“Cracker Effect” – Shell Plant Will Create 7,400 Permanent Jobs

Ever hear of the “cracker effect”? No, we hadn’t either. Not until we read about a new study by a husband and wife team from Washington & Jefferson College. The pair studied the economic impact of cracker plants on surrounding communities–some 34 ethane crackers in 16 counties around the country. Most of the cracker plants are located along the Gulf Coast. The purpose of the study is to accurately forecast what will happen with Shell’s new $6 billion ethane cracker currently under construction in Beaver County, near Pittsburgh. What might the real, measurable economic effect be from Shell’s cracker? According to the authors, the Shell cracker will generate ~7,400 permanent, long-term jobs. Crackers not only create new jobs, they boost wages in cracker counties by nearly 13% over counties without crackers. But counties without a cracker plant benefit too. Counties bordering counties with a cracker plant see lower unemployment rates. No mystery there. While the authors alluded to some negatives from crackers, we were hard-pressed to find any! It sure looks like everything is coming up roses with the Shell cracker. The numbers prove it…
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WV Consumers Saved $4B Over 10 Years Thx to M-U Shale

Although the push is on to get Marcellus/Utica molecules to new markets where they can fetch higher prices, there is a group who has benefited in a major way from an abundance of cheap, clean-burning shale gas. That would be the residents and businesses located in West Virginia. Industry group Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) has just published a new report that reveals WV residents and businesses have saved a cumulative $4 billion from 2006-2016 as a result of the decreasing price of natural gas in the state. You may recall not long ago CEA published a similar study for Pennsylvania (see PA Consumers Save $30B Over 10 Years Thx to Marcellus Shale). Yes, PA’s numbers were much bigger than WV’s, but PA has more population (12.8 million in PA vs. 1.8 million in WV), therefore more chances for savings. And PA has more natgas in the ground than WV. But still, $4 billion in savings is nothing to sneeze at! That’s $4 billion in money in people’s pockets that didn’t come from other people’s pockets (via taxes) and got spent on goods and services with a beneficial ripple effect throughout the economy. Here’s the CEA report on the great news that West Virginian’s hit the $4 billion lottery in shale…
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Dartmouth: How Water & Shale Combine to Produce Radioactive Waste

A pair of newly published research papers from Dartmouth College may shed new light on radioactivity in shale waste water. We previously highlighted research from Dartmouth in 2015 and again in 2016 dealing with Marcellus Shale and water (see Dartmouth Study: Fracking Causes Toxic Metal Wastewater and Dartmouth Study Finds Barium Leaches Directly from Marcellus Shale). We said at the time, “…we don’t detect an agenda on the part of the researchers. This appears to us to be legitimate research that helps us better understand the chemical reactions happening a mile or more below the ground when we shoot water down there.” And so we continue to feel about these latest Dartmouth studies. Reportedly for the first time we now understand how “slick water” (water and chemicals used during fracking) can combine with shale rock, transferring some of the naturally occurring radiation from the rock to the water. That is, we better understand the science of it. Which means we can develop better ways to handle and treat water that may have low levels of radioactivity…
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EIA Sep ’18 Drilling Report: Shale Output Flies Past 73 Bcf/d

Each month when we bring you the latest U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) “Drilling Productivity Report” (DPR) we say the same thing: “We shattered another record.” And so it is again this month, with the DPR issued yesterday. The DPR is the EIA’s best guess, based on expert data crunchers, as to how much each of the U.S.’s seven major shale plays will produce for both oil and natural gas in the coming month. The Marcellus/Utica region (called Appalachia in the report) continues to see production go through the roof. For six months in a row Marcellus/Utica production grew at roughly one-third of a billion cubic feet–massive! EIA says in the coming month of October, M-U production will grow another 298 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d). Hey, it’s not a full one-third Bcf, but it’s close enough. The big news is that (a) M-U production will hit another new all-time high–of 29.4 Bcf/d of production; and (b) natural gas production for all seven plays will hit another new all-time high–of 73 Bcf/d. Run the numbers and you’ll see that M-U production is 40% of all shale gas production. Let’s not ignore shale oil production, which will go up another 79,000 barrels per day in the coming month across all shale plays to a record-breaking 7.6 million barrels per day. Month after month after month we keep breaking records…
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NETL Picks 2nd Morgantown Site for Additional Fracking Research

MSEEL test site in the Morgantown Industrial Park – click for larger version

Important research on fracking by West Virginia University (WVU) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, WV continues. Last year we told you that NETL and its Marcellus Shale Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (MSEEL) program are working on “mastering the subsurface”–learning what happens at the smallest level of fracturing shale, so they can improve recovery rates using new processes and materials (see NETL Morgantown Working on Breakthrough Shale Production Techniques). 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. They’ve even experimented with using natural gas itself to frack rock. Great work being done by NETL/MSEEL. So far that work has happened at one live, fracked shale gas well near Morgantown, drilled by Northeast Natural Energy. Now comes word that researchers are setting up a second test site, also in the Morgantown vicinity (Blacksville). As before, the aim “is geared toward improving gas recovery from horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing at sites throughout the region”…
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The MDN Guide to PA DEP 2017 Annual Oil & Gas Report

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently published its 2017 Oil and Gas Annual Report. This is the second year in a row the DEP has published the report in an interactive, electronic (i.e.online) format ONLY, with a stated purpose “to improve public access to well information.” While it’s interesting to have the report issued online only, it’s not as useful as a PDF or printed document, in our humble opinion. What does the report show? There were 2,028 unconventional well drilling permits issued in 2017, up an astonishing 707 (54%) from 2016. What a turnaround! There were 203 conventional well drilling permits issued in 2017, up 45 (28%) from 2016. The number of well inspections hit an all-time high of 36,288 inspections (up 2% from 2016). Below we have the DEP announcement about the new 2017 report, along with select charts & information–so you don’t have to wade through the (somewhat confusing) report yourself. We call it the MDN Guide to PA’s 2017 Oil and Gas Annual Report…
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3 Counties, 5 Drillers Led OH’s 50% Increase in 2Q Gas Production

The Pareto Principle is alive and well in the Buckeye State. You may know it as the 80/20 rule, or in this case, the 75/25 rule. The rule that states roughly 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. Last week MDN brought you the latest update from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources–their second quarter 2018 report showing all production coming from the Ohio Utica Shale (see Top 25 Producing Gas & Oil Wells in Ohio Utica for 2Q18). While MDN provided you with Top 25 lists showing the best-performing wells (both gas and oil) during 2Q, and while we provided you with a better spreadsheet to view the information than that provided by the ODNR itself, our analysis was basic and high level. Utica natgas production was up a big 42% over the same period last year, and Utica oil production was up 11%–a cumulative 50% increase when you convert it all into equivalents. The experts at S&P Global Platts have done a deep dive into the numbers and have found that three counties represent 75% of all production in 2Q18, and five drillers represent 75% of all production in 2Q18. Which counties and which drillers? Read on…
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PA Consumers Save $30B Over 10 Years Thx to Marcellus Shale

Although the push is on to get Marcellus molecules to new markets where they can fetch higher prices, there is one group who has benefited in a major way from an overabundance of cheap, clean-burning Marcellus Shale gas. That would be the residents and businesses located in the great state of Pennsylvania. Industry group Consumer Energy Alliance has just published a new report that reveals PA residents and businesses have saved a cumulative $30.5 billion from 2006-2016 as a result of the decreasing price of natural gas in the state. Can you imagine the economic impact! What president or governor or state legislator wouldn’t salivate over a cash infusion of $30 billion over ten years! It’s mind-blowing. And it’s all thanks to the Marcellus Shale. And that $30B is just the savings that went into folks’ pockets (and got spent on other things). That number doesn’t even take into consider the billions upon billions of dollars paid out in signing bonuses, royalties, and drilling work done. The Marcellus industry has single-handedly lifted many PA residents out of poverty. Hey, how much revenue and how many jobs and how much energy savings have groups like Delaware Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Clean Air Council, Food & Water Watch, PennEnvironment, PennFuture and other radical Big Green groups generated for PA? What’s that? They’ve actually COST the state money? Think about that the next time you read about these so-called environmental groups and how much they “care” about the Keystone State…
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PA Natural Gas Production Hits Another All-Time High in 2Q18

Last Thursday the PA Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released their latest quarterly Natural Gas Production Report for Apr-Jun 2018 (full copy below). It shows natgas production rose 9.9% compared to the same period last year–same as the increase in 1Q18 (see PA Natural Gas Production Hits New All-Time High in 1Q18). The report also shows the number of producing wells is up 10.4% from last year. Total natural gas production volume was 1,455.8 billion cubic feet (Bcf), and the number of producing wells in 2Q18 was 8,672 (of which 8,194 were shale wells). The biggest news is that once again 2Q18 saw the highest quarterly production of natural gas in the state–ever. This is the seventh quarter in a row there has been an increase in production. Two-thirds of the state’s natural gas production consistently comes from four counties: Susquehanna, Washington, Bradford and Greene. The #1 county for natgas production in 2Q18 was, as it was in each quarter of 2017 and in 1Q18, Susquehanna County, in the northeastern corner of the state. The #1 producing driller in Susquehanna County is Cabot Oil & Gas. Here’s the full 2Q18 natural gas production report from the IFO…
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List of 16 Major Pipeline Projects Planned for the Northeast

Did you know there are 16 major, announced pipeline projects in the northeast?! We recently happened across a handy list of those projects, a list published by the Northeast Gas Association less than a month ago. The list includes a description of what will get built, who’s doing the building, and the target in-service date. A few of the projects are in limbo (Constitution, Access Northeast), but most are either under construction or soon will be. We dig this kind of list–well laid-out, concise, and useful. And we think you will too. Here’s the name of the pipelines in the list: Access Northeast, Atlantic Bridge, Atlantic Sunrise, Constitution, Eastern System Upgrade, Empire North Expansion, Northeast Gateway, Northeast Supply Enhancement, Northern Access, PennEast, Portland XPress, Rivervale South to Market, Station 261, Wright Interconnect, Valley Lateral Project. Click to view the list, with full details…
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Top 25 Producing Gas & Oil Wells in Ohio Utica for 2Q18

Top 25 word isolated on white background three-dimensional rendering

Somebody must have lit a fire under the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR). The ODNR issued first quarter 2018 production numbers for shale oil and gas production a little over a month ago, in July (see Top 25 Producing Gas & Oil Wells in Ohio Utica for 1Q18). Which does seem a bit late. Yesterday ODNR made up for it by issuing production numbers for 2Q18. Natural gas production was up an astounding 42% over the same period last year (after being up 43% in 1Q18). Utica natgas production broke record, hitting a new all-time high of 554.3 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in 2Q18. Unlike 1Q18 when Utica oil production was down 3.6%, in 2Q18 Utica oil production was up, a big 11%! Ohio’s oil production has seesawed up and down over the past few years. Once again Ascent Resources, founded by the late Aubrey McClendon, dominated the top 25 highest-producing gas wells, with 18 of the top 25. Eclipse Resources grabbed a majority of the top 25 most-producing oil wells, with 12 of 25 wells on the list. The top 6 oil wells were all Eclipse wells, all located in Guernsey County. Below we have the ODNR’s high level overview of the numbers, along with MDN’s own exclusive analysis showing: the top 25 producing gas wells, the top 25 producing oil wells, and then the top 25 gas and oil wells as ranked by average production per day. There is a difference. We show you which wells are not just producing the most quantity overall, but which wells are producing at the fastest (most productive) rates–even if those wells haven’t yet been online a full three months. We also include a link to the complete list (Google spreadsheet) of 2,035 wells included in the 2Q18 ODNR report, in a more useful format than that provided by ODNR…
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Fake Study Recommends Quarter-Mile Setbacks for PA Shale Drilling

More fake “research” on drilling, courtesy the anti-drilling Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (EHP). This is the same group of antis who brought us the so-called list of the harmed (in 2013) and last year launched a faux health registry that attempts to link everything from the sniffles to “performance issues” to nearby fracking (see Fake Science: SWPA Enviro Health Registry for Those Near Fracking). Here’s the latest laughable “research” published (yes published) in a pay-for-play journal: Setback distances for unconventional oil and gas development: Delphi study results. The so-called researchers from EHP asked 18 of their anti-drilling friends, who are supposedly experts, for an opinion on how far away a building should be located from a shale well. The current standard in PA is 500 feet. That is, a well being drilled must be at least 500 feet away from an “occupied building.” EHP’s anti-drilling friends (16 of the 18) said that number should be 1,320 feet–a quarter mile. EHP wrote it all up, presenting it as fact, and got it published in the very low-standard PLOS One journal–a journal where you pay them and they’ll publish anything. Totally made-up research. PLOS One is “peer reviewed” so voila, there’s now a “peer reviewed study” that says setbacks in PA should be at least a quarter of a mile away when it comes to shale drilling. Which would eliminate about 90% of all shale drilling in the state (which is the purpose of this “study”). We really don’t know how those from EHP can show their faces in public, pedaling this kind of junk science. More to the point, how can any honest, self-respecting organization spend good money to fund EHP?…
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Duke Study Can’t Hide Fact Water Use for M-U Fracking is Small

We find the latest “bash fracking” so-called study just published by Duke University to be, well, rather amusing. This is not Duke “researcher” Avner Vengosh’s first bash fracking study (see Duke Hit Piece on Shale Water Usage from Same Park-Sponsored Prof and Latest Case of Duke U Bought & Paid “Research” by Park Foundation). This newest “research” study is amusing because the findings appear to be solid and positive news for the industry, but the researchers and mainstream media are going out of their way to spin the findings into something negative. In “The intensification of the water footprint of hydraulic fracturing” (full copy below), researchers imply and infer that fracking is using too much water, and producing too much wastewater (brine and flowback). Yet here in the Marcellus/Utica region, fracking’s use of our regional (very abundant) water supplies is minimal, only growing 20% from 2011 to 2016. Although they do their best to spin it negatively, you can’t ignore the facts. Fracking isn’t a drain on freshwater supplies, using a small fraction compared to other uses, including golf courses. The amount of wastewater that must be disposed is not a burden either. Most brine (i.e. produced water) and flowback is recycled and reused, with a small amount disposed via injection wells…
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EIA Aug ’18 Drilling Report: Gas Prod. Jumps 1 Bcf/d, Again!

Records continue to be shattered. On Monday our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), issued our favorite monthly report, the Drilling Productivity Report (DPR). The DPR is the EIA’s best guess, based on expert data crunchers, as to how much each of the U.S.’s seven major shale plays will produce for both oil and natural gas in the coming month. The Marcellus/Utica region (called Appalachia in the report) continues to see production go through the roof. As has been happening for the past 6 months or so, production in the Marcellus/Utica region will grow another roughly 1/3 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in the coming month. If you add up new gas production for all seven major plays, the U.S. will produce an additional 1 Bcf/d in September, same as was added in August. That’s 1 Bcf more in September than we produced in August, or 2 Bcf/d more in September than what we produced in July. Mind blowing! No less impressive is U.S. oil production from shale. This month oil production will grow another 93,000 barrels per day, hitting a new all-time high of 7.5 million barrels per day of production–just from shale (not from offshore). Once again, new records for gas (and oil) will be shattered in September…
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MSC Calls PA 250% Hike in Shale Permit Fees “Excessive”

Industry trade associations are not impressed with a proposed 250% hike in shale permit fees in Pennsylvania and they’re saying so. PA Gov. Tom Wolf’s Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), the agency charged with overseeing oil and gas drilling in the state, blindsided the shale industry in February with a proposal to hike the fee required when submitting an application to drill a new shale well (see PA DEP Plans to Raise Marcellus Well Permit Fee by 250%). The current fee is $5,000. The proposed new fee is $12,500–or 2.5 times (250%) higher. Yes, the DEP has fewer people working there than it once did, and needs to hire more help. However, the DEP wants to slap this insanely high fee on shale drillers to (in part) cover the expenses associated with non-shale activities! The shale permit fees will, “fund the broad scope of the [DEP] office’s operations, including its oversight of traditional [i.e. conventional] oil and gas wells, gas storage wells, abandoned wells and earthmoving activities.” How is it, in any sense, fair to hike the fees of shale drillers so DEP agents can better keep an eye on non-shale wells? The DEP is trying to steamroller the increase through. DEP’s own Environmental Quality Board has already approved the increase and published an official notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin (see PA Seeks Comments on Boosting Shale Permit Fees 250%). Publication in the Bulletin triggered a 30-day public comment period which just ended. Among those commenting on the plan were the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (PIOGA). Neither had good things to say about the dramatic increase. MSC’s David Spigelmyer called it “excessive and not proportional to the costs incurred by the oil and gas program to oversee the unconventional natural gas industry.” Making the same point we’ve made: It’s not fair for shale drillers to fund the whole darned program that includes conventional and other aspects of the oil and gas program not related to shale…
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Which Skills do M-U Employers Most Need in New Employees?

The answer to the question posed in our headline for which skills are most valued (and missing) in new employees looking to work at companies involved in the Marcellus/Utica industry may surprise you. Would the answer be, detailed industry knowledge, like knowing what mud logging, wire lines and Christmas tree (wellheads) are? Nope. Employers can teach those things on the job. How about subject-specific skills, like knowing how to weld (if you work in the field), or the difference between debits and credits (if you work in the accounting department)? Obviously if you apply for a welding job, or an accounting job, you’ll need to know something about those specific areas. But no, we’re talking about what kinds of skills ALL new employees should have, regardless of which area they work (in the field or in the office)–skills that so often are missing in new hires. Would you believe those skills are: writing, speaking and time management? Yep, according to a study done by RAND Corporation looking at how employers and colleges in the Marcellus/Utica region are preparing workers for the shale workforce, they found a skills gap in workers who don’t know how to properly write, speak and manage their time effectively…
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