Focus on Fracking

DUC well report for June, Focus on Fracking, RJS

Monday of this past week saw the release of the EIA’s Drilling Productivity Report for July, which includes the EIA’s June data for drilled but uncompleted (DUC) oil and gas wells in the 7 most productive shale regions….that data showed a decrease in uncompleted wells nationally for the 13th month in a row, as both completions of drilled wells and drilling of new wells increased, but remained below the pre-pandemic levels…for the 7 sedimentary regions covered by this report, the total count of DUC wells decreased by 269 wells, falling from 6,521 DUC wells in May to 6,252 DUC wells in June, which was also 30.3% fewer DUCs than the 8,965 wells that had been drilled but remained uncompleted as of the end of June of a year ago…this month’s DUC decrease occurred as 549 wells were drilled in the 7 regions that this report covers (representing 87% of all U.S. onshore drilling operations) during June, up from the 533 wells that were drilled in May, while 818 wells were completed and brought into production by fracking, up from the 798 completions seen in May, and up from the pandemic hit 248 completions seen in June of last year, but down by 35.6% from the 1,271 completions of June 2019….at the June completion rate, the 6,252 drilled but uncompleted wells left at the end of the month represents a 7.6 month backlog of wells that have been drilled but are not yet fracked, down from the 8.4 month DUC well backlog of a month ago, with the understanding that this normally indicative backlog ratio is being skewed by a completion rate that is still more than a third below the pre-pandemic norm…

Both oil producing regions and natural gas producing regions saw DUC well decreases in June, while none of the major basins reported DUC well increases….the number of uncompleted wells remaining in the Permian basin of west Texas and New Mexico decreased by 123, from 2,598 DUC wells at the end of May to 2,475 DUCs at the end of June, as 253 new wells were drilled into the Permian during June, while 386 wells in the region were completed…at the same time, DUC wells in the Niobrara chalk of the Rockies’ front range fell by 41, decreasing from 402 at the end of May to 361 DUC wells at the end of June, as 51 wells were drilled into the Niobrara chalk during June, while 92 Niobrara wells were being fracked….in addition, DUCs in the Eagle Ford of south Texas also decreased by 41, from 1,012 DUC wells at the end of May to 971 DUCs at the end of June, as 56 wells were drilled in the Eagle Ford during June, while 97 already drilled Eagle Ford wells were completed…. at the same time, there was also a decrease of 28 DUC wells in the Bakken of North Dakota, where DUC wells fell from 656 at the end of May to 628 DUCs at the end of June, as 31 wells were drilled into the Bakken during May, while 59 of the drilled wells in the Bakken were being fracked….. meanwhile, the number of uncompleted wells remaining in Oklahoma’s Anadarko decreased by 19, falling from 863 at the end of May to 844 DUC wells at the end of June, as 30 wells were drilled into the Anadarko basin during June, while 49 Anadarko wells were being fracked….

Among the natural gas producing regions, the drilled but uncompleted well count in the Appalachian region, which includes the Utica shale, fell by 17 wells, from 598 DUCs at the end of May to 581 DUCs at the end of June, as 68 wells were drilled into the Marcellus and Utica shales during the month, while 85 of the already drilled wells in the region were fracked….meanwhile, the uncompleted well inventory in the natural gas producing Haynesville shale of the northern Louisiana-Texas border region was unchanged at 392 DUCs, as 50 wells were drilled into the Haynesville during June, while 50 of the already drilled Haynesville wells were fracked during the same period….thus, for the month of June, DUCs in the five major oil-producing basins tracked by this report (ie., the Anadarko, Bakken, Niobrara, Permian, and Eagle Ford) decreased by a total of 252 wells to 5,279 wells, while the uncompleted well count in the natural gas basins (the Marcellus, the Utica, and the Haynesville) decreased by 17 wells to 973 wells, although as this report notes, once into production, more than half the wells drilled nationally will produce both oil and gas…


Ohio rules for oil and gas waste facilities move ahead 8 years later -Ohio Department of Natural Resources has issued a draft of proposed rules that would regulate how the state’s oil and gas waste facilities manage radioactive fracking waste.The draft comes after a Dispatch story highlighted there are no rulesfor the waste facilities even though Ohio’s legislature directed ODNR, which regulates the industry, to enact rules in 2013.”I think it’s good that they’re doing this this rulemaking. It’s long overdue,” said Megan Hunter, a senior attorney at Chicago-based EarthJustice. “But they don’t address a lot of the really serious issues presented by these types of facilities.”ODNR is accepting comments through Friday. This is the first of three opportunities when Ohioans will have a chance to comment. It’s also the third attempt of the agency to get rules passed.The draft, which is 46 pages, proposes standards for where oil and gas waste facilities can be located and how they can operate. As written, it would allow the industry the freedom to have certain records exempted from public inspection if they classify them as infrastructure records. Even though the facilities handle radioactive waste, the draft rules do not require all of the waste facilities to have a radiation protection plan.When hydraulic fracturing or fracking takes place, a mixture of water, sand and chemicals is injected at high pressure thousands of feet below the soil’s surface. The shale rock is fractured from the pressure, which then releases the oil and gas. The process generates lots of waste. Companies use their own formulas for the fluid mixture to frack. They don’t have to disclose the chemicals it contains because it’s considered a trade secret. Some of the thousands of chemicals in the frack waste fluid are radioactive.This week, Physicians for Social Responsibility, a nonprofit coalition of healthcare workers advocating for climate solutions, released the results of a public records request that showed PFAS (the acronym for per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances), which are man-made long-lasting compounds dubbed “forever chemicals,” may be present in fracking fluids.PFAS can increase the risk of cancer, reduce fertility in women, interfere with hormones, increase cholesterol levels and negatively affect the immune system and development in infants and children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There also have been studies linking frack waste to severe headaches, asthma symptoms, childhood leukemia, cardiac problems and birth defects, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.ODNR did not make anyone available for an interview for this story. The agency emailed a statement saying, “The division develops draft rules by using the scientific expertise and experience of our staff—then by engaging stakeholders and welcoming public comments as outlined in the rulemaking process. … The division looks forward to reviewing comments from any interested party during the current and future public comment periods.” “We always try to strike that balance between good, strong regulations and not over-regulating. We think that the waste facility rule in its current form, generally speaking, does,” said Matt Hammond, president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.

Utica Shale Academy accepts grants to invest in welding lab — A new welding lab will provide students with hands on training at the Utica Shale Academy this school year. On Tuesday, the board of the Utica Shale Academy accepted a $200,000 Equity grant, which the school is combining with another $200,000 Equity grant provided through their partner, Southern Local Schools to purchase all the equipment needed for the new lab. The welding lab will allow Utica Shale Academy students to learn hands on welding skills and gain career path credentials through Lincoln Electric Welding. It will be located downstairs in the Kenneth Hutson Building in Salineville where the school is hoping to relocate in time to welcome most students back to the program this fall. The board also approved a nearly $1,000 per teacher for two instructors to attend a Lincoln Electric Welding virtual training seminar, so those instructors will be ready when the lab is in place. Superintendent Bill Watson said he is in the process of getting all the permits needed to open that building, but is still waiting for American Electric Power to determine what transformer the building will need to provide power to the welding lab equipment and other equipment for the building.

ODA Director Pelanda Being Forced To Choose Sides –In Union County Common Pleas Court Monday, a petition for a writ of mandamus was filed asking the court to order Dorothy Pelanda, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, to use her power as director of the ODA and put a stop to a proposed gas pipeline that would cross protected farm properties in Jerome Township. At issue here is what is called the Columbia Gas Northern Columbus Loop Pipeline, a part of large network of lines which encircles the better part of the Columbus-metro area. A large section has been planned to be laid through Delaware County and Jerome Township in Union County. Columbus Gas did yeoman’s work putting the plans for pipeline together for the Northern Columbus Loop, every last foot having been been mapped out, measured, and marked down. Crews are ready to get to work, ready to install 17 miles of 16- and 24-inch lines that will carry 720 psi of natural gas through the two counties. But a fair part of those 17 miles of pipeline was mapped through three properties in Union County’s Jerome Township, properties that are controlled or owned by Don Bailey Jr., Trustee of the Arno Renner Trust, Charles Renner, and Patrick E. and Whitney Bailey, who are the plaintiffs in the case and are called “Relators” in the court filing.They wanted nothing do with the pipeline and said so. The Relators turned down offers of money from Columbia Gas as recently as June 14, offers which also came with clear warnings of ‘eminent domain’, a frank acknowledgement that Columbia Gas has the political juice to force the granting of the easement and was going to end up with the land for the pipeline one way on another.So the Relators struck first.Represented by David Watkins of Plank Law Firm of Columbus, Mr. Bailey, Mr. and Ms. Bailey and Mr. Renner presented the court Monday a petition for a writ of mandamus to order Director Pelanda to intervene and honor the Deed of Agriculture Easement (Ag Easement) that was issued on the properties in question by the very Ohio Department of Agriculture now headed by Director Pelanda.