Syracuse U Prof to Defend Methane Migration Research (Sun. Night)

on the airThe Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) and JLC United will air another live session of the Good News Table Talk Radio Show this Sunday, June 28 from 7-8 pm on WNBF Radio 1290 in Binghamton (listen online at: www.wnbf.com). Bob Williams, JLCNY Vice President and an environmental consultant with over 40 years experience, along with JLCNY board member Rob Rano, will interview and chat with acclaimed Syracuse University Earth Science professor, Dr. Donald I. Siegel. Dr. Siegel is the lead author of a Syracuse University study published earlier this year that found, after evaluating data from over 11,000 well water tests (34,000 samples) in Pennsylvania, that a water well’s proximity to fracking operations has no bearing on whether or not methane is found in that water well. In other words, fracking does not cause methane migration into water wells (see Syracuse U Study: Fracking Doesn’t Cause Methane in PA Water Wells). Radicalized environmentalists brook no dissent from their religious-like claims that fracking is the ultimate evil, so they immediately launched a smear campaign and personal attack against Dr. Siegel (see Syracuse Prof Targeted in Effort to Discredit Drilling Research). Tune in Sunday night to learn the truth–about water quality, methane migration, fracking fluids, and (yes) even about Dimock, PA…
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PA Republicans Say No Severance Tax in Budget Heading to Gov. Wolf

Good news for Pennsylvanians. The PA legislature is moving forward with passing a budget bill that does not include a Marcellus-killing severance tax. The Gov. Tom Wolf administration has been obstinate and unyielding in their demand for a 17.3% severance tax (often mischaracterized by Wolf and the media as a “5%” severance tax). The Republicans in both the House and Senate have (amazingly) held firm in their position of no new severance tax since Marcellus drillers already pay an impact fee (i.e., a tax) equivalent to a 3.2% severance tax now. Wolf’s claim that his tax is 5% is a flat out, 100% lie. He bases the tax on the assumption that drillers will get $2.97 per thousand cubic feet when selling natural gas. In many places (especially the northeastern part of the state) drillers are getting less than half of that. The difference between what drillers actually get and what Wolf pretends they get, plus the “little extra” 4.7 cents per Mcf added to the “5%” tax, pushes the effective rate, according to the PA Independent Fiscal Office, to 17.3% (see PA Official Admits Wolf Severance Tax Highest in Nation @ 17.3%). Wolf’s chief budget negotiator, John Hanger, has stooped to a new low, even for him, by saying Republicans have put drillers ahead of PA’s school children. Hanger presumes the money EARNED by companies that risk their own capital somehow belongs to life’s TAKERS–teachers’ unions. The question now is, will Wolf sign the Republican budget that is about to land on his desk without the big increase in “education funding” he demands because he promised it to union members who voted him into office (i.e., political payola)…
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Rice Energy Exec: 90% of Utica Gas Will Come from 3-4 Counties

An update on what Rice Energy is up to, from none other than Rice’s vice president in charge of exploration, Derek Rice. Derek said at yesterday’s Hart Energy DUG East conference in Pittsburgh that his company is, this week, finishing up work on a Utica Shale well in Greene County, PA. Derek admitted there’s differing opinions within the company about whether or not they should be drilling Utica wells in PA. He says the rock is great, they’re convinced of that. The “problem” is that it costs a heck of a lot more to drill a deep Utica well than it does a Marcellus well. If Rice can squeeze more costs out of drilling a Utica well, it will be profitable. He also said something very interesting about the geography of the Utica–that he believes 90% of the gas that will come out of the Utica play will come from just three or four counties…
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CONSOL Energy May Add More Utica Wells to Pitt. Airport Project

Correction: The information MDN used for this post was derived from an inaccurate news account that misstated CONSOL received a permit to drill one Utica well at the Pittsburgh Airport. That was factually incorrect. CONSOL has received no permits for a Utica well–only permits for Marcellus and Upper Devonian wells. If they pursue drilling Utica wells at the airport, they will likely need a new environmental impact study done first. Our thanks to CONSOL for contacting us to clarify.

From the “Hmmm, that’s interesting” department: Speaking at yesterday’s Hart Energy DUG East conference in Pittsburgh, CONSOL Energy vice president Craig Neal said the company is considering requesting a change in its drilling plan at the Pittsburgh International Airport. CONSOL, as you may recall, is in the midst of a multi-year program to drill 45 Marcellus Shale wells and a handful of Utica and Upper Devonian wells at the Pittsburgh Airport (see Sky is the Limit: CONSOL Begins Drilling at Pittsburgh Airport). The permits and plan call for a single no Utica Shale wells, but yesterday Neal said the company is mulling over the possibility of swapping out some of the Upper Devonian wells they had planned to drill on some pads with deeper Utica wells instead…
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New Bill HB 1391 Will Guarantee PA Landowners 12.5% Royalties

Last week MDN told you that a new royalty bill would be introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature to guarantee landowners get a minimum 12.5% royalty (see New Bill Pushes 12.5% Guaranteed Minimum Royalty for PA Landowners). The new bill, House Bill (HB) 1391 is, according to the bill’s main sponsor State Rep. Garth Everett, more narrowly focused than the previous bill introduced in 2013 (HB 1684). Gareth and a group of supporters from the PA chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners gathered in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg on Tuesday in a bill launch rally. We don’t (yet) have the language of the new bill, but we do have Everett’s description of what’s in the bill, a brief video interview of Everett from Tuesday’s launch rally, and a newspaper write-up from the event…
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Blue Racer Brings OH Processing Plant Online, Continues to Expand

Blue Racer Midstream, a joint venture between Caiman Energy II and Dominion, shared the good news yesterday that a second 200 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) cryogenic processing plant at its Berne Natural Gas Processing Complex in Monroe County, OH (known as Berne II, yes, they name these things) is now online and operating. Berne II doubles the processing capacity at the plant. Blue Racer also operates a processing AND fractionation complex in Natrium, WV. A 30-mile Y-grade (NGL) pipeline connects the two facilities so that Berne can send along its NGLs to Natrium for further processing. Fractionaters like those in Natrium separate NGLs into their component hydrocarbons, including ethane, butane, propane, etc. In addition to Berne II going online, Blue Racer gave us a general update on the expanding health of their operation: They have 14 long-term major Marcellus/Utica drilling customers; 650 miles of gathering pipelines in OH and WV with another 200 miles of new gathering lines under construction; and gathered volumes have doubled, and processed volumes have tripled in just the last year…
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Columbia Pipeline Board Approves 2 Projects from NE to Gulf Coast

In August 2014, MDN told you that Columbia Pipeline Group, a division of NiSource, had decided to move forward with investing $1.75 billion dollars for two new projects: the Leach XPress and Rayne XPress pipeline projects (see Columbia Gas: $1.75B for 2 Projects to Send Marcellus Gas to Gulf). Leach Xpress will begin in Marshall County, West Virginia, cross Ohio and end up in Leach, Kentucky. Rayne Xpress will beef up an existing pipeline from Leach, Kentucky that goes all the way to Rayne, Louisiana with new compressor stations and looping. The two projects together mean up to 2.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas can move through the entire system–from West Virginia to the Gulf Coast and all point in between. We commented on the funny name “Leach” for a pipeline. Looks like the marketers at Columbia thought twice about it because the name has changed–for both projects. At least we think so. Yesterday Columbia issued a press release to announce the board of directors has signed off on $2.7 billion worth of investment in two projects: Moutaineer XPress and Gulf XPress. Descriptions for the two projects are almost identical to the descriptions for the Leach and Rayne XPress projects. About the only difference is that the price tag went up for the pair of projects by a billion bucks. The key takeaway from the announcement for us? The capacity to move another 2.7 Bcf/d of Marcellus and Utica Shale gas out of the northeast is on the way in the next couple of years
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Carnival Orders LNG-Powered Cruise Ships + Jim’s Cruise from Hell

Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene

We have mixed emotions about this story. We spotted a story a few days ago that a major cruise ship line has ordered up four new megaship cruise liners that will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG)–a first for cruise ships. The new ships will be the “greenest” cruise ships yet, cutting down significantly on air pollution by changing from diesel to LNG. Each of the four ships will have the capacity to haul 6,600 passengers (mammoth!). The first of the four ships will be delivered in 2019. So far so good–we find it really cool that cruise ships are converting to LNG, some of which will no doubt use natural gas from the Marcellus/Utica. The mixed emotions we have came when learning that the cruise line the new LNG ships are being delivered to is Carnival. Thunk. MDN editor Jim Willis took his bride of 25 years on a Silver Anniversary cruise (our first cruise ever) on a Carnival Cruise “fun ship” in 2011. It was the worst vacation we’ve ever had. Read the sad (and funny) story below…
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