Saturday, November 24, 2012

PA Marcellus News Digest 11/21/12

PA Marcellus News Digest
November 21, 2012


Marcellus-Related Benefits Expanding Across Philadelphia Region
Nov 20
Pittsburgh, Pa. – The safe, tightly-regulated development of clean-burning domestic natural gas is “firing up an old-fashioned American industrial revival,” strengthening “America's role in the world,” and putting Pennsylvania on a path toward becoming an “American energy superpower,” all while “saving U.S. consumers billions” in more affordable energy costs. These positive benefits continue to take root across Pennsylvania – both in active drilling regions as well as in the greater Philadelphia area, where consumers are realizing huge energy cost savings and manufacturing is coming roaring back.


Maryland gas drilling panel may require pollution insurance
Nov 20
BALTIMORE — A state panel that is devising rules for hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in western Maryland may require drillers to have pollution insurance.

People have opinions about Marcellus Shale
Washington County residents are more hopeful and worried
Nov 21
People around greater Pittsburgh agree Marcellus Shale exploration is both an economic opportunity and to a lesser extent an environmental worry, with those feelings amplified in the natural gas hub of Washington County, survey results say.

Gas wells considered in Robinson, Washington County
Andrea Iglar
Nov 20
Range Resources-Appalachia LLC of Cecil is applying to drill the Marcellus Shale on two properties in Robinson, Washington County.

Critical Facts: Support For Gas Drilling Highest Where It Takes Place and Pittsburgh Region Supports Gas Drilling Nearly 2-1
John Hanger's Facts of The Day
Nov 21
A critical fact that has been lost in the sea of ink used to report on gas development is that gas drilling enjoys its strongest support, where it is taking place, and engenders the most opposition where it is not being done.

IEA World Energy Outlook Projects Stunning US & Global Solar Numbers
John Hanger's Facts of The Day
Nov 20
How fast is the sun rising? And is shale gas damaging the solar boom in the US and around the world?  The IEA 2012 World Energy Outlook has data that help to answer these questions.
Energy Department Grant Will Promote Nat Gas Vehicles in Philadelphia Area
NPR State Impact
Susan Phillips
Nov 20
A need for accurate natural gas production
Public Opinion
Matthew Major
Nov 21
Here in Pennsylvania, our lawmakers are masters of the apparently unintended legislative consequence.
As usual, the one we're about to discuss has its roots in the state's years-long exercise in allowing the natural gas industry to walk all over us.

Locally, gas companies largely unaffected by Hurricane Sandy
Daily Review
Johnny Williams
Nov 20
Hurricane Sandy pounded the Northeast in late October, causing widespread power outages, dangerous winds and even heavy amounts of snow along areas in its path. It was described by some as a "Superstorm" that many may not see again in their lifetimes.

In the oil patch, zoning is no stranger to drilling
E&E News
Mike Soraghan
Nov 21
(full text below)
MIDLAND, Texas -- Wes Perry, the CEO of a midsized drilling company in this oil and gas town, says city government has piled on so many regulations, it's pointless to drill a well inside the city limits.

"It doesn't make economic sense," said Perry, standing in the back of KD's Bar-B-Q, a local favorite. "It adds a few hundred thousand dollars for each well. That's 10 or 20 percent more."

But that doesn't mean he dislikes the rules. He wrote them, or at least helped write them, as part of his other job -- mayor of Midland.

"We want to protect the safety of our citizens," Perry explained to a group of journalists visiting Midland last month. "We say we try to force the landowner and the operator to get along."

Across the country, state officials are banding together with the oil and gas industry to head off the kind of local regulation that routinely happens in Texas with little fanfare.

The administration of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is suing the city of Longmont, a suburban community north of Denver, to overturn its ban on drilling in residential neighborhoods. In the election earlier this month, residents voted to add a citywide ban on hydraulic fracturing (EnergyWire, Nov. 7).

Earlier this year, Pennsylvania legislators and Gov. Tom Corbett (R) blocked towns from placing zoning restrictions on the oil and gas industry with the law commonly known as "Act 13" (EnergyWire, Oct. 18). Cities and townships are fighting the law in court, but Kathryn Klaber, head of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a Pittsburgh-based industry group, says "lack of uniformity has long been an Achilles' heel" for drilling in Pennsylvania.

But lack of uniformity hasn't pinched development in Texas. The Lone Star State still accounts for the lion's share of drilling in the United States. The rig count in the Permian Basin that surrounds Midland has doubled since the beginning of 2010. Perry says about 10 companies drill within the city limits.

And in Oklahoma, where the fervor for drilling is no less intense, some cities flat-out ban drilling within their city limits. Among them is Tulsa, which once billed itself as the Oil Capital of the World.

Such "home rule" authority has been challenged. In recent years, state legislators sympathetic to industry have tried to restrict Texas cities' authority to place zoning restrictions on drilling, but they haven't been successful.

Midland has imposed a 500-foot setback from buildings and homes. The city requires fencing around reserve pits and can require landscaping around the well.

"It's when you have an oil well getting drilled that it's a problem. It's a disruption people don't want to deal with," Perry said. "Once it's drilled, people have less of a problem with a house next to the well."

Perry knows this well. He was unhappy to find recently that another oilman had acquired rights to oil and gas under his land, which meant a well drilled near his home. He negotiated with his fellow driller and came to what he described -- with a tight grin -- as a mutually satisfactory resolution.

Perry's company, EGL Resources Inc., has done about 400 wells in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico. It also has an oil shale division with a 160-acre research and development lease in western Colorado.

Perry said the effort to put some restrictions on drilling began in 2009 when developers and others grew concerned that drilling and development were on a path to collide in the city.

A group of about 20 people representing various interests got together to start finding workable rules and brought them to the city council. The process took about 18 months.

They never tried to ban drilling in the area, he explained. They recognized that Texas law, as in most states, puts the property rights of the owners of underground oil and gas above the property rights of the "surface" landowner.

"So, if you start with the assumption that 'minerals' trump 'surface,' the question is how you find something compatible," said Perry, who has been mayor since 2008.

They also kept in mind that Midland is first and foremost an oil and gas town.

"For us not to be friendly would have been very hypocritical," Perry said. "People said, 'If Midland can't be fair, then nobody can.'"

And as a city official, he doesn't view oil wells as a bad thing. In contrast to, say, housing, the wells generate tax dollars with relatively little need for expensive services like trash collection.

Perry's view of orderly development is a far cry from Gardendale, an unincorporated area of small homes between Midland and Odessa. An independent driller is looking at drilling up to 300 wells in the community, which is a little more than 11 square miles in size.

"They're talking about a well every 600 feet and a pad every 300 feet," said Shane Leverett, who lives in Gardendale. "Do the math. There's not much room left over for us."

Leverett and some neighbors banded together to form the Gardendale Accountability Project. County governments in Texas don't zone. So they tried to get the area to incorporate last year into a city with zoning power. But residents voted it down, so drilling there is subject only to state rules.

But just because cities can restrict drilling doesn't mean they all do. The neighboring oil and gas town of Odessa, Perry noted, has taken a different path.

"They have very few restrictions," Perry said, "and I've never heard of any problems."

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