Out-of-State Gas Workers Mean Continued High Unemployment

One of the criticisms of the Marcellus shale gas drilling industry is that although it brings with it an economic boom, including many jobs, sometimes those jobs are taken by out-of-state workers and not local workers. Drillers will say there are not enough skilled local workers to fill the positions. Labor leaders and local economic development officials will say, “Train them and there will be!”

According to Dave Efaw, secretary-treasurer of the West Virginia State Building and Construction Trades Council, local drillers need to step up to the plate and start hiring more local workers:

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Shell, One Other Company Close to Cracker Plant Announcement

According to officials in West Virginia, who are super-serious about attracting at least one ethane cracker plant to their state, Shell and one other company will announce site selections for their plants in January of 2012. West Virginia fully intends that at least one of those two plants will be inside their borders, and they are pulling out all of the stops to ensure it happens. In fact, according to WV Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s chief of staff, it’s the newly-elected governor’s “No. 1 goal.”

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Is Chesapeake’s Ethane Pipeline Deal a Negotiating Tactic?

Last week, MDN reported that officials in West Virginia were angry with Chesapeake Energy over their decision to sign a contract to ship ethane out of the Marcellus region for processing in the Gulf Coast (see this MDN story). Specifically, state Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said the deal may jeopardize the state’s chances of attracting a cracker plant—a facility that processes ethane into ethylene, the raw material used to make plastics. The chief complaint was that Chesapeake has been part of negotiations to bring such a plant to the region but at the same time were silent about their impending deal with Enterprise Products Partners to lease a pipeline to move ethane out of the area.

Chesapeake has responded to the criticism and says its deal with Enterprise has been “misunderstood.” A recent statement from Chesapeake seems to indicate the deal to ship ethane via pipeline is a negotiating tactic to get the best price for their ethane. Other industry sources are sticking up for Chesapeake and say the deal is certainly not a “cracker killer.”

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Energy Company Takes to the Sky to Move Utility Poles

Caiman Energy has found a novel way of moving large steel utility poles (electric poles) that it needs to install to bring in more power to a natural gas processing plant located at Fort Beeler near Cameron (Marshall County), WV. To address concerns over truck traffic and damage to roads, Caiman is using helicopters to shuttle the utility poles.

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WV Officials Angry with Chesapeake Over Ethane Pipeline Deal

gas pipeline constructionState officials in West Virginia are angry with Chesapeake Energy over the announcement that Chesapeake has signed a deal to ship ethane out of the Marcellus region via pipeline to the Gulf Coast for processing. A quick petrochemical lesson: Some of what comes out of the ground when drilling for natural gas is the chemical compound ethane—especially found in “wet gas” areas of the Marcellus like West Virginia. Ethane can be processed into ethylene, which is the raw material used to make plastics.

West Virginia and Pennsylvania have been heavily courting Shell and at least one other unnamed company to build a “cracker plant” to process the ethane (crack it) into ethylene. Building a cracker plant in the region would attract thousands of jobs and billions of initial investment, and billions in revenue from associated plastics industries that would sprout up around the plant. It’s like winning the biggest imaginable lottery jackpot when it comes to jobs, money and tax revenue.

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Charleston WV Shows Community Support for Cracker Plant

Residents of Charleston, WV want large energy companies looking to locate an ethane cracker plant in the Marcellus region to know that residents of Charleston want it and welcome it with open arms. An online letter-writing campaign has been launched to show community support for the project, which is estimated to bring more than 12,000 new jobs and some $7 billion in economic activity to the region where it’s built.

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Morgantown Not Ready to Admit Defeat on Fracking Ban

The next chapter for the Morgantown, WV ban on fracking seems to be an official rescinding of the ill-fated ban which included inside and up to one mile outside of the city lines. But Morgantown Mayor Jim Manilla is not ready to throw the towel all the way in just yet. He wants to make another run at a ban, this time only within city limits by using existing zoning laws.

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Morgantown Gas Wells Fracked, No Air Pollution

MDN has chronicled the attempt by Morgantown, WV to ban drilling up to one mile outside of the city line—a saga that spanned many months. In the end, a judge struck down the ban and two wells were drilled and fracked. The main concern was that fracking might somehow contaminate the city’s water supply, which comes from the nearby Monongahela River (something that did not happen). But another concern was that the fracking process might cause air pollution that would affect a nearby elementary school. It seems that fear was also unfounded:

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WVU Prof: Methane in Water Supplies is Not from Fracking

Dr Shikha SharmaDr. Shikha Sharma, an assistant professor at West Virginia University and the lead researcher of a new WVU study looking at the source of methane found in water supplies (see this MDN story), says those who think that hydraulic fracturing is the cause of methane found in their water supply may be wrong. And she can prove it—scientifically.

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Magnum Hunter & MarkWest Do Deal to Process WV Shale Gas

Pipeline company Magnum Hunter Resources has signed a deal with natural gas processor MarkWest Liberty to deliver and process “liquids-rich” Marcellus Shale gas from northwest West Virginia. As part of the deal, a Magnum Hunter subsidiary (Eureka Hunter) is selling an under-construction gas processing plant to MarkWest. What it all means is that Magnum Hunter and MarkWest are joining forces to handle a large capacity of shale gas that needs processing in northwest WV.

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New WVU Study Looks at Methane in Water Supplies

A new research study is on the way in West Virginia that tackles the question of “Is there methane in the water supply? And if so, how did it get there?” One of the charges often leveled at shale gas drilling is that it causes a migration of methane (natural gas) into water supplies. Perhaps the most famous case in recent years is that of Dimock, Pennsylvania (see MDN stories about Dimock).

A researcher from West Virginia University is conducting a new study by sampling and analyzing water samples in the Monongahela River watershed to determine if there’s methane in local water supplies, with an eye to determining how it got there if it is there.

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Morgantown Misses Appeal Deadline – Fracking Ban Now Over

In the ongoing saga of the Morgantown, WV ban on hydraulic fracturing, a ban both within and up to one mile outside of city borders (see here for a list of MDN articles on the topic), the leaders of Morgantown missed the deadline to file an appeal to the West Virginia State Supreme Court. So there will be no appeals and the fracking ban is officially overturned and done.

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