Posts tagged "Marietta College"
OOGEEP Encourages Local Schools To Prepare Students For Oil and Gas Opportunities
Thursday, February 28th, 2013 | 2 Comments
The Franciscan University of Steubenville recently hosted the Principals’ Leadership Academy. The event, which included superintendents and principals from Belmont, Harrison and Jefferson Counties (all shale producing counties), came together to discuss programming, hot topics, and a subject on everyone in the areas mind – shale development.
The forum was attended by elementary, middle, and secondary principals and superintendents seeking to learn more about what oil and gas development could mean for possible opportunities for their students when they graduate high school.
As with any subject matter, it is good to get the students involved early.
The final topic of the day was titled “Opportunities & Challenges: Education and the Utica/Marcellus Shale Industries,” which featured a dynamic presentation from Charlie Dixon, who is the Safety and Workforce Administrator for the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP). Mr. Dixon discussed at length all of the teacher workshop programs and scholarships OOGEEP provides on a yearly basis, a topic of intrigue to the audience as many of them are seeing significant oil and gas development on their areas recently.
Now, with this recent development, a primary goal is to educate our educators and our youth about the opportunities out in the oilfield; whether it be through teacher workshops, science fairs or classroom presentations. Utica Shale/Point Pleasant development will be a major job creator in eastern Ohio and we need to let our student know there are opportunities out there when they graduate.
We don’t have enough people to work on diesel trucks; we don’t have enough machinists, things like that, jobs like that. We’re in trouble in this country. We’ve got to start engaging. One of the things career counselors tells me, Charlie we’ve got 4 minutes and 38 seconds to talk to each student per a class. My message to you today is we need to figure out a way to open the doors of opportunity to them about this industry.- Charlie Dixon, Safety and Workforce Administrator for the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP)
Mr. Dixon also touted the successes of Eastern Gateway Community College as well as Belmont College, both of which offer courses for the oil and gas field. Mr. Dixon spoke highly of Marietta College’s Petroleum Engineering program, which is the oldest petroleum engineering program in the eastern portion of the United States. These schools provide opportunities for students and those reentering the workforce through certificate programs, two year programs or 4 year programs.
Thanks to Utica Shale/Point Pleasant development, educators are now more in tuned with the possibilities this industry can have for their students who are interested in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Their students will also have more opportunities coming out of technical schools then they have ever had before. Hopefully, with the guidance from OOGEEP and Mr. Dixon, these administrators can go back and look to ways to implement these jobs into the career choices of their students.
New Opportunities Take Root in Our Community
Thursday, May 17th, 2012 | 2 Comments
Halliburton’s recent groundbreaking in Zanesville marks the third Fortune 500 company to locate in the EastPointe Business Park. In fact, since the start of April, over 100 Ohioans have been hired for good, well-paying jobs ranging from engineers to mechanics to administrators.
As one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry, Halliburton plans to bring about 300 jobs to our area over the next three years. While that provides an incredible and positive impact for our community, it goes beyond just jobs. Governor Kasich was correct in making this distinction at the groundbreaking ceremony– it’s not 300 jobs, it’s 300 families. This is 300 more families with a promising future insoutheastern Ohio. This is the effect of what the Utica Shale has begun to offer.
To fully understand the economic potential of shale development in Ohio, we only need to turn to a series of recent reports illustrating the economic impact of shale development in Pennsylvania. Reports from our neighboring state found that in 2010 alone, natural gas development generated $11.2 billion in economic development benefits, contributed $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenues and supported nearly 140,000 jobs.
As the development of our state’s shale reserves expands, our region is active in taking full advantage of our own natural resources. We’re seeing companies come in with significant investments to our infrastructure and expanding employment opportunities for our young people. The 65,000 jobs will be added tosoutheastern Ohio by 2014. This is very exciting news for our region.
I’m proud to see that this investment is not just being overseen by companies relocating to our region. Producer Services Corporation is also expanding their company by adding equipment, crew and even space for a new fabrication shop to take full advantage of the increased development.
In addition to the obvious economic growth that energy exploration will bring, the secondary benefits are indisputable as well. From our trucking industry and construction companies to our restaurants, hotels and other small business, the demand for local goods and services will certainly expand greatly.
Recognizing the opportunity that shale brings, we can also see the rising potential for education in our area. Our local educators are leading the charge in workforce development. Zane State College recently celebrated the first graduating class from their new Oil and Gas Program. Places like Zane State, Marietta College, and Ohio University have all made concerted efforts to provide research and worker training that will help the industry flourish in Ohio.
Halliburton’s groundbreaking is the first of many announcements that will bring new hope for the economic development of Southeastern Ohio. As your State Senator, I will continue to work with this industry and our local officials to ensure that our friends and neighbors see the full benefits of the great potential beneath their feet.
Ohio Energy Future Defined by Opportunity, Not Politics
Friday, February 24th, 2012 | 0 Comments
Earlier this month, Ohio Governor John Kasich spoke on the need to work together, Republicans and Democrats alike, to ensure the success of Ohio’s shale development and the return to economic prosperity it will provide.
On the energy piece of this, we’re going to have to work together collaboratively, and we have been. Democrats and Republicans understand the big picture here… – Governor John Kasich, State of the State address, 2/7/12
Ditto President Obama. Last month, during the State of the Union address, the president emphasized the incredible potential shale plays all across the country have in the abundant supply of energy and the enormous positive impact it will have in creating new jobs and rejuvenating the economy.
We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years…and my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. – President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, 1/25/12
This is an opportunity we all share in. A rising tide lifts all ships, right?
But as you may have noticed, it’s an election year. And in good ol’ American tradition, politics is now being injected into every issue and every public conversation out there. Energy development, it seems, and the economic revitalization it is providing, is not immune to this. We can see it nationally, and we can see it at home here in Ohio.
Recently, there has been great effort by activist groups (and, in some cases the media) who would like to characterize or create such a simplistic divide as ‘Right vs Left’ or ‘Republican vs Democrat’ in the greater conversation of energy development; Gasland’s Josh Fox has attempted to lay the blame of his recent arrest at the feet of house Republicans, in spite of the fact that it was a direct result of his failure to follow proper house protocol. Ohio Representative Bob Hagan has tried to tie recent seismic events in Youngstown to the current Republican administration. He even bussed in protestors to the recent State of the State speech to disrupt the annual address. CBS and local anti-energy activist groups have made an attempt, successful in some instances in Ohio, to co-opt the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement into the opposition to oil and gas development.
But it’s not that simple.
I’ve recently spoken with both the Mansfield Tea Party and the Occupy Mansfield groups, and can tell you while there may be deep ideological differences between the two, many of the sentiments on Ohio energy development remain the same. The Occupy group did not inherently oppose energy exploration, nor did the Tea Party group blindly support it. I was invited to speak on the facts by the leadership of both organizations. And I heard the same questions at both events. Surely, there were some folks who had already come with predisposed opinions, but those were not the same ones I came to address. More importantly, they weren’t the ones who came to listen.
Having been to “both sides” of the “aisle” I can tell you – this is not how the opportunity the development of our homegrown resources is defined.
We have a chance to return our state to days of prosperity we have not seen in generations. Shale development has saved Ohio consumers billions on energy costs, brought manufacturing back to places where it has been long dormant for decades, dropped unemployment rates in long depressed regions, and lifted communities that have endured great hardship.
And we are just beginning this journey.
No, this conversation is defined in opportunity; it is an opportunity for our labor force, our unemployed, our college graduates to find work here at home. It’s an opportunity to provide our returning veterans with one of the greatest thanks we can give – an ability to provide for themselves and their families with a good paying job. The conversation we are having here in Ohio is of too great importance to simplify with one word or to characterize as one side vs. the other.
While we are inundated with political and divisive rhetoric from now till next November, let’s leave it at the door when it comes to Ohio’s energy and economic future.
All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual. - Albert Einstein
Tags: ABC, Bloomberg, Carroll County, CBS, Chesapeake, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Congressman Bill Johnson, Energy jobs, Josh Fox, Marietta College, Occupy Wall Street, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Ohio veterans, President Obama, State of the State, State of the Union, state rep bob hagen, Steubenville, Tea Party, Youngstown, Zane State College
*Video* Rep. Andy Thompson interview with EID-Ohio
Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 | 1 Comment
Energy In Depth-Ohio recently sat down with State Representative Andy Thompson to discuss shale development occurring in eastern Ohio.
The Representative hails from Marietta in Washington County. His current district includes Washington, Monroe, Noble, Guernsey and part of Muskingum Counties. With redistricting this year, Rep. Thompson will be representing Washington, Monroe, Noble, Carroll and the Western part of Belmont Counties.
Rep. Thompson has already seen benefits to his district’s local economy from the increasing development of shale. One small example, suppliers Pioneer Pipe and Ken Miller Supply have been very busy servicing all the new wells coming on line. Not only does Washington County host suppliers, they are also home to Marietta College, one of the top petroleum engineering colleges in the eastern United States. Graduates, many are local, now have the opportunity to work in their home state rather than going elsewhere, a trend that has not been seen in Ohio since the late 70’s-early 80’s.
“It’s particularly exciting that they don’t have to travel away from home, they can actually be near home and be engaged in an industry which is helping their part of the state.”
As far as retail sales, Rep. Thompson is encouraged by what he has already seen. Baker and Sons in Monroe County is having a hard time keeping their tractors in stock while Bridgeport Equipment, Marietta’s local tractor store, is seeing similar results in their Washington County and Belmont County operations. Similarly, many businesses that were once struggling our now thriving. Atwood Lake, a local resort, closed down their lodge last year but now with shale development happening, the county has bought the lodge and is renting out the rooms to workers in the industry. Vacancy at the lodge is now a hard thing to come by, it was once routine.
“This kind of thing is really having a tremendously positive and beneficial impact on the economy”
Rep. Thompson’s newly drawn district takes includes Carroll County, currently Ohio’s most active county in Utica development. Through his discussions in the community and with local businesses, Rep. Thompson has found a high level of enthusiasm for ongoing shale development. One of many reasons for this enthusiasm is the economic resurgence being experienced in the area. For example, unemployment in the county has dropped to 8.5% as of this past November, a dramatic improvement over the 11.2% rate it had just a year prior.
The people of Appalachia have a history of being skilled laborers and the Utica Shale is providing an opportunity for these hard-working folks to find work in many sectors, including manufacturing. As Rep. Thompson toured Ariel Corporation, Ohio’s largest manufacturer, last week he saw they are advertising as far south as Cambridge to recruit workers for their plant. There are many opportunities heading our way a “sellers market” when it comes to employment.We need to remind young people again that there is a lot of great opportunity in the oil patch but also in manufacturing. And because of the oil and gas, we are going to see a real comeback in manufacturing
“We need to remind young people again that there is a lot of great opportunity for them in the oil patch but also in manufacturing. And I think because of the oil and gas, we are going to see a real comeback in manufacturing.”
“Opportunity is here, now.”
Rep. Thompson recounts a story from a family friend regarding ongoing shale development and what it means to the community. In applying the “4 Way Test” of the Rotary, where the friend was talking about oil and gas development, she related that shale development is providing needed assistance to her community and local farmers. Farmers who were once struggling are now able to reinvest in their operations due to payments they are now receiving through land lease agreements.
Shale development is just starting to ramp up in eastern Ohio and it is refreshing to hear the profound beneficial impacts that are already occurring. I would like to thank Rep. Andy Thompson for giving us such a candid interview and providing his views on shale development in Ohio.
State Representative Andy Thompson represents the 93rd District, which includes Guernsey, Monroe and Noble counties, as well as portions of Washington and Muskingum counties.
Tags: 4H, Ariel Corporation, Baker and Son, Belmont County, Carroll County, Guernsey County, Ken Miller Supply, Marietta, Marietta College, Monroe County, Muskingum County, Noble County, Pioneer Pipe, Rep. Andy Thompson, Rotary, Shale, Utica, Washington County
Marietta Times LTE Distorts Reality of Natural Gas Production in Ohio
Monday, November 14th, 2011 | 0 Comments
Today, the Marietta Times published a letter from Richard A. Wittberg, PhD., one in which Mr. Wittberg takes issue with a recent Op-Ed from our friend Dr. Robert Chase of Marietta College. The author identifies himself as a concerned public health official with some “specific points” against hydraulic fracturing. Certainly, in his role it is understandable Mr. Wittberg would seek to investigate any and all potential impacts any sort of development might have on the public.
While EID-Ohio applauds Mr. Wittberg’s service as a health official, and his previous work on behalf of the environment, it is also important to make note of some of his other roles outside of his day job in West Virginia – namely as a member of the Board of Directors of Ohio Citizen Action, an organization with a history of opposition energy development.
In it’s resource guide on hydraulic fracturing, Ohio Citizen Action cites the widely debunked movie Gasland as it’s top reference for all things related to hydraulic fracturing. Also on their go-to list, NEOGAP, an activist group with a history of vocal opposition to the energy industry as a whole.
These are hardly objective sources for information. As a result of relying on these sources, Mr. Wittberg’s letter quickly devolves into a speculative, misinformed, anti-industry piece, more reflective of an activist than a concerned official.
EID Ohio had a gander at Mr. Wittberg’s letter, and took the time to go point by point and clarify the myths and realities of his response to Dr. Chase’s article, Myths and Realities of Horizontal Drilling and Frac(k)ing in Ohio:
Myth: “Both Ohio and West Virginia are scrambling to catch up with how to regulate this industry. Adequate regulations are not in place yet.” (“Claim that fracking is safe is misleading,”11/14/11)
Reality: With a long history of oil and gas production, and a recent, massive update of state oil & gas law, Ohio has been recognized by outside peer review groups as having a well-managed regulatory program as it relates specifically to hydraulic fracturing. Actually, Ohio oil and gas regulations are regarded as some of the most stringent in the nation:
- In 2010, Governor Ted Strickland signed Senate Bill 165 into law. The bill, passed through the state house and senate with bi-partisan support, was a comprehensive update to Ohio’s existing regulations in Ohio Revised Code 1509. It was the largest overhaul of oil and gas law in more than two decades, designed to address public concerns as well as new technologies.
- In 2011, The State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER) conducted a peer review of Ohio’s regulations and practices in regards to hydraulic fracturing. STRONGER is a workgroup consisting of state regulatory agencies, environmental organizations and industry groups.
- STRONGER concluded that the Ohio program is “well-managed, professional and meeting its program objectives” (STRONGER Report, January 2011).
In an effort to help our readers understand the regulatory landscape facing natural gas producers in Ohio, each step of the process is regulated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and/or the Ohio EPA, we provide the below illustration from the Ohio EPA which summarizes the regulatory authority over oil & gas production activities:
Summary of ODNR and Ohio EPA
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
|Issues permits for drilling oil/gas wells in Ohio.Sets requirements for proper location, design and construction requirements for wells.Inspects and oversees drilling activity.Requires controls and procedures to prevent discharges and releases.Requires that wells no longer used for production are properly plugged.Requires registration for facility owners with the capacity to withdraw water at a quantity greater than 100,000 gallons per day.||Requires drillers obtain authorization for construction activity where there is an impact to a wetland, stream, river or other water of the state.Requires drillers obtain an air permit-to-install and operate (PTIO) for units or activities that have emissions of air pollutants.|
and drill cutting management
at drill sites
|Sets design requirements for on-site pits/lagoons used to store drill cuttings and brine/flowback water.Requires proper closure of on-site pits/lagoons after drilling is completed.Sets standards for managing drill cuttings and sediments left on-site.||Requires proper management of solid wastes shipped off-site for disposal.|
|Regulates the disposal of brine and oversees operation of Class II wells used to inject oil/gas-related waste fluids.Reviews specifications and issues permits for Class II wells.Sets design/construction requirements for Class II underground injection wells.Responds to questions/concerns from citizens regarding safety of drinking water from private wells from oil/natural gas drilling.|
|Registers transporters hauling brine and oil/gas drilling-related wastewater in Ohio.|
|Pumping water to the drill site from a public water supply system||Requires proper containment devices at the point of connection to protect the public water system.|
Myth: “hydraulic fracturing is exempt from the Clean Water Act. Drillers claims that what they put down the well is 99.5 percent water and sand, but the last 0.5 percent is highly toxic and dangerous in our water supply.” (“Claim that fracking is safe is misleading,” 11/14/11)
Reality: It is important to understand that “frac fluid” is comprised of 99.5% water and sand. The remaining additives – highly diluted and less than 1% – are compounds found in commonly used household items. One of the more frequently used additives here in Ohio is guar gum, a complex carbohydrate used as a thickener for daily products like yogurt and ice cream.
- Here again, Mr. Wittberg references a danger to our water supply, ignoring the fact that in the In the past 60 years, there has been no confirmed case of water contamination caused as a result of the hydraulic fracturing process.
- In 2004, the EPA released the findings of a five-year investigation on hydraulic fracturing commissioned under the Clinton Administration, and concluded there was no record of drinking water contamination as a result of the fracturing process:
National Study Final Report, June 2004:
“EPA has concluded that additional or further study is not warranted at this time. In making this decision, EPA reviewed more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, other research, and public comments. The Agency has concluded that the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into (CBM) wells poses minimal threat to USDWs.” (June, 2004)
“In its review of incidents of drinking water well contamination believed to be associated with hydraulic fracturing, EPA found no confirmed cases that are linked to fracturing fluid injection into CBM wells or subsequent underground movement of fracturing fluids. Further, although thousands of CBM wells are fractured annually, EPA did not find confirmed evidence that drinking water wells have been contaminated by hydraulic fracturing fluid injection into CBM wells.” (June, 2004)
*(USDWs- underground sources of drinking water)
Carol Browner, EPA Administrator under President Bill Clinton, stated in 1995 there is “no evidence” that hydraulic fracturing has resulted in drinking water contamination or endangerment. This was followed by current EPA Director Lisa Jackson who also affirmed the safety of hydraulic fracturing, when she said during congressional testimony: “I’m not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water,” (May, 2011).
As far as the claim that hydraulic fracturing is exempt from the Clean Water Act, Mr. Wittberg appears again to be getting his oft repeated, factually inaccurate, talking points from Josh Fox and Gasland:
GasLand myth: “What I didn’t know was that the 2005 energy bill pushed through Congress by Dick Cheney exempts the oil and natural gas industries from the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act…and about a dozen other environmental regulations.” (6:05).
Actual truth: What occurred in 2005 was anything but an exemption. In 1997, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reached a decision in a case, LEAF v. EPA, which over-ruled U.S. EPA’s correct determination that hydraulic fracturing was not covered under the class II underground injection program (it hadn’t been covered since the program’s inception). In over-ruling the EPA, the court’s decision temporarily altered the purpose, and intent of, the class II underground injection program and as a result hydraulic fracturing and other programs were affected. Seeing this incorrect judicial determination, Congress clarified their original intent in the 2005 energy bill which was supported by nearly three-quarters of the U.S. Senate, including then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. In the U.S. House, 75 Democrats joined 200 Republicans in supporting the final bill.
Myth(s): “I believe Dr. Chase is correct that leaks from the well casings that contaminate the groundwater are rare now due to improvements in the technology. However…
a) The plastic lined ponds in which this water is stored are certainly not proof against leaks, and I know of several that are leaking. This is a potential and likely source of groundwater contamination.
Reality: First of all most producers in Ohio are using closed loop systems (we cover this further below). For example, the largest producer in Ohio, Chesapeake Energy, employs closed loop systems (see page 13) in their operations. As for what Dr. Wittberg reportedly witnessed, I hope he reported these supposed leaks. I am sure both the company and ODNR would like to know where these leaks are taking place so they can repair and clean up these areas. ODNR will respond to any citizen complaint in 24 hours. In fact, if this claim is true, I would advise Dr. Wittberg to read Ohio Revised Code 1509.22. If ODNR finds any of the author’s statements to be true they have the ability to make the operator cease operations and fix the problem immediately.
b) I also know of several of these ponds built on excessive slopes whose dikes have failed, spilling their contents down the sides of the hill (killing most of the vegetation) and contaminating the stream at the bottom.” (“Claim that fracking is safe is misleading,” 11/14/11)
Reality: Unlike 1509.72 discusses the time required by law to close pits used for temporary storage of produced waters – which is 3 months for urban, 6 months for all other areas.
However, all that being said. In Ohio, most producers are using a closed loop system to manage materials and recycle their flowback water. Closed loop systems directly channel all drilling wastes (muds, water, etc) to steel containers for recycling and/or disposal. This results in these materials never having an opportunity to come in contact with the environment. In fact, in a review (featured in the above link) the Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project ( a known industry critic) commended these systems for their beneficial impacts when employed. So in a sense we agree, what happens in West Virginia should stay in West Virginia.
Myth: “Ohio and West Virginia are littered with old oil and gas wells. While Dr. Chase is correct that the fracturing process is very, very unlikely to cause fractures from the depth of the well to the groundwater, in many areas it does not have to. Old wells elsewhere have been the conduits for contamination of the groundwater and air.” (“Claim that fracking is safe is misleading,” 11/14/11)
Reality: Again, the overwhelming amount of evidence from unbiased peer-reviewed, and government sanctioned reports, do not show any groundwater impacts from hydraulic fracturing operations, through a conduit or otherwise.
Ohio does have orphan wells, but Ohio also has an orphan well program, funded by industry to plug those wells. If you have an orphan well on your land, you should contact ODNR. They will work to find the owner and make them plug the well. If the owner is no longer operating, the Orphan Well program is used to plug the well at no cost to the landowner.
But onto the assertion that these wells can be used as channels or contamination pathways. First and foremost, the Marcellus and Utica Shales are locked between the Tully limestone formation and the Onondanga limestone. Both of these are impenetrable layers of rock that safeguard the layers of soil beyond their boundaries making it incredibly difficult, and geologically impossible, for fluid migration to occur over thousands of feet in an upward direction (hence the need to hydraulicly fracture to stimulate natural gas production). ODNR’s Larry Wickstrom’s has a great presentation on shale development, providing a good illustration of these formations.
Secondly, In hydraulic fracturing operators literally have the ability to see underground thanks to intricate seismic data, pressure mapping, and other highly sophisticated technologies. Each step of the hydraulic fracturing process is mapped out beforehand in methodic detail and is monitored by a team of professionals. This occurs from a data monitoring van which tracks every second of the hydraulic fracturing process. From the location the well is originally placed to take advantage of natural fractures in the shale deposit below to the successful operation of the fracturing job there is not an ounce of work that is not properly planned and subject to extensive oversight including taking into account any old wells that may exist in the area.
Myth: “Dr. Chase points out that there have been no documented cases of ground water contamination in Ohio due to fracking. Officials in environmental protection have told me that by industry’s definition, it will never happen. Where contamination may have occurred, industry denies their involvement, and it is difficult to prove that they are. There have been no studies in peer reviewed journals verifying the safety of fracking. We are rushing forward with little regard for the long term.” (“Claim that fracking is safe is misleading,” 11/14/11)
Reality: To help correct this erroneous statement, let’s take a quick look at just two of Ohio’s peer review studies verifying the safety of hydraulic fracturing:
“Neither state has documented a single occurrence of groundwater pollution during the site preparation or well stimulation phase of operations. Despite this, Ohio has implemented more detailed notification, inspection, record keeping, and reporting requirements in response to the national debate on the process of hydraulic fracturing.”
While this review does not include West Virginia in it’s investigation, it does highlight Ohio’s long, sound track record of safe, responsible energy development with high regard for the long term. Of course there is always the STRONGER Report we mentioned earlier, what did it have to say:
“Hydraulic fracturing began in Ohio in the 1950s. Most wells drilled and completed today are completed by hydraulic fracturing operations. Most of these wells are vertical wells. Although an estimated 80,000 wells have been fractured in Ohio, state agencies have not identified a single instance where groundwater has been contaminated by hydraulic fracturing operations.”
I touched on the STRONGER report earlier, however for clarification, it is worth mentioning again that it was just this year the peer review of Ohio’s regulations were completed. Again, this is a workgroup consisting of state regulatory agencies, environmental organizations and industry groups.
Ohio State regulators have confirmed the findings in these studies over the years:
“Historically, since we have been tracking since 1983, we’ve done over 1,000 groundwater investigations in Ohio and there is not one incident in Ohio that hydraulic fracturing has caused ground water contamination.” (ODNR’s Tom Tomastik, as quoted by WYTV, June 9, 2011)
“After 25 years of investigating citizen complaints of contamination, our geologists have not documented a single incident involving contamination of ground water attributed to hydraulic fracturing.” (Scott Kell, Deputy Director of ODNR Division on Mineral Resources Management in May 29, 2009 testimony before Congress)
Of course, these studies only touch on Ohio. There are a littany of other studies that take a nationwide approach at examining this claim. Other studies examining the safety of hydraulic fracturing include the 2004, EPA study of hydraulic fracturing in coalbed methane. There’s also the multi-disciplinary report conducted by the Massachussets Institute of Technology on benefits and impacts from natural gas production from shale. All of these studies, and more, support that hydraulic fracturing has never impacted groundwater.
It is understandable that a public health official would have or express concerns regarding any industry’s impact on public well-being. However, Mr. Wittberg’s well-intentioned attempt at objectivity in his assertions falls short. The issue lies with Mr. Wittberg recanting an obvious agenda – one based on the many myths of avant-garde filmakers and the recycled propaganda of activist groups.
Petroleum Engineering Department Looking to Expand at Marietta College
Thursday, November 10th, 2011 | 1 Comment
Marietta College’s Department of Petroleum Engineering is one of the premier petroleum engineering programs in the United States. Founded in 1835, Marietta College hosts the 9th largest petroleum engineering program in the United States and the only program at a small, liberal arts college. It is also the largest petroleum engineering program in the eastern United States. With renovations just completed in 2005, Dr. Robert Chase, chair and professor of the program, never dreamed it would expand so much and touch so many lives before he retired.
The Myths and Realities of Natural Gas Production
Saturday, November 5th, 2011 | 3 Comments
Dr. Robert Chase, Chair of Marietta Colleges Petroleum Engineering program recently wrote an outstanding Op-Ed for the Marietta Times on the myths and realities of natural gas development in Ohio. In the piece, Dr. Chase details the often quoted misconceptions attached to hydraulic fracturing and natural gas development and provides readers with a thorough education on the the safety and environmental protection inherent in natural gas development.
Marietta College’s Petroleum Engineering program has been a leader in oilfield research and education since 1955 when the program was founded. With a 100% placement for its graduates, it continues to be renowned as one of the top petroleum engineering programs in the country. It is also the largest petroleum engineering undergraduate program in the Eastern United States.
Dr. Bob Chase joined the program in 1978 and has educated countless students during his tenure at the University. His graduates have secured positions in many, if not all, of the largest exploration companies across the world. Essentially, Dr. Chase is the go to expert in Ohio for petroleum engineering.
During our meeting on Thursday, Dr. Chase discussed the recent Op-Ed he wrote on hydraulic fracturing and the natural gas production process. Thankfully, he provided the Op-Ed for our blog because this important piece needed to reach a wider audience. In addition to link provided above we share the piece in its entirety below.
The Myths and Realities of Horizontal Drilling and Fracing in Ohio
There has been much clamor over the use of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracing,” to unlock vast resources of not only natural gas but also oil in Ohio. Several myths have been circulating about this process which is absolutely essential to making the horizontal wells being drilled in the Utica and Marcellus shale formations productive.
Some groups and individuals have been quick to predict apocalypse from fracing, claiming that the practice poses an extreme danger to underground water systems. But such hysteria has been fueled by much misinformation. This article is being written to dispel some of the misconceptions about fracing.
One such misconception is that fracing is dangerous when, in fact, it is not when done responsibly. Energy companies planning to drill for oil and gas in the Utica shale that underlies parts of Ohio have placed the highest priority on safeguarding underground water sources. In fact, there will be a minimum of five layers of protection through the shallow zones from which people obtain their drinking water.
The Ohio Revised Code 1509 which spells out all requirements for oil and gas drilling states: “a well shall be constructed using sufficient steel or conductor casing in a manner that supports unconsolidated sediments, that protects and isolates all underground sources of drinking water as defined by the Safe Drinking Water Act, and that provides a base for a blowout preventer or other well control equipment that is necessary to control formation pressures and fluids used during the drilling of the well and other operations to complete the well.” The myth that drilling and fracing operations aren’t subject to the Safe Drinking Water Act is indeed just that – a myth.
Companies that will be drilling Utica shale wells in Ohio will generally start out by pile driving a very large diameter piece of pipe or casing, usually about 26 inches in diameter and 40 feet long, into the earth. As an alternative to pile driving this casing, a borehole 30 inches in diameter may be drilled and the same casing is run in the hole and cemented in place. This is called conductor casing and serves as the foundation for the well.
Next, a company will typically drill a large diameter borehole about 17 ½ inches in diameter, using air or fresh water through the deepest fresh water zone and continuing a minimum of 50 feet below it. A second string of pipe usually about 13 3/8 inches in diameter called surface casing is run in the hole and cemented over its entire length back to the surface. During this process, an inspector from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is required to be on location to monitor the casing and cementing operation to ensure that clean cement is circulated back to the surface. This process instantly provides two layers of protection across the fresh water zones.
Next a vertical borehole approximately 12 1/4 inches in diameter is drilled down to a depth of approximately 1,000 feet above the targeted producing zone, i.e. the Utica shale which is expected to vary in depth from about 6,000 feet to 9,000 feet in Ohio. Another string of pipe called an intermediate casing string is run in the hole and cemented back to the surface. Again, an inspector from the ODNR must be notified and given the option of coming on location to ensure once again that clean cement is circulated back to the surface. This ensures a third and fourth layer of protection across the fresh water zones. The bottom of the intermediate casing string represents the approximate kickoff point from which the process of drilling the horizontal borehole begins.
A special drilling assembly is then used to build a curve over approximately the next 500 to 1,000 feet of depth to the point where the drill bit enters the shale formation horizontally. The horizontal section of the borehole having a diameter of approximately 8 ¾ inches is then drilled approximately 5,000 to 7,000 feet into the shale. At that point, another string of pipe usually 5 ½ inches in diameter called production casing (one more layer of protection) is run in the hole and cemented in place from the end of the horizontal section clear up into the vertical section of the intermediate casing.
The spent frac fluid, oil, salt water native to the shale, natural gas liquids, and natural gas extracted from the formation will generally be produced through yet another string of metal pipe called production tubing that is run inside the production casing. This can provide yet a sixth layer of protection through the shallow fresh water aquifer. A diagram of a typical horizontal well completion is shown in attached figure.
With the well properly cased and cemented, the process of fracing can now be addressed. The fracing process has been in use since the 1940’s to extract natural gas and oil from rocks. It was not until 2003, however, that a Texas oil and gas company began using multiple stage frac treatments coupled with the technique of horizontal drilling to recover vast amounts of shale gas in north Texas. Horizontal wells and multi-stage fracing have since been used to unlock natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia, and in other shale formations in North Dakota, Montana, Louisiana, and Arkansas.
Fracing is a process in which a mixture of water, sand and chemicals is injected under high pressure through perforations or holes created in the production casing that has been cemented in place in the shale.
It is done in the shale far below the water table at depths of 7,000 to 9,000 feet. The frac fluid injected into a well does not mix with the groundwater due to the fact that the aquifer has been protected with four to six layers of steel casing and cement.
The fracing process creates a vertical crack or fracture in the rock that is generally about a 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch in width, less than a few hundred feet in height, and extends less than 500 to 800 feet in length away from the horizontal wellbore to access oil and gas in the rock that would otherwise be inaccessible. Some people worry that the fracture created will extend all the way back up to the fresh water aquifer or even to the surface of the earth. This is another myth. The fact of the matter is that all of the service companies working in Ohio that perform frac treatments couldn’t pump enough water, sand, and chemicals under a high enough pressure to create such a fracture.
If it is impossible to create a fracture that extends back to the surface, how then might frac fluid get into the fresh water aquifer?
For the water and chemicals used in the fracturing treatment to contaminate the fresh water aquifer, the fluid would somehow have to penetrate several layers of steel casing (production tubing, production casing, intermediate casing, surface casing) and cement. In a few vertical wells across the country where only one string of surface casing was cemented to surface and no intermediate string was run (only two layers of protection) a few incidents have been reported. In almost every incidence, however, the cause of the contamination was traced to an inadequate casing cement job. This concern is alleviated by having companies run special survey tools on the casing and cement after it is given a chance to harden to ensure that there is a competent cement bond around the outside of the pipe.
In the case of the Utica shale wells, an ODNR inspector is notified and has the option to be on location when any casing is run and cemented to make sure that the cement job is properly executed and clean cement is circulated back to the surface. Results of the cement bond surveys are also supplied to the ODNR.
The disposal of waste water from the fracing process is, of course, a concern. Spent frac water may not be produced back to the surface and pumped into creeks, lakes, sewage treatment plants, etc. in Ohio. That practice is absolutely forbidden under Ohio oil and gas law. Spent frac water must be flowed back into plastic-lined pits approved by the ODNR and the Ohio EPA or into containment trailers located on the well site. It must then be hauled off location and properly disposed of in a manner that satisfies ODNR and EPA regulations. No exceptions!
Though there have been no documented cases of ground water contamination in Ohio due to fracing and only a small number of other surface water contamination episodes, companies are taking extra precautions to make sure the disposal of wastewater from the fracing process is done safely. The energy industry has developed methods to recycle injection fluids, thereby cutting back on the amount of wastewater requiring treatment and disposal.
Companies are also publicly documenting the chemicals they use in their frac fluids. Though some of the chemicals in their pure form are toxic, they generally account for less than one half of one percent of the injected frac fluids. The chemicals are diluted even further because they are mixed with salt water or brine that is native to the shale formation when produced back after the frac job. Research is under way by several companies to come up with even more benign chemicals for use in fracing. In Ohio, companies are required to submit a copy of the ticket from their frac jobs that details chemicals used along with volumes of fluids and treatment pressures to the ODNR. A website called www.fracfocus.org is also available to the public to examine what companies are using in their frac treatments.
Barring an increase in taxes on oil companies, investment in fracing (along with horizontal drilling) will surely grow while generating huge economic and fiscal benefits for companies, landowners, and states alike. Oil companies plan to use the same drilling technique to produce oil elsewhere in the country. Among the areas that possess great potential for additional oil recovery are Alaska, North Dakota, Montana, California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and Louisiana.
In a recently-published study, the National Petroleum Council cited the importance of fracing. It said fracing is partly responsible for the dramatic turnaround in U.S. oil and gas production in recent years, and concluded that “under the most optimistic assumptions the U.S. and Canada combined could produce up to 22.5 million barrels per day, with oil shale formations producing 3.3 million barrels of oil per day.”
Today 95% of wells drilled in the U.S. require fracing to make them productive. The practice has already been used about a million times in the U.S. over the course of 60 years. It is closely monitored and regulated. Even EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said that fracing can be done responsibly to develop the energy resources we need.
If America wants to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and develop its own sources of reliable and affordable oil and natural gas, we must ramp up domestic shale production utilizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing methods and do it in a responsible manner. There will always be a modest amount of risk, but the benefits to Ohio’s economy and our nation far outweigh them.
Dr. Robert Chase, Chair and Professor of the Petroleum Engineering Department at Marietta College
We normally wouldn’t repost an article in its entirety however this piece is succinct and highlights the expertise we have here in Ohio. I would like to thank Dr. Chase for providing us his article for our blog. Hopefully this will help educate folks uncertain of the extensive environmental protections and regulated systems these companies employ in safely and responsibly developing our natural gas resources.
Shale Development Roundtable Highlights Ohio’s Success With Natural Gas Development
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011 | 1 Comment
Yesterday we had an opportunity to attend a round table discussion at Lakeland Community College’s Holden University Center focusing on the development and production of natural gas from the state’s shale resources. The event was sponsored by Congressmen Bob Latta (R) and Steven LaTourette (R) and included insight from many industry professionals, state officials and other key stakeholders who discussed early successes and plans for continued responsible development of our natural gas resources.
A major highlight of the event included testimony by representatives from several local small businesses, oil and gas industry professionals, regulatory and state governmental officials. While many topics were addressed one central theme resonated loud and clear – natural gas development from Ohio’s shale resources, if done well with sensible regulations, will help to revitalize our communities and provide new opportunities for the 535,000 hard working Ohioans currently looking for employment.
The roundtable provided an opportunity not only to plan but also to discuss indirect impacts that will affect upstream, midstream and downstream assets as well as local businesses and suppliers that will provide needed materials for well completion. Several panelists confirmed this experience in other parts of the country and indicated Ohio would see these impacts expand significantly within the next few years as exploration, development and production grow all over the state.
Indeed, although we are still in the early stages of development we are already seeing these impacts on sectors that have long been staples of our economy. Sectors like the manufacturing and local steel industry are already seeing significant increases in their business leading to expanded hiring. In fact, some cities in Ohio, like Steubenville, are seeing very significant upticks in employment and opportunities for their residents. As a result of the safe and responsible development of Ohio’s shale resources the city recently experienced an uptick of hundreds of jobs resulting in the community experiencing the second largest drop of unemployment in the nation!
Panelists also discussed the need to ensure that all Ohioans have an opportunity to gain from the benefits that increased production will bring. They highlighted that it is critically important for the state to have an effective workforce development and educational network in place to ensure this outcome. Such a system helps folks learn new skills and prepare for these new challenges. David Mustine of JobsOhio was on hand to provide perspective on the resources currently available. He provided a thorough rundown of the 77 job training programs located in 13 different state agencies that exist to help people find and qualify for work.
In addition, panelists discussed the importance of a strong educational network supporting natural gas development through workforce traning, and technological research and development to name a few. Panelists highlighted how Ohio’s colleges and universities are rising to meet this opportunity and have begun developing new programs to ensure that local residents have the education they need to capitalize on this historic opportunity. The development of new programs are a welcome addition to complement those renowned programs that already exist in our great state. One example is the industry leading Marietta College’s petroleum engineering program. This program is one of the oldest of its kind in the Nation and last year 100% of its graduates found jobs with over 70% of those jobs in the oil and gas industry according to Terry Fleming of the Ohio Petroleum Council.
Of course none of this would be possible if Ohio did not have strong state regulations in place to ensure natural gas development is done responsibly. These regulations were recently strengthened by the passage of Senate Bill 165 which passed with broad bi-partisan support and recieved positive reception from industry and environmentalists alike. This will only add to, and strengthen, our state’s existing regulatory portfolio developed by committed folks like Rick Simmers of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Rick and his team sat down over four years ago and conducted extensive reviews to write a plan to structure, staff and fund a strong regulatory program based on lessons learned from other states. The program he and his team put in place is working in Ohio, a fact that was confirmed when STRONGER reviewed our states regulation in January 2011.
STRONGER is a non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization that assists states in documenting the environmental regulations associated with the exploration, development and production of crude oil and natural gas. In their review the group found:
Ohio’s program is overall well managed, professional and meeting its objectives.
They also made note of many areas of strength for our regulatory system including strong enforcement tools, review of contamination pathways and comprehensive well completion reporting requirements to name a few. Facts like these give credence to the statement made by Scott Rotruck of Chesapeake Energy that “Ohio has all of the tools we need to operate in a predictable business and regulatory environment”.
All in all yesterday’s conversation was a great experience and will help ensure that industry, government and other non-governmental agencies continue to work together to ensure natural gas development in Ohio is done correctly maximizing the benefit for all. This roundtable was not only educational but is also a reflection of what has happened all over our state and in the state house in Columbus. Shale and its development is the conversation of the day in every part of Ohio and events like this discussion, and those like it occurring in homes across our state, will ensure we continue to successfully and safely develop this needed resource.
Tags: Chesapeake, Congressman LaTourette, Congressman Latta, EID-Ohio, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Jobs, JobsOhio, Lakeland Community College, Marietta College, ODNR, Ohio Petroleum Council, OOGA, Senate Bill 165, shale gas, Stronger, Utica Shale