Texas House votes to require disclosure of fracking chemicals
(The Associated Press) - The Texas House has approved what would be the nation's first law to require drilling companies to publicly disclose the contents of fluids used in hydraulic fracturing.
Under the bill approved May 11, natural gas drillers would have to report the content of the fluid to the Texas Railroad Commission, which governs oil and gas drilling in the state. If the company believes the recipe is a trade secret, it can request that the commission keep the contents confidential and the attorney general would decide if the claim of a trade secret is legitimate.
The Republican-controlled House approved the measure on a voice vote; the bill goes next to the Senate for consideration. Some landowners have expressed concern that hydraulic fracturing may contaminate groundwater with toxic chemicals, a contention that gas companies reject.
(WTOV9 TV, Steubenville, Ohio) - The booming natural gas industry has proven lucrative for many people across the Ohio Valley, but in the city of Wellsburg, W.Va., nobody is permitted to cash in on Marcellus Shale riches.
The Wellsburg City Council passed an ordinance May 10 prohibiting natural gas drilling inside city limits and anywhere up to a mile outside city limits. City officials said they are concerned with health, safety and welfare, and want to do what's in residents' best interest. The ordinance takes effect immediately.
As for any landowners upset that they can't transform their properties into big money, Mayor Sue Simonetti said, "We'll have to face what comes. I'm sure there will be some litigation to come. Maybe we can work these things out."
(The Pilot, Southern Pines, N.C.) - Legislation approved by the North Carolina Senate directs the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to review state laws and regulations on "shale gas exploration, development and production, including hydraulic fracturing."
The bill further calls for an inventory of water supplies and evaluation of available water supplies and the potential impact on other water users in any area of shale gas interest.
The bill, which passed the Senate on a 38-12 vote May 10, still must be approved by the House and signed by the governor before becoming law.
(WHYY News, Philadelphia) - It's been three weeks since a natural gas well in northeastern Pennsylvania's Bradford County went out of control, spilling thousands of gallons of chemical-laden hydraulic fracturing fluid. The spill hasn't deterred drilling supporters.
County Commissioner Doug Mclinko points to the county's 5% unemployment rate and the thousands of jobs added last year. That's all because of drilling, he says. "Right here on Main Street, you won't find an empty storefront," he said. What you'll also find on Main Street are water trucks, flatbeds hauling equipment and pickup trucks with names of drilling companies plastered to the side.
And while Bradford County resident Mike Roberts acknowledges drilling is boosting the economy, he's leery about the whole thing. The spill has made him a bit more nervous. "Some locals are finding good paying jobs, which is a plus. But then you have disasters like (the spill). What's going to happen - the long-term effect? We don't know what's going on yet."
(The Express-Times, Easton, PA) - At a hearing May 12 in Bethlehem, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee heard strong support for greater environmental protections and an impact fee on natural gas drilling.
The hearing was the third the committee has held on Marcellus Shale drilling as it determines support for greater regulation of the industry. The committee includes several sponsors of a bill that would institute a 6% severance tax on natural gas drilling.
Bethlehem attorney Tom Aristide said he's usually against increased taxes and regulations. But he said he fishes in the Marcellus Shale region and has already seen the negative effects of gas drilling on fish and water levels. "Government shouldn't tax if they don't have to, except where we have the need for public safety, health and welfare," he said.
(Houston Chronicle) - Houston-based Southern Union Co. and British gas giant BG Group have formed a joint venture and applied for a federal license to export LNG from their Lake Charles, La., LNG import terminal.
The venture wants to modify the import terminal by adding equipment to turn natural gas into a liquid. The application asks for the right to ship more than 2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas over a 25-year period. Early cost estimates for the project are $2 billion to $3 billion.
The natural gas production boom that has come with the expanded development of U.S. shale formations has led to an oversupply of the fuel, making export projects more attractive.
(Reuters) - For the first time in more than 35 years, Tokyo Electric Power Co. has bought LNG from Peru as the utility diversifies its energy sources after a massive earthquake damaged its nuclear plant.
Tokyo Electric is looking to supplement fuel supplies to help cope with expected power supply shortages following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that crippled its Fukushima Daiichi plant.
A Tokyo Electric spokeswoman declined to provide details of the LNG delivery.
(Sydney Morning Herald) - West Australia's massive LNG projects will help lead the nation's largest mining investment boom in its history. According to federal budget projections, there is an estimated $380 billion in resources sector investment on the books.
In the 2011-2012 budget year alone, the resource development industry is planning to invest $76 billion, eight times the level preceding the boom, led by large LNG projects mainly off West Australia's coast.
The government has committed $480 million of the revenue from the federal minerals resource rent tax to the Gateway WA project upgrading the arterial road network around Perth airport. Gateway WA is one of the first projects funded from the $6 billion Regional Infrastructure Fund - created from the proceeds of the mining tax.
(Calgary Herald) - Clean-up efforts are gearing down in northern Alberta at the site of the province's largest oil spill in decades, the Rainbow pipeline operator said. Approximately one-third of the 28,000 barrels spilled onto boreal forest lands have been collected and will be processed off-site, Plains Midstream Canada said May 9.
The 187,000-barrel-per-day line to Edmonton ruptured April 29, running down the pipeline right-of-way into a beaver pond, where it was contained by the dam. Plains Midstream shut down the 44-year-old pipeline within hours, restarting a portion downstream of the rupture early last week.
Nearly 300 workers remain at the spill site, near the Lubicon village Little Buffalo. The spill likely was caused by the pipeline settling awkwardly after a repair in 2010, Plains Midstream said. There was no evidence of corrosion or stress corrosion affecting the pipe, the company said.
(Edmonton Journal) - The remote town of Norman Wells in Canada's Northwest Territories remains under a state of emergency as townspeople are cut off from their natural gas supply following an oil pipeline spill in Alberta.
The mayor declared the state of emergency after the Rainbow pipeline spewed an estimated 28,000 barrels of crude oil into a muskeg pond approximately 60 miles northeast of Peace River. Parts of the pipeline remain shut down, along with the connecting Norman Wells pipeline.
The town of 850 relies on the pipeline for its natural gas supply, which is used by nearly three-quarters of the residents for heating and cooking. The town has enough natural gas to last until May 17. Equipment was flown in May 13 that can take propane from the town's 15-day reserve and mix it with air to mimic natural gas, but when that reserve runs dry the town will have to fly in costly fuel from Yellowknife or Hay River.
(Calgary Herald) - Enbridge will continue with plans for its Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline despite fierce opposition from First Nations communities along the proposed Alberta to British Columbia line. The company will seek approval from all communities before building the $5.5 billion pipeline, but recognizes full approval likely is improbable, CEO Pat Daniel said May 11.
While representatives of Aboriginal groups from Alberta and B.C. sang and drummed their protests outside Enbridge's annual meeting in downtown Calgary, Daniel told reporters the 2013 timing of the project has not changed significantly. The line would carry oilsands production to the B.C. West Coast for export.
"I'm hoping that we can get complete agreement but it probably would be unrealistic for me to expect a project of this size and magnitude could have the unanimous support of all Canadians," he said. Aboriginal and environmental groups have fiercely opposed the Northern Gateway project since its inception in 2000.
(Edmonton Journal) - Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach told ambassadors from India and China May 10 that Canada's federal energy regulator has ordered full public hearings into a proposed multibillion-dollar oil pipeline that would run from the Edmonton region to the B.C. coast.
The hearings, scheduled to begin January 2012, will advance the hotly controversial $5.5 billion Northern Gateway Pipeline, a key component of Stelmach's plan to "grow Alberta's economic pie" by opening markets in China, India and other Asian countries.
The National Energy Board has issued an order calling for a full public hearing into the proposed 725-mile Enbridge pipeline that would move oilsands production to a tanker port at Kitimat, B.C. Opponents say the risks of an oil spill off B.C.'s north coast are too great.
(State College.com) - Penn State University is tentatively aiming to create a new Center for Natural Gas Engineering, one that would "strengthen our capabilities to support the development of the Marcellus Shale," President Graham Spanier announced May 13.
"We want to make certain that the university is well-positioned to respond to future opportunities by leveraging our strengths to grow the commonwealth's economy and meet the nation's energy needs," Spanier said.
Provost Rodney Erickson said the overall vision is to assist faculty members in focusing on the subject -- and to bring in "a few key faculty members" in the field, as well. "This is obviously a very hot area," Erickson said. "We have lot of resources to bring to the table. We believe we can help develop the industry in Pennsylvania and also help provide analysis of environmental issues."