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by Bill

Some of you might have already seen EID’s issue alert on the new study out of the Manhattan Institute earlier this month. The report didn’t get all that much coverage in the press — no doubt  because it finds that responsible Marcellus development could result in lots of jobs, revenue and opportunity for New Yorkers.

Talking about 18,000 jobs along the southern tier, with another 90,000 jobs possible if we ever got around to tapping the shale layers below the Marcellus. Click here to check out the study for yourself. How does $11.4 billion in economic output sound to you? That’s what’s possible for New York if the state allows orderly development to proceed. Not a bad nugget for a state with a $9 billion hole in its budget right now, is it?

Anyway, it’s a great report — but this post isn’t about that. It’s about the dinner that was held after the report’s release, and specifically the part featuring remarks from former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell — former chair of the DNC, former mayor of Philadelphia, and currently: one hell of a commentator on all things Philly sports.

True to form, our former governor had a pretty straightforward message to those currently on the fence about shale development — in particular, one fellow Democrat who currently serves as governor of New York. Here’s his advice to Gov. Cuomo:

If Governor Cuomo were to ask me my advice about lifting the moratorium, I would tell him the moratorium should be lifted. There’s too much of an upside here for New York, as there was for Pennsylvania, and too much of an upside for America. … We have farmers in all parts of Pennsylvania who assumed they would die poor and have nothing to give to their families. And all of a sudden, because of the Marcellus Shale, that image that they had became incorrect.

Great snippet of video capturing Gov. Rendell’s remarks — right after the jump.

Fast-forward to 13:30 for Rendell

Clearly, Governor Rendell agrees with the more than 70,000 members of the JLCNY and the countless other natural gas supporters that this issue is taking entirely too long to sort out. His experiences in Pennsylvania demonstrate Marcellus Shale gas production is possible now and  safe now.  Susquehanna and Bradford Counties, both of which adjoin New York State and are already feeding it jobs, are two prime examples of the benefits New York could receive immediately and over the long term. For more detail just read through Timothy J. Considine’s report.  It’s an eye-opener!

Check out EIDMarcellus.org for more great information and check them out on Facebook!

by Tom

The old line that “you couldn’t possibly make this stuff up” is one of my favorites, truth being so much wilder than fiction in many cases.  A recent solicitation from the Catskill Mountainkeeper proves the point.  It should be the illustration next to the term “trendy” in one of those old dictionaries.  I did think about it adding it to the Wiktionary definition but ran out of time.

What makes this solicitation so hilarious?  Well, here’s what it says (just above the “DONATE NOW” button:

Woodstockers are sending a loud and clear message to us in our new office at 34 Tinker street: Don’t Frack with our Water! So if you want to make your voice heard with your friends and neighbors…

Join mobilized energized community members for an evening with core members of the Catskill Mountainkeeper team as we discuss the current issues and concerns facing our beautiful mountain home and beyond.

July 8th at 6:00 pm at the home of Abbe Aronson, 35 Abbey Road in Mount Tremper (off Wittenberg Road).

Cocktails, appetizers and some very special entertainment!

We hope you’ll join us for THE conscious-raising social event of the season. So many of you have asked, “How can I help?” CMK Woodstock has an action plan in place and your participation is much needed and so meaningful in our effort to say “No frackin’ way!”

Now, those of you who don’t know much about Woodstock in Ulster County, New York, may recall it is the location for which the Woodstock Festival of 1969 was named, although the event actually took place in Sullivan County (part of our region) after being rejected by others.  The town has long been known as an arts community and even has an Artists Cemetery for “Woodstock artists and luminaries.”  It has been a mecca for artists, crafters, poets and  utopians for many decades.  It is as trendy as you can get without being in Greenwich Village.  It also has an estimated 2010 per capita income of $39,562, some 48% higher than the U.S. average, and a median home value of $312,718, some 98% above the U.S. as a whole (Source: ESRI).

These Woodstock folks are anything but your normal starving artists.  Indeed, one could say they are the blueblood artists and THIS is where the Catskill Mountainkeeper has recently decided to open an office (good for donations, apparently).  The economic contrast with the nearby Towns of Deposit and Sanford could not be more clear as the chart illustrates.   Deposit area residents have incomes just about half of what Woodstock residents earn, so one might think a socially conscious organization would strive to balance its environmental concerns with this economic reality.

Instead, the Catskill Mountainkeeper joined hands with the Delaware Riverkeeper (a director of whom is John Adams, father of the Mountainkeeper’s Executive Director) to appear at the DRBC hearing in Deposit in opposition to XTO’s water withdrawal application, which would allow for natural gas and economic development sorely needed by Deposit area residents.  The Delaware Riverkeeper bussed in metro area residents for the hearing free of charge and the Catskill Mountainkeeper appeared as its loyal ally to speak up for the interests of these “haves” against the interests of the “have not’s” who actually reside in the area.  But, I digress…

The Mountainkeeper’s dedication to appeasing these “haves” is epitomized by its appeal to the blueblood artists of Woodstock to join it for “THE conscious-raising social event of the season.”  If I didn’t know otherwise. I’d think it was a some scene from “Dharma and Greg” where her aging hippie and his snob parents have morphed into one new set of psuedo-adults with the worst characteristics of both.  The “conscious-raising social event of the season?  Who the heck talks like this?  The answer is obvious – the kind of immature individuals who think a crudity such as “No frackin’ way” is a stroke of brilliance.

Also revealing is the location of this social (snob) event of the season – the home of Abbe Aronson, self-described as “legendary hostess and party promoter, knows everybody who is anybody and is a modern day ‘yenta extraordinaire’ — constantly introducing people, products and publications to each other with magical results. And Lady Gaga takes her calls.”  Well, that certainly denotes seriousness, doesn’t it?  Abbe offers services such as “artful schmoozing,” which, come to think of it, is a large part of what the Mountainkeeper does, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, for the Mountainkeeper, there is life beyond Woodstock.  There are places where real people struggle daily in the real world to put food on the table for their families.  They don’t have time to attend “conscious-raising social events” because they’re too busy working and caring for the communities where they reside.  They don’t have time to run around telling others how to live their lives so they can display their social consciences to the world and relieve their guilt at having done so undeservedly well on the backs of others.  They might like Gaga’s music but they surely wouldn’t waste time talking with anyone who wears ‘meat dresses.”  Fortunately, for them and all of us who protected this area long before the Woodstock generation appeared on the scene, natural gas development is in our future and nothing the Mountainkeeper or the Riverkkeeper or any of their other trendy friends are going to do to stop it.  It is coming!

UPDATE I: A good friend observes that the hardcore members of the Woodstock generation are now  aging radicals. Sadly, these wilted flower children have never grown up.  The only difference between then and now for them is that whatever they smoke now has to be organic.  They blithely ignore the 37 recent European deaths due to organic bean sprouts while demanding health impact studies of natural gas drilling, which has been done safely for decades.

UPDATE II: Another friend observes that you can always recognize the aging Woodstock types at anti-gas events because they’re always in uniform – long hair, long dresses and long faces.

UPDATE III: Let’s also not forget the Delaware Riverkeeper had advance notice of the XTO hearing details and distributed them to its friends prior to the DRBC releasing the information – talk about being connected!

Link to original article found here.

Don't forget to check out the EID Marcellus Facebook page!

 

Posted on June 15, 2011 at 6:36 am by Bloomberg in Natural Gas, Shale

By Christine Buurma
Bloomberg News

U.S. natural gas producers are pumping the fuel at a record pace as advances in drilling techniques help to offset a drop in the number of rigs, signaling no respite for the world’s worst-performing commodity in the past year.

Companies increased gas output by about 11 percent since the end of 2007 to a monthly record in March, data from the Energy Department in Washington show. Prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped 38 percent over the same period. Range Resources Corp., an independent oil and gas company, expects its lease operating costs, which include labor, water hauling, power and maintenance, to fall 34 percent this year from 2008.

Producers including Range and Chesapeake Energy Corp. are using capital from joint-venture partners to keep drilling after a slide in prices helped cut the number of U.S. rigs by 45 percent from a record in 2008. Producers have simplified the process of extracting gas contained in shale, said Cameron Horwitz, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity in Houston.

“Shale drilling is a huge puzzle, but more and more pieces are falling into place for these producers,” Horwitz said. “The typical thought process of ‘Well, gas rigs are going down and all of a sudden production will go way down,’ may not apply.”

Natural gas is the only raw material that hasn’t gained in the past 12 months, losing 8.4 percent, according to the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index. The July contract fell 6.5 cents, or 1.4 percent, to settle at $4.581 per million British thermal units yesterday on the Nymex, paring a gain of 7.9 percent over the past month.

Gas may cost an average $4.42 per million Btu in 2011, according to the median of 12 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg since early March. A 12 percent rally over the past three weeks amid hotter-than-normal weather and maintenance shutdowns of nuclear power plants is “unsustainable,” according to Goldman Sachs Group.

“These factors are transient in nature, and their support to generation demand for natural gas will likely diminish in the coming weeks as the weather normalizes and nuclear power plants come out of maintenance,” London-based Goldman analysts Samantha Dart and Johan Spetz said in a note to clients June 13. Goldman recommends selling October 2011 Nymex gas contracts.

Improved drilling methods and increased gas-rich acreage have allowed Range to boost output 54 percent since 2007 while cutting wells by 43 percent, the company said in a June investor presentation.

Range, based in Fort Worth, Texas, has the second-highest number of permits to drill in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, a rock formation that stretches from West Virginia to New York. Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake has the most permits in Pennsylvania.

Rig Count

The number of rigs drilling for gas has tumbled from a peak of 1,606 on Aug. 29, 2008, as the recession cut demand for the factory and power-plant fuel, data from Baker Hughes Inc. in Houston show. Gas rigs totaled 879 in the week ended June 10.

U.S. gas production rose 3.3 percent in March to 77.83 billion cubic feet a day, or 2.41 trillion for the month, a record in Energy Department data going back to 1980. The figure represents gross withdrawals, which include gas that’s vented, flared or removed in processing, according to the department’s monthly report known as EIA-914.

Joint Ventures

Joint ventures are giving producers capital to keep drilling as prices slide, said Gordon Pickering, a director at Navigant Consulting Inc. in Sacramento, California.

CNOOC Ltd., China’s biggest offshore oil producer, agreed Oct. 10 to pay $1.08 billion for a one-third interest in Chesapeake’s holdings in the Eagle Ford shale formation in Texas. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. of the Woodlands, Texas, agreed on Feb. 16, 2010, to sell a 32.5 percent stake in its Marcellus shale assets to Tokyo-based Mitsui & Co. for $1.4 billion.

“There’s quite a bit of money in the market to support the gas business,” Pickering said. “We’re seeing especially that some of the independent producers have been particularly active in joint ventures with overseas companies.”

Navigant produced the market assessment impact study for Blackstone Group LP-backed Cheniere Energy Inc.’s application with the Energy Department to export U.S. gas from the Sabine Pass liquefied natural gas terminal in Louisiana.

The buyer in a joint venture agreement usually makes payments to cover drilling costs in exchange for a percentage of ownership in an oil or gas lease and production revenue from that lease. These payments make producers less sensitive to gas prices, said Mark Hanson, an analyst with Morningstar Inc. in Chicago.

Shale Formations

“A lot of guys can still afford to drill or move pretty aggressively because they have that joint venture money,” Hanson said.

Drilling for gas in shale formations poses difficulties because the fuel is typically buried thousands of feet underground within layers of rock, where temperatures can reach 370 degrees Fahrenheit (188 Celsius) and melt traditional monitoring equipment. Producers use high-pressure jets of water, sand and chemicals in a technique called hydraulic fracturing to break apart the rock and release the gas.

Seneca Resources, a subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Co. in Williamsville, New York, has boosted output by increasing the length of horizontal incisions in shale rock, allowing a single wellbore to produce gas from a larger area, said Nancy Taylor, a spokeswoman for the company in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Hydraulic Feet

Seneca also uses so-called walking rigs, which can move between well sites on hydraulic “feet,” allowing the company to drill in multiple locations without dismantling and moving the rigs each time, Taylor said. The company’s gas output was up 55 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, said Matt Cabell, Seneca’s president, in a May 6 earnings call.

“Expanded knowledge of the geology, optimized drilling procedures and newer fit-for-purpose ‘walking’ drill rigs also allow the industry to complete drilling of wells more quickly,” Taylor said.

Technology such as microseismic monitoring, which allows producers to identify faults and fractures in rock that may contain gas, and the drilling of several wells adjacent to each other in a practice known as multiwell pad drilling has also contributed to rising gas output, Pickering said.

“One of the things we believe is happening is that the efficiencies of the drilling and production industry have allowed costs to decrease, supporting higher production levels,” Pickering said. “We do not see much support for prices beyond $5 in the next five years or so, with prices in the $5 to $6 range expected over the longer term .”

—With assistance from Joe Carroll in Chicago.

June 18, 2011

Three years ago, billionaire T. Boone Pickens seemed on the verge of doing the impossible: making a longtime oil man like himself popular.

During the 2008 election, Pickens touted in an $80 million national media blitz his plan to use alternative energy sources to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil.

At the time, the United States was spending about $700 billion to import 70 percent of the oil it consumed. Pickens' plan promised to cut those imports by a third, through the use of wind to fuel power plants and natural gas to power trucks and cars.

Pickens' ideas struck a chord in a nation that watched as terrorism and wars in the oil-rich Middle East drove oil prices to record highs that summer. Making other countries rich at Americans' expense just made no sense. It still doesn't today, with gas prices averaging above $3 per gallon.

"It is not difficult to see the link between sending hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars to unfriendly nations and the continued ability of terrorist organizations to recruit, organize, train, and deploy fanatics who are bent on doing America harm," Pickens wrote this month. "Someone is paying for all that, and I believe that someone is us."

Thus, for reasons of conservation and national security, the country needs to be in the business of developing alternative energy sources and lessening its dependence on foreign oil.

That's why Congress should support the oddly titled New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act (NAT GAS Act, get it?), introduced this spring with broad bipartisan support.

Over five years, the bill would extend and increase targeted tax credits for companies to convert heavy trucks and refueling stops from diesel to domestic natural gas. It would also encourage the domestic production and purchase of natural-gas-fueled vehicles.

It wouldn't be cheap - conversion estimates are $100,000 per refueling station and $64,000 for an 18-wheeler. And, yes, Pickens, who has substantial stakes in the natural-gas industry, would benefit financially. But the country stands to benefit even more, especially if the promised savings of 2.5 million barrels of oil a day are realized.

In an era of trillion-dollar deficits, and at a time when energy independence is so closely tied to national security, that's the kind of savings this nation needs. Congress needs to start thinking about the long haul and get this NAT GAS Act in gear.

By BEN CASSELMAN

The natural-gas industry, bowing to longtime pressure, will disclose more information about the chemicals it uses in the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing.

Associated Press

Opponents of hydraulic fracturing at an April protest in New York.

FRACK
FRACK

On Friday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed into law a bill that will require companies to make public the chemicals they use on every hydraulic fracturing job in the state. While a handful of other states have passed similar measures, Texas's law is significant because oil and gas drilling is a key industry in the state and the industry vocally supported the measure.

Environmental groups said the law doesn't go far enough, but they agreed it was an important step.

Until recently, much of the industry opposed providing detailed information about its chemicals, arguing that they are trade secrets. But in recent months, as drilling opponents have accused companies of secrecy, many industry leaders have come to view that position as untenable.

"We have seen the light," Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp., told investors when asked about chemical disclosure at the company's annual meeting earlier this month.

Hydraulic fracturing, sometimes called "fracking," involves blasting millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to break up oil and gas-bearing rocks. The process has been used for decades, but it has become far more common in recent years as it has been used to open up huge new gas fields in Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and other states.

Environmental groups and some residents in drilling areas fear chemicals from the hydraulic fracturing process are seeping into drinking water supplies. They say companies should be forced to disclose information about the chemicals they use, in part so homeowners can test their water for contamination.

The industry says such contamination is impossible when wells are constructed properly, adding that tens of thousands of wells have been drilled and fractured with relatively few problems. There have been cases of problems with wells that were improperly constructed, but the industry says such cases are rare and many specific incidents are in dispute. Companies say chemicals make up less than 1% of the volume of most fracturing jobs and are mostly benign.

For drillers, though, making that argument was difficult when they were refusing to say what chemicals were being used. Information on chemicals was available at drilling sites, but environmental groups have criticized that information as incomplete and inaccessible to the general public.

"I think the one thing hopefully that we all learned is you can't just say, 'Take our word for it,'"said Matt Pitzarella, a spokesman for gas producer Range Resources Corp.

Last year, Range Resources said it would begin voluntarily disclosing the chemicals used in all its wells in Pennsylvania, where the debate has raged. The company said at the time it hoped others would follow suit.

Earlier this year, many big gas producers, including Chesapeake, Chevron Corp. and BP PLC, said they would begin voluntarily publicizing the chemicals online at FracFocus.org. Several states, including Wyoming and Arkansas, have recently passed mandatory disclosure rules with at least tacit industry support.

Environmental groups, saying neither FracFocus nor the state laws go far enough, have called for a mandatory, national chemical database.

"Regardless of what state you live in, we think you deserve to know," said Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.

The Texas law will require companies to post information on FracFocus.org starting next year and also to disclose chemicals not included in the site's database through a separate process. Companies can request that information on certain chemicals be withheld from the public as trade secrets.

The Texas bill drew strong support from much of the industry. In May, a group of 12 big gas producers, including Range, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Apache Corp., wrote to Texas legislators urging them to pass the bill.

Jim Keffer, a Republican state representative who co-authored the Texas bill, said he believes the law will help the industry. "We're trying to alleviate the concerns," he said. "We're trying to show people that the industry does know how to do this."

The Texas bill has drawn mixed reviews from environmental groups. The Environmental Defense Fund, which initially helped promote the bill, ultimately withdrew its support after various changes were made, including the provision to list some chemicals separately from others.

But Matt Watson, a senior energy policy manager for the group, said that while the bill "is not the national model we'd hoped for," it is nonetheless a significant step.

Write to Ben Casselman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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