Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Penn. Marcellus News Update 6/27/12

New Jersey Senate Bans Treatment of Fracking Waste
New Jersey legislators approved legislation on Monday banning the treatment or storage of fracking waste in the state.
The natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is not taking place in New Jersey. But legislators and environmentalists are concerned about the state’s proximity to Pennsylvania, a shale gas fracking hot spot that sends some drill cuttings and waste water to nearby states, including New York, for processing and treatment. New York is also currently considering allowing fracking upstate.
The New Jersey Assembly passed the ban last week, and the Senate voted for the bill on Monday, sending it to Gov. Chris Christie for his signature.
Concerns about water pollution from natural gas companies’ fracking operations are well documented, but have you heard about the fallout for the homes of low-income residents in Pennsylvania?
Mother Jones reports that 32 families are being forced out of the Riverdale Mobile Home Park in Jersey Shore, Penn., after hydraulic fracturing company Aqua America bought the property. Residents were notified in late February that they had to leave the trailer park by May 1. Families were offered $2,500 if they got out by April 1 or $1,500 if they moved by May 1, but lawyers later estimated that it cost $8,000 to $10,000 for each family to move.
Some residents reluctantly took the money and left, but others fought back, ultimately building a blockade against incoming construction vehicles in early June. Volunteers, including Occupy Cleveland activists, joined the effort.
MLPs that own and operate midstream infrastructure for processing and transporting oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGL) stand to benefit over the next several years from rising demand for takeaway capacity in prolific US shale oil and gas plays.
The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) estimates that the US and Canada will need to spend USD83.8 billion to build and expand enough midstream infrastructure to support the surge in onshore production. Although a trade organization that represents pipeline owners produced this report, many of the pricing and production assumptions underlying the INGAA’s estimates appear reasonable.
Demand for these midstream assets will be met by MLPs, setting the stage for the best-positioned names to grow their cash flow and quarterly distributions to unitholders. Rising cash flow and quarterly payouts inevitably add up to higher stock prices.
MLPs also continue to reap the rewards of an extraordinarily low cost of capital, the product of the Federal Reserve’s accommodative monetary policy. Because MLPs are pass-through entities that disburse the majority of their cash flow to their investors, publicly traded partnerships rely on the debt and equity markets to fund acquisitions and organic growth projects.
One more reason not to re-elect President Obama to a second term was provided last Friday, when Heather Zichal, the top White House energy aide, told reporters that she expects the Interior Department rules regulating hydraulic fracturing, dubbed fracking, to be completed by year's end.
Why are federal rules necessary since fracking has been successfully regulated at the state level for decades without a single documented case of groundwater contamination by fluids used in the process? Unless the regulations are so restrictive as to effectively end fracking as an energy tool in the name of safety, as has happened with offshore drilling and coal.
When you drill for nat­ural gas, for every gal­lon of gas pro­duced, some amount of waste­water gets cre­ated as well.
Some­times it can be sim­ple brine that can be dis­posed of in sim­ple ways, such as using it to melt  snow on Pennsylvania’s roads in win­ter. Or to keep the dust down in summer.
But the waste­water can also be pretty nasty stuff, which can’t be cleaned up by water treat­ment plants. One option is to dump it down an old gas well, shoot­ing it deep into the earth. It’s a method used in thou­sands of wells across the coun­try.  Only five of those cur­rently oper­ate in Pennsylvania. A pro­posal to add to that num­ber is stir­ring con­cern among some who live in War­ren County, Penn­syl­va­nia, near the New York state border.
By the end of the month, supporters of Shell Oil Corporation’s proposed $3.2 billion ethane cracker petrochemical plant may learn if state legislators are willing to approve tax credits and incentives that will allow the project to move forward in Beaver County, Pennsylvania....

“The benefits of employing up to 20,000 Pennsylvanians and lowering the raw materials cost for Pennsylvania manufacturers far outweigh the investment,’’ Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker said. “It’s not about politics; it’s about jobs. It’s about real people who rely on those jobs to pay their bills, feed their families and invest for retirement.’’ 

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