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Chevron Continues Aggressive Expansion into Marcellus Shale in PA – Buys Leases for Additional 228K Acres from Chief Oil & Gas

In February of this year, Chevron completed a $3.58 billion purchase of Atlas Energy Inc. (headquartered in Moon Township, PA) with gas leases for 622,000 acres in the Marcellus Shale. Chevron is on the move again announcing yesterday it is acquiring an additional 228,000 acres of Marcellus Shale gas leases from Chief Oil & Gas, primarily in southwestern PA. Although Chief is selling off its southwestern PA gas leases, it plans to remain active with its remaining 125,000 acres of gas leases in northeastern PA.

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PA DEP Kills Directive Requiring Inspectors to Get Approval Before Issuing Violation Citations

Michael Krancer, secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), has tried (unsuccessfully) to defend a directive to make DEP field inspectors clear all drilling violation citations through Harrisburg first by saying that wasn’t really what he meant. The reality is the policy, whatever its intent, was poorly conceived and poorly executed. Krancer, who previously was an environmental law judge in PA, said the policy was meant to strengthen the citations so they would better stand up if challenged in court, and not an attempt to water down or prevent citations from being issued. Makes no difference. Krancer and the DEP lost the publicity battle and have now reversed the policy.

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Etna, PA Illegal Ban on Marcellus Shale Drilling to End Soon

The borough of Etna, PA, located in Allegheny County (near Pittsburgh) plans to reverse its ban on Marcellus Shale drilling in the borough. The original ban is illegal according to Pennsylvania state law.

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Marcellus Drillers Attempting to Woe Chemical Companies to Build Plants in the Marcellus

Marcellus Shale drillers and regional economic development agencies are trying to interest chemical companies in locating to southwest PA and northern WV by building “cracking plants” that would convert some of the compounds from Marcellus drilling into the raw material used to manufacture plastics and other chemical products. Just one such plant would mean a $1 billion investment, creating thousands of short-term jobs to build the plant, and hundreds of permanent jobs to staff it once built.

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Maryland Landowners in Marcellus Shale Region – energyNOW! TV Show Wants to Speak with You

energyNOW! is a weekly half-hour television program on Bloomberg TV and ABC-7 in Washington DC covering energy and environmental stories. MDN recently received a request from energyNOW! producer Shawn Shepard to see if we can help locate landowners in Maryland willing to talk on-camera for an upcoming energyNOW! segment. Here is Shawn’s request:

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NY Landowners Sue Chesapeake & Statoilhydro Over Force Majeure Lease Extension

A number of landowners in New York’s Southern Tier region (Broome and Tioga Counties) signed leases with gas companies in 2000 for peanuts, $3 per acre, long before shale gas drilling was discovered and used. The technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have been around for decades, but it wasn’t until 2006 that the two were combined to tap shale gas.

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The Prospects for Continued Expansion of Marcellus Drilling – Some Companies Cooling on Shale Gas Drilling

Will drilling in the Marcellus Shale, or other shale plays for that matter, continue its red-hot growth? The honest answer is, who knows? It depends on whether or not it’s profitable for energy companies to continue their shale gas drilling expansion. Right now, it appears that at least some companies are leaning away from further expansion in shale gas drilling because the commodity price of natural gas is low compared with oil. Many (most?) of the companies who drill for natural gas also drill for oil. If the price you get for gas is only barely covering your costs to drill, as it is right now for natural gas, you take a close look at the alternatives, like oil.

Some of the factors that will continue to affect the price of natural gas in the coming few years, and hence drillers’ willingness to drill:

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Maryland AG Sues Chesapeake Energy Over Spill in Pennsylvania

Douglas F GanslerMaryland’s Attorney General, Douglas F. Gansler, has filed an “intent to sue” on Chesapeake Energy because of the accidental spill of fracking fluid in April in Leroy Township, PA (read MDN’s story about the spill here). Mr. Gansler’s rationale for his litigiousness is that the fluid reached a small stream that feeds the Towanda Creek, and the Towanda Creek in turn empties into the Susquehanna River, and the Susquehanna River empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Therefore, according to Gansler, several federal statutes have been violated, including the Clean Water Act. Also, the City of Baltimore uses the Susquehanna as a backup source of water “in times of drought.”

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Legislation to Regulate Large Water Withdrawals in NY Waterways Makes Progress

New York State’s long, ponderous, tedious road to allow Marcellus Shale drilling takes another small step forward—maybe.

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Ohio Township, PA Supervisors Pass Ordinance to Restrict Marcellus Shale Drilling Activities

Supervisors in Ohio Township (Allegheny County), PA last night voted to approve an ordinance that places restrictions on Marcellus Shale drilling in the Township. According to Township Solicitor Mike Witherel, the previous ordinance, passed in 2003, placed no restrictions on drilling. The new ordinance puts in place common sense restrictions on drilling activities.

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