Virginia official blasts horizontal drilling ban in national forest

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, July 8 -- A Virginia government official joined oil and gas industry groups in criticizing a draft US Forest Service plan with a preferred option allowing oil and gas leasing in the George Washington National Forest, but banning horizontal drilling.

“We know of no justification, scientific or otherwise, for ending the effective collaboration between Virginia and the US Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies to provide access to those resources,” Maureen Matsen, Virginia’s deputy director of natural resources, told a July 8 joint hearing of two US House subcommittees.

“In fact, horizontal drilling would allow access to the important energy resource under the forest with few wells, and far less construction and disruption above ground than comes with the traditional vertical wells that have historically been permitted in the forest,” she continued.

A US Forest Service official responded that the draft plan does not necessarily mean horizontal drilling will not be allowed there. “This plan is place-specific based on the particular circumstances of the GWNF, and does not represent a broader policy with regard to hydraulic fracturing,” said Joel Holtrop, the US Department of Agriculture agency’s deputy chief. Comments on the draft forest plan will be accepted through Sept. 1, he noted.

“There are no Forest Service discussions or efforts under way to develop a national policy to ban horizontal drilling,” Holtrop maintained. “On the contrary, the administration believes that the recent technological advancements that have allowed industry to access abundant reserves of natural gas, particularly from shale formations, provide enormous potential benefits to the country, as long as [they are] done in a way that protects public health and the environment.”

Reflects reluctance
The US House Natural Resources Committee’s Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee and the Agriculture Committee’s Conservation, Energy, and Forestry Subcommittee’s joint hearing specifically addressed proposed federal oil and gas policies in the national forest along the Virginia-West Virginia state line. But Lee O. Fuller, vice-president of government relations, said the proposed plan reflects the Obama administration’s reluctance to accept oil and gas production technologies which have been safely used for years, but which environmental and other organizations have called into question.

The draft environmental impact statement for the GWNF’s revised land and resource management plan’s preferred alternative astonishingly justifies a horizontal drilling ban on the basis of limiting surface disruption and water demand, he told the subcommittees. “A fundamental benefit of horizontal drilling is that it reduces the surface footprint of oil and gas development,” Fuller stated.

Matsen said, “The proposed ban would harm Virginia, and Virginians, by burdening business and preventing job growth. It would undermine the nation’s energy security by placing domestic resources out of reach at a time when the global competition for energy resources is rapidly increasing. And it would do so without justification, and without any tangible benefit that we can see beyond what is already accomplished by our well-established regulation of natural gas development.”

But the executive director of a group committed to preserving six Virginia counties’ rural characteristics said that city and county officials there support a horizontal drilling ban to protect their water supplies. “The northern Shenandoah Valley has not sought to embrace, and has no history of, intensive energy development on its rural lands,” said the Shenandoah Valley Network’s Kate Giese Wofford. “In fact, local governments have long supported rural economic development based on productive working farm and forest lands, and robust tourism and recreation sectors.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

EIA: US gasoline prices to average $1/gal less in 2015 vs. 2014

02/10/2015 US regular gasoline retail prices are expected to average $2.33/gal in 2015, down from $3.36/gal in 2014, according to the Energy Information Admin...

New York state decides to ban hydraulic fracturing

02/10/2015 New York state officials planned in 2015 to officially ban high-volume hydraulic fracturing, which would end a temporary moratorium that has existe...

WoodMac: Eagle Ford production tops 1 billion bbl

02/10/2015 Analysts forecast increasing unconventional US production during 2015 with one of the prolific plays being the Eagle Ford shale in South Texas.

Accenture: Eagle Ford operators cut costs with integrated planning, better logistics

02/10/2015 Accenture examined the importance of integrated planning and logistics as a way to save money for operators in the South Texas Eagle Ford, a region...

Unconventional plays continue driving US production

02/10/2015 Output from unconventional projects is expected to account for much of the anticipated US production growth during 2015 although falling crude oil ...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices rise on revised OPEC forecast

02/10/2015 Crude oil prices climbed more than $1/bbl on Feb. 9 to settle above $52/bbl, marking a third consecutive trading session that ended with higher pri...

Williams, DCP start gas flow from Keathley Canyon Connector

02/10/2015 Williams, through its general partner ownership of Williams Partners, and DCP Midstream Partners LP have started operations from their newly extend...

Bakken likely to be hardest hit by oil-price slump

02/10/2015 Opinions varied among analysts and consultants contacted by UOGR regarding which unconventional US plays will maintain robust drilling and investme...

Renewed uncertainty emerges over Greater Sunrise development

02/10/2015 There has been renewed uncertainty over the development of the Woodside Petroleum Ltd.-operated Greater Sunrise gas field in the Timor Sea followin...
White Papers

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...

Accurate Thermo-Fluid Simulation in Real Time Environments

The crux of any task undertaken in System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis is striking a balance between ti...
Available Webcasts


Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

When Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


The Future of US Refining

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected