Repsol delays first shale-gas project in Spain after frack ban – “Repsol SA (REP), Spain’s largest oil producer, delayed starting to explore for shale gas in the north, where a local government has outlawed drilling projects that use water-intensive hydraulic fracturing. The company had targeted July to begin seismic studies at its Luena project that extends over 290 square miles across the Cantabria region, where energy trade groups say Spain’s richest shale gas deposits lie. Repsol’s first domestic shale search can’t begin yet because several “requirements” haven’t been met, according to a company official who requested anonymity, as no announcement has been made. He declined to give specifics. In April, the Cantabrian government enacted Spain’s first ban on the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, blaming risks of polluting drinking water. The rule blocks companies seeking to blast water into shale deposits within the region’s boundaries, though it’s less clear how projects extending to other regions are affected. Luena stretches from Cantabria to Castille Leon, a situation that normally would be regulated by the nation’s Industry Ministry, exploration companies say. Spain has enough prospective natural-gas resources to satisfy more than 70 years of domestic demand, according to the Spanish fossil fuels trade group Aciep. That has prompted government proposals to reinforce environmental safety measures while at the same time ease the way for international oil and gas companies such as Canada’s BNK Petroleum Inc. (BNK) and San Leon Energy Plc (SLE) to produce the commodity, cutting Spain’s dependence on imports and potentially lowering local energy prices. Six-Year License A recent draft law pushed by Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria seeks to add fracking to a national hydrocarbons law that forces all companies that want to use the fracking “stimulation” technique in shale to submit environmental impact studies. Simultaneous efforts by the Agriculture Ministry seek to shorten the time frame in which environmental studies are done. Repsol’s Luena project was licensed in 2011 for six years during which the company is required to invest at least 30 million euros ($39 million) in exploration. The area’s resource potential will also be examined through shallow and deep test wells, according to a February report Repsol commissioned from engineering consultant URS. The Madrid-based company was set to start searching for gas in July, according to the report.” (Fuel Fix)

SA shale gas has massive potential – “South Africa’s shale gas resources, estimated to be 390 trillion cubic feet, are a potential game-changer, an energy workshop was told in Durban on Friday. Estimates by the US Energy Information Administration that had initially put the volumes at 485 trillion cubic feet had just been revised, Muzi Mkhize, chief director responsible for hydrocarbons policy at the Department of Energy, who delivered the presentation to roleplayers, said. Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said last month that fracking for shale gas in the Karoo would probably go ahead. The fracking extraction method is a contentious issue… Mkhize and a team from the Department of Energy were in Durban to give an overview of the Gas Amendment Bill, which overhauls the Gas Act, and to hear what others had to say about the draft legislation. Several workshops for stakeholders have been held in other parts of the country, and these are to continue until June 28. There were gaps, shortcomings and inconsistencies in the Gas Act that needed to be corrected, Mkhize told the gathering at the Durban Manor Hotel. The plan to “polish” the act provided for an increased demand for cleaner and new forms of energy and for new developments. The act focused on piped natural gas to the exclusion of other gas sources and methods of transportation, such as landfill gas and unconventional gas like shale gas, coal bed methane and new technologies. Nor did the act empower the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) to gain entry to premises where it was suspected an illegal gas operation was taking place. The draft bill clarifies Nersa’s functions in the processes and stages that involve gas, from exploration to sale in containers and storage. It also aims to ensure the security of energy supply and to increase access to affordable energy services in a safe manner. Mkhize said affordability remained a challenge. He said there had been an increase in energy prices throughout the world, but South Africa needed to provide energy at the lowest price possible, while allowing the industry to prosper. The country remained a coal-based economy (the energy mix included coal at 65.7 percent and crude oil at 21.6 percent) and it would need to be able to generate 43 000 megawatts of additional electricity by 2030. A trading company, Spring Lights Gas of Westville, asked for the redefinitions in the draft to be expanded. Mkhize said it was important for people to have their say and shape the future of the country. But the window was closing and all the comments and concerns had to be in by July 1.”” (Independent Online)

Pittsburgh-area hotels find niche in oil, gas workers – “To endear a hotel to the oil and gas crowd, give them a place to eat and sleep at all hours of the day, a place to wash their boots, a warm place to smoke in the winter and a cold beer once in a while. So goes the formula developed by Tejas Gosai, president of the Washington, Pa.-based business Shale Hotel Inc. The company is managing two hotels geared toward oil and gas workers, building two others and preparing to turn the Monroeville Holiday Inn into an industry destination for workers summoned here by the Marcellus Shale, the natural gas deposit underlying much of Pennsylvania. Mr. Gosai represents a group of four doctors, among them his father, who bought the 187-room Monroeville hotel in June. His goal is to replicate there what he has helped to do in Bentleyville — attract at least half of the guests from oil and gas fields. The Gosais have been in the hotel business for a dozen years. Kam Gosai, a practicing physician in Washington County, co-owns the Holiday Inn Express and the Best Western Garden Inn in Bentleyville. These hotels weren’t built for oil and gas workers. They’ve slowly shifted in that direction over the past several years. Consider the food, which, seemingly, never stops. Breakfast begins at 3 a.m. and guests rushing out the door to a job are given bags so they can toss in a breakfast burrito and be on their way. The early meal is served until 10:30 a.m. At 1 p.m., soup and popcorn start in the lobby. Two hours later, another breakfast shift begins for those just waking up…When he heard that a nearby hotel was asking rig workers to leave their mud-coated boots in the lobby, Mr. Gosai rebranded the Bentleyville Best Western as the “The Best Western Garden Inn where you can wear your boots.” But he has also installed boot-washing stations outside, where workers returning from the field can hose off their gear. Behind the scenes, the hotels’ operations have changed as well. While at most hotels the housekeeping staff works a morning shift, at Mr. Gosai’s operations they work all hours with their shifts staggered to accommodate the workers’ unorthodox sleep schedules. Then there’s the issue of bed bugs. It hasn’t been a problem, Mr. Gosai prefaced. But when serving a population that moves from one hotel to the next, he figures it’s only a matter of time…As the two older hotels adapt to the industry, the ones in progress are being created with it as the target. On Racetrack Road, an 86-room Studio 6 Extended Stay motel and a 79-room Microtel Suites and Inn by Wyndham are in staggered states of completion. At the Studio 6, Mr. Gosai has sacrificed a guest room to build a mud room — a place where workers will be able to use their room key cards to open lockers, toss their work clothes in and step into the hotel with clean shoes. According to Smith Travel Research Inc., a Nashville, Tenn.-based hotel consulting group, Washington County hotel occupancy rates have increased from the mid-50 percent level to the low 70 percent range between 2007 and 2013. Major chains took notice. In 2011, Marriott created a website specifically for the oil and gas industry in the region — marcellusshalepahotels.com. The Shaner Hotel Group did the same with marcellusshalehotels.com. John Casuccio, general manager at AIReS, a relocation company in Robinson, said the influx of Marcellus professionals in need of temporary housing has put pressure on extended stay hotels, and spillover from those, in turn, has driven up occupancy rates at regular hotels and motels. “In that specific market, you’re in the fortunate position that your guests don’t have a lot of choice,” said Jan Freitag, senior vice president with Smith Travel Research. “For now, people are pretty happy to just have a room, period.”…”What’s very crucial is, if they get off work at 8 a.m., that [their] room can be made completely dark,” he said. Hotels can even try assigning rooms to rig workers with their work schedules in mind. That way, people in adjacent rooms are asleep at the same times. Southwestern Pennsylvania’s hospitality industry is peppered with nods to the oil and gas crowd. The Bottleshop Cafe in Bridgeville stocks Texas beer and Tito’s vodka. Sometimes it tunes the TV to a Texas Rangers game. At Palazzo 1837 Ristorante in Washington — where shale mosaics decorate the walls — there’s a drink named the Marcellus Shale. It’s cloudy, like frac water, but tastes like orange liqueur and bourbon…But it has good highway access and it’s a safe bet the venue will be used by one of Mr. Gosai’s other businesses, like Washington, Pa.-based Shale Media Group, which runs several news aggregation websites, does marketing and public relations, and puts on a monthly energy networking events. “We’re still figuring out what we have to do [in Monroeville],” he said, but the plan is to recreate the Washington County model there and anywhere else that his hotel interests intersect with oil and gas. “I don’t think of hotels as a business. I think of them as a science,” Mr. Gosai said. “If you put up a bird feeder, as long as you just put some food in there, birds are going go in there.”” (Post-Gazette)

ATEX Express ethane pipeline under construction across Ohio from Utica shale well fields – “Already under construction in Ohio is the Appalachia-to-Texas (ATEX) Express Pipeline to transport liquids from the Utica shale well fields. The 1,230-mile project is being built by Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners L.P. Scheduled to begin service in the first quarter of 2014, the pipeline will carry ethane from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to near Houston. ATEX would run 264.61 miles across 13 Ohio counties, entering the state on the east side at Jefferson County, passing through Harrison, Tuscarawas, Coshocton, Muskingum, Licking, Fairfield, Pickaway, Fayette, Greene, Clinton, Warren and exiting at Butler County north of Cincinnati. In all, the 369-mile, 20-inch diameter pipeline would extend from southwest Pennsylvania’s Washington County to Seymour, Ind., where it would connect with an existing Enterprise pipeline that runs 861 miles through Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. The existing 16-inch pipeline, which brings refined product from the Gulf Coast to Indiana, would be reversed to accommodate the new product. At the Texas end, an additional 55 miles of new pipeline would extend from Beaumont to a natural gas liquid storage complex at Mont Belvieu. The pipeline could transport up to 190,000 barrels per day of ethane, a liquid from natural gas drilling, to Gulf Coast chemical companies. Ethane is a key element in plastics. Propane might also be added to the pipeline in 2015, under one proposal being studied by Enterprise. Construction of the pipeline is expected to create 4,000 jobs. Enterprise had announced in early 2012 that it had sufficient transportation commitments to proceed on the ATEX Express.” (Akron Beacon Journal)

US Shale Boom Causes Oil Tanker Rates to Fall to 16 Year Low – “Owners of Suezmax oil tankers, which can transport a million barrels of crude, are struggling to breakeven as a variety of factors work together to lower daily shipping rates to their lowest levels in 16 years. The US shale boom has enabled North America to produce its largest share of domestic energy needs since 1986, with daily production at 7.26 million barrels at the end of June. This means that demand for crude imports has fallen to its lowest level since 1996, according to the Energy Department. Clarkson Plc., a leading shipbroker, has predicted that seaborne imports of crude to the US will fall to 5.4 million barrels a day, an 11% decline. Frode Moerkedal, an Oslo-based analyst at RS Platou Markets AS, told Bloomberg that “domestic oil is crowding out West African imports. Overall trade has been declining because nobody is picking up the slack from the U.S. ”This is compounded by the fact that in 2008, when daily rates were at an all-time record of $155,000 a day, companies ordered a huge number of Suezmaxes to increase the markets capacity by 40%, just before the global recession began. Clarkson has said that now a Suezmax charges $10,652 a day, the least since 1997, and 55% lower than breakeven, according to Euronav NV, which claims it requires rates to be $23,600 a day. Paddy Rogers, the CEO of Euronav explained that the market needed to lose 50-60 tankers from the fleet of 480, in order to reduce the capacity glut and increase rates. Suezmax owners are hoping that the demand lost from the US will be taken up by China, who this year is expected to import almost as much crude via sea as the US for the first time ever. Unfortunately much of the crude travelling to China from West Africa is done so by very large crude carriers (VLCC) which are cheaper per tonne of cargo. According to Galbraith Ltd., a shipbroker in London, VLCC’s shipped 44% of oil from West Africa last month, up from 38% in 2012. Another source of hope for the Suezmax is increased demand from Europe, as the Suezmax is the largest tanker able to navigate the Suez Canal that leads to the Mediterranean.” (EconoMonitor)

‘Gasland’ Sequel Has More Fracking Horror Stories – “The documentary Gasland inspired legions of “fracktivists” to oppose natural gas drilling booms across the country. Now the film has a sequel. Gasland Part II by director Josh Fox begins airing on HBO Monday night.” – Audio interview (NPR)

Devoted to fighting fracking – “Big energy companies have been trying for five years to tap the riches of the Marcellus Shale in southern New York, promising thousands of new jobs, economic salvation for a depressed region, and a cheap, abundant, clean-burning source of fuel close to power-hungry cities. But for all its political clout and financial prowess, the industry hasn’t been able to get its foot in the door. One reason: Folks like Sue Rapp and Vera Scroggins are standing in the way. app, a family counselor in the Broome County town of Vestal, in the prime shale gas region near the Pennsylvania border, is intense and unrelenting in pressing her petitions. Scroggins, a retiree and grandmother who lives across the border in hilly northwestern Pennsylvania, where intensive gas development has been going on for five years, is gleefully confrontational. She happily posts videos of her skirmishes. The anti-fracking movement has inspired a legion of people like Rapp and Scroggins- idiosyncratic true believers, many of them middle-aged women, who have made it the central mission of their lives to stop gas drilling using high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus region that underlies southern New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. They are not necessarily popular; they have been shunned by former friends who support drilling and the economic benefits it brings. Their opponents accuse them of distorting the truth about fracking’s impacts by insisting that their communities and surrounding countryside will be transformed into a polluted industrial wasteland if natural gas interests have their way. But many of those same opponents acknowledge that Rapp, Scroggins and others like them have been effective. “There’s no denying that their actions have had an impact,” said Jim Smith, spokesman for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York. “If they weren’t doing what they’re doing, we would have been through with this a long time ago. They’re wrong on the facts but they’re very loud and very vocal, and that gets noticed for political reasons.”… “Basically what I show is, `Do you want this near your home?’” Scroggins said, standing on a road beside a well site with a rumbling compressor station, tanks, pipes, and other equipment. There are 700 gas wells in Susquehanna County; 38 percent of the county is under lease, and gas companies indicate a potential of 3,000 drilling locations. Gas industry bloggers have mocked Scroggins, but she clearly relishes her notoriety. On a recent tour, she flagged down the SUV of a gas company’s new security guards and introduced herself. “I’m the tour guide. I’m sure you’ve heard about me,” Scroggins said. When the guards said they hadn’t, Scroggins told them about her frequent tour groups and said she’s often tailed by security details and shooed away from drilling sites. Many of the farmers and other landowners who are getting royalty checks from the gas wells on their land don’t welcome the self-appointed guide to the gas patch. Some have signs in their yards saying “Our water’s fine” and “My gas well pays my mortgage.” Scroggins takes it in stride. Rolling slowly down the road, she waved and smiled at a woman glowering in a front yard. “She hates me,” Scroggins said. Victor Furman, head of a pro-gas landowners’ group in New York’s Chenango County, said Rapp and Scroggins are part of a “fringe group” that relies on emotion rather than science to build opposition. “They hold meetings that are full of lies and misinformation,” said Furman, a retired technical writer for IBM. “They do have some legitimate concerns, but they don’t want to talk about the mitigations to address those concerns,” such as storing fracking wastewater in closed tanks instead of open ponds and requiring multiple layers of well casing to protect ground water. The industry-funded Energy In Depth sometimes sends its own camera-toting representatives to tail Scroggins’ tours and rebut what she says. The group posted video on its website of Scroggins shouting personal insults and obscenities at Phelim McAleer, a pro-fracking filmmaker who tried to talk to Ono and Sarandon during their January tour. McAleer tried to tell them the Environmental Protection Agency had determined the drinking water in question was safe, not contaminated by drilling. “I admit that I lost it that day,” Scroggins said. “It wasn’t my finest hour.” Yet, she posted her own video of the encounter online. While drilling hasn’t come to New York, Rapp said the industry has already changed community life. “They’ve fractured our communities,” she said. “You can’t go to the grocery store or anywhere else without everybody knowing where everyone stands. It’s not the same place anymore and we don’t even have drilling yet.” “You get ostracized, maligned,” Scroggins said. “But I’m dealing with all that.”” (Associated Press)

This Eternal Flame Burns as a Result of Natural Fracking “This is a light that never goes out: an eternal flame, hidden behind a waterfall in Erie county, New York, which is a result of natural gas seeping out from underground rocks. While gas seeps are extremely common, if the flow concentrates into a “macroseep”—a strong concentrated stream of gas—it can ignite and perhaps never go out. This one burns two pounds of gas, most of which is methane, every day, and the flame reaches eight inches in height. The gas comes from a shale formation about 400 meters below the surface—a result of “natural fracking”, where tectonic events have shifted underlying rocks and caused the gas to escape. While it would be a shame to eradicate the flame, the researchers who have studied it rightly point out that it could be tapped for gas—without the need to resort to artificial fracking.” (Gizmodo)

Gas industry, environmental group contribute $1.3 million to help CSU study natural gas emissions – “Seven natural gas companies and industry groups are each contributing $150,000 to a Colorado State University natural gas emissions study, but the study will not identify which company is responsible for specific methane emissions. CSU chemical engineering professor Bryan Willson at the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory is leading the study, which will collect data from possible methane sources in natural gas transmission lines, including compressor stations and underground storage facilities. Neither companies and groups involved nor CSU can divulge specific emissions data for any individual company’s natural gas transmission systems because an agreement they struck keeps individual company emissions data confidential. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the natural gas industry is responsible for 25 percent of the country’s methane emissions — one of the most potent greenhouse gases fueling climate change — with transmission and storage accounting for about 30 percent of that total. “Natural gas can be a reduced CO2 solution if done right; but if there’s excessive leakage, it takes away a lot of the potential benefits,” Willson said when the study was announced in June. “There’s a huge uncertainty about the actual loss from the industry, from the well head to the burner tip, so this is part of a major effort to understand what that total methane loss profile is for the natural gas industry.””… (Coloradoan)

Eight injured in West Virginia gas well explosionA natural gas well in West Virginia exploded early Sunday, injuring eight people. Doddridge County Emergency Medical Services said the well, about an hour southwest of Morgantown in New Milton, ignited about 4 a.m. Four people were flown to West Penn Hospital’s burn center; the other four were treated locally. It was unclear whether the victims were all workers. Officials don’t know why the well exploded, but they said Sunday afternoon that the fire was under control. The well is owned by Antero Resources, which is based in Denver. Several family members drove to Pittsburgh to be with the victims. One was Diana Arbogast, who sat with her family in the waiting room of West Penn Hospital’s burn unit Sunday, waiting for news from the doctor. Her husband, Charlie, a rigger and trucker who was working at the well pad, received third-degree burns on his knees, forearms, hands and face, she said. She said she hadn’t spoken with him since Friday, when he left for work at the Antero Resources drill site. The 57-year-old had been gone for more than 40 hours before the explosion. The next time she heard from her husband, he was riding in an ambulance to the hospital, she said. He couldn’t speak to her, but a co-worker relayed the message: He loved her. “You come to the rigs, you do what you do and you don’t ask questions,” Ms. Arbogast said. Family members said five people were flown to Pittsburgh, not four. Two safety workers investigating the accident had visited them Sunday afternoon, but no one was sure what had happened.” (Post-Gazette)