Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Penn. Marcellus News Update, 5/9/12

Shale Gas Hype: Subprime 2.0?

If my RSS reader is any guide, most of the press about shale gas has focused on two issues. First, shale gas is in considerable supply, cheap to produce, and burns far cleaner than other fossil fuels. Second, shale gas does not look so hot environmentally, all in. Fracking can pollute ground water (and potable water is our most scarce resource) and releases enough methane to make shale gas as detrimental as coal. Still, it has been treated as the Great Hope for America’s energy woes, a way to turn the US into an exporter, and maybe it will cure cancer too. Obama touted 100 years of shale gas reserves, and manufacturers envision an American revival based on cheap fuel.
The problem is that the good part of this story is largely wrong. Shale gas supplies are overestimated, and it is not as cheap as it has been touted to be. The big reason is that shale gas wells, unlike oil wells, peter out really quickly. The result is that the viability of shale gas as a solution to America’s high energy consumption level is only on an interim basis. Shale gas is more likely to be a stopgap, a 25 year solution rather than a 100 one.

Obama Warms to Energy Industry by Supporting Natural Gas

Huddled around the West Wing table were an unlikely group of co-conspirators with the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.
One participant had been fighting Obama’s proposal to raise taxes by $24 billion on oil companies; another had complained that a federal labor board is hampering hiring; a third pushed Congress to repeal Obama’s provision to clean up pollution from boilers. On the one issue they were called to discuss on that April day, however, they could rally around the Democratic administration: its recent embrace of natural gas.
Silencing Communities: How the Fracking Industry Keeps Its Secrets
The "Rogers" family signed a surface-use agreement with a fracking company in 2009 to close their 300-acre dairy farm in rural Pennsylvania. That's not the end of the Rogers' story, but the public, including the Rogers' own neighbors, may never learn what happened to the family and their land as drilling operations sprouted up in their area. The Rogers did not realize they had signed a nondisclosure agreement with the gas company making the entire deal invalid if members of the family discussed the terms of the agreement, water or land disturbances resulting from fracking and other information with anyone other than the gas company and other signatories.
Natural-gas development appears to be having a positive effect on the local collection of state taxes in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale region, according to an analysis by researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

"Because it's still early in the development of Marcellus Shale, there's a lot we can't know yet about its long-term economic impact," said Timothy Kelsey, professor of agricultural economics. "However, state tax collection information gathered by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue can provide insight into the short-run economic and tax implications of gas development."
Many Cecil Township residents made their way to the podium at Monday night's supervisors meeting to discuss proposed seismic testing for Marcellus Shale gas drilling, zoning and fire issues.
An attorney for Range Resources, Kenneth Komoroski, told the board that Range needed to re-negotiate ordinance terms for seismic testing as well as demonstrate the seismic method using “thumper” trucks on township roads.
“We’d like to show that the method doesn’t cause damage … in any case, if damage occurs, Range would pay for it—the road, the property,” Komoroski said...Rose Churray, of Shihart, asked of assurances if damage does occur how accountability is ensured. “What is someone supposed to do if they have damage and they can’t prove it? I have huge cracks in my foundation after Dawson came on to my property without my permission and conducted seismic testing,” she said.
Now that ConocoPhillips has agreed to sell its Trainer refinery to Delta Air Lines, and Sunoco Inc. is engaged in talks to run its Philadelphia refinery as a joint venture, the immediate fate of only one of the region's endangered refineries remains clouded in uncertainty.
Sunoco's Marcus Hook refinery, which company officials say aroused no interest from potential buyers to run as a refinery, is being groomed instead as a potential multipurpose industrial site for storing, handling, and even processing fuel, including by-products from the Marcellus Shale region.
The Delaware County Industrial Development Authority this month is expected to complete a fast-track study to explore possible uses for the site, said J. Patrick Killian, director of the county Commerce Center. Sunoco idled the refinery in December, citing mounting losses and diminished markets for refined products.

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