Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Dec 31, 2013

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

New York

Nothing New Under the Sun with Cuomo Fracking Position
Natural Gas Now
I very much enjoy reading the Natural Gas Now blog and thought other readers might enjoy this little bit of historical information I found while reading the book Limestone Locks and Overgrowth about the Chenango Canal. It bears directly on our current situation in New York with respect to fracking and Governor Cuomo’s failure to move it ahead in the same manner as other states. What I came across recently in the book was a quote from a supposed letter the Governor of New York sent to the President of the United States asking the President to enact a ban on a new technology he said would threaten the future of the state, and it wasn’t fracking. The letter dated January 31, 1829, was thought to have been written by then New York Governor Martin Van Buren (pictured to right). It was addressed to President-elect Andrew Jackson. Governor Van Buren asked the president to protect the American people from the evils of “Rail-Roads.” Van Buren used as his reasoning. “As you well know Mr. President, ‘Rail-Road’ carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by “engines” which, in addition to endangering the life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring livestock and frightening woman and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.” Whether such a letter was ever sent or not, and a writer at the Federal Highway Administration (FWHA) suggests it wasn’t (although others are convinced it has the ring of truth), this was a common sentiment as railroads took over from canals.


Husky’s Ohio Refinery Could Process More Heavy Crude From Canada
NGI’s Shale Daily
In a strategy aimed at flexibility and better meeting market demands, Alberta-based Husky Energy Inc. plans to make a $300 million investment in upgrades at its Lima Refinery in northwest Ohio that would enable it to process heavy crude oil from Western Canada. Although the full plan has not yet been approved by its board, the company has set aside $50 million for preliminary engineering next year, when construction could also start. If the plan goes forward, upgrades at the refinery could be complete by 2017. “We are advancing a plan to increase our ability to process heavier feedstocks at the refinery,” said COO Robert Peabody during a conference call with financial analysts this month to discuss the company’s 2014 capital expenditure budget. “The proposed upgrades will allow us to run up to 40,000 b/d of heavy crude, which will further strengthen our integration capabilities as we bring on more heavy oil thermal projects in Western Canada.”

Ohio high court schedules Feb. 26 arguments in local-control case
Akron Beacon Journal
The Ohio Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments on Feb. 26 in a much-watched Ohio case involving drilling companies and local communities. The arguments will limited to 15 minutes per side, starting at 9 a.m. The case involves the city of Munroe Falls and Beck Energy Corp. The question that is likely to be answered by the court is whether local communities can control or limit drilling or if that can only be done by the state.

Unemployment is dropping in Ohio’s Utica shale counties
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. The state’s latest shale study, released earlier this month, showed job growth in what Ohio calls “core shale-related industries” grew more than 30 percent — up 1,929 jobs — from the start of 2011 through the first quarter of 2013. Ancillary shale-related industries also showed growth over that same period.


AP offers look at 2013 in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale
Akron Beacon Journal
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.

New Compressed Natural Gas Station Fills A Gap In Central PA
NGT News
Pennsylvania-based Clinton County Solid Waste Authority has opened to the public its new compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling station, located at the Wayne Township Landfill in McElhattan, Pa. The organization says the CNG facility, which is at 267 Fritz Rd. off U.S. Highway 220 near the Interstate 80 corridor, is “the first of its kind” in this small central Pennsylvania county. Right now, the station features a single dual-hose fast-fill CNG dispenser with point-of-sale capability (including for Wright Express fleet cards). The Clinton County Solid Waste Authority is the initial anchor fleet for the facility. It currently operates two heavy-duty dual-fuel diesel/natural gas tractors, as well as one CNG-powered recycling truck. Also, two additional tractors with dedicated CNG systems are expected to come online next month, and “more conversions are being planned for 2014,” the authority says. “O” Ring CNG Fuel Systems LP built the facility in partnership with Wayne Township Landfill. Construction was completed this fall.


Global warming scientists forced to admit defeat… because of too much ice: Stranded Antarctic ship’s crew will be rescued by helicopter
UK Daily Mail
They went in search evidence of the world’s melting ice caps, but instead a team of climate scientists have been forced to abandon their mission … because the Antarctic ice is thicker than usual at this time of year. The scientists have been stuck aboard the stricken MV Akademik Schokalskiy since Christmas Day, with repeated sea rescue attempts being abandoned as icebreaking ships failed to reach them. Now that effort has been ditched, with experts admitting the ice is just too thick. Instead the crew have built an icy helipad, with plans afoot to rescue the 74-strong team by helicopter.

Fearless Oil & Gas-Related Predictions for 2014
Forbes/David Blackmon
Well, it’s the end of the year 2013, and everyone and his or her brother is busy compiling a Top Ten Something-or-Other (take your pick: movies, songs, celebrity faux pas, football players, baseball players, basketball dunks, Miley Cyrus embarrassments, etc.) list for 2013. Turns out I’m too lazy to compile my own Top Ten Energy Stories for 2013, because that would require going back through a year’s worth of stories and doing a bunch of time-consuming research. I figured instead I’d compile my own list of Fearless Oil & Gas-Related Predictions for 2014, since I can just make those up off the top of my head, throw ‘em against the wall, and see which, if any of them, stick. So, here goes nothing: Prediction #1: Every day during 2014, an earthquake will take place somewhere on the face of the earth. And every day, no matter where the quake occurs, no matter how remote its epicenter happens to be from the nearest oil and gas drill site, an activist will blame it on “Fracking”, and the allegation will be parroted verbatim by multiple media outlets.

These Companies Deserve Your Attention in 2014
The Motley Fool
As American energy production continues to grow, natural gas liquids, or NGLs, have begun to flood our energy hubs. Today we look at the developing NGL story through the recent deals of four big midstream players: Enterprise Products Partners, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, Targa Resources Partners, and Plains All American Pipeline. In November, Enterprise Products Partners announced it had brought its eight NGL fractionator online at the Mont Belvieu NGL hub. In typical Enterprise fashion, it was completed ahead of schedule, and on budget. Good thing, too, as the partnership has officially begun to fill its ATEX Express pipeline, which carries NGLs from the Marcellus Shale down to the hub in Texas. Producers there have said on more than one occasion that production will climb once the line is in service.

Will Natural Gas Resume Its Upward Trend?
Seeking Alpha
The price of natural gas has changed direction and fell during last week for the first time in December. United States Natural Gas (UNG) has also followed and declined in the past week. Based on the recent U.S Energy Information Administration weekly update, last week’s extraction from storage was lower than the previous week’s extraction but remained much higher than the five year average withdrawal. Will natural gas resume its rally? Let’s analyze the recent developments in the natural gas market. During December (up-to-date), the price of Henry Hub (short term delivery) jumped by 11.46%. Furthermore, United States Natural Gas also rallied by 10.6%. As of last week, the Henry Hub price was $0.91 per million BTUs higher than the price during the same week in 2012. This month’s rally of natural gas may have contributed to the recovery of shares of gas and oil producers such as Chesapeake Energy: During the previous week, Chesapeake’s stock rose by 1.4%. If natural gas were to resume its upward trend, this could improve Chesapeake expected revenues and may slightly positively affect the company’s valuation.

New Fleet Of Natural Gas Powered Trucks Now Serving Indianapolis
Republic Services Inc. announced the deployment of 79 compressed natural gas solid waste and recycling trucks that are now serving customers throughout greater Indianapolis. The new CNG fleet replaced older diesel-powered trucks. With these new trucks, the company is reducing ozone-forming emissions to levels equal to removing 395 automobiles off local roads this year. Republic installed two natural gas fueling stations to support its new fleet of CNG powered trucks in Indianapolis. Natural gas fueling stations enable CNG trucks to fuel during non-peak hours, which has the added benefit of reduced energy consumption during the refueling process. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, each new CNG solid waste and recycling truck reduces ozone-forming emissions by as much as 80% when compared to older diesel-powered trucks. In addition, each new CNG truck deployed is equivalent to removing five passenger vehicles from local roads for one year, or to adding 600 mature trees into the local environment. Republic operates a fleet of more than 1,400 CNG vehicles and 26 natural gas fueling stations nationwide. Approximately 50% of all Republic vehicles purchased in 2013 are powered by the domestic fuel source.

Natural Gas Is Trying, But It Just Can’t Kill Coal…
The Motley Fool
The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently updated its long-term energy outlook, with an attention-grabbing headline of natural gas overtaking coal in the electricity market. Sounds like coal is a goner, but that’s just not true. Read a little further and you’ll find that coal will still account for about one-third of the energy pie in 2040. That’s far from a death blow, but it does mean that some coal companies are better positioned for the future than others. There’s no question that the big picture for domestic coal consumption is a slow fade. However, that’s far from the same thing as death. It looks like coal will account for about 40% of U.S. electricity supply in 2013. So, in 26 years or so, coal will lose about seven or eight percentage points of the pie. But don’t think that means coal use falls. In fact, according to the EIA, the amount of coal used in 2040 is expected to be essentially unchanged from 2012.

Natural Gas Futures Poised for Biggest Annual Gain Since 2005
Natural gas swung between gains and losses as it headed for the biggest annual increase in eight years, amid speculation a cold start to 2014 in the U.S. may boost demand for the heating fuel. Futures for February delivery were at $4.415 per million British thermal units in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 0.3 percent, at 3 p.m. Singapore time. It climbed 1.4 percent to $4.427 yesterday. The volume of all contracts traded was about 83 percent below the 100-day average. Front-month prices are up 32 percent this year, the most since an 83 percent surge in 2005. Commodity Weather Group LLC predicted a push of below-normal temperatures into the Northeast, Midwest and South through Jan. 8. The high in New York City on Jan. 3 will be 18 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 8 Celsius), 21 below normal, according to AccuWeather Inc. Gas is headed for a second annual advance amid shrinking supplies in the U.S. Stockpiles have fallen by 763 billion cubic feet, or 20 percent, to 3.071 trillion in the six weeks through Dec. 20, data from the Energy Information Administration show. That’s the lowest level since August. About 49 percent of U.S. households use gas for heating, according to the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm. Winter in the Northern Hemisphere is the peak demand period in the lower 48 states.