January 2010 Archives

January 22, 2010

Dish Mayor Calvin Tilman Testifies at Railroad Commission

The Mayor of tiny Dish, Texas, north of Fort Worth, continues to stir up controversy with his claims of air pollution from oil and gas activities causing health concerns in his community. The mayor appeared at the RRC's January 12 open hearing. You can watch his testimony here (go to item 17 on the agenda). The mayor's appearance was prompted by an item placed on the agenda by Commissioner Michael Williams, which in turn had been prompted by a letter sent to the Commissioners by State Rep. Ron Burnam. Rep. Burnam's letter asked the RRC to place a moratorium on permits for wells in the Barnett Shale around Fort Worth until the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has finished its investigation of air quality in the area. In response, Commissioner Williams proposed that the Commissioners write a letter to the Texas Attorney General asking for a formal opinion whether the RRC has authority to issue such a moratorium. (Rep. Burnam has also asked the City of Fort Worth to issue a similar moratorium on well permits in the city limits.) I have written about the controversy concerning the town of Dish in a previous post.

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January 15, 2010

Interesting Comparison of Wellhead and Residential Gas Prices Across States

The information below is from the Energy Information Administration.  Note the wide variation in City Gate and Wellhead Prices among different states:

Gas Prices table.jpg  

Below is the same information in graph form.  Why would average residential gas prices in Texas be $12.88 per mcf, while residential prices in California and Minnesota -- far from natural gas production -- be less than $10 per mcf? Why such variations in Residential prices?


EIA Natural Gas Prices graph.jpg

January 8, 2010

Exxon Mobil's Proposed Acquisition of XTO Energy Revives Questions about Hydraulic Fracturing

Exxon Mobil announced that it would acquire XTO Energy in an all-stock deal worth $41 billion. The acquisition is viewed as Exxon's decision to enter the domestic onshore gas shale play, which to date has been developed almost exclusively by independent producers. But the deal includes an exit clause in the event Congress passes legislation that would make hydraulic fracturing illegal or "commercially impracticable." Shale gas development would be impossible without hydraulic fracturing technology. Bills are pending in Congress (known as the FRAC Act) to subject fracturing to federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The bills would require companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in frac fluids. And U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, Dem. Massachusetts, said he would hold hearings in the House Energy and Commerce Committee to review the Exxon-XTO deal and to address environmental concerns about hydraulic fracturing.