Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)
An application was filed Tuesday with the DEC to allow waterless fracking for natural gas using gelled propane and sand in Tioga County, New York.
Yesterday a press conference was held in the Town of Barton (Tioga County), NY to announce that a group of landowners flying under the name of The Snyder Farm Group (five families make up the group) have contracted with Tioga Energy Partners to drill a fracked Utica Shale well, and follow it up with drilling a fracked Marcellus Shale well, using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or propane) and sand.
The wells will not use water for fracking–and therefore, according to the landowners, avoid the ban on high volume fracking recently imposed by Andrew Cuomo and his underling Joe Martens at the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC). There is no doubt this is huge news throughout the state–and is giving heartburn to Cuomo and Martens. What cockamamie grounds can the DEC possibly use to refuse it? It’s a brilliant move by the landowners in Tioga County.
But before we hop up and down with joy, there are a few clouds on the horizon (let’s keep this totally honest, shall we?). First thing that comes to mind is that Cuomo’s decision to ban fracking was political. The DEC has specifically disallowed using high volumes of water, but there were plenty of other references to imagined and possible “harms” that could come from fracking too. Granted, they almost all are related to using lots of water in some manner–truck traffic “harms” for example come from hauling lots of water to and from a site. Wastewater disposal comes from having water go down, and then out, of the hole.
But what about brine disposal? There is naturally occurring water deep in the ground that comes out months and years after a hole is drilled in the ground–water that has nothing to do with how much water was originally pumped into the ground. Will the DEC may try to use brine disposal as a disqualifying issue? And what about sand? It takes a lot of sand to frack a well. Will the DEC find something about frac sand they don’t like and try to refuse the permit based on that? You can see the possibilities.
And, then there is the technology itself. LPG fracking is a technology innovated and created by GASFRAC, a Canadian company that went bankrupt and whose assets were recently sold to another company (see Bankrupt Waterless Fracking Co GASFRAC Sold to “Third Party”). Who owns GASFRAC now? Are they financially stable enough to tackle what will be a thorny project like this one? Is it GASFRAC or is it another company that has developed its own LPG fracking technology?
Hey, don’t get us wrong. We think this is FANTASTIC news. It’s brilliant. Let’s drill a small well (only 53 acres are involved) as a test and prove that it can be done within the nutball restrictions from Cuomo’s DEC. Let’s color inside the lines and show New Yorkers–and the world–that fracking is safe. This is sure to send the rabidly anti-drilling nutballs into orbit. Their lies will be exposed for everyone to see.
A proposal to frack for natural gas using gelled propane and sand was announced Wednesday morning at Barton Town Hall in Tioga County.
Snyder Farm Group spokesman Kevin “Cub” Frisbie said an application was filed Tuesday with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The move comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration officially banned large-scale hydraulic fracturing on June 29. The state announcement ended a seven-year review process that drew hundreds of thousands of public comments and sharply divided the general public.
“We are outside of the state’s ban,” Tioga Energy Partners, LLC legal counsel Adam Schultz said. “The state banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing, but that’s not what we’re doing.”
Tioga Energy Partners is the contracting company working with the Snyder Farm Group on the drilling application.
More than 60 people attended the press conference, which was held outside the Town of Barton municipal offices.
The Snyder group is a collection of five Tioga County farm families who have leased land for natural gas development. The group is seeking to develop a 53-acre natural gas well in Halsey Valley, which is in the Town of Barton, Tioga County — about 25 miles south of Ithaca and 30 miles east of Elmira.
The well pad would occupy about 31/2 acres on Ernest “Bucky” Snyder’s 150-acre hay and corn farm.
The group has applied for two drilling permits, Frisbie said.
The well would get drilled into the Utica Shale formation, about 9,500 feet underground, according to Frisbie. “Then we will do a horizontal turn and go into the Marcellus Shale at approximately 4,400 feet,” he said.
Town of Barton Supervisor Leon “Stick” Cary said that fracking may mean “a happy time for the residents of the Town of Barton, as well as Tioga County.” Cary said that he anticipates increased taxes for local government and new jobs.
“The Snyder Group … have done a good job to harvest what is theirs,” Cary said. “It’s the gas under their lands, and they have picked a way that is safe … it will make this area flourish, there’s no doubt in my mind.”
Tioga Energy Partners said it would use gelled propane and sand to hydraulically fracture Marcellus Shale and release natural gas.
“What the state studied, and eventually decided to ban, was the use of high volumes of water for fracturing purposes,” Schultz said. “This process that we are proposing doesn’t use any water, the fracturing takes place using liquified petroleum gas.”
The groups are seeking to develop the well under a New York state Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program from 1992.
And, here’s what Dan Fitzsimmons, President of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York had to say:
“The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York congratulates the Snyder Farm Group for taking the steps necessary to protect and preserve their family farms while safely developing the mineral resources beneath their land. We support the Snyder Farm Group in their quest to develop a natural gas well using gelled propane technology, which is outside the scope of New York State’s ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing. We join our elected representatives in urging the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct a thorough review of the Snyder Farm Group’s permit applications, focusing on science, technology and facts. DEC itself has characterized the use of propane to fracture shale as an environmentally friendly approach that does not create the wastes associated with other fracturing technologies. We are encouraged by the DEC’s position and look forward to a successful outcome for the Snyder Farm Group.”
Exciting stuff! Let’s hope it works.