Wednesday, December 19, 2012

U.S. Chamber Study: Shale Energy to Create More Than 29,000 Jobs in W.Va.

The second phase of a comprehensive new study co-sponsored by the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy was released today, and the study highlights the benefits that shale energy will have on West Virginia’s economy over the coming years. IHS, a leading global energy research firm, is conducting the three-part study to examine the economic impact of shale energy exploration and production across the country. Part one of the report, which focused on the national benefits, was released last month.

According to the study, shale energy production has already created more than 11,800 direct, indirect and induced jobs in West Virginia and is projected to support 29,600 jobs by 2020.  In addition, shale energy development will generate $283 million in state and local government revenue in 2012 alone and could be generating $884 million a year by 2020 alone.

Article - http://www2.wsls.com/business/2012/dec/19/west-virginia-shale-gas-development-may-create-290-ar-2425416/

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

LGCR Hires 'Rising Star' As Part Of Natural Gas Team And Expansion In Ohio

To meet client growth in the state of Ohio, Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC has hired Paul N. Garinger as its newest associate and the first attorney from the firm to be located exclusively in the Buckeye State.  He will provide legal services to the firm’s oil and natural gas clients, among others.

Garinger comes to LGCR after have worked for the past seven years as an attorney with Reminger Co., L.P.A. in Columbus, Ohio.  He has provided a variety of legal services and litigated on a number of areas pertinent to natural gas industry: title, lease, permitting, pipeline work and environmental matters.

Garinger also represented a multinational oil and natural gas company in a large-scale federally regulated pipeline project across the State of Ohio and aided financial institutions in consumer banking disputes under federal and state regulations.

During his legal career Garinger has represented employers before state and federal courts and state and federal administrative agencies such as the Ohio Department of Labor, Ohio Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Ohio Civil Rights Commission. 

Garinger earned his J.D. from the The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and a B.A. in Economics from the Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.  He also has completed three years of graduate work towards his Economics Ph.D. from Cornell University. He is admitted to practice in the State of Ohio, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth and Federal Circuits.

He is a member of the Ohio Oil & Gas Association, International Right of Way Association (IRWA), Columbus Bar Association, Ohio State Bar Association, and Federal Bar Association.  Garinger has been recognized as one of Ohio’s Rising Stars for 2012 by Super Lawyers magazine.

Article:
West Virginia law firm expanding to Columbus to target Utica shale business
Columbus Business First, Dec. 20, 2012
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2012/12/west-virginia-law-firm-expanding-to.html

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Marcellus Activities Resulting In Strong Employment, Wage Growth In W.Va.

WorkForce West Virginia has issued a new report on "The Influence of the Marcellus Shale on Employment and Wages in West Virginia."  Among the report's findings are:

Establishments engaged in the construction of oil and gas pipelines, mains, refineries, and storage tanks have shown significant increases over the past four years. Employment in this sector stood at 1,276 in 2008 and in 2011 had grown by more than 50 percent to a level of 1,920. Wages during this period grew by approximately 18.9 percent from an average of $60,329 in 2008 to $71,723 in 2011.

Click to read the entire report.

News Article:
Report: W.Va. Sees Shale Job Growth
Industry leaders point to Wheeling as hub of activity

The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register, Dec.6, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ribbon-Cutting Held For MarkWest-Antero Gas Processing Facility

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held today in Doddridge County for the MarkWest-Antero natural gas processing facility. Read more - http://wvgazette.com/News/201212060032

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

U.S. Attorney's Office In W.Va. To Create West Virginia Natural Resource Watch Group

Federal scrutiny and oversight of the natural resources industry will be heightened now that the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of W.Va. has announced the creation of the West Virginia Natural Resource Watch Group.  The new group will serve as a watchdog to monitor companies' compliance with environmental laws as they extract natural gas and other resources.  The members of the group have not been named.

Here is an excerpt from a Dec. 3 press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office - Northern District of W.Va.:

In addition to announcing the sentence imposed in the Chesapeake matter, U.S. Attorney Ihlenfeld also announced the formation of the West Virginia Natural Resource Watch Group to ensure compliance with environmental laws and to promote respect for our state’s natural resources. This new task force will conduct its first meeting on December 13, 2012, and the team will include representatives from federal, state, and local agencies.

“It’s critical that we keep a close eye on the energy extraction that is going on all around us,” said Ihlenfeld. “The economic impact that it’s having on our area is wonderful but we must make sure that our natural resources are not compromised and that future generations have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe.”

The agencies making up the group will work together to promote consistent communication, information sharing and good working relationships among law enforcement and regulatory agencies. It will also identify suspected violations of local, state, and federal environmental laws, coordinate prosecution efforts, and provide training.

The group expects to focus on violations of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), as well as illegal disposal of hazardous waste, tampering with drinking water supplies, and other federal criminal violations that have an impact on the environment.

Click to read article: http://wvgazette.com/News/201212030119

Thursday, November 29, 2012

West Virginia Natural Gas Employment Up 10 Percent Since 2008

Statewide employment in the oil and gas industries has increased nearly 10 percent since 2008 -- while average wages have increased nearly 19 percent -- driven by the boom in Marcellus Shale drilling, a report released Wednesday to the legislative Joint Committee on Government and Finance shows. The report, from WorkForce West Virginia, shows that employment in oil and gas drilling and related industries grew 9.5 percent to 10,580. (Click to read entire news article.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

EQT Among Producers Switching to Natural Gas-Powered Rigs

EQT is among the Marcellus/Utica Shale producers that is beginning to switch to natural gas-powered drilling rigs that are cleaner, quieter, and cost less than diesels.  Click to read story.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

W.Va. Supreme Court Rules Against Expanding Ability of Surface Owners to Appeal


On November 21, 2012 the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued its decision on the certified question presented in the Martin, et al. v. Hamblet, et al., Docket 11-1157.  The Court found that owners of surface rights of property upon which a proposed well is to be drilled is not entitled to judicial review with regard to the issuance or refusal of a well work permit under W. Va. Code § 22-6-40 or § 22-6-41.   The Court focused on the clear and unambiguous language of the statutes to reach this conclusion.  To the extent the prior decision in State ex rel. Lovejoy v. Callaghan indicates otherwise, it was overruled. 

The Court went on to address the issues of due process and equal protection raised by the surface owner.  Citing to Buffalo Mining Co. v. Martin, the Court found that surface owner’s rights are subject to the mineral owner’s rights to utilize the surface for purposes “reasonably necessary for the extraction of minerals.”  The Court further found that it was the legally binding lease granting explicit rights of access to the oil and gas underlying Mr. Hamblet’s property that deprived Mr. Hamblet of an unrestricted right to enjoy his property, not the permit.  Thus, because it is a contractual obligation and not a state action, due process and equal protection guarantees do not apply.  The Court held “Thus, there is no merit to Mr. Hamblet’s constitutional arguments.”
 
The Court did specifically decline to address the argument raised by intervenor West Virginia Surface Owner’s Rights Organization that surface owners have a constitutional right to a pre-decisional hearing in addition to the right to appeal the issuance or denial of a well work permit because it was not raised below. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Extraordinary Growth In Shale Oil, Natural Gas In U.S. To Result In 'Sea Change'

The expected "extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output in the United States will mean a sea-change in global energy flows," according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. The IEA forecasts that the United States will become a net exporter of natural gas and oil by 2020 and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035.

"While the regional picture for natural gas varies, the global outlook over the coming decades looks to be bright, as demand increases by 50% to 5 trillion cubic metres in 2035. Nearly half of the increase in production to 2035 is from unconventional gas, with most of this coming from the United States, Australia and China," the IEA report states. "Whether demand for coal carries on rising strongly or changes course radically will depend on the strength of policy decisions around lower-emissions energy sources and changes in the price of coal relative to natural gas."

Click to read IEA's press release:
http://iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2012/november/name,33015,en.html

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Presentations Available From Recent DEP Oil, Natural Gas Workshop

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection held a workshop for the state's oil and natural gas industry on October 24, 2012 at the Flatwoods Days Hotel and Conference Center. The day-long workshop provided a number of presentations by DEP staff.  The presentations covered a broad range of topics, including permitting requirements and regulatory matters.  Click to see the different presentations -- http://www.dep.wv.gov/oil-and-gas/Resources/Pages/default.aspx - and other information/links.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WSJ Video Report Focuses On Shale Natural Gas Boom And Rust Belt Growth

The Wall Street Journal has produced a video story that focuses on how "cheap" natural gas from eastern shale seams may fuel growth in the Rust Belt. "A natural-gas drilling boom in the Marcellus Shale is pushing down manufacturing prices and creating jobs," WSJ reporter Ben Casselman reports from Beaver County, Penn.

Click to see this story.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Non-Government Studies Indicate Marcellus Reserves Much Larger, 'Grossly Underestimated'

Two, non-government studies of the reserve potential of the Marcellus natural gas field indicate that the region may hold even more vast energy deposits than first thought.  One study, done by Standard & Poor's, states that the sprawling Marcellus shale "could contain recoverable resources equal to almost half of the current proven natural gas reserves in the U.S."

A second analysis of Marcellus reserve data was done recently by ITG Investment Research, and that firm's findings indicate federal government estimates of Marcellus reserves "are grossly understated."

The S&P report notes that the decline in natural gas prices is hurting drilling activity, but this activity should resume, particularly in the Marcellus, once prices rebound:
"Spot natural gas prices are currently below our $3.50/mmBTU long-term price deck, so many operators have put drilling activity for dry gas shale on hold, even in the Marcellus. However, the lower costs associated with development and production of the Marcellus shale means operators are likely to resume drilling in that region first if and when natural gas prices improve. Thus, we believe the Marcellus will be one of the first areas that operators will return to if and when natural gas prices improve, as we expect they will over the next 12-18 months."

Click to read the text of the S&P report and click to read the entire report.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

WV DEP Still Trying To Fill Oil, Gas Inspector Positions

The West Virginia DEP continues to have challenges with hiring additional oil and natural gas inspectors, according to a recent interview with W.Va. Public Broadcasting.  The agency has been working to hire seven additional inspectors, but so far has only filled two positions.  The agency said the available interested candidates either cannot pass the required exam or don't have the qualifications. 

In the meantime, the agency is continuing to review and issue drilling permits. Even though there is a backlog on well permits, a DEP spokesperson said the hiring process and need for additional inspectors hasn’t impacted the permit process.

Click to read the entire article.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Richard Gottlieb To Be Panelist At AAPL's 2012 Appalachian Land Institute

Richard Gottlieb, who heads LGCR's natural gas practice, will be speaking at the 2012 Appalachian Land Institute conducted by the AAPL, the American Association of Professional Landmen.  The institute is being held on October 11-12 in Washington, Penn. Gottlieb will be part of a panel discussing the comparative oil and gas law.  He will be joined by attorneys from other states - Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. Because so many land professionals are working in several Appalachian states, the panel will be comparing and contrasting the critical elements of land and lease law in the various states.

Friday, October 5, 2012

USGS Releases Recoverable Reserve Estimates For Utica Formation

The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that the Utica Shale rock formation in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other states holds 38 Tcf reserves of natural gas and nearly one billion barrels of oil.  Today the USGS released its first reserve estimate for the Utica. 

Click to read the USGS press release -
http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3419&from=rss_home

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Office Of Oil & Gas Files Horizontal Well Control Act Rule For 2013 Legislative Consideration

The W.Va. DEP, Office of Oil & Gas has submitted its legislative rule that was developed as part of the 2011 passage of the state’s new Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act.  The rules, which govern the development of horizontal oil and natural gas wells in West Virginia, now will be considered by lawmakers during the 2013 session of the West Virginia Legislature. 

The DEP’s rule makes modifications to the existing emergency rule and expands on the Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act in the following areas: erosion and sediment control plan; site construction plan; water management plan; well site safety plan; casing and cementing standards; well records, including records and disclosure of fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process; water supply testing; and construction standards for large wastewater pits and freshwater impoundments.  The department notes that the “changes were made due to comments received.”

To see the final rule and its changes, please link on this web site and then click on the MS Word document of the “Agency Approved” document for 9/14/2012.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WV DEP To Host Oil, Natural Gas Workshop On October 24

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection will be conducting an oil and gas industry workshop on October 24, 2012 at the Flatwoods Days Hotel and Conference Center.  The workshop will begin at 8:00 am and conclude at 3:30 pm.  While having an emphasis on horizontal well issues, a broad range of topics will be covered.  The primary audience is expected to be those that are involved in operational and permitting details, which may include contractors, consultants, etc. 

Space is limited...and pre-registration is required. The DEP is asking companies to limit the number of attendees to no more than five.  The agency will consider an additional workshop at a later date if needed.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Overview of Well Work Permit Appeal Case Developed By Lewis Glasser's Natural Gas Practice

On September 25, 2012, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals heard Martin et al. v. Hamblet, a certified question revolving around a surface owner’s right to appeal the issuance of a well work permit based on a per curiam opinion, State ex Rel. Lovejoy v. Callaghan, 576 S.E.2d 246, 213 W.Va. 1 (2002).  Richard Gottlieb, who heads LGCR's natural gas practice, argued the case on behalf of the natural gas producer, EQT.

Provided is a link to an overview of the case that has been prepared by Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC: http://www.lgcr.com//shared/content/Summary of surface owner right to appeal arguments.pdf

 


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Surface Owner Rights Case Before W.Va. Supreme Court Case Getting National Attention

Earlier this week Richard Gottlieb argued before the W.Va. Supreme Court of Appeals to stop surface owners from being able to appeal well work permits.  The case is getting national attention:

Depending on high court's ruling, every well permit could be subject to judicial review
EnergyWire, September 26, 2012

Ellen M. Gilmer, E&E reporter

West Virginia officials and an energy company are pushing the state's highest court to refrain from giving landowners more opportunity to contest well permits. A lower court last year tackled the question of how much say a landowner has when a company wants to drill for oil and gas beneath his or her property. Drillers who hold underground mineral leases have a legal right to reasonable access to those resources but still must give 30 days' notice to the people who own land on top. Those landowners -- or surface rights holders -- can then write a letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection to voice concerns.

After EQT Corp. sought a permit to drill on Matthew Hamblet's land in 2010, the Doddridge County resident argued that he additionally had the right to a hearing with DEP before any permit was issued, along with the opportunity to appeal a completed permit. Citing the West Virginia Supreme Court Lovejoy v. Callaghan decision in 2002, the lower court agreed with Hamblet.

The case has now moved to the state Supreme Court, where high-stakes arguments played out yesterday. The justices will likely hand down their decision in the next month. If Hamblet wins, the ruling will reverberate across West Virginia's Marcellus Shale drilling landscape, giving surface owners the right to appeal every well permit issued. "That will slow down the permitting process and ultimately the development process significantly," said James Pardo, a New York-based attorney with McDermott Will and Emery who is not involved in the West Virginia case. "If it's going to happen in West Virginia, it very well could happen somewhere else, too."

The arguments are muddied by Lovejoy, the case the lower court relied on as precedent. According to attorneys on both sides of the appeal, the court erred in the 2002 decision in determining that West Virginia code entitles surface owners to judicial review of permits. In fact, that provision of state law applies not broadly to surface owners, but specifically to coal seam operators and coal leaseholders. That means that surface owners clearly have the right to judicial review of permits under Lovejoy but that that decision may be rooted in a misinterpretation of state law. The court now can decide to rely on its own precedent and "compound its error," Pardo said, or acknowledge the previous error, rule in the state's favor and clarify Lovejoy.

Legislative matter?

Arguing against the state, West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization attorney Dave McMahon said the Lovejoy precedent has become a distraction. Regardless of that decision, he said, surface owners have a constitutional right to due process, which would include judicial review of well permits that would affect their land.

"We think the Supreme Court understands that even though we don't own the minerals, we have enough rights as members of the public seeking protection," he said after the court proceedings.
Industry and the DEP have responded to that claim saying it would be best addressed by the Legislature, as it is not the court's place to rewrite laws or create new rights.

Attorneys for the state go on to say that surface owners are adequately protected by other measures. If surface owners believe DEP has neglected to follow its own regulations in issuing permits, they can file a writ of mandamus, calling on the agency to fulfill its duty. Or, if surface owners believe a company has gone beyond what is reasonably necessary to access resources, they can take up a private lawsuit against the company and leave DEP out of it.

"They have rights that are fully protected without adding new rights," said Richard Gottlieb, counsel for EQT, during court arguments yesterday.

If the court does not rule in Hamblet's favor, the issue likely could be taken up by surface rights advocates who may put pressure on the Legislature to address it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lewis Glasser To Argue Well Work Permit Objection Case Before State Supreme Court

On Tuesday, September 25, 2012, Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC will argue before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on behalf of a natural gas producer the certified question presented to the state Supreme Court in the case of Martin, et al.  v. Hamblet, Docket No. 11-1157.  

At issue is whether a surface owner is entitled to a direct appeal to the Circuit Court based on the issuance of a well work permit to a natural gas producer over the objection of a surface owner. 

The position of both the natural gas producer and the Office of Oil and Gas is that no such appeal is provided for by statute or due process principles on behalf of surface owners when the well at issue is a shallow gas well, including Marcellus Shale wells.

If the Court determines that a surface owner does have a right to appeal the issuance of a well work permit, the process of obtaining a well work permit will likely take substantially more time and result in increased costs to both producers and the Office of Oil and Gas.

Related News Articles:
West Virginis Supreme Court to hear key gas-drilling appeals case
Landowners fighting for the right to appeal permits

The Charleston Gazette, September 23, 2012

Supreme Court set to hear landmark gas drilling case
The Register-Herald, September 25, 2012


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Environmental Groups Again Call For Marcellus Drilling Moratorium

Environmental activists are again calling on the state Department of Environmental Protection to halt the issuance of Marcellus drilling permits.  Several environmental groups issued a statement yesterday and indicated that the state's new horizontal well act is "grossly inadequate" and that further regulations need to be developed "to stop the dangers" from drilling activities.

Click to read more:

The Charleston Gazette
http://wvgazette.com/News/201209110168

The State Journal
http://www.statejournal.com/story/19514739/environmental-groups-call-for-gas-drilling-material

W.Va. Public Broadcasting
http://www.wvpubcast.org/newsarticle.aspx?id=26571

Friday, August 17, 2012

Total U.S. CO2 Emissions Down Due To Natural Gas Usage

An analysis done by the Associated Press of a recent U.S. Energy Information Agency technical report found that total U.S. CO2 emissions for the first four months of this year fell to about 1992 levels. The Associated Press contacted environmental experts, scientists and utility companies and learned that virtually everyone believes the shift could have major long-term implications for U.S. energy policy. While conservation efforts, the lagging economy and greater use of renewable energy are factors in the CO2 decline, the drop-off is due mainly to low-priced natural gas, the agency said. Click to read more.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Editorial: Shale Gas Is An Encouraging Spot In West Virginia's Economic Picture

Provided is an editorial that appears in the August 8, 2012 edition of the Charleston Daily Mail:

Marcellus will soon be the biggest producer

Shale gas is an encouraging spot in West Virginia's economic picture

FOR the past four years or more, the national economy has struggled. The answer from Washington, D.C., is record deficit spending, which has not brought significant job gains. The answer from Washington, Pa., and thousands of other towns scattered across Appalachia is Marcellus shale gas, which is leading to royalties for landowners, cheap energy for consumers and jobs for the construction industry. A few facts:
  • In April 2011, Marcellus wells in Pennsylvania and West Virginia produced 3.6 billion cubic feet of gas a day.
  • By last month, that average had more than doubled to 7.4 billion cubic feet a day.
  • Marcellus shale now accounts for 25 percent of shale gas production in the nation.
  • Marcellus shale will soon surpass the Haynesville region in Arkansas and Texas as the No. 1 field.
  • The wholesale price of gas dropped to $3 per thousand cubic feet. In Japan and Europe, the price is $12 or more.
  • Shale gas production is responsible for 600,000 jobs nationally.
  • By 2035, that figure is expected to hit 1 million.
  • Construction jobs in West Virginia rose from 34,100 to 36,700 over the past year after dropping by 1 percent over the previous three years.
"A lot of our members are working in the Marcellus shale industry," said Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia. "Water and sewer contractors are putting in lines, highway contractors are putting in roads, aggregate suppliers are supplying stone to these projects.

"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."

That should continue as the cheap energy and raw material from the gas attracts new businesses to the state.
  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Lewis Glasser Adds Two New MembersTo Meet Needs From ‘Unprecedented’ Business Growth


Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC (LGCR) has named two new members to the law firm’s management team.  The new members are Ramonda C. Lyons and James C. Stebbins.  “As our law firm continues to grow and expand, we recognized the importance of adding Ramonda and Jamie to our management structure,” said Nick Casey, LGCR’s managing member.  “Both have outstanding legal and leadership skills, and they will help meet our growing client base as LGCR continues to experience unprecedented new business opportunities, particularly in the natural gas industry.”  Casey also noted that Lewis Glasser recently opened an office in Morgantown, W.Va. to meet the needs of clients in the northern region of the state and in Ohio.

Click to read press release.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Charleston To Be Location For 2013 Appalachian Basin Natural Gas Vehicle Expo and Conference

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, joined by West Virginia Natural Gas and Oil Association (WVONGA), today announced that Charleston will host the 2013 Appalachian Basin Natural Gas Vehicle Expo and Conference at the Charleston Civic Center, May 13-15, 2013.  Click to read more.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Governor Tomblin Names State's Natural Gas Vehicle Task Force

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today announced the members of the Natural Gas Vehicle Task Force. The Task Force will assess the feasibility of transitioning the state's vehicle fleet to natural gas as a fuel source and developing a supporting infrastructure. The first meeting of the Task Force will take place July 12, 2012 at 1 p.m. in the House Government Organization Committee Room, Room 215E State Capitol.

"I look forward to joining the members of the Natural Gas Vehicle Task Force at their first meeting on July 12," said Gov. Tomblin. "The members' knowledge and skill in producing, transporting and retailing of natural gas will help us to determine whether we can use our state's abundance of natural gas to fuel our state's transportation needs."

The Task Force, comprised of the following individuals, will report the status of their efforts to the Office of the Governor. The Task Force members are:

Ex-Officio Members:

  • General Counsel, Office of the Governor; Peter Markham

  • Director of Public Policy, Office of the Governor; Hallie Mason (Chair)

  • Secretary, West Virginia Department of Commerce; Keith Burdette

  • Secretary, West Virginia Department of Transportation; Paul Mattox

  • Executive Director, West Virginia Office of Fleet Management; Clay Chandler

  • Executive Director of Transportation, West Virginia Department of Education; Ben Shew
Appointed Members:

  • Mr. Philip A. Reale, Charleston, W.Va., Law Offices of Philip A. Reale, PLLC, representing IOGA

  • Mr. Chuck Davidson, Houston, Texas, CEO, Nobel Energy

  • Mr. W. Henry Harmon, Hurricane, W.Va., CEO, Triana Energy

  • Mr. Rick Blankenship, Denver, Colo., Director of Health and Safety, Antero Resources

  • Mr. John Young, Charleston, W.Va., Manager of Marketing and Transportation, Northeast Natural Energy

  • Mr. Scott Rotruck, Morgantown, W.Va., VP of Corporate Development, Chesapeake Energy

  • Mr. Robert C. Orndorff Jr., Clarksburg, W.Va., Government Relations, Dominion Resources

  • Mr. Jim Scheel, Tulsa, Okla., VP of Corporate Affairs, Williams

  • Mr. Steve Winberg, South Park, PA, VP of Research and Development, CONSOL

  • Mr. Michael R. Graney, Belle, W.Va., President, OneStop

  • Mr. Greg Darby, Beckley, W.Va. President, Little General Stores

  • Mr. Frank M. Semple, Denver, Colo., Chairman/President/CEO, MarkWest Energy Partners

  • Mr. Paul Gaughan, Gassaway, W.Va., President, GoMart, Inc.

  • Mr. David Ross, Pittsburgh, Pa., Director of Technical Marketing and Business Development, EQT

  • Mr. Francis "Frank" McCullough, Charleston, W.Va., Retired, Natural Gas Industry

West Virginia Drilling Rig Activity Up Slightly

Provided is an article in the July 10 edition of The State Journal:

The number of drilling rigs operating in West Virginia rose to 27 for the week of July 6, the highest level since March. After hovering at 28 and 29 rigs from October 2011 through March this year, the number of drilling rigs active in West Virginia dropped to 22 in April and as low as 21 in May, according to weekly data from Baker Hughes.

April was the low point in a plunge natural gas prices have taken from a June 2008 high of $12.89 per million British thermal units, with the Henry Hub spot price dropping below $2 per million Btus, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Prices have slowly rebounded to the middle $2 range and, with them, rig counts in West Virginia.

Nationally, the numbers of rigs devoted to natural gas drilling are falling, according to Baker Hughes data, from 588 at the beginning of June to 534 at the end of the month.

As companies have moved from "drier" to "wetter" parts of the Marcellus shale to capitalize on a premium for natural gas liquids, West Virginia has benefited. It may not last; Forbes speculated last week that natural gas liquids may be the next fossil fuel glut.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

West Virginia Ranked #10 Ahead Of Ohio, Pennsylvania And New York In Oil, Natural Gas Investment Survey

West Virginia ranked number 10 as the best place worldwide to invest in oil and natural gas, according to the Fraser Institute's annual Global Petroleum Survey.  The Calgary-based think tank's sixth annual survey ranked 147 jurisdictions.  Oklahoma took the top spot, with Mississippi finishing second. Ohio, which ranked second overall in 2011, fell to 14th place this year, and Pennsylvania came in at number 34. New York was the worst-ranked state, at 68th place.

The Global Petroleum Survey is administered each year to petroleum industry executives to help measure and rank the barriers to investment of oil- and natural gas-producing regions. A total of 623 respondents representing 529 companies completed the survey questionnaire this year, providing sufficient data to evaluate 147 jurisdictions. The exploration and development budgets of participating companies account for more than 50 percent of the annual spending on petroleum exploration and production among international oil companies. The survey questionnaire sought opinions on issues such as royalties and other forms of petroleum production tax, taxation in general, the cost of regulatory compliance, trade and labor regulations, legal system fairness and transparency, and political stability.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

IEA Report Forecasts 'Low' Natural Gas Prices Will Have Benefits

A new report provides both good news and not-so good news for the region's natural gas production industry.  The report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) states that "low natural gas prices will result in gas generating almost as much electricity as coal in the United States by 2017."  The report also notes that abundant supplies and lower prices will result in North America becoming a net LNG exporter in five years.

“The Golden Age of Gas has dawned in North America, but its continued expansion worldwide depends on producing gas and bringing it to the market in a way that is friendly to investors and society as a whole,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said during the launch of Medium-Term Gas Market Report 2012. “As gas competes against other energy sources in all market segments, notably in the power sector, pricing conditions are a key element to keep it competitive everywhere. This medium-term report aims to facilitate investor decisions by providing a timely, in-depth analysis of the current trends and what we expect to take place over the coming five years.”

Click to read IEA's press release:
http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2012/june/name,27383,en.html

Monday, June 4, 2012

W.Va. DEP Encourages Operators To Follow New Horizontal Well Permitting Checklist

During last week's W.Va. DEP forum for natural gas producers, the agency encouraged horizontal producers to follow a new "Checklist for Filing a Horizontal Well 6A Permit."  Operators who follow this checklist will help DEP expedite the permit review and approval process, the agency said. Provided is a link to this checklist.

The DEP also shared a "Frequently Asked Questions" document that provides information and details about the state's new Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act.  Here is a link to this FAQ document.

Morgantown City Council Planning To Restrict Natural Gas Drilling Activities

The city of Morgantown once again is attempting to enact laws that will restrict natural gas drilling activities.  The City Council is expected to introduce six ordinances tomorrow that would effectively limit drilling from within most of the city.  Last year a circuit court judge struck down the city's ban against horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Click to read more:
http://www.wvgazette.com/News/Business/201206020082

Thursday, May 31, 2012

W.Va. DEP's Second Workshop on State's New Horizontal Well Control Act Focuses on Ways To Ensure Timely, Complete Permitting Process

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is conducting a second workshop for the state's oil and natural gas industry. The workshop is addressing the recently passed horizontal drilling legislation (Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act). At today's workshop, DEP officials focused on working together with the industry to help foster the timely and complete application and processing of drilling permits. State officials stressed the importance of following the new permitting check list and the filing of a complete water management plan in order to ensure a successful permitting process.

Here is a link to the W.Va. DEP's Office of Oil & Gas:
http://www.dep.wv.gov/oil-and-gas/Pages/default.aspx

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

DEP Continues To Work To Address Delays Involving Horizontal Drilling Permits

The following is a reprint of an article posted today on MetroNews.com:

DEP Attempting to Gain Ground On Permits

DEP Secretary Randy Huffman admits it is taking his department longer to process permits for horizontal drilling than he wants.  Recent reports indicate the DEP is trying to defray a backlog of permits, Huffman says it's more a matter of getting their legs under them.

"All the rule changes we've gone through over the past year has effectively slowed down the permitting process.  That creates a backlog, but the backlog is just a number," Huffman said. "What we are really focused on is trying to create a stable and predictable regulatory environment here."

Huffman says it will take a while to reach that level.   Presently the average time to have a well permit approved is 94 days.  Huffman says when they started the process it was 104 days.  Although not a long period of time, he says it's still longer than the drilling industry is used to waiting.  "The reasonable expectation for how long it would take to process a typical horizontal gas well permit is 45 and 60 days," he said. "That's our objective because there's just no way to do it any sooner than that."

The public comment period required in the permitting process is one of those obstacles to speeding the process.  Another is personnel.  The DEP hired two staffers to handle the horizontal drilling permits, but one stayed only a brief period of time and left.  The other quit before he started because of personal reasons. 

"We have reworked the office of oil and gas and reprioritized their work so we could still get everything done, but at the same time we wanted to make sure we were processing the horizontal well permits in a timely manner," he said.

Huffman says he expects to have the process down and streamlined by midsummer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

WV DEP Still Struggling To Add Staff To Meet Permit Backlog; Solution Expected By End Of Summer

The West Virginia DEP continues to struggle with the challenge of adding more workers and inspectors while trying to keep up with the increase in horizontal well permits.  The agency updated producers about the situation at a meeting yesterday in Charleston.  Provided is an article that appears in the May 22 edition of The State Journal:

WVDEP: Trouble hiring, attempting to reduce gas permit backlog

The State Journal, May 22, 2012

More employees are coming, but the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection continues to battle a backlog of horizontal well drilling permits. Randy Huffman, DEP secretary, said the agency continues to struggle with a backlog of more than 250 horizontal well permits.

"We're going through the process right now of staffing up," Huffman said. "The permit backlog, the horizontal well permits are stacking up in the queue. They're coming in faster than they're going out."

The DEP recently received increased funding for more staff through increased permit fees for horizontal well permits.  Huffman spoke at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce's Environmental Conference Tuesday morning. At an event in February, Huffman also spoke of the backlog issue. Then, he said the average permitting time for a horizontal drilling permit was about 110 days.

"The worst thing that can happen is backlog. That is just a dirty word in the agency," Huffman said. "I've worked on backlogs before in mining, and we're going to get this one in oil and gas resolved."

The challenge for the DEP, Huffman said Tuesday, has been hiring the new staff. While he said he has the ability to now hire nine to 10 inspectors and four to five office staff, the hiring process has not gone well. One new hire quit less than a month after joining, Huffman said, and another quit before the first day on the job.

"Since December, I've been able to add one new resource to the program to help with the permitting, the influx of permit applications that are coming in," Huffman said, referencing a newly hired employee.

One solution, titled the "Oil and Gas Control Room," on the slide presented by Huffman at the conference, has been to insulate permitting staff "from the daily barrage" of things such as permitee pressure, the hiring process or Freedom of Information Act requests.

About a week ago, he said, the members of the permitting staff began focusing on reducing the horizontal well permit backlog, a frequent sore point among those industry who want to develop.
"We got word just yesterday, they've been in there for about a week, that, hey, it's working," Huffman said.

It's not that the permits take that long to process, he said. It's the sheer number of applications. In 2006, Huffman said, no permits for horizontal drilling operations were issued. By 2011, more than 500 permits were issued.

Meanwhile, conventional permits have been dropping, from 2,400 in 2007 to about 300 in 2011. The conventional wells typically produce less gas, sustain fewer jobs and are generally simpler than a larger horizontal drilling operation.

Prior to the December legislation, any gas drilling permit was just a few hundred dollars. With total permits issued decreasing, the WVDEP was under immense strain because workloads were increasing due to the complexity of the horizontal drilling permits.

In February, Huffman explained that prior to the new Horizontal Well Act, workloads were increasing without significant increases staffing. While the DEP was "going broke and not hiring people," Huffman said in February, workloads were increasing "exponentially," putting the organization in a "serious jam."

"Without this special session, we would have imploded, or without something happening during this session, if the special session had not occurred, we would not have survived another year," Huffman said in February. "We would have imploded and the industry would have been in trouble because getting permits would have been a nightmare."

The new legislation will provide the DEP with an estimated $2.4 million, enough to fill seven vacant positions and add an additional 14.

Because of the way the legislation is structured, Huffman said, the minimum amount of time to issue a permit would be about 33 days. The agency is aiming for a window closer to 45 to 60 days to issue a permit, Huffman said Tuesday.

"We're optimistic, confident, that by the end of summer we will have this backlog under control," he said

Thursday, May 17, 2012

WV Legislative Interim Study Meetings To Examine Natural Gas Issues

The West Virginia Legislature has established a list of study topics that lawmakers will consider as part of their monthly interim meetings during the remainder of 2012. Of these, there are three key study topics that relate to the state’s natural gas industry. The Joint Finance Committee will take up SCR 38, which calls for a study on whether the State of West Virginia should revise its current Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act. The committee also will take up HCR 106, which calls for s study on how to best use the natural gas Severance Tax from gas produced from shales. Also, Judiciary Subcommittee A will study the relation between seismic events and hydrocarbon production.

Other study topics will include:
- Economic Development: study of legislation enabling the Energy Producing States Coalition
- Finance: SCR 52 - study the need for proposing legislation promoting a shared prosperity from the development and recovery of natural gas reserves in underground shales and other geologic formations and establishing a Future Generations’ Fund for the benefit of the general public welfare.
- Finance: HB 4511 – study the establishment of a Shale research center at WVU

LGCR Government Solutions will be monitoring and tracking activities of these interim meetings, and will provide information and updates as warranted.

Friday, May 4, 2012

W.Va. DEP To Host Second Workshop On State's New Horizontal Well Control Act

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection will be conducting another oil and gas industry workshop addressing the recently passed horizontal drilling legislation (Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act). The workshop will be from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on May 31, 2012 at the Flatwoods Days Hotel and Conference Center. DEP indicates that the principal focus of the workshop will be related to permitting/approval of activity covered under the article. "The information addressed will be the same as the workshop that was held on February 1, 2012 in Charleston with the addition of a presentation on requirements under the Dam Control and Safety Act," DEP stated. The primary audience is those who get into the details of putting such information together for application submittal, which may include contractors, consultants, etc. Click here to see the agenda. Please be advised that space is limited.

To RSVP for the workshop, a registration form (click to download) should be completed by each person planning to attend and e-mailed to B.J.Chestnut@wv.gov by May 17, 2012.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Energy Transfer, Sunoco Announce Merger

Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (NYSE: ETP - News) and Sunoco, Inc. (NYSE: SUN - News) today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement whereby ETP will acquire Sunoco for approximately $5.3 billion. "This combination will create one of the largest and most diversified energy partnerships in the country by expanding ETP’s geographic footprint and strengthening its presence in the transportation, terminalling and logistics of crude oil, NGLs and refined products," according to a press release from the company. The acquisition "expands ETP’s geographic footprint and markedly strengthens its presence in crude oil, NGLs and refined products transportation, terminalling, and logistics." According to an article by the Associated, Press, the deal will give Energy Transfer the capability to transport crude and other liquid hydrocarbons that are being produced in greater quantities thanks to the boom in shale drilling. Sunoco’s pipelines crisscross the country, connecting the Great Lakes and Northeast to America’s refining center along the Gulf Coast. Click to read the press release.

West Virginia DEP Preparing For New Federal Air Regulations On Natural Gas Activities

West Virginia's Department of Environmental Protection is preparing to assume state regulatory responsibility for new federal air emissions requirements on oil and natural gas activities, which are expected to start taking effect in July 2012. The new requirements are due to a rule published April 17, 2012 by the U.S. EPA. Those rules aim to reduce toxic emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particularly during the flowback period of hydraulically fractured or refractured wells, along with defined control measures at compressors, processing plants, storage vessels and other industry facilities. The most onerous provisions won't take full effect until July 2015. According to an article in The State Journal, once the rule is in effect "operators will have to notify the W.Va. Division of Air Quality and the regional EPA office by e-mail at least two days before a well completion — that's the process, including fracturing and flowback, that prepares a drilled well for production." The article also states that operators will also have "to file annual reports detailing every well completion and specifying the compliance actions taken at all other sites during the year." The articles also notes that the rules will apply to every affected facility type that was constructed, modified or reconstructed since Aug. 23, 2011. Click to read the entire article. Click to read an EPA fact sheet on the new proposed rule.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

West Virginia Unveils Energy Blueprint

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has released the state's new Energy Blueprint. The energy blueprint calls for the environmentally responsible development of all forms of feasible energy technologies, from clean coal to coal liquefaction, natural gas, biomass, hydrogen, hydro, wind and solar power. The blueprint has a section on Appalachian Shale Gas Development. Click to read the Energy Blueprint.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ohio's Forced Pooling Law Receives Media Scrutiny

Ohio’s “forced pooling” law is the subject of an article by the Associated Press. West Virginia and Pennsylvania do not have a similar law, which puts those states at a competitive disadvantage in the current low-price environment. Producers in West Virginia are interested in having some form of pooling legislation enacted in West Virginia in order to help aggregate the larger tracts needed for cost-effective and more efficient horizontal drilling and production. Click to read the article: http://www.wvgazette.com/News/Business/201204220057

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

U.S. Senate Commerce Committee To Host Hearing On Shale Gas Transportation, Pipeline Needs

U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller has announced that the United States Senate Commerce Committee will conduct a field hearing April 11 in Fairmont, W.Va. The hearing will be on “Shale Gas Development: Meeting the Transportation, Pipeline, and Rail Needs to Renew American Manufacturing." The hearing will begin at 1:00 p.m. and be held in the Robert H. Mollohan Research Center in Fairmont (1000 Galliher Drive) in Exhibition Hall.

"At the hearing, Senator Rockefeller will focus – with a panel of experts – on the infrastructure needs that must be met to spur new growth in West Virginia manufacturing as a result of the shale gas boom," according to an email invite from the Senator's office.

Click to see link to committee hearing notice.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

State Journal Article Highlights Gottlieb's Comments On Forced Pooling, Coal-Gas Disputes

The State Journal has published an article about Richard Gottlieb's presentation, which was given today at the Marcellus/Utica Shale Conference and Expo 2012 at The Greenbrier. Gottlieb manages the natural gas practice at Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC.

The article focuses on Gottlieb's comments about the benefits of forced pooling laws and the legal issues involving coal-natural gas disputes. Click to read the article:

Industry lawyer: work remains for natural gas law - http://www.statejournal.com/story/17321808/industry-lawyer-work-remains-for-natural-gas-law

Billions Invested By West Virginia's Natural Gas Industry; More To Come

West Virginia's natural gas industry has seen a period of significant investment over the past several years, and billions more in capital investments are expected to expand drilling, production and midstream activities. That was the message delivered yesterday at a Marcellus/Utica Shale conference at The Greenbrier. Here are other facts that were provided:

- More than 1,200 horizontal well permits have been issued, but only a little more than 200 have been completed thus far.

- The W.Va. DEP anticipates receiving an additional 500 horizontal well permits on an annual basis.

Click to read more.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

LGCR's Gottlieb To Present At Upcoming Marcellus/Utica Shale Conference At The Greenbrier

LGCR’s Richard Gottlieb will be a speaker at the upcoming Marcellus and Utica Shale Conference and Expo 2012 at The Greenbrier. The event will be April 1-3. Gottlieb has been invited to speak on Tuesday morning, April 3 at 9:15 a.m. His presentation will be on “Marcellus/Utica Regulations and Litigation- Traps for the Unwary.” Gottlieb will discuss recent surface owner litigation; lack of pooling/unitization/lease integration statutes; lack of certainty in PSC regulation of midstream activities – intrastate and gathering lines; and coal-natural gas disputes.

Click to learn more about the conference.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shell Selecting Pennsylvania Location For Cracker

Shell Chemical LP (Shell) has signed a land option agreement with Horsehead Corporation to evaluate a site in the U.S. Appalachian region for a potential petrochemical complex. The complex includes an ethane cracker that would upgrade locally produced ethane from Marcellus Shale gas production. The site is located in Potter and Center Townships in Beaver County near Monaca, Pennsylvania.

"This positive development marks another phase as Shell continues to assess the commercial feasibility of a petrochemical complex in the Appalachian region. The next steps for this project include additional environmental analysis of the preferred Pennsylvania site, further engineering design studies, assessment of the local ethane supply, and continued evaluation of the economic viability of the project," according to a press release from Shell.

“We are very pleased to have signed this site option agreement,” said Dan Carlson, General Manager, New Business Development, Shell Chemicals. “This is an important step for the project, and we look forward to working with the communities in Pennsylvania, and gas producers across Appalachia, as we continue our efforts to develop a petrochemical complex.”

Click to read Shell's press release.

W.Va. DEP Launches Horizontal Drilling Web Site

The W.Va. Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Oil and Gas has launched a webpage that contains information specifically related to horizontal drilling as defined by the Horizontal Drilling Act that was passed by the state Legislature in December.

As part of the Act, the Legislature required the DEP to create the page so citizens could obtain information about the location of proposed horizontal wells and give them the opportunity to comment on those permit applications.

Currently, the page offers links to items that will be further developed as permit applications are received by the agency. Links to pages that allow citizens to submit or review comments about specific permit applications, as well as a link to a tool that helps them find the location of a proposed well, are included.

“The page will continue to grow and change as more permit applications are submitted to the agency,” said James Martin, Chief of the Office of Oil and Gas. “Soon, after we populate the site with applications that have been received, people will be able to see a list with information such as the applicant, where the well is located, the formation it targets, whether the well has been completed and the date the permit was issued.”

Click here to see the web site.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Reducing Permit Time, Developing Regulations Key Priorities Of The W.Va. Office of Oil & Gas

During a call today with horizontal producers hosted by Lewis Glasser, the Chief of the W.Va. Office of Oil & Gas said his agency is working diligently to reduce the time to issue a horizontal drilling permit. Chief James Martin said he expects to cut the current 104-day permit issuance time period to about 45-50 days. He said his agency is adding staff people and inspectors in order to meet new regulatory requirements of the state's Horizontal Well Act, which was enacted in December 2011. Martin said the DEP Secretary has set it as a priority to cut the permit issuance time in half within the next few months.

As for the development of a set of regulations required by the state's new horizontal production law, Martin said he thinks his agency will have this done by early May. At that time the regulations will be issued for public comment and then undergo the formal regulatory review process. The plan is to have the regulations finalized for consideration and final adoption during the 2013 session of the W.Va. Legislature.

Monday, March 12, 2012

W.Va. DEP Issues Proposed Stormwater Pollution Control Permit For Natural Gas Drilling, Construction Activities

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Water and Waste Management is proposing to issue a State General Water Pollution Control Permit to regulate the discharge of stormwater runoff associated with oil and natural gas related construction activities. The General Permit will authorize discharges composed entirely of stormwater associated with oil and natural gas field activities or operations associated with exploration, production, processing or treatment operations or transmission facilities, disturbing one acre or greater of land area, to the waters of the state. It is proposed that this General Permit be issued for a four-year term.

A public hearing has been scheduled to take comments on the Draft Permit. The hearing has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on April 9, 2012, at the Coopers Rock Training Room, WV DEP Headquarters, 601 57th Street SE, Charleston, WV 25304.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Office Of Oil & Gas Chief To Update Horizontal Producers

James Martin, Chief of the Office of Oil & Gas/W.Va. DEP, will be participating on Lewis Glasser’s upcoming conference call for horizontal producers. The call is set for Tuesday, March 13 at 11:30 a.m. The conference call will provide a recap of the 2012 legislative proceedings and an update on the regulation development process for the state’s new horizontal well act.

Lewis Glasser regularly hosts these calls as a way to share information and discuss strategic opportunities among the state's horizontal production community.

Monday, February 27, 2012

State Office of Oil & Gas Working To Hire More Employees, Cut Permit Time In Half

The Chief of West Virginia's Office of Oil & Gas says his agency is in the process of hiring more employees and working to cut the permitting time process in half. His comments were provided recently when interviewed by W.Va. Public Radio. Provided below are excerpts from his interview:

WV DEP Chief of the Office of Oil and Gas James Martin says while issuing new permits is still a slow process right now, the hiring of new employees and support staff is imminent.

Martin also says that among the larger changes in his division are the changes in permitting requirements which have been adapted to the more complicated needs of horizontal drilling operations. The new legislation requires professional engineering designs for the well sites, in addition to erosion and sediment control plans.

"There’s a requirement for a well site safety plan," Martin says, "and there’s also a requirement for a water management plan, to look at the water that’s used specifically as it relates to the surface water withdrawals. I guess we’ll find out as we go along if things need to be tweaked, but at this point, we feel comfortable that the increased funding, as soon as it comes in like we projected, will allow us what we need to go forward."

To date 1,400 horizontal wells have been permitted and the wait for a permit today is about 100 days. Officials from the DEP hope that the number of days it will take to issue a permit will drop to 45 by this summer. The new legislation requires no less than 33 days.

Click to read the entire W.Va. Public Radio story.

W.Va. DEP Numbers Reveal Dramatic Changes Due To Horizontal Wells

West Virginia's natural gas industry has undergone dramatic changes over the past five years due to the implementation of horizontal drilling and production, and nowhere is this more evident than permitting and production numbers.

According to information provided by the West Virginia DEP, horizontal wells now account for 25 percent of the state's annual natural gas production. That increase is dramatic given that there was no production from horizontal wells just five years ago.

When it comes to permits, the numbers show a similar "seismic shift": in 2006 there were no horizontal well permits....in 2011 more than 500 permits for horizontal wells were issued. At the same time, conventional well permits dropped from 2,400 in 2007 to just 300 in 2011.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

LGCR's Gottlieb Provides West Virginia Chapter For AAPL's Oil & Gas Law Book

Richard Gottlieb, who leads the natural gas practice at Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC, has provided the West Virginia chapter for a new Oil & Gas Law book published by the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL). The book is a nationwide comparison of laws on leasing, exploration and production and offers a comprehensive volume on the comparison of 18 states plus federal lands. Gottlieb contributed the comparative chapter on West Virginia’s oil and natural gas laws.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bill Moving That Would Allow Electronic Land Records

Legislation (H.B. 4250) is moving in the West Virginia Legislature that would change state law and allow for land records to be in electronic form. The bill would remove any requirement of state law describing or requiring that a land record document be an original, on paper, or in writing. In addition, the bill would change any requirement that the document contain a signature or acknowledgment so that this can be satisfied by an electronic signature or acknowledgment. Finally, the bill would authorize a clerk to accept electronic documents for recording and to index and store those documents. The bill establishes a Real Property Electronic Recording Standards Advisory Committee and directs it to develop a legislative rule containing standards for electronic recording to be used by each county.

Lewis Glasser is monitoring and tracking this legislation.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

DEP Reviews New Horizontal Drilling, Production Requirements At February 1 Meeting

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) conducted a workshop yesterday to discuss the state's new Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act. New requirements for permitting, notice, bonding, and water management plans were discussed at length. The requirements govern horizontal drilling and production activities on permits issued since Dec. 14, 2011.

The DEP provided information regarding policy interpretations and forms for many of the new statutory requirements and noted that the Emergency Rules remained in effect unless specifically contradicted by the new statute. The DEP will be providing a summary of the policy statements made at the workshop shortly and has created links to the new forms on its website - http://www.dep.wv.gov/oil-and-gas/Pages/default.aspx.

Lewis Glasser will continue to monitor and be involved in this regulatory development process.

Monday, January 23, 2012

EIA Forecasts Shale Gas Production Will Continue Strong Growth, Double By 2035

The Annual Energy Outlook 2012 (AEO2012) Reference case was released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). This report presents updated projections for U.S. energy markets through 2035, and its projections include only the effects of policies that have been implemented in law or final regulations.

"Our updated Reference case projections show natural gas and renewables gaining an increasing share of U.S. electric power generation, domestic crude oil and natural gas production growing, reliance on imported oil decreasing, U.S. natural gas production exceeding consumption, and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions remaining below their 2005 level through 2035," said EIA Acting Administrator Howard Gruenspecht. "These projections reflect increased energy efficiency throughout the economy, updated assessments of energy technologies and domestic energy resources, the influence of evolving consumer preferences, and projected slow economic growth," said Gruenspecht.

Here are key projections for natural gas:

- Since 2000, shale gas production has increased 17-fold and now comprises about 30 percent of total U.S. dry gas production.
- U.S. shale gas production to double by 2035...to 49% of total domestic natural gas production.
- Between now and 2035 natural gas will remain stagnant in percent (25%) of total share of U.S. energy use.
- Electric power generation and industrial demand will drive future natural gas demand growth.

Click to read the press release.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

DEP To Host Workshop On Horizontal Act Regulations

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection will be conducting an oil and gas industry workshop addressing the recently passed horizontal drilling legislation (Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act) on February 1, 2012 at the Charleston Marriott Town Center Hotel. The workshop will begin at 8:00 am and conclude at 3:00 pm. The principal focus of this workshop will be related to permitting/approval of activity covered under the article. The primary audience is those that get into the details of putting such information together for application submittal, which may include contractors, consultants, etc.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

“Bucky” Duranti, Jr. Joins LGCR's Natural Gas Practice; New Office Opened In Morgantown

Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC is pleased to announce that veteran natural gas lawyer R. P. “Bucky” Duranti, Jr. has joined the firm as a member and part of its growing natural gas practice. Bucky’s law colleague, Angela C. Ramsey, also is joining the firm as an associate. Bucky and Angela will bolster Lewis Glasser’s capabilities to meet continued growth from clients involved in natural gas drilling and production activities. We also are pleased to announce that Lewis Glasser has opened a north-central West Virginia office in the Morgantown area.

Bucky will be based in this new north-central office along with two other LGCR lawyers – Bernie Worley and Nathan Austrian – and other legal support staff. The north-central office is expected to expand significantly over the coming year. Ramsey will continue to work out of a Beckley location, and Mark Sadd, a member in the firm, will continue to oversee the firm’s mineral title and real estate activities.

The hiring of Bucky and Angela -- and the opening of a Morgantown office -- are part of Lewis Glasser’s strategy to expand its capabilities to meet the needs of existing clients and our growing list of clients with interests in north-central West Virginia. Bucky’s knowledge and experience will be a perfect fit for helping LGCR meet the needs of its expanding client base, particularly with acquisitions, natural gas title work, lease and mineral ownership matters and real estate/commercial transactions.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Legislative Session May Be Quieter For Natural Gas Industry

Top Tomblin Administration officials and legislative leaders do not expect lamwakers to revisit the recently enacted horizontal drilling law or other Marcellus-related issues when they come to Charleston on January 11 to start the 2012 regular legislative session. Legislators recently enacted the comprehensive new law following months of meetings.

Read articles:

Marcellus may not be a hot topic in 2012 session
Associated Press, January 6, 2012

Lawmakers unlikely to revisit Marcellus shale in 2012
The State Journal, January 5, 2012