New Wrinkle in NY: Towns Must Pass Zoning Laws to Allow Fracking

shouting matchAnti-drilling former “reporter” for the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Tom Wilber, is back with an insightful article in the P&SB. Wilbur highlights an issue just now coming to light for residents in New York. Earlier this year the New York Court of Appeals (NY’s highest court) made a disastrous ruling that allows townships to ban fracking (see Shale Drilling in NY is Over – High Court Upholds Town Bans). The continuing sliver of hope for NY landowners is that Gov. Andrew “can’t make up his mind” Cuomo will make up his mind, lo these 6 years later, and allow fracking to take place. The thinking has been that the fight (for anti-drillers) will now focus on attempting to get town boards to enact a ban–something not likely to happen in places most likely to drill. Wilber’s article points out a big, fat problem with that thinking: the high court’s decision in July did a lot more than just allow towns to ban drilling. In light of the July decision, towns with zoning ordinances (almost all towns in NY) must specially allow drilling–or it can’t take place by default…
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EQT’s 2015 Plans: 181 Marcellus Wells, 58 UD Wells, 5 Utica Wells

Yesterday EQT issued its 2015 “operational forecast” to telegraph their intentions for the year ahead. What does 2015 hold for the Pittsburgh-based exploration & production company? They plan to drill another 181 Marcellus Shale wells, 58 Upper Devonian shale wells, and 5 Utica Shale wells. They also plan to stop drilling Huron wells (the Huron layer is in Kentucky). Stated reason for stopping Huron development? The low price of natural gas. Can’t make money in the Huron at these prices. EQT will also invest $225-$250 million on midstream projects in 2015. Overall, they plan to spend a whopping $2.5 billion in 2015. Here’s the full forecast…
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Stone Energy WV Utica Well Turns in IP of 30 Mmcf/d

Stone Energy is crowing about a Utica Shale well–in West Virginia. Yesterday in an operational update, Stone said their Pribble 6HU well in Wetzel County, WV is producing an initial 30 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. That doesn’t make it the top producing well (that crown still belongs to Magnum Hunter, see Magnum Hunter Takes the Prize: Top Producing Utica Well). But 30 Mmcf/d? That’s one of the better producing wells we’ve heard of. And once again, it’s another Utica well outside of Ohio–in WV! Here’s the details from Stone…
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Rice Energy Launches Midstream IPO – MDN Nails the Price

A month ago MDN told you that Rice Energy would spin out a midstream (pipelines & processing plants) subsidiary (see Rice Energy Readies Midstream Subsidiary IPO – How Much?). At the time, we didn’t have a clue as to how much the company would want to raise, but based on a formula we devised (pretty simple, using the same ratio of Antero’s E&P IPO vs their midstream IPO) we came up with the number of $588.5 million for the Rice Midstream IPO. We said at the time we would be back to let you know how close we came with our “back of the envelope” prediction. Looks like it was pretty darned close. Like, scary close…
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Kinder Files with FERC, NED Pipeline Changes Path in NY & MA

MDN has chronicled the sad state of Massachusetts and its obtuse opposition to the Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct (NED) project, a pipeline that would make both their natural gas and electricity costs a lot cheaper. We told you Kinder planned to change the path of the pipeline to avoid about half of Massachusetts on its way from New York to the Boston area (see Kinder Morgan Changes Route for Pipeline from MA to NH). What you may not know is that MA doesn’t have sole ownership of obtuseness. New York wants in on some of that action too. NIMBYs in Columbia County, NY have been kicking up a fuss over the pipeline, so when Kinder filed their new preferred route yesterday (see updated map below), they altered the course and shifted it north from Columbia County to Rensselaer County, following an existing right-of-way owned by National Grid…
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Spectra Energy Alliance with Iroquois to Sell Marcellus Gas to NE

In July Spectra Energy announced a pipeline project that would compete with Kinder Morgan’s plan to run a pipeline across Massachusetts to help alleviate natural gas bottlenecks in New England (see Spectra Energy to the Rescue! New England Pipeline Expansion). Spectra’s pipeline eventually got a name and a partner: The $3 billion project is called Access Northeast and the partner is Northeast Utilities (see Spectra Energy New England Pipeline Gets a Name & a Partner). Yesterday, Spectra announced not a new partner, but a new alliance with a competitor. Iroquois Gas Transmission has agreed to provide Marcellus Shale gas to Spectra’s Access Northeast pipleine. The two will connect at the Wright, NY Interconnect in Schoharie County…
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Deuling Air Quality Studies for NEPA Frac Sand Transfer Station

MDN has tracked the case of a proposed D&I Silica (owned by Hi-Crush Partners) frac sand transfer facility in Tunkhannock (Wyoming County), PA and some of the ins and outs along the way. D&I is ready to build the facility but lacks one important permit–from the county. So D&I has sued to get it (see NEPA Town Residents Resist Frack Sand Transfer Station). That lawsuit was settled in November and construction will now go forward. We recently brought you a report from a resident and long-time reader of MDN on the situation (see Revisiting Frac Sand Facility Controversy in Tunkhannock, PA). We have a new update: Both the county and the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) are proposing air quality studies to ensure nearby residents are not exposed to silica dust which acts a lot like asbestos particles and can, in the most extreme cases, can cause lung cancer. The question is, whose study will get done, or will taxpayers pay for both studies?…
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Rumor Mill: Repsol Once Again Interested in Buying Talisman

In July MDN told you that Spanish oil company Repsol was seriously looking at buying some of, or even all of, Canadian company Talisman Energy (see Repsol Eyes Talisman Energy for “Assets” – Takeover Target?). Talisman is a major driller in the Marcellus Shale. Then, in the heat of August, came the word that those talks were off (see Talks for Repsol to Buy Some/All of Talisman Energy are “Frozen”). However, the rumor mill is buzzing again. Bloomberg is reporting the talks are back on and once again Repsol is looking at possibly a buyout of Talisman…
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Monthly DPR Shows Shale Oil & Gas Production Continue to Climb

Our favorite government report from our favorite government agency was released yesterday–the Drilling Productivity Report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). What does it show? EIA projects oil output from the top seven U.S. shale plays (the Marcellus and Utica being two of them) will increase from 5.2 to 5.3 million barrels per day by January 2015, and natural gas production will increase from 44.1 to 44.7 billion cubic feet per day by January 2015. Now, tell us again about that peak oil and peak gas. Below is the full report with MDN’s additions…
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