Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Jan 31, 2014

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


Blue Racer Project Awaits Results from Northern Utica
Youngstown Business Journal
An executive from one of the major midstream companies developing the Utica shale in Pennsylvania and Ohio says it still wants to develop a processing network in the northern tier of the play, but won’t move forward until producers feel more confident about oil and gas production there. “When you look at Trumbull and other counties where there’s been a lot of drilling going on, the results haven’t been as good,” compared to wells drilled 100 or more miles to the south, observes Jack Lafield, CEO of Caiman Energy and Blue Racer Midstream. Blue Racer, a partnership between Dominion and Caiman Energy II, is building a pipeline and processing network throughout eastern Ohio’s Utica shale, Lafield said Thursday at the Hart Energy Marcellus-Utica Midstream Conference.

ODNR Officials Tout New Regs for Oil and Gas
Youngstown Business Journal
The director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources says existing state regulations governing the oil and gas business, plus new rules being written, help ensure that the industry is properly managed and monitored. “We never want to say that this is a simple business and accidents won’t happen,” said Jim Zehringer, ODNR director. “But, hydraulic fracturing has been around in Ohio since the 1950s. It’s been done safely — there’s never been a reported case of water contamination because of hydraulic fracturing.” Zehringer, along with ODNR’s oil and gas division chief Richard Simmers, delivered presentations during the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s Government Affairs Council Luncheon at Ciminero’s Banquet Center Thursday.

Ohio asks that Athens area injection well appeal be thrown out
AP/Akron Beacon Journal
Ohio wants an agency to throw out an appeal of a permit issued for a gas-drilling wastewater well near Atehs in Southeast Ohio. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office earlier this week filed a motion with the state oil and gas commission asking for dismissal of the appeal of a drilling permit for the injection well in Troy Township, southeast of Athens. The Athens Messenger reports that the appeal was filed with the commission earlier this month by the Athens County Fracking Action Network. The group claims the well won’t adequately protect groundwater. The attorney general’s office contends that permits for oil and gas wells cannot be appealed to the commission under Ohio law. Local governments have also opposed the well.


Marcellus Shale Gale Shifts Geography Of Natural Gas Supply And Demand
Natural gas production ticked up in the United States by about 1% last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This modest growth masks massive changes in the geography of domestic gas production, which has strained operating conditions on at least one major interstate natural gas pipeline in the Northeast. The primary pipelines that serve the Northeast originate in the Gulf Coast, which has historically been the primary U.S. producing region. As a result, natural gas has traditionally flowed from south to north. That is changing and changing fast. The abrupt decline of production at the Haynesville Shale formation in Texas has reduced the flow of gas from south to north. Meanwhile, the equally abrupt and dramatic production gains in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Marcellus has increased the flow of gas from north to south.


Oil industry groups express skepticism in President Obama’s support for natural gas
The Oklahoman
T. Boone Pickens pretty much summed up the oil industry’s skepticism to President Barack Obama’s stated support for natural gas in his State of the Union address. ickens said he was encouraged by Obama’s focus on natural gas and transportation, but he still wants to see results. “A plan without action isn’t a plan, it’s a speech,” Pickens said. “I look forward to seeing how the president and Congress follow through.” Obama praised natural gas in Tuesday’s speech to lawmakers. “If extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change,” Obama said. “Businesses plan to invest almost $100 billion in new factories that use natural gas. I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built and put folks to work, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas.” Chad Warmington, president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, questioned the president’s description of natural gas as a bridge fuel.

Fracking’s Missing Fans
National Review Online
Imagine an energy source that reduces production of greenhouse gases, conserves water, and preserves natural habitats. It also creates manufacturing jobs, reduces income equality, and defunds sexists and homophobes. Liberals would scream for this fuel, right? Wrong! Natural-gas fracking satisfies these liberal demands, in spades. Yet leftists won’t take “yes” for an answer. Instead they fight fracking, as if it were concocted by Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin at Dick Cheney’s ranch. “I don’t see any place for fracking,” New York’s Democratic mayor, Bill de Blasio, declared last week. New York State environmental commissioner Joe Martens says he has “absolutely no plans” to lift a five-year fracking moratorium. Activist Yoko Ono claims: “Fracking kills.” These and other liberals are either grossly ignorant of or willfully blind toward the environmental and socio-economic benefits of fracking, technically known as hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Analysis: Supply test looms for Obama’s darling natural gas
While the United States is sitting on a bounty of natural gas, the wild volatility of prices this winter could soon become a regular feature as growing demand begins to test supply, potentially curbing plans to increase exports and switch power plants to gas from coal. Ample reserves have depressed prices since 2008, but sudden surges in consumption could jolt the market as early as 2015 when new exports coincide with higher domestic demand and lagging production for the fuel championed by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday. Signs of strain have already emerged. The coldest winter in decades pushed prices for natural gas, which is used to heat homes and produce electricity, to four year highs and exposed inadequacies in the pipeline network. Some prices in the poorly supplied northeast of the country rose to all-time highs above $120 per million British thermal units on January 21, more than $100 higher than the previous week.

Panelist urges caution on LNG exports
Pittsburgh Business Journal
While the debate continues over whether the federal government should allow the export abundant shale gas – and if so, to what extent – one user of natural gas from Australia had a word of caution for the U.S. “There needs to be an insurance policy to protect the domestic market,” said Tim Lawrence, manager of gas energy utilities for Incited Pivot, LTD, an Australia-based manufacturer and marketer of chemical explosives and fertilizers. “The experience in Australia is that gas exports of LNG will fundamentally affect the market.” Lawrence spoke Thursday at Hart Energy’s Marcellus-Utica Midstream Conference & Exhibition, downtown, as part of a panel on leveraging Appalachian fuels.

Back to the Past: Playing Proletarian with Shale Gas Politics
Natural Gas Now
Shale gas opponents love playing proletarian because they tend to be socialists at heart, profoundly radical, guilt-ridden and irrelevant. One of most frustrating things in discussing shale gas issues with a relatively non-political general population is the difficulty in getting across just how profoundly radical (and hollow) most fractivists really are. They are seldom driven by environmental issues alone or even principally. Scratch the surface of their opposition campaign and you find a socialist movement at work in one of its various guises. Ultimately, they always lose because reality intrudes in the end. Still, we risk wasting a lot of time if we don’t call them out for what they are, as it goes to their credibility and, more specifically, their lack of it. This was all brought to mind again when this silly website solicitation was brought to my attention (click photo to go to website):

Ability to transport U.S. oil, gas lags booming output: Energy Secretary
The energy boom of the last decade that has boosted oil and gas production in the United States has outpaced the development of critical infrastructure to transport the raw and refined materials, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on Thursday. Reflecting on a spate of accidents involving freight trains pulling tank cars full of volatile crude oil in Canada and the United States, Moniz said that infrastructure development was key, even beyond a reconsideration of rail regulations now under way by U.S. authorities. “The core approach, really, is that our infrastructure needs to build out,” Moniz said in an interview with Reuters Insider. “Here we have a case, especially with the production in North Dakota, where the Bakken shale (output) zoomed from essentially nothing to past 1 million barrels a day,” he said. “There’s not the pipe infrastructure for moving the product out … you have a slight mismatch in terms of how we add infrastructure to handling our new production.”

Propane gas prices soaring
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Record low temperatures across the country have produced record high propane prices in Virginia and the U.S. In the past week, Virginia’s average propane gas price shot up from $3.38 a gallon to a record $3.75 a gallon, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday. Nearly 5 percent of Virginia households, or about 135,000 homes, heat with propane. “That is the highest price we have” since records began in 1990, said T. Mason Hamilton, a petroleum markets analyst with the Energy Information Administration. But Virginia’s jump pales in the face of the dramatic national spike of $1.05 a gallon, from an average of $2.96 to $4.01, in the last week. “That’s a record price, and that’s a record price increase,” EIA spokesman Tom Doggett said.