Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pennsylvania Marcellus News, April 11-20

Disclaimer: As a public service, I provide a round-up of news related to Marcellus Shale gas in Pennsylvania on a roughly weekly basis.  Although I may add a snarky comment now and then, my entries are meant to accurately reflect the stories and I provide links directly to original source. Occasionally I may provide a bit of background on the issue. You should always check the articles themselves for details. My rules for aggregating the stories are as follows:
1) The story must relate in some way to shale gas issues in the state of Pennsylvania.
2) Sources are mainly from general news sources. PR opinion pieces from industry, environmental or political websites are not included. If I find something of interest in one of those places, I comment on them in separate posts.
3) Blogs and editorials are usually not included unless they contain hard information that readers can check. These will be posted under Editorials.

Politics and Policy
The state Public Utility Commission may build a facility to train more pipeline inspectors.

Robert M. Summers, acting secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, wants the federal government more involved in regulating fracking.

The U.S. Senate is holding hearings on fracking in the Marcellus and other formations.

Dr. Conrad Volz of Pitt testified before a congressional committee on fracking. He also announced he is leaving Pitt and unfinished research. He has not published his findings form the research conducted to date.

More than 200 people attended a Marcellus forum in Wellsville. The meeting "included experts from the drilling industry, a health researcher, a consultant opposed to hydrofracking and county Legislator Kevin LaForge of Wellsville, chairman of the county Special Communications & Technology Ad Hoc Committee."

A $6.8 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery II (Tiger II) federal grant has been awarded to upgrade and repair bridges and 200 miles of track in Lycoming, Centre, Blair and Northumberland counties for use iin supporting Marcellus drilling operations.  The project is estimated to provide 300 jobs.

Meanwhile, state budget cuts to Penn State will result in cuts to agricultural research programs and possibly also Marcellus Shale educational workshops for landowners, local governments, businesses and chambers of commerce.
Chesapeake Energy Corporation says it will disclose hydraulic fracturing chemicals in a web-based database.

Robert Howarth of Cornell has published a study asserting that natural gas from shale is worse than coal for releasing greenhouse gases. A brief explanation, as this story is genearting a lot of commentary.  Prevailing perception is that burning natural gas releases less CO2 than coal for an equivalent amount of energy. The problem arises not as a result of the CO2 from combustion, but rather from natural gas itself, which is largely methane. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas (absorbs more heat) than carbon dioxide and any leaked methane (known as fugitive gas) would end up in the atmosphere. Howarth contends that the amount of fugitive methane cancels out any reduced CO2 from burning shale gas instead of coal.  More opinions on it can be found in the blog Class M and comments therein.

The DEP  is urging drillers to stop sending wastewater to 15 treatment plants.

100 people turned out at a protest against Range Resources.

Business and Operations
Last update I posted on news that lawyers are getting more business due to Marcellus operations, you can add landscape architects to the list of professions that may find more opportunities.

Eureka Resources, operator of a treatment plant for fracking waste water, is spending $18 million for 3 new flowback treatment units.

Consol Energy Inc. has drilled 13 wells in the Marcellus shale in the first quarter, which is ahead of its schedule of 70 wells for the whole year.

Gas drillers are offering millions to drill on land belonging to the tiny North Branch Land Trust.

A Canadian company, GasFrac Energy Services Inc. says it has developed an alternative fracking fluid using liquified petroleum gas and three "chemical additives".

Marcellus Shale gas industry pays taxes, but not many.

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