Pittsburgh TODAY’s CSSD Propaganda Piece – Gag Me with a Spoon

like gag me with a spoonA masterful piece of propaganda written by Pittsburgh TODAY appears on the Washington Observer-Reporter website promoting the so-far underwhelming Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD). The CSSD, announced exactly one year ago this week, is a joint effort between a few big drilling industry players and a few environmentalist organizations–an uneasy partnership created to make shale drilling palatable to crazy anti-drillers (see Important: Drillers & Enviros Form New Group, Launch Cert Program). If we might summarize, the article about the CSSD on the anniversary of its debutante ball adopts the the classic “against all odds” storytelling formula.

According to PT, the CSSD is the story of a (very few) brave men and women who dared to buck the odds and sit down at the table to discuss their differences on shale drilling–people from both the industry and (more importantly of course) from environmentalist wacko groups. These brave men and women faced challenges, both internal (they agonized in their souls, am I selling out?) and external (they fought their own organizations and their brethren in other companies/green organizations). Against all odds, they stuck to it, found “common ground” (i.e. industry caved), and in the end, they “hammered out” 15 standards that if adopted (at extreme cost by the industry) will mean precious Mother Earth will survive this nasty, filthy activity called shale drilling after all. The End.
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Happy 65th Birthday…Fracking!

happy birthdayIf it were a person, fracking would now be eligible to start receiving Social Security checks. According to the American Petroleum Institute, what MDN calls the miracle of hydraulic fracturing (fracking for short) turned 65 years old yesterday. And we celebrate it. We are jumping up and down and hollering. Way to go! Glad you were born! We hope you’re around another 65 years!!

Regardless of the constant lies from anti-drillers like Josh Fox and his fictional Gasland flicks, the loony left has not been able to fully demonize fracking (partially, but not fully). The process of fracking a well is actually a very small part of shale drilling–but because the word itself sounds so naughty it’s used as a proxy to mean all of the shale drilling process. (As an aside, anti-drillers have never been able to successfully demonize “horizontal drilling” the way they have fracking. We tried to help them out. See our story MDN Proposes a New Phrase for Anti-Drillers to Use, sure to give you a smile.) Here’s the birthday announcement from API for our beloved fracking…
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OH Landowners Question Chesapeake’s Royalty Calculations

The bad news for Chesapeake just keeps rolling in. Not only are landowners in Pennsylvania up in arms over minuscule royalty checks (see Bradford PA Landowner Rally over Chesapeake Royalty Shenanigans), so too are Ohio landowners now questioning whether or not they’re getting the shaft from Chessy.

As we mentioned last week, the anti-drilling site ProPublica published an “investigative” article trying to lay the blame for Chesapeake’s current bad behavior on the previous CEO (and founder) Aubrey McClendon (see Chesapeake Shafting Landowners out of Royalties Mess Gets Messier). In Ohio Chessy shows a big, fat zero in the column for post-production expenses deducted from the royalty payment. Some say that’s a lie…
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Chesapeake Rushes to Spin Off Oilfield Services into New Company

Three weeks ago MDN brought you the news that Doug “the ax” Lawler, nominal CEO of Chesapeake Energy (his boss corporate raider Carl Icahn really runs the show) had decided to either spin off or sell Chessy’s oilfield services division (see Chesapeake Energy Looks to Dump Oilfield Services Division). Doug and Carl are impatient men–they’re on a mission to fatten Carl’s bank account. Since there were no immediate takers for this latest fire sale item, Doug and Carl announced yesterday they’re spinning the oilfield services division out into it’s own company–a company that will be named Seventy Seven Energy Inc.

This action comes on the heals of selling off many (most? all?) of the remaining compressor plants owned by Chesapeake, including all 103 of the compressors they owned in the Marcellus (see Chesapeake Fire Sale Continues: Marcellus/Utica Compressor Plants). We have to ask–what is there left to sell at this point? Er, right–the company itself! However, no one will buy the company with the current cloud of accusations hanging over it that they’ve been cheating landowners out of royalties. Here’s the announcement that Chessy is saying sayonara to their oilfield services division…
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New Houston-based E&P Targeting Oily Plays, Including Utica Shale

A brand new shale exploration & production (E&P or what we calling driller) has formed in Houston, TX, but it has its eyes set on the Utica Shale–at least in part. Rock Oil Holdings recently began operations and received a nice little $250 million cash infusion from New York-based energy equity firm Riverstone Holdings LLC. Rock Oil says they will concentrate their efforts in the Eagle Ford Shale, the Utica Shale and the Permian Basin, “which are well suited to the Company’s land and technical capabilities.” In other words, they’re targeting “oily” shale plays–those with the potential for crude and for natural gas liquids (NGLs).

We’ll keep an eye out for Rock Oil in the coming months to see if they lease any Utica acreage. Meanwhile, here’s the announcement of Rock receiving start-up capital from Riverstone:
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NatGas Replaces Coal to Generate Electricity in Steamtown USA

Coal has been a fixture in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area for generations. It is so much a part of the fabric of the community that there is a National Park smack in the middle of downtown Scranton called Steamtown National Historic Site. Railroad engines used to run on coal back in the day–so it figures Scranton was a major nexus for trains–the city was really the coal capital of the northeast. So when natural gas displaced coal at a 50 year-old coal-powered electrical generating plant south of Wilkes-Barre a few years ago, that was interesting and noteworthy. The Hunlock plant was converted to run on natural gas by installing two new turbines. The waste heat from the new turbines now powers the old/original turbine once powered by heat from burning coal. It’s called “combined cycle” electric generation and it’s happening across the United States.

The Obama EPA has demonized coal to the point that electric generating plants are switching (by necessity) to natural gas in large numbers. Hey, *something* has to create electricity–a very small scintilla of electricity comes from so-called alternative sources like wind and solar. Fossil fuels will, for generations to come, bear most of the burden when it comes to creating the electricity that powers your smart phone, lights, and your (*cough*) electric car. That’s the stark reality. The following article is an intriguing look at how utilities convert aging coal-fired electric plants into less-polluting, more efficient natgas-fired plants–in this case plants that run on Marcellus Shale gas…
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PA Dems: No Leg to Stand on Criticizing $75M Forest Drilling Plan

Another hypocritical PA House Democrat takes a potshot at the sitting Republican governor over the issue of drilling in PA state forests. As you may recall, Gov. Tom Corbett included a plan to raise $75 million for the state budget by allowing a bit more drilling than there already is in state forests (see PA Gov. Corbett’s Bold Plan for More Drilling in State Forests). The $75 million he would raise is out of a $29.4 BILLION budget–or exactly 0.00255 of the budget. Essentially a rounding error. And yet, hypocritical Democrats like State Rep. Greg Vitali (Delaware County, PA) chairman of the Pennsylvania House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, continue to heckle Corbett over that $75 million (see his letter below).

Here’s the hypocrisy that needs to be thrown right back in Vitali’s face: His committee previously approved plans that allowed then-Gov. Ed “Fast Eddie” Rendell (a Democrat) to raise $444 MILLION from doing the very same thing! It was only after Fast Eddie had his cash that he closed down drilling in state forests with an executive order. Corbett had the guts to lift that order and ask for another $75 million on non-invasive, under the ground (not on the surface) drilling to raise some more money for the budget, and the Dems throw a hypocritical cow. Shame on them…
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Pass One Last Joint for John Hanger

John Hanger, the former Secretary of the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection under Gov. Ed Rendell, withdrew from the Democrat primary for governor last week. John is an “all of the above” kind of guy–in favor of wind and solar as much as natural gas. He’s also a very left-leaning liberal, in favor of legalizing pot smoking in the Keystone State. A few months ago we coined the phrase “pass a joint for John,” to, you know, give his campaign a boost (see PA Gov. Corbett’s Bold Plan for More Drilling in State Forests).

But our best efforts to give John a boost apparently fell short. John supports restrictions on shale drilling. He even refused to denounce the crazies in his own party who want to ban all new Marcellus drilling (now part of the PA Democrat Party’s official platform, see PA Democrat Party Votes to End Marcellus Shale Drilling Statewide). Even so, the crazies just couldn’t stomach someone like John who gives even the smallest credence to fossil fuels. So John is now out of the running. He should have concerned himself more with the wacko left in his own party rather than repeatedly rail against the Tea Party…
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Shell Using GTL Technology to Convert Natural Gas to Motor Oil

What if a company perfected a method to convert natural gas into motor oil–a motor oil extremely pure and high quality, because there are no impurities associated with using crude oil? Shell has already done it–is doing it at their massive gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in Qatar. Shell issued a press release last week to make sure everyone knows they are (so far) the only company that converts natural gas to motor oil on a full production scale. The oil they produce is used in their premium brands: Pennzoil Platinum® and Pennzoil Ultra® Platinum Full Synthetic.

So far no American shale gas is being used in Shell’s Middle Eastern GTL operations. Perhaps with abundant, cheap natural gas here at home Shell will consider setting up an operation somewhere on American shores? Here is the very interesting technology Shell is using, that may one day arrive here commercially…
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