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Friday, November 30, 2012

Today's Links: Muskingum Watershed Under Attack Again, Utica Shale Training Focused on by Officials, Millions of Tax Dollars Given Up to Research Environmental Shale Gas Development

Akron Beacon Journal:  Grass-roots initiative to hold Ohio watershed district accountable

Coshocton Tribune:  Officials: Training key to the Utica Shale

Department of Energy:  Research projects addressing technical challenges to environmentally acceptable shale gas development selected by DOE

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Livestock Falling Ill in Fracking Regions, Raising Concerns About Food

UPDATE:

And, of course, Energy in Depth has already responded to this article.  An excerpt (read the whole response by clicking here):
The central thesis of the article is that shale development, including hydraulic fracturing, is contaminating the food we eat. As the author states early on, “there’s growing evidence that these two impulses, toward energy and food independence, may be at odds with each other.”
From there, the story advances as one would imagine. Using the fatally flawed Bamberger-Oswald “study” on hydraulic fracturing as the focal point, the author weaves a carefully constructed narrative that does everything from repeating common (and debunked) activist talking points to claiming America’s cows are being poisoned to death by oil and natural gas development.
Of course, the story would have been much different had the author included (instead of deliberately omitting) scientific assessments that weren’t tailor-made for an anti-natural gas crowd.
How do we know they were deliberately omitted? Well, to her credit, Elizabeth Royte (the author of the piece) reached out to Energy In Depth several weeks ago about this article. She acknowledged having read EID’s work on the subject, and then asked me some pointed (but fair) questions about potential impacts on livestock and crops from hydraulic fracturing. I sent her a detailed response, including links to studies (more on that below) that demonstrate little if any negative impact on health as a result of nearby shale development. I also emphasized that concerns about public health should always be taken seriously, and the industry naturally does exactly that. But I also cautioned that simply blaming impacts on the most convenient thing (i.e. hydraulic fracturing) without scientific evidence does not solve problems, nor does it encourage the proper kind of public dialogue to address concerns.
ORIGINAL POST:

Cattle on the Schilke Ranch in northwestern North Dakota, located on Bakken Shale. Photo: Jacki Schilke
In the midst of the domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying. While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or “fracking”) operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil.
Earlier this year, Michelle Bamberger, an Ithaca, New York, veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, published the first and only peer-reviewed report to suggest a link between fracking and illness in food animals.
The authors compiled 24 case studies of farmers in six shale-gas states whose livestock experienced neurological, reproductive, and acute gastrointestinal problems after being exposed—either accidentally or incidentally—to fracking chemicals in the water or air. The article, published in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, describes how scores of animals died over the course of several years.
The death toll is insignificant when measured against the nation’s livestock population (some 97 million beef cattle go to market each year), but environmental advocates believe these animals constitute an early warning.
Exposed livestock “are making their way into the food system, and it’s very worrisome to us,” Bamberger says. “They live in areas that have tested positive for air, water, and soil contamination. Some of these chemicals could appear in milk and meat products made from these animals.”
In Louisiana, 17 cows died after an hour’s exposure to spilled fracking fluid, which is injected miles underground to crack open and release pockets of natural gas. The most likely cause of death: respiratory failure.
In New Mexico, hair testing of sick cattle that grazed near well pads found petroleum residues in 54 of 56 animals.
In northern central Pennsylvania, 140 cattle were exposed to fracking wastewater when an impoundment was breached. Approximately 70 cows died, and the remainder produced only 11 calves, of which three survived.
In western Pennsylvania, an overflowing wastewater pit sent fracking chemicals into a pond and a pasture where pregnant cows grazed: Half their calves were born dead. Dairy operators in shale-gas areas of Colorado, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Texas have also reported the death of goats.
Drilling and fracking a single well requires up to 7 million gallons of water, plus an additional 400,000 gallons of additives, including lubricants, biocides, scale- and rust-inhibitors, solvents, foaming and defoaming agents, emulsifiers and de-emulsifiers, stabilizers and breakers. At almost every stage of developing and operating an oil or gas well, chemicals and compounds can be introduced into the environment.
Cows Lose Weight, Die
After drilling began just over the property line of Jacki Schilke’s ranch in the northwestern corner of North Dakota, in the heart of the state’s booming Bakken Shale, cattle began limping, with swollen legs and infections. Cows quit producing milk for their calves, and they lost from 60 to 80 pounds in a week and their tails mysteriously dropped off. Eventually, five animals died, according to Schilke.
Ambient air testing by a certified environmental consultant detected elevated levels of benzene, methane, chloroform, butane, propane, toluene, and xylene—and well testing revealed high levels of sulfates, chromium, chloride, and strontium. Schilke says she moved her herd upwind and upstream from the nearest drill pad.
Although her steers currently look healthy, she says, “I won’t sell them because I don’t know if they’re okay.”
Nor does anyone else. Energy companies are exempt from key provisions of environmental laws, which makes it difficult for scientists and citizens to learn precisely what is in drilling and fracking fluids or airborne emissions. And without information on the interactions between these chemicals and pre-existing environmental chemicals, veterinarians can’t hope to pinpoint an animal’s cause of death.
The risks to food safety may be even more difficult to parse, since different plants and animals take up different chemicals through different pathways.
“There are a variety of organic compounds, metals, and radioactive material [released in the fracking process] that are of human health concern when livestock meat or milk is ingested,” Motoko Mukai, a veterinary toxicologist at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, says. These “compounds accumulate in the fat and are excreted into milk. Some compounds are persistent and do not get metabolized easily.”
Veterinarians don’t know how long chemicals may remain in animals, farmers aren’t required to prove their livestock are free of contamination before middlemen purchase them, and the Food Safety Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture isn’t looking for these compounds in carcasses at slaughterhouses.
Documenting the scope of the problem is difficult: Scientists lack funding to study the matter, and rural vets remain silent for fear of retaliation. Farmers who receive royalty checks from energy companies are reluctant to complain, and those who have settled with gas companies following a spill or other accident are forbidden to disclose information to investigators. Some food producers would rather not know what’s going on, say ranchers and veterinarians.
“It takes a long time to build up a herd’s reputation,” rancher Dennis Bauste of Trenton Lake, North Dakota, says. “I’m gonna sell my calves and I don’t want them to be labeled as tainted. Besides, I wouldn’t know what to test for. Until there’s a big wipe-out, a major problem, we’re not gonna hear much about this.”
Fracking proponents criticize Bamberger and Oswald’s paper as a political, not a scientific, document. “They used anonymous sources, so no one can verify what they said,” says Steve Everley, of the industry lobby group Energy In Depth. The authors didn’t provide a scientific assessment of impacts—testing what specific chemicals might do to cows that ingest them, for example—so treating their findings as scientific, he continues, “is laughable at best, and dangerous for public debate at worst.”
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the main lobbying group for ranchers, takes no position on fracking, but some ranchers are beginning to speak out. “These are industry-supporting conservatives, not radicals,” says Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst with the environmental group, Natural Resources Defense Council. “They are the experts in their animals’ health, and they are very concerned.”
Last March, Christopher Portier, director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called for studies of oil and gas production’s impact on food plants and animals. None are currently planned by the federal government.
As Local Food Booms, Consumers Wary
But consumers intensely interested in where and how their food is grown aren’t waiting for hard data to tell them their meat or milk is safe. For them, the perception of pollution is just as bad as the real thing.
“My beef sells itself. My farm is pristine. But a restaurant doesn’t want to visit and see a drill pad on the horizon,” Ken Jaffe, who raises grass-fed cattle in upstate New York, says. Only recently has the local foods movement, in regions across the country, reached a critical mass. But the movement’s lofty ideals could turn out to be, in shale gas areas, a double-edged sword.
Should the moratorium on hydrofracking in New York State be lifted, the 16,200-member Park Slope Food Co-op, in Brooklyn, will no longer buy food from farms anywhere near drilling operations—a $4 million loss for upstate producers. The livelihood of organic goat farmer Steven Cleghorn, who’s surrounded by active wells in Pennsylvania, is already in jeopardy.
“People at the farmers market are starting to ask exactly where this food comes from,” he says.
This report was produced by the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an independent investigative journalism non-profit focusing on food, agriculture, and environmental health. A longer version of this story appears on TheNation.com


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Solar Energy Being Used to Facilitate Cleaner Natural Gas Drilling

From Businessweek:
The vast majority of hydraulic fracturing sites in the U.S. are powered by emissions-spewing, noisy diesel engines.
So, Ron Hyden, who’s seen a lot during his four decades in the oil patch, is eager to show off something new: a machine used in fracking that relies on gravity and electricity generated from solar panels to send sand into a labyrinth of tubes before it’s shot underground to prop open tiny cracks in natural gas- or oil-bearing rock.
The irony of gravity and solar panels being used to help capture fossil fuels isn’t lost on Hyden, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its Dec. 3 issue. “You would’ve never thought we’d give a flip about this,” Hyden said in a Texas twang as he gazes at the solar panels atop his new contraption. “We’re big into it.”
Read the rest of this article by clicking here.

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What Kind of Dangers are Hidden Behind Fracking Trade Secrets?

From Bloomberg:
A subsidiary of Nabors Industries Ltd. (NBR) pumped a mixture of chemicals identified only as “EXP- F0173-11” into a half-dozen oil wells in rural Karnes County, Texas, in July.
Few people outside Nabors, the largest onshore drilling contractor by revenue, know exactly what’s in that blend. This much is clear: One ingredient, an unidentified solvent, can cause damage to the kidney and liver, according to safety information about the product that Michigan state regulators have on file.
A year-old Texas law that requires drillers to disclose chemicals they pump underground during hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” was powerless to compel transparency for EXP- F0173-11. The solvent and several other ingredients in the product are considered a trade secret by Superior Well Services, the Nabors subsidiary. That means they’re exempt from disclosure.
Read the entire report by clicking here.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hilcorp Preparing to Drill New Well in Salem Township

From The Salem News:
Hilcorp Energy requested information from Salem Township trustees regarding a road use management agreement during Wednesday's meeting.
The township is becoming an oil and gas drilling hot spot in the northern part of Columbiana County.
Currently Hanover Township has the most permitted wells in the county.
The Hilcorp Energy has the oil and gas rights to the Grubbs well on Grafton Road and asked for a RUMA for eight-tenths of a mile from state Route 558 to the south.
Click here to read the entire article.

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Fracktivists, Led by Former County Commissioner, Ejected After Disrupting Public Meeting in Athens

From The Columbus Dispatch:
State officials escorted about 100 people out of an information session on a proposed “fracking” waste well last night after the crowd tried to take over the Ohio Department of Natural Resources open house and turn it into a public hearing.
The group was ordered to leave the department’s Division of Wildlife regional headquarters in Athens after former Athens County Commissioner Roxanne Groff announced that she would be moderating a hearing on the well and taking public statements. At that point, an ODNR official informed Groff, who is a member of an anti-fracking group, that the event was not a public hearing but an open house, in which the public could ask questions of individual experts on hand, but not make public statements.
Read the entire article by clicking here. 

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Gulfport's New Utica Shale Well is a "Monster" - UPDATED POST

Update 11/29/12:  Two new articles highlight the amazing production of the Shugert 1-12H well and how Gulfport has been able to set a new bar for Utica shale production 3 times in the past few months.

First, from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register (full article available by clicking here):
Global Hunter Securities - an investment bank focused on energy - is quite impressed with the results from this Belmont County well.
"The Shugert well is a monster and another positive event for Gulfport as the company continues to derisk its Utica acreage," Global Hunter analysts said in a statement regarding the well.
And then, from Energy in Depth (read the entire article here):
So how does Gulfport continue to produce such prolific wells in the Utica?  Jim Palm, CEO of Gulfport Energy, gave a little insight to how Gulfport has been so successful in the Utica at the DUG East Conference a few weeks ago in Pittsburgh.  When Gulfport first became interested in the Utica they employed the help of reservoir engineer Bill Von Gonten who helped them gain scientific understanding of the make up of the Utica
We learned some interesting things from Bill,” he said.  “Based upon some core information, Bill determined that the Eagle Ford and Point Pleasant are very similar reservoirs. You can see the porosity and permeability are very similar. One of the most important things is the calcite. These are very brittle formations, and that’s good because when the hydrocarbons are generated it’s like popping popcorn.- Jim Palm, CEO of Gulfport Energy
With Mr. Von Gonten’s help, Gulfport was able to determine short hydraulic fracturing intervals were essential to efficiently unlock the hydrocarbons out of the Utica.  Through out tedious research and simulations Gulfport and Mr. Von Gonten determined that 225 foot intervals were the most appropriate length between hydraulic fracturing stages in the Utica.
Intuitively it seemed pretty short, but he’s the scientist. That’s what he came up with, and so we decided to adopt that and it’s worked out real well.- Jim Palm CEO of Gulfport Energy
Gulfport says they will continue to hone their approach and try to get even better production out of their Utica wells going forward.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE FROM 11/28/12:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Energy Companies Rattle Their Sabers at Congress, Warn Them Against Tax Increases

From U.S. News and World Report:
A group of natural gas and oil organizations sent a letter to members of Congress Tuesday morning, urging them to think twice before leveling any tax increases on the industry as part of fiscal cliff negotiations.
The letter, shared with U.S. News by the American Petroleum Institute ahead of its delivery to members of Congress, was addressed to party leaders Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, and Speaker John Boehner, and underscored the contributions the oil and gas industry have made to the struggling U.S. economy in the wake of the Great Recession.
Read the entire article by clicking here.

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Personal Incomes Rising in U.S. - Shale Receiving Credit

From The Chillicothe Gazette:
In Ohio, per person income was $37,836 in 2011, or $770 more than the year before and 3.1 percent higher than in 2009. Incomes grew in the metro areas of Ohio by 3 percent from 2009 to 2011, compared to 3.5 percent elsewhere. 
Van Wert County, where incomes climbed 10.4 percent during the past two years, led the way. Ten other northwestern, agriculture-intensive counties were among the income-growth leaders in Ohio. 
Carroll County, the heart of Utica Shale activity in Ohio, actually has been a subpar performer in the state with 2.2 percent per person income growth since 2009.
Read the entire article here.

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Water Needed For Fracking in Ohio Considered a Problem; But Has It Really Created Any Problems Yet?

From The Columbus Dispatch:
CARROLLTON, Ohio — A deep, constant hum emanates from John and Elizabeth Neider’s dairy and sheep farm.
Depending on whom you ask, it’s either the sound of progress or a harbinger of environmental disaster.
The hum is created by a cluster of powerful pumps forcing millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into six deep wells.
As much as 5 million gallons of water per well are needed to shatter the Utica shale and release the natural gas and oil trapped thousands of feet underground.
It’s a process that’s likely to be repeated in eastern Ohio thousands of times over the next few years, and Carroll County residents will have front-row seats.
Read the entire article here.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shale Boom Coming to Belmont County?

As of the latest data from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Belmont County has 11 permits issued, with 6 wells drilled.  This pales in comparison to the 161 permits and 73 wells drilled in Carroll County, the biggest hotbed for Utica shale activity to this point.  But things look poised to pick up in Belmont.

From The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register:
More than $1 million already has been realized this year in the Belmont County Recorder's office from the big oil and gas companies seeking to obtain drilling leases from property owners to gain access to the untapped energy supplies contained in the Marcellus and Utica shale deposits.
Never in Belmont County's 200-plus years of existence has there been such feverish leasing activity in the office. It has been literally overrun by abstractors each and every day since the beginning of the year.
"It never stops. We're busy every minute of the day" exclaimed Recorder Mary Catherine Nixon, whose office staff of six full time workers and one part-time employee has been busy as beavers handling the influx of abstractors searching the records to finalize leases.
"We exceeded $100,000 income in each of the first seven months of this year," Nixon declared. In August and September the total lease revenue fell just below that mark but then bounced back in October with another $100,000-plus record.
"So far this month we have taken in over $720,000 and there's still almost two weeks to go." However, the revenue already received for November pushed the total for the year over the $1 million mark.
Read the rest of the article here.

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So, Is the Utica Shale a Hot Spot for Oil or Not?

After Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon made it clear earlier this month that his company was no longer optimistic about getting huge amounts of oil from the Utica shale, a new report suggests that the oil window in Ohio may not be as bad as McClendon's comments indicate.

From Crain's Cleveland Business:
Drawing on drilling rig activity reports published by Baker Hughes Inc., EIA said in a “Today in Energy” mini-report last week “that there were twice as many active rigs in Ohio's Utica oil and gas play at the end of October than a year ago,” MidwestEnergyNews.com reports.

The big difference was oil exploration.

“The growth in active oil-directed rigs has more than offset the declines in active gas-directed rigs. According to Baker Hughes, about 86 percent, or 24 out of 28 active rigs in the Utica play, were directed toward drilling for shale oil,” the EIA stated. A year ago, about 15% were looking for shale oil in the state.
Read the whole article here.

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Is Federal Regulation of Fracking Needed?

From the Institute for Energy Research:
Hydraulic fracturing allows for the production of oil and natural gas in shale rock that tightly holds oil and natural gas resources. To hydraulic fracture the shale, water, sand, and chemicals are pumped underground to break apart the shale rock and release the oil or natural gas. (See chart below.) Today, 9 out of 10 gas wellsin the United States[i] are hydraulic fractured and its use along with horizontal drilling has created a natural gas boom in this country resulting in relatively low natural gas prices, particularly compared to gas prices elsewhere in the world. But, the federal government wants to increase these prices by imposing additional regulation for drilling on federal and Indian lands.
Currently, federal lands are already regulated by the states in which the wells are located.[ii] Many of those states already require drilling companies to disclose the chemicals used in the extracting process.[iii] Although hydraulic fracturing has been used by natural gas and oil companies for more than 60 years without one confirmed case of groundwater contamination, the federal government wants to increase its role, slow down the drilling process, and increase the cost of these fuels by regulating the technology further.
Read the rest of this article here.

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Marcellus Shale Sees a Slowdown in Wheeling & Dealing

From the Akron Beacon Journal:
The wheeling and dealing over the natural gas-rich Marcellus shale has hit the pause button.
Marcellus mergers and acquisition activity fell to zero in the third quarter of 2012, after major energy companies spent tens of billions of dollars over the last three years, according to a quarterly report Thursday of the financial firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. In the previous quarter, the deals totaled $1.6 billion.
PwC said low natural gas prices were the main factor, not the output or potential of the vast shale gas formation that lies under parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, Ohio and Maryland.
Read the entire article here.

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Lagging Development Forces Drilling Supplier to Shut Down Zanesville Operation

From the Zanesville Times Recorder:
Edge Oilfield Services, a subsidiary of Key Energy Services, came to the area in January, to service Utica Shale drilling operations in the region by supplying frack stacks, well-testing services and hydraulic chokes. They also had shops in Pennsylvania and in the Bakken Shale play in North Dakota. 
Eight employees came to the area from Louisiana to run the local operation and then hired several more through temporary staffing agencies. 
But drilling development has been slow in the immediate area, with only three wells drilled nearby so far. 
The bulk of drilling is being done east and north of Guernsey County, which boasts 24 drilling permits. Carroll County leads the state with 155 permitted wells. 
No signs announcing the closure had been posted at the East Pike location and an equipment yard on the hill behind the building is empty. 
Messages seeking comment were left at corporate headquarters in Houston and at the Pittsburgh sales office.
Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

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Marcellus Drillers Abandoning Flaring, Going With Green Completions

From Philly.com:
The towering flares that turn night into day in the Marcellus Shale gaslands are becoming an increasingly rare sight.
Natural gas producers are turning to new techniques to capture the gas emitted during the well-completion process. In the past, a well's initial production was typically vented or burned off to allow impurities to clear before the well was tied into a pipeline.
Read the rest of the story here.

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New Study Further Debunks Cornell Professor's Attempts to Demonize Natural Gas

From Energy in Depth:
new paper by two experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and published in the journal Environmental Research Letters suggests that Cornell professor (and activist) Robert Howarth’s thesis about greenhouse gas emissions from shale is even more irreconcilably divorced from the facts than was previously thought.
The MIT paper — coauthored by one of the lead authors of the forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC — is appropriately titled “Shale gas production: potential versus actual greenhouse gas emissions.” As many will remember, Dr. Howarth erroneously assumed that every single cubic foot of natural gas that he couldn’t account for was vented into the air as pure methane, contrary to technological realities and regulations requiring at least partial capture (more on that in a minute). You might also remember that Howarth’s paper has been widely panned by the U.S. Department of Energyvariousuniversities, and even his own colleagues at Cornell. Many of these critiques stemmed from Howarth’s unreasonable leakage assumptions, not to mention an inflated global warming potential of methane far above what even the IPCC recommends.
Read the rest of the article here.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Links From the Past Few Days

I apologize for the lack of updates over the past few days.  Between illness and being out of town, it's been tough to find time to post.  There hasn't been a ton of new stories coming down the pike.  Here are some to get things caught up as we head into a new week.

Zanesville Times Recorder:  Fracking industry to boom as obstacles fade

Columbus Business First:  Bank of America's Stephen Hoffman cites allure of Ohio shale for taking Huntington Bancshares energy post

The Morning Journal:  Hilcorp setting up shop

The Plain Dealer:  New wave of injection wells on the way in Ohio for fracking waste

Press & Sun-Bulletin:  Testing clears Binghamton water of fracking impact

Shale Reporter:  The fix is in; the frack may be out

Switchboard:  New analysis shows companies use secret fracking chemicals in most wells

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Carroll, Columbiana, and Harrison Counties Described as "Core of the Core" in Utica Shale

From The Salem News:
During Chesapeake Energy's third quarter earnings call this month, CEO Aubrey McClendon called Columbiana, Carroll and Harrison counties the "core of the core" in the Utica Shale Play.
The core of the core is described in the call as a strategy that allows the company to focus on its best rate of return areas. According to Chesapeake.com, "... Utica Shale is a geological formation of sedimentary rock that contains oil and natural gas. It is roughly 175 miles wide and 225 miles long. Lying mainly under parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, the Utica can be as thick as 1,000 feet in portions."
Read the entire article here.

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Links of the Day: Fracktivists Learn How to Break the Law At Camp, Fracking Liquids Unlikely to Leak from Wells, What the Heck is Going on in New York?, Icahn Takes it Farther With Chesapeake, Rig Count in Utica Shale Doubles in a Year

WOUB News:  Fracking Opponents Learn Activism Techniques At Local Action Camp

Akron Beacon Journal:  Fracking liquids unlikely to leak from shale wells

Energy in Depth:  Cuomo Comments Suggest Fix May Be in on Shale in NY

Pittsburgh Business Times:  Icahn boosts stake in Chesapeake Energy

U.S. Energy Information Administration:  Rig count in Utica Shale doubles from year ago

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Seeking Alpha Breaks Down 3rd Quarter Utica Shale Results

From Seeking Alpha:
Utica Shale Players 3rd Quarter Conference Calls Update
Those of you who follow us know that we were among the very first to write about the vast potential of the Utica Shale (starting with our August 1, 2011 article - accessible HERE). We have subsequently updated our Utica outlook and profiled four different leading Utica Shale players.
This is our fifth compilation conference call article. We believe that conference calls are an invaluable source of information and often give "color" that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Therefore, we are once again sharing our notes relating to the Utica Shale from the recently concluded third-quarter conference calls of Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK), EV Energy Partners LP (EVEP), Gulfport Energy Corporation (GPOR), PDC Energy, Inc. (PDCE) and Rex Energy Corporation (REXX). To that end…
Read the breakdown by clicking here.

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Article Highlights the Fracking Dilemma

From Pittsburgh Quarterly:
The concern from many in the environmental community is, as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman put it in a column last summer, that wholesale extraction of natural gas will "undermine new investments in wind, solar, nuclear and energy efficiency systems—which have zero emissions—and thus keep us addicted to fossil fuels for decades."

Those concerns have certainly drawn the battle lines between two highly partisan and highly motivated camps—camps that have become almost mirror images of each other, according to former Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger. "The hardcore who just want to ban the industry are never going to stop saying ‘nay'… they're like the hardcore climate deniers. New York could be under water. The hardcore really is beyond reason," said Hanger.

That's a sentiment shared by John Quigley, the former head of Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources under the Rendell administration, who now lectures extensively on the natural gas boom. "On the left you have the moratorium crowd, the Alec Baldwins and the Josh Foxes of the world, that want to demonize gas," he said. " ‘The evil fossil fuel companies are out to kill us and rake in profits,' and that's just… cartoon villainy," he said. On the other side, he said, industry strains credibility, depicting itself as intrepid cowboys riding alone on America's energy frontier. They try to sell themselves as "rough and ready, plucky entrepreneur[s]," he said. "Scratch any of them and they're right-wingers."
Read the whole article here.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Links of the Day: Fracking Flowback Costs, Chesapeake Loses in Court Again, EID Defends FracFocus, and University at Buffalo Gives in to Fracktivist Pressure

Akron Beacon Journal:  Fracking flowback is costly

Press & Sun-Bulletin:  Gas companies lose battle to extend leases in Broome, Tioga

Energy in Depth:  FracFocus: Myths and Facts

Politics on the Hudson:  UB President Shuts Down Controversial Shale Institute

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Norse Energy on the Brink of Going Broke


Norse Energy ASA: Financing Update

LYSAKER, Norway--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Norse Energy Corp. ASA ("NEC" ticker code OSE - NEC, Oslo, Norway, U.S OTCQX symbol "NSEEY") today provided a finance update.
Norse Energy has over the last several quarters commented on the status of its cash position.  The Company currently has cash of ~USD 1.5million, which is sufficient to fund the Company’s obligations only into December 2012.
Consistent with previous reporting, the Company remains concerned about meeting its obligations as they fall due. The Company has been and is continuously working on securing new liquidity; however no conclusion has yet been reached. Consequently, there is a risk that the liquidity situation may not be resolved in time to meet the Company’s debt and other obligations. In order to attract new funding, the Company may require a restructuring of and/or concessions from the holders of outstanding debt instruments.
A decision on a summary judgment motion brought by Bradford Drilling in its litigation with Norse is anticipated on or about November 27, 2012. Norse has contested Bradford’s interpretation of the Drilling Program Agreement and Bradford’s seeking of up to $7.65 million. While it is premature to speculate on the outcome, the Company has previously advised (See Note 9 “Contingent Liabilities” in the Company’s 3rd Quarter 2012 report) that approximately USD 3.3 Million remained to be allocated on Bradford's behalf to existing program expenses and future expenses when the program resumes.
Norse Energy owns or leases approximately 130,000 net acres in New York State of which ~33,000 lie in the liquids rich shale fairways of Western New York, and the remaining ~97,000 net acres lie in the Marcellus and Utica natural gas fairways of Central New York. Externally certified contingent resources total 951 MMBOE.
This information was brought to you by Cision http://www.cisionwire.com

Contacts

Norse Energy Corp. ASA
J. Chris Steinhauser, +1 713 975 1900 Ext 105
Chief Financial Officer
csteinhauser@norseenergy.com
or
S. Dennis Holbrook, +1 716 218 4210
Chief Legal Officer
dholbrook@norseenergy.com


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Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District Looking to Lease More Land

From the Akron Beacon Journal:
The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District on Friday said it intends to seek a drilling lease with Antero Resources for district-owned land at Seneca Lake.
The terms of the lease agreement with the Colorado-based energy firm have not yet been finalized, said district spokesman Sean Logan.
It is unclear how long it might take to negotiate such a lease and submit the proposal to the district’s governing board for final approval.
The district is willing to lease its land for drilling but does not want drilling pads, wells and facilities on its land, said district spokesman Mark Swiger.
Read the entire article here.

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Geological Consultant: "Shale Gas is a Commercial Failure"

From an interview with geological consultant Arthur Berman by Minyanville's Wall Street:
James Stafford: How do you see the shale boom impacting US foreign policy?

Arthur Berman: Well, not very much is my simple answer.

A lot of investors from other parts of the world, particularly the oil-rich parts have been making somewhat high-risk investments in the United States for many years and, for a long time, those investments were in real estate.

Now these people have shifted their focus and are putting cash into shale. There are two important things going on here, one is that the capital isn't going to last forever, especially since shale gas is a commercial failure. Shale gas has lost hundreds of billions of dollars and investors will not keep on pumping money into something that doesn't generate a return.

The second thing that nobody thinks very much about is the decline rates shale reservoirs experience. Well, I've looked at this. The decline rates are incredibly high. In the Eagleford shale, which is supposed to be the mother of all shale oil plays, the annual decline rate is higher than 42%.
They're going to have to drill hundreds, almost 1000 wells in the Eagleford shale, every year, to keep production flat. Just for one play, we're talking about $10 or $12 billion a year just to replace supply. I add all these things up and it starts to approach the amount of money needed to bail out the banking industry. Where is that money going to come from? Do you see what I'm saying?

Read more: http://www.minyanville.com/sectors/energy/articles/Shale-Gas-Will-Be-the-Next/11/16/2012/id/45914#ixzz2CiUMwWiL

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Carroll County Permit Count Climbs to 154

443 total permits have been issued in Ohio and 186 wells have been drilled, according to the ODNR's newest numbers.

Read about it here.

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Obama Faced With Big Decisions on Shale Gas

From PennLive:
Energy companies, environmental groups, and even Hollywood stars are watching to see what decisions President Barack Obama makes about regulating or promoting natural gas drilling. 
The stakes are huge. Business leaders don't want government regulations to slow the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of clean, cheap domestic energy over the next few decades. Environmental groups see that same tide as a potential threat, not just to air and water, but to renewable energy. And on a strategic level, diplomats envision a future when natural gas helps make the U.S. less beholden to imports.
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Links on a Sunday: Industry Braces for New EPA Regs, Can Fracking Be Regulated?, Some Want Fracktivists to Monitor Gas Wells, PA State Rep White Coming Under Fire, Prominent Fracktivists Working Overtime to Kill Fossil Fuels (FYI: Fracking Protests Aren't Really About Fracking)

The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register: Industry Preps for Worst With New EPA Regs

ThinkProgress:  Oil Lobby Chief Warns "You Fundamentally Can't Regulate" Fracking At All

New York Times:  Can Public Leak Patrols Stem Gas Emissions at a Profit?

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:  Pa. House lawmaker urges investigation into politician's ties to Range Resources

TribLIVE:  Expert: Rep. Jesse White "can't have it both ways" in drilling debate

Huffington Post:  Amid Climate Change Inaction in Washington, Activist Urges Americans To "Do The Math"

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Anti-Drilling Organization Establishes Fracking Chemical Database

The anti-drilling organization SkyTruth is heralding the establishment of a new resource to view information about fracking chemicals used around the nation.  Despite saying that because of this site "Nationwide data on fracking chemical use finally available to public", it really is simply a repackaging of the information that can already be found on FracFocus.org.  The biggest difference is that by accessing it through SkyTruth you can get a helping of anti-drilling rhetoric along with the raw information.

Here is the press release.  

Here is the site.

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