Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Marcellus News Roundup, April 11

Politics, Policy and Legal Issues
Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania are pushing bills that "use tax credits and grants to expand the number of natural gas-powered vehicles on the state's roads." The state goal is to encourage that gas drilled in PA is used here.

Drilling companies are suing or threatening to sue Mt. Pleasant and North Bethlehem Townships over regulations the local governments have passed. 

Plum Borough is discussing restrictions on where drilling can occur within the borough's jurisdiction.

Class action and personal injury lawyers are anticipating work resulting from accidents and environmental disaster scenarios related to Marcellus drilling.

Along these lines, Marcellus Shale Oil and Gas Litigation Group has been formed in Bradford County to assist landowners with legal issues regarding leasing, royalties etc. related to gas drilling.

Business, Development and Operations
Terry Engelder, of Penn. State, is talking up the potential of other gas-bearing shales in Pennsylvania, the Utica and Upper Devonian Shale units. Please see his website for details on his research.

Despite 1,797 leases by Range Resources and Chesapeake Appalachia in Beaver County, development has been slow to date for a number of possible reasons, including a "depressed gas market."

Drilling around Williamsport has created such a demand for diesel and other mechanical technicians that other business are having trouble finding qualified applicants, at least according to anecdotal reports. Would be nice to see some hard numbers, and some interviews with the people who took the gas jobs over other ones. Not saying its not happening (and it would makes sense that it would), but this story reads like boosterism.

In Bradford County, where more wells have been drilled than any other county in PA, there is hard data on jobs, as the unemployment rate there has fallen to the lowest countywide in the state.

More jobs news: US Steel operations are returning to McKeesport for the first time since 1987. It is speculated that this is due to the demand for pipe and other tubular steel in drilling operations, so we don't have hard data that this development is indeed related to Marcellus development.

A Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce Gas Expo attracted hundreds - two hundreds in fact.

Another industry expo was held in the East Wing of the State Capital. Good use of public property...

New guidelines from the DEP will require twice-monthly testing for radioactive material in publicly owned waste-water treatment plants. Natural occurring radioactive minerals may be found in fracking waste and concern over contamination from these materials has become a contentious issue.

EPA head Lisa Jackson said she has tried to reach PA Governor Corbett to discuss drilling regulations, but he hasn't returned her calls. Corbett denies this. I would think the truth could be found in the phone records, not from some political staffer, but from the phone company.

Little bit of trivia, Ray Walker, Range Resources VP for Marcellus ops made $1.9 million in 2010.

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