Tag: Hydrofracturing

Marcellus Shale: From Rigs to Barbecue, Energy Creates Jobs

The Washington Times today completed a two-part series on Pennsylvania’s economic boom from development the Marcellus Shale natural gas, made possible through the technology of hydrofracturing and horizontal drilling.

The first day’s story, “Shale motherlode brings world of change,” reports on wide variety of economic effects and benefits, including the growing emphasis on workforce training to meet the energy sector’s demand for skilled employees.

A sidebar examines the small, ideologically committed opposition to domestic energy development, “‘Don’t frack with our water,’ say foes.”

Energy companies are doing big business, obviously, but the activity spreads throughout the economy, creating jobs and opportunity and allowing people to support their families. From Day Two’s entry, “Locals cash in on natural gas boom in Pa.“:

Other businesses also are seeing huge paydays. Rig workers for drilling companies such as Range Resources, one of the biggest players in the game, end up at local bars and restaurants after their shifts.

But they also must eat on the job. The hectic schedule doesn’t allow them to clean up and take a formal one-hour lunch break. Instead, the food comes to them.

“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Frank Puskarich, owner of Hog Father’s restaurant in Washington and daily caterer to Range Resources‘ “frack jobs” across the region. The boisterous barbecue pit master said he has hired eight employees who do nothing but prepare chicken, ribs, brisket, macaroni and cheese and other entrees for tired, hungry workers. He picked up the contract with Fort Worth, Texas-based Range Resources five years ago, and that also has helped drive business to his small establishment in Washington.

“It’s standing-room only for lunch” every day, Mr. Puskarich said. “[Business] has been tremendous. There’s a lot of work for people who want it, and not just in the food business.”

It’s a well-reported series.

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Hydrofracturing Produces Jobs, Energy, Wealth, Parasitic Lawsuits

Reporting on shale gas and hydrofracturing, the public radio program Marketplace Morning Report today captures the classic American phenomenon at work: Innovation creates opportunity, investment and wealth, and trial lawyers follow with bogus, hyped, shake-down lawsuits.

From “Fracking employs plenty of lawyers“:

Sarah Gardner: The U.S. is awash in natural gas. But the latest drilling technology that’s made the glut possible isn’t winning any popularity awards. “Fracking” involves a high pressure cocktail of water, chemicals and sand injected into shale rock — deep underground. Gas companies are drilling wells from Pennsylvania to Wyoming, and it doesn’t always go smoothly.

Richard Lippes: There have been explosions of homes, there’s a lot of people who can now actually light their water.

Not winning any popularity awards? Too bad this worthy report starts with such a clunker. Every job that hydofracturing creates wins a popularity award with the worker. Every stream of income from a producing well wins a popularity award with the property owner. Every hundred million dollars of tax revenue wins a popularity award with the taxpayers and citizens of a state.

As for the assertion from Lippes, the trial lawyer, that there are many who can now actually light their water? It’s false, a claim that’s supposed to inflame NIMBY sentiment against natural gas development and scare up clients. One scene of a fellow lighting water in his kitchen sink appeared in the agitprop film, “Gasland,” but the claims about fiery faucets have since been refuted and the entire movie debunked.

The Marketplace report also covers that activities of New York lawsuit engine Marc Bern, who specializes in environmental claims. Next up? The class-action lawsuit. Bern declares: “Wherever there is shale and there is natural gas trapped underneath, there will be litigation.” Isn’t that the sad truth. Just as where there is any creation of wealth in the U.S. economy, there will be trial lawyers. The more wealth, the more lawyers, which makes shale natural gas such a tempting target.

“Trial,” the monthly magazine of the American Association for Justice, hyped environmental litigation in its March issue, “Poisoned wells: dangers of natural gas drilling,” a piece authored by another plaintiffs’ attorney, William S. Friedlander. Environmental activists and litigators often team up in campaigns against energy, both exaggerating the risks to increase their potential income via membership dues or settlements, respectively.

Do we want a prosperous society, a growing economy, and a strong manufacturing base fueled by affordable natural gas, or do we want an elite class of trial lawyers and winners of the litigation lottery? (continue reading…)

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If Elected, I Will Moonlight as a Hollywood Press Agent!

As the natural gas industry group Energy in Depth reports, “At a Capitol Hill press conference today, a small group of critics opposed to the responsible development of job-creating American oil and natural gas – including U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), actor Mark Ruffalo, and GasLand filmmaker Josh Fox – are poised to renew calls for a one-size-fits-all, federal takeover of hydraulic fracturing, a 60 year-old energy stimulation technology used to enhance 90 percent of the nation’s onshore wells.”

Lee Fuller, executive director of Energy In Depth, issued a statement:

It’s clear that this event, scripted by a Hollywood publicist one week before the Academy Awards, is focused on achieving staged drama and inside-the-beltway chatter about a ‘documentary’ that’s been debunked in its entirety.

Refusing to engage in a fact and science-based dialogue, New York City stage director Josh Fox, his Hollywood friends, and a few congressmen are more concerned with stunts and scare tactics than working to address critical energy security issues. The American people deserve and expect nothing less than a serious discussion and common sense solutions regarding national energy policy, not tired, misleading talking points from Hollywood elite who’ve never been on a drilling rig.

American natural gas and oil production must absolutely be done safely and in way that protects our environment and water. And for more than 60 years, state governments have ably and effectively regulated hydraulic fracturing. Energy-producing states, who understand their unique geology best, have inspectors and expert scientists in place to ensure that fracturing is done safely not impact groundwater.

The full statement is here. EID offers debunk the bunk-filled film, Gasland, at the group’s website here.

Seems like even members of Congress  can’t resist the lure of movies and movie stars, which is apparently what Mark Ruffalo is. They should try. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), for example, was a prominent promoter of the anti-Chevron movie “Crude,” a film revealed to be a cynical part of the PR strategy directed by U.S. trial lawyers in a corrupt ashakedown suit.

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Haynesville! The Movie

From The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “Documentary about natural gas field debuts on CNBC,” announcing tonight’s premiere of Haynesville, a documentary film that tracks the lives of three people affected by the big Haynesville Shale natural gas field in Louisiana and East Texas.

The full title is Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for an Energy Future. The film outlines potential economic benefits of the field and shale gas development in the U.S., as well as concerns of residents it could directly affect.

The three “stars” of the film are Kassi Fitzgerald, a single mother and community activist who tries to help secure a favorable gas lease agreement and environmental protections for the rural area where she lives; Reegis Richard, a pastor who uses drilling proceeds to benefit his growing church and expand education and recreation opportunities for youths; and Mike Smith, a self-described “country boy” and lover of the outdoors who marvels at his new millionaire status while trying to keep his rural-oriented life on an even keel.

Haynesville will premiere tonight 9 p.m. Eastern on CNBC. The one hour documentary will repeat at 10 p.m., midnight and 1 a.m.

The movie’s website is www.haynesvillemovie.com. We’re already awaiting the sequel, Marcellus!

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’60 Minutes’, Hydrofracturing, and Cowboys Beat Giants

“60 Minutes” ran a segment Sunday on the growth of natural gas production in the United States thanks to hydrofracturing; the technology uses pressurized fluids to crack shale formations deep underground to release the gas. Given the CBS program’s tendency to sensationalize, we were a little surprised to see industry representatives make such positive comments about the piece, “Energy: The Pros and Cons of Shale Gas Drilling: Emerging Energy Source Burns Cleaner Than Coal, Could Reduce U.S. Dependence On Foreign Oil.”

As The Times-Leader of Wilkes-Barre reported in “TV report focuses on gas drilling”:

Chris Tucker, of EnergyInDepth.org, an organization that promotes the benefits of natural gas drilling, said the segment was “fairly balanced,” although the show didn’t get everything right.

“I think they did a great job of telling the story of real people, everyday people, all across the country whose lives have changed for the better thanks to the development of this clean, American resource,” Tucker said.

“They didn’t quite get it right when they attempted to venture into the regulatory history of hydraulic fracturing. The reality is that fracturing technology is among the most thoroughly regulated procedures that takes place at the wellsite, which is a big reason why it’s been able to compile such a solid record of safety and performance over the past 60 years of commercial use.”

The most heated debates over hydrofracking are occurring in Pennsylvania and New York, regions where the Marcellus Shale formation is being developed (less so in New York). Critics often claim methane contaminates water wells and even causes explosions. A “60 Minutes” scene showed a man lighting a flame while filling a water jug from his well. But, as Travis Windle of the Marcellus Shale Coalition points out in the Times-Leader story, “Pennsylvania has a long and well-documented history of naturally occurring methane entering private water wells. ‘It will take private water well standards and fact-based reporting on pre-existing methane in water wells from shallow sources of contamination to demonstrate how safe shale gas development is,’ he said.” (continue reading…)

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TV Writers Display Their Ignorance About Oil and Gas Production

The new NBC procedural, Law and Order: Los Angeles has so far avoided the politically correct scolding that made the original series so tiresome its last decade or so. The episode Wednesday featured an “equal-opportunity killing,” as The Los Angeles Times’ reviewer summarized it.

Still, something rang false in the show, “Hondo Field.” The episode guide summarizes:

It’s 4:00 a.m. and two teens are skinny-dipping at an El Segundo Beach, where they discover a drowned corpse. Dawn has broken by the time TJ and Winters arrive to check out the body of Freddy Ramirez. He’s got oil on his clothes, oil in his mouth, and an account at GoldShore Oil Credit Union. TJ looks up to spy an offshore drilling rig five miles out to sea. After her investigation, the coroner knows Freddy was drunk when he died, which was before he hit the water. Since the oil company records claim roughneck Freddy punched into the Hondo Field rig where he worked at 2:36 a.m., the detectives visit GoldShore’s VP, who claims jurisdiction for all oil rig accidents belongs to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

A drilling rig, five miles off the coast of Southern California? Don’t think so.

Aside from that fundamental mistake, good episode. We stuck with it, as opposed to the enervated CBS series, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which on Thursday fictionalized the already fictional “Gasland” movie to come up with this plot in an episode entitled, “Fracked“: “Two men are murdered right before exposing a natural gas company for poisoning residents in a farming town, and the CSIs must discover who is responsible for their deaths.”

Yes, yes, it’s fiction, a procedural drama, and writers are allowed a little artistic license. Perhaps at the end of the episode, the alienists explained the error of their ways. Somehow we doubt it.

(continue reading…)

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Drill, North Dakota, Drill — and the Rest of the Country, Too

“Drill, North Dakota, Drill,” is the headline on a recent editorial in Investor’s Business Daily hailing the economic benefits from energy development in North Dakota.

One state, North Dakota, is in a boom of sorts, so much so that it was rated by the Adversity Index as the first state to have moved out of the recession and actual expansion mode.

The key may be North Dakota’s development of the energy resources under its soil and in its rocks, something the Obama administration is loath to do nationally. Instead we get drilling moratoriums and polar bear habitat protection that serve to make America the only industrialized nation not developing its domestic energy resources.

North Dakota is simply gushing. It has a billion-dollar budget surplus and oil revenues ready to shoot up 70% over the next two years.

Contrast this with the Gulf states, where job losses could reach tens of thousands as the oil industry atrophies and rigs leave for foreign waters.

North Dakota has risen to become the fourth largest oil-producing state in the nation. Along with a friendly population and reasonable regulatory environment, thanks for the boom go to the technological advances like hydrofracturing and horizontal drilling that have made it profitable to develop the oil-rich Bakken Shale formation.  

Hydrofrac is already helping to create thousands of jobs in the states that lie above the Marcellus Shale. From AP:

A recent report by Pennsylvania State University, commissioned by a natural gas industry group, predicts that in 2010 drilling in Pennsylvania’s shale formations will add 89,000 jobs and inject $8 billion in spending into the state.

And consumers of natural gas are welcoming low prices. Analysts predict heating bills this winter could be as low or lower than last year and sharply lower than in recent years. Through the first six months of 2010, average residential gas prices were 9 percent lower than for the same period in 2009 and 18 percent lower than in 2008, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Pennsylvania’s political leaders are stuck on the details of an excise tax on the natural gas, but by and large the state seems welcoming to the Marcellus Shale development. In New York, unfortunately, the environmentalist reactionaries and anti-energy forces are slowing the development and jobs that come with it.

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Natural Gas is So Great. Now Let’s Regulate It Into Submission

Talk about your mixed messages. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) unveiled an “energy” bill on Tuesday that would spend $3.8 billion on rebates to retrofit trucks and other fleet vehicles to natural gas. But at the same time, the bill embraces the environmentalists’ favorite line of attack against hydrofracturing, the technology used to develop the nation’s abundant deposits of shale gas.

From CQ Politics, “Reid’s Energy Bill Revives Fight Over Hydraulic Fracturing“:

Senate Republicans and small oil and gas producers are crying foul over a provision in Majority Leader Harry Reid ’s energy bill that would impose new chemical disclosure requirements on a controversial onshore drilling technique.

The language, included in Reid’s energy bill released Tuesday night, would force companies to publicly disclose the chemicals involved in hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from shale deposits. The widely used process, also called “fracking,” involves injecting water, sand and chemicals deep underground to force the gas to the surface.

Environmental and anti-energy groups try to alarm the public over hydrofracturing by putting the words “chemicals” and “water” together in the same sentence, not really caring that the pressurized liquids used to fracture the gas-bearing strata are injected thousands of feet below the drinking water. As long as you can scare people.

You can see the effect in scores of news reports like this one from Pittsburgh radio station KDKA, in which a local resident complains his drinking water is tainted, but the state environmental agency finds no evidence.

“That’s exactly right,” Helen Humphreys, a spokesperson for the DEP, said. “The test results came back with results that are consistent with water in southwestern Pennsylvania.”

The DEP says it also has been unable to verify any contamination cases in the state caused by drilling, even though much of the public believes otherwise.

The Reid provisions resemble a bill sponsored by Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA), S. 1215, the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act.

OK, but why not disclose the chemicals if there’s no risk to the public? Lee Fuller, head of the industry alliance, Energy In Depth, explained:
(continue reading…)

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The Link: Natural Gas and Manufacturing Jobs

President Obama visited Youngstown, Ohio, in mid-May to promote the Administration’s economic policies, pointing to the stimulus bill’s success in encouraging investment and job creation. To illustrate his argument, he appeared at V&M Star, a manufacturing of steel tubular goods, embarking on a $650 million expansion.

In the President’s remarks, he hailed the new railroad spur that encouraged the company’s expansion.

So as a result of this investment, V&M Star’s parent company decided to invest $650 million of its own money — its own money — (applause) — to build a new one-million-square-foot mill right here in Youngstown, the largest industrial plant built in the valley since GM built its plant over in Lordstown in the 1960s.  Think about that — biggest investment since the 1960s — 50 years.  (Applause.)  So right here, in the heart of the old steel corridor, where some never thought we’d see an investment like this again, they’re placing a bet on American manufacturing and on this community.

And that bet is going to pay off for 400 construction jobs once they break ground this summer; 350 new manufacturing jobs once the mill comes online, which doubles the current workforce.

Infrastructure investment is critical to the manufacturing sector, of course. It was one of the key elements of a Milken Institute study, “Jobs for America: Investments and Policies for Economic Growth and Competitiveness,” sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers.

But there better be an economic reason to justify the infrastructure, some underlying demand that inspires the investment. Unfortunately, President Obama made only one passing reference to the basic reason for V&M Star’s expansion — natural gas, that is, shale gas, that is, the Marcellus Shale, made accessible by hydrofracturing technology.

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held at V&M Star the end of June, and the local newspaper, The Vindicator, reported on the event. From “V&M Star’s $650m expansion gets rolling“:

Philippe Crouzet, chairman of the Vallourec Management Board, praised the private- and public-sector cooperation that made V&M’s expansion possible. [Vallourec is the French parent company.]

“Every aspect of our endeavor is coming together remarkably well,” Crouzet said. “There was an unprecedented collaboration between elected leaders, government professionals and the business community.”

The expansion will allow V&M Star to respond to the growing demands of its natural-gas customers in the Marcellus Shale, Crouzet said. The shale, a natural-gas formation the size of Greece located under Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio, could contain as much as 489 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

“We are building the future in a market that has great opportunities,” Crouzet said. “V&M is well-positioned to serve as a bridge between this demand and supply.”

In case there was any doubt about the connection between economic activity, jobs and the Marcellus Shale, the American Petroleum Institute has released a new study that documents the value of natural gas. From the news release, “New Study Finds Natural Gas in Marcellus Shale Region Worth 280,000 Jobs, $6 Billion in Government Revenue“: (continue reading…)

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Preserving Energy’s (and the Economy’s) Big Success Story

The House Energy and Commerce Committee today reported out H.R. 5320, the Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act, which amends the Safe Water Drinking Act. (Summary sheet.)

Fortunately, the committee did not include in it an amendment by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) that would have unnecessarily limited the use of hydrofracturing practices in the drilling for natural gas. Hydrofracturing is the practice of injecting fluids under high pressure into thousands of feet below the surface to fracture the strata and free up embedded natural gas. DeGette is the sponsor of H.R. 2766, which would replace proven state regulation of the practice with EPA regulation. The National Association of Manufacturers’ Keith McCoy, our vice president of resource policy, wrote a letter to the committee registering the NAM’s objection to DeGett’e amendment, which was withdrawn. From the letter:

[The amendment] and will seek to rewrite the Safe Drinking Water Act in a manner that will limit energy producers’ ability to deploy a key technology, known as hydraulic fracturing, which is needed to access abundant energy resources from shale formations onshore. Congress is already addressing this energy extraction technique by commissioning EPA to perform a study that will assess the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing, a process it found to be safe as a result of a study performed in 2004. If the committee adopts such an amendment, it will undermine congressional and EPA action already initiated to address the issue, while limiting the manufacturing sector’s ability to access domestic energy and grow jobs.

Manufacturers rely on natural gas not only as a source of electricity, but as a feedstock for products such as plastics, fertilizer and pharmaceuticals. U.S. manufacturers use approximately one-third of the nation’s natural gas supplies. Because natural gas is a regional commodity, U.S. manufacturers need reliable and increased access to domestic supplies, especially to the large reserves contained in the nation’s natural gas shale formations.

For more, see the Energy in Depth blog entry, “ICYMI – Rep. DeGette Withdraws Potentially Destructive Amendment Targeting Hydraulic Fracturing.”

UPDATE (1:55 p.m.): Economic recovery is linked to hydrofracturing. Seriously. From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Study: Marcellus Shale will bring 212,000 jobs“:

By 2020, the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry will have created or supported 212,000 Pennsylvania jobs, according to a Penn State projection released Tuesday and paid for by the industry.

“The Economic Impacts of the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Play: An Update,” revises some of the projections made last summer by Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, which had said that 107,000 Marcellus Shale-related jobs would be created in the state by 2010.

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