Work continues on fracking regulations
A panel responsible for developing regulations that would allow for expanded North Carolina inland energy exploration is meeting to review issues such as managing waste, environmental standards and water use.
The former state mining commission was reconstituted last summer to address potential exploration methods such as fracking. Lawmakers want new regulations in place by October 2014. The Legislature would have to act again before permits could be granted.
UT plans to drill for gas on its land
The University of Tennessee plans to drill for natural gas in its research forest in Morgan and Scott counties, a proposal that would allow UT to lease its land to an oil and gas company and then study the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing — often called fracking.
The contract, which will go through a bidding process early next year, would let a company lease land from the school and send royalties from any gas or oil produced back to the university.
That money, said UT officials, would finance the research into how fracking affects surrounding wildlife, geology and air and water quality.
Those results potentially could influence industry standards and state regulations.
California releases draft regulations
As oil companies move to access one of the largest shale-oil deposits in the country, California regulators released draft rules that would more tightly govern fracking.
The proposed rules have been posted online by state oil regulators and marked California’s first foray into regulating the contentious practice of fracking, which involves extracting hard-to-reach gas and oil by pummeling rocks deep underground with high-pressure water, sand and chemicals.
California currently oversees oil-well construction but previously had not required disclosure of fracking.
Under the draft regulations, operators usually would have to name the chemicals they use and test wells to ensure the drilling process could be withstood without contaminating groundwater.
Groups want details on fracking health study
A coalition of environmental groups have called on state officials to release details of a health-impact study for shale-gas drilling and a procedure that involves blasting chemical-laden water deep into the ground.
Representatives of a dozen prominent organizations signed a letter to Health Commissioner Nirav Shah and Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens.
They asked them to make public the health-impact study being evaluated by a scientific panel, and they called for public hearings and a 60-day public comment period on the study.
Environmental conservation did the health study as part of an environmental impact review of shale-gas development started in July 2008, and it is expected to be completed within a few months.
Industry files lawsuit to end fracking ban
The Colorado Oil and Gas Association is seeking to overturn a fracking ban that was approved by voters in November.
The Denver Post reports the industry filed a lawsuit in Weld County district court to overturn the ban. Voters approved changes to the city’s charter to prohibit fracking and the storage of fracking waste within city limits.
COGA spokeswoman Tisha Schuller said the ban illegally precludes the safe and responsible development of oil and gas. The reserves under Longmont are estimated to be worth $500 million.
City officials say they’ll vigorously defend the ban on the procedure that involves blasting water, sand and chemicals underground to free oil and natural gas.
ND oil production increases moderately
North Dakota oil production increased at a more moderate pace in October, according to the most-recent figures available, but operators have ambitious plans for 2013.
Preliminary numbers show that North Dakota produced 747,239 barrels of oil per day in October, a 2.5 percent increase since September and another all-time high for the state, said Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources.
Previous months saw production increases closer to 4 percent, Helms said.
Some of that slowdown is because the cost of drilling and completing a well rapidly escalated in 2012 and consumed budgets faster than many companies anticipated, he said.
Companies work on community relations
Some gas-drilling companies that spent years fighting, threatening and suing reluctant communities took a new tack in 2012: collaboration.
Some drillers in Pennsylvania have hired local residents to act as liaisons and ramped up communication efforts. Most municipal officials now give drillers credit for improving communication and responding quickly when problems arise.
For example, XTO Energy — an Exxon Mobil Corp. subsidiary — set up a community advisory board in Butler County, about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh.
“XTO [Energy] has been great to work with,” said Lois Rankin, a supervisor in Jefferson. “Each and every time there’s been an issue ... they’ve come through and complied and fixed it.”
That kind of effort was largely missing in the early years of shale-gas development in Pennsylvania, said Gregory Kallenberg, a filmmaker who toured the state this year for a program Shell Oil Co. sponsored.
“They were coming into the area ... without the attention they should give to communication and community relations that they seem to have now,” Kallenberg said by phone from his office in Louisiana.