Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Mar 13, 2014

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

New York

Oneonta Town Board considers ban on hydrofracking
Oneonta Daily Star
The Oneonta Town Board will consider adopting a comprehensive plan and an anti-fracking law Wednesday night, the supervisor said. Public hearings are set for each measure. A hearing on the comprehensive plan is set for 7:45 p.m. in Town Hall in West Oneonta. The regular meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. A hearing for a proposed local law amending the town zoning code to prohibit natural gas exploration or drilling will be at 8 p.m. Under the proposed measure, “it shall be unlawful in or on any zoning district or any property within the boundaries of the town to operate, conduct, commission, authorize, or permit, or produce natural gas exploration, exploration or production wastes, natural gas support activities, or storage or disposal of natural gas production byproducts, natural gas extraction, exploration or production wastes dump.” The proposed anti-drilling law is similar to the town’s moratorium, Supervisor Robert Wood said, but the law would be permanent. The town had approved a moratorium to provide time for a committee to update a comprehensive plan, which also is scheduled for adoption Wednesday. Wood said the 1998 comprehensive plan didn’t address natural gas drilling.

Upstate New York by the Numbers: The Price of Political Correctness
Natural Gas Now
Upstate New York is dying by the numbers and this seems to be the price of political correctness – a disease that blinds our Governor to not only our plight but the gas drilling solution. Upstate New York is the impoverished territory of a state long governed by the urban masses downstate. Successive political leaders of the state have treated everything north of Peekskill as little more than a playground for the Manhattanites; an Australian bush land of sorts populated by indigenous peoples who need to be managed for their own good. Most of the time though, Upstate New York is simply out of mind, until something happens they suppose might impact the playground; something like gas drilling.


IGS breaks ground for new CNG station in Trumbull County
Akron Beacon Journal
Today, IGS CNG Services announced it is breaking ground on its Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling station in the Greater Youngstown, Ohio area – located in Weathersfield Township, Trumbull County. The first of its kind in Mahoning Valley, this station will service a growing number of Ohio businesses and citizens who are converting to natural gas vehicles (NGVs) as a way to save money and use a clean, Ohio fuel. The Youngstown station will be the fifth station in the IGS CNG Services network that offers CNG to the public. The other four are located in Dublin, OH (owned by the City of Dublin), Charleston, WV, Bridgeport, WV and Jane Lew, WV. “Our goal is to develop a CNG infrastructure in the Midwest that serves businesses and individuals utilizing CNG,” said Scott White, president of IGS Energy. “Our plan responds to the emerging market demand for fast, convenient refueling of CNG vehicles. We want to create the opportunity to travel all over the region without a worry of whether you can find a spot to fuel up with compressed natural gas.”


Murrysville residents may decide whether to allow gas drilling under municipal park
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Murrysville officials may let residents decide whether to allow gas drilling under the municipal park. In February, council agreed to seek bids for drilling rights under Murrysville Community Park. The action allows residents to bring the question of drilling in the park to the ballot in November. To get the issue up for a Election Day vote, residents now need to get approximately 3,000 signatures on petitions sent to the Westmoreland County Election Bureau. The matter came up for discussion at a meeting in January after Murrysville received an offer from Huntley and Huntley Inc. of Monroeville to purchase the subsurface mineral rights to approximately 260 acres of the park. The firm is a gas and oil development company. Leasing the drilling rights to the park could bring the municipality up to $1 million, said Jim Morrison, the community’s chief administrator. In addition, annual royalties on the profits could reach millions more over the course of a multiyear lease.

Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale Success
Natural Gas Now
Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale Success is one terrific story. It’s responsible for a whole new economic sector in the Commonwealth and WBRE/WYOU has covered it all in one short program. Fracking can be controversial, but it shouldn’t be given its record and its promise. Fortunately, there is more and more evidence facts are now overwhelming the emotion; the recent Holko-Steingraber debate in Binghamton offering a good example. Now, WBRE/WYOU television has done an outstanding Newsmakers segment that succinctly addresses just about every aspect of the natural gas industry, demonstrating Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale success is no anomaly but, rather, a foundation for the future. It’s not only a must watch show, but also enjoyable.

Elitists Opposed to Natural Gas Receive Comeuppance in Bobtown
Natural Gas Now
Natural gas opponents and some media types with agendas had a field day in Bobtown when Chevron passed out pizza coupons but the reality is a far different matter. One of the great biographies of all time was Whittaker Chambers’ Witness. Chambers had been a communist in his younger years, became disillusioned, exposed Alger Hiss as a fellow traveler and later served as an editor at Time Magazine and National Review. The Hiss case was highly controversial at the time, although the guilt of Hiss was later established beyond any doubt when USSR files were released. What made the case controversial, more than the fact Hiss was a high-level State Department official, was the nature of the two men. Hiss was a handsome aristocrat, an elitist much admired with Washington circles, whereas Chambers, though a superb writer, was an unappealing, frumpy sort of guy who never quite fit into society. It was hard to believe Hiss could be a liar, let alone a traitor, but it was easy to imagine Chambers might be lying. High society rallied around Hiss; he was one of them. Chambers most definitely was not, though he had the facts on his side and ultimately proved to be the truth-teller.

Understanding Methane Gas Migration
Natural Gas Now
Methane gas migration is often attributed to natural gas drilling as if it were uniquely a consequence of that activity. It’s often mistakenly blamed on hydraulic fracturing. Its causes are, in truth, many and misinformation is rife. This is the first in a series of articles that will be presented by the Energy Group. The group consists of several Sullivan County, Pa. residents who completed a 10 week course conducted by Penn State University in the Marcellus Community Science Volunteer Program. The Energy Group mission is to provide factual unbiased information as a public service on various energy topics. This information will be reviewed by experts in various fields to keep it as accurate as possible. And, it is hoped it will stimulate cordial discussions without being contentious. The first topic is perhaps one that is high on most property owner’s minds whether they signed a gas lease or not and that is private water well safety. There are several laboratory tests a property owner can make to determine the quality of their drinking water including tests for coliform bacteria contained in fecal matter from septic tank leakage, nitrates from fertilizers and various chemicals such as benzene contained in gasoline and methane. This article is primarily regarding methane.

West Virginia

Bill Allowing Drill Cuttings in Landfills Unanimously Passes West Virginia Senate
The West Virginia Senate unanimously passed a bill allowing drill cuttings to be disposed of in commercial solid waste facilities, reports the Charleston Gazette. The bill calls for the cuttings to be contained in separate, lined cells, and for charging drilling companies $1 per ton to fund Department of Environmental Protection studies concerning the feasibility of using existing landfills for the disposal of the cuttings. $75,000 will be set aside under the bill for a scientific study on the leeching of the cells with the cuttings, according to Senator Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson. The bill was amended to exclude some landfills located in the eastern side of West Virginia that have porous limestone rock lying below. The House must approve changes to the bill before going it can go to the governor for ratification.


Heating fuel expenditures rise this winter, especially for propane-heated homes
EIA Today in Energy
Average expenditures for U.S. households heating primarily with propane are expected to be 54% higher this winter (October-March) compared with last winter, while expenditures for homes using heating oil will be 7% higher, natural gas 10% higher, and electricity 5% higher, according to EIA’s March Short-Term Energy Outlook. Persistently cold weather east of the Rocky Mountains drove up demand for all heating fuels, depleted inventories, and put upward pressure on prices. Propane prices experienced an especially high spike during several weeks in January and February. EIA’s current estimates for winter heating expenditures are significantly higher than the pre-winter forecasts in the October 2013 Short-Term Energy Outlook.

Boardwalk Pipeline Partners: Is There Anything To Be Salvaged From This Fiasco?
Seeking Alpha
Boardwalk Pipeline Partners is a large, non-diversified, highly levered, natural gas and gas liquids pipeline operator. 95% of its revenues came from natural gas transportation and storage. Recently, many of its assets have become less profitable and rising natural gas prices have hurt margins. Several of its long term contracts have come up for renewal and the partnership was forced to accept lower rates. The result was a catastrophic decline in EBITDA, Distributable Cash Flow and a 81% distribution cut, which resulted in a 40% sell off. Its dividend yield, now just 3%, and 0 likely distribution growth for the foreseeable future indicates that investors can expect 3.2% CAGR returns going forward.

East Harlem Explosion Highlights Risk of Natural Gas Leaks
National Geographic
The deadly explosion that ripped apart two buildings in New York’s East Harlem on Wednesday morning brings new attention to a risk experts have been warning is especially great beneath the oldest U.S. cities: natural gas leaks. Con Edison, the utility that services New York, said via Twitter that it was on the scene responding to a gas leak just before the explosion at about 9:40 a.m. The blast was so violent that it sent people “flying out the window,” according to reporting by the New York Daily News. At least two people were killed and 16 more were injured, some seriously, in the collapse of two buildings and fire, said the New York Fire Department. Authorities, still fighting the fire and searching for victims, had reached no immediate conclusion on the cause of the explosion, but Con Edison said it was working closely with the NYFD.

America’s Gas Infrastructure Is Getting Dangerously Old
Time Magazine
The system that funnels natural gas around the U.S. is enormous, and parts of it are nearly 100 years old. A gas leak in New York City morphed into a deadly explosion Wednesday, claiming at least three lives and destroying two buildings while injuring dozens of other residents. How old the pipe was that runs beneath that part of an old neighborhood—and exactly how the leak started—remain unclear. Some academics, however, say it’s clear that much of America’s aging gas infrastructure needs to be replaced, regardless of what happened in Harlem.

Senate GOP pushes bill curbing natural gas flaring
The Hill
Three Republican senators are pushing legislation that fast-tracks permits for natural gas pipelines in an effort to curb gas flaring. Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), John Hoeven (N.D.), and Mike Enzi (Wyo.) introduced the bill on Wednesday, which requires the Interior and Agriculture Departments to issues permits for the majority of gas pipelines within 60 days. “Abundant, low-cost energy shouldn’t have to wait on the federal government for approval,” Enzi said in a statement on Wednesday. “But that’s often what happens when we lose natural gas to flaring on account of delays in permitting infrastructure improvements. American energy is ready to power our country if Washington would just get out of the way. We can do better and our legislation is one step in that direction.” Wyoming, North Dakota and Texas are the states with the highest amounts of natural gas flaring and venting, according to the Energy Department’s statistics shop.

Natural gas rig counts see largest weekly increase since September
Market Realist
Baker Hughes, an oilfield services company, reported that rigs targeting natural gas rose last week, from 335 to 345 for the week ended March 7, 2014, of which seven rigs started work in the Eagle Ford. Despite last week’s uptick, natural gas rigs are down 27 since the beginning of the year, a decrease of ~7%. Note that Baker Hughes anticipates that 2014 will exit with U.S. natural gas rigs drilling totaling ~360, close to current levels. Most of the decline in gas rigs was from the Cana Woodford (-10), the Marcellus (-8), the Permian (-7), and areas that Baker Hughes classifies as “Other” (-12). Meanwhile, drilling rigs targeting gas increased by 12 in the Eagle Ford.


Big project could help China meet shale energy goals
Bloomberg/Akron Beacon Journal
China, which sits on the world’s largest shale reserves, may exceed its 2015 output goal, as a new project in the nation’s southwest and the promise of fresh investment leave government targets looking outdated. China Petrochemical Corp., the parent of the listed company known as Sinopec, agreed last week with local government to build shale gas capacity at its Fuling site to 5 billion cubic meters a year by 2015. It suggests a national target of 6.5 billion cubic meters will be met or surpassed. “China can easily beat the 2015 target, thanks largely to the accelerated pace of development from Sinopec’s Fuling project,” said Shi Yan, an analyst at UOB-Kay Hian Ltd. in Shanghai. Shi said contributions from other shale producers could lift 2015 output as high as 10 billion cubic meters. While China’s reserves are almost double that of the U.S., its production target is meager compared to U.S. output in 2012 of 266 billion cubic meters. High costs, difficult terrain and lack of infrastructure have stunted development and cast doubt on whether even its existing targets could be met. As concerns over coal-fired pollution mount, the nation is pushing harder to unlock its potential shale bonanza.