Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Dec 30, 2013

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

New York

More NatGas Takeaway Capacity Proposed to East Coast
NGI’s Shale Daily
To accommodate increasing Appalachian Basin natural gas volumes, a 9.5-mile, 16-inch diameter pipeline that would run parallel to an existing line has been proposed to carry Pennsylvania-produced gas through Broome County, NY, to East Coast markets. The New York Mainline Loop, to be built by Williams unit Williams Field Services Co. LLC and DMP New York Inc., would parallel Williams’ existing 16-inch diameter gas pipe from Susquehanna County, PA, into Windsor, NY, according to a filing with the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) (No. 13-02487/13-T-0538). The existing mainline, built by DMP and Laser Northeast Gathering Co. (now owned by Williams) was approved in early 2011 to carry gas from 120 wells into Millennium Pipeline Co. LLC’s (MPC) 30-inch diameter system (see Daily GPI, Feb. 18, 2011).


Ohio Appeals Court orders the Court of Claims to hear Patriot Water Treatment’s case alleging destruction of public documents by ODNR
The Tenth District Court of Appeals in Franklin County recently ordered the Ohio Court of Claims to hear a case in which Patriot Water Treatment LLC (from Warren, Ohio) is “seeking more than $3 million in damages” from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), the Tribune Chronicle reports. In April, a Court of Claims judge ruled that the court lacked jurisdiction in a dispute in which the water treatment company filed a lawsuit accusing ODNR of hiding and destroying public records that “would have aided Patriot in its related environmental fight with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency” relating to the treatment of oil and gas well brine/flowback water (See our March 23, 2012, blog post – “Commission rules against Ohio EPA’s order that the city of Warren cease accepting brine water from Patriot”). Patriot Water filed the lawsuit against ODNR in November. The Ohio Attorney General’s office, which is representing ODNR, “had argued for dismissal, maintaining the court should have no jurisdiction to hear appeals and that Patriot’s lawsuit is ‘in essence, nothing more than a litany of the disputes that Patriot and (the OEPA) have already resolved'” before the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC). Patriot’s attorney successfully argued that the Court of Claims was “‘absolutely the right court for seeking damages,’ because it is the only Ohio court where damages can be sought against a state agency,” the article said.

Ohio Supreme Court schedules oral arguments for Feb. 26 in a case challenging ODNR’s sole and exclusive regulatory authority over oil and gas drilling
The Ohio Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on February 26, 2014, in a case involving a challenge to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) sole and exclusive regulatory authority over all of the oil and gas drilling in the state, The Stow Sentry reports (See our Sept 25, 2013, blog post for more information). In February, the Ninth District Court of Appeals (in State of Ohio ex rel. Jack Morrison, Jr. v. Beck Energy Corp.) concluded that the City of Munroe Falls’ home rule ordinances attempting to regulate oil and gas well permitting could not be enforced because they conflicted with, and were preempted by, the ODNR’s authority under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1509. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed to hear the case back in June.

Shale report reveals 97 wells in county
East Liverpool Review
According to the most recent Marcellus and Utica/Point Pleasant shale activity weekly report posted by the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, there are 97 wells in various stages of development in Columbiana County. In Mahoning County there are 29 wells and in Trumbull County there are 15. Of the 10 producing wells in Columbiana County, four are in West Township, there are two each in Hanover and Franklin townships, and one each in Salem and Knox townships. There is one producing well in Mahoning County in Poland Township and two in Trumbull County, one each in Hartford and Johnston townships. In Columbiana County there are 44 drilled or drilling wells and the rest are at the permit stage. Franklin and Hanover townships each have nine wells listed as being drilled while Franklin Township shows one well in the “drilling” stage.

Ohio Oil & Gas Association Director: Job Opportunities Continue to Grow
Ohio Gas & Oil
Job opportunities in the gas and oil industry continue to grow as the need for experienced and qualified workers are in demand, says Mike Chadsey, Director of Public Relations with the Ohio Oil & Gas Association (OOGA). In the first quarter of 2013, there were more than 5,000 job postings online in Ohio in core and ancillary shale-related industries, according to a report published by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. “Stable jobs … increased in all core shale-related industries: oil and gas extraction, support activities for mining, pipeline transportation of natural gas, and utility system construction,” the report said. Chadsey says the top-five careers needed are CDL drivers, machinists, diesel mechanics, welders and well-tenders.

Tax Revenues Continue to Climb
Ohio Gas & Oil
Since Utica Shale development took off in 2011, companies have been investing a tremendous amount of capital in eastern Ohio. Billions of dollars are being spent to create much-needed infrastructure, developing well sites, and constructing regional headquarters for service companies. In addition, landowners have benefited from lease payments, businesses have seen an uptick in sales activity, and counties are having their roads improved on behalf of the companies operating in their communities. This kind of investment translates to another often-unappreciated benefit: a significant increase in sales tax revenues. Going through the Ohio Department of Taxation’s sales tax distribution website, the true impact of that increased revenue is revealed: Over the past two years, counties with Utica Shale activity have all experienced remarkable increases in sales tax apportionment.

Northeast Ohio fracking ban backers to try again
Lisbon Morning Journal News
Backers of a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing in a northeast Ohio city say they’re not giving up despite two defeats at the polls in 2013. The proposed Community Bill of Rights in Youngstown lost in the May and November elections. The measure would have prohibited the high-pressure oil and gas drilling technique, also called fracking, inside city limits. A spokeswoman says ban supporters in Youngstown and neighboring Niles are now gathering signatures for another ballot attempt in March 2014. Spokeswoman and geologist Susie Beiersdorfer (BEERZ’-dohr-fuhr) said supporters believe they can win this time because public understanding of the issue is growing. She noted that voter support for the issue increased from spring to fall.

Ohio’s Utica shale spurs job growth
Akron Beacon Journal
Ohio’s still-fledgling shale industry is slowly generating job growth. Jobless rates in the state’s eastern and southern areas — where Utica shale drilling, or fracking, is taking place — remain on average higher than the rest of the state. But in the handful of eastern counties seeing the most intensive interest and drilling, unemployment rates have fallen significantly from their highs of just a few years ago. “The industry is growing but it remains a relatively small piece of Ohio’s overall economy,” said Ben Johnson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.


Aftermath of PA Act 13 Ruling: Widespread Uncertainty [MDN comment: Must-read analysis!]
NGI’s Shale Daily
As a clearer picture emerges from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recent ruling that struck down key provisions of the state’s most comprehensive oil and gas legislation, the court’s decision is likely to have repercussions for a decade or more, sources say, with the impact extending across the spectrum and touching more than just the pace of the industry’s operations in the Marcellus Shale. In fact, many agree that the decision will largely not affect exploration and production companies’ work in the state. Instead, it will force operators to deal with a bit more red tape and send them back to a time before Act 13 — a sweeping piece of legislation passed in February 2012 that updated the state’s aging energy laws — when municipalities had more power to say when and where drilling could take place. In other words, operators may simply have to pay closer attention to where they decide to do business.

NGL pipeline from Pa. stirs controversy in the Bluegrass State
StateImpact Pennsylvania
This week, PublicSource takes a look at a new pipeline project that is “causing quite a stir in the land of Thoroughbreds and bourbon.” Kentucky, that is. The Bluegrass Pipeline would carry natural gas liquids (or NGLs) from the Marcellus and Utica shales in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, pushing them more than 1,100 miles to processing plants in Louisiana. It’s one of several projects getting off the ground to move the glut of these NGLs to places where they can be broken down into smaller, more valuable compounds – the kind used to make plastic products like bags, tires and detergents. But it’s getting a lot of push-back in Kentucky where some landowners have turned down large sums of money and rejected signing easements out of fears about public safety and property damage.

Highlights of Marcellus Shale news in 2013
AP/Pennsylvania Business Central
The natural gas industry and environmentalists in Pennsylvania both had reasons to cheer and jeer in 2013 over the boom in Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling. Environmentalists were heartened by a state Supreme Court ruling at the end of the year that rejected significant portions of industry-friendly legislation. The state’s highest court ruled that Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration had gone too far in passing a law that gives the industry the right to operate almost anywhere it wants to, even if local municipalities object. The justices also ruled that lower courts had erred by upholding a cumbersome set of restrictions on doctors who need information about chemicals used in the drilling process. The rulings were seen as a big win for environmentalists but won’t do much to change the gas that’s flowing from over 4,000 wells that are already producing.


The US Energy Boom: More than Just an Oil Story
Gold Stocks Today
As we come to the end of 2013, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the biggest resources stories of the year. One that immediately comes to mind is the U.S. energy resurgence and its tremendous effect on oil and gas. Only a few years ago, we were contemplating the supply constraints facing the petroleum industry, as many major oil fields around the world were declining in production. Now, with the disruptive technology in shale oil and gas, we may be looking forward to decades of drilling. Two charts clearly illustrate the incredible growth in oil and gas. While there are many shale areas around the U.S., there are a few notable hot beds of activity. Regarding the domestic production of tight oil, most of the growth has been in the Eagle Ford area that’s outside of San Antonio, Texas, the Bakken formation in Montana and North Dakota, and the Permian basin in West Texas.

The Weekly Oil & Gas Follies
Ok, so, to read this Pittsburgh Gazette story, workers having lucrative job options is an “epidemic”, amounts to “poaching”, and is so horrible that is requires “preventive measures”. We’re guessing that the workers who have doubled or tripled their income in the last few years thanks to the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry would beg to differ. Unreal.: Employee Poaching Bringing On Headaches – Perhaps epidemic is too strong a word for what’s happening in the region’s oil and gas industry, but employee poaching has become rampant enough to warrant some preventive measures. On one hand, it’s flattering to know your company has produced something worthy of being stolen. And it could be good to have a friendly face on the client side for future contracts. On the other hand, engineers and other midcareer professionals are hard to find and losing them can mean losing money for professional service firms, especially engineering companies working in the Marcellus Shale.

3 Natural Gas Trends You Need to Watch in 2014
The Motley Fool
Natural gas has been on the tip of every energy investor’s tongue for the past year. With prices heading higher, here are three trends you need to watch in 2014. 1. Natural gas for electricity…2. Natural gas for transportation…3. Natural gas for LNG Exports.

What Royal Dutch Shell plc Is Doing With Cheap Natural Gas
The Motley Fool
More and more companies are seeking to capitalize on North America’s abundant and cheap supply of natural gas, including, most recently, Royal Dutch Shell. The Hague-based oil giant recently announced that it has inked an agreement with Caterpillar to test new engines running on liquefied natural gas (LNG) at its oil sands mining operations in northern Alberta, a move that is expected to slash fuel costs and reduce emissions. As part of the agreement, Caterpillar and Shell will team up to develop a fully integrated mining truck that will be fueled primarily by LNG, but will also use some diesel. The design will be tested at Shell’s oil sands projects near Fort McMurray starting in 2016. Shell also plans to retrofit its existing trucks with the new engines and develop refueling infrastructure at its oil sands operations.

Pipeline giants seek high-tech solutions to leaks
Houston Chronicle Fuel Fix Blog
In a large green container in a climate-controlled warehouse in Canada, pipeline owners TransCanada and Enbridge are researching new ways to detect oil leaks. The companies are using the $3 million container, which is fitted with real pipe and filled with soil, to learn how oil spreads in different environments and how quickly the newest leak detection devices can sound alarms. The companies plan to fill the container with different soils as they progress through the tests, said Ray Philipenko, senior manager of leak detection for Enbridge, in an interview with FuelFix. “We want to be perfect in finding all leaks,” Philipenko said.

Vaclav Smil’s graph of the year: The natural-gas boom
Washington Post
Time has its “Person of the Year.” Amazon has its books of the year. Pretty Much Amazing has its mixtapes of the year. Buzzfeed has its insane-stories-from-Florida of the year. And Wonkblog, of course, has its graphs of the year. For 2013, we asked some of the year’s most interesting, important and influential thinkers to name their favorite graph of the year — and why they chose it. Here’s Vaclav Smil’s…

Analysts predict more drilling in US shale plays in 2014
With thousands of shale and other unconventional wells drilled in the US this year, could 2014 possibly get any better? Most analysts seem to think so. If more equals better, then 2014 will likely be another sizzling year for the drill bit in the US, with a cascade of funds chasing a horde of anticipated initial public offerings, expanded oil-company development programs, greater drilling efficiencies and more horizontal wells than ever, analysts and upstream experts say. “The focus will continue to be on the core resource plays,” Topeka Capital Markets analyst Gabriele Sorbara said. “Dollars are going into development mode.” To that end, “I think you’ll see a robust IPO market,” Sorbara said, as private operators gear up to grow in established plays such as the Permian Basin in West Texas, the Eagle Ford in South Texas, the Bakken in North Dakota and Montana, the Niobrara in Colorado, and the Utica and Marcellus plays in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Natural gas lines go through lives, too
Philadelphia Inquirer
At the edge of Steve McNaughton’s Downingtown property is a patch of trees he rarely enters. When he ventured into the brush on a recent fall day, spooked deer sprang up from the grass – first one, then two more, then after a moment a straggler that darted after the pack. “It’s theirs,” he said of the enclave. But soon, the property could be someone else’s. McNaughton, his wife, and their two daughters are preparing to pack up for several months, maybe longer, while their pasture is ripped up to install a natural gas pipeline. If approved by federal regulators, a 200,000-pound drill would be erected on their property and bore underground in two directions, creating one segment of Columbia Gas’ Eastside Expansion Project. In all, the project calls for adding two nine-mile loops of pipeline, impacting 119 landowners in Chester County and 45 in Gloucester County, N.J.

Are Natural Gas Suppliers Purposely Overproducing?
The Energy Collective
On December 27, 2013, Matt Wald published a piece in the New York Times titled New Energy Struggles on Its Way to Markets that points to the predictable consequences of having too many energy options chasing too few customers. When there is excess supply compared to demand, prices tend to fall rather dramatically. Falling prices result in some suppliers being forced to either stop selling or to sell their product for an amount that is less than production cost. Eventually, markets balance out as weaker suppliers are driven out, reducing both production and production capacity. Lower prices lead to increased demand and shifts in market share to options that seem to meet customer needs at a lower cost. The oversupply situation disappears and price begin to climb back to a more profitable level.


Poland minister urges faster shale drilling
Gulf Times
Poland’s new environment minister has called for the drilling of 200 to 300 new shale wells in the next four years, saying it was critical to speed faltering development of the sector to wean Warsaw off Russian gas. Maciej Grabowski, who replaced Marcin Korolec last month, has vowed to make shale exploration a priority despite a number of setbacks that have slowed development of unconventional gas in Poland. “In the last few years more than 50 wells have been drilled and, in my opinion, this pace is not satisfactory,” Grabowski told Reuters in an interview. “We want this work to accelerate.”