Chevron Leases Land Under Mon River for $4K/Acre, 20% Royalties

This post catches you up on both some old and some new news. In February of this year Chevron signed a lease with the Pennsylvania Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to lease 1,028.4 acres of land *under* the Monongahela River in Greene and Fayette counties (southwestern corner of the state). That’s the old news. The new news is that Chevron has just added another 235.6 acres to the original lease for a grand total of 1,264.3 acres. Chevron is paying DCNR just over $5 million in lease signing bonuses for the entire deal.
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SWPA County Political Leaders Voice Support for Petchem, Shale

In a speech delivered October 31 to the P4 Climate Action Summit in downtown Pittsburgh, Mayor Bill Peduto declared his hatred for the petrochemical industry. He doesn’t want any more Shell crackers junking up his regional backyard. The highly negative reaction to Peduto’s idiotic (and pandering) remarks was swift. What petchem company wants to build in a region where the mayor of its largest city is trash talking the industry? In a bid to counter Peduto’s economically damaging remarks, some 20 county officials from Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer, Washington and Westmoreland counties issued a joint statement on Wednesday to show their support for the petrochemical and shale industries in the region.
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More Royalty Theft by PA DCNR – Streambeds Leased for $497K

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is grabbing more money that we think belongs to private landowners. This time from leasing land underneath the Youghiogheny River and Little Pine Creek. DCNR has leased 124.2 acres for a signing bonus of $496,800 (or $4,000 per acre). Plus the state’s customary royalty rate of 20% on anything produced. And no, the state does not allow post-production deductions–they get their full 20% royalty.
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SWPA Farmer Claims Shale Damaged Cattle Health, Reproduction

A farmer who raises Angus beef cattle in East Millsboro (Fayette County), PA, in the southwestern corner of the state, claims that a shale well drilled on his property in 2010 by Atlas Energy (now owned by Chevron) created a “seep” that is affecting the health of his cattle. A seep is a place where water/liquids leak out of the ground. Soon after the well was drilled the farmer began to have trouble with his yearling heifers not getting pregnant. For those grazing near the well, only half got pregnant. The farmer then kept his herd from grazing near the well and noticed the pregnancy rate went from half to 100%–except for those who had previously grazed near the well. They continue to struggle with no pregnancies and miscarriages. All of which sounds like conclusive evidence that there is a problem with the well leaking something into the environment. However, both Chevron and the state Dept. of Environmental Protection have investigated and have not found any evidence that the well is impacting the health of the farmer’s herd. What do you do in a case like that?…
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Top 20 Marcellus Drillers in Southwest Pennsylvania

The sharp folks over at the Pittsburgh Business Times have been looking through data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and have compiled a list of 20 drillers who have at least a dozen shale wells in the southwest PA region. And they ranked them from lowest to highest. We’ve grabbed the list below. The interesting thing for MDN is that there is one name in the list not familiar to us, and we’ve been watching this space since 2009. Always fun to learn something new. Here’s the list of southwest PA’s “Top 20” Marcellus drillers…
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ecorpStim Successfully Fracks PA Marcellus Well Using Baby Oil

baby oilEvery now and again eCORP Stimulation Technologies, or “ecorpStim” as they are known, reappears with a press release to announce they’re still around. The last such time MDN covered the company was in July 2014 (see ecorpStim Says New Manufacturing Process Lowers Non-Water Frack Cost). ecorpStim’s technology uses non-flammable liquefied propane as the fluid for fracking. It has the benefit of turning back into a gas and coming back out of the hole–captured and sold at a profit (or captured and re-used). One issue is, of course, the cost–although ecorpStim says they have worked hard to lower the cost. Another issue is potential flammability. However, last year ecorpStim began experimenting with “light alkanes” as an alternative fluid for fracking. In everyday language, light alkanes are “baby oil.” A big plus with using baby oil is that it’s nonflammable. It’s also safe for human ingestion and totally safe for the environment. ecorpStim released an announcement yesterday to say they have successfully fracked a Marcellus Shale well in Fayette County, PA using their new baby oil process…
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Marcellus Christmas Miracle – PA Immigrants Find Jobs, Open Arms

Here’s a story to warm your heart during the Christmas holiday season. It did ours. It is the story of real, live foreigners–from the island nation of Fiji–who came to America to make a better life for themselves. They didn’t arrive looking for welfare handouts. They didn’t arrive by illegally sneaking across our borders. They arrived like so many throughout our history–simply asking for an opportunity to work and create the life of their dreams. Those kinds of folks are Americans–in heart and spirit–in our book. We welcome them with open arms. Some 150 Fijians arrived three years ago in California and decided to seek their dream life in western Pennsylvania, working in the Marcellus industry…
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PA Marcellus Attorney Awarded National VIP Woman of the Year

The National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) is a 600,000-member strong organization for professional women to network and grow their careers and reputations. Each year they select a small number of their members to recognize as a VIP Woman of the Year. For 2013/2014, NAPW has recognized southwest Pennsylvania attorney Cara Davis as a VIP Woman of the Year. Cara is the principal in her own law firm, The Law Offices of Cara Davis, which employs 11 attorneys and a variety of other law professionals.

Oh, it just so happens that Cara is a pro-driller and her firm represents both landowners and oil and gas companies. She’s decided to specialize in the oil and gas field, and the Marcellus, being on her doorstep in Fayette County, is her focus. Cara’s firm is also a finalist in the Northeast Oil and Gas Awards. Congratulations to Cara on distinguishing herself and her firm and by excelling in the exciting Marcellus Shale industry! The official announcement…
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Williams Expands in PA Again, Adds Local HQ in Fayette County

Although headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Williams–one of the largest (perhaps the largest) midstream company in the Marcellus and Utica Shale–continues to expand its footprint in the northeast. The latest area where Williams is expanding is southwest PA–Fayette County to be precise. Williams recently opened a new local headquarters for their Williams Energy division in Fayette. The new location currently employs 75 people (so far).

Here’s the story of Williams’ ongoing expansion in SW PA…
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Chevron Wins Right to Build Freshwater Pond for Fracking in PA

Last week the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld a lower court ruling in favor of Marcellus Shale driller Chevron, declaring that Chevron has the right to construct a pond (“impoundment”) to hold fresh water used for fracking. The landowners in question (Mr. & Mrs. Humberston) did not want the pond constructed on 11 acres of their land but since the lease they signed did not specifically limit it, and since having lots of fresh water to frack with is a requirement for drilling (a reasonable expectation), the court ruled Chevron was within its rights to construct the pond…
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6 Western PA Families Sue Chevron, Williams over Drilling Activity

gavelSix families in Fayette County, PA have filed a “nuisance” lawsuit against Chevron, Williams and WPX Energy claiming nearby gas drilling activities have “diminished their ability to make use of their property” and have ruined the “quite use and enjoyment” of their homes. The families claim they’ve suffered from the effects of “toxic chemicals” due to the drilling activities in the area.

The AP story with details (slightly edited to remove some of the anti-drilling commentary AP adds to such stories):
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Perry Twp Anti-Driller Trots Out Same Old Lies about Drilling

A local anti-drilling, anti-fossil fuel resident of Perry Township (Fayette County), PA asked the town board on Tuesday to institute a five-year drilling moratorium in the town. A quick check of the Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook 2013 (Vol. 1) shows no permits issued in Perry for drilling for the first four months of 2013, although a few permits were issued in neighboring towns. The anti-driller used the old, worn-out fear tactics of cancer-causing sand and chemicals (run for the hills!) to try and convince town officials into acting unwisely…
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USGS Report on Drilling’s Effects on PA Landscape

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has just released a new study titled, “Landscape consequences of natural gas extraction in Fayette and Lycoming Counties, Pennsylvania, 2004-2010” (full copy embedded below). The study is the fourth in a series by the USGS related to landscape disturbance from natural gas drilling activity. Drilling is an industrial activity and no one, least of all MDN, claims there is no impact from such an activity. There is. And it’s a good thing there’s some actual science going on by the USGS to measure some of the impacts–so we have good, objective information on which to base future decisions about where and how much drilling should take place.

The USGS in their research looks at not only unconventional (or shale) drilling, but conventional as well. It is important to consider the effects of both types of drilling together, which are often performed in the same geography…
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Fayette County, PA Towns Get Shorted on Impact Fee Distribution

Fayette County, PA towns are not happy with the way county commissioners have decided to distribute the impact “fee” (which is really part fee/part tax) of $1.4 million. The towns believe more of the fee should go to them for roadway repair to counter damage done from trucks used in the drilling process. However, county commissioners have “shorted” the towns. Instead of paying each town $10,000 from the impact fee till as the towns requested, payments will be more like half that amount…

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Farmer Does Jail Time After Confrontation with Pipeline Co

A western PA cattle farmer claims workers from Williams/Laurel Mountain Midstream pumped acid mine drainage onto his farm and damaged his fences while drilling a ditch for a pipeline across his property. The farmer was ordered to stay away from the workers last month after confronting them about damage done to his fences. He violated a court order and confronted them a second time when he saw what he thought was acid mine drainage being pumped onto his land from the ditches being dug. This time he got four days in the local clink.

Here’s what we know of the story:

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