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Ohio Utica Shale

Announcement expected on Belmont County cracker plant

By Bob Downing Published: September 2, 2015

A major announcement is expected on Thursday by Ohio state officials and the Thai-Japanese companies behind a proposed $5.7 billion ethane cracker plant in Belmont County.

Columbus Business First reports that the parties are expected to announce that $100 million will be spent on the first phase of the plant.

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Oilfield lodging industry is adapting to tough conditions

By Bob Downing Published: September 2, 2015

From a press release received this week:

Austin, TX, August 28, 2015. A year ago, hotels, lodges, and man camps throughout the U.S. shale plays were reaping the benefits of record setting oil exploration and production. With the oil/gas industry’s rapid growth over the past few years came thousands of new jobs, many of which were in rural areas where there was a shortage of lodging options. As the U.S. oil industry embraced innovation to fuel its growth, the lodging industry adapted to meet the dynamic needs for housing workers. “It was a perfect marriage of opportunity and innovation that spurred tremendous economic growth for both the energy and lodging industry” says Angela Overstreet, Chief Operating Officer for, a full service lodging and crew logistics company out of Austin, TX. “We too embraced innovation to service the lodging needs of our clients and our facility partners. The significant drop in oil prices and the corresponding reduction of jobs, forced our company, hotels, lodges, and man camps to shift out of the comfort zone of high occupancy, impressive revenues, and endless opportunity.”

Over the past year, cities across America like Carlsbad, NM, Pecos, TX, Carrollton, OH, and Monaca, PA like so many other small towns impacted by the oil/gas renaissance, embraced the opening of new hotels to cater to the demand for lodging. Now, many of those new hotels are scrambling to reach occupancy levels to remain profitable. Most hotels, lodges, and man camps throughout the U.S shale plays have been forced to adapt to the slump in oil prices through aggressive competitive rates, expanding their free breakfast menu’s and hours, adding outdoor grill areas, weekly happy hour receptions, laundry services, relaxed reservation cancellation policies, expanded hours for housekeeping, converting single rooms to doubles, and even job site shuttle service for workers. While these changes have helped to attract and retain clients, competitive rates are the key to their survival. According to Overstreet, “In response to our oil/gas clients request for a reduction in their lodging expenses, we’ve had to reach out to our facility partners on multiple occasions and ask for rate reductions of up to 20% in order to retain their business. This is a perfect example of trickledown economics where the oil price decline hits the oil companies, their employees, their product/ service suppliers, and the entire economy. As innovation and new technologies enabled the tremendous growth in the U.S. oil/gas industry, the crude slump has forced product/service suppliers to meet the dynamic impact on their businesses. At, we cut our teeth primarily servicing the lodging and crew logistics needs of Frac Crews but in January, when the industry wide layoffs began to trickle down to our business, we adapted by offering our cost saving lodging management services to all sectors of the oil/gas industry as well as construction, transportation, environmental, and several other industries. Those efforts have paid off and we’ve been able to grow our business despite the impact the low oil prices have had on the economy. We’ve been swamped with hotels and Hospitality Management companies throughout the U.S. reaching out to us for assistance in helping them put heads on beds and those that have adapted to the dynamic needs of our clients have improved their ability to survive the economic impact of the oil slump.”

The crude realities of unpredictability in the oil/gas industry will continue to force all related industries to adapt new technologies and think outside the box in order to ride out the storm until oil prices settle at a globally accepted level. The trickle-down economic impact has resulted in a trickle-up impact as those product/service suppliers have helped the oil/gas industry lower their costs which allows them to continue operating and even remain profitable through these challenging economic times.

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Agency offering $10 million to boost crude oil safety by rail

By Bob Downing Published: September 2, 2015

A press release from the Federal Railroad Administration on Tuesday:

WASHINGTON – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced that it is soliciting applications for $10 million in competitive grant funding available to states to improve highway-rail grade crossings and track along routes that transport energy products like crude oil and ethanol.  The guidelines for the grant applications set by the FRA encourage states to include innovative solutions to improve safety, especially at highway-rail grade crossings.  The funding is part of the Railroad Safety grants for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) by Rail Program.  

“The U.S. Department of Transportation has made increasing safety at highway-rail grade crossings, especially along routes transporting energy products, one of its top priorities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “This money allows the Department to support innovative ideas and solutions developed at the local level, and I encourage states to apply for this funding.”

Highway-rail grade crossings collisions are the second-leading cause of all railroad-related fatalities.  Last year, 269 individuals died in these collisions.  While the number of fatalities has decreased for the last several decades, this number increased last year for the first time this decade.

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Max Minzner named FERC's general counsel

By Bob Downing Published: September 2, 2015

From the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Tuesday:

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Norman Bay has named Max Minzner as general counsel to the Commission.

Minzner, who joined Chairman Bay’s staff as an advisor in June, has taught law at the University of New Mexico School of Law and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. From 2009 to 2010, Minzner was special counsel to Bay, who at that time was director of the FERC Office of Enforcement. At UNM, he served as associate dean for Academic Affairs and was awarded the 2013-2015 University of New Mexico Presidential Teaching Fellowship, a lifetime achievement award given annually to a single professor university-wide to recognize excellence in teaching. A graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School, Minzner’s scholarship has appeared in the Harvard Law Review, the Texas Law Review, and the William & Mary Law Review, among other journals.

“I have known Max for almost 20 years, beginning when he was a law clerk at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico,” Chairman Bay said. “I have full confidence that Max will bring a high level of excellence to his work in the Office of the General Counsel.”

Also today, Chairman Bay named David Morenoff, who has been serving as FERC general counsel, to the position of deputy general counsel. Morenoff has served in several capacities in the Office of the General Counsel, including acting general counsel, deputy general counsel and special counsel, and served as senior legal and policy advisor to former Chairman Jon Wellinghoff. Before joining FERC, Morenoff worked on electric industry matters in the Washington, D.C., office of Troutman Sanders, LLP, and also served as a legislative assistant on energy and other issues to U.S. Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island. He is a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School.

“It is a testament to the high regard in which David is held that he is one of the few general counsels who has served three different chairmen as either the acting general counsel or as general counsel,” Chairman Bay said. “I deeply appreciate his dedication, professionalism, and tireless efforts on behalf of FERC, and I look forward to continuing to work with him here.”


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Mason tapped by Kasich to serve on compact commission

By Bob Downing Published: September 2, 2015

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has named Roetzel attorney Donald L. Mason to be Ohio's representative on the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

Mason, who began his term on Aug. 21, previously served on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio from 1998 to 2009.

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Williams completes 100-mile Virginia-North Carolina pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: September 2, 2015

From a press release:

Williams on Tuesday announced it has placed into service a major expansion of its Transco natural gas pipeline to fuel new electric-power generation in Virginia and serve increasing local distribution demand in North Carolina.

Transco is the nation’s largest-volume and fastest-growing interstate natural gas pipeline system with enough transportation capacity to serve the equivalent of more than 50 million households each day in North America.

The approximately $300 million Virginia Southside Expansion is providing 270,000 dekatherms per day (dth/d) of incremental transportation capacity, which is enough gas to serve the equivalent of 1.6 million households.

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ConocoPhillips to cut 10 percent of workforce

By Bob Downing Published: September 2, 2015

From the Associated Press:

Energy company ConocoPhillips, which has already cut 1,000 jobs this year, says it will eliminate around 1,810 more positions following a plunge that took oil prices to their lowest levels in years.

The company said Tuesday it is eliminating 10 percent of its workforce. The biggest proportion of the job cuts will be in North America. ConocoPhillips plans to eliminate more than 500 jobs in Houston, where it is based.

In a statement, ConocoPhillips said it’s making the cuts because the energy industry is in a “dramatic downturn.”

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Effects from lifting U.S. export restrictions will vary, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: September 2, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

A new study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on the potential implications of allowing more crude oil exports finds that effects on domestic crude oil production are key to determining the other effects of a policy change. Gasoline prices would be either unchanged or slightly reduced. Trade in crude oil and petroleum products would also be affected.

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Tags: crude oil , exports , forecast , oil/petroleum , production

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EIA report supports lifting crude export restrictions, API says

By Bob Downing Published: September 2, 2015

From the American Petroleum Injstitute on Tuesday:

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Group hails New Hampshire town for community bill of rights

By Bob Downing Published: September 2, 2015

From a pree release earlier this week:

National Community Rights Network Endorses New Hampshire
Town’s Community Bill of Rights Ordinance

Contact: Cindy Kudlik,, 603-780-4511

August 31, 2015
NEW HAMPSHIRE: This month, the National Community Rights Network (NCRN)
endorsed Barrington, New Hampshire’s Community Bill of Rights Ordinance. The rightsbased
ordinance secures the rights of residents to clean water, air, and scenic
preservation, and bans resource extraction that would violate those rights. Residents
drafted the ordinance with help from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
(CELDF). They are advancing it for Town Meeting vote in 2016.
In providing its support for the Community Bill of Rights Ordinance, the NCRN considered
the efforts of the Barrington Waterways Protection Committee (BWPC) - the local group
organizing to bring the ordinance to a vote. Since 2012, the committee has worked to
protect the Isinglass River and surrounding waterways from gravel mining and water
Cilia Bannenberg, a BWPC committee member, stated, “We are very grateful and
honored by the endorsement of the National Community Rights Network. We have
worked tirelessly to educate Barrington voters that the only way to preserve individual and
community rights is to enact this ordinance.”
The BWPC has dedicated itself to education, outreach, grassroots organizing, and
campaigning, despite strong opposition from industry supporters. New Hampshire
Community Rights Network President Michelle Sanborn stated, “Residents of Barrington
understand this work is part of a longer-term effort to ban activities and projects that
would violate the rights of natural persons and ecosystems to exist and flourish. They are
determined to bring the people's Community Bill of Rights forward again in 2016.”
“No community should become a resource colony for corporate profit,” said Cindy Kudlik,
NCRN president. “We are proud to stand united with the BWPC to defend the inalienable
constitutional rights of the citizens of Barrington and their natural environment.”
The NCRN is composed of representatives from seven statewide networks that have
grown out of the grassroots organizing of CELDF, which has assisted communities to
advance Community Rights at the local level for 20 years. Nearly 200 communities across
the U.S. have adopted CELDF-drafted Community Bills of Rights, protecting community
rights to clean air and water, sustainable food, energy, and other systems, and the right to
local self-governance.
The NCRN assists the state Community Rights Networks to educate people across the
country on community rights and local self-governance; helps to secure the inalienable
rights of all people, communities, and ecosystems through local self-governance; asserts
community rights to empower and liberate communities from state preemption and
corporate harm; and advances those efforts toward state and federal constitutional

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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.