Binghamton Natural Gas Summit: National Association of Royalty Owners Executive Director Jerry Simmons

Jerry Simmons, NARO Jerry Simons was the final presenter at the March 18 Binghamton Natural Gas Development Summit. He is the executive director of the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO). According to Mr. Simmons, NARO is the only organization to represent landowners that is completely independent and not attached to energy companies in any way.

NARO was founded in 1980 after the “windfall profits tax” was passed by the 96th Congress, a 35 percent tax on oil royalties. NARO fought against the tax, and it was eventually repealed in 1988.

NARO is an educational and advocacy group, chartered as a 501(c)3 and 501(c)6 non-profit organization. There are state chapters of NARO. New York and Pennsylvania fall under the Appalachia Chapter which covers the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast areas of the country.

As an example of what NARO does for royalty owners: Mr. Simmons said the Depletion Tax Allowance, part of federal law since the 1920s, is under assault by the Obama Administration. They tried to take the allowance away last year but were unsuccessful. They are trying again this year, as part of the 2011 budget. NARO is fighting against it. [MDN Comment: The Depletion Tax Allowance treats royalty owners as part owners of an asset, allowing them to “write down” the value of the asset as it is used up, in this case mineral deposits being the asset. Bottom line—if this allowance is taken away, taxes to the federal government go way up for royalty owners.]

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Binghamton Natural Gas Summit: Millennium Pipeline President Richard Leehr

richard-leehr-millennium One of the speakers at the Natural Gas Development Summit held in Binghamton on March 18th was Richard Leehr, president of Millennium Pipeline (MP), a major natural gas pipeline running from Western New York State almost to New York City. What follows are MDN’s notes from his presentation. Unfortunately Millennium has a policy against sharing their PowerPoint slides on the web (we asked and were turned down). It’s unfortunate because there were a number of good slides that would be of interest to landowners. However, MDN located two PDF maps showing the MP and its interconnect points with other pipelines, and a pipeline system map for Upstate New York and the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania (see bottom of this post for the links).

Dick Leehr started his presentation with a “thank you” to landowners for their patience and inconvenience during the recent construction of the pipeline. The MP has its home office in Pearl River, NY, almost on the border with New Jersey and not far from metro New York City. The MP is an underground steel 30-inch diameter pipeline with 1 inch thick walls. The steel is coated and should last at least 100 years.

The MP has the capacity to move 1/2 BCF (billion cubic feet) of natural gas over the entire length of the pipeline per day. On January 4th, the MP hit its current high in delivery with 714,000 dekatherms.

Mr. Leehr said to think of pipelines as Interstate Highways. Shippers contract or “reserve” capacity on the pipeline. The pipeline picks gas up at one point and delivers it to a different point specified by the customer. Pipelines are among the safest forms of energy transportation in the country according to Leehr.

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Binghamton Natural Gas Summit: How Many Jobs Does Drilling (Really) Create?

Marcellus Shale Workforce Needs Assessment Beyond random speculation, is there really any way to know, scientifically and accurately, just how many drilling-related jobs are being created in the Marcellus Shale? Yes there is! And two of the speakers at the Natural Gas Development Summit held in Binghamton on March 18th at the Regency Hotel, who have extensively studied the issue, laid out their findings for the assembled group.

The speakers were Larry Michael, Executive Director for Workforce & Economic Development with the Pennsylvania College of Technology (PCT), and James Ladlee, County Extension Director with Penn State Cooperative Extension. Both have put in a great deal of time studying the jobs issue. Larry Michael spent six months on the Marcellus Shale jobs issue as a contributing author of PCT’s Marcellus Shale Workforce Needs Assessment study.

What follows are MDN’s notes on this informative session. But we won’t make you read to the end for an answer. According to Messrs. Michael and Ladlee’s findings, every well drilled in the Marcellus Shale generates the equivalent of 12 full-time jobs, in perpetuity—for at least 20 years, as long as the well is active. The slightly longer explanation is, there are many people who work for varying periods of time on a well project, but if you add all of their time together, it would work out to 12 people full-time, ongoing, working directly or indirectly on the well project.

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Binghamton Natural Gas Summit: Video Interview with Bryant La Tourette

At the Binghamton Natural Gas Development Summit held on March 18 at the Binghamton Regency Hotel, Marcellus Drilling News had the pleasure of speaking with Bryant La Tourette, Vice President of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY), the organization sponsoring the event. Bryant is also the president of the Oxford Land Group, a landowner coalition in Chenango County, NY. Bryant unveiled the brand new JLCNY website at the Summit. In our interview, he briefed MDN about the JLCNY and it’s mission, and told us a bit about the new website.

The JLCNY is made up of 37 member landowner coalitions from 17 counties in New York State. In all, there are 800,000 acres and 70,000 people represented in the combined 37 member coalitions. Bryant said to think of the the JLCNY as “the next Farm Bureau,” referring to the American Farm Bureau, an advocacy group for farmers and others who work in agriculture, to give them a voice. In the same way, the JLCNY seeks to give a voice to landowners who want to profit from their land via natural gas drilling.

The new website, which can be found at //, provides information for landowners from the very beginning stages of signing a lease through receiving royalty payments and beyond. Bryant points out, however, that the site will be particularly helpful as a resource for landowners who have already signed. For those landowners, it will answer the question, “What comes next?”

Binghamton Natural Gas Summit: Opening Remarks and Scene-Setting with Scott Kurkoski

Scott Kurkoski Marcellus Drilling News attended the Natural Gas Development Summit held in Binghamton on March 18th at the Regency Hotel. The event was organized and sponsored by the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York. There were about 150 people in the audience, made up of landowners, people from the drilling industry (lawyers, energy companies, engineering companies and others), and the press. It was a half day event, starting at 9:30 am and ending at 12:45 pm. MDN will run a series of posts to cover the presentations. This article contains the opening remarks delivered by Scott Kurkoski, a lawyer specializing in mineral rights with Levene, Gouldin & Thompson. Scott was one of the chief organizers of the event and master of ceremonies.

He opened by stating the purpose of the meeting is to have a discussion about the issues, with an aim to move the issue of drilling in New York State forward. He thanked Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala for hosting the event and for her efforts on behalf of landowners.

Scott next provided the background for where we are now in New York, and how we got here. In 1992, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation created a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) to govern oil and gas drilling in New York. Since then, newer technologies (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing or “fracing”) have come along and the DEC, under direction from the Governor’s office, drafted Supplemental (new) regulations to account for these new technologies and their use.

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