Thursday, March 6, 2008

Want To Know More?

There is a lot of information on the web about the ins and outs of the natural gas industry. In fact there is more information than many will want to explore. Links to some of the sites are provided here in the right hand column.

One good overview is provided by the Natural Gas Supply Association . One of links on this site provides a fairly detailed layman's description of the process from wellhead to burner. Be prepared to spend a while absorbing all the information.

Another resource on the Barnett Shale is provided by the Rail Road Commission of Texas. The RRC also has a maps on line that give you details of all permitted wells and pipelines in your area. These maps allow you to click on a well site or pipeline and see all the permits and related surveys as well as any well production data.

The Barnett Shale Energy Education Council is sponsored by several of the major Barnett Shale operators. It provides a good overview of the situation from the operator's point of view.

Another good overview is provided at Wikipedia's Barnett Shale entry.

These links and the ones in the right hand column of this site are some of the best online resources I have found and several of them have links to additional information. If you find a good one, leave a comment here and I will make sure it is posted.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Howdy Neighbor!

What would happen to your property value if this were next door? They sound like a jet engine and can be heard for over a 1000 yards.

When drilling is complete, wells supply gas to pipelines. Pipelines need to be at high pressure to move the gas cost effectively so compressors are required on the pipelines.

Nothing in the typical mineral lease specifies where these can be placed. In fact gas pipelines are treated like utilities in state law. They can place their capital equipment on property they control ... where it is needed without the consent of nearby surface estate owners.

It's like street repair. Work is done when scheduled without nearby owners consent. Even if it causes severe hardship or business failures, the public entities (utilities, cities, counties, states, etc.) that do the work do not have to get permission since their work is considered to be "in the public interest."

This compressor pictured above (owned by EOG) is in Mansfield. Property owners nearby are very upset but quite helpless.

Other compressors can be seen north of DFW Airport across Highway 121 from Bass Pro. Since drilling has only begun not many compressors have been installed ... yet. But the number will increase with time. How many are required and where they will be located is never discussed while operators and landmen are gathering lease commitments. Owners beware! You must be proactive with city and county government to get zoning and ordinances to control pipeline facilities.

Far more common will be valving and well head "Christmas trees." There will eventually be about 30 of these per square mile. Of course they will likely be enclosed in fences and may have landscaping planted to hide them. But who will maintain the fence and landscaping?

And what hazard does this equipment represent in an urban setting? What happens if it is struck by a high speed car full of teens? What happens to the neighborhood nearby if the well head is smashed by debris from a tornado? Is lightening a hazard?

In rural areas, current industry practice and state regulations are probably adequate. But in a city, such controls have not been well tested. Do insurance rates currently reflect such new risks?

I hate to be a worry wart but I know that I would look elsewhere if I were shopping for a new home and saw one of these installations next door to an open house. What would you do?