Regulations lag US shale-gas boom – company official

04 October 2011 23:47  [Source: ICIS news]

PITTSBURGH (ICIS)--Regulations have trailed behind the rapid growth of US shale-gas production in several states, leading to vague and contradictory rules, an official at a shale production company said on Tuesday at the Infocast Marcellus Infrastructure Finance and Development Summit.

“We get into a gray area,” said Carla Suszkowski, director of regulatory affairs at shale producer Range Resources.

Suszkowski said she has seen everything from differences in permitting times to differences in enforcement.

“Too much sediment build-up in one region is a violation,” she said. “In another region, it’s a phone call.”

The fast-pace development of the Marcellus shale caused a frenzy for local and state officials attempting to control production and protect the communities and the environment.

“[Pennsylvania was] not really ready for this kind of activity,” said president Jack Lafield of shale producer Caiman Energy.

“What we see in conventional plays is limited acreage and square miles, a lot [of] active physical and geological work. The difference I look at is maybe a scope $50m-100m [€38m-76m] for conventional plays, and we’re now looking at facilities in the billions of dollars and the impact [on] a lot more people.”

The key for consistency in the laws and certainty of the regulations is for the industry and regulators to work together, said Chuck Wilkinson, president of Stonehenge Energy Resources.

“The people [in these communities] are very emotional,” he said. “They are living in this thing. They just don’t understand it well. If you go through and explain it, [the people] really appreciate it.”

In some small towns, about three-quarters of the land is leased for development, Wilkinson said.

Lafield said state regulators and communities in Ohio, where recent shale drilling has begun, want to make the right decisions to change state energy production rules that are 40–50 years old.

Ohio officials asked how regulations worked in Texas and Oklahoma and what did not work, Lafield said.

“I think the key was our willingness to sit down with all of these regulators in an informal meeting,” Lafield said.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Sheena Martin
+1 713 525 2653

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