Chesapeake Energy

September 11, 2013

Drillers in Ohio increasingly shifting to southern counties

Source: Akron Beacon Journal (OH), September 4, 2013
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Carroll County is the reigning Utica shale capital of Ohio.

With 319 wells permitted, Carroll represents nearly 38 percent of the 858 wells the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has approved since late 2010.

Chesapeake Energy, the No. 1 driller in Ohio, staked out early and extensive claims in Carroll and surrounding counties: Columbiana, Portage and Stark. Today the Oklahoma-based energy giant, the No. 2 producer of natural gas in the United States, has a total of 503 permits in eastern Ohio — nearly 59 percent of the statewide total.

Interest from other drillers is shifting, however, and extending to the south in a big way — into Harrison, Belmont, Monroe, Guernsey and Noble counties. Those five counties have become the drilling hot spot in eastern Ohio.

Of Ohio’s 2013 Utica shale permits, more than 50 percent have been issued to energy companies interested in those counties, and that region is not Chesapeake’s stronghold, according to a Beacon Journal review of state data.

Harrison County leads the way with 124 permits since 2010, followed by Noble County with 62, according to information from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Oil & Gas Resources Management.

Ohio has issued 45 permits in Belmont County, 33 in Monroe County and 50 in Guernsey County.

Washington County — even farther south — has an additional seven permits, all this year.…

March 1, 2013

IL Fracking Bill Being Negotiated

Read here about a regulatory bill in Illinois that is being negotiated to address ground rules for the hydraulic fracturing industry.


February 5, 2013

Pickup in Fracking Activity Could Cause Headaches for Insurers, Case Warns

Source: PR Web, January 28, 2013
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Lawsuits associated with high-volume, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) are increasing amid the escalation in fracking activity. In the wake of several multi-million dollar settlements, the insurance industry has a major stake in understanding the scope and extent of risks potentially posed by fracking, writes LeClairRyan partner Michael J. Case in an article in the January issue of Claims Management magazine.

Landowners who allow gas exploration or production activity on their property, typically through lease agreements, may be held responsible under common law for dangerous conditions on their property, explains Case, And oil and gas leases often contain provisions indemnifying the landowner for claims arising from a gas company’s operations and requiring the developer to obtain liability insurance covering the landowners for claims arising from such operations. This places the lease terms at the forefront in analyzing fracking-related liability, he notes in the article entitled Fracking Know-How: Risks and Risk Allocation in High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas.

Insurance adds another layer of complexity, adds Case, who represents insurers and reinsurers in litigation and arbitration, as well as businesses and individuals in environmental liability and insurance cases. For example, well operators or landowners whose liability has not been transferred in the lease documents may look to their insurers to assume their retained liability. However, he advises, the likelihood of payment under such circumstances is far from certain.

Many insurers had already issued policies to landowners, contractors and well-site operators at a time when the volume of fracking activity was more limited. The exponential expansion of high-volume fracking activity may give rise to increased claims against policyholders, he warns in the article. Examples include Chesapeake Energy’s $1.6 million payment to settle allegations of water well pollution in Bradford County, Pa., and a reported $4.1 million settlement with Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. by residents of Dimock, Pa., who claimed that their drinking water was contaminated by fracking-related methane gas.…

January 29, 2013

More Fracking Means More Liability

Source:, January 28, 2013
By: Antoinette Martin

This is the type of equipment used in “fracking.”

In the wake of several multi-million dollar settlements over pollution caused by hydraulic fracturing, including two in this state, a New York legal specialist has published an article called “Fracking Know-How” for property owners and insurers.

LeClairRyan partner Michael J. Case writes in this month’s issue of Claims Management that insurance companies have major stakes on the table as fracking – and lawsuits – escalate.

Residents of Dimock received a reported $4.1 million as settlement after they sued Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., contending that their drinking water was contaminated by fracking-related methane gas.

Also, Chesapeake Energy has paid $1.6 million to settle allegations of water well pollution in Bradford County.

“Landowners who allow gas exploration or production activity on their property, typically through lease agreements, may be held responsible under common law for ‘dangerous conditions’on their property,” says Case in the article.

Oil and gas leases often contain provisions indemnifying the landowner for claims arising from a gas company’s operations and requiring the developer to obtain liability insurance covering the landowners for claims arising from such operations, he notes.…

January 18, 2013

New Pa. Auditor Will Probe Impact Of Fracking, DEP Regs

Source: Law360, January 16, 2013
By: Matt Fair

Minutes after he was sworn in as the state’s new auditor general on Tuesday, Eugene DePasquale said his office would undertake a sweeping investigation into potential water pollution resulting from the hydraulic fracturing boom in the state’s Marcellus Shale region.

DePasquale, a former Democratic legislator in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, told supporters during his inaugural address that one of his first actions would be to launch an inquiry into the Department of Environmental Protection’s protocols for monitoring pollution generated by gas drillers in the state.

“Today it is clear: We must strive to grow our economy and protect our environment at the same time,” DePasquale, a former DEP staffer, told a group of supporters in the state museum after his swearing-in. “That is why one of my first official duties as auditor general will be to initiate a performance audit of the [DEP] to make sure our constitutional right to pure water is not being compromised by natural gas drilling.”

While recognizing the immense economic potential of natural gas drilling, he said that he wanted to ensure that Pennsylvania’s waterways don’t suffer the same fate they saw as a result of the state’s coal boom.

“While natural gas drilling has brought new opportunities to small towns and rural communities throughout the state, that same drilling poses challenges to our environmental regulators, our local communities and our natural resources,” he said. “At the same time, we cannot forget mistakes made in the past. Our Pennsylvania waterways are still suffering — despite billions of dollars in cleanup — from inadequate oversight of the coal industry in previous generations.”…

December 11, 2012

Processing plants, pipelines worth $7 billion coming to Ohio

Source:, December 9, 2012
By: Bob Downing

KENSINGTON: The hill tops in southwest Columbiana County off state Route 644 are under attack.

Construction equipment is turning a former farm two miles east of Kensington into a natural gas-processing facility that is to open by next May.

It is mostly a ground-clearing operation in Hanover Township so far, said spokesman David Mashek.

A shale boom is under way in Ohio: Land has been leased. Nearly 190 wells have been drilled. Natural gas, oil and other liquids are being pumped from Ohio’s liquids-rich Utica shale. But what happens next?

Ohio is looking at an investment in excess of $10 billion in processing facilities, pipelines and compression facilities — the so-called midstream projects — to get those commodities to market.

Seven processing-separation plants for natural gas plus liquids and four pipeline networks are under construction in eastern Ohio — with a price tag exceeding $7.2 billion. And that does not include interim facilities that are starting to pop up in Ohio.

There’s nothing in Ohio like what’s taking shape in Columbiana, Harrison, Mahoning and Noble counties.

In addition to the new plants, eastern Ohio is likely to see an additional $5 billion in new pipeline projects in the next few years because the state’s existing pipeline system is too old and too small to handle the volume of gas and liquids that energy companies are tapping into.…

January 30, 2012

Frack-happy Ultra Petroleum is the city’s largest private landowner. What kind of neighbor might it be?

Source:, January 26, 2012
By: Pam Zubeck

On a brisk morning in mid-October, El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey and two county staffers took a trip.

They joined an Ultra Resources engineer, geologist and land manager on a private jet bound for the Pinedale Anticline, an 80-square-mile area in southwest Wyoming that’s rich with natural gas deposits.

They were retracing the flight path made the previous week by Commissioner Amy Lathen, Senior Assistant County Attorney George Monsson and development services project manager Craig Dossey.

Their goal, Hisey says, was to learn more about the operations of a company that plans to drill on the eastern edge of Colorado Springs and farther east in the county in the potentially prolific Niobrara Shale formation.

After the jet touched down in Wyoming, Hisey and the others were shuttled to a rig site on Bureau of Land Management land.

“It’s absolutely arid and barren. A few antelope out there,” Hisey says. “It’s as barren as anything you would see in eastern El Paso County.”

They watched workers add a section of pipe to a drill rig. They saw how Ultra deals with mud that comes back up from underground. They also observed disposal of spent drilling fluids into tanks and, ultimately, 14,000 feet underground.

“From my standpoint, I needed to do all the research I could based on the potential impact and e-mails I was getting,” Hisey says. “I had never seen a drilling rig before. I needed to know more before I started voting on regulations.”

Piping hot fajitas came via caterer to the drilling site. But neither over lunch, nor at any other time, did Hisey inquire about Ultra’s environmental record. “I didn’t ask them, ‘What kind of fines have you paid in the last 10 years?” he says. “I didn’t say, ‘Is EPA investigating you?'”…

December 14, 2011

Landowners left out of the loop on ‘fracking’ risks

Source: Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2011
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Natural gas companies that regularly use hydraulic fracturing to drill disclose the risks to shareholders, but not to landowners, according to a report released Monday.

As a result of disclosure requirements in federal securities law, some companies that have led the push into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast to use hydraulic fracturing have described to shareholders in explicit terms the potential dangers of their work, including leaks, spills and explosions. One company, Chesapeake Energy Corp., touted in its annual report in March that its efforts to lease land from private owners was a “land grab.”

At the same time, oil and gas companies and the land acquisition companies working for them did not mention to landowners the same potential safety and environmental risks, according to the report by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based organization that has been critical of the industry.

The report said a description by Cabot Oil & Gas, a major gas producer, in its 2008 form 10-K — a securities filing of the company’s performance — was typical: “Our business involves a variety of operating risks, including: well-site blowouts, cratering and explosions; equipment failures … pollution and other environmental risks.”

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” involves shooting water infused with chemicals and sand at high pressure into shale formations to tap reservoirs of natural gas.…

September 6, 2011

State DEP tells crab roaster to eliminate odors

Source: Daily Item (Sunbury, PA), September 4, 2011
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The state Department of Environmental Protection has investigated a much-maligned crab shell-roasting operation in Kelly Township and warned the operator to control the bad smell coming from the Hoffa Mill Road farm.

But there’s no indication the creation of fertilizer and feed from the shells — the source of complaints from residents as far away as Lewisburg borough — can or will be stopped as a result.

Despite pressure from former county commissioner Bill Haas and others, township zoning officer Ralph Hess said he cannot and will not revoke the zoning permit that allowed Lester Nolt to build the crab-shell roaster on his farm.

More details are emerging about the operation, owned by Curtis Falck, who operates H&C Grove NX. He’s part of the family that has owned and operated the nearby, historic Groves Mill for decades.

Nolt only lets the equipment and the crab waste, brought in by truck from Maryland, function on his property.

Neither Nolt nor Falck will comment on the record about the operation, though Nolt has referred all questions to Falck, who he said owned the operation.…

June 30, 2011

Water contamination is concern in oil and gas drilling

Source: Vindicator (Youngstown, OH), June 29, 2011
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Water contamination seems to be the main opposition to oil and gas drilling throughout shale regions in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Many Mahoning Valley residents, specifically in Columbiana County, signed leases with Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. in April. But until drilling picks up, landowners have been urged to take the necessary steps to ensure water remains safe to drink.

“You inevitably will have accidents or spills,” said Christopher Baronzzi, an attorney at the Youngstown law firm of Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell Ltd., who spoke Tuesday to nearly 250 landowners at a seminar at Das Dutch Haus Village Inn on state Route 14. “If you have hundreds of thousands of gallons of chemicals spilled, there could be groundwater contamination.”

Baronzzi urged landowners who use wells for drinking water to seek comprehensive water tests before oil and gas companies begin drilling. Water from public utilities must meet National Primary Drinking Water Standards, but well water is a landowner’s responsibility.…