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Ohio Utica Shale

New York may adopt drilling rules in early 2013

By Bob Downing Published: December 26, 2012

From the Associated Press:

After more than four years of environmental review marked by escalating battles between industry officials and anti-drilling protesters, New York regulators appear likely to complete strict new regulations for shale gas development by the end of February.

But it remains to be seen if drilling actually begins. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his Department of Environmental Conservation have refused to say whether a 4 1/2-year moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will be lifted when regulations are completed. Industry insiders say development will happen slowly if the ban is lifted. And opponents have vowed to escalate protests.

With a depressed natural-gas market and threats of lawsuits and civil disobedience from opposition groups, a shale-gas boom like that seen in Pennsylvania is unlikely to hit New York if Cuomo gives drillers the green light in 2013.

“My sense of it is, there will be some activity, but I don’t see it as being a big land grab,” said Nancy Schmitt, president of Taum Sauk Capital Management, a New York natural-resources hedge fund. “I think it’s a smaller resource (than Pennsylvania) and it’s unproven and there’s political risk. There’s a lot of reason to believe they’ll be more cautious moving into New York.”

Tom West, an Albany lawyer who represents Chesapeake Energy and other major drilling firms, said the industry expects the DEC to complete the environmental review by mid-February and finalize the regulations by the end of February.

“Then we’ll have to see what the courts say,” West said. “Environmentalists have made it clear that they’ll challenge the standards. If a judge grants an injunction on permitting while their case is pending, we’ll be shut down for another couple of years.”

If there’s no injunction, drillers would most likely be able to apply for permits under the state’s new rules and regulations.

Energy companies have hundreds of thousands of acres under lease in New York. If drilling is allowed, it would most likely start in the Southern Tier counties near the border of Pennsylvania, where the industry has thousands of wells and associated infrastructure. Both states, as well as Ohio and West Virginia, are over the gas-rich Marcellus and Utica shale deposits.

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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.