Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Dec 27, 2013

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


Mizeur opposes Dominion natural gas export plan
Earlier this month, gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur announced her opposition to Dominion Cove Point’s proposed liquefied natural gas export project — a project that has been a source of contention in Calvert County during the past several months. Mizeur (D-Montgomery) announced her opposition Dec. 12, saying, “Governing is about making tough choices for the best interests of our future. No leader in Maryland can in good faith claim to be serious about protecting the bay, its communities and economy or combating climate change without opposing the Cove Point facility. The costs of this project are simply too high,” according to a news release from the Friends of Heather Mizeur.

New York

More Fracking Junk Science on Health – Part I
Natural Gas Now
Fracking opponents continually try advancing their case with a combination of junk science and scare tactics but dig just below the surface and it all becomes quickly obvious. The Catskill Mountainkeeper, which serves as the paid lap dog for the Park Foundation and the Rockefeller family is out with another scare-mongering letter to its supporters. The letter requests their appearance at another Albany rally and, as always, requests more money, as if access to several hundred million dollars of special interest foundation money wasn’t adequate. It also promotes two pieces of junk science on the matter of health in an attempt to suggest fracking is somehow polluting the groundwater, when there isn’t the remotest evidence it has or ever will.

More Fracking Junk Science on Health – Part II (Heinz)
Natural Gas Now
Fracking opponents not only try to advance their case with a combination of junk science and scare tactics but are also two-faced in how they go about it. Yesterday, we reported on one of two pieces of fracking junk science being hyped by the “Rockefeller Racket’s Catskill Landkeeper Division.” The other study they are crowing about is this one and their comment on it starts off with a complete falsehood about Allegheny County being “heavily fracked” when, in fact, it has a grand total of 30 active wells:


WHPacific joins Utica shale fray with office in Cadiz in eastern Ohio
Columbus Business Journal
Ohio engineering firms working in the Utica shale play have a new competitor with roots in the oil fields of Alaska. WHPacific Inc., which describes itself as the largest Alaska Native-owned professional services company in the United States, said it has opened an office in Cadiz in eastern Ohio to serve the needs of oil and natural gas clients in the Utica and Marcellus shale plays. The engineering, architectural and planning firm offers a number of services, including permitting, planning, surveying and engineering design, to clients in land development, transportation and oil and gas development. WHPacific specializes in pipeline design, community planning and transportation projects. Besides Alaska and Ohio, the firm has offices in eight states, including oil and gas-rich North Dakota and Colorado. Cadiz is the county seat in Harrison County, which has become a hotbed for drilling in the Utica play. Cadiz is home to a large natural gas processing complex owned and operated by MarkWest Energy Partners LP.

ODNR Updates Pipeline Standards; Wastewater Regs Nearly Complete
NGI’s Shale Daily
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has updated its pipeline standard and construction specifications, and its work to finalize draft regulations on rules for wastewater recycling is nearly complete. Shale gas development continues to accelerate in the state and as a result midstream companies plan to spend about $40 billion on infrastructure projects over the next three to five years in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to one analysis by Marcellus Drilling News (see Shale Daily, Oct. 25). At the same time, increasing volumes of fracking waste, mostly trucked in from out of state, and a desire from operators to recycle more of that waste for reuse found state legislators approving the use of wastewater storage impoundments over the summer, leading ODNR to craft new rules for the temporary pits and recycling facilities (see Shale Daily, Oct. 11).

Husky will increase production in 2014
Lima News
Husky Energy Inc. will increase its production in 2014 compared to the previous year, after rejuvenating heavy oil production and a new natural gas production project beginning to produce. Production in 2014 is expected to be in the range of 330,000 to 355,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, compared to an estimated average annual production of 312,000 boe/day in 2013, company officials said Wednesday during a conference call. The call was to discuss the company’s forecast and capital spending in 2014. Husky owns the Lima Refinery. Husky is on track to meet its five-year compound annual production growth target of 5-8 percent through 2017. In 2010, Husky laid out a set of key performance targets designed to increase shareholder value. Three years into the plan, Husky remains on track to deliver against its targets and in several cases, raised the bar, CEO Asim Ghosh said.


The Act 13 Decision: An Uniformed Judge and Two Cases of Overreach
Natural Gas Now
The Pennsylvania Act 13 decision was a bad one that reflects a very shallow understanding of the natural gas industry by the Chief Justice, but the overreach wasn’t limited to the court. To understand Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille’s opinion in the case of Robinson Township v. Commonwealth, the decision on the amendments to Pennsylvania’s Oil and Gas Law (Act 13), you have to understand coal, timber and tanning. Make no mistake, while the subject of the opinion was shale gas and oil, the ruling was all about coal, timber and tanning.

Inquirer Editorial: Tapping brakes on gas giveaways
Philadelphia Inquirer
A salient feature of the natural gas embedded beneath Pennsylvania is that it is, well, embedded beneath Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, though, since novel drilling techniques began to enable the extraction of methane from the Marcellus Shale formation, the state’s leadership has coddled the industry as if it might easily go the way of the steel mills. Instead of properly taxing and regulating the companies benefiting from an endemic resource, they have pointlessly showered them with giveaways. Last week, the state Supreme Court corrected one of the most questionable such sops to the industry, striking down a state law that would have exempted gas drillers from local zoning. The court ruled 4-2 that this “drill-everywhere provision,” as one lawyer called it, violates the state constitution’s environmental safeguards.

Pa. court ruling on fracking will weaken environmental safeguards
Lehigh Valley Express-Times
The Express-Times’ recent editorial (“Marcellus Shale gas drilling ruling a victory for Pennsylvania’s environment,” Dec. 22) suggests the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to remove portions of Act 13 from the law is a victory for our environment. In fact, it unravels some of the environmental protections created by the bipartisan regulatory modernization law and misses an opportunity to establish a standard set of rules that govern responsible shale development — resulting in weaker environmental regulations and a less competitive business climate. Our industry has worked, and continues to work, closely toward shared goals with the communities in which we operate to be good neighbors and stewards of our environment. And the outcomes are clear. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirmed in October that U.S. carbon emissions are at their lowest since 1994, thanks to expanded natural gas use.

Talk of taxing natural gas resurfaces in Pa.
Sharon, PA Herald
Pennsylvania is the only state with significant natural gas production that does not tax it. Instead, under a law passed in 2012, gas companies pay fees to local governments for the wells they drill. The bid for a severance tax seems like a money grab by metropolitan lawmakers who are envious of the millions of dollars that pour into rural Pennsylvania through impact fees, said Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming County, chairman of the Senate environmental resources committee. Most of the shale gas drilling in the state is concentrated in northern and southwestern Pennsylvania. Yaw’s north-central district is the biggest recipient of impact fees, he said, getting about $85 million since the fees were created. That money has paid for all sorts of things including extending water and sewer service, a YMCA in Lycoming County, housing programs, equipment for municipalities and repairs to county-owned bridges, he said.

Natural gas fill-ups coming to trucking company’s Richland terminal
Johnstown Tribune-Democrat
A local trucking company switching its truck fleet to natural gas will be able to refuel at its Richland terminal soon. And so will the public, W.C. McQuaide Inc.’s Rick McQuaide said. McQuaide, the company’s vice-president of business development, said the company plans to add a multi-pump compressed natural gas fueling station at its Richland Township facility by spring. By that point, 15 of its 75 diesel trucks will be replaced by ones running on the compressed gas. “Weather permitting, we hope to get started as soon as possible,” he said.

Marcellus Shale grows in prominence
Pittsburgh Business Times
When all is said and done, 2013 will be remembered as a year when the Marcellus Shale’s production moved further into the forefront of the nation’s energy conversation. In late October, the U.S. Energy Information Administration came out with data that showed the Marcellus Shale’s production was the biggest among six shales nationwide tracked by the federal government. Gas production in the Marcellus was 12.6 billion cubic feet a day through September. That was higher than the other shales tracked — Bakken, Niobrara, Permian, Haynesville and Eagle Ford — and 18 percent of the country’s natural gas consumption.

Chevron awards grants to Sewickley Twp., South Huntingdon firefighters
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Chevron U.S.A. Inc. is donating money to two volunteer fire departments in Sewickley Township and two in South Huntingdon Township as part of Chevron’s initiative to help firefighters in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia that have Chevron gas wells within their coverage areas. The Hutchinson Fire Department will receive a $7,500 grant for three new well pads that Chevron has drilled within the fire department’s service territory this year. The Rillton, Yukon and Turkeytown fire departments each will receive $2,500. Hutchinson Fire Department President John Sever said the department will use the money to help pay for improvements to the fire hall. The fire department has installed new windows and a roof and plans to use the money to make its social hall handicapped-accessible, Sever said.

Cabot gives back as 2013 draws toward a close
Cabot Oil & Gas Well Said
During the last couple of months of the year, Cabot traditionally finds several ways to be involved in the happenings around the community. Cabot was a main sponsor of the Christmas in Montrose weekend in early December and several Cabot offices participated in toy drives which we will highlight in tomorrow’s blog post. This year, Cabot has also made a $4,000 donation to the Susquehanna County Interfaith Fuel Program which assists their clients with costs associated with heating their homes. Last year, this program helped 206 families. And as temperatures continue to remain chilly through the winter months, Interfaith can provide much needed relief.

West Virginia

Pennsylvania’s loss could be West Virginia’s gain
WV MetroNews
Business requires some level of regulatory certainty to be successful. Shifting rules and patchwork guidelines create costly and time-consuming challenges for entrepreneurs who have enough to worry about with the rigors of the free market. Last week, the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court threw the Marcellus Shale gas drilling industry into the ultimate regulatory maelstrom with its 4-2 decision to throw out parts of Act 13, the Commonwealth’s comprehensive oil and gas industry regulation. One critical part of the court’s decision gives municipal governments primacy over state regulations on drilling, meaning each town can adopt its own set of zoning rules for the industry. That’s a regulatory morass for the industry, but one they’ve had to adjust to anyway while the case was working its way through the courts.


Cabot Oil And Gas: 50% Growth And Free Cash Flow Shows The Stock’s High Multiple Is Warranted
Seeking Alpha/Richard Zeits
Operationally, it is difficult not to admire Cabot Oil & Gas’ (COG) story. The company’s Marcellus dry gas assets in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania are the envy of the industry. Cabot leads its peers with some of the highest EURs per well demonstrated in North America’s onshore resource plays. Low well costs translate into exceptional drilling economics that rival sweet spots of top oil plays even at relatively low gas prices. The company’s acreage block is large (~200,000 net acres), contiguous and in most part located within the play’s sweet spot. There is one issue, however, that stands in the way of equally admiring the company’s stock: the shares appear pricey based on the current trading multiples.

Drilling in Barnett Shale slows to lowest level in nearly a decade
Fort Worth Star Telegram
The decline in Barnett Shale drilling can be attributed to several factors. The industry has rushed to shift resources to areas that produce crude oil, like the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas, which sells for higher prices than gas. And other shale gas fields like the booming Marcellus Shale have surpassed the Barnett in daily production, further pushing the 30-year-old North Texas fields into the background. Ed Ireland of the industry-sponsored Barnett Shale Energy Education Council said it is “truly amazing, given the low level of drilling,” that Barnett production has remained as high as it has. Oil and gas wells naturally decline over time, and shale wells are especially noted for steep declines early in their lives. “The technological advances in hydraulic fracturing in recent years are bringing in much larger wells,” Ireland said. “Even though there are fewer new wells, they tend to have much larger initial rates of production, which help to offset the declines in older wells.”

Illinois still accepting comment on tough fracking rules
AP/Akron Beacon Journal
The public hearings have ended, but Illinois state officials said there’s still time to submit public comments on proposed rules for the high-volume oil and gas drilling known as hydraulic fracturing. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will take written comments through Jan. 3. So far, more than 2,750 written comments have been submitted, according to the Bloomington Pantagraph. Those will be used to evaluate possible changes to drafted rules released to the public last month. A legislative panel will give final approval. Gov. Pat Quinn signed regulations into law earlier this year for fracking, a method of extracting gas and oil trapped deep underground by using mixtures of high-pressure water, sand and chemicals to crack and hold open rock formations. Combined with horizontal drilling, it allows access to formerly out-of-reach deposits. The regulations were hailed as among the toughest in the nation.

Is frozen natural gas the future of energy?
Shale has the spotlight for now. But there’s another, lesser-known substance with the potential to yield even greater quantities of natural gas: methane hydrate. Hydrates consist of a lattice-like structure of frozen water molecules and methane. On the surface, they look like an ordinary block of ice. But when you hold a match to them, they burn—a visual cue signaling methane release. “A lot of geoscientists are fascinated by hydrates because of how odd it is that you can take methane gas and add water and have it result in something with such a concentrated store of energy,” said Peter Flemings, a member of the Energy Department’s methane hydrate advisory committee and professor at the department of geological sciences at the University of Texas (Austin). Hydrates form when methane and water combine under cold temperatures in a relatively high-pressure environment and are commonly found in arctic regions or in shallow sediments below relatively deep water along the outer continental shelf.

You Stay Classy, East Coast ‘Ban Fracking’ Activists
The holidays are supposed to be a time of giving. Unless, that is, you’re a national activist group raising money for so-called “local” campaigns against the men, women and families of Colorado’s oil and gas industry. To these professional political operatives, the holidays are just another opportunity to take people’s money for a political campaign that will destroy jobs, take away the extra household income made possible by lower energy bills, and eliminate tax revenues for schools and other essential government services. Need proof? Just check out the latest fundraising emails from Sam Schabacker and his colleagues at Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch, which were sent out just before Christmas: “Together, we changed the game on fracking in Colorado by stopping this dangerous industrial process in Fort Collins, Broomfield, Boulder and Lafayette last month.” So, despite repeated insistence by activists that there was little or no outside support from national groups during these local ballot initiatives, Food & Water Watch – which has an annual budget of at least $11 million – is taking responsibility for the outcomes in each and every city.