Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bad economy? Not in the Marcellus Shale

Mr Obama, don't bother sending stimulus money to Honesdale, Pa. The folks up there may soon be swimming in dough put up by the Hess Corporation in return for rights to drill for natural gas.

The Wayne Independent reported yesterday that, in the past two weeks, property owners have signed leases allowing Hess to drill on more than 62,000 acres of property--and more leases are expected.

"Principals of the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance, a massive landowners group that came together to enhance bargaining power with the drilling industry, have reached a final lease agreement with global-energy giant Hess Corporation after months of negotiation with other companies. "

The properties covered by the leases so far amount to almost 13 percent of the land in Wayne County. Hess and other gas exploration companies are targeting the natural-gas rich Marcellus Shale, a huge rock formation running through mostly rural parts of New York state and Pennsylvania.

The pace of leasing, which was brisk in both states in 2008, slowed this year due to economic uncertainty and growing environmental concerns.

In New York, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is reviewing what the environmental impact may be of horizontal drilling necessary to tap the Marcellus Shale, as well as regulations to handle it. While doing so, the DEC has stopped issuing the type of permits needed for full production of the Marcellus to begin.

The delay is not sitting well with area property owners who don't want to see Mr. Opportunity knock elsewhere. On Sunday, more than 2,000 residents gathered at a rally in Bainbridge, NY to urge state officials to allow energy companies to begin drilling in their backyards. They also oppose a move in Congress to take a closer look at fracking, the method used to dislodge gas from shale and bring it to the surface.

Tom Wilbur/Press and Sun-Bulletin

The Press and Sun Bulletin reported:

"With thunder-heads looming in the background and county and western musicians jamming from a large stage in the park's center, rally-goers set up folding chairs and umbrellas on the lawn. Many circulated among makeshift booths in shelters and pavilions, where lawyers and financial firms offered their services and advice to landowners, some on the verge of suddenly becoming wealthy."

In Pennsylvania, the state Department of Environmental Protection plans a public meeting and hearing in October for each of two permit applications for proposed facilities in Wyoming County for the discharge of treated wastewater associated with natural gas drilling activities.

One application was submitted by North Branch Processing LLC to discharge up to 500,000 gallons per day of treated gas drilling wastewater to the Susquehanna River from a proposed treatment plant in Eaton Township, Wyoming County.

The second was submitted by Wyoming Somerset Regional Water Resources Corp. to discharge up to 380,000 gallons per day of treated gas drilling wastewater to Meshoppen Creek from a proposed treatment plant in Lemon Township, Wyoming County.


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