PA “Impact Fees” Generate $200M

Pennsylvania's new fee on gas drillers has raised more than $200 million, most of which will be distributed to counties and towns to fix roads, restore water supplies and pay other expenses borne by local governments in the Marcellus Shale region.

A state law signed in February imposed the so-called "impact fee" on energy companies exploring the Marcellus Shale, a sprawling rock formation that holds the nation's largest reservoir of natural gas. Drillers were required to pay $50,000 for each horizontally drilled well and $10,000 for each vertical well drilled through 2011.

The Public Utility Commission, which collects the fee, announced Monday that it raised nearly $206 million from 4,453 wells. Of that, the drillers have paid nearly $198 million, the PUC said.

The state will take about $25 million off the top. Sixty percent of what's left will be split among 37 counties and some 1,500 municipalities hosting gas wells. The money can be used to fix roads, bridges and other infrastructure, provide affordable housing, preserve open space and buy equipment for first responders, among other expenses.

The rest of the fee revenue will be split among state agencies dealing with drilling impacts.

Bradford County, the most heavily drilled county in Pennsylvania, expects to receive $6 million to $9 million. Commissioner Daryl Miller said Monday that while ideas are still being discussed, the county might use the money to retire debt and lower property taxes, a permissible use under state law. Another idea: Hold some of it in reserve "for unforeseen situations as a result of drilling activity," he said.

"We're working through a process to evaluate best uses for the money, to get the biggest bang for the buck for the taxpayers of this county," Miller said.

As expected, the most prolific drillers in the Marcellus paid the most money. Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. was tops with $30.8 million paid on 624 wells. Two others paid more than $20 million: Calgary, Canada-based Talisman Energy Inc., $26.4 million on 540 wells; and Fort Worth, Texas-based Range Resources Corp., $23.7 million on 475 wells.

The PUC data showed that 58 drillers owed money. Of those, the PUC said, 17 were delinquent. The agency said a subsidiary of Houston-based Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc. had the largest unpaid bill of $3 million, though company spokesman Richard Hunter said Monday the check has already been mailed.

The drillers' next payment is due April 1 for wells drilled in 2012. The fee, to be collected once a year for 15 years, will slide up and down with the price of natural gas.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, used Monday's announcement to press for "local zoning uniformity." A state appeals court recently struck down sections of the new Marcellus law that prohibited most local regulation of drilling sites. The ruling is under appeal to the state Supreme Court.

"At a time when budget shortfalls are stretching state and local governments to their limits, responsible American natural gas production is helping to support tens of thousands of good jobs and providing enormous, much-needed revenues for critical services," coalition president Kathryn Klaber said in a statement.

MicroSeismic, Inc. Ranks in Top 1000 on the 2012 Inc. 5000 | Three-Year Sales Growth Increased by 321%

Last week Inc. magazine ranked MicroSeismic, Inc. 988 on its sixth annual Inc. 5000, an exclusive ranking of the nation's fastest-growing private companies. The company ranked 36th in the energy industry and 20th in Houston.

For energy companies with the same revenue or higher, MicroSeismic, Inc. ranks 10th in growth. Within the oil and gas industry, they are the 2nd fastest growing company with at least $50M in revenue.

Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at

Guest Commentary in New York Pub Supports Shale Gas Drilling

Below is a guest commentary submitted to New York's Daily Star.  The article was submitted in response to two previously published AP stories. It's an excellent, informed response and MicroSeismic is pleased to recommend its reading:

A few weeks ago this newspaper printed two AP stories with no apparent connection. However, the Gas Wars make for strange bedfellows, even on the news beat.

The first story was a report out of the Empire Center, a nonpartisan think tank that focuses on New York. In "The Graying of the Empire State: Some Parts of N.Y. Grow Older Faster," the researchers highlighted the growing regional differences in age distribution, particularly in young adults 20 to 34 who are abandoning upstate New York. It further noted the decline in children and teenagers in our area, a demographic fact that runs contrary to broader national trends.

No surprise here. Richard Dietz of the 2nd Federal Reserve also studied this issue. His findings: if upstate New York were considered a state of its own, its out-migration of 25- to 40-year-olds would be considered average (26th out of the 50 states). However, the in-migration of people of this age would rank us 49th out of 50 states. Nobody's coming here to find work.

Both reports cite the lack of opportunity and jobs as the pre-eminent factors in this population decline. More ominous, since "the relative youthfulness of a population is an important precursor of future economic growth ... unless the upstate region can attract more young workers and their families, its population of children and young adults will continue to spiral downward."

As will upstate New York's economic potential.

The second story, a little noticed U.S. Energy Information Agency technical report, noted the drop in carbon dioxide emissions in the USA to a twenty year low. Reason: with abundant, cheap natural gas available now and in the foreseeable future, power plant operators are switching from coal to gas, a cleaner burning fuel.

The connection of these two stories lies in the irony that those purporting to be most concerned about earth conservancy and sustainability are against the one job growth engine that would serve both in our area. That engine is safe, responsible gas development.

The "sustainables" tout farming, light industry, and tourism as a basis for economic development. Fine, as far as it goes, but gas development will open opportunities in over 50 different trades, job categories, and service industries, all at good wages.

What's sustaining our youth today? Nothing much. They're moving out. The family farms that are hanging on wait for gas development to make equipment upgrades so as to become competitive. The opportunity and the jobs that would come from gas development are opposed by those who would conserve The Earth. But wait … gas development IS conserving The Earth, at least by carbon dioxide standards.

The tide is turning. Everybody knows it. Gas development is coming to New York. From Barack Obama to Michael Bloomberg, the word is out. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in, and just waiting for the right time to announce. The Environmental Defense Fund is in. Others will join.

But apparently the memo hasn't reached the "sustainables" in Otsego County. They're still playing the same old "fire on the hillsides, desolation in the valleys" tune. However, even with Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, and Lady Gaga singing harmony, that tune won't chart. There is something called reality.

Reality is that nine out of 10 wells drilled are fracked. When you turn the key in your car, fry an egg on the stove, use a plastic fork at a picnic, transfuse blood in a hospital, or walk into the interior of the 787 Dreamliner, you're making use of a material whose origin was fracked.

Hype and fear work best in the absence of reality. Reality is just a short ride 70 miles south of us. Do yourself a favor. Take that ride.

How Energy Shapes the Economy

In the beginning, the Master Economist created the Economy. He created businesses large and small, consumers, governments with their regulation, and financial institutions of all types. And the Master Economist declared that the economy should grow. And it did grow, but only for a while. Then it stalled. Then He declared that stimulus of various types should fix it, and it did, for a while. Then He declared that if humans would just wait for a while, it would fix itself, but it wouldn't.

We all know that the foregoing isn't the real story about the economy, but what is the real story?

I think if we dig deeper, we discover that energy plays an all-powerful role, just as it does in the natural world in general.

Read the full text on Oil Voice.

Sept. Webinar: Understanding Microseismic Positional Uncertainty

Registration for the September webinar, Understanding Microseismic Positional Uncertainty, is now live on the MicroSeismic website.

This month's complimentary webinar will be hosted by Mike Mueller, VP of Technology Development. Program description is below.

Microseismic event location or position resolution and uncertainty remains one of the most critical aspects of passive seismic for the user community. Understanding the inherent capabilities, limitations and drivers for event locations from downhole, surface and near-surface microseismic acquisition geometries is required to have confidence with 'beyond the dots' microseismic applications such as hydrofracture length, height and stimulated rock volume calculations. In this webinar, these capabilities, limitations and drivers are reviewed for both the downhole and the surface acquisition methods.

New Shale Pipeline to Link Utica to Canada and Midwest

Spectra Energy Corp., Enbridge and DTE Energy are joining to develop a new complex of pipelines to move natural gas from the Ohio Utica shale to markets throughout the Midwest and Canada, Spectra said Tuesday.

The three companies have completed a memo of understanding to develop the NEXUS gas transmission system, which will originate in northeastern Ohio and have the capacity to transport one billion cubic feet per day of natural gas.

The new line will use established utility corridors in Michigan and an existing pipeline to connect to the Ontario market. The new pipeline will serve local gas distribution companies, power generators and industrial users throughout Ohio, Michigan and Ontario.

The companies said that they have received sufficient levels of interest from prospective customers to go ahead with the project.  The venture plans an open season in the fourth quarter of this year for contracts to use the NEXUS, and tentatively have scheduled start o operations by November 2015, depending on final market demand.

Sept. Webinar: Understanding Microseismic Positional Uncertainty

Registration for the September webinar, Understanding Microseismic Positional Uncertainty, is now live on the MicroSeismic website.

This month's complimentary webinar will be hosted by Mike Mueller, VP of Technology Development. Program description is below, don't wait-register now.

Microseismic event location or position resolution and uncertainty remains one of the most critical aspects of passive seismic for the user community. Understanding the inherent capabilities, limitations and drivers for event locations from downhole, surface and near-surface microseismic acquisition geometries is required to have confidence with 'beyond the dots' microseismic applications such as hydrofracture length, height and stimulated rock volume calculations. In this webinar, these capabilities, limitations and drivers are reviewed for both the downhole and the surface acquisition methods.

Marcellus Shale Strives for Transparency in Water Regs

The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) released a recommended practice for surveying water supplies before drilling, marking the third in a series of MSC recommended practices aimed at reinforcing the coalition's guiding principles to "continuously improve our practices and seek transparency."

Pennsylvania regulations require natural gas producers to sample and test, with the owner's consent, water supplies within 2,500 ft of a proposed Marcellus gas well. These tests by certified laboratories provide a baseline analysis of water chemistry before site preparation and development, MSC said.

Many gas producers already tested wells beyond the 2,500 ft requirement before implementation of state regulations. Gas producers pay for water surveys, which are shared with water well owners and state agencies.

A Center for Rural Pennsylvania study reports nearly 40% of Pennsylvania's water wells do not meet at least one safe drinking water standard and another 20% of water wells already contain methane.

MSC Pres. Kathryn Klaber said science indicates Pennsylvania's groundwater chemistry varied drastically before shale drilling.

"This recommended practice builds upon what's required by law," and is intended to give homeowners an understanding of their water quality before gas-related activities, Klaber said. "Additionally, the MSC is developing a robust pre-drill water quality database. When complete, this first-of-a-kind library will serve as an important environmental and public health tool to help address water quality challenges that have persisted in rural communities for decades."

Developed by technical experts from MSC member companies, the recommended practice outlines:

• A predrill survey should be conducted on all identified water supplies within a given area of the well pad surface location as required by the state regulatory agency.

• Water supply sources such as wells, springs and ponds should be evaluated before surface disturbance for site construction or before spudding. Consideration also should be given to sampling water supply sources currently not being used.

• With the assistance of the water supply owner, locate the water supply or supplies and sampling locations. Use GPS to determine and record the latitude and longitude of each water supply.

• The samples shall be collected, in accordance with all appropriate sample collection, preservation, handling, and defensible chain-of-custody procedures. Appropriate sample collection procedures can be found on the US Environmental Protection Agency web site.

• Water samples shall be analyzed by a certified laboratory using EPA methods or drinking water methods (where drinking water methods exist). For parameters that have a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), the laboratory should be instructed to provide a laboratory reporting limit no greater than the published MCL.

EIA Report Finds Frac’ing Actually Good for the Environment

Carbon emissions in the U.S. have hit a 20-year low due to a supposedly environmentally unfriendly drilling technique that has created an abundance of cheap natural gas. The free market, it seems, does it better than the EPA.

Environmentalists find themselves between shale rock and a hard place after a little noticed technical report documented how the natural gas boom caused by the use of hydraulic fracturing has actually helped the environment in a major way while also creating jobs and economic growth.

In the report, the U.S. Energy Information Agency, a part of the Energy Department, said that energy-related U.S. CO2 emissions for the first four months of this year fell to about 1992 levels. EIA estimates that full-year emissions will be the lowest since at least 1995.

The untold story is that this has been achieved by the free market and private-sector technology, not government mandates.

Environmentalists contend, without evidence, that these chemical additives will and have contaminated groundwater supplies. The mixture used to fracture shale is in fact a benign blend of 90% water, 9.5% sand and 0.5% chemicals such as the sodium chloride of table salt and the citric acid of the orange juice you had for breakfast. Shale formations in which frac'ing is employed are thousands of feet deep. Drinking water aquifers are generally only a hundred feet deep. There's a lot of solid rock between them.

Conservation efforts, the laggard economy and greater use of renewable energy are factors in the CO2 decline. But the drop-off is due mainly to low-priced natural gas, the agency said. This due to the huge new supplies opened up on state and private lands by frac'ing.

Shale gas drilling in places like Northeast's Marcellus Shale and Eagle Ford Shale in Texas has driven the wholesale price of natural gas from $7 or $8 per unit to $3 in four years, making it cheaper to burn than coal for a given amount of energy produced.

Coal this year will account for about 37% of the nation's electricity, natural gas 30% and nuclear about 19%. Meanwhile, the much-touted wind supplied less than 3% of the nation's electricity in 2011, according to EIA data, and solar power far less.

The IEA says the U.S. has cut carbon dioxide emissions more than any other country over the last six years. Total U.S. carbon emissions from energy consumption peaked at about 6 billion metric tons in 2007.

Projections for this year are around 5.3 billion, and the 1990 figure was about 5 billion. That figure is likely to decline as more areas are opened, and if the war on frac'ing by environmentalists and their supporters in the Obama administration ends.

Frac'ing Frenzy Results in Sharp Decline of U.S. Oil Imports

A boom in oil production from the shale formations of North Dakota and Texas has the U.S. on a course to cut its reliance on imported crude oil to about 42 percent this year, the lowest level in two decades.

Dependence on crude purchased from foreign countries is on a pace to decline from last year, Adam Sieminski, the head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, said during a Bloomberg Government lunch yesterday in Washington.

"What's happening in North Dakota, and in Texas, with Eagle Ford, Bakken formation in North Dakota, is a tremendous development for U.S. oil production and economic growth," Sieminski said.

In 2011, the U.S. relied on imports for 44.8 percent of its petroleum consumption, down from 60.3 percent in 2005, according to EIA data. This year, the nation should end up at about 42 percent, Sieminski said in a telephone interview after the lunch.

Even with domestic production gains, gasoline prices in the U.S. will probably rise 5 cents to 10 cents a gallon by the Sept. 3 Labor Day holiday before falling in the fourth quarter, he said.

The increase at the pump is partly a function of a rise in global crude oil prices, triggered by a drop in exports from Iran and countries that aren't members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, he said.

The nationwide average price of regular gasoline at the pump gained 0.2 cent to $3.718 a gallon yesterday, AAA data showed. Gasoline has climbed 39.2 cents since July 1, according to the AAA, the nation's largest motoring organization.

"Gasoline prices should come back down again" in the fourth quarter, Sieminski said. "We think crude will come down a bit as well."

North Dakota's oil output rose to 639,000 barrels a day in May, the highest since at least 1981. Texas is at its highest level in more than 20 years, pumping 1.8 million barrels a day in April and May, according to the agency, a unit of the Energy Department that gathers data on energy production and use.

Local Official Refutes Anti-Fracking Article

John Griffin, Executive Director of Associated Petroleum Industries of Michigan has submitted this excellent op-ed in the Record-Eagle in response to an earlier August article entitled Fracking Raises Concerns.

The Michigan Public Service Commission reports over 3.3 million natural gas customers in the state.

Hydraulic fracturing has helped drive natural gas prices from over $10 a thousand cubic feet to roughly $3 today and those 3.3 million customers have reaped the benefits.

Hydraulic fracturing has occurred in Michigan for nearly six decades and has been used on over 12,000 wells with no harm to the environment.

All aspects of well drilling, construction and production are regulated by the Department of Environmental Quality. They have an excellent question and answer document on hydraulic fracturing at

Michigan imports almost 80 percent of its natural gas. Michigan would be well served with more production as the state and its residents would share in the royalties, taxes and jobs it would provide.

The state deposits revenues from oil, gas and mineral operations into the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, with nearly $1 billion in grants already given to local parks and natural resource projects.

Natural gas is a clean burning and now more abundant domestic energy source. Michigan should take advantage of its minerals.

Excellent rebuttal from a knowledgeable professional, supported by facts.

Webcast Live on

In case you missed yesterday's webcast, "Geological Interpretations of Microseismic Events to Better Constrain Fracture Models" you can now view the recording on the MicroSeismic website.

Remember to check the webinar section of the site frequently, as new launch dates and topics will be added throughout the year.

Final Reminder, Webinar Tomorrow

Tomorrow, August 21st at 10 a.m. CDT, Jon McKenna of MicroSeismic will host a webinar entitled Geological Interpretations of Micoseismic Events to better Constrain Fracture Models.

Visit the website to register now.

USGS Analysis of Alaska’s North Slope

If Alaska's North Slope joins the shale revolution, there's likely plenty of natural gas to be found, according to a new analysis from the U.S. Geological Survey.

The report pegs the mean estimate of shale gas at 42 trillion cubic feet (tcf) that could be produced with current technology. That's almost twice the volume of gas the entire United States consumed last year. But in a recent presentation in Anchorage, David Houseknecht, the USGS research geologist who wrote the analysis, cautioned that the estimates are squishy due to lack of drilling into the shale strata. It's possible that no North Slope shale gas can be recovered, although he doubted that this would be the outcome of future drilling.

Despite the abundance of natural gas on the North Slope, little is produced and marketed because there is no pipeline to carry it to consumers. However, three major North Slope producers — ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP — and pipeline company TransCanada are jointly studying  whether to pursue a multibillion-dollar project that would export liquefied natural gas to Asian and other markets. They're also querying potential shippers about their interest in a pipeline from the North Slope to Alberta to feed North American markets.

The new shale gas estimate from USGS joins several other numbers that collectively represent what is publicly known about the North Slope's natural gas resources:

  • 35 tcf of proved reserves, mostly at the giant Prudhoe Bay oil field.
  • 203 tcf of estimated undiscovered natural gas resources, onshore and offshore in Alaska's Arctic, that could be produced using current technology.

For example, the USGS recently assessed the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA), an Indiana-size tract west of Prudhoe Bay. The agency concluded that NPRA held a mean estimate of 52.8 tcf of technically recoverable natural gas resource. But only 7.3 tcf to 17.5 tcf of that gas could be profitably produced if gas prices were $8 per thousand cubic feet — more than double the current Lower 48 price.

Excellent Shale Regional Production Resource Guide

Powell Shale Digest has a one-page summary of production and well data for nine major U.S. natural gas and crude oil shale regions.

It shows nearly 36,000 wells, with total production of nearly 23 trillion cubic feet of gas and 682 million barrels of oil and condensate from the Barnett, Fayetteville, Eagle Ford and multiple areas of the Haynesville, Bakken and Marcellus shales.

The data is free and you can view it here.

Don't Forget to Register for Our Webinar!

Don't forget to register now for our August 21st webinar: Geological Interpretations of Microseismic Events to Better Constrain Fracture Models, hosted by Jon McKenna, a geophysicist with MicroSeismic.

In addition to locating microseismic events, MicroSeismic, Inc.'s surface and shallow buried array passive seismic technology is used to define the geometry and orientations of the fracture networks that are stimulated or induced by hydro-frac treatments. Additional rock mechanics parameters can be combined with additional information contained in the microseismic data to better understand in-situ subsurface stress and failure conditions.

In this webinar, McKenna will discuss focal mechanisms, stress inversion techniques, discrete fracture models constrained by microseismic events, and stimulated rock volume calculations. Additional analysis to be discussed include fractal geometries of event clusters, and event energy analyses can be used to optimize the stimulation treatment.

Natural Gas is the Real Deal

Natural gas will be the "backbone rather than the back-up" of the global energy supply mix but the industry must change public perception about unconventional development methods, Shell International Chief Energy Adviser Whim Thomas said this week.

"It is not a temporary back-up until renewables take over," he told delegates at the Global Business Summit on Energy in London.

"Renewables grow very fast but we need more fossil fuels to meet demand," he said.

A recent International Energy Agency report showed that renewables in OECD countries in 2011 took their share of the total primary energy mix from 7.8% to 8.2%, while natural gas consumption remained flat. In non-OECD countries, gas consumption increased by just 2.1% in 2011, "a much smaller increase than the sizeable 7.2% leap seen in 2010," the IEA added.

But, "it is still an age of hydrocarbons," Thomas said.

With a required investment of $380 billion/year, the global gas market is estimated to see growth of 50% by 2030 and double today's level by 2050, Thomas said.

He added that natural gas is "acceptable, abundant and affordable [with] 250 years of reserves at present production rates" and has half the carbon dioxide emissions of other fossil fuels, such as coal.

"Gas really does have a bright future," but the public perception regarding unconventional gas is a major challenge faced by the industry, he said.

"Protests around non-conventional gas have led to knee-jerk reactions by governments," he added.

Thomas said the UK is playing a leading role in addressing the issue and called for industry to take charge in changing public opinion by being more transparent, publishing operating principles and engaging with local communities.

"This will not come by itself; industry needs to play a leading role rather than a passive one," he said.

AMEC Chief Operating Officer Neil Bruce echoed Thomas' view that gas will remain a major part of the energy mix.

"Oil and gas is a key part of the energy mix," he said. "The really encouraging thing over the last 5 to 10 years is the actual political and community debate moving away from 'either/or' and now it's talk of a mix."

West VA Construction Industry Grows with Shale

West Virginia's construction industry is getting a lift from the Marcellus Shale drilling boom.

The industry employed 36,700 in June, up from 34,100 in June 2011, according to recent report by the Associated General Contractors of America. During the previous three years, employment dropped 19 percent.

"A lot of our members are working in the Marcellus Shale industry. Water and sewer contractors are putting in lines, highway contractors are putting in roads, aggregate suppliers are supplying stone to these projects," Mike Clowers, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, told the Sunday Gazette-Mail.

"We are seeing a pretty good market for our membership that are now working in the oil and gas industry that were not involved in this process five years ago. As such, our members have been able to stay pretty busy."

Pray Construction president Mark Grigsby said at least 30 percent of the Scott Depot company's work volume is tied to the natural gas industry. The company is building support structures for the industry.

"Our work has not fallen off. We have experienced nothing but increased volume for the past several years," Grigsby said.

In the past year, the company has hired administrative support staff, a project manager, and construction workers. They joined nearly 60 seasonal employees.

Private nonresidential construction spending in West Virginia is up 14 percent, said Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America's chief economist.

Ohio Gets it Right with Online Shale Jobs Database

Ohioans wondering where to find the thousands of new jobs in the oil and gas industry finally have something more concrete than another economic study.

It's a website created by an industry group listing nearly two dozen companies and job openings here and throughout each company's far-flung operations.

Energy in Depth -- the Ohio Project on Monday launched a new web service, a job finder that includes most of the big gas and oil companies prospecting or drilling wells in Ohio.

The site includes suppliers to those companies and other companies preparing to build processing plants to clean and separate the gases and oils contained in Ohio's Utica shale formations.

Names as familiar as BP, Halliburton, Chesapeake Energy, Baker Hughes and Dominion East Ohio join the long list of companies, some of them less familiar to most Ohio residents.

A website visitor who clicks on a company name is instantly switched to a career page for the employer, including what jobs are available and where they are situated. Many of the sites include an on-line application.

A check of job openings on a half-dozen site listed not only the jobs but education and experience needed, benefit packages and overall career opportunities -- but not wages or salaries.

In Pennsylvania, the Labor Department pegged the average salary of workers involved in Marcellus-shale gas production at more than $81,000 in 2011, Energy in Depth spokesman Dan Alfaro said.

The average salary of people involved in ancillary industries -- everything from environmental clean-up to equipment manufacturing to gas distribution -- was $64,000, he said.

Some of the companies listed do not show jobs in Ohio, but they will as they enter the state and production ramps up, Alfaro said.

And new companies will be added as they show up in the state, he said.

"This is designed to be a living website. As shale development continues to expand, so too will the opportunity to gain employment, and so will the jobs portal."

Antifrac’ers Should Do Their Homework First

Alec Baldwin has now joined the antifrac'ing crowd with a piece in the Huffington Post that describes an antifrac'ing event hosting, among others, Josh Fox, who made the widely debunked pseudo-documentary Gasland.  He states that the industry refused to attend or "participate," but it's not clear if they would have been allowed any serious forum.

In Michael Lynch's US News piece addressing this gathering, Lynch reminds Baldwin and Co. of the many public refutes to a myriad of popular antifrac'ing claims. For example, the AP investigated the claim that breast cancer rates were higher in the six counties near the Barnett Shale and found it to be untrue. He initially claimed the Centers for Disease Control had made the statement, but when this was found to be untrue, he cited a small paper that used a reporter who was suing the natural gas industry.

Lynch goes on to say that he went to the Texas Cancer Registry website and downloaded the data for breast cancer from 2005-2009 for the counties of Bosque, Dallas, Denton, Hamilton, Hood, and Johnson. Three of them do show rates for the period that are higher than the state's average, but only by 5-10 percent; two show falling rates (slightly), two show rising rates (slightly), and two don't have data over time. And only Dallas county has over 1,000 cases per year, with Denton the only additional county that has over 100 cases (about 350) per year.

Opposition to frac'ing increasingly seems to be relying on scare tactics, with activists blithely repeating factoids they like with little effort to check the raw data or even the mainstream press. Understandably, someone like Alec Baldwin doesn't have much time to research this issue and while they have the same right to their opinions as the rest of us, they also have the same responsibility to check their facts.

As with any industrial activity, hydraulic fracturing of shale should be done in an environmentally responsible fashion, and regulators should monitor emissions. But by making false claims, activists not only damage their own credibility, they distract from actual environmental issues that require true action.

Register NOW for Our August Webinar!

MicroSeismic's next webinar is already live at

The topic for August's webinar is Geological Interpretations of Microseismic Events to Better Constrain Fracture Models and it will be held August 21st at 10 a.m. CST.

To register for this webinar, or view the archive of previous webinars, you must register, so visit the site and do so today!

MicroSeismic, Inc. Announces its Next Generation of Services

MicroSeismic, Inc. (MicroSeismic) announced today that it has introduced new technology and solutions with its next generations of services. The changes include an upgrade to the patented Passive Seismic Emission Tomography (PSET®) technology, introduction of Seismicity Monitoring services and the MicroSeismic Reservoir Intelligence (MRI) online portal, which will all be available Q3 2012.

"PSET® is a process we have pioneered to locate low energy emissions since we began monitoring hydraulic fracturing in 2003," said Peter Duncan, PhD, Founder and CEO of MicroSeismic. "This upgrade introduces a proprietary technique that increases our ability to detect events, even in low signal quality areas. Together these updates demonstrate our focus on delivering the best services to our customers worldwide."

MicroSeismic has upgraded its passive seismic monitoring, mapping and analysis process, called PSET® 4.0, to provide improved imaging and positioning of events and introduces three new services. PSET® VTI (Vertical Transverse Isotropy) has the ability to estimate and account for anisotropy. PSET® Alert enhances real time capabilities to automatically trigger alerts based on customer defined criteria. And, PSET® Viewer, available online through the MRI portal, which allows customers to rapidly view their microseismic results in a 3D Viewer on their computer or tablet.

"We are excited to roll out the upgraded version of PSET® 4.0 which will allow customers to understand their fracture effectiveness through better imaging, finer calibration and easier access to their information wherever and whenever they need it," stated Michael Thornton, PhD, Chief Technology Officer for MicroSeismic.

Along with the improvements to PSET®, MicroSeismic introduces its Seismicity Monitoring service, based on its proven and proprietary BuriedArray™ technology. Seismicity Monitoring provides customers a means to demonstrate that positive magnitude events which may occur as a result of nearby natural seismicity are unrelated with fracturing or wastewater activity. MicroSeismic's market leading near-surface buried arrays allow for on-going, low cost measurements of seismicity, whether on a single pad, across a township or over a large region.

Seismicity Monitoring is available for purchase immediately. Other services will be rolled out to customers throughout Q3 2012.

Marcellus Shale Employment Up 159%

Since the beginning of Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania, the state Department of Labor and Industry has been keeping vital statistics on the industry, including job growth and the types of jobs available.

The latest version of the department's "Marcellus Shale Fast Facts" is now available on line. It shows that since the fourth quarter of 2008, employment in Marcellus Shale core industries is up by 18,000 jobs, or 159 percent, at a time when Pennsylvania was losing jobs.

Total employment in the industry has grown by 238,000 jobs since 2008. The department reports that the average wage in drilling core industries is more than $81,000 per year and more than 1,000 business establishments were created.

The report also details the progress of ShaleNET, a program funded by a three‐year, $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. ShaleNET is a comprehensive recruitment, training, placement, and retention program for high priority occupations in the natural gas drilling and production industry.

For more "fast facts" click here.

API Releases “Energy Works” Campaign

Industry trade group, the American Petroleum Institute this week unveiled its "Energy Works" campaign to educate Americans about the jobs and other contributions created by the energy industry.

CEO Jack Gerard said the public information campaign was designed to provide facts about the industry and its people.

"The initiative features a new website that uses videos to tell the story of the industry's workers and the communities in which they live. API will be promoting Energy Works through our ongoing work to raise energy literacy."

Gerard said the industry has been creating jobs at a time when the overall U.S. job market has been stagnant.

"Since the recession began, the oil and natural gas industry has grown by more than 86,000 jobs.  In contrast, the economy as a whole has lost five million, according to numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics."

API represents more than 500 oil and natural gas companies that are leaders of a technology-driven industry that supplies most of America's energy, while supporting 9.2 million U.S. jobs and 7.7 percent of the U.S. economy. The industry also delivers more than $86 million a day in government revenue. Since 2000, it has invested more than $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives.

Frac’ing “Facts” Often Misleading

In the debate over natural gas drilling, the companies are often the ones accused of twisting the facts. But scientists say opponents sometimes mislead the public, too.

Critics of frac'ing often raise alarms about groundwater pollution, air pollution, and cancer risks, and there are still many uncertainties. But some of the claims have little — or nothing— to back them.

For example, reports that breast cancer rates rose in a region with heavy gas drilling are false, researchers told The Associated Press.

Fears that natural radioactivity in drilling waste could contaminate drinking water aren't being confirmed by monitoring, either.

And concerns about air pollution from the industry often don't acknowledge that natural gas is a far cleaner burning fuel than coal.

"The debate is becoming very emotional. And basically not using science" on either side, said Avner Vengosh, a Duke University professor studying groundwater contamination who has been praised and criticized by both sides.

The Marcellus Shale covers large parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia, while the Barnett Shale is in north Texas. Many other shale deposits have been discovered.

One of the clearest examples of a misleading claim comes from north Texas, where gas drilling began in the Barnett Shale about 10 years ago.

Opponents of frac'ing say breast cancer rates have spiked exactly where intensive drilling is taking place — and nowhere else in the state. The claim is used in a letter that was sent to New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo by environmental groups and by Josh Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of "Gasland," a film that criticizes the industry.

But researchers haven't seen a spike in breast cancer rates in the area, said Simon Craddock Lee, a professor of medical anthropology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

David Risser, an epidemiologist with the Texas Cancer Registry, said in an email that researchers checked state health data and found no evidence of an increase in the counties where the spike supposedly occurred.

And Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a major cancer advocacy group based in Dallas, said it sees no evidence of a spike, either.

Yet Fox tells viewers in an ominous voice that "In Texas, as throughout the United States, cancer rates fell — except in one place— in the Barnett Shale."

Lee called the claims of an increase "a classic case of the ecological fallacy" because they falsely suggest that breast cancer is linked to just one factor. In fact, diet, lifestyle and access to health care also play key roles.

Fox responded to questions by citing a press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that doesn't support his claim, and a newspaper story that Risser said is "not based on a careful statistical analysis of the data."

When Fox was told that Texas cancer researchers said rates didn't increase, he replied in an email that the claim of unusually high breast cancer rates was "widely reported" and said there is "more than enough evidence to warrant much deeper study."

Another instance where fears haven't been confirmed by science is the concern that radioactivity in drilling fluids could threaten drinking water supplies.

Critics of frac'ing note the deep underground water that comes up along with gas has high levels of natural radioactivity. Since much of that water, called flowback, was once being discharged into municipal sewage treatment plants and then rivers in Pennsylvania, there was concern about public water supplies.

But in western Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority did extensive tests and didn't find a problem in area rivers. State environmental officials said monitoring at public water supply intakes across the state showed non-detectable levels of radiation, and the two cases that showed anything were at background levels.

Concerns about the potential problem also led to regulatory changes. An analysis by The Associated Press of data from Pennsylvania found that of the 10.1 million barrels of shale wastewater generated in the last half of 2011, about 97 percent was either recycled, sent to deep-injection wells, or sent to a treatment plant that doesn't discharge into waterways.

Critics of frac'ing also repeat claims of extreme air pollution threats, even as evidence mounts that the natural gas boom is in some ways contributing to cleaner air.

Marcellus air pollution "will cause a massive public health crisis," claims a section of the Marcellus Shale Protest website.

Yet data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that the shale gas boom is helping to turn many large power plants away from coal, which emits far more pollution. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency passed new rules to force drillers to limit releases of methane from wells and pumping stations.

Some environmental groups now say that natural gas is having a positive effect on air quality.

Earlier this year, the group PennFuture said gas is a much cleaner burning fuel, and it called gas-fired power plants "orders of magnitude cleaner" than coal plants.

Marcellus Shale Protest said in response to a question about its claims that "any possible benefit in electric generation must be weighed against the direct harm from the industrial processes of gas extraction."

One expert said there's an actual psychological process at work that sometimes blinds people to science, on the frac'ing debate and many others.

"You can literally put facts in front of people, and they will just ignore them," said Mark Lubell, the director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at the University of California, Davis.

Lubell said the situation, which happens on both sides of a debate, is called "motivated reasoning." Rational people insist on believing things that aren't true, in part because of feedback from other people who share their views, he said.

Vengosh noted the problem of spinning science isn't new, or limited to one side in the gas drilling controversy. For example, industry supporters have claimed that drilling never pollutes water wells, when state regulators have confirmed cases where it has. He says the key point is that science is slow, and research into gas drilling's many possible effects are in the early stages, and much more work remains to be done.

"Everyone takes what they want to see," Vengosh said, adding that he hopes that the frac'ing debate will become more civilized as scientists obtain more hard data.