Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Dec 12, 2013

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


Revamped rails
Marietta Times
Although American Electric Power of Ohio’s Muskingum River plant is still slated to close in two years, CSX Transportation is continuing to upgrade the rail system into the Beverly area, which has led to some rumors that another industry may be moving onto the AEP site. Carol Dennis, who lives on Ferncliff Drive near Devola, has a bird’s eye view of the railroad work going on across the Muskingum River from her home. “There are tractors, dump trucks-lots of equipment working on the tracks. I’ve lived here since 1969 and have never seen anything like it,” she said. “But I can’t understand why they’re putting so much investment into the railroad when AEP is going to close and the tracks won’t be used that much.”


Marcellus Shale: ‘The 1 Bcf Per Day Club’ To Sign Up A New Member
Seeking Alpha/Richard Zeits
After just two years of active development drilling in the Marcellus, Southwestern Energy (SWN) is beating its own production targets in the play by… three years. Slightly over a year ago, speaking at an investor conference, CEO Steven Mueller laid out the company’s operating plan in the Marcellus. At that time, the Marcellus was still perceived as an emerging asset in Southwestern’s Fayetteville-dominated portfolio. The plan called for a remarkably steep production ramp up in the Marcellus, to over 500 MMcf/d (gross) by the end of 2013, reaching “almost 800 MMcf/d” (gross) in 2017. Southwestern was expecting to run a continuous 4-rig program. The plan sounded quite aggressive in September of last year as Southwestern had virtually no production coming out of the Marcellus as of mid-2011 and was producing just 166 MMcf/d (gross) as of mid-2012. Southwestern’s case confirms what has become the “Marcellus Forecasting Rule:” every most optimistic forecast shall prove outlandishly conservative a year later.

Future of shale: Industry ‘game changing’ and ‘multi-generational,’ shale leader says
Titusville Herald
The shale industry will continue to grow in Pennsylvania and attract major capital investments as long as the state government works to create a more competitive business market for energy companies. That was the theme of a presentation held Tuesday at Drake Well Museum, as the multi-purpose room was filled with state and local politicians, industry professionals and developers to hear the president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, Dave Spigelmyer, speak of the successes and obstacles of the shale industry. The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) was founded in 2008 to work with exploration and production in the Appalachian Basin and across the country, to address issues regarding the production of American natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays. The coalition works with policymakers, regulators and media on the impacts of natural gas production. Spigelmyer said that developing a stronger and more stable gas industry infrastructure is vital to drawing global dollars to Pennsylvania. “We’re in a global, competitive marketplace,” said Spigelmyer. “Our focus at MSC is to create a predictable and certain environment for investment. I want to make sure folks are aware that we are in a competition to have capital flow into Pennsylvania.”

Action at the pump
Williamsport Sun-Gazette
Believe it or not, you now can fill up your tank in Williamsport for $1.99 per gallon. The catch? You have to drive a vehicle powered by compressed natural gas, or CNG. River Valley Transit, 1500 W. Third St., now is operating a compressed natural gas fueling station that is open to the public, local municipalities and private corporations. The station offers both high- and low-flow nozzles to accomodate different types of vehicles, and is lit by motion sensor lights at night and monitored by security cameras. It’s another piece of the three-phase plan that River Valley Transit put into motion last year to make this unique fueling option a reality in the Williamsport area. It already operates one CNG-powered bus in its fleet and is planning for more.

Gasland Filmmaker Tells Pa. to Kill Jobs and Not Worry about It
Energy in Depth
After a brief hiatus from the media spotlight, Josh Fox attempted to regain some lost ground recently with a screening of Gasland Part 2 at Slippery Rock University, just north of Pittsburgh. Fox reiterated his usual rhetoric, downplaying any benefits from the development of our shale resources, and then calling for lawmakers to kill jobs for hardworking families by banning hydraulic fracturing. Below is the full video of what unfolded:

West Virginia

New rule lets fracking waste fill landfills
AP/Spirit of Jefferson
A memo released quietly by regulators earlier this year has carved a major loophole in West Virginia’s rules restricting the amount of waste that can be accepted by the state’s landfills, all with the intent to ease a burgeoning problem caused by the boom in gas drilling, environmentalists say. The new rule specifies that landfills can accept unlimited amounts of solid waste from horizontal gas drilling, more commonly known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking. The rule carves out an exception to a decades-old state law that limited landfills’ intake to only 10,000 or 30,000 tons a month, depending on their classification. In the industry, the drilling waste is called “drill cuttings,” a sludgy mix of dirt, water, sand and chemicals dredged up in the drilling process.


US energy boom helps grease manufacturing’s spinning wheels
The U.S. manufacturing renaissance may have an invisible hand guiding it along: the energy sector, which is in the midst of its own breakneck expansion. The heavily chronicled shale boom that has propelled U.S. oil production to historical peaks also may be greasing the wheels of manufacturing, which suffered for years as production moved to cheaper havens overseas. Now, however, the once-beleaguered sector is expanding briskly. Last week the Institute for Supply Management reported that manufacturing activity expanded at its fastest pace in 30 months in November. While ISM does not break out energy-related manufacturing specifically, Brad Holcomb, chairman of its manufacturing business survey committee, said the rise of shale production has definitely had an impact on manufacturing gains “since energy affects everything.”

U.S. Shale Gas: Who Gets The Pie?
Seeking Alpha
Earlier this year I dove right into natural gas as an alternative to diesel for medium to heavy transport in the United States. “Natural Gas And Commerical Transportation: The Hatching Egg”, “U.S. Federal Law, Exports And Subsidies: Natural Gas And The Commerical Trucking Industry” and “Natural Gas And Commerical Transportation: States Act While Feds Mull”. If you are unfamiliar with this topic, these articles and comments provide a solid primer for the concepts surrounding natural gas as it relates to medium or heavy transportation. As time went on, I continued to try to frame this idea to weigh investments and the likelihood that natural gas will find legs in transportation. This article summarizes some of my research and views of this far reaching topic.

Solar may be competitive with natural gas…someday
Solar can become competitive internationally with natural gas by 2025, claims a study authored by Lux Research. But there are several caveats to that assertion. For example, the study said, solar becomes competitive if there is a 39% decline in utility-scale system costs by 2030 and accompanied by barriers to shale gas production, such as anti-fracking policies in Europe and the high cost of capital in South America. “On the macroeconomic level, a ‘golden age of gas’ can be a bridge to a renewable future as gas will replace coal until solar becomes cost competitive without subsidies. On the microeconomic level, solar integrated with natural gas can lower costs and provide stable output,” said Ed Cahill, Lux Research Associate and the lead author of the report.

Keystone Foe Added to Obama Inner Circle With Podesta
John Podesta’s return to the White House, aimed at bolstering President Barack Obama, places an opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline within his circle just as the administration weighs whether to approve the project. The Democratic veteran, who previously served as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, joins the administration as Obama’s approval ratings have fallen to all-time lows after the fumbled rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Podesta, 64, will advise on a range of issues, “with a particular focus on issues of energy and climate change.”


European Union Ready for Shale
Energy in Depth
This week, Lord Deben, chairman of United Kingdom’s government’s advisory body on climate change, put to rest some of the extreme claims of anti-hydraulic fracturing activists in the region. As BBC News reports: “It just isn’t true that fracking is going to destroy the environment and the world is going to come to an end if you frack,” he said. “And yet to listen to some people on the green end, that’s what they say.” These comments were made on the heels of a recent report released by Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency of the UK’s Department of Health, which found the public health risks from shale development are low. The UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron has also voiced his support for hydraulic fracturing in the region, stating ”if we don’t back this technology, we will miss a massive opportunity to help families with their bills and make our country more competitive.”