Monday, May 14, 2012

Penn. Marcellus News Update 5/14/12

Gas exploration company countersues Beaver County landowners
An Ohio oil and gas exploration company today countersued 18 Beaver County landowners saying the company has lost money as a result of their lawsuit challenging the validity of the oil and gas leases it sold to a natural gas company.
Kevin and Connie McRoberts and 16 neighboring landowners say that O&G Investment Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Petro Evaluation Services Inc. of Wooster, Ohio, deceived them into signing leases that Chesapeake Energy Corp. of Oklahoma City now holds.
Chesapeake Energy contends the leases are valid and has filed an answer denying the claims in the lawsuit.
Sand mining coming to a town near you
The process known as “fracking,” for hydraulic fracturing, is used by natural gas and oil drillers to more easily get the fossil fuels out of the ground, requires sand that is nearly perfectly round and has strength to withstand the process. Sand, water and toxic chemicals are blasted into wells, creating fissures in the rock and freeing hard-to-reach pockets of oil and natural gas. Mining firms can get $200 a ton for the sand...
And fracking has also hit the national dialogue as the federal government has issued standards for air and water pollution by some fracking drillers. The fracking sand rush started about three years ago in Wisconsin. Now, at least 16 frac-sand mines and processing facilities are running, and at least 25 more mines are planned across 15 Wisconsin counties.
Once the open pit mines began moving earth, neighbors got worried about all the dust in the air. The process has raised fears of health problems from land, air, and groundwater pollution which could include cancer and silicosis, a potentially fatal lung disease.
Is Pennsylvania ignoring health issues on shale drilling?
The Pennsylvania Department of Health says it investigates every claim by residents that gas drilling has caused health problems, but several people say the agency's actions don't match its words.
Two Western Pennsylvania residents told The Associated Press that health officials have fallen short in responding to their health complaints.
The AP also found that the toll-free number the agency gives out for gas drilling complaints doesn't mention the issue in its automated menu, and the agency's website doesn't have a specific place for people to file such complaints.
And the AP inquiry showed that the agency didn't begin keeping track of possible health complaints tied to gas drilling until 2011, several years after a surge of activity in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale.
Corbett Wants More Natural Gas-Powered Vehicles On Pennsylvania Roads
Gov­er­nor Cor­bett has made it clear he’s going to push gov­ern­ments to con­vert to nat­ural gas-powered vehi­cles over the next few years. Speak­ing to Philadelphia’s WPHT-AM last week, Cor­bett pointed out declin­ing nat­ural gas prices have led to a slow-down in drilling at Penn­syl­va­nia sites. He said the state gov­ern­ment can play a role in bring­ing the price back up, telling host Dom Gior­dano, “One of the areas where we’re look­ing now, is how do we help peo­ple increase the demand?”
In addi­tion to build­ing more pipelines to trans­port the gas, Cor­bett said he wants the state to “start con­vert­ing the fleets of cars…to nat­ural gas vehi­cles. …So that [drillers] have a mar­ket so they can go to Detroit to get Detroit to start build­ing the vehicles.”
2 public meetings on gas pipeline across Brandywine Creek
The Williams Gas Pipeline’s proposal to install conduits for natural gas across the Brandywine Creek will be discussed during two public meetings this week.  State Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19th of West Whiteland, has invited Williams representatives to present their plan to local elected and environmental leaders at a meeting hosted by the Brandywine Conservancy at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford. Local water-resource experts have been invited to the meeting to analyze the plan, ask questions and suggest possible alternatives or conditions.
Op-Ed: The man heads which agency?
Has the Keystone State's top environmental official missed his calling?
Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer might be better suited as a rep for the Chamber of Commerce or, better yet, for the gas-drilling industry. His recent remarks certainly don't reflect zeal for protecting the environment.
Krancer lambasted the state of Delaware for standing in the way of drilling within the Delaware River watershed in northeastern Pennsylvania. Neighboring Wayne and Pike counties lie atop the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale deposit. Like Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, Delaware is part of the Delaware River Basin Commission, which has imposed a moratorium on gas drilling within the basin pending an agreement among commissioners from all four states on regulations. Krancer says Delaware's concerns about what drilling might do to the environment are political, not environmental, because Delaware doesn't draw drinking water from the Delaware River.
Chesapeake Takes Texas Oil Sale Off Table to Keep Cash
Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK), the worst- performing U.S. oil and natural-gas stock this year, postponed a sale of future production from Texas oilfields and the spinoff of its drilling subsidiary as slumping prices worsened a cash crunch.
The company canceled plans to raise as much as $1 billion this year through a so-called volumetric production payment from its Eagle Ford wells in south Texas, Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon said during a conference call with analysts today. An initial public offering for Chesapeake’s oilfield- services unit also is on hold until at least next year, he said...Chesapeake has lost 22 percent of its market value in the past four weeks amid concern that private loans McClendon obtained using his personal stakes in company wells as collateral conflict with his professional duties.
House Democrats unveil ‘Marcellus Compact’ to fix flawed shale drilling law
House Democrats today launched a renewed effort to fix Gov. Tom Corbett’s industry-friendly Marcellus Shale law (Act 13), offering a six-point plan – the Marcellus Compact.

Noting that the new law provides one of the lowest tax rates in the nation on natural gas drillers and weak environmental protections, House Democrats unveiled their Marcellus Compact – a promise to put the interests of Pennsylvanians first, rather than the oil and gas industry for whom, and by whom, Act 13 was written.

"House Democrats are committed to a strong Marcellus Shale law that puts Pennsylvania taxpayers, workers and families first, unlike the current law supported by Governor Corbett and his allies, which is a sweetheart deal for the multi-billion-dollar oil and gas industry," said Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny. "The Marcellus Compact places Pennsylvania’s priorities where they ought to be – with the people who live and work here, not with wealthy, multinational oil and gas corporations."
Report: Pickens sells shares in Chesapeake Energy
Billionaire and former oil magnate T. Boone Pickens’s investment firm has reportedly sold more than half a million shares in Chesapeake Energy, the embattled natural-gas company.

But he told Bloomberg the decision has nothing to do with the controversy over Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon’s financial dealings.

“We do not own Chesapeake stock. We didn’t like natural gas,” Pickens told Bloomberg, adding that the decision to sell the shares was not related to the “politics of the company.” 
New Yorkers Against Fracking Group To Hold Rally, Concert In Albany

New Yorkers Against Fracking, a new coalition of organizations calling for a fracking ban, plans a rally and multi-media concert Tuesday afternoon and evening. The event features actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo acting as hosts of the concert at the Egg Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets range from $40 to $150.

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