Pennsylvania County’s Dreams of Wealth Didn’t Work Out
Today there is no drilling in Wayne County, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its June 11 issue. The Delaware River Basin Commission, a regional regulatory agency, has declared a moratorium while it studies the environmental impact. Gas companies have invoked force majeure clauses to put their contracts with property owners on hold.
Investors who bought farmland are stuck, and farmers who expected to retire on gas royalties are back to eking out a living from agriculture.
Meanwhile, fracking opponents are brandishing the example of Wayne County as they fight shale energy exploration across the country.
Aubrey McClendon's and Chesapeake Energy's financial woes don't seem like they're going to improve in the very near future.
And that's good or bad news for the people of Pennsylvania -- depending on who you ask...
....And an article today from Pipeline editor Erich Schwartzel explains that Chesapeake also intends to hit up Ohio by putting up for sale more than 337,000 acres across 19 eastern Ohio counties. This will help the company's debt, regardless of whether or not it chooses to actually top the Utica Shale buried beneath.
My wife and I spend the summertime at a small farm in Susquehanna County in northeastern Pennsylvania, where our modest 18 acres (once many more) have been in her family since 1954. We in Hallstead, Pa., are smack-dab in the middle of hydraulic fracturing country, so the emerging fracking controversy in North Carolina is more than hypothetical to us.
The farm is only 19 miles from Dimock, the epicenter of gas drilling in the county and the small town featured in the opening scenes of “Gasland,” the HBO documentary on fracking. An indelible image from the documentary is of one Dimock homeowner turning on his kitchen faucet and igniting the methane that came out along with the water. The area has been full of methane for decades, though, and my wife remembers stories of flaming faucets from well before fracking began.
Four years ago, we signed a lease on our property to allow drilling. The money was attractive, and since literally everyone around us had signed up it would have been foolish for us to hold back. There was no way we could escape the widespread disruption of life in an area riddled with wells and active drilling operations.
A constitutional challenge by seven municipalities to Pennsylvania's new law regulating the growth of natural gas exploration is in the hands of seven Commonwealth Court judges upon a hearing on Wednesday in which they repeatedly challenged lawyers from both sides in the closely watched case.
The municipalities want the law overturned; the state wants the case thrown out. The judges could ask for more evidence before making a final ruling or could strike down only parts of the law. Lawyers said they expect a ruling within several months.
The heart of the argument is the extent of the state's power to tell municipalities where they must allow drilling-related activity, including rigs, waste pits, pipelines and the compressor and processing stations that help move gas from the underground Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania to consumers across the northeastern United States.
Amid Western Pennsylvania’s natural gas drilling boom a common refrain from area manufacturers has been a frustration in breaking into the industry supply chain that largely reaches back into companies out of energy-rich states like Texas or Oklahoma.
With that in mind a new study released by the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence aims to help local companies better understand the natural gas industry and then better see where they might fit into the supply chain.
Though natural gas is not being developed anywhere near Philadelphia, the Marcellus Shale Coalition on Wednesday launched an outreach effort to solicit questions from residents of Southeastern Pennsylvania about shale-gas extraction.
The coalition, an industry trade group, launched www.AskAboutShale.org, an online forum that asks readers to list questions about drilling, which the trade group says it will attempt to answer in a "fact-based" manner. The site also surveys respondents about their support or opposition to drilling. The online forum will be live from June 6 through July 20.