WVU researchers use ‘green’ drilling mud at shale wells

West Virginia University researchers studying drilling waste from shale oil and gas operations have a pair of research wells near Morgantown that they say are well below federal guidelines for radioactive or hazardous waste, reports the State Journal in Charleston, West Virginia. The newspaper says scientists at the Marcellus Shale Energy & Environmental Laboratory found that using a “green” drilling mud at the well site resulted in all 12 samples of cuttings passing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s test for leaching toxicity, allowing them to be classified as non-hazardous. For more, read the full story.

West Virginia

Pennsylvania leaders concerned Shell ‘cracker’ may face local work-force shortage

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf asked leaders at a recent business roundtable in Pittsburgh about what can be done to prepare for all the jobs that will come to western Pennsylvania because of Royal Dutch Shell’s ethane “cracker” plant to be built in Beaver County, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. The newspaper says the biggest concern is whether there will be enough skilled workers in the region not only to build and staff the cracker complex, but also to fill jobs at the plastics manufacturing facilities expected to be constructed within 100 miles of Shell's plant. "Those skills are in short supply right now," said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. For more, read the full story.


Oil and gas business gives new life to former steel plant in West Virginia

Oil and natural gas activity in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays is breathing life into an 80,000-square-foot building in Benwood, West Virginia that had not been used since the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. closed it in 1983, reports the Wheeling Intelligencer/News-Register. The newspaper says 25 workers with JLE Industries are using the space to inspect and repair metal tubes used to drill oil and gas wells. Chris Harris, a partner in the company, said JLE chose the Benwood property because of its location in the heart of the Marcellus and Utica shale region and access to roads, barge and rail transportation. For more, read the full story.

West Virginia

BP leader optimistic about U.S. onshore drilling opportunities

BP may have missed out on the heyday of America’s shale boom after its Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, but David Lawler, CEO of the company's US Lower 48 Onshore business, says opportunities abound under millions of acres that BP has been sitting on for decades, according to Forbes. The magazine says BP’s Lower 48 portfolio includes 6 million acres, including a host of “largely untested” properties. Forbes also says BP’s initial drilling efforts on that land focused on vertical wells, but “advances in horizontal drilling have made it easier to zero in on ever thinner oil layers.” For more, read the full story.


Consol starts natural gas production from wells at Pittsburgh airport

Consol Energy Inc. and the Allegheny County Airport Authority recently celebrated the beginning of natural gas production by Consol on land at Pittsburgh International Airport, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. The newspaper says a deal struck with Consol in 2013 could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties to the airport over the decades-long life of the agreement. Consol Chief Operating Officer Timothy Dugan said the company will invest about $1 billion in the airport drilling project, which includes six well pads and upward of 40 wells. For more, read the full story.


Halliburton posts big loss, cuts another 5,000 jobs

Oilfield services company Halliburton has reported a $3.2 billion loss for the second quarter of 2016, largely because of a $3.5 billion breakup fee it paid former acquisition target Baker Hughes in a deal that fell apart in May, reports FuelFix.com. In addition, Halliburton, which operates in Ohio’s Utica shale play, said it cut another 5,000 jobs globally during the second quarter. FuelFix says the company has now eliminated more than 35,000 jobs in the last two years. For more, read the full story.

National, Ohio

Demolition continues at site of proposed ‘cracker’ in eastern Ohio

Contractors plan to demolish the stack of the R.E. Burger power plant in Belmont County, Ohio by the end of July to make room for an ethane “cracker” complex proposed by PTT Global America, reports the Wheeling Intelligencer/News-Register. PTT spokesman Dan Williamson told the newspaper the company is continuing front-end engineering design work and site remediation for the project. “We will have enough information to announce a final investment decision in the first quarter of 2017,” Williamson said. For more, read the full story. More stories about PTT’s cracker project can be found here.


Duke-Piedmont merger could expand natural gas distribution

The leaders of Duke Energy Corp. and Piedmont Natural Gas Co. say their pending merger will create a bigger company with the financial resources to expand distribution of natural gas across the country, reports the Herald-Dispatch in Huntington, West Virginia. Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good recently told North Carolina utility regulators that Duke's $5 billion acquisition of Piedmont could speed the shift away from coal-burning power plants to cleaner-burning natural gas plants. The companies were already working together to build a pipeline to deliver natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina when Duke announced its planned purchase in the fall of 2015, according to the Herald-Dispatch. For more, read the full story.

National, West Virginia

Ohio State researchers to study pipeline impacts on cropland

An Ohio State University study that will look at how natural gas pipeline installations affect cropland productivity will begin this fall, reports Farm and Dairy. The newspaper says the study, to be overseen by the university’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, will focus on soil disturbances caused by statewide pipeline installations in Ohio. Over the course of three years, researchers will survey and take samples from 50 farm fields before and after pipeline installations. For more, read the full story.


Shale gas drives power plant building boom in Ohio

A boom in construction of natural gas-fired power plants has hit Ohio, the first since the Utica shale play “changed just about everything in the state's energy landscape,” reports the Columbus Dispatch. The newspaper says six such plants are under construction or in the planning stages in Ohio, showing how shale gas is “transforming the electricity market in a state long associated with coal and coal-fired electricity.” For more, read the full story.

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