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:,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 -- - and other information/links.