The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.
U.S. Energy Information Administration Publishes Its Monthly Drilling Report
On September 12, 2016 the EIA released its Drilling Productivity Report which now includes an estimate of how many drilled but uncompleted wells (DUC) exist in the major drilling zones. The Permian shale play has the most DUCs with a total of 1,348 which is an increase of 38 uncompleted wells from July of this year. Meanwhile, the Eagle Ford follows closely with 1,261 DUCs but the number of uncompleted wells has decreased by 36 wells since last month. As for production, the Permian Basin still leads in oil production with 1,977 thousand barrels/day and the Marcellus play produced 12,806 million cubic feet/day of gas in September. The greatest change in production for next month is predicted to be a 198 million cubic feet/day of gas in the Eagle Ford region.
Native American Tribe in Michigan Files Complaint to Block Oil Spill Settlement
In an objection filed August 23, 2016 by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, they protest a settlement negotiated by the Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency with Enbridge Inc. As reported by Inside Climate News, the settlement would require the pipeline company, Enbridge, Inc., to pay a fine for the 2010 oil spill in Michigan as well as invest over $100 million in pipeline upgrades. The objection states that the tribes have a legally protected interest under the 1836 Treaty Tribes cession. The plaintiffs demand a tribal consultation as well as an extension of the comment deadline. The case, U.S. v. Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership, et al, was heard in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Michigan Southern Division.
PNAS Study Shows Increase in Fossil Fuel Methane Emissions
A study published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” on July 26, 2016 examines the rate of atmospheric methane growth during the past 30 years. The researchers at Portland State University found that for the first 20 years examined in the study the methane emissions remained stable. However, the researchers noted a significant increase in methane emissions from fossil fuels between 2000 and 2009. The study entitled “Atmospheric Methane Isotopic Record Favors Fossil Sources Flat in 1980s and 1990s with Recent Increase” can be found on the PNAS website.
Data from Colorado University Study Will Be Used In Colorado Health Risk Assessment
The report, published on September 15, 2016 by the Colorado State University examined air “emission rates and dispersion of air toxics, ozone precursors, and greenhouse gases.” The purpose of the study was to specifically quantify emission rates. The researchers focused on methane, ethane, and VOC production from hydraulic fracturing operations. They conducted 18 emission experiments and found that generally, there were higher emissions during flowback procedures. The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment has announced they will be using data from this study for their health-risk assessment that will address health concerns related to oil and gas operations.
Ohio Supreme Court Rules the Rejection of Ballot Measures Was Legal
In an opinion decided September 13, 2016 the Ohio Supreme Court sided with the Athens County Board of Elections’ decision to reject the Athens County committee’s petition to include new ballot initiatives. As reported by EnergyWire, the purpose of the proposed ballot measures was to give local governments the ability to control oil and gas development. The Athens County committee ballot measures were rejected by Ohio Secretary of State John Husted because they “failed to alter the form of government, failed to vest powers from the municipalities and townships with the county, and relied on the Revised Code to determine the qualification sand salaries of elected officials” and the court agreed. (State ex rel. Coover v. Husted)
International Energy Agency Releases First World Energy Investment Report for 2016
The new report released September 14, 2016 details the state of energy investment “across technologies, sectors and regions.” The report puts total global energy investment from 2015 at $1.8 trillion which is an 8% decrease from 2014. The IEA suggests this is due to less spending in oil and gas as well as a decrease in energy costs. Despite the overall investment decrease, oil and gas still account for the greatest investment at $583 billion.
Written by Jacqueline Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator