Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Penn. Marcellus News Update 5/15/12

Gas-rich states lose fracking lottery
While Pennsylvania, northwestern Louisiana and gas-rich areas around the Gulf of Mexico are losing jobs and revenue as the fracking industry shrinks after a price collapse, oil-rich North Dakota and Texas are in the midst of a boom.

Other winners in the fracking lottery include central and southern Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio and Wyoming, where the economy is expanding and revenues are climbing..."These rigs are moving to Texas or other places to drill wells ... for oil instead of natural gas," he said.
With Gas Boom, Pennsylvania Fears New Toxic Legacy
The first one came from coal mining. All over the state, you can see bright orange rivers and streams. The aquatic life was killed by acidic runoff from abandoned mines.
"Are we really going to let this happen to Pennsylvania again?" asks David Yoxtheimer, a hydrologist at Penn State who grew up here. "Are we going to make sure that we have enough money and that these companies' feet are held to the fire to make sure that once their operations are done, they put everything back together, tidy it up, and make it look like nothing happened there in the first place?"
Separate reports question safety of fracking wastewater
The NRDC report, "In Fracking's Wake: New Rules Are Needed to Protect Our Health and Environment from Contaminated Wastewater," examines the five hydrofracking wastewater disposal practices of natural gas companies used in Pennsylvania in 2011.
The five wastewater disposal practices presently in use are recycling for additional hydrofracking, treatment and discharge to surface waters, underground injection, storage in open air pits and spreading on roads for ice or dust control.

NRDC estimates more than 30 million gallons of wastewater were disposed of in Pennsylvania last year, with a majority of the wastewater being released into bodies of water, including drinking supplies.
Another report, released by Environmental Advocates of New York a week prior to the NRDC's study, suggested state laws on disposing hydrofracking wastewater do not hold natural gas companies accountable enough for their methods of treating the waste.

That study, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind," reviewed 100 hydrofracking permits issued to natural gas companies since 2005. According to the report, the state Department of Conservation asks two questions on waste disposal to potential drillers. The first question asks how drilling fluids will be disposed of, with the second question asking how fracturing brine, the gallons of water contaminated after coming into contact with natural gas and fracturing chemicals, will be disposed of.
 Shale drilling will play a role in Erie-area economy
The state Department of Environmental Protection's most recent report on gas well permits suggests that the shale drilling boom has yet to arrive in our corner of Pennsylvania.

So far, no shale wells have been drilled or permitted in Erie or Crawford counties.

It's only a matter of time before that changes, said Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group with more than 300 members.

"There is no reason why the birthplace of the oil and gas industry won't play a major role," Klaber said Monday morning during a break from a seminar at Penn State Behrend, sponsored by the coalition, the Northwest Industrial Resource Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
UB report says fracking getting safer
A new study released today by the University at Buffalo concludes that state oversight and better industry practices have significantly reduced the risk of major environmental problems stemming from drilling high-volume natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale region in Pennsylvania.
The report, which examined nearly 3,000 reported violations at almost 4,000 Pennsylvania natural gas wells between January 2008 and August 2011, found that nearly two-thirds of the violations were administrative in nature and less than two of every five were linked to environmental concerns.
The report from UB's new Shale Resources and Society Institute, also found that there was slightly less than three environmental violations for every five wells drilled during 2008. During the first eight months of 2011, there was a little more than one environmental violation for every four new wells drilled — less than half the 2008 level.
Chesapeake to slow land acquisition, focus on oil and gas-liquids drilling
Chesapeake Energy may be focusing on drilling in the Marcellus and Utica shales after company executives told investors this morning they plan to focus on oil- and liquids-rich holdings and slow their rapid-fire land acquisitions.
In the latest conference call hoping to calm skittish investors and share prices, Chesapeake chief executive officer Aubrey McClendon said his firm will temper land grabs and focus on shale acreage like that in Appalachia that comes loaded with lucrative natural-gas liquids and oil.
Mr. McClendon is under pressure from investors who say his company is borrowing and leveraging assets at an unsustainable rate.
The nation's second-largest natural-gas producer, Chesapeake has a reputation for aggressively acquiring land in nearly every North American shale play. The company became the dominant driller of the Marcellus Shale through a series of land swaps and flips.
Citing “Mounting Turmoil,” S&P Downgrades Chesapeake’s Credit Rating
It seems like we’re writ­ing “more bad news for Chesa­peake Energy” at least twice a week these days.
The lat­est bad news comes from Stan­dard and Poors, which has down­graded the nat­ural gas-driller’s credit rat­ing to “BB-”.
 Sick From Fracking? Doctors, Patients Seek Answers
Kay Allen had just started work, and everything seemed quiet at the Cornerstone Care community health clinic in Burgettstown, Pa. But things didn't stay quiet for long.
"All the girls, they were yelling at me in the back, 'You gotta come out here quick. You gotta come out here quick,' " said Allen, 59, a nurse from Weirton, W.Va.
Allen rushed out front and knew right away what all the yelling was about. The whole place reeked — like someone had spilled a giant bottle of nail polish remover.
"I told everybody to get outside and get fresh air. So we went outside. And Aggie said, 'Kay, I'm going to be sick.' But before I get in, to get something for her to throw up in, she had to go over the railing," she said.
Nothing like this had ever happened in the 20 years that Allen has been at the clinic. After about 45 minutes, she thought the coast was clear and took everyone back inside.
Richard Rinehart, who runs the rural clinic, can't help but wonder whether the natural gas drilling going on all around the area may have something to do with what's been happening.
"I lay in bed at night thinking all kinds of theories. Is something coming through the air from some process that they're using? I know they use a lot of chemicals and so forth. Certainly that could be a culprit. We're wondering, Is something coming through the ground?" Rinehart said, noting that he'd just noticed a new drill on a hill overlooking the back of the clinic.
Now, no one knows whether the gas drilling has anything to do with the problems at the clinic. It could easily turn out to be something completely unrelated. There's a smelting plant down the road and old coal mines everywhere.
"Anything could be possible, and we just are trying to get to the root of it," he said.
 Deadliest Danger Isn’t at the Rig but on the Road
When they were just 10 minutes from home, the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The truck veered off the highway and slammed into a sign that sheared off part of the vehicle’s side, killing Mr. Roth.
About two months before the fatal crash, Mr. Roth nearly died in a similar accident when another co-worker with the same company fell asleep at the wheel after a long shift and ran the company’s truck into a pole. In 2009, Mr. Roth’s employer  was penalized in New York, Pennsylvania and Utah for violations like “requiring or permitting” its oil field truckers to drive after working for 14 hours, the legal limit.
Over the past decade, more than 300 oil and gas workers like Mr. Roth were killed in highway crashes, the largest cause of fatalities in the industry. Many of these deaths were due in part to oil field exemptions from highway safety rules that allow truckers to work longer hours than drivers in most other industries, according to safety and health experts.

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