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Rendell issues forest drilling moratorium (Rendell executive order on Marcellus Shale drilling)
Daily Review ^ | 10/27/2010 | Robert Swift

Posted on 10/27/2010 8:38:08 AM PDT by Qbert

HARRISBURG - About 700,000 acres of state forest land in the Marcellus Shale region is being placed off-limits to any natural gas drilling under an executive order signed Tuesday by Gov. Ed Rendell.

Rendell said a moratorium on new leasing of forest land to drillers is needed to protect Pennsylvania's ability to manage the forests in a sustainable manner and protect the state's forest products and tourism industries. He said an executive order is necessary because the Senate didn't act this session on a House-passed bill to place a three-year moratorium on additional leases while environmental impact issues are studied.

But a question exists how long the executive order will be in effect.

Rendell plans to ask the two gubernatorial candidates, Republican Tom Corbett and Democrat Dan Onorato, to continue the executive order once either takes office in January.

"Tom Corbett will rescind the executive order," said Corbett campaign spokesman Kevin Harley. "He believes it's ill-advised and short-sighted."

Corbett plans to provide environmental protection through proposed regulations to keep wells 2,500 feet away from water sources and stiffen fees for violations, he added.

Onorato wants to study the environmental impact of existing leases before leasing additional acreage, according to a campaign policy document.

The governor's executive order is based on a Department of Conservation and Natural Resources analysis of 800,000 acres of unleased forest land in the Marcellus Shale formation. This acreage covered by the order includes wild and natural areas, old-growth forests, environmentally sensitive areas including wetlands, habitat for endangered species and scenic vistas; wilderness areas; 88,000 acres in the Poconos and 20,000 acres in the Laurel Highlands where ecotourism is developing.

Another 700,000 acres of state forest land in the formation is either leased for oil and gas drilling or the state doesn't own the subsurface mineral rights. The potential exists that companies could drill 1,000 well pads, containing up to 10,000 wells, and build roads and pipelines on this leased land during the next 30 years.

While a de facto moratorium has existed since last spring, Rendell said he made a commitment then to House lawmakers to issue the executive order if the Senate didn't approve the moratorium bill. The breakdown of efforts to enact a state severance tax on natural gas production also influenced his decision, he said.

Meanwhile, five Republican senators from Southeast Pennsylvania have urged their Senate leadership to revive talks on the severance tax and include measures to improve environmental and natural gas safety regulations as well. They are Sens. Ted Erickson, R-26, Drexel Hill; Stewart Greenleaf, R-12, Willow Hill; Bob Mensch, R-24, Schwenksville; Chuck McIlhinney, R-10, Doylestown, and Robert Tomlinson, R-6, Bensalem.

All five hold even-numbered seats, meaning they face reelection Tuesday. All five have Democratic opponents. They represent suburban districts outside the Marcellus Shale drilling zone, but where constituents are concerned about environmental issues and the safety of pipelines transporting natural gas to seaboard cities.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; News/Current Events; US: Pennsylvania
KEYWORDS: energy; naturalgas; pa; pattoomey; rendell; shalegas; tomcorbett

1 posted on 10/27/2010 8:38:12 AM PDT by Qbert
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To: Qbert

the democrats have placed the entire East Coast off limits to prospecting for oil/gas... if its anything like the west coast there could be trillions of barrels..

2 posted on 10/27/2010 8:40:26 AM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: Qbert

let Fast Eddie do his worst. It’ll take Tom Corbett 10 seconds to rescind it.....

3 posted on 10/27/2010 8:42:11 AM PDT by Emperor Palpatine (I'm shocked! Shocked to find out that gambling is going on in here!)
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To: Qbert

A nation not of laws...but of royal Decrees!

4 posted on 10/27/2010 8:42:28 AM PDT by Don Corleone ("Oil the the cannolis. Take it to the Mattress.")
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To: Qbert; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Grampa Dave; SierraWasp

Marcellus Shale Gas Field is the second largest gas field in the world. NY already has a moratorium, now Rendell on forest lands.

I think they should clear cut the forests and install those beautiful, quiet, 200 foot wind towers instead of drilling for cheap, clean efficient natural gas.

5 posted on 10/27/2010 8:48:45 AM PDT by BOBTHENAILER (EPA will rule your life)
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To: hosepipe

The Marcellus Shale only produces natural gas with very little liquids.

6 posted on 10/27/2010 8:55:28 AM PDT by crusty old prospector
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To: hosepipe

trillions of barrels no. Billions not unlikely depending on the area.

7 posted on 10/27/2010 9:04:24 AM PDT by utherdoul
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To: Qbert

These people are certifiably insane.

8 posted on 10/27/2010 9:06:30 AM PDT by FarRightFanatic (It wasn't an election. It was a socialist coup.)
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To: Qbert

There is a well going in right on my property line in Potter co. Pa. They have destroyed hundreds of acres of good hunting land in my immediate area alone. I have to have my well tested on an ongoing basis to see if it has been comtaminated. On the other hand, it has brought prosperity and jobs to an area of Pa. that has always had high unemployment. As a property owner and a hunter it’s difficult sometimes to see the positives on this. I will say, however, that the drilling company bends over backward to address any questions or concerns we property owners might have.

9 posted on 10/27/2010 9:18:02 AM PDT by Russ (Repeal the 17th amendment)
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Fracture drilling in the Marcellus Shale Gas Field could produce enormous amounts of clean natural gas and lower energy costs in the eastern US. To fence off state forest land is stupid. The drilling pads are only a few acres in size, the damage from access roads is less than the present fire control lanes and there is very little pollution from this drilling method. The left says fracture drilling may taint the water table, but has no science to back this up.

Drill baby drill!

10 posted on 10/27/2010 9:19:35 AM PDT by RicocheT
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To: hosepipe
the democrats have placed the entire East Coast off limits to prospecting for oil/gas... if its anything like the west coast there could be trillions of barrels..

NY and NJ (D)Governors banned offshore drilling on the Continental Shelf off their shores in 1981. There exist vast supplies of natural gas, enough to supply the heating and power generation needs of the whole East and SE with very clean energy. But it is obstructed every single time whether it is Alaska,California,Florida and now the Fedzilla has all but killed the industry in the Gulf. Now this on land in PA. Didn't PA sell or lease the mineral rights for this?

There has been a pattern of this by Democrats. Remember all the Democrat Governors Assn. meetings? Dirty deals done behind closed doors for many years to keep us all dependent on foreign oil and govn't handouts.

Treasonous, that's what it is.

11 posted on 10/27/2010 9:25:39 AM PDT by Spitzensparkin1 (Arrest and deport all illegal aliens. Illegal is not a race - it is a crime. WhooRaah! Arizona!)
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To: Spitzensparkin1

I wouldn’t worry these states will have to pay huge bills, soon.

12 posted on 10/27/2010 9:28:03 AM PDT by scooby321
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To: RicocheT

You got it. One of my clients is very active in the PA Marcellus and another one is in NY, pushing hard to lift the idiotic moratorium there.

The impact of the Marcellus in PA is readily visible and appreciated throughout the state, regardless of what the left says. The ecnomics are clear, some 95,000 NEW JOBS and literally billions of dollars to the State and the lucky landowners, for lease dollars, royalty, etc. The trickle down is truly phenomenal. I’ve seen hotels in the southern part of NY fill up with just the overflow from full PA lodging——which you can hardly ever find.

13 posted on 10/27/2010 9:33:08 AM PDT by BOBTHENAILER (EPA will rule your life)
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To: Qbert

Throwing his temper-tantrum because the legislature refused to give him that tax, and he really really really wanted it. Your time is up, Ed. You’re yesterday’s news. Go home and get ready to go back to your old job as a bagman in Philly.

14 posted on 10/27/2010 10:45:36 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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How deep do they go to reach the shale?

15 posted on 10/27/2010 3:18:56 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ( Support Geert Wilders)
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To: BOBTHENAILER; Marine_Uncle
Looking around:

Marcellus Shale - Appalachian Basin Natural Gas Play


New research results surprise everyone on the potential of this well-known Devonian black shale.

Super Giant Field in the Appalachians?

A few years ago every geologist involved in Appalachian Basin oil and gas knew about the Devonian black shale called the Marcellus. Its black color made it easy to spot in the field and its slightly radioactive signature made it a very easy pick on a geophysical well log.

However, very few of these geologists were excited about the Marcellus Shale as a major source of natural gas. Wells drilled through it produced some gas but rarely in enormous quantity. Few if any in the natural gas industry suspected that the Marcellus might soon be a major contributor to the natural gas supply of the United States - large enough to be spoken of as a "super giant" gas field.

Early Marcellus Estimates by USGS

As recently as 2002 the United States Geological Survey in its Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of the Appalachian Basin Province, calculated that the Marcellus Shale contained an estimated undiscovered resource of about 1.9 trillion cubic feet of gas. [1] That's a lot of gas but spread over the enormous geographic extent of the Marcellus it was not that much per acre.

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The First Hints of Big Production

Range Resources - Appalachia, LLC may have started the Marcellus Shale gas play. In 2003 they drilled a Marcellus well in Washington County, Pennsylvania and found a promising flow of natural gas [2]. They experimented with drilling and hydraulic fracturing methods that worked in the Barnett Shale of Texas. Their first Marcellus gas production from the well began in 2005. Between then and the end of 2007 more than 375 gas wells with suspected Marcellus intent had been permitted in Pennsylvania [2].

Recent Surprise Estimates

In early 2008, Terry Englander, a geoscience professor at Pennsylvania State University, and Gary Lash, a geology professor at the State University of New York at Fredonia, surprised everyone with estimates that the Marcellus might contain more than 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Using some of the same horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing methods that had previously been applied in the Barnett Shale of Texas, perhaps 10% of that gas (50 trillion cubic feet) might be recoverable. That volume of natural gas would be enough to supply the entire United States for about two years and have a wellhead value of about one trillion dollars! [5]

What is the Marcellus Shale?

marcellus shale Marcellus Shale: Videos, News, Lease
& Royalty Information
The Marcellus Shale, also referred to as the Marcellus Formation, is a Middle Devonian-age black, low density, carbonaceous (organic rich) shale that occurs in the subsurface beneath much of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. Small areas of Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia are also underlain by the Marcellus Shale. See the map of the Marcellus Shale above.

How Deep is the Marcellus Shale?

Throughout most of its extent, the Marcellus is nearly a mile or more below the surface. The map at right shows the depth of the Marcellus Shale. These great depths make the Marcellus Formation a very expensive target. Successful wells must yield large volumes of gas to pay for the drilling costs that can easily exceed a million dollars for a traditional vertical well and much more for a horizontal well with hydraulic fracturing.

Using the two maps together, some especially interesting areas can be seen. These are where thick Marcellus Shale can be drilled at minimum depths. Although this is a great oversimplification, it correlates with the heavy leasing activity that has occurred in parts of northern Pennsylvania and western New York.

Where is the Highest Production Potential?

Rock units are not homogeneous. The gas in the Marcellus Shale is a result of its contained organic content. Logic therefore suggests that the more organic material there is contained in the rock the greater its ability to yield gas. John Harper of the Pennsylvania Geological Survey suggests that the areas with the greatest production potential might be where the net thickness of organic-rich shale within the Marcellus Formation is greatest. A map showing this distribution for the state of Pennsylvania is shown at right. Northeastern Pennsylvania is where the thick organic-rich shale intervals are located.

Well Production Rates

Before 2000, many successful natural gas wells had been completed in the Marcellus. The yields of these wells were often unimpressive upon completion. However, many of these older wells in the Marcellus have a sustained production that decreases slowly over time. Many of them continued to produce gas for decades. A patient investor might make a profit from these low yield wells with slowly declining production rates.

For new wells drilled with the new horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies the inital production can be much higher than what was seen in the old wells. Early production rates from some of the new wells has been over one million cubic feet of natural gas per day. The technology is so new that long term production data is not available. As with most gas wells, production rates will decline over time, however, a second hydraulic fracturing treatment could restimulate production.

How Does the Gas Occur in the Rock?

Natural gas occurs within the Marcellus Shale in three ways: 1) within the pore spaces of the shale; 2) within vertical fractures (joints) that break through the shale; and, 3) adsorbed on mineral grains and organic material. Most of the recoverable gas is contained in the pore spaces. However, the gas has difficulty escaping through the pore spaces because they are very tiny and poorly connected.

Most historic wells in the Marcellus produced gas at a very slow rate because of the low permeability mentioned above. This is typical for a shale. However, some of the most successful historic wells in the Marcellus share a common characteristic: they intersect numerous fractures. These fractures allow the gas to flow through the rock unit and into the well bore. The fractures intersecting the well also intersect other fractures and those fractures intersect still more fractures. Thus, an extensive fracture network allows one well to drain gas from a very large volume of shale. A single well can recover gas from many acres of surrounding land.

Horizontal Drilling to Penetrate More Fractures

The fractures (also known as "joints") in the Marcellus Shale are vertical. So, a vertical borehole would be expected to intersect very few of them. However, a horizontal well, drilled perpendicular to the most common fracture orientation should intersect a maximum number of fractures.

The diagram to the right illustrates the concept of a horizontal well. High yield wells in the Marcellus Shale have been built using the horizontal drilling technique. Some horizontal wells in the Marcellus Shale have initial flows that suggest that they are capable of yielding millions of cubic feet of gas per day, making them some of the most productive gas wells in the eastern United States. Although some experts are very optimistic on the long-term production rates of these wells, it is too early to determine their productive life or long-term yield.

Increase the Number of Fractures

A second method is used to increase the productivity of a well. That is to increase the number of fractures in a well using a technique known as "hydraulic fracturing" or "hydrofracing". This method uses high-pressure water or a gel to induce fractures in the rock surrounding the well bore.

Hydrofracing is done by sealing off a portion of the well and injecting water or gel under very high pressure into the isolated portion of the hole. The high pressure fractures the rock and pushes the fractures open.

Water concersn with hydraulic fracturing Read USGS Report
To prevent the fractures from closing when the pressure is reduced several tons of sand or other "propant" is pumped down the well and into the pressurized portion of the hole. When the fracturing occurs millions of sand grains are forced into the fractures. If enough sand grains are trapped in the fracture it will be propped partially open when the pressure is reduced. This provides an improved permeability for the flow of gas to the well.

Economic Significance of the Marcellus Shale Gas Field

The presence of an enormous volume of potentially recoverable gas in the eastern United States has a great economic significance. This will be some of the closest natural gas to the high population areas of New Jersey, New York and New England. This transportation advantage will give Marcellus gas a distinct advantage in the marketplace.

Gas produced from the shallower, western portion of the Marcellus extent (see map above) might be transported to cities in the central part of the United States. It should have a positive impact on the stability of natural gas supply of the surrounding region for at least several years if the resource estimate quoted above proves accurate.

Gas Leases & Signing Bonuses

mineral rights Learn About
Mineral Rights
Many landowners are being approached with offers to lease their land. The size of the signing bonuses that have been paid in transactions between informed buyers and informed sellers is directly related to two factors: 1) the level of uncertainty in the mind of the buyer, and 2) the number of other buyers competing to make the purchase. These factors have changed significantly in a very short time.

As recently as 2005 there was very little interest in leasing properties for Marcellus Shale gas production. The Marcellus was not considered to be an important gas resource and a technology for tapping it had not been demonstrated. At that time the level of uncertainty in the minds of the buyers was very high and the signing bonuses were a few dollars per acre.

When the potential of the Marcellus was first suspected in 2006 a small number of speculators began leasing land - paying risky signing bonuses that were sometimes as high as $100 per acre. In late 2007 signing bonuses of a few hundred dollars per acre were common. Then, as the technology was demonstrated and publicized signing bonuses began to rise rapidly. By early 2008 several wells with strong production rates were drilled, numerous investors began leasing and the signing bonuses rose from a few hundred dollars per acre up to over $2000 per acre for the most desirable properties.

If the results of current and future drilling activity do not match the expectations of companies paying for leases the amounts that they are willing to pay could drop rapidly.

Gas Royalties

royalty calculator
Gas Royalty
Although signing bonuses generate an enormous amount of interest because they are guaranteed income, royalties can be significantly higher. A royalty is a share of a well's income. The customary royalty rate is 12.5 percent of the value of gas produced by a well. Higher royalty rates are sometimes paid by aggressive buyers for highly desirable properties.

The royalties paid to eligible property owners from a well yielding over one million cubic feet of natural gas per day can be hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

If the Marcellus Shale holds up to the optimistic expectations of some natural gas experts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia could temporarily have an enormous boost in income that might be sustained for a few decades.

Natural Gas Drilling Activity

Several companies are actively drilling or leasing Marcellus Shale properties. Range Resources, North Coast Energy, Chesapeake Energy, Chief Oil & Gas, East Resources , Fortuna Energy, Equitable Production Company, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, Southwestern Energy Production Company, and Atlas Energy Resources are some of the companies involved.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says that drilling permits are up strongly since 2005 and much of the activity increase can be attributed to wells targeting the Marcellus shale. Some of the new wells appear capable of yielding millions of cubic feet per day and that has companies working hard to acquire leases on desirable properties and complete new wells.

Pipelines and Right-of-Ways

Hundreds of thousands of acres above the Marcellus Shale have been leased with the intent of drilling wells for natural gas. However, most of the leased properties are not adjacent to a natural gas pipeline. The total natural gas pipeline capacity currently available is a tiny fraction of what will be needed.

Several new pipelines must be built to transport millions of cubic feet of natural gas per day to major markets. In addition, thousands of miles of natural gas gathering systems must be built to connect individual wells to the major pipelines.

Many property owners will be asked to sign right-of-way agreements that will allow natural gas pipelines and gathering systems to be built across their land. It the property owner is not associated with the gas production there could be compensation for granting the right-of-way. Payments could be as low as a few dollars per linear foot in rural areas to over $100 per foot in urban areas.

Other Gas Shales in the United States

The events described above are not unique to the northeastern United States or the Marcellus Shale. The horizontal drilling and hydrofracing technologies were perfected for shale reservoirs a few years ago in the Barnett Shale of Texas. The technology was then applied in other areas such as the Fayetteville Shale of northcentral Arkansas, the Haynesville Shale of northwestern Louisiana, and the Marcellus Shale in the Appalachians. These are just a few of several unconventional gas plays now happening in the United States and Canada. Similar organic shale deposits in other parts of the world might also produce gas as use of the new technologies spread.

Thickness map of the Marcellus Shale. Modified after: United States Geological Survey, Open-File Report 2006-1237, Assessment of Appalachian Basin oil and gas resources: Devonian Shale-Middle and Upper Paleozoic Total Petroleum System, by Robert Milici and Christopher Swezey. [3]

16 posted on 10/27/2010 3:33:23 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ( Support Geert Wilders)
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To: BOBTHENAILER; Qbert; utherdoul; Russ
If the shale is a mile does facturing impact the water supply?

See the article I just posted above.

What gets destroyed on the surface?

17 posted on 10/27/2010 3:36:25 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ( Support Geert Wilders)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
"What gets destroyed on the surface?"

When they go in and build a pad they clear acres of land, whether it is fields or woodland, it doesn't matter. Add to that the heavy trucks and equipment destroying the rural roads and you have a muddy mess.

The drilling co. is, by law, required to periodically test all wells within a certain distance of their drilling pads. I'm not a geologist but I do know that the chemicals they use in the water that they drill with can cause contamination. So far, my well has been tested three times and is OK.

18 posted on 10/27/2010 4:56:27 PM PDT by Russ (Repeal the 17th amendment)
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To: Qbert

the moonbats have cowed him

now that global warming is dead, killing off the gas is the cause de jour

19 posted on 10/27/2010 5:04:59 PM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... Greetings Jacques. The revolution is coming)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
"Tom Corbett will rescind the executive order," said Corbett campaign spokesman Kevin Harley. "He believes it's ill-advised and short-sighted."
Damn fast Eddy, the bastard, will soon be out. Lord willing enough of Republicans and Independents will get off their asses next week and vote in Tom Corbett.
20 posted on 10/27/2010 8:09:48 PM PDT by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned....)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Whoops. Forgot to thank you for the URL link to the site going into in-depth detail about these formations.

21 posted on 10/27/2010 8:19:46 PM PDT by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned....)
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