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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WV Driller Northeast Natural Energy Grows – Fracking Petri Dish

Northeast Natural Energy (NNE) is a small-to-midsized driller headquartered in Morgantown, WV. It’s a young company, drilling its first shale well in 2013. In April 2017 MDN reported that NNE had obtained $300 million of investment from two investment firms (see WV Driller Northeast Natural Energy Gets $300M Investment). They’ve put the money to good use. NNE owns 56,000 acres of leases “in the heart of the Marcellus Fairway,” with 44,000 acres in WV and 12,000 acres in southwestern PA. The company has drilled and brought online 57 shale wells. By this time next year the company expects that number to be nearly 100. One of the most interesting things about NNE is its involvement with government and university researchers. NNE drilled several test shale wells near Morgantown. The wells are part of an ongoing laboratory experiment that measures and pokes and prods everything, in an effort to learn more about shale drilling and its impacts. NNE’s test wells are a sort of living fracking petri dish. Reams of data pour in and get analyzed. Our friends at Kallanish Energy have done a deep dive into NNE. Here is a portion of their insightful report on this young and growing driller…
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NETL Morgantown Working on Breakthrough Shale Production Techniques

As enormously productive as the Marcellus/Utica wells are, did you know that the best wells only recover perhaps 20% of the available gas trapped in shale rocks? Often it’s more like 10%, or 5% recovery. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, WV is trying to change those numbers. In a research program NETL calls “mastering the subsurface,” researchers are learning what happens at the smallest level of fracturing shale–so they can improve recovery rates using new processes and materials. 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. (Don’t tell Al Gore. He HATES carbon dioxide, calling it a “pollutant” and saying it causes Mom Earth to toast). NETL is also using natural gas itself to frack rock. A lot of very important research is happening at NETL–research that may one day change the way we frack…
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LOLA Energy Sells Out to Rice Energy, Deal Kept Hush-Hush

NGI’s Shale Daily has done it again. Ace reporter Jamison Cocklin has unearthed news that (so far) no one else has: Rice Energy has quietly, confidentially, hush-hush purchased all of the assets of LOLA Energy. The sale raises a lot of questions. But first, who is LOLA? No, not the show girl in Barry Manilow’s 1978 hit song Copacabana. LOLA Energy was birthed near the end of 2015, by former EQT executives using $250 million of private equity money from Denham Capital (see New Marcellus/Utica Drilling Company is Born – LOLA Energy). The name LOLA comes from the phrase Locally Owned, Locally Accountable. LOLA didn’t waste any time. They leased land in Greene County, PA–a prime location highly prized by both Rice Energy and EQT–and also in West Virginia, land in Monongalia, Wetzel and Marion counties. Shale Daily reports that rumors have been swirling for weeks, but NGI now has the goods–copies of transfer records going from LOLA to Rice. For some reason, perhaps related to EQT’s impending purchase of Rice Energy, Rice and LOLA have kept the deal hush-hush. But the lid is off now! Here’s what we know about the deal, sprinkled with some MDN speculation…
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EQT Snaps Up Another 14K ‘Core’ Acres in WV for $130M

EQT, one of the biggest and best drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, issued their fourth quarter and full year 2016 update yesterday. As is typical when issuing the updates, EQT’s top brass held a conference call with analysts to discuss results and take questions. In reading through a transcript of the call, one of the most interesting passages (for us) was in the prepared comments by incoming EQT CEO (currently president) Steve Schlotterbeck. In a brief passage excerpted below, Steve provides a quick update on several items: the Mountain Valley Pipeline project, EQT’s Utica drilling program, and the fact that “this week” EQT has purchased an additional 14,000 “core” West Virginia acres in Marion and Monongalia counties for $130 million, which works out to be $9,286 per acre…
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Independent Research @ WVU Concludes Frack Waste is Safe

real-science.jpgIn November 2014 MDN told you that West Virginia University and Ohio State University received an $11 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy for a joint five-year study of Marcellus/Utica fracking and shale drilling (see WVU/OSU Get $11M Grant to Study Shale Energy Best Practices). The research project promptly got under way with baseline measurements and monitoring at the Morgantown (WV) Industrial Park where a new first-of-its-kind Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory will be located. With baseline measurements for air, noise, light and water at the site complete, the drill bit to start chewing away at rock and dirt in June (see Drilling for WVU/OSU’s $11M Study Gets Underway in Morgantown). We already have some of the first results from the WVU researchers, who have studied drilling wastes produced at two research wells. What did they find? Drilling wastes coming from the wells are far below federal guidelines for radioactive or hazardous waste. That is, they’ve found frack waste is safe. Some of the reason may be due to the “green” drilling mud being used at the site…
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Southwestern Sells More Assets from 2014 Chesapeake Deal

southwestern energyAs we report today, Antero Resources is buying 55,000 acres of leases in the Marcellus (and Utica) Shale from Southwestern Energy (see Antero Takes Southwestern to Cleaners in Deal for 55K Marc. Acres). The acreage that Southwestern is selling comes from the massive $5.375 billion deal Southwestern made with Chesapeake in 2014 (see Chesapeake Using $1B from Southwestern Deal to Buy Back Stock). The interesting thing is that selling land is not the only recent deal Southwestern has brokered to dump assets from the Chesapeake deal. Southwestern cut a deal (in May) to sell 135 vertical (conventional) and 37 horizontal (shale) wells in West Virginia to HG Energy. Earlier this week Southwestern got approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to sell pipeline contracts to HG Energy too. Which begs the question: How many more Chesapeake deal assets is Southwestern going to sell off?…
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New Marcellus/Utica Driller Quietly Launches w/$800M Investment

APP logoDetails are just now coming to light of a new E&P (exploration and production, or drilling) company headquartered in Pittsburgh and focused totally on the Marcellus and Utica region. Until now the company has flown under our radar. The company is American Petroleum Partners (APP)–not to be confused with Aubrey McClendon’s American Energy Partners (AEP)–and is headed by Rice Energy alumnus Varun Mishra, who is the founder and CEO. The big news is that last September Mishra’s new company, founded in 2014, received a major injection of investment capital. Apollo Global Management invested $411 million in APP with the option to double it up to $800 million. MDN has it on very good authority that although APP quietly issued a press release about this last September (see it below), the company has intentionally kept the news quiet. Not any more! Big mouth MDN is blabbing it to the world. Below are the bits and pieces we’ve been able to put together about this newest Utica/Marcellus driller…
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Researchers Look for Life in Marcellus Shale – Natural Fracking?

Journey to the Center of the EarthThis sounds like something out of a Jules Verne novel. You may recall from school that Verne wrote some of the earliest sci-fi adventures ever, like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth. In Journey, Verne wrote about strange and mysterious critters that live deep in the earth–in rock caverns. Turns out Verne may not have been so far from the truth after all. And there’s a tie-in with the Marcellus Shale and with fracking. In November West Virginia University and Ohio State University received an $11 million grant by the federal government to study the Marcellus and Utica Shale (see WVU/OSU Get $11M Grant to Study Shale Energy Best Practices). Work is progressing. Researchers with the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory are taking rock core samples to see if there are microbes living 7,000 feet below the surface in the Marcellus Shale rock layer that could, if present, potentially be “fed” causing them to multiply and grow and maybe even naturally frack (break apart) rock layers, allowing us to get more natural gas and oil from those layers. It sounds pretty far-fetched–but stranger things have happened! Here’s the story of looking for life miles below the surface of the earth in the Marcellus…
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DustPRO’s Innovative New Solution to Improve Frac Sand Safety in WV

Preferred Technology, headquartered in Radnor, PA (near Philadelphia) has created a cool new product/technology called DustPRO. The new DustPRO coats frac sand with–something, not sure what–that helps the teeny tiny particles of sand behave and not get airborne where they can become a health hazard. Preferred/DustPRO announced yesterday the results of their very first application unit installed in the Marcellus/Utica in Morgantown, WV–and the results are very good indeed…
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Drilling for WVU/OSU’s $11M Study Gets Underway in Morgantown

In November 2014 MDN told you that West Virginia University and Ohio State University received an $11 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy for a joint five-year study of Marcellus/Utica fracking and shale drilling (see WVU/OSU Get $11M Grant to Study Shale Energy Best Practices). The research project promptly got under way with baseline measurements and monitoring at the Morgantown (WV) Industrial Park where a new first-of-its-kind Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory will be located. With baseline measurements for air, noise, light and water at the site complete, it’s now time for the drill bit to start chewing away at rock and dirt…
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WVU/OSU Get $11M Grant to Study Shale Energy Best Practices

5 Year MissionThe mother’s milk of academe is grant money–and West Virginia University is happy to announce a new grant related to the Marcellus Shale. The U.S. Dept. of Energy is forking over $11 million to WVU and Ohio State University for a five-year project to study “baseline measurements, subsurface development and environmental monitoring” in the Marcellus and Utica Shale. The money will be used for research and to establish a first-of-its-kind Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory–a field site and dedicated research laboratory to be located at the Morgantown (WV) Industrial Park…
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National Lab Looks for Industry to Fund “Extreme Drilling”

Hey buddy, can you spare a few (million) dimes? The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is looking for someone in the oil and gas drilling industry to help get a now four year-old project off the ground. The NETL unveiled, to great fanfare, the Extreme Drilling Laboratory (XDL) in January 2009 in Morgantown, WV. It’s centerpiece of technology is the Ultra-Deep Single-Cutter Drilling Simulator (UDS), which they call their “rock star.” The UDS is an impressive device that can simulate drilling at 30,000 pounds of force per square inch and temperatures exceeding 480 °F – conditions that would be found at the bottom of very deep oil and gas wells.

Just one tiny problem: Industry isn’t using this marvelous technology to figure out better ways to drill. How come?

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Morgantown, WV Passes New Marcellus Drilling Ban

The Morgantown, WV City Council is at it again. You may recall they tried to ban hydraulic fracturing last year both inside and up to one mile outside of the city limits. A judge struck down the law (see this MDN story). Council members aren’t about to give up though. On Tuesday, they passed six new ordinances that will “limit” drilling to areas immediately surrounding the Morgantown Municipal Airport.

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Morgantown WV Attempts to Ban Fracking a Second Time

Here we go again. Yesterday, the Morgantown, WV City Council voted on new legislation that would “regulate” (i.e. ban) hydraulic fracturing. But this time, those sharp-as-a-tack council members have contented themselves with regulating it within their own borders.

You may recall that last year the same Morgantown City Council (pictured below) passed a ban on fracking that included areas up to one mile outside of the city limits in a blatant attempt to try and stop the fracking of two gas wells that sit about a mile from the edge of the city. A WV circuit court judge overturned the ban (see this MDN story). Since then, both of those Marcellus wells were fracked, came online, and somehow, mystically—there has been no water contamination or ill health affects of any kind. Who woulda thunk?

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