Allegheny Comm. College Offers Free Scholarships for Cracker Jobs

Last week MDN told you that Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) is operating a program in process technology that leads to an associate’s degree as preparation for a job at Shell’s $6 billion ethane cracker plant, being built now in Beaver County (see Community College of Beaver County Preps Students for Cracker Jobs). Shell primed the education pump by offering 14 full-ride scholarships for the program. Not to be outdone by CCBC, Community College of Allegheny County is offering free tuition to Washington County residents, thanks to a $100,000 scholarship program that’s looking to build a cracker-ready workforce. Yikes! Yes, it does seem a bit odd to us that Community College of *Allegheny County* is offering free tuition to *Washington County* residents–but hey, it works for us. Students can get either a one-year mechatronics certificate, or a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The “Cracker Ready Grant” program is funded by the Remmel Foundation through PNC Charitable Trusts. Here’s the deets…
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Top 10 Drillers in SWPA, by Number of Permits Issued

Every now and again it’s fun to take a look at a “Top 10” list. Here’s one for you. How about a Top 10 List for drillers in southwestern PA, in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Clarion, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. This Top 10 list ranks drillers by how many shale well permits they’ve been granted. The list is extracted from a Top 40 list prepared by the (must read) Pittsburgh Business Times. Can you guess which 10 drillers are in the Top 10? How about the Top 1? It may come as no surprise that Range Resources, the very first company to drill a Marcellus Shale well (in 2004), has received the most permits to drill in SWPA. Here’s the full Top 10 list, with some interesting extra details…
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Cove Point to Begin LNG Exports in October or November!

Glory hallelujah! Dominion’s Cove Point LNG export facility along the shoreline of Maryland is on the cusp of starting LNG exports. According to one speaker at a Houston conference, Cove Point will begin shipping in November. Another speaker (from analytics firm Genscape) said they believe the facility will actually begin some shipments in October! In early 2012, MDN began covering the story of Dominion planning to build an LNG facility at a location where they currently operate an import facility, in Calvert County, MD (see Japan Negotiates to Buy Marcellus Gas). We covered the news over the years, from approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Maryland, to lawsuits from the nutty Sierra Club, to everything in between. Here we are 5 1/2 years later and it’s almost upon us–the day when Cove Point begins to ship LNG to Japan and India. Wow! Here’s the exciting news that the facility is gearing up now…
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NETL Morgantown Working on Breakthrough Shale Production Techniques

As enormously productive as the Marcellus/Utica wells are, did you know that the best wells only recover perhaps 20% of the available gas trapped in shale rocks? Often it’s more like 10%, or 5% recovery. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, WV is trying to change those numbers. In a research program NETL calls “mastering the subsurface,” researchers are learning what happens at the smallest level of fracturing shale–so they can improve recovery rates using new processes and materials. In addition to improving recovery, they’re also looking for ways to cut down on water use. Since there’s a fair bit of water already trapped in shale, NETL is experimenting with carbon dioxide foam, as a way of using less water. (Don’t tell Al Gore. He HATES carbon dioxide, calling it a “pollutant” and saying it causes Mom Earth to toast). NETL is also using natural gas itself to frack rock. A lot of very important research is happening at NETL–research that may one day change the way we frack…
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New Rice U Filter Cleans Frack Wastewater on Location for Reuse

Flowback (water that comes back out of the well after fracking) and produced water (naturally occurring water from the depths that comes out the well for months and years after it’s drilled) have long been a “problem” drillers have to deal with. The choices are to: (1) haul it away to an injection well, (2) haul it to a centralized recycling facility, or (3) recycle it on location and reuse it for more drilling/fracking. That third option is really the brass ring for drillers. If only there were an economical way to recycle the water on location and reuse it. Researchers at Rice University (in Texas) believe they have made a breakthrough in option #3. Using a ceramic membrane with microscale pores, Rice researchers have found a way to clean flowback and produced water, removing 90% of hydrocarbons, bacteria and particulates in a single pass through the filter. The Rice discovery is aimed particularly at flowback–the 10-15% of fluid pumped down the hole to frack a well. Rice researchers published their research online, today, in Nature magazine’s open-access Scientific Reports. We have a copy of the paper, titled “Superhydrophilic Functionalization of Microfiltration Ceramic Membranes Enables Separation of Hydrocarbons from Frac and Produced Water,” below…
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Shale Boom Foundation on Which WV Manufacturing Will be Built

Brooks McCabe

Brooks McCabe is a former West Virginia state senator and the a current WV Public Service Commissioner. In a recent editorial, McCabe made some pretty bold, even startling, claims. He said that the Marcellus/Utica shale in the state is the “foundation for West Virginia’s new manufacturing economy.” That is, shale drilling is just the tip of the iceberg for WV, economically speaking. McCabe went on to say this: “This [shale] economy has the potential to lift the state out from under a cloud of mediocrity and self-doubt to perhaps the brightest future the state has ever known.” Holy cow! That’s some high praise for the power of shale gas and oil! The key is, of course, in the downstream–the petrochemical sector. In a word, plastics. You do know that plastics come from hydrocarbons (oil and gas), right? That modern-day existence would not be possible apart from oil and gas. That we would still be living in the Stone Ages were it not for fossil fuels. What will it take for WV to take full advantage of this opportunity? McCabe has some thoughts on that…
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Texas Jury Says Talisman Cheated JV Partner Out of $100M

We came across an interesting press release from a law firm that won an extraordinary settlement for its client against Talisman Energy–a $100 million award. What’s interesting is that the plaintiff that sued Talisman is one of Talisman’s joint venture partners–not landowners. Matrix Petroleum invested in a deal with Talisman as a “non-operating” partner. That is, Matrix put up money, but Talisman did all the drilling and selling of the oil and gas they extracted. Matrix says over a period of five years that Talisman intentionally cooked the books–failing to accurately report how much oil was produced, thereby shorting Matrix on their share of the profits. The jury agreed and awarded Matrix the money they should have gotten if Talisman had not cooked the books. Ouch. All of this happened in Texas–the drilling and the trial. So what does it have to do with the Marcellus/Utica? Perhaps nothing. But we do recall reporting that last year Talisman took on a non-operating joint venture partner in the Marcellus from Thailand–Banpu (see Talisman Gets a New Thai JV Partner for Marcellus Drilling in NEPA). Perhaps the bean counters at Banpu will want to give closer scrutiny to the books in their jv with Talisman?…
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What is “Loss of Circulation” When Drilling Underground for Pipelines?

“Loss of circulation” sounds like a terminal condition–and perhaps it is, in a human body. But that phrase applied to drilling underground to install pipelines holds a different meaning. Loss of circulation is the technical term used when drilling fluid migrates out of the hole being drilled, and into (eeks) groundwater. Thing is, drilling fluid used to drill for pipelines is non-toxic–the primary component being bentonite clay. Bentonite is the same thing used to make kitty litter, cosmetics and toothpaste. So a little bentonite clay escaping into a water supply is not a big deal–unless it’s a LOT of bentonite escaping. Then it can foul a water supply, at least until the clay settles and the water clears again. A former geologist working for the Texas Railroad Commission (the government body in charge of regulating oil and gas in Texas) has written a thoughtful column in the Harrisburg Patriot-News to talk about loss of circulation that has happened in several locations while drilling for the Mariner East 2 pipeline in PA. The former geologist knows a thing or two about drilling, about benonite, and about spilling a little mud here and there. He provides some much needed perspective on the issue–a counterbalance to the wild speculations and false claims made by anti-fossil fuelers…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Sep 26, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Pipeline expansions outpace production forecast, good news for M-U supply; natgas locomotives powering more trains; what a Fed rate hike means for shale; renewables pain offsetting gas export gains; natgas prices trade up, then fall back; Exxon aims to curb methane emissions from shale division; and more!
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