Kanawha County’s First CNG Vehicle: $1.89/Gal. to Fill it Up

Earlier this week Kanawha County, WV got its first county vehicle converted to run on compressed natural gas (CNG)—a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe. They filled it up for the gasoline equivalent of $1.89 a gallon (gasoline currently runs close to $4 per gallon).

It cost $12,000 to convert it to run on both CNG and gasoline, but the county figures by saving more than 50% on each fill-up, it won’t take long to make that money back.

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Sierra Club, Others Call for Moratorium on New Drilling in WV

Eleven so-called environmental groups, led by the nose by the Sierra Club, held a small anti-drilling protest rally yesterday at the West Virginia State Capitol where they demanded a moratorium on granting any new permits to drill in the Marcellus Shale. They handed Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and legislators in town for meetings their list of demands.

The groups are anti-drilling and anti-fracking and want stricter rules for drilling than currently exist in WV, among them:

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Hotel Tax Loophole in WV Benefits Drillers, Ending Soon?

A tax loophole in West Virginia on hotels and motels, designed to benefit politicians, has had an unintended consequence: It’s now benefiting the Marcellus Shale drilling industry.

In 1975 the West Virginia legislature passed a law allowing local municipalities the option of charging up to a 3% tax on hotel and motel rooms. In 2005, they raised it to 6%. However, the politicians included an exemption: No tax on hotel and motel stays of over 30 days.

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New Study: Decline of Coal/Rise of Shale Gas in WV

The West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy has just published a new report in an ongoing series called “The State of Working West Virginia.” This new report is titled “In Depth: The Gas Boom and Coal Bust” (a full copy is embedded below). The 34-page report, as the title indicates, takes a look at the tax and employment impacts of West Virginia’s coal industry which is sinking fast, and the upcoming Marcellus Shale industry which is rising fast.

The authors of the study advocate a new severance tax on shale gas (and coal) as one way to help the state. They also think the minimum wage should be increased from $7.25 per hour to $9.80. While most of the study centers on jobs and the economy of West Virginia, the section most MDN readers will want to read is Section Five, pages 21-27. That’s the section dealing directly with coal and natural gas in the state, including this interesting graph showing an estimate for natural gas production in WV through 2035:

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New Shale Wastewater Injection Well Opens in WV

A new deep injection well for oil and gas drilling wastewater has just opened for business in West Virginia. GreenHunter Energy today announced the beginning of official operations for their new 6,100 foot deep injection well in Ritchie County, WV. According to GreenHunter CEO Jonathan Hoopes, they’re already near full capacity with incoming Marcellus and Utica Shale wastewater.

From the press announcement:

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Dominion Turns On Appalachian Gateway Project Pipeline

Dominion Transmission “threw the switch” (or rather opened the valve) to the Appalachian Gateway Project yesterday. The project was 3/4 of a billion dollars spent by Dominion to upgrade and expand existing infrastructure, and to build 110 miles of new pipeline. The end result is a big increase in the amount of Marcellus Shale gas flowing from West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania to markets along the eastern seaboard.

From the Dominion press release:

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Royalty Checks Coming for Landowners in WV Panhandle

Landowners who leased with Chesapeake Energy and who live in Ohio and Marshall counties in West Virginia’s northern panhandle may soon have big smiles on their faces. Chesapeake is turning on the gas to pipelines in those locations, and once the gas starts flowing, so too will royalty checks.

How soon should landowners expect their first checks?

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Williams to Invest Additional $1.34B, Create 100 Jobs in WV

At a ceremony yesterday in Marshall County, WV, Williams Partners announced they will spend an additional $1.34 billion between now and 2014 and add an additional 100 long-term jobs to expand processing capacity of a recently acquired natural gas liquids plant. Added with their previous investments, Williams will have spent $3.84 billion on infrastructure projects in the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

From yesterday’s announcement:

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PA Drilling Rig Count Sinks to Lowest in 2 1/2 Years

If you kick around the oil and gas industry for any length of time, you’ll hear about something called “the rig count.” Rig counts are the number of drilling rigs in use by energy companies to drill (or “spud”) new wells. If the rig count falls, that means new leasing is likely to fall and eventually, natural gas production will fall. But in the case of the Marcellus, falling rig counts don’t mean falling production—quite the opposite. It just means there’s a whole lot of wells already drilled, waiting to be completed and hooked up to pipelines.

Still, a falling rig count does give you a feel for where new drilling will (or won’t) take place—valuable for landowners and businesses to know. The latest numbers for Pennsylvania show the rig count in that state falling to its lowest level in years:

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Over 36K Shale Wells in U.S. Have Produced 23 TCF of NatGas

Powell Shale Digest released a research report detailing how many shale wells there are in the U.S., and how much gas and oil/condensate those wells produce (see below). The results? Across the major shale plays—minus the Utica—the U.S. now has over 36,000 wells that have produced 23 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 682 million barrels of oil/condensate.

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WV Energy Exec Says Marcellus Will Last 100+ Years

David Drennon is marketing and transportation manager with H.G. Energy LLC in Parkersburg, West Virginia. He spoke yesterday at the Parkersburg Rotary Club weekly meeting about development of natural gas from Marcellus Shale deposits and oil from Utica Shale deposits. He offered these observations and predictions about shale development in WV:

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