Fossil Creek Targets WV Utica Shale, Big Bucks for Leases/Drilling

Marcellus Utica ShaleThe Utica Shale “rush” has arrived–in West Virginia. Bedford, TX-based Fossil Creek Ohio (a company we’ve not heard of before today) is signing up Utica Shale leases in Marshall County, WV and says they will begin to sink wells “in the near future.” Fossil Creek President Chris Rowntree declined to say how much the company is paying for lease bonuses and royalties, but he did say it’s more than any other company is paying (which would indicate something north of $7,000 per acre and 20% royalties).

Also of interest to MDN are the numbers thrown out by Fossil Creek for how much they will spend to drill a single Utica well in WV: $22 million on average. That is a startling number. Most Marcellus wells in the area cost around $7 million to drill. If you spend three times that to drill a Utica well, you better be convinced you’ll get three times the return you would receive from a typical Marcellus well to make it a profitable venture–unless you simply have money to burn. Yes, color us skeptical that anyone will make money by spending $22M to drill a shale well! Here’s more on Fossil Energy and several other companies pursuing the Utica Shale “rush” in the Mountain State…
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Shell Meetings Today in Beaver County, PA on Ethane Cracker Plant

Shell is holding two public meetings today at the Shadow Lakes club in Hopewell (Beaver County), PA to discuss the possibility of building a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker plant in Monaca, PA. The meetings, according to Shell, are not an indicator that Shell has decided to move forward with the project. The meetings are, according to Shell, a way for the company to hear concerns from the people who live in the area and would potentially be affected by the plant, and for Shell to share information on where the project stands at this point and what’s ahead. It’s all about good, two-way communication.

More details about the meetings today, and a brief background on the proposed Shell ethane cracker…
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Obama/Biden Pittsburgh Visit Today: Don’t Expect NatGas Praise

President Barack H. Obama and Vice President Joe “the clown” Biden are visiting western Pennsylvania today to play Santa Claus–to talk about redistributing a half billion taxpayer dollars from your pockets to the pockets of the staff and students at community colleges–like Community College of Allegheny County West Hills Center in North Fayette where they’ll make a stop. We suppose there could be worse uses for your money–but we believe you know how to best spend your own money. However, we digress.

Obama and Biden (the oafish Biden turns up simply to make Obama look good by comparison) are visiting the heart of Marcellus drilling country. Those from the gas industry, including Marcellus Shale Coalition president Dave Spigelmyer, are hoping Obama and Biden will at least pay some lip service to the enormous role gas drilling is having for PA’s economy and job picture. We say, don’t hold your breath…
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EIA Drilling Productivity Report – Marcellus Flirts with 15 Bcf/d

The monthly Drilling Productivity Report (DPR) from our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) was issued on Monday (see a copy embedded below). It shows that the average daily production from the Marcellus Shale will go up–again–in May. In April average daily Marcellus production was forecast at 14.52 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). In May it will be 14.77 Bcf/d–getting really really close to 15 Bcf/d.

Since last October when the EIA first started publishing the monthly DPR, Marcellus production has gone up each and every month–with no end in sight. Below is the full report from April, along with screen shots of two charts found on the EIA website but not (yet) in the report. We keep needling them to include these two charts in the PDF of the report…
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Clean Energy Plans NatGas Electric Generation Plant in Lordstown

Clean Energy Future, a company based in Boston, MA, had a “first date” night Monday in Lordstown (Trumbull County), OH. Clean Energy proposes to build an $800 million electric generation plant on 57 acres on Salt Springs road in Lordstown. The plant will be fired by natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus. Clean Energy was there to talk with town residents and to ask the village board to rezone the area so they can build. About 150 people attended date night to size up Clean Energy and their plan.

If the board decides to approve the project, construction would begin in December 2015. However, the plant won’t be completed and online until 2018. Yeah, it takes a long time to build these complex plants–which are made all the more necessary and urgent because of President Obama’s war on coal and the EPA’s strict new rules on burning coal. Here’s how the first date went in Lordstown on Monday:
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Forced Pooling in WV: Dead Issue that Won’t Stay Dead

Dead–but won’t stay dead (zombies anyone?). That’s the situation with forced pooling in West Virginia. Two months ago MDN reported that the forced pooling issue had once again died in the regular legislative session (see WV Forced Pooling Bill Dies in Committee, Yet Again). Drilling industry supporters vow that they will make yet another run at introducing and passing a law in the 2015 legislative session to allow forced pooling in the Mountain State. The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is adding its voice as a supporter of forced pooling. The Chamber has begun a publicity campaign to support forced pooling, complete with a website (www.poolingtogether.com).

Forced pooling is a contentious issue. A few obstinate and frankly unreasonable holdouts who resist drilling can spoil it for all of their neighbors. However, MDN remains firm in our view that property rights are sacrosanct. You shouldn’t be able to tell me I can’t allow drilling on or under my property–and I shouldn’t be able to tell you that you must allow it. We continue to believe that’s the only defensible position on the issue of forced pooling. West Virginia is one of the few active oil and gas states without a forced pooling law and the drilling industry aims to change that. Here’s more on the dead issue that just won’t stay dead in WV:
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Virginia Inches Closer to Shale Drilling in Taylorsville Basin

For some time MDN has been watching the first stirrings of what may eventually be horizontal drilling and fracking in Virginia. But it’s not along the western fringes where the Marcellus layer is present. Instead, the attention has been in the eastern/central part of the state (see Fracking Finally on the Way in Virginia? Maybe Yes, Maybe No). Virginians, like Marylanders, New Yorkers and others that haven’t yet experienced the miracle of Marcellus Shale drilling have been fed a line of equine feces from fossil-fuel haters. Things like “It’ll contaminate yer water aquifers, man.”

We spotted an article about a very interesting meeting between Texas-based Shore Exploration and Production and area residents at a town hall meeting at the University of Mary Washington in Dahlgren (King George County), VA on Monday. From the article we learn that Shore has now leased 84,000 acres in the Taylorsville basin–south and east of Fredericksburg, VA. We also learn that the company’s CEO Ed DeJarnette, who presented at the meeting, is in ill-health and close to death. DeJarnette said he wants to use non-water-based hydraulic fracturing. His preference is to use nitrogen fracking (which is interesting to us). But DeJarnette, under heavy questioning, admitted Shore may sell the leases and he couldn’t guarantee whoever buys those leases will not use water-based fracking. Here is a report of the lively and interesting meeting from Monday…
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Energy Co Exec Gets in the Face of Virginia Anti-Driller

Shore Exploration and Production CEO Ed DeJarnette Jr. addressed a town hall style meeting at the University of Mary Washington in King George County, VA on Monday night (see our companion article). There were residents there who had honest questions and concerns about the potential for shale drilling and fracking in their neighborhood. And then there were the stock, knee-jerk, hackneyed anti-drillers, as there always are. You can usually spot them because they like to stick video cameras in your face, like Mary Trout (from King George, VA) likes to do. Apparently they’re so starved for attention they turn to posting boring videos on YouTube for their 15 seconds of fame.

When Mary tried to pester Ed DeJarnette with questions about fracking, he literally got in her face–so she couldn’t record what he was saying with her ubiquitous camera. Love it! We wish more pro-drillers would use that tactic–throw it right back at the opposition and “get in their face.” Here’s how it went Monday night…
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Fracking on the Way in North Carolina, Still a Long Road Ahead

Fracking is on the way in North Carolina and likely to begin about a year from now, which is great news for North Carolinians. No, there is no Marcellus or Utica Shale under North Carolina, but there is the Dan River Basin and the Deep River Basin in central NC–basins which contain organic-rich shale rock. However, before the drill bit hits the ground next year, the NC Mining and Energy Commission needs to finish up proposed new drilling regulations, hold public hearings, and get the state legislature to sign off on the final version. In other words–it’s still a long road from here to there.

Here’s an update on what needs to happen, and on efforts by virulently anti-drilling groups with words like “riverkeeper” and “clean water” in the name attempting to perform an ideological abortion on the miracle of shale drilling before it can be born in NC…
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Devastating Critique of New Ingraffea/Howarth Methane Study by EID

Yesterday MDN highlighted a new “study” that purports to say methane is leakin’ out all over the place when shale wells are drilled (see Another Day, Another Sham Study on Marcellus Methane Leaks). MDN was not the only pro-drilling publication to notice the release of the study–and to question it’s sham “research.” The always excellent Energy in Depth took a close look and wrote a devastating article that rips the veneer off this latest anti-drilling effort to cast doubt on natural gas drilling in our country.

Have a look at EID’s “Five Facts about Ingraffea and Howarth’s Latest Methane Study”…
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