Clearfield County Still Looking for Way to Stop Injection Well

It’s been seven long years since Windfall Oil and Gas first floated a plan to drill a shale wastewater injection well near Dubois, in Brady Township (Clearfield County), PA. After all that time, the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) finally approved the project in March of this year (see PA DEP Approves Wastewater Injection Well in Clearfield Count). Residents who live near the proposed injection well have opposed the plan from the beginning. The Clearfield County Board of Commissioners is also opposed. In April, several residents filed an appeal of the DEP decision to approve the project to the Environmental Hearing Board, a special court set up to hear appeals of DEP decisions (see Clearfield County, PA Residents to Appeal Injection Well Approval). The appeal may take up to two years. In the meantime, the well is likely to get built anyway. Recognizing the well is coming, Clearfield Commissioners held a public hearing yesterday to strategize how they might still block the project, and barring that, how they will live with it if the project becomes reality…
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Clearfield County, PA Residents to Appeal Injection Well Approval

We suppose it was bound to happen. Several weeks ago MDN told you that the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) had given final approval to Windfall Oil and Gas to drill a wastewater injection well near Dubois, in Brady Township (Clearfield County), PA (see PA DEP Approves Wastewater Injection Well in Clearfield Count). Residents who live near the proposed injection well have opposed the plan from the beginning. They are now pledging to take the next step. What is that step? To appeal the DEP’s approval to the special court set up in PA to hear appeals of DEP decisions–called the Environmental Hearing Board. Clearfield County Commissioners are aiding residents in their fight against the injection well. However, the county and its residents are not putting all their hope in overturning the DEP approval. They’re also making backup plans in case the well is drilled–by testing water wells in the vicinity now, and by making “emergency plans” for the future–whatever that means…
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PA DEP Approves Wastewater Injection Well in Clearfield County

It takes a loooooong time to get a wastewater injection well approved and then up and running in Pennsylvania. Maybe that’s way there are less than a dozen of them in the entire state. In February 2014, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave a “final” approval to Windfall Oil and Gas to drill a wastewater injection well near Dubois (Clearfield County), PA (see New Wastewater Injection Well Approved in Clearfield County, PA). But then antis threw a fit and the EPA decided to withdraw their approval in May 2014 (see EPA Issues “Final” Permit for PA Injection Well, Then Rescinds It). Somewhere along the way the EPA got its head straight and approved the permit again, and now, so too has the PA State Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Last week the DEP gave its approval for the Winfall Zelman #1 injection well, located in Brady Township…
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Rex Energy Sells Non-Operated Assets in 3 PA Counties

Rex Energy, a driller focused mainly on the Marcellus/Utica (headquartered in State College, PA), announced earlier this week that it is selling some of its non-operated oil and gas assets in three Pennsylvania counties: Westmoreland, Centre and Clearfield. Which assets are not described. The buyer is: XPR Resources. The sale amount is $17.2 million. Rex has, in the past couple of years, had stiff challenges, at least on the financial front. It has swapped out old IOUs for new IOUs, converted debt (IOUs) into equity (shares of stock), sold off assets in other basins–a whole lotta stuff to keep on drilling (see our Rex Energy stories here). More recently the company was threatened (for a second time) by NASDAQ with de-listing its stock (see Rex Energy Once Again Threatened with NASDAQ De-listing). And just last month we reported that Rex looks like they’re getting ready to file for bankruptcy (see Rex Energy Preparing to File for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?). We doubt $17.2 million will help all that much, but it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye. By the way, who is XPR Resources?…
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Energy Corp of America Fined $1.7M for Drilling Violations in PA

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has just collected a whopping $1.7 million fine from Energy Corporation of America (ECA) for violations at 17 well sites in Cumberland, Jefferson, and Whiteley Townships in Greene County, and Goshen Township in Clearfield County. ECA’s violations? “Failure to properly contains fluids in onsite pits, unauthorized discharge of industrial waste into groundwater, unauthorized disposal of residual waste, failure to restore the pits and well sites, and operating solid waste storage, treatment, and transfer facilities without permits.” Pretty serious stuff. Essentially, ECA (according to DEP) was sloppy in how they handled flowback and brine, using open pits to store it long after their use was outlawed under new Chapter 78a regulations were adopted. Spills from those pits contaminated a water well of one nearby resident. It’s interesting to MDN that as you read the consent order (full copy below), not only is ECA listed, but also “Greylock Production.” You may recall our news from late last year that ECA reorganized itself under a new name–Greylock Energy–shafting existing shareholders in favor of a new investor, ArcLight Capital (see ECA Sells Marcellus/Utica Assets to ArcLight Capital – Shareholders Shafted). The fine was assessed against and paid by ECA and Greylock jointly, confirming our conclusion that ECA had simply changed the nameplate on the door to Greylock…
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PA DEP Green Lights Wastewater Injection Well in Clearfield County

Here’s one that flew mostly under the radar. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has just granted final approval for the state’s ninth wastewater injection well to begin operation. The DEP approved Sammy-Mar, LLC’s Povlik #1 injection well, located in Huston Township, Clearfield County, more than two years after the federal Environmental Protection Agency had approved it. Huston Township in Clearfield County, unlike Highland Township in Elk County, and Grant Township in Indiana County, did not oppose the well. You may recall the DEP approved injection wells in Elk and Indiana counties in March, and had to sue the towns involved over their illegal home rule laws that sought to keep the wells out (see PA DEP Issues 2 Wastewater Injection Well Permits, Sues 2 Towns). This time around, Huston Twp wisely decided not to attempt regulating what only the state, by law, can regulate. This injection well will be an important new resource for Marcellus drillers to dispose wastewater…
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Marcellus Gas Saves 438 Jobs at PA Paper Manufacturer

Domtar Corporation designs, manufactures, markets, and distributes pulp, paper, and personal care products from facilities in Elk and Clearfield counties in North Central Pennsylvania. PA Gov. Tom Wolf’s office excitedly announced yesterday that the company has decided to stay in PA and not move, making “significant infrastructure and equipment upgrades at its facilities.” The decision means that 438 jobs will stay in the Keystone State rather than move elsewhere–good for Pennsylvania. Which is all mildly interesting. However, the primary reason they’re sticking around is what caught our eye: the operation is converting from burning coal for energy to burning clean, cheap Marcellus Shale gas. The PA Commonwealth Financing Authority is kicking in $1 million from the Pipeline Investment Program (PIPE) grant fund to pay for a three-mile natural gas pipeline to Domtar’s Elk County paper mill facility…
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Chinese Sniffing Around Clearfield County, PA – Looking to Invest

china-investmentA delegation from the China Petroleum and Petrochemical Energy Institute (CPPEI) recently visited Clearfield County, PA. The reason for the visit was to scout out potential locations and business opportunities related to PA’s abundant supplies of cheap Marcellus Shale gas. Seven Chinese entrepreneurs came representing companies in the petrochemical/energy industries. The Clearfield economic development agency, called Clearly Ahead Development, coordinated the visit. It was the second such visit in the past year. It certainly couldn’t hurt have some of our money, spent in huge volumes on Chinese imports, come back to the U.S….
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Virginia Rejects Deal for DC-based Utility to Buy Marcellus Wells

A Washington, DC-based natural gas utility company, Washington Gas (WGL Holdings), announced in May they had cut a $126 million deal with Energy Corp. of America to purchase a 96% interest in 22 Marcellus Shale gas wells in Greene County, PA and another 3 shale wells in Clearfield County, PA. The gas flowing from those wells would go to WGL’s customers in the State of Virginia, requiring state approval of the deal. The Virginia State Corporation Commission (VSCC) turned them down and nixed the deal. Why? VSCC said WGL’s assumptions about how much the wells will produce, and about the price of gas over the next 20 years, were not solid. Furthermore, the VSCC didn’t like that WGL is essentially shifting the risk of well production/prices onto the backs of rate payers. More deals like this are rumored to be coming down the pike. Will they get nixed too?…
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Chevron Shops Another 11,700 Marcellus Acres in Central PA

Chevron continues to pare back on its Marcellus Shale acreage. With nearly 700,000 Marcellus Shale acres under lease, what’s a few thousand acres here and there? The Pittsburgh Business Times noticed that Chevron has posted 11,700 acres in central PA up for sale. You may recall Chevron previously shopped 17,000 acres in the same region in February (see Chevron Selling 17K Marcellus Shale Acres, More Sales Coming). At that time the company said more sales would be coming, and well, here we are! We might chalk it up to Chevron simply actively managing their portfolio and tweaking the locations where they intend to drill. Except. Except they’re also cutting way back on personnel too (see Chevron Laying Off 23% of their Marcellus Workforce in Pittsburgh). So this may be just tweaking the portfolio, or it may be a trickle in what will become a steady stream of divestiture. We just don’t know at this point. Here’s the details as we know them about the current 11,700 acres up for sale…
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Rex Energy Looks to Sell 28,300 Marcellus Acres in Bid to Raise $

Last week Rex Energy released its 2014 year in review and projected some numbers for 2015 (see Rex Energy 2014: Revenues Up 39%, Production Up 66%, 50 New Wells). A day later the company hosted an analyst/investor conference call. In reviewing that call, there was some news of interest. Rex said it is considering selling 28,300 non-operated acres in Westmoreland, Clearfield and Centre counties (PA) as a way of raising more money. Officials also said they’re looking for a buyer for their 60% stake in Keystone Clearwater Solutions, an oilfield services company, and a joint venture partner with Rex in its Moraine East acreage. Huh. Below are excerpts from last week’s Rex conference call along with their latest PowerPoint presentation…
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Scranton Newspaper Discovers WPX is Leaving PA–9 Months Later

Better nine months late than never, we suppose. Back in February, MDN told you that WPX Energy is leaving the Marcellus (see WPX Energy Abandoning the Marcellus? Sure Looks That Way). We got clarification from WPX spokesperson Susan Oliver that although they would not drill any new wells, they will continue to operate at least some of the 100+ wells already drilled (see WPX Gives MDN an Update on Their 2014 Marcellus Plans). Over a month ago we told you that WPX is actively shopping their remaining undrilled acreage (see WPX Marcellus Assets Being Shopped in “Controlled Auction”). The Scranton Times-Tribune finally woke up (nine months later) and, shazam! They discovered that WPX is (can you believe it?) leaving PA…
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Endeavour 2Q14: Completes 3rd PA Marcellus Well of the Year

Endeavour International, a driller with operations in both the North Sea (off-shore) and the U.S. (on-shore) issued their second quarter 2014 update yesterday. Does the Endeavour name sound familiar? Three years ago MDN told you about Endeavour’s deal to buy 50,000 Marcellus Shale acres, a pipeline and three working Marcellus wells, all located in McKean and Potter counties in Pennsylvania (see Endeavour International Buys Lease for Additional 50K Marcellus Acres & Local Pipeline in PA from SM Energy). Five months later Endeavour backed out of the deal and 2 1/2 years of litigation ensued, finally settling in April of this year (see Endeavour & SM Energy Settle Lawsuit over PA Marcellus Properties). Endeavour still owns 27,200 gross Marcellus acres in Elk, Cameron, Clarion, Jefferson and Clearfield counties, and in 2Q14 they successfully completed their third frack job…
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Clearfield County Residents: Get $100 to Learn about Marcellus

How would you like to earn a cool $100–just for learning about Marcellus Shale drilling? That’s the promise from Penn State to those who live in and around Clearfield County, PA. Penn State, using funding from the National Science Foundation, is offering a 10-week course called Marcellus Community Science Volunteer Program on Monday nights in DuBois. Adults will learn all about the science behind shale drilling, along with its benefits and drawbacks. This is not the first group Penn State has done this with. They ran the same course earlier this year…
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EPA Issues “Final” Permit for PA Injection Well, Then Rescinds It

Looks like the word “final” doesn’t really mean “final”–at least for the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA issued a “final permit” to Windfall Oil and Gas to drill a wastewater injection well near Dubois (Clearfield County), PA in February (see New Wastewater Injection Well Approved in Clearfield County, PA). The EPA’s exact language when issuing the permit after 18 months of evaluation: “Based on all of the public comments received, EPA is issuing a final permit to Windfall Oil and Gas.” The “final” permit allows Windfall to operate the well until 2019 (see a copy of the permit below). But then anti-drillers got involved and pressured the EPA. So the EPA has just taken the “unusual step” of withdrawing it’s “final” approval for the injection well. What’s it called when someone changes his or her mind on a whim? Oh yeah, flaky…
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