Thursday, July 19, 2012

Penn. Marcellus News Update 7/19/12

Sorry, I lied, more accurately lied to myself. I have not been able to get the commentary and analysis posts done as quickly as I promised, but I will. I underestimated the workload I have.
I haven't had daily news updates this week, but that is due in part to the small volume of stories directly related to Marcellus Shale development in Pennsylvania.

As always, click the headline for the original story in full.

Fracking's Footprint on Pennsylvania Forests
The latest issue of CSA News explores the potential impact of fracking on Pennsylvania’s forests as well as how the most troubling effects might be avoided or mitigated. Researchers have found, for example, that the heaviest gas development is occurring in the Susquehanna River basin—the source of more than half the water flowing into the embattled Chesapeake Bay. And nearly 25% of shale gas wells have gone into Pennsylvania’s last remaining tracts of unbroken, “core” forest, which is among the last intact forest in the entire Northeast, as well.
Do we really have 100 years of natural gas (NG) supply? Why did Chris Nelder claim that we have only 11 years or less NG supply left? The Potential Gas Committee, the EIA and the USGS gave different estimates of US NG resources. People may interpret the numbers wrong. They may not understand the differences between resource, reserve, and economical reserve.
The PGC claimed we have 2192 TCF of discovered and undiscovered potential NG resources. Marketed NG production was 22 BCF in 2010. So 2192 TCF divided by 22 BCF/year is about 100 years of supply.
I will show that it is naive to jump to a conclusion based on that.
The Difference Between Resource and Reserve
In the oil & gas industry, resource means the amount of gas or oil that remains underground, and reserve means what could be produced from the resource.
Only a portion of the resources could be recovered technically.
Only a portion of the technically recoverable resources could be produced economically.
Only a portion of the economically producible resources could be produced into supply. That is called reserve.
LAST WEEK, DUKE University released a study on water quality in the Marcellus Shale region. Many Pennsylvanians concerned about the state's new industry of gas drilling will be interested in the findings of this study. Here's a sampling of headlines from the media coverage:
Marcellus Shale study claims gas drilling did not contaminate drinking-water wells;
New research shows no Marcellus Shale pollution;
Pennsylvania fracking can put water at risk, Duke study finds;
Yet another study confirms fracking can pollute groundwater;
New study: Fluids from Marcellus Shale likely seeping into Pa. drinking water;
Findings are mixed in fracking-water study.
The sources of these headlines and stories include the Wall Street Journal, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, BusinessWeek, ProPublica and others. Here's the headline from the Duke University site: Natural underground pathways may be conduits for Marcellus brines.
Researchers took hundreds of samples from groundwater aquifers in six counties overlying the shale formation in northeastern Pennsylvania and found elevated brine. The study says it is unlikely that the elevated salinity is connected to hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" — the explosive process by which gas is extracted from rock. But they are concerned that the presence of the brine suggests "natural pathways" leading up to aquifers from far below the surface, and that these pathways might allow gases from shale-gas wells to put drinking-water supplies at risk.
We're concerned, too — not just about the findings, but about the difficulty in finding our way through conflicting, often-politicized accounts of matters of scientific interest.
Natural gas drillers in Pennsylvania have had to stop withdrawing water from certain streams due to a severe drought, a water regulator said on Monday.
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) said it has suspended permits to siphon water from the river's streams in the highest number of areas than at any time since it began issuing permits to gas producers in June 2008 allowing them to draw river water for operations.
The SRBC, which manages the river as a water source, said the suspensions affected around 30 companies, not all of them gas companies, that rely on some 64 water withdrawal areas in 13 Pennsylvania counties and one New York county.
Penn Virginia Corp. PVA +2.99% agreed to sell all of its Appalachian assets, excluding the Marcellus Shale, to an undisclosed buyer for $100 million in cash to help fund its 2012 capital expenditure plan.
Shares were recently up 1.2% at $6.89. The independent oil and gas company said the deal will substantially reduce its debt, improve its liquidity and fund further investment in its Eagle Ford Shale play. The stock has soared 50% in the past three months through Monday's close.
The assets to be sold include vertical and horizontal coalbed methane and conventional properties, as well as royalty interests. Penn Virginia expects to complete the sale by mid-August.

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