Friday, March 29, 2013

Former PA Governor Rendell Implores New York to Accept Fracking, Fails to Disclose His Own Industry Ties

Former PA Governor Ed Rendell
From ProPublica:
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell took to the New York Daily News op-ed pageWednesday with a message to local officials: stop worrying and learn to love fracking.
As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo agonizesover whether to allow the controversial natural gas drilling technique, Rendell invoked his own experience as a Democratic governor who presided over a fracking boom. New York state, Rendell argued, has a major part to play in the nation’s fracking “revolution” — and it can do so safely. He rejected what he called the “false choice” of “natural gas versus the environment.”
What Rendell’s passionate plea failed to note was this: since stepping down as governor in 2011, he has worked as a paid consultant to a private equity firm with investments in the natural gas industry.
Read the whole article here.

This isn't the first time lately that Ed Rendell has made news for his industry-friendly behavior.

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Ohio EPA Chief Calls on Industry to "Self-Police"

OEPA Director Scott Nally
From Business Journal Daily:
BOARDMAN, Ohio – The director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said businesses and regulators need to work together in partnership to ensure that the emerging oil and gas industry will be viable for a long time and small businesses can invest here.
“It’s important that we don’t put bull's eyes on our foreheads when somebody does it incorrectly,” said Scott Nally, Ohio EPA director, who headlined a breakfast program Monday hosted by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s Government Affairs Council.
Click here to read more. 

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Ohio Environmental Groups Calling New Shale Standards Pact an "Industry Scam"

Columbus, Ohio- A growing movement of grassroots community groups in Ohio released a statement today, which accompanied a letter sent directly to the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD), calling the “peace” reached by the Oil and Gas industry and environmental groups a complete fabrication.

The letter, sent by hundreds of citizens and community groups, stated, “We are in fact quite insulted that you (CSSD), presume to speak for Ohio citizens and Ohio environmental organizations. To date we have not found even one organization in our state that had any knowledge of this agreement, even though you have been working on it for the past two years. If indeed you have been working or communicating with environmental organizations in Ohio, please provide us with the name(s) of these organizations.”

Speaking on behalf of No Frack Ohio, a coalition of hundreds of Ohio citizens and grassroots groups, Buckeye Forest Council director, Cheryl Johncox, stated, “This industry ploy simply puts green lipstick on a pig. It in no way represents the thousands of groups around the nation fighting against this dangerous industry.” Johncox continued, We will continue to fight this global scheme to extract and export fossil fuels at the expense of our climate and our health. We will not be silenced. The public should not be fooled by this industry scam.”

The letter ended by stating, “It appears to us that your strictly voluntary standards are in reality business as usual for the industrialization and destruction of our communities by some of the same people who developed these so-called standards. We are putting you (CSSD), on notice that we, the citizens of Ohio, will not change our position on fracking based on this feeble attempt to pacify us with these worthless standards that have no standing in law. We vow to continue our fight against this destructive extraction industry and those that pretend to represent our environmental concerns.”

View the letter to the Center for Sustainable Shale Development after the jump.

ND Oil Patch Explosion Leaves 1 Dead, 1 Injured

From The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead:
Authorities are investigating an explosion at a business in the western North Dakota oil patch that killed one worker and injured another. 
Mountrail County Sheriff Ken Halvorson says the blast Wednesday happened while 19-year-old Trevor Davis, of Burlington, was cleaning the inside of an oil tanker trailer at the Plains Trucking yard northwest of Ross.
Read the short article here. 

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West Virginia Prepared to Allow Forced Pooling Under Very Limited Circumstances

From The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register:
WHEELING - Not ready to call the measure "forced pooling," Corky Demarco said the bill now under consideration by the West Virginia Senate would allow some unleased land to be included in drilling units.
"This does not allow someone to force you into a unit if you refuse to sign a lease. This just allows minerals whose owners are unknown or cannot be found to be included," said Demarco, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association.
Two years ago, Demarco and other industry leaders advocated a bill that would have permitted forced pooling, which is now illegal for Marcellus Shale drilling in West Virginia. This concept would allow natural gas drillers to draw gas from land they have not leased.
Read the whole article by clicking here. 

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Utica Shale's Murky Oil Potential Continues to Cause Concerns

From The Motley Fool:
A couple of years ago, Chesapeake Energy's (NYSE: CHK  ) outgoing CEO Aubrey McClendon touted the Utica Shale as "the biggest thing to hit Ohio since the plow." In mid-2011, he even went so far as to claim that the 1.3 million acres of Utica property that Chesapeake had leased contained hydrocarbons worth roughly $20 billion.  
But since that time, McClendon has scaled back his expectations about the Utica's oil potential substantially, as have executives at some other major companies operating in the play. This waning optimism, fueled by wells that yielded far less oil than initially expected, has led some commentators to question whether or not the play will live up to its initial hype.
As Utica drillers continue to derisk their acreage, will they stumble upon huge reserves of oil? Or will the Utica's initial comparison to Texas' prolific Eagle Ford prove overblown? Let's take a look.
Read the rest of this article by clicking right here.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Extreme Environmental Groups Are Being Watched in Ohio

From EID Ohio:
Extreme environmental activist groups have been put on notice by Ohio’s law enforcement, due primarily to the activities of outside organizations coming into Ohio to disrupt oil and gas development.  Authorities like the Ohio State Highway Patrol have begun to acknowledge that these groups’ actions are a threat to human health and safety, and as such are working to ensure they pose no threat to workers or the public in general.
As we first reported in the fall, Earth First! Climber’s Guild held a retreat near Athens, Ohio in order to train extreme activists with the climbing skills needed to temporarily disrupt oil and gas activities in Ohio, much like we saw earlier this month in New Matamoras.  In the beginning, these exercises were little more than a stunt; we never figured they would actually carry out these sorts of activities in Ohio, a state where we have developed oil and gas for over 150 years.  But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when these groups put their practice into illegal action. Even more disturbing: we found out that Ohio is not isolated from these fringe groups infiltrating states in order to disrupt safety protocol, not to mention jobs and prosperity.
Earth First! and Appalachian Resist staged a dangerous display of activism a month ago in New Matamoras at aGreenHunter Class II storage site.  The event brought out 100 activists dressed in Hazmat suits to demonstrate against the facility, all while a fellow member constructed a pole tied to equipment on site.  In the end, they disrupted business activities for five hours and had 10 people arrested. Seven of them were from out of state.
Read the whole article here.

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Multiple Media Outlets Incorrectly Connect Oklahoma Earthquakes to Fracking

It was to be expected, but it is still odd to watch.  After scientists concluded that a 2011 Oklahoma earthquake was caused by injection wells for conventional oil and gas operations - in other words, injection wells that had nothing to do with any fracking - it was to be expected that environmental groups and sensationalists in the media would ignore those facts and report that fracking is tied to the earthquake.

For example, Quartz had this headline:

Forget climate change, now we have to worry about fracking earthquakes

Fracking's Latest Scandal? Earthquake Swarms

Just in an attempt to inject some fact below those misleading headlines:  the fact that injection well disposal can cause earthquakes is not new news.  Studies have concluded as much for some time now, and here in Ohio we have seen new regulations put into place within the past year to provide protection against the possibility of such seismic activity.

Also, it should be noted that this new theory about this particular Oklahoma quake being caused by injection well wastewater disposal is just that: a theory.  The Oklahoma Geological Survey has already previously concluded that the quake occurred as the result of natural causes.

Is it fair to say that injection wells are often used for fracking waste disposal, and thus make the connection that increased fracking activity equals increased injection well activity equals increased risk of earthquakes?  That is certainly something that can and should be discussed, but to go farther than that in reporting on this particular earthquake in Oklahoma and attempt to link it directly to fracking is just plain wrong.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Shale Gas Journalist Attempting to Revive Controversy in Dimock

From Shale Gas Review:
DIMOCK, Pa. -- More than four years after the explosion of a residential water well called attention to the problem, Pennsylvania environmental officials are still trying to solve water pollution in this small town that has become infamous for shale gas development.

Recent cases involve two homes in a gas field where the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has banned drilling of new wells in the wake of chronic water pollution tracked to nearby operations of Cabot Oil & Gas. Cabot crews continue to operate a service rig between gas wells and water wells to diagnose problems in an area where the DEP has found dangerous levels of methane flowing into residential water wells near the junction of Carter Road and State Route 3023.

Colleen Connolly, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Protection, said this week that the agency has not determined when the latest round of testing will be released.
Read the whole post here.

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Natural Gas Facility Receives Second Bomb Threat of Past Two Months

From The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register:
NATRIUM - Still waiting to process its first barrel of ethane, the under construction $500 million Dominion Resources natural gas facility received its second bomb threat in the last two months Tuesday.
"The people who do these things are domestic terrorists," said Corky Demarco, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association.
Marshall County Emergency Management Director Tom Hart said the West Virginia State Police, Marshall County sheriff's deputies, officials with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and officials with Dominion explored the construction site Tuesday afternoon. After closing W.Va. 2 between Fish Creek Road and W.Va. 89 for about two hours, officials reopened the road upon determining the threat was not credible.
Read the rest of this story here. 

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GreenHunter Fights Back Against Claims About Their Plans

From The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register:
WHEELING - Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge, Wheeling Jesuit University biology professor Ben Stout and city resident Tom Triveri are among those strongly opposed to GreenHunter Water's plan to recycle natural gas drilling wastewater in Warwood - but company officials contend the water they want to ship via barge poses less of a threat than other potentially hazardous materials transported on the river every day.
Representatives of the Texas-based company met with Wheeling officials Tuesday morning to discuss the company's plan, which they expect will create 15 temporary construction jobs and 12 permanent jobs. Earlier this month, the company announced its acquisition of the former Seidler's Oil Service property on North 28th Street for $750,000, as well as plans for $1.7 million in new construction at the plant, which the company wants to be operational by fall.
City Manager Robert Herron described Tuesday's discussion as informal and "a good exchange of information," but said it's too early for the city to take a position on the project.
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7 New Permits Last Week, Including 4 for Carroll County

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has released the latest permitting report.  7 new Utica shale permits were issued last week.  4 were to Chesapeake Energy for Carroll County sites, 2 for Gulfport Energy in Harrison County, and BP obtained its first Utica shale permit for the Lennington 1H well in Trumbull County.

The total permit count is now 581, with 281 wells drilled and 77 producing.

You can view the report for last week here.

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"Pipeliner with Eyeliner"

From the Carrollton Free Press Standard:
Missy Phillips looks like a typical 30-something mother of three.
That is, until you see...
...her boots
...her “guns”
...and her truck. 
Phillips, 37, is a welding foreman on the pipeline.  The self-proclaimed “Pipeliner with Eyeliner” has worked in the oilfields for almost eight years, as a welding helper the first year, and a welder the remaining time. She also did minor welding on a drilling rig. 
Small in stature, she stands only a few inches over five feet tall, but drives a massive Dodge Ram one-ton black four-door dualie with pink pinstriping and big pink eyelashes.  It took her only about one week to build the special welding bed mounted on the truck which holds the Lincoln Arc Welder she uses in the field.
Read the whole article about Mrs. Phillips here.

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Mohican-Memorial Forest and Shrine Receive Contribution from Columbia Pipeline Group

PERRYSVILLE, OH – The Mohican-Memorial Forest and the Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs have received a contribution of $25,000 from Columbia Pipeline Group (CPG). The funds will benefit the Memorial Forest Shrine and the horseman’s group camp area, which are located in Mohican-Memorial State Forest.

The Memorial Forest Shrine is an Ohio war memorial that contains the handwritten names of many Ohioans who have made the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedoms.

“We are appreciative of Columbia Pipeline Group’s contribution to the Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs and to the Mohican-Memorial Forest," said Robert Boyles, chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. “This contribution will help improve and maintain this historic memorial in a manner befitting the names of the men and women it honors.”

CPG's $25,000 contribution was made through the charitable foundation of its parent company, NiSource. The Women’s Clubs will use a majority of the funds for the Memorial Forest Shrine, and the remainder will be designated for improvements to the horseman’s group camp area, which will be coordinated by the Wayne County Chapter of the Ohio Horseman’s Council.

Some of the plans for the contribution include replacing the flag pole, repairing the sandstone walkways, continuing the memorial brick walkway project and installing a concrete pad at the horseman’s group camp area shelter building.

The Memorial Forest Shrine is dedicated to the memory of 20,000 Ohioans that died in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War.
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Why Do Energy Companies Form Joint Ventures?

From The Motley Fool:
A joint venture, as you know, is a business agreement between two parties to develop a new entity whereby each party contributes assets. Those assets could be cash, equity, operating assets or intellectual property. The key is that the companies see greater value in combining the assets than in operating them separately.
The energy industry is the king of joint ventures. There are two driving forces behind this phenomenon. First, energy exploration and production is very, very expensive. Many smaller firms simply cannot afford to develop the resources they’ve discovered. Energy exploration is also a very risky business. Joint ventures are great for spreading around that risk.
Read the whole article here. 

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Belmont County Construction Company Focuses on Building for Oil & Gas Workers

From WTOV 9 News:
Belmont County construction company is reaping the benefits from the demands of oil and gas workers. The business builds structures and houses in Barnesville to be used solely by those workers.

T.J. Jefferis, a partner with Jeru Real Estate, said his company changed the way they operate to cater to the growing activity. A 4-acre area of their property used to be grass about a week ago, and it's been replaced with gravel and stone for the work site.

"We're in a different environment now than what we were in a few years ago. And you've got a lot more businesses coming in and supporting these wells," said Jefferis.
Read the rest of the article here. 

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Scientists Say 2011 Oklahoma Earthquake Linked to Injection Well

From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) — An unusual and widely felt 5.6-magnitude quake in Oklahoma in 2011 was probably caused when oil drilling waste was pushed deep underground, a team of university and federal scientists concluded.
That would make it the most powerful quake to be blamed on deep injections of wastewater, according to a study published Tuesday by the journal Geology. The waste was from traditional drilling, not from the hydraulic fracturing technique, or fracking.
Not everyone agrees, though, with the scientists' conclusion: Oklahoma's state seismologists say the quake was natural.
Read the whole article here. 

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

EPA’s Science Advisory Board Announces Independent Panel to Peer Review Agency’s Hydraulic Fracturing Research

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) independent Science Advisory Board (SAB) today announced the formation of its Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory panel. This panel of independent experts will peer review EPA’s 2014 draft report of results for its national study on any potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. Leading up to the peer review, the SAB panel will provide scientific feedback on EPA’s research in an open and transparent manner. 
The development of the draft report, which is directed by Congress, is in line with the Administration’s focus on continuing to expand safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production.
The SAB has identified an independent panel of 31 experts that meet the SAB’s criteria of having the necessary expertise and breadth of experience to adequately review the EPA hydraulic fracturing study on the potential impacts on drinking water resources, and meet long-standing rules regarding financial conflicts of interest.
EPA will ask the SAB panel, as a part of its public process, to specifically seek input from applied science practitioners in the field. Assuring the most up-to-date information on emerging science and technology of this rapidly changing industry is a critical component of the entire process. 
In March 2010, EPA announced its intention to conduct the study in response to a request from Congress. To ensure an approach of openness and scientific rigor, the agency has engaged in a wide variety of activities, including public meetings with stakeholders and public webinars, technical roundtables and technical workshops. In addition, the agency’s Science Advisory Board reviewed the draft study plan and now has established a panel that will peer review the 2014 draft report of results, as well as provide scientific feedback as requested.
“Our final report on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources must be based on sound science and take into account the latest practices being used by the industry,” said Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “We have worked to ensure that the study process be open and transparent throughout, and the SAB panel is another example of our approach of openness and scientific rigor.” 
The SAB sought public nominations of nationally and internationally recognized scientists and engineers having experience and expertise related to hydraulic fracturing in an August 2012 Federal Register notice.
The SAB initially identified and sought public comment on 144 potential candidates. As required by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, SAB staff worked to screen candidates for conflicts of interest and appearance of lack of impartiality. After reviewing public comments, confidential financial disclosure forms and additional information submitted by prospective candidates, the SAB identified the panel of 31 experts.

The SAB panel is comprised of five current employees of companies and consulting firms; two government employees; and 21 academics/university professors (including some previously employed in industry). It has at least three experts in each of the following nine areas of expertise that were sought for the panel: Petroleum/Natural Gas Engineering; Petroleum/Natural Gas Well Drilling; Hydrology/Hydrogeology; Geology /Geophysics; Groundwater Chemistry/Geochemistry; Toxicology/Biology; Statistics; Civil Engineering; and Waste Water and Drinking Water Treatment.

On May 7 and 8, 2013, the SAB panel will convene a meeting to provide individual feedback from panel members regarding EPA’s 2012 progress report on the study. The public will also have the opportunity to provide comments for the panel’s consideration. Comments from individual panel members will be considered as EPA develops its draft results in late 2014 for peer review by the SAB. The draft report of results will synthesize the findings from the study’s ongoing projects together with scientific literature to answer the study’s main research questions regarding hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources.

Subsequent meetings will include an opportunity for presentations to the panel by experts in fracturing technologies.

More information on the SAB’s Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory panel and its activities is available at:

Factsheet on SAB Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel:

Names/Affiliations of the SAB PanelMr. John V. Fontana, Vista GeoScience LLC
Mr. Walter R. Hufford, Talisman Energy USA
Dr. Stephen W. Almond, MeadWestvaco
Dr. E. Scott Bair, Ohio State University 
Dr. Elizabeth Boyer, Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Susan L. Brantley, Penn State University
Dr. Peter Bloomfield, North Carolina State University 
Dr. Steven Bohlen, U.S. Department of Energy
Dr. James V. Bruckner, University of Georgia 
Dr. Thomas L. Davis, Colorado School of Mines 
Dr. Joseph J. DeGeorge, Merck Research Laboratories 
Dr. Joel Ducoste, North Carolina State University
Dr. Shari Dunn-Norman, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Dr. David Dzombak, Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Katherine Bennett Ensor, Rice University 
Dr. Elaine M. Faustman, University of Washington
Dr. Daniel J. Goode, U.S. Geological Survey 
Dr. Abby A. Li, Exponent Inc
Mr. Dean Malouta, Independent Consultant in Oil and Gas Exploration and Development
Dr. Cass T. Miller, University of North Carolina 
Dr. Laura J. Pyrak-Nolte, Purdue University
Dr. Steve Randtke, University of Kansas 
Dr. Joseph Ryan, University of Colorado
Dr. James Saiers, Yale University
Dr. Eric P. Smith, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Dr. Azra N. Tutuncu, Colorado School of Mines
Dr. Paul Westerhoff, Arizona State University 
Dr. Thomas M. Young, University of California, Davis
Dr. Bruce D. Honeyman, Colorado School of Mines
Dr. Richard Jack, Thermo Fisher Scientific Corporation 
Dr. Dawn Kaback, AMEC E&I, Inc.

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New Techniques Look to Greatly Reduce Amount of Water Needed for Fracking; Sierra Club Says Its Not Good Enough

From the Tribune Chronicle:
BOARDMAN - The director of the Ohio EPA says his goal always has been to reduce millions of gallons of water used in the state's oil and natural gas drilling process, but though it sounds promising, environmentalists, businesses and local government didn't react with great optimism.
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Nally spoke Monday at a Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber breakfast event here.
Nally called water usage and disposal the "main issue" raised by opponents of the hydraulic fracturing process, commonly called "fracking." But he said new methods being explored by the industry are replacing the millions of gallons of water with other propellants such as carbon dioxide or propane.
Read the entire article here.

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Wheeling Councilwoman Vows to Fight Brine Plant Because She Doesn't "Like All of This Fracking"

From the Weirton Daily Times:
GreenHunter Water officials are familiar with opposition, as Washington County, Ohio sheriff's deputies arrested 10 people in February for protesting at the company's natural gas and oil frack water storage site in New Matamoras.
Now, Wheeling City Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge plans to use her authority to try to keep GreenHunter from establishing its new frack water recycling plant at North 28th Street in Warwood. The facility would be located at the former Seidler's Oil Service site, directly adjacent to the Wheeling Heritage Trail.
"They say this facility will be the 'first of its kind in the country.' That's because they have been run out of everywhere else," claimed Delbrugge, who represents and lives in the Warwood section of the city.
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Wooster Company May Add 120 Workers and Receive Tax Credit

From The Daily Record:
WOOSTER -- A Wooster company could see its work force here more than double over the next three years and add $5.4 million in payroll if its leaders accept a 40 percent, seven-year tax credit offered by the Ohio Tax Credit Authority on Monday.
Wooster Tool & Dye, a Westerman company, is looking to add 120 full-time workers over the next three years, spokeswoman Sonya Higginbotham said.
The company manufactures gas and oil separation tanks and gas production units that are used by companies drilling for gas and oil in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays.
The new hires are a result of the expected continued growth of oil and gas drilling in Ohio, said Higginbotham of Worthington Industries. The company purchased Westerman Inc., the parent company of Wooster Tool & Dye, in September for $70 million.
Read the whole article by clicking here.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Oil & Gas Industry Using Technology to Address Driver Safety

From Rigzone:
The increase in vehicle traffic associated with the exploration and production boom in plays such as the Eagle Ford and Bakken has the oil and gas industry grappling with the issue of driver safety as workers drive long distances and work odd hours on the job.
To meet this need, Telogis, a California-based provider of cloud-based location intelligence software, in early February began offering the oil and gas industry a comprehensive cloud-based software suite to not only monitor driver behavior in real-time, but provide training for drivers.
The system allows Telogis' oil and gas clients to monitor when drivers employ hard braking, accelerate sharply, speed or fail to wear seat belts, said Geoff Scalf, head of business development for Telogis' oil and gas division, in an interview with Rigzone. Telogis' technology will monitor driver behavior based on a company's safety parameters. A particular driver's behavior can be pinpointed through this technology, as alerts are assembled into driver safety scorecards and enterprise dashboards.
Read the entire article here. 

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FracTracker Expands Efforts to Track Water Quality in Shale Gas Regions

CARROLLTON, OHIO: Carroll Concerned Citizens will host Ted Auch, PhD of the FracTracker Allliance at its April 4 meeting to explain the latest effort to document and understand trends in water quality for shale gas regions.

According to Dr. Auch, “From across the country in areas where unconventional oil and gas development is occurring, accounts of possible water well contamination have been reported by landowners, but these reports haven’t been collected in one place for research purposes. My background is in ecosystem biogeochemistry and I have always been interested in how science shapes our public policy. This new FracTracker Alliance project will be an ideal opportunity to leverage data from various sources and the latest computer mapping technologies to help local, state and national officials in their decision making.”

Paul Feezel, Chair of Carroll Concerned Citizens added, “We’ve been getting quite a few calls lately from researchers interested in studying the long-term implications of shale gas activity on water quality and human health. Until now there hasn’t been a good single-source for detailed water quality data or trends. We are excited to be a promotional partner with FracTracker to assist in the collection of water quality data from landowners and independent water monitoring efforts.”

The meeting is being held at the Church of Christ, 353 Moody Ave. Carrollton OH starting at 7pm. The meeting is free and open to the public.

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Utica Shale Picture to Become Clearer Soon

From Reuters:
The share price gain represents perhaps the clearest example of how investors, giddy about an expected boom in Ohio's energy production, have been betting on companies based on some optimistic, but preliminary, production data.
But next month a more comprehensive state report will publish new data from Ohio's oil and gas wells that will offer the most insight yet about whether the Utica is the next big thing or a potentially fizzling bust for companies operating there.
Energy producers in the Buckeye State have compared the Utica to the giant Eagle Ford shale play in Texas and declared it a boon for a state still weathering an economic downturn. However, enthusiasm has cooled somewhat since drilling began in 2011, after wells produced more cheap natural gas than the more lucrative oil.
On March 31 this year, data from between 50 and 60 wells drilled in 2012 will be given to the state. It will then be made available on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' website in April, the department said. It did not give a specific date but last year the report came on the second of the month.
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Neighborhood Well Watching Leading to Positive Communication Between Residents & Drillers

From the Parkersburg News & Sentinel:
"A group of well watchers in Wetzel County, W.Va., has had a great deal of success in helping facilitate changes," said Cook. "Especially with regards to traffic related issues."
People were sitting in traffic for hours due to trucks blocking portions of the very narrow roads there, according to Cook.
"They were able to implement a staging area for the company's trucks rather than leaving them on the road," she said. "Instead of having traffic blocked for hours, they were able to voice their concerns and have them addressed."
Bill Hughes, a member of the Wetzel County Action Group, said groups like his are the way that many state organizations find out what is happening.
Small issues like muddy roads and blocking traffic often don't seem like big issues, but they can get under the skin of citizens, he said.
Read the whole article here. 

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Models Suggest Oil Prices of Over $250 a Barrel By End of Decade

From The Motley Fool:
Despite increased oil production in the U.S. from unconventional sources such as the Bakken and Eagle Ford shales, oil prices haven't gone down. In fact, the price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude is at about $93 and climbing. What's even worse is that one international group believes that the price of oil is poised to go up -- way up.
Who is proclaiming this bad news? The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD. Based on its models, a barrel of oil could be in the range of $150 to $270 by the end of the decade. Let's look at why they could be right and how we could avoid the sting of surging oil prices.
Why they could be right
Despite the large increase in domestic production, it costs more to access these new sources, and demand is still outpacing supply. According to EIA, demand for oil was about 1 million barrels per day higher than supply in 2011, and the projections for global demand are expected to continue to climb, thanks in large part to two countries: China and India.
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Friday, March 22, 2013

Links for 3/22/13 - Shale vs Coal, New Business in Harrison County, Sinkholes, and More

Forbes:  The Best Thing About Shale Gas: We Know Where it Is

Forbes:  Will Natural Gas Stay Cheap Enough to Replace Coal and Lower US Carbon Emissions?

Harrison News Herald:  Bowman Consulting Opens in Cadiz

Grist:  Massive Louisiana sinkhole caused by oil industry keeps on growing

TribLIVE:  U.S. Steel, Nucor CEOs urge caution on natural gas exports

Telegraph:  Fracking film maker accuses IMF of censorship

Energy in Depth:  Sierra Club: We Need and Oppose Natural Gas

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Environmental Groups Come Out Against Collaborative Attempt to Regulate Fracking

From the Centre Daily Times:
The Sierra Club and some other environmental groups are harshly criticizing a new partnership that aims to create tough new standards for fracking.
The criticism Thursday came a day after two of the nation's biggest oil and gas companies made peace with some national and regional environmental groups, agreeing to go through an independent review of their shale oil and gas drilling operations in the Northeast.
If Shell Oil, Chevron Appalachia and other companies are found to be abiding by a list of stringent measures to protect the air and water from pollution, they will receive the blessing of the new Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale Development, created by environmentalists and the energy industry.
Read the rest here.

This isn't surprising.  While environmental groups often say that they are seeking to influence officials to pull the reins on drilling until it can be studied more and safer regulations can be assured, it continues to be clearer with each new development that their only goal is to try to wipe out fossil fuels.  No attempts at regulation will meet with their approval.
Read more here:
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PA Court Documents Reveal Family Received $750K Settlement Without Any Medical Evidence to Support Claims

From TribLIVE:
A Washington County couple who claimed gas drilling ruined their property and sickened their family admitted no medical evidence existed to show that drilling harmed them before collecting a $750,000 settlement. 
Stephanie and Chris Hallowich sued three companies claiming natural gas drilling and other activity on a neighboring property made their home in Hickory virtually unsalable. 
Documents released on Wednesday revealed the Hallowiches stated their children “are healthy and have no symptoms that may allegedly be related” to the drilling. 
The Hallowiches could not be reached for comment.
Read the whole article here.

It doesn't sound like these court records ended up being the smoking gun fracktivists were hoping for.

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UPDATED: Secretary of Pennsylvania DEP Resignation Prompts Speculation


Krancer spoke with the Pittsburgh Business Times about his resignation.
“It’s been the greatest honor, the greatest job I’ve ever had, the greatest team I ever worked with,” said Michael Krancer, who Friday announced he’s leaving the agency after 26 months at the helm.
“The time is right for me to go back home. I’ve lived away from home for over two years. I’ve got a wife and two high-school-aged daughters.”
He didn’t have a truncated term in mind when he accepted Corbett’s nomination in January 2011, but “living away from home is something that makes you think about what you’re sacrificing to do this,” he said. “I’m not going to get this time back.”
Read the whole thing here.


The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released this press release yesterday:
HARRISBURG -- Governor Tom Corbett today announced that Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Krancer will step down April 15 to return home to Montgomery County to practice law. 
“Secretary Krancer has been an invaluable member of our team and I am grateful for his service,’’ Corbett said. “His impressive efforts at DEP have taken the agency back to basics, protecting the environment and making the permitting process more efficient.

“His guidance on a variety of issues related to the environment has been vital,” Corbett said. “DEP has been in good hands under his leadership.”

Corbett appointed Krancer to his cabinet in January 2011, where Krancer oversaw many major initiatives, including the reorganization of the agency, which created an Oil and Gas deputate and improved consistency statewide in enforcing that industry’s regulations. 
Krancer also oversaw the Permit Review Process and Permit Decision Guarantee, which have brought timeliness and consistency to the permitting process for all agency-regulated activities.

In April 2011, Krancer and the governor issued a call to Marcellus Shale operators to stop delivering shale gas drilling wastewater to plants that were not equipped to fully treat it, which resulted in a sea change overnight and improved the health of Pennsylvania’s waterways.

Krancer also made brownfields redevelopment and abandoned mine reclamation projects around the state a priority and oversaw the implementation of the Covered Device Recycling Act. 
Krancer and his agency were also instrumental in facilitating new investments and potential investments around the state, including his role in Governor Corbett’s team efforts to save the three southeastern Pennsylvania refineries and attract to them new environmentally responsible investors, employers and projects. 
Krancer also had the opportunity to testify as an expert before several U.S. Congressional committees on many topics. 
“Serving Governor Corbett and DEP has been the greatest honor of my career,’’ Krancer said. “Pennsylvania is well on its way to becoming the focal point of an American energy revolution, and I am grateful to the governor for giving me this  role in assuring that natural gas and energy development happen in an environmentally sound and responsible manner. 
“I owe a tremendous amount of thanks and appreciation to all of the talented, dedicated, hard-working professionals at DEP with whom I have been privileged to work as their Secretary,” he said.

DEP has 2,633 employees and a $655 million budget.

Krancer will rejoin his former law firm, Blank Rome LLP, an international law firm based in Philadelphia.
In addition to his previous legal work at Blank Rome, Krancer, 55, of Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County, served as a judge on the state’s Environmental Hearing Board for 10 years, including four years as chief judge and chairman. He has also worked as an attorney for Exelon Corp. 
A graduate of the University of Virginia, Krancer earned his law degree from Washington and Lee University. 
“I appreciate Mike’s unwavering commitment to this job, knowing that it took him away from spending quality time with his wife and children,’’ Corbett said. “While I am sorry to lose his expertise in the administration, I am glad this is an opportunity for him to go back home.”

E. Christopher Abruzzo, deputy chief of staff for Governor Tom Corbett, will serve as acting secretary. Abruzzo, who works closely with Krancer and the DEP staff in his position as deputy chief of staff, will hold both positions until Corbett names Krancer’s successor. 
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The sudden announcement has brought a variety of speculation.

Here's what the one anti-drilling blog has to say:
Temporarily filling in the for departing Krancer will be E. Christopher Abruzzo, deputy chief of staff for Governor Tom Corbett.  Abruzzo, who works closely with Krancer and the DEP staff in his position as deputy chief of staff, will hold both positions until Corbett names Krancer’s successor.    There is currently no speculation who will be the next drill baby in charge of DEP.
Nothing in the news stories to indicate why Krancer is choosing to leave now.
Scuttlebutt speculation includes:

  • Jumping ship before Corbett goes down in 2014 election
  • Fallout from the Range Resource-Hallowich records being unsealed
  • Possible repercussions from pending DEP Audit by Auditor General DePasquale.  It’s unknown at this point if the audit has even started.
  • Feces of unknown origin about to impact the rotating blades.
Whatever the reason, you can be assured Corbett’s next appointee will be one who makes sure it’s business as usual at the DEP. 
Read the rest of that article here.

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