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

BHI: US oil rig count rises for first time in 30 weeks

07/02/2015 A sudden 12-unit jump in oil-directed rigs during the abbreviated week ended July 2 represented their first rise since Dec. 5, 2014, and helped lif...

BP to settle federal, state Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

07/02/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...

Shell makes FID on Appomattox deepwater development in Gulf of Mexico

07/01/2015 Royal Dutch Shell PLC has taken a final investment decision (FID) on the Appomattox deepwater development, authorizing construction and installatio...

BHP, Woodside move to decommission Stybarrow field

07/01/2015 BHP Billiton Ltd. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. have started preparations for decommissioning of the Stybarrow group of oil fields in production lice...

Tullow Oil provides production update on Jubilee, other fields

07/01/2015 Tullow Oil PLC reported that gross production for the Jubilee field offshore Ghana averaged 105,000 b/d in this year’s first half, up from 102,000 ...

Statoil to suspend Scarabeo 5 drilling rig

07/01/2015 Due to overcapacity in its rig portfolio, Statoil ASA said it has decided to suspend Saipem’s Scarabeo 5 dynamically position drilling rig after it...

FWS issues Shell letter of authorization on Chukchi Sea lease

07/01/2015 The US Fish & Wildlife Service issued Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. a letter of authorization (LOA) related to the potential disturbance of polar b...

USGS: Water usage for fracturing varies widely across shale plays

07/01/2015 The volume of water required to hydraulically fracture wells varies widely across the country, according to the first national analysis and map of ...

Forum extends study of subsea integrity

06/30/2015

Work by an industry forum called SURF IM Network, which studies oil and gas subsea integrity management, has been extended by 3 years.

White Papers

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

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
Available Webcasts


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

When Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors

register:WEBCAST


Driving Growth and Efficiency with Deep Insights into Operational Data

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Capitalizing on today’s momentum in Oil & Gas requires operational excellence based on a clear view of what your business data is telling you. Which is why nearly half* of oil and gas companies have deployed SAP HANA or have it on their roadmap.

Join SAP and Red Hat to learn more about using data to drive process improvements and identify new opportunities with the SAP HANA platform running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This webinar will also show how your choice of infrastructure impacts the performance of core business applications and your ability to achieve data-driven insights quickly and reliably.

*48% use SAP, http://go.sap.com/solution/industry/oil-gas.html

register:WEBCAST


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

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