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Oil and Gas Roundup — Sept. 23

September 23, 2013
A roundup of oil and natural gas news from around the state, nation and world:

Drilling beyond the Eagle Ford Shale

The Eagle Ford Shale is more than just the Eagle Ford.

Operators in South Texas are drilling into other rock formations, taking horizontal turns — and in some cases getting big results.

While the Eagle Ford appears to be the mother lode — the largest and most prolific South Texas formation — several other rock layers sitting above or below it also are producing oil or gas.

Jeff Seiler, managing director of the banking firm Scotia Waterous, has tracked Texas drilling permits and found hundreds of cases of companies targeting other South Texas formations, especially the Olmos Sandstone, Austin Chalk, Buda Limestone, Edwards Limestone and Pearsall Shale, which companies are using to bolster the value of their Eagle Ford acreage.

“We know these are coming on,” Seiler said last week at Hart Energy’s DUG Eagle Ford conference. “We’ve already seen development plans put together and built into valuations for transactions that are on the Street.”

Read more:

Pa. battle pits gas drillers vs. endangered species

Most Pennsylvanians have probably never heard of the rabbitsfoot mussel.
Even fewer are likely to have encountered one of the small freshwater mollusks in the wild.

The rabbitsfoot is one of dozens of species on Pennsylvania’s state-level endangered species list, which figures to be the next front in the ongoing political battle between the state’s burgeoning natural gas industry and the environmental movement, which sees the gas drillers as a threat to the state’s natural beauty.

But for the drillers extracting gas from Pennsylvania’s rich Marcellus shale deposits, protected snakes, mussels, frogs and salamanders can stop even the most powerful of their machines.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association and other industry groups are calling for the passage of House Bill 1576, which would remove all species now on the list — though they could be re-added later.

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Study predicts ‘manufacturing renaissance’

Unconventional drilling for oil and natural gas, such as that in Ohio’s Utica Shale, could be a major boost to the nation’s manufacturers during the next decade and a half.

Whether the anticipated growth is fully realized in Ohio remains to be seen.

A new report by global research firm IHS predicts a “manufacturing renaissance” through 2025 fueled by the unconventional natural gas and oil industry.

Increased drilling and pipeline construction has spurred demand for products, such as steel, and the growing supply of natural gas, natural gas liquids and oil will lead to cheaper energy and less expensive chemicals, giving American manufacturers an advantage over European and Asian competitors, according to the study, which builds on two earlier IHS reports.

Nationally, the unconventional natural gas and oil industry — from drillers to the producers of energy-related chemicals —last year supported 2.1 million jobs, generated close to $75 billion in tax revenue and contributed $283 billion to the U.S. economy, the study found.

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Panama Canal upgrade could boost Texas’ burgeoning international trade, LNG market

A multibillion-dollar expansion of the Panama Canal is expected to open lucrative new Asian markets for natural gas from the Barnett Shale while enhancing Texas’ stature as the nation’s leading export state.

The canal was heralded as an engineering marvel after it was carved through the jungles of Panama almost a century ago, providing a 51-mile shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Now modern-day construction crews are deepening and widening the canal to accommodate mega-ships of the 21st Century. Planners originally hoped to complete the $5.2 billion project in 2014 — the canal’s centennial anniversary — but are now working toward a likely finish date in 2015.

Although the ambitious undertaking deep in the tropics is far below the radar of the average Texan, the project has generated intense interest within a broad sector of groups and individuals who would be affected by the development, including transportation experts, shippers, energy groups and local officials.

“Overall, it’s going to be a heck of a boon to our part of the country,” said Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes, vice-chairman of TEX-21, a group of officials urging the state to take full advantage of the canal expansion.

Study after study has spotlighted what could be a big boost for natural gas producers in North Texas’ Barnett Shale and other parts of the state.

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BHP, Apache start $1.5 billion Macedon gas project in Australia

BHP Billiton Ltd., Australia’s largest oil producer, started its $1.5 billion Macedon natural gas project, according to partner Apache.

The development, Western Australia’s fourth domestic gas hub, began operating last month and has production capacity of 200 terajoules a day, Houston-based Apache said in an e-mailed statement. Melbourne-based BHP owns 71.4 percent of Macedon, while Apache owns the rest.

Western Australia faces a gas shortage, with prices tripling since 2005, according to the state’s DomGas Alliance, which represents state users such as Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM) and Alcoa Inc. (AA)

Apache plans to invest about $1.9 billion in Australia this year, including the Coniston and Balnaves oil projects and the Julimar development, the company said.

— Bloomberg News

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