period starting Dec. 14 to allow PA residents to comment on proposed new Marcellus Shale drilling rules called for under the Act 13 law passed in early 2012. The new rules will address well pad construction, water impoundments,  pipelines and surface impacts of drilling, among other things. It is a major revision to PA’s drilling rules.

In addition to emailing or sending in hard copy, the DEP will conduct a series of road shows in various locations to discuss the proposed new rules. They’re also holding two online webinars (Dec. 19 and Jan. 3). The announcement from the DEP about the proposed new rules and the comment period:
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Innovative Wastewater Treatment Plant Looks for Investors

Pssst. Hey buddy, have a spare $25 million to invest? Chief chemist and president of ProChemTech International (Brockway, PA), Tim Keister, says he’s figured out how to build a shale drilling wastewater plant that can make $35,000 per day and not charge drillers a dime to treat their wastewater. Keister’s innovative design removes barium and radium and turns them into barium sulfate. From barium sulfate you can make products like rubber, glass and drilling mud. Extract the barium and radium, create barium sulfate, sell it. Easy!

Except it’s not so easy when you’re the first. Investors are risk-averse and Keister has had a hard time finding someone to build the plant–so he’s going to build the first one himself. But there’s still that little problem of needing 25 mil…
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PA RINO Rep. Gene DiGirolamo Proposes Marcellus Tax Hike – Again

Seeking to kill the economic miracle that has been shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania, the so-called “brave” Republican (really a RINO) PA Rep. Gene DiGirolamo is proposing a 4.9% tax on the value of natural gas extracted and sold from state wells. That’s in addition to the impact fee/tax already in place. The new tax would supposedly raise another $640 million of money that politicians like DiGirolamo could get their grubby hands on to parcel out in vote buying schemes (rather than continue to do the hard work begun by Tom Corbett in reigning in spending).

DiGirolamo has been pedaling higher taxes on Marcellus drilling since at least Sept. 2011 (see Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thursday, Sep 22, 2011). Such a plan doesn’t stand a prayer of a chance while Republicans hold both houses and the governor’s chair. Which raises the question of why DiGirolamo would float this plan again now. Likely a sleazy political ploy to curry favor with his Democrat friends because he figures they’ll be taking over next year after the election…
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Specifics on Marcellus $ Helping to Clean Chesapeake Bay Pollution

A month ago MDN brought you the good news that money raised as part of the Marcellus Shale impact fee in PA is being used to launch a project that is hoped will clean up the single largest source of pollution for the Chesapeake Bay–the Old Forge borehole near Scranton, PA (see Marcellus Drilling Helps Fix Biggest Polluter of Chesapeake Bay). The initial story outlines the high level plan by Susquehanna Mining Solutions LLC to build a treatment plant that will convert acid mine water coming from the borehole (some 60-100 million gallons per day) into clean water for other uses.

The original article was short on specifics. We now have a few of the specifics for how Susquehanna Mining Solutions will perform this miracle. It’s no small task…
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Jimmy Goes to the Big Apple: Platts Global Energy Outlook Forum

Road trip! Yesterday MDN editor Jim Willis made the trek from Binghamton to New York City to attend the Platts Global Energy Outlook Forum. In attendance and speaking were some of the top minds and leaders on energy in the world. The keynote speaker at lunch was Dr. Ernest Moniz, newly appointed Secretary of the Dept. of Energy by President Obama. The conference was not about shale per se, but shale had a starring role nonetheless.

Jim is going to write up his conference notes (some very interesting quotes you’ll enjoy), and he will write up his notes from the Moniz lunch speech, which centered on the Obama administration’s response to global warming, and present it next week (sit tight, it will be worth the wait). In the meantime, Platts issued the following press release summarizing yesterday’s event…
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