Wednesday, April 24, 2013

SCLOC Trip to Albany

On April 22, three members of the Steuben County Landowners Coalition had the opportunity to meet with DEC Deputy Commissioner Eugene J. Leff, and Director of Division of Mineral Resources, Bradley Field. SCLOC thanks DEC for taking the time for this meeting. Many questions were asked by all in the meeting. Very little new information was obtained on the SCLOC end, but Albany knows very well that Steuben County and all landowners in New York are tired of this five-year delay. It’s time for Governor Cuomo to stop caring about what the Hollywood elite think about fossil fuels. There are thirty governors in the thirty states that are allowing hydraulic fracturing. Are they not concerned about health, safety and the survival of agriculture in their states? Is there any common sense left in Albany?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Anti-Fracking Equals Pro-Poverty for New York

Written by Mike Morrongiello in Star 4/17/2013 I have good news and bad news. First the good news: The elected representatives of Painted Post (population 1,847) recently agreed to sell 314 million gallons of water for an astounding $4 million per year to a gas-drilling company in Pennsylvania. The money would have enabled them to upgrade the village’s aging water system and more. The Wellsboro and Corning Railroad leased the long-vacated Ingersoll Rand Foundry from the village and agreed to build the needed infrastructure to ship the water. The bad news is that local anti-fracking organizations are fanatically opposed to hydraulic fracturing, to economic development, and to prosperity, anywhere. Now enter the environmental lobbying Goliath, the Sierra Club, which is based in California. The Sierra Club, along with two local anti-fracking organizations and five local plaintiffs, filed suit to stop the water sale. Their stated reasons: the trains are noisy, the engines pollute the air and might pollute the water. A state Supreme Court judge has halted the project. Like many upstate communities, Painted Post is dying, a victim of government policies that destroy business and jobs. They’re losing population, leaving an older, poorer tax base behind. Then the Sierra Club comes to town and uses its bully tactics to slap tiny Painted Post around. The anti-frackers can’t just say no to the gas and oil revolution which is creating prosperity everywhere gas drilling is permitted. They must offer an alternative: theirs is a fossil fuel-free New York by 2030. All we have to do is build 4,020 onshore wind turbines, 12,770 offshore wind turbines and 5 million rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems statewide. It’s a plan only a Stalinist could love: force everyone to buy expensive energy (wind and solar) while squashing the development of affordable energy (gas and oil). Even with massive taxpayer subsidies, rooftop PV systems are still expensive and take many years to pay for themselves; that’s why they don’t sell. Just look at the rooftops in your neighborhood. See any solar panels? We need jobs and growth right now, not sunshine fantasies or winded dreams. The economies of Ohio and Pennsylvania are booming because of gas drilling, and providing real jobs today. That could be us — it should be us. Painted Post is a microcosm of the fracking debate: prosperity versus poverty, jobs versus unemployment, affordable and accessible energy versus a fantasy. The unemployment numbers peal like a funeral bell for upstate: Steuben County at 11.9 percent, Chemung County at 10.5 percent, Schuyler County at 10.5 percent. Yet the anti-frackers squash prosperity wherever they see it, even in tiny struggling Painted Post. They’re on a search-and-destroy mission. Find commerce — stop it. Find jobs — kill them. Find hope — kill that, too.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

SCLOC Thanks Dr. Scott Cline for All He has Done on Educating the Public on the Technology of Shale Development

by EID Guest Blogger . Dr. Scott Cline – PhD, Petroleum Engineering Dr. Scott Cline reports from last week’s Society of Petroleum Engineers Unconventional Resources Conference where engineers and geologists noted that advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are leading to even greater quantities of oil and natural gas being extracted from the nation’s shale plays. This past week I attended the Society of Petroleum Engineers Unconventional Resources Conference in Houston, Tex., where petroleum engineers and geoscientists from around the world discussed cutting-edge advances in shale gas resource estimation techniques and development technologies. Throughout the discussions, one thing was abundantly clear: the shale revolution is just beginning, thanks in large part to technological advancements being implemented in the nation’s oil and natural gas fields. This phenomenon was made abundantly clear by the Potential Gas Committee (PGC), which released its biennial technologically available natural gas resources report the same week as the conference. Taking into account new information, the updated report shows the United States now holds an all-time high of 2,384 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of technically recoverable natural gas, a 22 percent increase from just two years ago. The new estimate indicates a 110-year supply at current consumption. But that is only a part of the story. What’s left untold is that all estimates consider resources that are able to be extracted given the current state of technology. That leaves tremendous room for growth, as the best current technology is only able to recover, for example, less than 25 percent of natural gas entrapped in shale. This means that most of the available energy in any given shale play will be left in place if we assume zero technological advancement. But remember: It wasn’t long ago that folks were saying the exact same thing about virtually all of our shale and “tight” resources. Technological advancement is not a fait accompli, but to assume it won’t happen at all is to ignore history entirely. So with that as background, let’s examine the effect of technology and the historical miscalculation of its importance in increasing our nation’s hydrocarbon reserves. The figures below compare the U.S. Energy Information Agency’s (EIA) 2000 report with its 2012 outlook. EIA recognized the emergence of unconventional resources in 2000, but vastly underestimated their future effect: EIA estimated in 2000 that, by 2010, technological improvements in unconventional resources might add only about one tcf to natural gas reserves, for a total of about five tcf per year from unconventional sources. Fast forward to EIA’s 2012 report and we see that actual 2010 production from unconventional resources was double the predicted amount, and is now projected to increase even more rapidly. This is an important fact to keep in mind. Estimates suggesting the United States has a 100-year supply of natural gas are based on “current” technology and, more importantly, exclude the possibility of technological advancements. How Can We Get More Resource Out of Shale? So what is leading to the continual increases in recoveries per unit volume of rock and where are we likely headed? This was the primary topic of the SPE conference. To understand this in greater detail one needs to understand the shale reservoir from which natural gas is being extracted Because of the quadruple porosity system – consisting of low permeability matrix porosity coupled with organic porosity, natural fractures and induced hydraulic fractures – the flow regime from shale is complex. Without breaking the low permeability matrix into smaller blocks and connecting each of them with high permeability fractures, much of the natural gas will be stranded and unavailable for production. Horizontal wells with hydraulic fractures have been successful in solving part of the problem, but it’s only one step in a much larger extraction efficiency story. Advances in drilling, integration of petro-physical and geo-mechanical data, proppant technology and production process advances are leading to ever increasing recoveries. Further, shale is not homogeneous, so targeting the part of the shale with the largest resource is critically important. Advances in drilling with rotary steerable assemblies, diamond crystalline bits and logging are allowing the steering of wells to target the rock with the best hydrocarbon potential and best fracture ability. Simply put, these kinds of technologies are significantly improving production per well. The latest experimental development in this regard is utilizing complex well trajectories, with multiple horizontal legs radiating from the main horizontal to increase the surface area contact with the geological resource. This allows for a greater area to be targeted, thus allowing for increased production and a reducedneed for fracture stimulation. Drilling multiple branched wells rather than a single horizontal well may also help target previously un-stimulated areas of shale rock identified by combining microseismic, 3-D seismic and flow data from individual perforation clusters. Adding to this, research into newer proppants with even higher strength, lower weight and better transport ability coupled with new injection schemes are enabling better proppant placement. Again, to put it simply, this development mean increased production from each well, which in turn means more energy produced with less surface impact. Advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are also responsible for a surge in U.S. oil production. From a steady decline between 1970 and 2008, U.S. production is rising once again thanks to the combination of these two technologies. As is the case with natural gas, considering we are only extracting less than 10 percent of the oil-in-place in shale reservoirs, there is enormous potential for increased production. In fact, some presenters at the SPE conference believed that North America could even be self-sufficient in oil, assuming wide adoption of natural gas in the U.S. trucking fleet and continued increases in oil production by our neighbors in Canada. Workforce Challenges Loom Despite these significant advancements, there was one overriding concern at the conference. Namely, the challenge of finding enough people to fill all the open jobs created by the oil and gas boom. One approach in correcting this problem, however, is already being implemented in Houston, a city widely viewed as the energy capital of the United States. Efforts are underway, for example, to provide training to high school students interested in working in the nation’s oil and gas fields. The Houston Independent School District recently added an Energy Institute High School to provide rigorous scientific training geared to students interested in the energy field. The magnet school will partner with the Independent Petroleum Association of America, which will lend practical experience and training. Three years ago I wrote the Coming Age of Natural Gas in which I expounded on the natural gas opportunity and soundly criticized naysayers like Niall Ferguson (Harvard University) for his “predictions of the collapse of the American Empire,” taking into account the economic progress that shale development would provide. Fast forward to just over a month ago, when a recent Bloomberg article quoted Ferguson as saying, “The benefits of the shale gas type oil revolution are still being underestimated by most observers and I think there’s a lot more upside to come in the United States than most people anticipate.” Ferguson is right. The age of natural gas is no longer coming; it is here and it’s expanding. In the process, it’s bringing our nation phenomenal opportunities for cleaner air, reduced carbon emissions and increased economic vitality. And it’s all made possible by that unique American spirit of innovation and hard work.

Friday, April 12, 2013

SCLOC Thanks Jeff Heller for His Excellent Letter to the Editor of The LEADER

To: Stella Dupree Sent: Friday, April 5, 2013 To The Editor: Here we go again! The environmentalists, the anti-gas drilling, anti-progress, anti-everything except "green" energy folks, have found a new threat in gas drilling - now that all their other concerns have been largely debunked by reputable science. " Drilling Boom Threatens Forest Wildlife." We know this is true because we saw it on the front page of our newspapers on 4/13/13! But wait a minute - there's something 'rotten in Denmark' here. The article says the reclaimed pipelines (great picture of a good reclamation job) are a threat to forest wildlife. Why then have wildlife biologists, for at least fifty years, been telling us that food plots in the woods are one of the best things we can do to improve habitat for our wildlife? Those reclaimed pipelines are nothing but huge food plots. They are especially valuable when they are cut through the woods because they offer cover on both edges - an extremely valuable feature to wildlife. Not pointed out in the article (big surprise here) was the fact that all the pipelines, existing and proposed, might effect as much as 1% of the woodland in Susquehanna and Allegheny counties in Pennsylvania, and most of that is on private land! The devastation is unimaginable. No, I mean it really is unimaginable. "Hawks swoop down and gobble up songbirds." I guess I have to start shooting those Coopers Hawks and Sharp Shins that visit my feeding station regularly. No, I can't do that! They're federally protected. Some environmentalists think the hawks are more valuable than some of those nice sounding Blue Jays that the hawks love to dust once in a while. And now I know where all those weeds in my lawn are coming from - the droppings of the Cowbirds at my feeders! We can't have conditions like that in our woods! Especially not in woods with good canopy cover - where nothing can grow on the woods floor. Those barren areas are a high nutrition source for deer and turkey - aren't they? And ground-nesting birds nests are much easier to see in those plush pipelines' ground growth than they are on the barren woods floor - aren't they? Mr. Begos' story is so bad you have to wonder if at least some of it wasn't written 'tongue in cheek'. But, after five years of debunking so many of the environmentalists' ridiculous statements, it was probably all serious. So, the moral of the story is, once again: "Beam me up Scotty, there's no intelligent life down here". Jeff Heller

Saturday, April 6, 2013

SCLOC Thanks Lisa Robinson for Her Excellent Letter to Governor Cuomo

It has been almost a year since I had a lengthy conversation with one of your staff members regarding dairy farming and land owner rights and I still do not see any progress in the Southern Tier. Our taxes are the highest in the country and the unemployment rate is higher than the national average. Yes you are trying to make provisions for dairy farmers through the yogurt world, but it is not going to have much effect on the small family farms that occupy your state. While milk pricing is done at the federal level and the policies being proposed in Washington would put just about every small dairy farmer out of business. While you and your constituents want dairy farmers to grow by 15%, Washington wants to pass policies that would penalize farmers if they overproduce based on a history of milk production on their farms. And the second federal policy if passed would leave dairy farmers at a loss because it will open the market up to more manipulation of the CME because of profit margins set by processors and manufacturers. On another note is mineral rights, my family has 465 acres that is still under hefty mortgage and with the highest taxes in the country, you can only imagine the amount of money the state has generated just on our property alone. We have a means to use a natural resource under our feet, but because of a almost five year delay from the state of NY, our family cannot use this resource to benefit our family, town, county, state and country. Yes I am talking about drilling. We live three miles from the PA border and have plenty of landowner friends who have seen the benefits drilling and have been able to pull their livelihoods back together. Horizontal drilling hydraulic fracturing has been done in this state of NY for years and with neighboring states prospering it has taken its toll on the Southern Tier. Yes I can almost hear what you are saying to yourself, there are other natural resources (wind and solar) but just so that you know wind studies in this area have proven it is not feasible and my family does not want to loose acres of cropland and pastures to solar panels that would cover a landscape of beautiful open fields, where the cows, deer, turkeys, coyotes, rabbits etc. roam freely. Those acres that would be covered in panels would not be able to produce harvestable crops or graze the cows. Than comes the fact if one malfunctions, where would one dispose of it? Governor Cuomo, while you gave your State of Address, I asked myself why you should be the Governor of this State many times because all I was able to see from you was a dictator with your theme of rafting down the river with your influential friends promoting non-necessities to life like alcohol and mind altering drugs. Governor Cuomo, it is time to look at the greater picture of NY what may be great and wonderful for the City, is not logical for the southern tier. While the City benefits from the resources of upstate, the southern tier is crumbling, families have been destroyed because of the lack of work, government regulations stop landowners from creating revenue, domestic violence is out of control along with alcohol and drug addictions, and you my dear Governor and the State have the audacity to promote and advertise more alcohol, drugs and gambling. Wow, how many more families will be destroyed? How many more business's will leave the Southern Tier? How many more people on unemployment? It's time Governor for you to make a decision for these landowners, they own mineral rights which come with a value that they have paid for and who will compensate these landowners because these rights have been denied for almost five years which could have saved many from foreclosure, bankruptcy, suicide and health related deaths because of the lack of health care facilities and the lack of income. Once again Governor, it's time for a decision and I would personally appreciate a response. Thank you Lisa Robinson, Steuben County Landowner and Dairy Farmer.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

SCLOC Thanks Dan Fritzsimmons for his Excellent Letter

Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin,op-ed by Dan Fitzsimmons- New Yorkers can learn from our neighbors south of the border. Doug McLinko, chairman of the county commissioners of Bradford County, Pa., said in a radio interview last week that more than $100 million was put into the assessed value of his county by businesses operating in the Marcellus Shale. As a result, Bradford County’s debt was eliminated. The trigger for this growth was drilling activity in the Marcellus Shale. With more than 1,800 Marcellus wells drilled to date and no safety or health risks, Bradford County is enjoying unprecedented prosperity. McLinko also said more than $1.5 billion was put into the general fund in Pennsylvania, which will benefit all Pennsylvanians. He is also looking past positive effects in his own community and acknowledging that production of domestic natural gas could make the United States an “energy superpower”: “When you look at what natural gas does, it keeps our kids home, we’ve cut taxes, eliminated debt, we put people to work, we’re saving family farms, we’re keeping open space and greenways. All of the ways out of our financial problems lay under our feet, and we need to develop it.” New York shares the same geology as Pennsylvania; yet, as business and families flourish in Bradford County, it’s a different story in New York’s Southern Tier, just minutes over the border. Unemployment is more than 10 percent. The population loss is significant because key businesses have closed. Property rates are significantly higher, creating more financial burden on taxpayers. Gary Baker, president of Memorial Hospital in Towanda (also in Bradford County), put health fears to rest when he said he wasn’t aware of any diseases or maladies related to chemical or water contamination as a result of hydraulic fracturing. He has seen positive changes as Pennsylvanians thrive with a more stable economy and business growth. Consider the converting aging coal-fuel power plants to natural gas lowers costs for New York’s lagging manufacturing economy while contributing toward cleaner air. Power plants in western and central New York are proposing this change. Not only will conversion eliminate sulfur and mercury as well as lower carbon dioxide emissions, it also will create hundreds of construction jobs and keep these plants open. But, in New York, we only see one delay after another while we starve New Yorkers by cutting off opportunity. Pennsylvania prospers while New York is paralyzed. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said it best in his article in the New York Daily News: “If we choose to embrace natural gas, it will help us get past a number of significant economic and environmental challenges. On the other hand, if we let fear carry the day, we will squander another key moment to move forward together.” New Yorkers, this is our time. Let’s embrace this opportunity bringing us closer to achieving energy independence, cleaner air and economic prosperity. Fitzsimmons, a Conklin resident, is the president of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York