Supersize Me! Marcellus/Utica Well Pads Now Host Up to 40 Wells

The Marcellus/Utica Shale industry is changing underneath our feet–literally! Last time we checked, most well pads in the Marcellus/Utica sported an average of maybe 3-4 wells–with a dozen wells on a pad being “big.” Something has changed, dramatically, in the gas fields of PA, OH and WV. The “new normal” are supersized well pads–holding as many as (gasp) 40 wells! We hasten to add no such pad yet exists–a pad with 40 wells drilled from it. However, there is an EQT well pad in Allegheny County (near Pittsburgh) with 38 wells permitted (9 of which have been drilled so far). EQT says it now averages drilling 17-18 wells per pad. Antero Resources is drilling an average of 10 wells per pad–up from 3-4 “just a few years ago.” The trend now is more wells per pad, and longer laterals–meaning fewer well pads overall. That’s good for the environment, and good for the bottom line (less money spent pushing dirt around developing pads). Here’s an update on the trend to supersize well pads in the Marcellus/Utica…
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OEPA Continues to Hunt Rover Pipe, Claims 2nd Spill Near River

Ohio EPA (OEPA) director Craig Butler, aka Captain Ahab, continues his mission to harpoon that rascally great white whale known as the Rover Pipeline. Somehow Captain Ahab, er, a, Mr. Butler has “learned” that underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) Rover was recently allowed (by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) to resume near the Tuscarawas River (over the objections of OEPA) has “lost” 146,000 gallons of drilling mud “down hole.” This is at the same location where Rover previously lost 2 million gallons of drilling mud down hole, some of which turned up back on the surface, at a swamp (aka “wetland”) located next to the Tuscarawas (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). That 2 million gallon “spill” in April of last year triggered a shutdown of all HDD work in Ohio. It was only in December that Rover was allowed, by FERC, to resume more HDD work at the Tuscarawas site (see FERC Gives Rover OK to Resume All HDD Work, Incl. Tuscarawas River). Butler’s spies have reported to him that more drilling mud, some 146,000 gallons, has disappeared into the earth during HDD drilling at the Tuscarawas site. Some perspective on this alleged news: First, how did Butler even know of a “problem”? OEPA doesn’t regulate the Rover project! Second, since Rover doesn’t answer to OEPA (which frosts Butler), Butler runs like a tattling child to FERC with every perceived violation he can trump up–even though he doesn’t have all the facts. Third, even though drilling mud may disappear down hole, that doesn’t mean the mud comes back to the surface. Sometimes it stays down there–forever. Fourth, even if the mud does come back to the surface, drilling mud is nontoxic–the same stuff used in kitty litter, cosmetics and toothpaste. The only thing an overabundance of spilled mud can do is smother a few fish. This latest ploy by Butler to tattle on Rover to FERC is his attempt to try and manipulate FERC into shutting down Rover’s HDD work once again…
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Rover Pipe Flows: Where Does the Gas Come From? Where Does it Go?

Rover map – click for larger version

We brought you news today about Rover Pipeline and a possible second drilling mud spill in the Tuscarawas River area (see OEPA Continues to Hassle Rover Pipe, Claims 2nd Spill Near River). The Ohio EPA continues its quest to hassle Rover. So we thought it fitting to bring you information about how Rover has, in the short few months it has been operating, changed the natural gas picture in the Midwest. Rover Pipeline is the largest pipeline being built in the Utica/Marcellus region (capacity-wise). When done, Rover will flow 3.25 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of Utica and Marcellus Shale gas to various points west and (eventually) north, into Canada. With the latest portions of Rover going online in December and with much of the pipeline as it traverses Ohio done, the pipeline now flows 1.7 Bcf/d–half of what it will eventually flow, by the end of March this year. The ace team at RBN Energy recently researched where all that gas is coming from, and where it’s flowing to, along Rover. We found it fascinating and think you will too…
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FERC Denies CORNball, Sierra Club Request to Stop NEXUS Pipeline

NEXUS Pipeline, a $2 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline that will run from Ohio through Michigan and eventually to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada, is now under construction. NEXUS got final approval for the project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in August, the first major pipeline to get approved following a newly restored quorum at FERC (see New FERC Quorum Votes Final Approval for NEXUS Pipeline). However, radical environmental groups have fought the project tooth and nail. CORN (Coalition to ReRoute Nexus, folks we call CORNballs), and the far-left Sierra Club, launched lawsuits and regulatory actions against the pipeline. One such action was to file a request last fall for a rehearing of FERC’s decision to approve the project (see CORNballs, Sierra Club Continue to Fight NEXUS Pipeline in Court). A rehearing is the first step to take, a necessary step before Big Green groups can legally file a lawsuit against the project. In what is being characterized as a blow to the CORNballs and their buddies at the Sierra Club, FERC last week denied that request for a rehearing of the NEXUS approval, meaning it looks like clear sailing for NEXUS to complete their project, even with various lawsuits pending…
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PA Enviros Resist Transferring Surplus to Help Balance State Budget

Last September, amidst a heated state budget battle in Pennsylvania (where the phrase “severance tax” was on the lips of every Democrat and RINO in Harrisburg), a group of PA House Republicans did the hard work Gov. Tom Wolf and his cronies in the legislature refused to do: They figured out how to fund a wildly overspent budget without raising a single tax (see PA House Introduces Balanced Budget with NO Severance Tax). How did House Republicans do it? They went looking for state agencies hording money, with a plan to relieve them of their surplus. You know how it goes. Each year agencies don’t spend all of their allotted money, yet they ask for more the following year anyway, knowing legislators may shave some from the request. It’s obscene. Yet that’s how the game is played. When Republicans went looking, they found even the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) have been squirreling money away, unused in some of their programs. The House Republican plan from last September was not adopted, but elements of it were included in the final budget. The final budget passed in October instructs Gov. Wolf to reallocate $300 million from surpluses at various state agencies–from the agencies of his own choosing–as part of the “funding” for this year’s budget. The House Appropriations Committee will hold a meeting on Jan. 25 to question representatives from DCNR and DEP about the use and operation of special funds under their administration–to see if there’s a bit of surplus there that can be used for the state budget. Judging by the reaction from a former DEP Secretary, it seems both agencies take umbrage at having to subject themselves and their surpluses for scrutiny. At its core, this issue is about who will pay bloated teacher’s salaries in Philadelphia. Big Green wants to target the Marcellus industry to pay “for the children.” Yet when they themselves are asked to contribute a small amount of their bloated excess (give it up for the Philly teacher’s unions), THEY resist! They are all for raiding another industry, but refuse to have their own departments “raided” in order to balance a hugely overspent state budget. Anyone else smell rank hypocrisy?…
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PA DEP Considers Rule Reducing/Eliminating VOC Emissions for O&G

On Jan. 24 the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) Small Business Compliance Advisory Committee will hold a meeting in Harrisburg to discuss, among other things, RACT (“reasonably available control technology”) regulations for the oil and gas industry. The new regulations are aimed at further reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions at oil and gas sites. The new regs, scheduled to go into effect in 2021, will require the use of technology to achieve a 95% reduction in VOCs from existing sources, including storage tanks, pneumatic pumps and centrifugal compressors. Supposedly this is a requirement being driven by a Control Technology Guideline (CTG) from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. We’re not sure whether conventional/vertical, or unconventional/shale will be affected by the coming changes. We suspect both will be affected. So it behooves the industry to get involved now, while there’s still time to tweak the new regs…
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Enviro. Defense Foundation Continues Quest to Gut PA DCNR Funding

Big Green insanity continues at the so-called Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation (PEDF). The only thing they “defend” is their own twisted philosophy of trying to gouge out the eyes of the oil and gas industry in PA–even at the expense of de-funding their own beloved PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources. Last June, the PEDF won a case at the PA Supreme Court by the skin of their teeth (see PA Supreme Court Hands Antis Partial Victory re State Land Drilling). The case dealt with the narrow issue of how PA can spend revenue raised from drilling for oil and gas under state-owned land. A divided court ruled that money from royalties (not lease signing bonuses) must be used only for “environmental” purposes. The Supremes sent the case back down to the lower Commonwealth Court to settle some of the still-unsettled issues. PEDF tried to fleece Commonwealth Court into disallowing lease bonus payments and royalties from being used to pay the operating expenses of the PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). That is, antis want to gut the funding that pays the people in the department to do their jobs! PEDF wants lease and royalty money to be used exclusively for Big Green causes. Last week Commonwealth Court told PEDF: “No” (see PA Court Rejects Request to Block Royalties Funding DCNR Operations). The lower court will NOT address the issue of funding salaries and operating expenses of DCNR. The only decision the lower court will make, per their instructions from the lofty Supremes, is whether or not lease bonus payments must also be used for the same things royalty payments are used for–whatever those “same things” happen to be (operating expenses or not). Last week we said, “If PEDF wants to gut DCNR, they will have to go back to the Supremes to do it.” That’s just what they’ve done. The PEDF radicals have filed with the Supremes yet again, asking the Supremes to either take up the issue again, or force Commonwealth Court to rule the way PEDF wants–to gut the funding of DCNR…
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PA Gov. Wolf Creating “Instability” with Demand for Severance Tax

Unstable people tend to create instability wherever they go–it’s just something we’ve noticed. Other people have noticed it too, at the highest levels of Pennsylvania state government. Business groups in PA are pointing a finger at unstable PA Gov. Tom Wolf. His repeated calls, his maniacal mission to force a severance tax on the Marcellus industry on top of the existing impact tax, is causing “instability” in the industry in PA. That is, companies are pulling back, not willing to drill as much, and investors are not willing to invest, because of the uncertainty of whether or not there will be a severance tax. It’s spooking the industry. These business groups, representing hundreds of thousands of PA residents, are calling on Wolf to end his unstable ways and quit calling for a severance tax. Specifically, they say, “He needs to stop it.” Is that blunt enough? Instead, these groups call on Wolf to reign in out-of-control spending. The less you spend, the less you need to rob from hardworking companies–companies providing tens of thousands of jobs and over a billion dollars of tax revenue for the state so far…
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WVU Research to Convert Shale Gas into Hydrogen and “Good” Carbon

It never ceases to amaze us at how an unshakable belief in the myth of man-made global warming drives normally sane people to do insane things. Like using millions in taxpayer dollars (“grants”) to figure out a way to convert shale gas into a more “environmental friendly” form of fuel for energy usage–explosive hydrogen. Methane (i.e. natural gas) has one carbon atom along with four hydrogen atoms–CH4. What do you do with that carbon atom when you split methane into its component parts? We can’t have that carbon atom mating with a couple of oxygen atoms and forming CO2 (carbon dioxide)! Perish the thought!! (Even though CO2 is what you exhale every time you breathe, CO2 has been bastardized into being considered a pollutant by the general population thanks to the efforts of Big Green.) West Virginia University, along with Southern California Gas Company and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is launching new research this month that aims to convert “methane to CO2-free hydrogen and solid carbon nanotubes”–that is, into hydrogen and “good” carbon, not “bad” CO2 carbon. Whatever…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Jan 16, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye over the break that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Blasting for Atlantic Sunrise Pipe; heding keeps M-U natgas production flowing; construction to begin on Mid-Ohio Valley compressor stations; NYC mayor adopts Cuomo playbook on o&g industry; DRBC in high stakes game of high-tech colonialism; science replaces art in oil drilling; U.S. withdrew record amount of natgas during cold snap; carbon capture hopes & questions; renewable power not the only solution to energy poverty; Japan natgas prices hit 2-year high; and more!
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