Thursday, March 31, 2011

President Barack Obama promoted natural gas in remarks at Georgetown University on Wednesday.

Obama endorses Pickens plan for natural gas vehicles

Doug Mills/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — T. Boone Pickens has spent much of the past three years campaigning for a single candidate: natural gas.
On Wednesday, Pickens scored his biggest endorsement yet, when President Barack Obama expressed support for his idea to convert the country’s heavy-duty vehicles to run on natural gas instead of diesel.
In a speech at Georgetown University, Obama highlighted concerns about pollution from natural gas drilling, but said the domestic fuel could help to achieve a one-third reduction of imported oil over the next decade.
“The potential for natural gas is enormous,” Obama said. “Last year, more than 150 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle produced legislation providing incentives to use clean-burning natural gas in our vehicles instead of oil. And — and that’s a big deal.”

read more; Dallas news

The Gas Dilemma

The Gas Dilemma
Until recently, natural gas was the forgotten stepsister of fuels. It provides about a quarter of U.S. electricity and heats over 60 million American homes, but it's always been limited — more expensive than dirty coal, dirtier than nuclear or renewables. Much of Europe depends on gas for heating and some electricity — but the bulk of the supply comes from Russia, which hasn't hesitated to use energy as a form of political blackmail. The fuels of the future were going to be solar, wind and nuclear. "The history of natural gas in the U.S. has been a roller-coaster ride," says Tony Meggs, a co-chair of a 2010 Massachusetts Institute of Technology gas study. "It's been up and down and up and down."
Natural gas is up now — way up — and it's changing how we think about energy throughout the world. If its boosters are to be believed, gas will change geopolitics, trimming the power of states in the troubled Middle East by reducing the demand for their oil; save the lives of thousands of people who would otherwise die from mining coal or breathing its filthy residue; and make it a little easier to handle the challenges of climate change — all thanks to vast new onshore deposits of what is called shale gas.

Read more:,8599,2062331,00.html#ixzz1IDMAP1cR

Ryder Orders 202 Heavy-Duty Natural Gas Trucks

- Part of project estimated to displace 1.5 million gallons of diesel fuel with 100% domestically produced natural gas and reduce more than 9.2 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year -
MIAMI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Ryder System, Inc., a leader in commercial transportation and supply chain management solutions, today announced that it reached a key milestone in a major alternative fuel initiative with the order of 202 heavy-duty natural gas vehicles. The vehicle order is part of Ryder’s agreement with the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) to launch a groundbreaking heavy-duty natural gas truck rental and leasing project in Southern California. Ryder will begin taking delivery of the vehicles in April, and expects to have the full order integrated into its fleet by September. Ryder will also begin work this month to upgrade the first of three existing maintenance facilities in its network to be properly equipped for the indoor servicing of natural gas vehicles and will soon commence construction of two natural gas fueling stations.

Read more: business wire

AP Interview: NY drilling regs may take all summer .

ALBANY, N.Y. — The new head of New York's Department of Environmental Conservation says gas drilling in the massive Marcellus Shale formation is the most daunting environmental issue the agency has faced in its 40-year history.
He says he's hopeful rules will be in place by summer's end to address all the potential impacts.
 readmore: AP

Schneiderman on Gas Drilling

Schneiderman on Gas Drilling

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has said that it will issue its Marcellus Shale hydro-fracking regulations by July 1st.

That's when the state moratorium on fracking is expected to end. State Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he'll defend those regulations. Drilling opponents may be disappointed because when Schneiderman was running for office last year, he took a strong stance questioning the safety of hydro-fracking. He said that he would consider court action to stop it if he didn't believe it was safe. Now, he says he's confident the DEC will come up with proper protective regulations for the people and the environment.

Schneiderman says, "When the regulations are issued we will, as is our statutory duty, will defend the regulations. We also have been concerned that some of the landowners may have been taken advantage of by some of the drilling companies and we have weighed in and are currently involved in negotiations to try to resolve some of those disputes."

Schneiderman says he is the attorney for the state and that includes the DEC and he will fulfill his duty.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Did you know that Well Casing Cement is NOT just poured and left to set?

Having attended many forums in the county, I must say that the type of information shared is nominal; there is just not enough time to explain certain processes. Occasionally, in-depth information will be posted here about some of the complex issues behind what it takes to develop a natural gas well to the production phase.
Since protecting the aquifers reigns high in environmental stewardship, it is important to develop an understanding on what is done to protect the aquifers.  Besides the steel casings, cementing the wellbore is another protective mechanism employed. But how can well operators tell if the cement has bonded? SImply, by obtaining a cement bond log.
Cementing Wellbores
There is a lot of speculation about the cement that is used in natural gas wells. People have expressed doubts on the ability of cement to isolate drinking water from the processes within the wellbore. However, comparing wellbore cement jobs to buckling sidewalk is a grave injustice.  The cementing of wellbores is a complex process requiring bond logs to ensure that the job is well done. NYSDEC regs require bond logs. So exactly what is a bond log?
Oil field glossary: A representation of the integrity of the cement job, especially whether the cement is adhering solidly to the outside of the casing. The log is typically obtained from one of a variety of sonic-type tools. The newer versions, called cement evaluation logs, along with their processing software, can give detailed, 360-degree representations of the integrity of the cement job, whereas older versions may display a single line representing the integrated integrity around the casing.
See also bond log webinar
“Two kinds of cement-bond-log (CBL) tools are run as part of a standard cement-evaluation program. The effectiveness of these tools and their evaluations often are challenged, and they are not regarded as a replacement for reservoir interzonal-communication tests performed between producing reservoirs. The value of continuing to run these tools was questioned by management. In response, the reliability of these tools and their ability to determine the existence of poor behind-casing”    If you are interested in learning more about bonded cement here is an SPE article: Cement-Bond-Log Interpretation Reliability

If you can read through this and understand the above article, then maybe you can develop an appreciation for all that goes into ensuring that no communication occurs between the wellbore and the adjacent aquifer, and why this particular information is difficult to explain.

Wind, Sun Power Still Face Hurdles

The slow-motion crisis at a Japanese nuclear plant has rekindled worries about relying on atomic power for electricity. Climbing oil and gasoline prices are again draining wallets. And President Barack Obama Wednesday outlined plans to cut U.S. reliance on foreign oil, including boosting ethanol output.
The times would seem to favor the rise of renewable energy—power derived from sources such as solar, wind and biomass. Renewables have grown up in recent years, attracting blue-chip investors and fostering supply chains that span continents. Technologies have improved and costs have fallen.
But renewable energy still hasn't outgrown criticisms that have dogged it for years: It remains too expensive to compete head-to-head with fossil fuels, and it is too dependent on government subsidies. Most renewable energy faces another major obstacle. Much of it remains intermittent—and technical advances that could make it a reliable, full-time power provider remain elusive.
To read more: Wall Street Journal

UB to host 8 free lectures on hydraulic fracturing

The controversial hydraulic fracturing natural gas drilling technique and its potential impact on the state’s environment and economy will be the subject of an eight-week series of free lectures arranged by the University at Buffalo.
The lectures, arranged by UB’s department of geology, will be held at 8 p. m. each Thursday from this week to May 19 in Room 250 of Baird Hall on UB’s North Campus in Amherst.
“It’s an opportunity to let the public know about the actual exploration and production of energy resources in New York, said Marcus Bursik, chairman of UB’s geology department.
Topics will include how geologists explore for resources; how companies get rights to the resources; how gas resources are drilled, “fracked” and distributed; and what legal, environmental and regulatory issues are involved, he said.
To read more: Buffalo News

Demonstrators interrupt drilling industry meeting

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Activists protested natural gas drilling in the state outside a Downtown hotel on Tuesday as industry representatives inside defended their ability to operate without harming the environment.
Three of the protesters interrupted the Marcellus Shale Environmental Summit at the Renaissance Hotel in an attempt to present a "bill of indictment," claiming the growing natural gas exploration and production industry in Pennsylvania is hurting the environment with its drilling operations.
They were booed by some of the 120 people in the audience and escorted out of the meeting room by security officers who refused to permit them to read their document.
"The whole focus is on examining the technology available to treat wastewater so that (drilling companies) end up not sending the wastewater to our streams," said David Levdansky, a former state representative and conference moderator

"Let us all work at being a part of the solution... and not a part of the problem"

Safer than Nuclear - Renewable Energy, Natural Gas, Energy Efficiency

By John Addison | 22 March 2011, 13:23 BST
"In 88 minutes, the sun provides 470 exajoules of energy, as much energy as humanity consumes in a year." In Scientific American, Ramez Naam adds, "In 112 hours - less than five days - it provides 36 zettajoules of energy - as much energy as is contained in all proven reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas on this planet."
We have no shortage of energy. Fortunately, we are increasingly producing and delivering more renewable energy at lower cost. At the same time we are more efficient about using energy for everything from lighting, to buildings, to transportation. Most promising is the trend to make energy cheap when plentiful, more expensive at peak, and use intelligent energy management to level the use. The grid is starting to get smart.
Read more here: IBTimes

NYT- Obama to Set Goal of One-Third Cut in Oil Imports

Published: March 30, 2011
WASHINGTON — With gasoline prices rising, oil supplies from the Middle East pinched by political upheaval and growing calls in Congress for expanded domestic oil and gas production, President Obama on Wednesday will set a goal of a one-third reduction in oil imports over the next decade, aides said Tuesday.

Read more:  NYT

On Friday, the president will appear at a United Parcel Service depot in Landover, Md., to talk about ways to make commercial truck and bus fleets more fuel-efficient and to make greater use of domestically produced natural gas in transportation.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rising Gas Prices Fuel Demand for Ford Compressed Natural Gas-Powered Commercial Vehicles

DEARBORN, Mich., March 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
·         Rising price of traditional gas coupled with significant government incentives and an increasing number of fuel stations is pumping up demand for compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) vehicles by commercial customers

·         Ford meets demand by offering CNG as an option for Transit Connect, E-Series vans and F-Series Super Duty trucks

·         An extremely clean-burning fuel, CNG usage can result in 30 to 40 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Read more: PRNEWS

Monday, March 28, 2011

Natural Gas Stocks For A Changing Energy Landscape

Mar. 28 2011 - 4:30 pm
Posted by John Reese
While numerous questions remain about the fallout–both literal and figurative–of the nuclear reactor leaks in Japan, one thing seems certain: The tragic events are increasing anti-nuclear-power sentiment across the globe.
Given the renewed fears about the use and expansion of nuclear power, it’s quite possible that we’ll see many countries turn away from nuclear endeavors, increasing demand for other energy sources. And, with alternative fuels like wind and solar power still trying to build infrastructure and become more cost-effective, it’s likely that fossil fuels would be the recipient of much of the increased demand.
Read more: forbes blog

Larson Urging Natural Gas Incentives -

As oil prices rise, U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District, is pushing a bill that offers incentives for natural gas-powered vehicles.
Larson said today he will reintroduce the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act (NAT GAS).
"Natural gas is affordable, abundant and American," Larson said. "It costs one-third less to fill up a vehicle with natural gas than traditional gasoline and, maybe more importantly, we have enough natural gas in the US to meet our energy needs for the next 100 years."
Larson Urging Natural Gas Incentives -

Marcellus Shale: BOCES gearing up for Marcellus training

 Written by Jennifer K. Levine on March 11, 2011 – 8:06 am
In the Southern Tier of New York, the NYS School Boards Association recognizes the potential for enormous job creation once the drilling moratorium is lifted. And the Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego (DCMO) BOCES director of career and technical education, Stephen Perrin, wants to be ready. He sees a need for truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, general laborers, welders and mechanics; all jobs that the BOCES could help fill, especially through adult education.
Read more here: Capital Business Blog
Opponents argue that these are marginal jobs... but a job is a job, especially if you do not have a job. It is also my understanding that these jobs pay well.

A controversy for state's geologist

A controversy for state's geologist

Published 12:01 a.m., Monday, March 28, 2011
State geologist Langhorne B. "Taury" Smith Jr. discovered in recent days that sharing a controversial opinion publicly comes with career consequences.
He is being castigated by representatives of environmental groups and is under close scrutiny by his employer, the State Education Department. He has become a target of attacks from activists opposed to the state pushing ahead with plans to allow natural gas to be extracted from deep shale recesses using a process called hydraulic fracturing.

Read more:

South Franklin company looking to expand its Marcellus Shale water treatment business - Business News -

South Franklin company looking to expand its Marcellus Shale water treatment business - Business News -

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Government energy forecasts showed that, by 2030, the U.S. would import 25 percent of its natural gas needs"

Dr. John Deutch, Institute Professor at MIT, told a standing room only crowd at WVU’s National Research Center for Coal and Energy that the amount of natural gas now being unlocked from the nation’s shale deposits was “the biggest surprise that has occurred in my 35 years in energy resource assessment.”
 Deutch told the audience of students, faculty and public that only three years ago, government energy forecasts showed that, by 2030, the U.S. would import 25 percent of its natural gas needs, becoming dependent on the Middle East in a manner similar to that of U.S. petroleum imports.
But with the advances in engineering and drilling technology, so much natural gas from America’s vast shale deposits is being unlocked that the government’s 2011 estimate shows shale gas accounting for 40 percent of U.S. supplies by 2035, essentially eliminating the need for imports. “This is no minor change,” said Deutch, “this is an absolute sea change!
Read more: AEI

Green Energy Bubble Deflated?

Shale Gas Deflates Green Bubble

Governments, investors and even the World Bank are rushing for the exits in the Great Escape from the green energy bubble.
Solar energy appears to be the worst affected sector so far. Dow Jones reports on a startling U-turn by Britain’s ultra-green government has caught investors off guard and shock waves across the markets will likely precipitate the further rush from green energy projects to shale gas.
The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change made the shock announcement as it revealed a comprehensive review of its Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program. Indications from data provider, Prequin are that over $1bn in earmarked funds may be lost as Britain now promises it will only hold tariffs until April 2012.
to read more: Natural gas for europe

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Marcellus panel looks for common ground at first meeting- PA

Marcellus panel looks for common ground at first meeting
Saturday, March 26, 2011
HARRISBURG -- The public comments at the end of Friday's inaugural meeting of the state Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission showed part of the challenge facing that panel during the next four months.

Read more:
Interesting read. It will be interesting to see how the committee gets past the emotionalism; and starts working on how to make the Industry more sustainable.

Note:A community that works together will succeed.


It is disappointing to see more businesses and Towns that are located within the Lake Otsego Watershed attempt to pass local ordinances to ban natural gas development in the area. If they did so based on well researched information, it would not be as disappointing; it would be more like an informed choice.  However, we all know that information in our county is lacking.
Mistrust of the gas industry is one of the reasons why people seemingly prefer to listen to the other message and the other reason has to do with the public perception of what hydraulic fracturing is or what it is not.  While we cannot change the mistrust that the majority of the public has for the industry; however, we can work hard at disseminating information that is balanced.
Frac Attack Report is a document that deals with the misconceptions from both sides of the debate that is playing out in public. It is definitely worth a read if you really have no idea what the hoopla is all about in the first place, or even if you think you know what it is all about.

Public debate about the safety of hydraulic fracturing, a gas‐drilling technique that has unlocked vast new sources of domestic energy, has escalated dramatically in recent months. We set out to push through the noise, inspect claims on both sides of the gas‐drilling boom, and give investors a road map to the risks that producers may face. We start with the headline.

Hydraulic fracturing or fracing is unlikely to be banned. Given the scientific evidence available today and the economic impact of shutting down shale gas drilling, we don’t see an outright ban sticking federally, nor in New York or Pennsylvania, and certainly not in the energy patches of the Gulf Coast and the West. The job losses, higher energy prices and landowner‐rights challenges that would result are too unpalatable for Democrats, even those that don’t like the energy business. PA has literally bet its budget on drilling by leasing state land – a nut that’s hard for a financially troubled state to make up elsewhere.
The likely passage of PA’s much‐anticipated new production tax will make it even more reliant on drilling. This report addresses the regulatory climate in pivotal fracing regions.

Find the document here

The public is being coerced by the misinforma​tion on natural gas drilling

On Thursday night in a church in Butternut Valley, Nicole Dillingham and Louis Allstadt gave a presentation on the dangers of drilling for natural gas. 

Unfortunately for the audience the presentation was extremely misleading.  Ms. Dillingham presented a slideshow of the "dangers of horizontal hydro-fracing the Marcellus shale" that had the statistics and statements of fracing methane coal beds.  These are two totally different things.  When the discrepancy was pointed out and the audience asked her if she knew the difference between methane coal beds and hydro-fracing shale, she would not reply.   The fact is they are completely different, yet she put information about coal beds in her presentation to coerce the audience with misinformation.  She continued to show slides of WV and other states drilling pads and stated that open- pits of hazardous waste would be left by the gas companies.  The DEC has ALREADY addressed the open-pit issue for NY, and it will NOT be allowed.  Her presentation states that children will be playing and fall into these open-pits, that animals will drink from them and die.  If you do not know that this will NOT be allowed in NY to begin with, of course natural gas drilling sounds horrific!!  BUT these statements are NOT true, and need to be brought out for there fallacies.  Ms. Dillingham continued to say that the gas companies are trying to convince us that it is our patriotic duty to sign over our land to produce the energy that WE use every day! I would disagree, the gas companies have NOTHING to do with my feeling that it is OUR responsibility to produce our own energy, and stop sending our money to other countries!  Ms. Dillingham tried to convince the audience that even if we drill, the natural gas will be shipped to other countries instead of used here.  It was pointed out by a knowledgeable audience member that this was yet ANOTHER fallacy - that there are state and federal regulations involved in the export of goods from the US.  She said that she was not aware... Apparently, she is unaware of a lot to do with natural gas drilling, and should not be touting herself as an expert, and making false, misleading statements.

Mr. Allstadt's presentation was also full of misinformation designed to scare and coerce the public.  Throughout his presentation he kept repeating that NY state and the DEC do not have stringent enough regulations to permit natural gas drilling safely.  Again, a more informed audience member asked Mr. Allstadt if he was privy to the SGEIS (that is still being worked on and isn't even out yet!) And he had to say "no". The audience member then said , "then how can you possibly know if the regulations are safe enough, or not?" The answer is that he CAN'T!  Again more misleading propaganda to scare the public - they know what's good for us as long as we are not informed with the TRUTH!

Class Warfare or Not; Environmental Protection Reigns Supreme

Dick Downey’s article in the Daily Star a few weeks back stirred quite a debate among the ranks of those involved in the debates surrounding the development of Natural gas in the county.
Whilst the supporters of the natural gas development see their opponents as the elite/selective groups from the affluent areas of the County (the Towns surrounding Lake Otsego) who are well connected and can get organized at the drop of dime; Oopponents see their enemy as anyone that supports Natural Gas Development (landowners, homeowners, NYSDEC, USEPA, Natural Gas Development Companies (one in particular), sheer utterance or hint of any support can turn you into an enemy on the fly).
Mr. Downey in his article referred to the class difference in the debate. There are of course exceptions; as some of the comments to his article pointed out. However, in an article in the same newspaper unrelated to Mr. Downey’s, an attendee of the Middlefield Town Board meeting commented on the “Jaguar incident”.  
Whether or not there is distinct class warfare, there is a general sense of condescending attitudes that stemming from both sides. Both feel “more knowledgeable” in their understanding.
The opponents have a parade of well-read academic-style scientists, retired executives and legal experts to back their information and also working for them is the general mistrust that people have for the industry and the Government.
 One the flip side the supporters have the scientists who work in the trenches and industry labs, designing and fine-tuning the processes used in natural gas development; the regulators reviewing the tens of thousands comments sent in, regulators who are charged with protecting the public’s safety while trying to precariously balance the cost of implementing regulations and the benefits of the processes whilst at the same time taking environmental protection into account – not an easy task.
While we act as the judges; deciding whose information is more believable or convincing.
Gas Development Opponents arriving at Butternuts in a Mercedes
Photo Sent by a Network Supporter

A Letter to Otsego 2000 Challenging James Northrup's Comments

This letter was sent to Otsego 2000 in response to some comments that James Northrup made.

August 24, 2010

Otsego 2000
101 Main Street
PO Box 1130
Cooperstown, NY

Dear Otsego 2000:

In response to Mr. James Northrup’s comments in the July 25th essay “The Challenges of Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing in New York State,” (and apparently also printed in Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce News) and also his essays posted on Otsego2000 website, I must disagree with many of his claims that, as a practicing scientist and engineer, I find to be either patently false, misleading or at the very least errors of omission. 

First, New York has regulated all oil and gas activities under Article 23 of the Environmental Conservation Law since 1963 – not just activities for “stripper wells” as Mr. Northrup suggests.

In 1992, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued its final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS), including gas drilling and development, solution salt mining, underground natural gas storage, geothermal development, stratigraphic wells, and brine disposal well rules and regulations.  The GEIS is still in force and addresses all known risks and impacts relating to oil and gas production, including hydraulic fracturing. And DEC is still continuing its additional two year long unprecedented comprehensive study of regulations for high volume hydraulic fracturing.

High volume hydraulic fracturing in horizontal wells employs essentially the same equipment, pressures and techniques as for vertical wells.  Because horizontal wells are much longer than vertical wells, more fluid is necessary.  However, the amount of water used during hydraulic fracturing is small compared to the amount of water available each year in the Northeast U.S. The amount of water used in natural gas extraction generally represents a small percentage of the total water-resource use in each shale gas area – typically between 0.1 and 0.8 percent of total water use by basin. Also the Susquehanna and Delaware River Commissions regulate water withdrawals in their watershed areas which cover most of the prospective territory.

Produced water that flows back to the surface is collected and either recycled or reused for use in subsequent future fracture jobs or disposed of according to stringent regulations.  NY will more than likely also require closed loop systems and the most active operators have already they said they will do so regardless.

As far as Mr. Northrup’s regrettable comparisons to a bomb, hydraulic fracturing merely exerts pressure on the column of water inside the well until the pressure exceeds the strength of the shale bedrock, causing a network of tiny fractures to form in the rock adjacent to the well.  These fractures are typically  a mm or so thick, just big enough to be propped open by the grains of fine sand, which are the primary ingredient—besides water—in the fracturing fluid. And fracture height is only a few hundred feet in vertical height at best! There is nothing felt or heard at the surface, and there certainly is nothing even close to an underground explosion.  Characterizations such as blasting fractures to the surface are ridiculous especially from someone with apparent prior experience in the drilling business.
Because hydraulic fracturing occurs thousands of feet below shallow freshwater aquifers, fractures are confined to the Marcellus Shale and neither shallow aquifers nor surface water are at risk of contamination as a result of hydraulic fracturing. Petroleum geologists universally agree that even pre-existing deep seated faults that Mr. Northrup speaks of as conduits offer no realistic pathway to the surface because of the overburden pressures that seal the faults at depth, overlying ductile NY salt layers that have sealing properties and mineralization along fault planes add to the sealing effect. If this were not true we would have not have been able to trap the methane in the first place! Because the stress fields in PA and NY do not permit vertical fracture generation above approximately 3000 feet (propagated horizontally at that point), drilling will be confined to deeper buried shales thus presenting no danger.  Biil Kappel of USGS in Ithaca and other NY university professors have already spoken authoritatively on this subject at a number of NY venues.

Mr. Northrup is also mistaken in saying that the shales are “harder” than the overlying and underlying formations thus concluding that fracture stimulation cannot be contained. Mr. Northrup not only used the improper term “hardness” but has the facts completely wrong. The pertinent terms when referring to fracture ease are elastic modulus and yield strength. Marcellus is confined above and below by limestones of greater elastic modulus than the shale and thus serve to contain fracture growth. Strata with high elastic modulus and yield strength serve as potential “fracture barriers” because they exhibit less tendency to deform and rupture with applied stress. “Hardness” is not even an appropriate term unless one narrows the term down to scratch, indentation or rebound harness.

Organic-rich deposits of the Appalachian Basin such as the Marcellus are defined by relatively large sonic travel times and low densities indicative of relatively low elastic stiffness (Plumb et al., 1991) and generally have significantly smaller elastic constants than either sandstone or limestone thus making shales far easier to deform and fracture. The Marcellus is therefore an especially good fracture stimulation candidate because it is easily fractured compared to the underlying confining Onondaga limestone and overlying other limestone formations with elastic moduli greater than the Marcellus shale. So in this respect Mr. Northrup has the facts completely backward. In fact the overlying Tully limestone is a well know cap rock for much of NY and PA gas storage facilities.

In any event fractures resulting from hydraulic fracturing are considered successful if they can even extend a few hundred feet vertically and not all of that can even be fully propped. The fracture height, lateral extents and complexity are easily mapped and well understood through real time wellbore micro-seismic monitoring during stimulation which may be a technology Mr. Northrup is not familiar with. There is no mystery to the fracture orientation and extent. Additionally, fracture stimulation pressures last only a few hours after which the wellbore becomes a pressure sink with all flow directed toward the wellbore and absolutely no path to the surface through the overlying strata.  Over the past 60 years, more than one million U.S. wells have been safely produced in the U.S. using this process.  

There is also no evidence of fractures connecting the target shale gas formations with the near surface strata. Regrettable methane incidents are simply a result of either drilling through near surface shales containing small amounts of methane or occasional poor surface casing cement jobs where methane from shallow gas zones behind poorly cemented surface casing causes short term problems until re-cemented. They are not a result of fracture connection between the deep shale formation and the surface strata through fractures. NY will also be addressing these cementing shortfalls by requiring fully cemented surface casing as well as either intermediate casing or production casing (or both) cemented to the surface as well as prohibiting any annular pressure build-up.  Radial cement bond logs that identify casing cement leaks will also be required in NY. As I hope you know, state regulators from 18 states have already testified that they have no evidence of hydrofracing causing any groundwater contamination anywhere at any time in their respective states. And the fact that shallow coal bed methane fracture stimulation, as studied by EPA in 2004, has not caused groundwater contamination should further ease your concerns about fracture stimulation a mile or more below the surface.

 Chemical additives comprise 0.5 percent of hydraulic fracturing fluids.  The other 99.5 percent is made up of water and sand.  The number of chemicals used is also far less than in the massive sand and gelled water fracture stimulations used in vertical wells.  The assertion that these additives and “oil” are found in water wells as a result of shale gas hydrofracking is a fabrication.  Yes, continually striving for the most inert ingredients is a worthwhile endeavor but for a variety of hydro-geological reasons explained in Chapter 5 of the SGEIS and quantified in Appendix 11, there is no realistic chance that these fluids could migrate upward through more than a mile of bedrock and contaminate shallow freshwater aquifers.

The claim that the proposed DEC regulations offer no protection for other bodies of the water in the Southern Tier also is inaccurate.  The NY DEC has broad authority to prohibit releases of regulated substances and wastes that could pollute surface water.  There are no environmental regulatory gaps in New York when it comes to hydraulic fracturing or protection of human health or the environment. Concern about possible sediment runoff from drilling pad and road construction was the reason for moratorium in the NYC drinking watershed because they do not currently filter water: it was not because of hydrofracturing. But with horizontal laterals now reaching well over a mile in length, surface pad spacing in approaching two miles apart on 1280 acre spacing which significantly reducing any surface impact. Even then storm water runoff due to surface disturbances is highly regulated in NY with a SPEDES permit required for surface disturbances over one acre.   

New York's environmental laws, regulations, guidance and policies are among the most stringent in the U.S and will be unparalleled once SGEIS is complete.  New York suspended Marcellus drilling for two years while DEC undertook the most comprehensive review of hydraulic fracturing ever conducted in its SGEIS process.  In the process, New York has developed a better understanding of shale gas extraction technology than any other state, is addressing all regulatory lapses in similar geologic environments and yet others continue to call for a moratorium until the EPA finishes its current study, which covers the same issues that New York State has already studied and reviewed so thoroughly.
Further, DEC’s permitting process for natural gas production is a regulatory function.  Most states entrust permitting to the agency with the most technical expertise to oversee and regulate the activity.  In NY, drilling permits are reviewed and enforced by engineers and geologists in the DEC's Department of Mineral Resources.  No other state agency has the technical capability to take over this function.  Not even the federal EPA has the specialized expertise or personnel to do this work on the ground in New York. And contrary to Mr. Northrup’s assertions, it is common practice for state regulatory agencies to also issue the permits as they are the state agencies with expertise: Pennsylvania’s DEP, Ohio’s DNR – Division of Mineral Resources, TX Railroad Commission- oil and gas division, and Oklahoma’s Corporation Commission to name just a few.

While people can have a differences of opinion about the fairness or desirability of compulsory integration, it is not unique to NY, it provides and orderly development process, offers a chance for all mineral owners to participate in a unitized well and does not require use of the mineral owners surface rights if he does not lease. In fact in NY, unitization still requires the permission of a majority of the landowners in the unit whereas in other states where integration/pooling exist, a majority is not a requirement.
Mr. Northrup also complains that NY does not have a severance tax on oil and gas, yet he does not mention the fact that there is an ad-valorem tax on oil and gas wells in NY which provides substantial revenue to our towns and schools. Such a tax is rare in other states. Nevertheless it is likely that NY will impose a severance tax at some point and increase permit fees substantially to help fund the necessary DEC personnel for proper oversight. There is little doubt that DEC will be funded directly from the oil and gas resources in some fashion.

While there are areas that could potentially use further study, drilling and production issues are best left to state agencies that already work tirelessly to protect our environment and specialize in these issues.
In conclusion, some of Mr. Northrup’s essays and videos may mislead your organization’s members with either inaccurate or missing information and also potentially damage your organization’s credibility. Perhaps you might consider posting opposing viewpoints from the many available petroleum engineering experts in the natural gas field? I will be glad to forward Mr. Northrup’s essays to several for their comments and input. In the meantime I appreciate the opportunity to help promote a broader public understanding of both the process of hydraulic fracturing and the many state and industry safeguards in place to ensure New York natural gas is developed in a safe and responsible way.

Dr. Scott B. Cline
Scott Cline has spent more than 25 years working as geologist, geophysicist and petroleum engineer in exploration and production around the world, and currently resides in the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY. He has a BS in Geology from Penn State and an MS and PhD in petroleum engineering from the University of Oklahoma with an emphasis on reservoir engineering aspects of horizontal drilling in naturally fractured reservoirs.

Cc: Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce
31 Chestnut Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326

Challenging Facts Presented at Local Forums

Local forums in Northern Otsego County are usually well attended by well-meaning residents looking for information about natural gas development. However, if these forums are your only source of information then you are definitely not getting the whole picture. Some of the groups putting on the forums are vehemently opposed to natural gas development in the region and as a result they present information to suit their agenda; it is only natural that upon leaving these forums people are frightened, angry and confused.  
The article copied below was written by Dr. Scott Cline in response to Lou Allstadt's presentation in December.

Mr. Allstadt errs in his Shale Gas Presentation

By Scott Cline
Described as a former vice-president of Mobil Oil, and offering lectures to the public on complex shale gas development technical issues suggests that Louis Allstadt would be a person with a solid understanding and technical expertise in the subject matter. However, within a few minutes of his December 8, 2010 shale gas presentation in Trumansburg, NY I knew that was not the case. I sat aghast as mounting factual and conceptual errors were presented to a large group of people eager for knowledge. Mr. Allstadt failed to disclose his educational, technical expertise and specific relevant career experience to the group during the introduction and press release and I guess I now understand why.

More Technical Updates of Whats Going on in Hydrualic Fracturing

Hydraulic Fracturing in the Haynesville Shale: What's Different?
Written by Doug Walser, Pinnacle, a Halliburton Service   

High surface treating pressures and high temperatures create a fracturing challenge.

 As domestic exploration and development efforts continue to shift toward the extraction of liquid hydrocarbons, a few plays are still producing natural gas at low commodity prices, which continues, under certain circumstances, to make fiscal sense. The Haynesville in East Texas and Louisiana is one such play. Though drilling and completion (D&C) costs can be significantly higher than in the typical North American unconventional plays and though decline rates can be abnormally high, the tremendous initial production rates can contribute to relatively short payout times


Friday, March 25, 2011

Drilling Down on Fracking Concerns

The Potential and Peril of Hydraulic Fracturing to Drill for Natural Gas


The Potential and Peril of Hydraulic Fracturing to Drill for Natural Gas

This article is worth reading, it points out some of the pros and some of the cons of unlocking the natural gas potential from shale.

The bottom of the article deals with some of the progress being made to help alleviate public concerns and raise the standards of the techniques used. It is important to note that more progress companies have been addressing these types of changes for a few years making their processes more efficient, effective and safer.

Barnett gas producers embrace registry site

Energy cos. to report chemicals used in fracturing

Dallas Business Journal - by Matt Joyce, Staff writer

Date: Friday, March 25, 2011, 5:00am CDT
Numerous Barnett Shale producers plan to participate in a new website disclosing the chemicals they use to recover natural gas, a decision regarded by some as critical to unlocking the industry’s growth potential.

Read more: Barnett gas producers embrace registry site | Dallas Business Journal

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Advances in nonconventional gas extraction

Hydraulic Fracturing

Game changing advances in stimulation and production technology are improving well economic
Kelly Gilleland

This is a great article it deals with some of the challenges that the industry faces and some of the solutions they are working on in addressing them.

·         To address the popular fear of fracturing additives contaminating groundwater- companies are disclosing information about the makeup of their frac fluids. Halliburton on the larger suppliers of frac fluids has been providing the public information on their website.

·         Well cementing is another area of concern. Engineers are designing systems that not only achieve good bonds but can also control the possibility of gas migrating out of the well. The wells will also stand up to geological stresses during the wells life.

·         Improving filtration methods to minimize wastewater and formulating safer frac chemicals

·         General the industry operates safer than it did five years ago under the new scrutiny.

·         Halliburton has announced new line of CleamStim frac fluids made entirely of food grade chemicals also announced were CleanStream and CleanWave (for bacteria and wastewater respectively).
·         Schlumberger has modified equipment to reduce exposures which reducing health, Safety environment related accidents

BOCES and training New work Force

New York State School Boards Association

Interesting article about BOCES preparing a new workforce for the coming industry While most people argue that these are minuscule jobs- they are jobs none the less and work is work. Every little bit counts.

DEC's fracking report expected in beginning of June » Local News » The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

DEC's fracking report expected in beginning of June » Local News » The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

"The state Department of Environmental Conservation plans to release "a revised draft" of its rules for high volume hydraulic fracturing this summer, DEC spokesman Michael Bopp said."