Monday, April 29, 2013

New EPA Estimates Go Against Claims of Fracking Opponents

From U.S. News and World Report:
Hydraulic fracturing has generated many byproducts in recent years – more jobs, more taxrevenue for city and state governments, more domestically produced natural gas and crude oil, and of course, more controversy.
Though opponents have argued that fracking substantially contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, new estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency show that the leakage of methane – a greenhouse gas – from wells, pipelines and other infrastructure is much lower than previously believed, thanks in large part to better pollution controls implemented by the industry itself, according to the Associated Press. Recently released EPA estimates of methane emissions between 1990 and 2010 are 20 percent less than previous estimates, the AP reported, even as natural gas production has grown by almost 40 percent during the same period.
Read the entire story here. 

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Fracking Cleared of Water Contamination Claims in Pennsylvania

From The Epoch Times:
Methane found in water wells in Franklin Forks in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, did not come from fracking, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  
“After a 16-month investigation, the Department of Environmental Protection has determined that high levels of methane found in three private water wells in Franklin Township, Susquehanna County, cannot be attributed to natural gas drilling activity in that geographical area,” a statement from the DEP said Monday.
Water samples were pulled from three private water wells and compared with samples taken from natural gas wells located nearby. Both samples were compared with water samples from Salt Springs State Park, which historically contains naturally occurring methane. The park is located one mile from the affected homes.
Read the rest here.

This particular contamination case was part of the focus of Yoko Ono & Co.'s bus tour of Pennsylvania a couple of months ago.  I'm sure that Josh Fox and his crew will have an explanation of why the DEP is wrong or lying.

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Stark County Seeing Impact From Shale Despite Lack of Permitting and Drilling Activity

From The Independent:
The past and future of Ohio’s petroleum industry are next-door neighbors in the Beck Industrial Park, where an idle pumpjack rusts a few yards from the rising steel skeleton of Chesapeake Energy’s new regional field office.
When Chesapeake’s complex is finished, it will have a five-story office building, silos, a maintenance facility and employ 400 workers in the company’s Utica Shale drilling operations.
For now, it’s mostly a gravel parking lot for the heavy equipment used to horizontally drill and hydraulically fracture wells. Not much to look at.
The same could be said for shale development in Stark County, where only seven Utica wells have been drilled, and just two are producing oil or natural gas.
Look beyond those numbers, however, and Stark County’s strategic position in the Utica Shale region is easier to see.
Read the whole article here. 

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Carroll County Changing Quickly Thanks to Shale Exploration

From The Independent:
In the stagecoach days, travelers came to Harlem Springs for the “healing” waters that bubbled from the ground. Robert E. Lee and William Henry Harrison paid visits to the resort. The hamlet even had a college.
None of it lasted. The namesake springs lost their mineral potency by the Civil War, then ran dry, explained local historian Janice Lane. The college moved to another town.
Harlem Springs today is a cluster of houses along a wide curve on state Route 43, seemingly passed by traffic and time.
But a couple of miles away, at the end of a winding country road, a humming sprawl of white tanks and pipes is harnessing a new underground resource in this southeastern corner of Carroll County.
During initial production, the “Coe 34-12-4 1H” well generated the equivalent of 2,200 barrels of oil in a 24-hour period, according to its owner, Chesapeake Energy. That’s enough energy to supply 120 Ohio households for a year.
Five miles to the south, more wells bracket the burg of Kilgore, where workers have buried green pipelines in the pumpkin-colored earth.
“Obviously, we’re punchin’ holes in the ground and money’s coming out,” said Glenn Enslen, the county’s retiring economic development director. “And that’s driving almost everything that’s going on in the community. I mean, this is beyond huge for us.”
Read the whole article by clicking here. 

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Local Businesses Feeling the Benefits of Shale Boom

From The Independent:
Local businesses are getting their share of what some might call the Utica Shale bonanza.
Some companies have bought trucks and other equipment.
Many have added employees.
A few have opened new offices or expanded facilities.
Efforts to pump oil and natural gas from the Utica Shale have led to more than just a handful of new service jobs at local hotels and restaurants, said David C. Kaminski, director of energy and public affairs for the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Stark County historically has swarmed with oil men looking for a spot to drill and bring oil or gas to the surface. Companies that for years have directly or indirectly been involved with the oil and gas industry are seeing business increase because of the Utica Shale.
“This is, once again, not a new business to us,” Kaminski said of oil and gas drilling. “It just a business that’s operating at a greater scale.”
Read the whole article by clicking here. 

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The Ins and Outs of Ohio's Forced Pooling Laws

From the Youngstown Vindicator:
In Portage and Stark counties, on a vast stretch of 958 acres straddling Lake and Suffield townships, natural gas company Chesapeake Energy had a plan to drill six horizontal shale wells — all from one pad. 
It was still early in the Utica Shale play in 2011.The company set out to secure all the mineral rights it could across the plot, but ran into a problem: 23 landowners and homeowners who could not be reached or had no interest in selling the oil and gas reserves thousands of feet below their property. 
So in November 2011, for the first time in the Utica Shale play, the company turned to a rarely used section of Ohio law governing the development of the state’s mineral resources: It filed a request for unit operations with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management.
Eight months later, in July 2012, the division approved the request, forcing those 23 holdouts, accounting for 70 acres, into a single drilling development. 
Chesapeake’s move is comparable to mandatory pooling, but when it turned to Ohio Revised Code 1509.28, referred to as “unitization,” it used a law that was designed for an entirely different purpose. 
“They’re bending and twisting it every way but Sunday to apply it to what they think they need for horizontal-shale drilling development,” Alan Wenger, an attorney at Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell, said. Wenger represents landowners. “The underlying rationale for the law is being followed, but when it was drafted in the 1960s, lawmakers didn’t have the foggiest dream of what’s happening now.” 
Since Chesapeake’s application, ODNR has received 11 requests for unit operations, four of which have been approved. Five are pending, and two were resolved outside the agency.
Read this excellent in-depth article in its entirety by clicking here.

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Barnesville School District Agrees to $400,000 Drilling Lease

From The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register:
As Antero Resources continues locking up acreage in the village, the natural gas driller will pay Barnesville Exempted Village School District more than $400,000.
"It sounds like this is going to be a busy place for the next few years," said school Superintendent Randy Lucas. "They gave us a ballpark guess that they would start drilling sometime over the next two years."
Denver-based Antero already has signed the village of Barnesville to a drilling contract, along with many individual landowners in the community. The deals call for Antero to pay $5,700 per acre to lease the land and 20 percent of production royalties once the gas starts pumping. These are also the terms of the school district's contract, Lucas said, noting the board of education voted unanimously to accept the deal.
Read the entire story by clicking here.

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Aubrey McClendon Hangs Out Giant "Now Hiring" Sign

From Forbes:
If you work in the oil and gas business then here’s a chance to get in on the ground floor of something big.
Aubrey McClendon has not wasted any time. Less than a month after his departure from Chesapeake Energy CHK +0.42%, the legendarily controversial empire-builder has already launched his new venture: American Energy Partners.

And better yet: he’s hiring. Here’s a picture that a reader sent in of one of the billboards that he’s put up in Oklahoma City — three at last count. Two of them flank the site of his new office, which is across the street from Chesapeake’s campus.
Read the whole article here. 

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MarkWest Pipeline Construction Spills in Area Draw the Attention of Ohio EPA

Slurry isn't poisonous, but still
has damaging effects
(Photo: Columbus Dispatch)
From The Columbus Dispatch:
A series of pipeline-construction spills by one company has the Ohio EPA demanding answers and environmental-advocacy groups warning that this is one more activity tied to fracking that is endangering streams and wetlands.
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials call the spills “ inadvertent returns.” They involve a lubricant made of clay and water that sometimes gushes unexpectedly from the ground when builders drill tunnels to install natural-gas pipelines.
Ohio EPA records show that Denver-based MarkWest Energy had four spills between Sept. 17 and Feb. 9, polluting streams and wetlands in Harrison and Belmont counties. The Harrison County spills included one late last summer affecting Brushy Fork near Cadiz, and a Nov. 4 spill near Cadiz that fouled 1 1/2 miles of Boggs Fork and a nearby wetland and took more than three months to clean up.
“I find the repeated nature and magnitude of these releases unacceptable,” Scott Nally, the Ohio EPA’s director, wrote to the company on March 8.
Read the whole article by clicking here. 

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Friday, April 26, 2013

4/26/13 Links: Hollywood Actors and Career Activists Say Fracking is Dangerous While Scientists Say It's Safe, Kasich's Severance Tax Attacked Again, and More

The Hill's E2-Wire: Interior chief Jewell: "One size doesn't fit all" on fracking

Columbus Business First:  Oil and Gas Association chief says "tenacious" Kasich wrong on severance tax on drillers

Energy in Depth:  Debunking Gasland Part II

ThinkProgress:  New Report Details How National Parks Are Threatened By Oil and Gas Drilling

Greeley Tribune: Fracking is safe, scientists say at Vail energy forum

CNN:  Greenpeace director Phil Radford and actor Mark Ruffalo say fracking isn't safe

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Chesapeake Rep: Oil and Gas is Very Good for Columbiana County

From the Tribune Chronicle:
The shale gas industry is good news for the economic revitalization of Columbiana County and for the American economy at large, according to Keith A. Fuller, an executive from Chesapeake Energy, who spoke Thursday afternoon at a luncheon hosted by the Wellsville Area Chamber of Commerce.
The gas and oil industry as a whole has invested nearly $7 billion in the area, Fuller said, which has been transferred to numerous local businesses, to landowners who have leased their property for exploration, and as investments in infrastructure to meet industry needs. He also expounded upon the job-creating benefits of the industry, saying that 410 people across 150 professions are required to bring a single gas well online, a total that doesn't include workers in local stores, restaurants and gas stations that receive more business along the way.
Read the whole article here. 

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The Atlantic Asks the Question: What If We Never Run Out of Oil?

From The Atlantic:
As the great research ship Chikyu left Shimizu in January to mine the explosive ice beneath the Philippine Sea, chances are good that not one of the scientists aboard realized they might be closing the door on Winston Churchill’s world. Their lack of knowledge is unsurprising; beyond the ranks of petroleum-industry historians, Churchill’s outsize role in the history of energy is insufficiently appreciated. 
Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911. With characteristic vigor and verve, he set about modernizing the Royal Navy, jewel of the empire. The revamped fleet, he proclaimed, should be fueled with oil, rather than coal—a decision that continues to reverberate in the present. Burning a pound of fuel oil produces about twice as much energy as burning a pound of coal. Because of this greater energy density, oil could push ships faster and farther than coal could. 
Churchill’s proposal led to emphatic dispute. The United Kingdom had lots of coal but next to no oil. At the time, the United States produced almost two-thirds of the world’s petroleum; Russia produced another fifth. Both were allies of Great Britain. Nonetheless, Whitehall was uneasy about the prospect of the Navy’s falling under the thumb of foreign entities, even if friendly. The solution, Churchill told Parliament in 1913, was for Britons to become “the owners, or at any rate, the controllers at the source of at least a proportion of the supply of natural oil which we require.” Spurred by the Admiralty, the U.K. soon bought 51 percent of what is now British Petroleum, which had rights to oil “at the source”: Iran (then known as Persia). The concessions’ terms were so unpopular in Iran that they helped spark a revolution. London worked to suppress it. Then, to prevent further disruptions, Britain enmeshed itself ever more deeply in the Middle East, working to install new shahs in Iran and carve Iraq out of the collapsing Ottoman Empire. 
Churchill fired the starting gun, but all of the Western powers joined the race to control Middle Eastern oil. Britain clawed past France, Germany, and the Netherlands, only to be overtaken by the United States, which secured oil concessions in Turkey, Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. The struggle created a long-lasting intercontinental snarl of need and resentment. Even as oil-consuming nations intervened in the affairs of oil-producing nations, they seethed at their powerlessness; oil producers exacted huge sums from oil consumers but chafed at having to submit to them. Decades of turmoil—oil shocks in 1973 and 1979, failed programs for “energy independence,” two wars in Iraq—have left unchanged this fundamental, Churchillian dynamic, a toxic mash of anger and dependence that often seems as basic to global relations as the rotation of the sun.
That is just the opening of a very long article that examines the implications of possibly finding that oil supplies aren't running out as quickly as many have thought.  It's a lot to take in, but an interesting article.  Read the rest by clicking here. 

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Shale Gas Review Takes a Look at Ohio Injection Wells

From Shale Gas Review:
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Oil and Gas Data base has online production records that show the early history of the Sauter well, when it was developed by Dome Producing, but nothing since it was converted to an injection well in the early 1990s under the ownership of S & H Water Service. Mark Bruce, a spokesman for the DNR, explained that the agency was still adding to its online data base, and he forwarded me files that I had requested. They included 10 notices of violations between 1991 and 2009 for leaks, substandard equipment specifications, missing records, and a complaint by a town zoning official on behalf of residents about noise, smells and truck traffic. 

Citations are not unusual for injection and production wells, and it’s hard to gauge their significance and effectiveness in the broader context of things. ProPublica’s Abrahm Lustgarten offered this perspective in a June, 2012 piece for Scientific America:

A ProPublica review of well records, case histories and government summaries of more than 220,000 well inspections found that structural failures inside injection wells are routine. From late 2007 to late 2010, one well integrity violation was issued for every six deep injection wells examined — more than 17,000 violations nationally. More than 7,000 wells showed signs that their walls were leaking. Records also show wells are frequently operated in violation of safety regulations and under conditions that greatly increase the risk of fluid leakage and the threat of water contamination.
Check out the entire article here.  I found it very interesting.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Links for 4/25/13: Gasland II Review, Biased Reporting, and Much More

I'm trying to finish next month's edition of Energy News Ohio today, so I haven't had a lot of time for individual posts.  But to keep you caught up, here are links to some of the stories that caught my eye:

SFGate:  PA. high court settles shale gas rights question

Energy in Depth:  The Activist Reading List

Star-Telegram:  Range Resources can seek defamation case against Parker County landowner, court says

New York Times:  In Fracking Fight, Opposites Attract

Forbes:  Harvard's FracFocus Study Grades an "F"

Washington Free Beacon:  Gasland Part II gins up fears, plays loose with the facts

Energy in Depth:  Blog Archive Reporter, Disclose Thyself

Forbes:  Shale Boom is Real Enough

Zanesville Times Recorder:  Port Authority joins shale marketing effort to bring brokers, jobs

Akron Beacon Journal:  New campaign under way to boost truck safety in drilling regions

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FracFocus Responds to Negative Harvard Study

From the FracFocus website:
On April 23, 2013 we were made aware of a study released by Harvard University in which they assert that FracFocus is not a good tool for regulatory purposes.
According to Stan Belieu, Deputy Director of the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and current President of GWPC , “The FracFocus website was developed and  is managed by the state oil and gas regulatory programs and I am not aware of any state regulatory program that has been contacted by Harvard University to make inquiry of its capabilities, I do not understand how, without direct contact, this study can draw the conclusions it has.”
In the Summary section of the report Harvard made statements regarding 3 specific issues.  The following is a GWPC response to these statements:
Harvard statements:
 1. Timing of Disclosures. State laws attach penalties to a company’s late submittal of, or failure to submit, chemical disclosures. However, FracFocus does not notify a state when it receives a disclosure from a company operating in that state. Nor can most states readily determine when a disclosure is made. As a result, states cannot enforce timely disclosure requirements.
 2. Substance of Disclosures. FracFocus creates obstacles to compliance for reporting companies. For example, by not providing state-specific forms, FracFocus leaves companies to figure out how to account for state disclosure requirements not covered by the FracFocus form. FracFocus staff does not review submissions ,and states usually do not receive the form; factors that may encourage some companies to under-value careful reporting. Meanwhile, no state sets minimum reporting standards for FracFocus. In fact, were FracFocus to disappear entirely, most states using the registry would have no backup disclosure methods readily identified and available to them.
3. Nondisclosures. Trade secret protection is critical in order to reward development of unique products in the marketplace. However, three characteristics of a robust trade secret regime prevent overly broad demands for this protection: substantiation by the company, verification by a government agency, and opportunity for public challenge. FracFocus has none of these characteristics; operators have sole discretion to determine when to assert trade secrets. As a result, inconsistent trade secret assertions are made throughout the registry.
 GWPC responses
 1.      This statement is incorrect.  FracFocus not only notifies states of the submission of disclosures and provides them with lists of such disclosures on a routine basis, it allows states to download the data from the disclosures so that it can be incorporated into the states own data system.  FracFocus is also currently developing the capability for states to load data directly into the own state systems.
 2.     The whole purpose of utilizing a single format is so the public does not have to navigate multiple formats with different information.  This makes it better for the public not worse.  While it is true the FracFocus staff does not review the forms for content, that is the responsibility of the state agencies for whom the forms are submitted.  FracFocus is a tool, not a regulatory program.  We are not in a position to know and understand the specifics of individual state regulations nor are we charged by law with enforcing them.  We merely provide the means by which a state receives the information so that they may review it for regulatory compliance. 
With respect to FracFocus being difficult for companies to use, by providing a single means of reporting across state boundaries, FracFocus makes it easier for companies  to comply with state regulations because they do not have to enter data in multiple formats.
The assertion that no state sets a minimum reporting standard for FracFocus is incorrect.  The vast majority of state utilizing FracFocus have specifically detailed the reportable elements in their regulations.
3.      As with all information in a FracFocus disclosure, it is the responsibility of the state regulatory program to review and act upon Trade Secret claims.  FracFocus cannot act on behalf of state regulatory programs as it does not have such authority.  Obviously, it is up to each operating company to know and understand individual state laws regarding disclosure.  It is also up to each state to enforce compliance with its own laws.  Once again, FracFocus is not a regulatory program, it is a tool for collecting the disclosures required by regulatory programs.
We believe the research done by the Harvard team fails to reflect the true capabilities of the FracFocus system and misrepresents the systems relationship to state regulatory programs.
The GWPC and IOGCC are conducting an in-depth analysis of the Harvard study and will present a response to the full study at the appropriate time.

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Ohio Utica Shale Permit Count Hits 616, Over 300 Wells Drilled

The latest Ohio DNR permit report reveals that 12 new permits were issued last week, bringing the total to 616.

7 permits were issued last week to Chesapeake Energy for Carroll County sites, while there were 3 issued in Harrison County and 1 each in Guernsey and Washington counties.

The report states that there are now 305 wells drilled in Ohio, with 89 producing.  The Utica rig count is 32.

View the ODNR report by clicking here.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rosebud Pushes Forward with Coal Mine Application in Heart of Shale Gas Boom

We received the following press release from Carroll Concerned Citizens:

CARROLLTON, OHIO: Carroll Concerned Citizens will review Rosebud Mining Company’s Carrollton Mine application updates at its May 2 meeting. The company plans to move ahead with an initial 9,600 acre shallow underground mine and surface mine portal operation on the former Teeter property just east of the Field of Dreams in Union Township.

Paul Feezel of Carroll Concerned Citizens commented, “We have to consider this just the tip of the iceberg as Rosebud has stated that they eventually plan to expand their mining operation to include at least 30,000 acres of their coal holdings in Carroll County.”

This will be the first intersection of shallow coal mining and the new shale gas well drilling operations in the State of Ohio. Feezel added, “ODNR plans to use only a 150 foot coal buffer between wells and active mining and we worry that any mine subsidence could damage gas well casings critical to protecting our ground water source and human safety.”

The group plans to request that ODNR hold a public meeting so that Carroll County citizens can share other concerns regarding public safety, water protections and long-term property values.

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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Off-Topic - If You Ever Have a Hard Drive Disaster...

A brief break from our normal programming...

Last month I went through a very rough stretch after the hard drive on my 1-year old HP laptop failed.  2 days out of warranty, and all of a sudden my computer was useless.  Not only would it not power up, but I found out that despite the best efforts of a friend who makes his living working on computers, my data could not be recovered by any of the recovery software out there.  Like a fool, I hadn't backed up hardly any of the data.  Now what?

I was shell-shocked. All I could think of is how stupid I was for not backing up my data, how thousands of hours of work were gone in the blink of an eye. I started researching professional data recovery companies, requesting some free quotes. Some had interesting pricing packages listed on their website, but a quick check around the web revealed that many had been charged more than expected by such companies, or had been required to pay non-refundable fees before recovery was attempted on their drive only to be told that no data was recovered. Upon recommendation from a friend, I checked out a local company which wanted to charge for the diagnosis then require another non-refundable deposit of $300 with no guarantee of anything. These companies take someone who is in a stressful, horrible situation and then they add another layer of stress and pressure by forcing the customer to take on all of the financial risk while the data recovery company assumes no obligation.

Then I found Gillware. Their promise was that you would not pay unless they recovered your critical data. I checked around the web, and their reputation seemed solid. So I packed up my faulty hard drive along with a new external hard drive to transfer data to and I mailed them out. Two days later a friendly lady from Gillware called to tell me that the drive had arrived and they were going to begin diagnosing the problem. Later that same day I received an email with a diagnostic report and a quote. The report said there was a 75% chance of recovery. I called to ask a few questions and received friendly and helpful answers. I was even given a tip by the representative on how to get free return shipping for my hard drive once the process was completed. My company owner called in the following business day and also received kind assistance. We gave the go-ahead to attempt the recovery, still with the assurance that if the data we needed was not recovered we would not owe anything. What a relief it was to know that we were not on the hook for a large deposit with no assurance of results!

A couple of days later I received an email with links to access the file tree for all recovered data off of my hard drive. I can't even express what a feeling of relief it was to begin looking through it and find that 99.9% of my files were there, with only 3 or 4 files of no real importance that weren't recoverable. I called and requested that they check a few of the most critical files and make sure that they opened successfully. Again, a friendly voice returned my call within 24 hours and let me know that the files had opened and were working fine. We paid our fee, gave the code to get free return shipping, and 7 business days after they had received my hard drive I had my data back, intact with original folder and file names.

I wouldn't wish for anyone to be in the position of having lost critical data. In fact, the number one takeaway from this experience is to make sure you have multiple backups in place for any vital data that you don't want to lose.  I maintain 3 separate backups of my crucial data now.  But if important data loss happens to anyone that I know, I will absolutely encourage them to turn to Gillware. They are courteous, understanding, professional, and very open in their communication. And they did a great job recovering my data.
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Trumbull County Residents Angry About Disturbances from Drilling

From the Tribune Chronicle:
Constant noise, flood lights, smell of diesel fuel and worries about the safety of their drinking water were enough for some residents of the Westwood Lake mobile home park who live a stone's throw from a Utica Shale natural gas well where fracking began last week.
But when apparently misguided trucks heading for the well site ended up on the park's quiet dead-end street in recent weeks - including one driver banging on the door of Dave Clouser's home at 3 a.m. - frustrations really grew.
Clouser and his neighbor, Pat McCrudden, said they knew of three or four trucks that had headed down their neatly manicured lane in recent weeks, apparently guided by coordinates for Halcon Resources' Kibler Well entered into GPS devices.
Read the whole article here. 

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Report Suggests Rapid Expansion of Renewable Energy Investments

From Bloomberg:
The plunge in the cost of wind and solar power that bankrupted more than two dozen manufacturers is forecast to spur a tripling of investment in renewables by 2030 and to reduce the grip fossil fuels have on world energy supply.
Annual spending on clean-energy projects that don’t add to greenhouse-gas pollution may rise to $630 billion at the end of the next decade from $190 billion last year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in a report today. That’s 37 percent more than estimated in November 2011 and means renewables would account for half of all generation capacity by 2030.
The findings contrast with production gluts that made most solar and wind manufacturers unprofitable last year, tipping a unit of Suntech Power Holdings Co. (STP) into bankruptcy andVestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS) into record losses. While suppliers are suffering, lower equipment prices are making more projects profitable to develop and advancing the day when renewables can rival coal and oil on cost.
“The apocalyptic views about what it will cost to shift the world to renewable energy simply aren’t true,” Michael Liebreich, chief executive officer of New Energy Finance, said in an interview. “Three years ago, we thought wind and solar would be cheap as chips, and they’ve even gone below that.”
Read the whole article here. 

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Study Concludes that FracFocus is Not Good Enough as a Compliance Tool

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Truck Hauling Sand for Shale Operations Overturns in Fatal Carroll County Crash

From the Times Reporter:
Troopers identified the man as James C. Masterson, 54, of Poland, Ohio. Masterson was pronounced dead at Aultman Hospital in Canton.
Masterson was driving a 2012 Freightliner tractor-trailer southbound at 5:24 p.m. on Route 9, just south of Autumn Road, when he failed to negotiate a right curve and lost control. The tractor-trailer overturned and went off the left side of the road.
At the time, he was hauling 44,000 pounds of sand in conjunction with the oil and gas exploration industry.
The whole article can be viewed here.  The accident is still under investigation.

We extend our sincere condolences to Mr. Masterson's family and friends.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Report Says Shale Boom is Adding Little to U.S. Economic Growth

From Business Insider:
The Washington Post's Brad Plumer points us to a note from Capital Economics' Paul Dales that makes a fairly radical assertion: America's shale boom has barely moved the needle on domestic economic growth. 
While the industry accounts for 2.5% of overall GDP, it's contributed just 0.6 percentage points (ppts) to the 7.6% rise in GDP since the recession, he says. Exploration and production investment has increased by 56%, but this represents only a $36 billion chunk of to real GDP, or 0.3 ppts of the increase.
Read the whole article here. 

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Another Article Jumps in to Throw Cold Water on Utica Shale Naysayers

From the Tribune Chronicle:
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimated there was up to 5.5 billion barrels of oil reserves, something The MotLey Fool now says "might have been a bit too optimistic."
But, wait, it followed that up with, "That doesn't mean that the Utica isn't going to turn out to be a very profitable play for some companies.
"In fact, for the right operator that has the right location, the Utica looks like it will turn out to be a very important driver of both profit and production growth for years to come."
So, while expectations may be scaled back, it's a matter of recalibrating a tape-measure home run to one that just clears the fence.
It's still a home run.
Read the rest of the article here. 

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Chesapeake Opens Field Office in Belmont County

From The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register:
Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy extracts hundreds of barrels of oil and millions of cubic feet of natural gas in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle each day.
And the driller now has a field office open in Ohio at Fox Commerce Park, just west of St. Clairsville, a facility that Sue Douglass believes could soon be home to many workers.
"We anticipate there being over 100 employees going in and out of there," said Douglass, Belmont County Community Improvement Corp. and Department of Development director. "They have told us they want to hire local people, but they always direct people to their website for hiring."
Read the whole article here. 

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Reviews Start to Appear for Gasland Part II

Josh Fox and Yoko Ono bask
in the spotlight together at
the Gasland Part II premiere
Reviews are starting to pop up for Gasland Part II in the aftermath of its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

From Science in Film:
The audience rose for a standing ovation after the sold-out Gasland Part II documentary. It was a world premier of the new movie on fracking held at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 21. This movie shows film and entertainment at its best, informing and enlightening the audience on an important, global political issue of our time.
Fracking became a dirty word after it contaminated water and land in Pennsylvania and Wyoming communities. Fracking is a type of gas drilling that uses hundreds of toxic chemicals injected into deep wells. The drilling breaks up shale rock and forces out subterranean shale gas. Gasland, the 2010 movie in the documentary film genre, followed the dirty trail of chemicals. They went from gas drilling to the waterways and then into water faucets in homes - that lit explosively on fire.
The film Gasland was nominated for an Academy Award in 2010. It blew up the volatile issue of fracking into a full scale environmental battle. Scientists, doctors, artists and grass roots community groups joined the cause all across the United States. Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon started Artists Against Fracking to speak out with the arts. The movie inspired me to write a novel about fracking that came out in 2012, called Brindle 24, the last day in the life of a town.
Read the rest here.  So the target audience - those that accepted everything in Gasland - seems to like it.

From oil and gas industry media arm Energy in Depth:
Was this the best Josh Fox could do? Apparently so. It was a totally disjointed presentation, with every significant allegation having already been addressed in great detail by Energy In Depth and other independent experts. Adding to the surreal nature of the film was the fact it began with a positive statement about natural gas by President Obama.
Fox is apparently now at a point where everyone is his enemy, from industry, to landowners who question his assertions, to major environmental organizations who don’t share his tactics, to even the President of the United States who sees value in natural gas as an energy source.  It all suggests a man who knows he’s on the losing side and is striking out at any and all who don’t accept the purist view, the one that gave him his 15 minutes of fame, which is now slowly slipping away. 
No wonder Fox is scared.  The game is up.  Gasland Part II isn’t a sequel.  It’s the death rattle of a burnt out movie going up in flames.  It’s Gasland Too, after all.
Read the rest here.  So, not surprisingly, the industry is going to tear the movie to shreds.

And then there is the case of FrackNation producers Phelim McAleer and Ann McIlhenney, who were planning to post reviews of the film but were excluded from attending the premiere after directing questions to Josh Fox as he was talking to the media on the red carpet prior to the screening.  Both have shared their thoughts on being barred from the screening.  First, from McAleer via the New York Post:
This was supposed to be a column about “Gasland 2,” the sequel to the anti-fracking documentary by activist Josh Fox, which premiered Sunday afternoon at the Tribeca Film Festival. Instead, it’s about my exclusion, along with maybe 20 farmers from upstate New York and Pennsylvania, from the screening despite having tickets for a theater with lots of empty seats.
Our mistake was to believe the Tribeca Film Festival’s claims to want diversity of opinion and people who are passionate about film.
As a journalist who made a documentary looking at the factual deficiencies in the first “Gasland,” I put some inconvenient questions to Josh Fox as he was speaking to the media on the red carpet.
The farmers milling around nearby decided to join in with pointed but respectful questions of their own. After all, they know their land better than anyone, and they felt aggrieved that their lives and communities had been misrepresented by the first “Gasland.”
You can read the rest of that article here.  Meanwhile, McAleer's wife and co-producer McIlhenney writes:
This should be a review of the documentary Gasland 2, the second documentary by anti-Fracking activist Josh Fox. It’s not a review because I was denied access to watch the film and I had a ticket. I wasn’t the only one. Crowds of farmers from PA and NYC who had bought tickets online a week ago and travelled since 4.30 in the morning were also denied access. 
How could this have happened? How could this have happened at the TriBeCa Film Festival which prides itself on the joys of diversity, controversy, artistic freedoms, free speech? 
The journey for those farmers to those closed doors at TriBeCa tells a worrying depressing lesson about the state of the US, the state of the union.
Read the rest of her statement here, at The Greenroom.

So much controversy and excitement.  And yet, it all seems to be so anti-climactic.  After all, regardless of the details, anyone could have known ahead of time that those opposed to fracking will love Gasland Part II, Energy in Depth and the industry in general would hate it, and that McAleer and McIlhenney would be upset about something that Josh Fox said or did.  All of these things have happened just in the past couple of days, and yet it somehow feels like really old news.

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2 More Ohio Landowners Find Themselves Forced into Drilling Units

...with your land
From Oil & Gas Law Report:
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) recently issued two more unitization orders pursuant to R.C. 1509.28. These two orders bring the total number to four since the beginning of the Utica Shale play.
As we discussed after the last order was released, this statute is becoming a valuable tool for operators as they cobble together the rights to drill horizontal production wells. In the early stages of the Utica shale play, each new unitization order is noteworthy for operators who are trying to plan drilling units and to help companies evaluate their lease holdings.
The process of unitization is conceptually related to mandatory pooling (R.C. § 1509.27), and is part of our ongoing blog series on Ohio’s compelled participation laws. (Read part 1 and part 2.). A unitization order allows oil and gas operators to join, or unitize, recalcitrant mineral owners to create large tracts of land — often comprising hundreds of acres — necessary to profitably and efficiently produce hydrocarbons from shale formations while protecting each owner’s correlative rights.
On March 28, the Chief of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management (DOGRM — the oil and gas wing of ODNR) issued two orders to BP America Production Company (BP): the Lennington Unit and the Zerovich Unit.
Read the details of the orders here. 

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