An update on lawmaker action and other activities at the Ohio Statehouse related to horizontal hydraulic fracturing:
• New Study: A report by ICT International and EnSys Energy and touted by the American Petroleum Institute projected that Ohio could add nearly 16,000 jobs and $2.68 billion to the state economy by 2020 “if restrictions on U.S. crude exports were lifted.”
“Restrictions on exports only limit our potential as a global energy superpower,” Chris Zeigler, API-Ohio’s executive director, said in a released statement. “Additional exports could prompt higher production, generate savings for consumers and bring more jobs to Ohio. The economic benefits are well-established, and policymakers are right to re-examine 1970s-era trade restrictions that no longer make sense.”
• State Land Frack Plan: A Democratic state lawmaker reiterated his calls for an investigation of Gov. John Kasich’s administration after public records revealed meetings to develop a marketing plan for horizontal drilling on state-owned lands continued after officials said they had abandoned the idea.
State Rep. Robert Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, was among individuals and groups named in administration documents listing fracking “opposition groups.”
• Not Enough: Policy Matters Ohio, a liberal think tank, released a report showing that a plan to reform the state’s tax rates on horizontal drilling would reduce related collections by millions of dollars.
HB 375 passed the Ohio House but was not moved in the Senate before lawmakers broke for their summer recess. The Kasich administration and Republican lawmakers who support the legislation remain at odds over severance-tax issues.
• Frack Penalty Bill Stalled: The severance-tax legislation wasn’t the only oil and gas-related bill to stall.
Lawmakers also have not yet acted on HB 490, which would expand the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ authority to revoke or suspend drilling and related activities of those who break the state’s environmental regulations.
The legislation also would tighten requirements for transporting brine and increase potential prison time and civil penalties for violations.
The bill was prompted, in part, by a Youngstown-area incident involving the dumping of tens of thousands of gallons of oilfield waste into a storm sewer.
The bill has had multiple hearings before a House committee but did not move to the floor for a vote before lawmakers left town.
• Jobs Website: The American Petroleum Institute launched a new website (www.oilgasworkforce.com) with information about training programs and job openings in eastern Ohio’s emerging shale oilfields.
While international in scope, the site includes specific information about the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy and Education Program; other education programs at a dozen Ohio schools, including Youngstown State University, Zane State College and Stark State College; and Ohio-specific job openings.
• New Production Totals: The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported increased production of oil and gas via horizontal drilling over the past year.
The latest annual report noted 352 horizontal shale wells in production in 2013.
According to ODNR, “The wells drilled in the Utica and Marcellus shale produced 3.6 million barrels of oil and 100 billion cubic feet of gas. On average, Ohio’s oil and gas production increased approximately 65 percent quarter to quarter from first quarter 2013 to first quarter 2014. ... ODNR projects all oil and gas wells in Ohio produced 8 million barrels of oil and 171 billion cubic feet of gas in 2013. Compared to 2012, Ohio’s total oil production increased by 62 percent and natural gas production increased by 97 percent. The percentage increase in natural gas production is the largest in Ohio history, and the total production is the fourth-highest annual total in state history.”