Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Dec 10, 2013

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

New York

Bluestone Pipeline Now Pays More Than 6% of Property Taxes in Rustic Sanford, NY
NY Shale Gas Now!
Bluestone is now the assessed taxpayer for two newly created accounts related to their new pipeline. There are two accounts because the lay of the pipeline in Sanford means its taxes have to be split across two school districts — some for the Lumberjacks at Deposit Central, and some for the Black Knights at Windsor Central. (Note that, in New York, we pretty much tax every kind of real estate, including natural gas wells, and natural gas pipelines situate within purchased rights of way, both of which are on land that’s usually technically owned by somebody else. We tax everything, that is, so long as the real estate isn’t owned by government or a not-for-profit, or so long as the development doesn’t involve a tax-break program for which the politicians get to take credit for progress.)


Guernsey Energy Coalition Meeting Hears from State Officials About Gas and Oil Rewards
The Daily Jeffersonian
Presenting a synopsis of several towns and cities, off the beaten path of oil-rich eastern Ohio, that have benefited from the presence of dozens of gas and oil companies entrenched in the majority of the 32 Appalachian counties, Linda Woggon, executive vice president of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, told attendees at the Guernsey Energy Coalition meeting, “the benefits from the development of gas and oil in eastern Ohio will reverberate throughout the state,” and that we (communities) are beginning to understand what gas and oil has to offer, including challenges we need to overcome, and how we can all benefit without an oil well in our backyard.


Western Pa. counties weigh shale gas drilling on public land
Pittsburgh Tribune Review
County governments are considering leasing public land or mineral rights for shale gas drilling to raise money. Beaver County commissioners have begun marketing county land, including 1,400 acres in its biggest park, for drilling as it struggles with its finances. Allegheny County last month received a proposal from Range Resources and Huntley and Huntley to drill underneath Deer Lakes Park. Officials in Washington and Butler counties are looking, too. “There’s an opportunity for money, but on the other hand, we’re stewards of this land,” said Doug Hill, executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania. “I wouldn’t say there’s a county saying, ‘OK, we need cash. Let’s go and sign a lease.’ A lot of this is exploration, seeing if it’s a good fit for the county.”

Pa. moves slowly ahead in compressed-natural gas fuel
Sunbury Daily Item
The River Valley Transit’s spiffy new compressed natural gas filling station here is the latest link in a growing CNG network aimed at fleets of large, fuel-hungry vehicles. “We think this is going to be a winner,“ said Kevin W. Kilpatrick, the planning manager for the transit agency, which already owns one CNG bus, has four more on order, and aspires to convert its entire 29-bus fleet to natural gas within a decade. River Valley is the mass-transit company for Williamsport and Lycoming County. The new station, which will also sell fuel for $1.99 a gallon to the public once a credit-card reading device is installed, is expected to find an instant market among businesses eager to promote natural gas in this thriving hub for the Marcellus Shale gas industry.

Oh floats natural gas alternative to fueling city’s fleet
Philadelphia Inquirer
City Council heard testimony from the brass from the gas companies yesterday pushing for Philadelphia to use natural gas and other alternatives to fuel the city’s municipal fleet. But opponents of the measure say that idea is lot of hot air. Administrators from the city’s Office of Fleet Management, local gas industry providers and private companies already undergoing fleet conversion testified during a hearing before the committee on global opportunities and the creative/innovative economy yesterday in City Hall. Councilman David Oh, chairman of the committee, offered a resolution that explored converting Philadelphia’s slowly dwindling and “gas guzzling” fleet of vehicles to run on compressed natural gas and other fuel alternatives. He said taxpayers could see long-term savings because natural gas costs roughly half the going rate for traditional gasoline. “Many times the issues of alternative fuels and clean energy are misunderstood,” said Oh.

West Virginia

Highway Workers Shift To Drilling Companies
The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register
As oil and natural gas companies frack through West Virginia’s Marcellus Shale field, they are scooping up some Division of Highways workers along the way. The Northern Panhandle’s District 6 now has 45 open positions, while there are 309 vacancies throughout the Mountain State. These governmental positions are coming open as drillers, pipeliners and processors continue expanding their operations. “Some of the vacancies can be attributed to the oil and natural gas industry. It is hard for us to provide the same level of starting pay,” said Brent Walker, director of communications for the West Virginia Department of Transportation. “You cannot ignore the effect it has on us.”


ACC predicts 45% rise in US chemical exports due to shale gas boom
Shale Energy Insider
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has predicted that US chemical exports will go up 45% over the next five years due to the cost advantage created by the shale gas boom, putting pressure on higher-cost competitors in Europe and Asia. The shale revolution has caused a boom in US production of natural gas liquids used as chemical feedstocks such as ethane, which has minimised costs. US producers also face cheaper electricity and gas costs compared to Europe. According to the ACC, international chemicals companies have announced 136 potential investments in the US worth about $91bn. Kevin Swift, chief economist of the ACC, said: “The US has become the most attractive place in the world to invest in chemical manufacturing. Our country is poised to capture market share from competitors abroad.”

The Weekly Oil & Gas Follies
Noooo… you think?: Newfoundlanders Aren’t Getting the Fracking Truth – Except there is no oil and gas engineer from Calgary named Syd Peters. APEGA, Alberta’s association of professional engineers, has no record of him. He’s not in the Calgary phone book. His stories were fake, just like he is. After I raised these questions, the Telegram acknowledged they did not follow standard editorial procedures, and could not verify the author. .. But the question remains, who concocted the “Syd” hoax? It’s unlikely we’ll ever know. But it’s telling. Anti-fracking activists are so short of facts and arguments, they feel the need to make stuff up. And it shows their disrespect for the Newfoundlanders they lied to, too.

Shell Axed GTL Plant, Citing Oil And Gas Price Uncertainty
Seeking Alpha
The EIA thinks that for such projects to be viable, price of natural gas needs to be below $6 per million BTUs. In the absence of being able to secure long-term natural gas supplies under this price threshold, the price of oil would have to rise significantly. That seems to be something that we would be foolish to expect to happen for a sustained period, because demand destruction causing an economic slowdown seems to be occurring soon after the WTI oil price crosses the $110-120 per barrel threshold.

Shell Rises Most in 19 Months After Ditching U.S. Fuel Plant
Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) jumped the most in more than 19 months in London after Europe’s largest oil company ended plans to build a gas-to-liquids plant in the U.S. The shares gained 2.6 percent to 2,065.5 pence at the close. That was the largest increase since April 26 last year. The company, based in The Hague, yesterday said it halted plans to build a $20 billion plant in Louisiana, which would have used natural gas to produce 140,000 barrels a day of liquid fuels. “We are encouraged that the plans for a project that we saw as very capital intensive, high risk and inappropriate for a business region that is already overcapitalized will now be confined to collecting dust on a shelf in The Hague,” Lucas Herrmann, a London-based analyst at Deutsche Bank AG, wrote today in an e-mailed report. Shell, which is gearing up to sell about $15 billion of assets, has been under scrutiny from investors because of its record $45 billion spending on projects and acquisitions this year. Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser, who steps down at the end of the year to be replaced by Ben van Beurden, said the decision showed the company’s capital discipline.

U.S. Rig Count Rises by 12 to 1,775, Baker Hughes Says
Rigs targeting oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by 12 this week to 1,775, a three-month high, according to Baker Hughes Inc. Oil rigs rose for the sixth week in a row, by six to 1,397, data posted on the company’s website show. The gas count rose by eight to 375, the Houston-based field services company said. Miscellaneous rigs fell by two to three. U.S. oil output has shot up to the highest level in two decades as producers use hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to tap into long-unreachable shale deposits. Companies are also leveraging more efficient drilling techniques such as horizontal and directional rigs, which can bore in multiple directions from the same pad to cut the time it takes to bore wells and boost yield. “The adoption of horizontal rigs may spur demand for drilling and oilfield services,” Bloomberg Industries analyst Mehdi Menouar wrote in a 2014 outlook note yesterday. Horizontal rigs require three to five times as much oilfield service as traditional vertical rigs, he said.

Report: Environmentalists Opposing Shale Gas Are Making a ‘Tragic Mistake’
Energy in Depth
A report released today puts the folly of anti-fracking activism squarely in the spotlight. The report, authored primarily by University of California-Berkeley physics professor Richard Muller, comes to a sobering conclusion: “Environmentalists who oppose the development of shale gas and fracking are making a tragic mistake.” The reason is because natural gas provides a solution for two major worldwide environmental concerns: air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. For its ability to provide an affordable energy source that can also address these problems, the authors conclude that “shale gas is a wonderful gift that has arrived just in time.”

World Energy Outlook Reveals Importance of U.S. Shale: Five Key Facts
Energy in Depth
The International Energy Agency recently released its 2013 World Energy Outlook, which revealed several important facts about the U.S. economy through 2035, particularly as it relates to the responsible development of U.S. shale. Below, we take a look at five of the key findings from the WEO…


Will the shale gas revolution make North America’s LNG ambitions obsolete?
Globe and Mail
In the lifespan of multibillion dollar projects, five years is a relative blink. It’s why committing to big infrastructure projects is so nerve-wracking–the world can change in a hurry. Consider that only five years ago, plans were in place to build a terminal outside Quebec City to receive liquefied natural gas from Russia. At the time, natural gas prices were close to double digits and the skies ahead looked clear and profitable. The shale gas revolution, of course, changed that essentially overnight. Prices have tumbled and North America, far from being an importer of natural gas, is now positioning itself as an exporter.

Canada’s Labor Shortage Threatens $50 Billion LNG Plans
Energy companies trying to raise almost $50 billion for Canada’s first network of natural gas export terminals will face an even more basic challenge: finding the workers to build them. Housing complexes boasting an indoor golf driving range, a two-story gymnasium and a private movie theater are among perks companies are mulling to lure tradesmen to Canada’s remote, snow-swept West Coast and mitigate wage inflation that could blow up project budgets. Labor shortages in the country already have pushed wages for some oil and gas workers as much as 60 percent higher than their counterparts in the U.S., according to U.S. and Canadian labor data. “The lack of skilled workers is a major component for the reason why you’re often behind schedule and over budget,” said Geoff Hill, partner and oil and gas leader at financial advisers Deloitte Canada in Calgary. A dearth of labor for oil sands and mining will be “exacerbated” by a new wave of construction to enable gas exports, he said.