WPX Decides to Let Franklin Forks Families Keep Water Tanks

do the right thingWPX Energy has made not only a smart move, but is doing the right thing. MDN told you last week about the three families in Franklin Forks, PA who say nearby Marcellus drilling by WPX Energy caused methane to migrate into their water wells (see WPX to Make 2nd Attempt at Removing Water Tanks in Franklin Twp). The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection investigated (for years) and found the methane in the families’ wells is naturally occurring and not from WPX’s work. So WPX tried to remove the water tanks (“buffaloes”) they voluntarily provided to the families.

One family let them remove the water buffalo, the other two illegally resisted, so WPX was scheduled to come back today with warrants in hand to remove them. But last week WPX had a change of heart and said in essence, “Go ahead and keep the water buffaloes. We’ll donate them to you if you want them that badly.” To which we say, it was not only a smart PR move but a nice thing, the “right thing,” to do. It immediately denies the anti-drilling crazies more parading in front of TV cameras to talk about how heartless the drilling industry is. Here’s the latest on the Franklin Forks saga…
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McClendon Plan to Raise Additional $2B in “Unit” Offering

Investors who want a piece of Aubrey McClendon’s plans to develop the Utica Shale are about to get a chance. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets disclosed that McClendon’s new company, American Energy Capital Partners, has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell up to 100 million “units” (something like a stock) for $20 per unit in an effort to raise up to $2 billion. McClendon plans to use the money to “develop or buy onshore oil and natural gas properties in the United States.” We imagine most of that will be focused on the Utica Shale where McClendon continues to focus his time and energy (see Exclusive: McClendon Buys 24K Acres of SWEPI Leases in OH Utica).

AECP has already raised $1.7 billion (see McClendon Gets a Little Help ($1.7B) from His Friends in OH Utica). Word of advice to Aubrey: Don’t sell any of those units to Carl Icahn…
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Range’s Big Money Deal to Drill Under Deer Lakes Park in SW PA

MDN recently told you that Allegheny County, PA legislators, most of them Democrats, abandoned their fellow Dems to vote down a ban on drilling under county parks 9-2 (see Allegheny County (PA) Council Votes Down Drill Ban for Parks). We now know why. They all didn’t suddenly turn into pro-drillers–too many wacko constituents on their left to do that. No dear friends, just follow the money.

The signing bonus offered by Range Resources to legislators to drill under Deer Lakes Park is $3.5 million. But that’s peanuts if the drilling goes forward and if there’s as much gas under the park as Range believes there is. With a royalty rate of 17%, the county stands to make as much as a mind-blowing $70 million from that single county park! And of course the legislators will get to decide how all that cashola gets spent. It’s like putting a 10-ton carrot in front of Bugs Bunny. Just too much to resist…
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Dunkirk, NY Electric Plant Saved – Converting from Coal to NatGas

Looks like the good residents in Dunkirk, NY (near Buffalo) have dodged a major tax bullet. Last week MDN told you about hypocritical anti-drillers who oppose converting coal-powered electric plants in both Ithaca and Dunkirk into being powered by natural gas–simply because they don’t like fossil fuels (see Anti-Drillers Oppose Converting 2 NY Electric Plants to NatGas). As we pointed out, the plants in Dunkirk and Ithaca provide something like 40% of the tax revenue for the local towns and schools where they are located. Closing either plant would devastate that community and force some residents to leave after taxes skyrocket. The Dunkirk plant has been saved.

In a strange twist of fate, Gov. Andrew “the fracking ditherer” Cuomo slogged through three feet of snow in Dunkirk to crow that a deal has been reached to keep the plant open and convert it from burning coal to burning natural gas. Oh, the plant will burn natural gas fracked in other states and pipelined to NY. Ironic, no? Here’s the story…
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Athens County Apologizes for Calling Anti-Drillers ‘Terrorists’

Funny, unsettling, maddening–all of the above is the situation in Athens County. It is indisputable that some extreme environmentalists are terrorists–they damage property and inflict terror, which is the definition of terrorist. However, not all anti-drillers are terrorists. But some are. And so the Athens County Emergency Management Agency in selecting a pretend scenario to use for training selected an unnamed (totally fictional) anti-fracking extremist group as the focus of their training exercise.

Selecting anti-frackers for their training scenario drove the wackos in the Athens County Fracking Action Network right over the proverbial edge. They spit and sputtered and blustered that their sensibilities had been mightily offended, and so the Athens County Emergency Management Agency issued an apology to the poor babies, even though the Fracking Action Network was not the named boogeyman of the exercise–nor even hinted at…
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Seneca Resources – Now Drilling 2X Wells in Same Amount of Time

Yesterday the Philadelphia Inquirer took an inside look at major Marcellus Shale driller Seneca Resources (the drilling subsidiary of National Fuel Company) and the dramatic increase in efficiencies Seneca has achieved. Like Cabot and other Marcellus drillers, Seneca just keeps getting better with time. A few years ago it took Seneca a month to drill a new Marcellus well. Today? About 16 days–roughly half the time. Put another way–they now drill two wells in the time it used to take them to drill one.

Not only that, the length of the borehole Seneca drills is much longer, meaning each well is more productive (more gas flows out). No wonder those in the industry call shale fracking a miracle. Those who say shale drilling “won’t last, wells will run dry before you say Bob’s your uncle” are either willfully ignorant of the facts–or just plain lying. Here’s a look behind the scenes at dramatically improved Seneca…
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Youngstown Protesters Get Light Treatment in Local Court

Two nutjobs protesters were arrested last month for blocking trucks from accessing an injection well facility in Niles (Trumbull County), Ohio–near Youngstown (see 2 Anti-Drillers Arrested at Youngstown Injection Well). We now know their names: John D. Williams, 57, of North Cleveland Avenue, Niles, and Mary C. Khumprakob, 21, of Glacier Heights Road, Youngstown.

On Friday they both pleaded no-contest, meaning “guilty,” in Niles Municipal Court, and the judge, Thomas Townley, gave them the equivalent of a love tap on the wrist–a $50 fine and $137 in court costs. Seems it’s pretty cheap to shut down a legal, legitimate business in Niles…
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Falcon Drilling COO Pleads to Embezzling $9.2M from Company

A story that began more than a year ago is still playing out. In December 2012, two employees of Falcon Drilling Company, a Marcellus Shale drilling contractor with 13 rigs headquartered in Indiana, PA, were charged with embezzling money from the company (see 2 Employees Charged with Embezzling $6M from Falcon Drilling). One of those employees, the Chief Operating Officer no less, worked out a plea bargain with federal prosecutors just last week.

Here’s what’s known (and what isn’t) about the plea deal:
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Kinder Morgan/MarkWest Proposed NGL Pipeline Gets a Nickname, Map

A month ago MDN told you about a then-unnamed new natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline being planned by Kinder Morgan and MarkWest that will run from the Utica/Marcellus to the Gulf Coast (see KM & MarkWest Announce Open Season for NE to Gulf NGL Pipeline). At the time Kinder announced an open season for the new pipeline that will end this week, on Dec. 20.

What we didn’t have then but do have now is a name for the pipeline, and a map. The name is the Utica Marcellus Texas Pipeline. We even have a nickname from Kinder. Because the pipeline will transport Y-Grade NGLs from the Utica and Marcellus Shales to the Texas Gulf Coast, they call it “the Y-Grade Pipeline”. Below is a description of the Y-Grade project along with a full-size map showing the proposed route…
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