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The Media’s Erroneous Display of Oil and Gas Production in Ohio

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Coordinator, Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) releases quarterly production numbers showing the amounts of crude oil and natural gas being extracted in Ohio. The latest set of production numbers was released during the last week of August touting the record production in the state in spite of the sharp fall in oil prices.

The fact of the matter is the current state of the oil and gas industry—in Ohio and across the United States—is struggling and has recently experienced the lowest oil and natural gas prices seen in decades. In August, Ohio producers saw some of the lowest prices with a barrel of oil selling for $37.00 and natural gas prices stalled in the upper $2.00 range. The ramifications of this downturn are wreaking havoc on all drilling operators. A large number of companies have been seen slashing capital budgets for the year, triggering mass layoffs, all of which have greatly slowed or idled drilling operations. 

So why are the latest production numbers being portrayed through rose-colored glasses? It is important to take into consideration a few factors before jumping to any conclusions.

The quarterly production numbers from the ODNR reflect the quarter prior to when the information is actually being released. For example, the well production numbers being released at the end of the third quarter are not reflecting drilling activity that occurred in the third quarter (July 1 through August 31). To report that gas production is still rising, coinciding with prices being at an all time low, is a misrepresentation to the average audience unfamiliar with the vagaries of oil and gas drilling and markets.

Another aspect to take into consideration is the lag time between the drop in prices and the effect it has on production. 

“When the crash happens, it’s not like there’s a shut-off valve, and production just stops,” said Shawn Bennett, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. “It’s going to start to gradually come down.”

The end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 is when we saw the true beginnings of the crash in oil prices. The growth continuing to be seen is because the capital had already been deployed for new wells to be drilled for the year and pipelines hadn’t been laid to connect previously drilled wells to larger gathering systems. It has been estimated that a strong drop in production may be seen as early as August or September of this year. If this is the case, the impacts will not be reflected in the quarterly reports until the year’s end.

With all of this being said, when prices rebound, as they tend to do in the oil and gas industry, drilling will follow suit as soon as it is determined to be economical and the Utica will continue to prove to be a viable play. 

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Member Spotlight: Jim Diddle, JD Drilling Company, President

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Coordinator, Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The member spotlight features legacy OOGA members who have been a member of the Association for at least ten years.  If you would like to recommend someone to be highlighted, please contact Lyndsey Kleven lyndsey@ooga.org

 

Background information:

 

James “Jim” Diddle’s career in the oil and gas industry has spanned over 45 years of his life.  Prior to working in the oilfield he served in the United States Army where he completed a tour of duty in the Vietnam War.  Prior to completing this tour of duty in Vietnam, Jim had completed military police school, airborne school (para trooper training) and had earned the honor of becoming a Green Beret.  Several members of Jim’s family has a military background and after completing two years at Ohio University Jim felt the call to serve his country and enlisted in the US Army.

 

Upon returning from serving his country he was home two days and the third day he went to work in the oilfield.  The Army had a profound effect on Jim and he believes everyone should have to serve in the armed forces for a period of time to gain the qualities necessary to become disciplined and a responsible adult and likewise be held accountable for his/her actions. 

 

“The Army taught you that you have to get up, you have to go to work, and you don’t get to rely on your parents.” 

 

Jim grew up with his grandpa Roy Edward Proffitt since his parents divorced when he was very young.  After Jim was home approximately over a year from serving his country, his grandfather suggested to him that he return to Ohio University to finish what he had started. 

 

Roy was a very business oriented man, and seemingly passed this trait along to his grandson Jim.  His grandfather’s business sense became apparent to Jim when he recounted a story of Roy receiving his very first Christmas gift. 

 

“As a kid, my grandfather’s first Christmas present was a pair of roller skates.  He traded the skates for shotgun shells.  He could use that to hunt and sell the ducks.  He said he made his money so many times over by selling those skates.  I asked him why he got rid of the skates that he wanted more than anything and he said there wasn’t anything he wanted more than being successful.”

 

Work History:

 

When Jim came home from the service he had no house, no money and a wife and son to provide for.  Jim moved in with his mother for almost a year. Roy had oil and gas wells in Logan and Perry Counties and moved Jim and his family to Logan in order for Jim to attend OU full time, and tend to the oil and gas wells in his spare time. Going to school full time, tending 28 completed oil wells, and helping on the five cable tool rigs Roy had running in the area; this led to long, busy days and working on very little or no sleep.  Jim drove the trucks, dressed tools, ran the casing on the cable tool rigs and would also have to study in the meantime.  All of this hard work paid off as Jim earned a 3.87 GPA and made the Dean’s list the last two years he attended OU after serving in the US Army.

 

After graduating from Ohio University Jim and his family moved back to Racine, Ohio and Roy offered Jim a job for $100 a week to take care of Syracuse Home Utilities and Interstate Utility Company replacing lines that were suffering a 54% line loss.  Jim evaluated the project and decided the line replacement projects were tough and high risk and went back the next day to negotiate the pay to $150 a week plus transportation.  Because of the rigorous work ethic that Jim possesses he expected the same out of the crew working with him, many of the existing employees sought employment elsewhere so Jim had to hire new men.  He changed the whole business model and the entire business for the better.

 

“I took those companies and straightened them up.  In two years I had them down from 54% to 3% line loss and we were servicing 1,100 customers.”

 

Roy Proffitt was also a Pennzoil distributor and had 13 gasoline stations.  He sold all 13 of them to Jim for $150,000, and helped Jim with financing but charged 10% interest.  “There was a big gasoline shortage that year and the most gasoline you were allowed to get was $3.00 at a time.  At the time Roy figured I’d never make it and he’d get all of them back.  After I did make it, he claims he always knew I’d succeed. I was very lucky, I’ll admit that.”

 

Jim started in the oil and gas field in 1971 and started JD Drilling Company in 1975.  JD Drilling Company was later incorporated in 1984 and currently holds 50,000 acres held by production in Meigs County, has roughly 300 miles of pipeline and has permitted and drilled a thousand wells as an independent oil and gas producer.

 

“We do it all, everything from beginning to end.  We lease the ground, drill, complete the wells, lay lines and hook them up to our lines that eventually run through one of two of our compressor stations that feed directly into Columbia’s line E-18.  Our office also completes the monthly task of disbursing the monies to the appropriate royalty owners, overrides, and working interest.”

 

When Jim was 37 years old he had drilled over 1,000 wells.  In his early 30’s he put together several deals and things really started to take off.  JD drilled 187 wells one year and 254 wells the next year.  The majority of the wells were 4,000’ deep.

 

“At that time we were going so fast, the only thing they were changing out was the cement trucks.  The men were taking showers in the street.  I sold them the diesel fuel and I even bought a truck just to deliver it to the rigs.  I leased three rigs at that time to aid my three rigs in order to make it all happen.

 

Times were not always easy and sometimes he thought about leaving the oil and gas business.  Those moments were usually short lived and then he would move onto the next big project.

 

“Every well I drilled and every contract well I drilled, with the exception of about 50 of them, I always kept a part in each.  I would buy an eighth or a sixteenth to show my investments were worthwhile.”

 

Grandfather Roy always used cable rigs, and it was Jim’s lifetime ambition to acquire a 36L Bucyrus Erie rig.  Instead he bought three rigs as his business grew, including a Model 360 Challenger Drilling rig which he bought in Texas, SS 40 Speed Star, and a Model 2500 Failing rig. He also has three service rigs, air compressor packages, boosters and several dozers, backhoes, ditchers among other pieces of equipment of his own.

 

True to his business sense, Jim saw a need to enter the injection well business and currently owns 3 working injection wells and is now accepting water.  The business is true to name as it is operating as JD Injection Specialists, LLC.  Jim drilled the first injection well in the state of Ohio in 1981.  He now has 8 including the 3 he is accepting water from outside sources.

 

“I started thinking about the injection business.  When I applied for a permit for an injection well it was declined, because no one had ever applied for one.  I designed and drilled the first injection well.

 

With the current state of the industry, JD Drilling Company didn’t drill any new wells this year; because they were busy working on all of the old ones they maintain, which is a never-ending process.  All together JD Drilling Company employs 35-40 people through his various businesses.  His rolodex of companies include: JD Drilling Company, Jim’s Production Company, DHF Drilling Company, C&D Drilling Co., Inc., Twin Oaks Store, LLC (a convenience store on St Rt. 7) and his newest adventure JD Injection Specialists, LLC which is currently accepting water.

 

OOGA Involvement:

 

The family lineage with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) spans from Roy Proffitt’s days with the Association, to Diddle’s present day involvement.  Roy Proffitt was one of the original inductees into the Oil and Gas Hall of Fame. Following in his grandfather’s footsteps yet again, Jim was also inducted into the OOGA Hall of Fame in 2011.

 

Due to an injury Jim has had numerous operations on his arm and shoulder.  Prior to one of his final surgeries, Jim received the news of his nomination.

 

“Tom Stewart had called me at my house, and I knew my arm surgery was coming up so I wasn’t in a good mood.  I answered and said, no I can’t drill any wells Tom.  Tom began laughing and told me I was being inducted into the oil and gas hall of fame.  I called to cancel my appointment at the Mayo Clinic so that I could attend the ceremony.”

 

The nurse wasn’t able to cancel the surgery—much to Jim’s relief as the pain in his arm intensified.  Although he was not able to attend the ceremony, he is so proud to have been given this honor from the Association.

 

Overall Business Perspective:

 

“I remember back when I was just getting started.  One day we were leaving a friend’s parking lot and some of his equipment was in there being stored.  Back in those days I was just getting my feet on the floor and it was a lot of equipment to see.  I made a joke and I told my other friend, ‘I’m going to smoke you, Grandpa Roy, and my friend’s yard we just pulled out of looking at his equipment.’  My friend said, ‘How do you figure?’  I said ‘well I have 20 years to steal everything that all of you know about business and add to it.’”

 

When Jim started in the business he was roughly 20 years younger than all of the older guys in the industry.  When he attended business meetings he would always go to see the top guy. 

 

Diddle now has nine companies, all different names.  He also has had some loyal workers that trusted him and are still with him today.  He says he’s worked with a lot of good people and has always remained loyal to his employees and has invested in his employees through blood, sweat and tears.

 

“It’s all kind of evolved from nothing to something.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs.  It has all been very rewarding and at the same time very punishing.”

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Report: Tightened Ozone Standards Threaten Ohio’s Economy

Posted By Jacques Klick, Energy In Depth, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A new report released this week by the Center for Regulatory Solutions (CRS) finds that if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) goes through with its plan to tighten the ozone standard, new regulatory restrictions would be imposed on a huge majority of Ohio’s economy, causing economic hardship across the state.  As the report explains,

“By lowering the National Ambient Air Quality Standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) into the 65 to 70 ppb range, the EPA would cause at least 34 counties in Ohio to be in violation of federal law. These are some of Ohio’s most populated counties, concentrated around the Cleveland and Cincinnati metropolitan areas, but a number of Ohio’s rural counties may be dragged into nonattainment as well.  The vast majority of Ohio’s economy, population, and workforce could be caught in the net of ozone nonattainment under the EPA’s proposed range. The 34 impacted counties represent 84 percent of the state’s GDP, 80 percent of the state’s workforce, and 77 percent of the state’s population. (p. 3; emphasis added)

Just to provide a bit of background, if a county doesn’t meet EPA’s new standard, it is considered in “non-attainment” and must comply with additional permitting requirements to start a new business, expand an existing one, or drill an oil or gas well, making economic growth exceedingly difficult.  This new CRS report looks at each one of these counties that would be in non-attainment, noting the economic harm that the tightened standard would cause in these areas.  This would have certainly have significant negative implications for Ohio’s energy industry, which is currently an huge engine for economic growth.  From the report:

“23 of the 34 counties account for 29% of the state’s oil production and 17% of the state’s gas production in 2014; significant emission controls would need to be installed to reduce ozone precursors.” [Emphasis Added] (Executive Summary)

The report interviews Ohioans running businesses, such as Jeff Miller from Ken Miler Supply, who stated,

 “We care deeply about the environment in Ohio. Increasing Air Regulations will further slowdown Ohio Oil and Gas activity without providing air quality benefit. New regulations will diminish activity and investment and make it even more difficult to do business in Ohio.”

The study also highlights a new poll conducted by the National Association of Manufacturing (NAM), which finds that Ohioans overwhelmingly have a high opinion of the quality of their local air. Moreover, the survey found that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of voters in Ohio rate their local air quality as “Excellent” or “Good.”  Meanwhile, 73 percent of voters think the most important problem for their local area is “less economic growth and job opportunities caused by regulations.” Breaking the numbers down further, the CRS report explains,

“Spelling trouble for the proposed rule, most Ohio voters (55 percent) oppose any additional environmental regulations on businesses, believing these would have negative impacts on the economy through higher taxes (78 percent), higher prices (80 percent), and making it harder to start or grow businesses (69 percent)” (p. 28; emphasis added)

The report summarizes these numbers well, concluding,

“Ohioans are clearly proud of their environment, their economy, and the overall direction of their state. The more they learn about Washington’s ozone agenda and how it could impact their way of life, the more they oppose it.” (p. 38).

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Oilfield Patriot Award Acceptance Speech from Jerry Olds

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Coordinator, Monday, August 17, 2015

On July 27, 2015 during the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) annual summer meeting, OOGA presented Jerry Olds, founder and president of Solid Rock Energy, Inc. (Solid Rock) with the Oilfield Patriot Award, a decade long honor bestowed by the trade association.

Amidst Jerry’s shock of being chosen as the recipient, he made his way through the cheering reception hall filled with oil and gas colleagues, where he met his family in the front of the room. Together the more than 130 attendees watched a 10-minute video of Jerry’s family, friends, and colleagues reflecting on his distinguished career as a petroleum geologist and his contributions to protect, promote, and advance the industry.

Jerry accepted the award and delivered one of the most remarkable impromptu speeches any recipient of the award has ever given. He accepted the award on behalf of the “old timers,” the ones that laid the foundation for the OOGA.

“I would hate to think what the oil and gas industry in Ohio would be like without this Association,” said Olds. “My claim-to-fame with the Association was that I was on the executive committee when Tom Stewart was hired.”

Olds went on to express his gratitude of being able to make a living in something that he’s really enjoyed doing, with the people he’s enjoyed being around—not to mention in the greatest industry ever known.

He then asked, “Have you ever thought about what the American oil and gas industry has done?”

Olds described the astonishing amount of wealth the industry has created and its extent. And not just for those in the industry, but also for the people building the hotels, the investors, the steel mills, and farmers collecting a royalty check, and so on.

“And it’s been creating wealth from the very start. It has been the innovator and pusher of discovering oil and gas in this world. From Titusville, to Burning Springs, to Findlay, to Spindle Top, to the Persian Gulf, to Venezuela, to the North Sea, to the Gulf of Mexico, and all the places in-between.” Jerry told how the industry hasn’t only created wealth but it has also created better lives for countless people.

He described how the first oil that was produced before automobiles existed was refined into kerosene and used for lighting, before which, lighting came by means of candles and whale oil. Jerry said the oil and gas industry “saved the whales.” Following this, the oil and gas industry teamed up with the automobile industry.

“Even today we’re cleaning up the atmosphere. And you’re a part of that industry, whatever you do in it. From an Exxon CEO to a roughneck, you’re a part of that, creating this better life for people.”

The two reasons people in the United States choose to work in the oil and gas industry are because of the free enterprise system and the private ownership of oil and gas mineral rights.

“A lot of people don’t like the free enterprise system, they say ‘it’s not fair.’ Their definition of fair is that every game ends in a tie. But fair is, win or lose, you play by the rules. And this competition is what’s making it great. It is thanks for those profits that our environment has gotten better. The guys that saved the whales didn’t set out to save the whales; they set out to make a profit. The guys combating pollutions, they didn’t set out to do that; they set out to make a profit. And even today we’re cleaning up the atmosphere even when we set out to make a profit. Profit is a good word! And I’d like to have some more of it. So hang in there and continue to work at it.”

The other reason is the private ownership of oil and gas rights. More wells have been drilled in the United States than the rest of the world combined. “And that is because of private ownership of oil and gas rights.”

Jerry warned to be wary when a misguided journalist or politicians starts talking about oil and gas rights in the state of Ohio. “They’re not talking about what Ohio state owns in oil and gas rights. Which by the way, was mismanaged and the state could have picked up several hundred millions dollars out of that. They’re trying to confiscate the rights that people own and distribute them among everyone. They can do that in one of two ways.”

“One way is that they could raise the severance tax above what is needed to run and supervise the industry. By doing this, they’re taking a little nip out of people’s oil and gas rights. And the thing about that is, they’re not going to be satisfied in a few years with a little nip, they’re going to want a bigger one.”

He cited the other way being through regulations, which are expensive and ridiculous. Olds said, “and the worst example I can think of is the state of New York.” New York banned hydro fracking of horizontal wells in the Marcellus shale formation.

“The landowners along the Pennsylvania line can look across the road, and they can see the Pennsylvania farmer reaping tens of thousands of dollars in their mineral rights, while they don’t get a dime.”

Jerry brought this to perspective when he asked, “what do you think would have happened if all the states had been like New York? What do you think the price of gasoline would be today? And how big of a depression would we currently be in?”

“Our founding fathers knew that government was necessary. But they also knew it was like a wild horse. That it had to be tamed before it could be of a service to people. And if you don’t restrain it, it turns out to be a monster. And it will devour the fruits of your labor and it will consume your freedom.”

Jerry turned to Shawn Bennett and said, “Shawn, your main job is to train wild horses and restrain monsters.”

Jerry proceeded to give a rather unique analogy of OPEC, saying there is a man in Saudi Arabia with his hand on the oil valve. And up until last November he’d pinch it back just a little bit. In November something changed; and they stopped pinching it back, but instead started opening it up just a little bit. And the price of oil and gasoline crashed.

“And do you know why he changed? He changed what he was doing because of what you do. And everybody that goes out to fill up his or her tank with cheap gasoline ought to be giving you a thank you note. But instead you’ve got people that berate you.”

Jerry went on to highlight the obliviousness of the many groups of people outside the oil and gas industry and how they attempt to portray the industry and those working in it. 

“From the self-appointed environmentalist, flying around in a private jet that says that you’re killing the polar bears. To the naïve student, who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know inspired by a professor that’s educated beyond his intelligence; says that you are polluting the ground water. To the journalist, wrapped up in their own agenda, who is too lazy to research, who writes about a fracking company, drilling a fracking well, on a fracking location, with a fracking rig, and that anybody within 5 miles of there is going to die an early death to some kind of radiation poisoning, or heart disease, or some kind of cancer. To the egotistical politician who thinks he can garner a few votes because he’s calling you greedy or mean spirited.”

“I don’t care what anybody says about you, I know who you are, and I am proud to be one of you! Thank you for what you do and thank you for this award!”

Olds also elaborated on thanking a few significant people that had been a part of his career for a very long time:

Suzanne Beck who has worked in his office for more than 20 years. Jerry attributed her as being “one of those people who steps in and takes over the office and takes charge of everything. And I found out when I took a vacation earlier this year, that things run better without me." 

Chris Figge, who grew up with Jerry and has been a partner on many ventures, some good and some not so good. Jerry and a group once drilled a dry hole, having failed to mention to Chris that he had an interest in it. Jerry recalled telling Chris the news and then sending him a bill, which Chris paid, “who wouldn’t want a business partner like that?” 

Dick Poling and David Hill, who did the “hard heavy lifting” and the “dirty work” as Jerry considered himself to be the somewhat lazy one. Olds attributed these two as carrying him for a longtime. 

Nathan Anderson and his crew at PDC for taking Jerry under his wing to education him on the shale.

Connie Olds, Jerry’s wife. Olds said, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her.” The two met while Jerry was a sophomore in college, his wife’s life savings helped to put him through school. They then packed up and moved to Lafayette Louisiana where they didn’t know a soul. Following this, Jerry “quit the best job he’d ever had” and moved his wife, along with their two kids, to Ohio to chase the Morrow County boom. “She never knew when I was going to be home, weekends, holidays, etc. But she stayed with me through thick and thin. This award is for you.” Connie and Jerry will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this August.

Choosing just one recipient for this award is always very difficult, but recognizing Jerry’s service and what he has accomplished throughout his more than 50 year storied career in oil and gas needs to be celebrated. The message among all of his friend’s and colleagues resonates in similarity. Jerry’s passionate knowledge of the industry, willingness to share and mentor those around him, joined with his astounding work ethic make him a shining example of an Oilfield Patriot.

On behalf of the entire Ohio Oil and Gas Association and its membership, congratulations to Jerry Olds on receiving the honor of being our 2015 Oilfield Patriot Award recipient, it is very well deserved. 

You can view the Oilfield Patriot Award video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69fFOdIw6Sk

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Secretary of State Ruling: Anti-development County Charters Do NOT Belong on the Ballot

Posted By Mike Chadsey, Director of Public Relations, Monday, August 17, 2015

Recently, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted ruled that the proposed county charters in Medina, Athens and Fulton do not meet the basic legal requirements to go on the ballot and according to Husted are a “violation of provisions of statutory and Ohio constitutional law.”

 

According the Secretary’s press release:

“The issue of whether local communities can get around state laws on fracking has already been litigated,” Secretary Husted said. “Allowing these proposals to proceed will only serve a false promise that wastes taxpayer’s time and money and will eventually end in sending the charters to certain death in the courts.”

 

As many of you know a group called the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), a law firm, has been pedaling these anti-development charters and charter amendments in Ohio since early 2012.

 

Here is a quick recap of where the CELDF has been active this year:

 

Portage County – The petitions were never submitted due to lack of signatures.

City of Columbus – The petitions were submitted but failed to make the ballot due to lack of valid signatures.

Medina County – Husted decision removes these petitions from the ballot.

Fulton County – Husted decision removes these petitions from the ballot.

Athens County – Husted decision removes these petitions from the ballot.

Meigs County – The petitions have been submitted however the County Commissioners and Board of Elections has not placed the issue on the ballot. CELDF has appealed.

City of Youngstown – Yes, for a 5th time CELDF has submitted petitions even though the last four times the effort has been met with resounding defeat at the ballot box.

Village of Gates Mills – Pending submission. This effort was defeated by 68% last November.

City of Akron – Pending submission.

The reason Husted decided on the issue in the first place is that in each of the counties, where a charter form of government would have been created, is that many local elected, business, community, agricultural and labor leads joined together and submitted a form protest and asked the Secretary of State’s office to review the petitions and to not place them on the ballot. Considering the strong legal case they made siting both state preemption as well as the Ohio Supreme Court case and the fact that they are not valid charters, Mr. Husted made the right call to prevent the waste of taxpayers’ dollars in each of these counties saying “the issue has already been resolved.”

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Member Spotlight: Jack Greene

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Coordinator, Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The member spotlight series features legacy OOGA members who have been a member of the Association for at least 10 years. If you would like to recommend someone to be highlighted, please contact Lyndsey Kleven lyndsey@ooga.org

Background information:

The two pieces of advice that Jack Greene’s older brother bestowed upon him when contemplating what to do after high school in the late 1960s were simple: find something energy related and live away from home.

Through the wisdom of their mother, she had convinced his brother to become a nuclear engineer, which he went on to do. Through the wisdom of his brother, Jack went on to become a petroleum engineer.

“As it turns out I had a guidance counselor at my high school and she had a son that was at Marietta College in petroleum engineering. So she had all the literature from Marietta College in petroleum engineering and she shared it with me. And it was the two criteria that my brother said to look for, it was energy and live away from home.”

A native to Melrose Massachusetts, Greene applied to Marietta College in southeastern Ohio, was accepted, and graduated with a B.S. in petroleum engineering in 1974. Throughout his schooling, he had a professor, Elmer Templeton, who was renowned within the college, the oil and gas industry and throughout Ohio. As a professor, Templeton took Greene under his wing and later they became close friends. Templeton helped to guide Greene on what he wanted to do after he graduation.

While in college, Greene met a girl from Westlake, Ohio studying biology; she had a year left of school when Greene was graduating. He decided to stick around the area if he could. The Oxford Oil Company was recruiting that year in Marietta and Greene interviewed. He was intrigued by the job and staying near Marietta for the time being, so he decided to go to work for Oxford out of Zanesville. 

“My original goal was just to work here one year and then go to make the big bucks in Texas, Oklahoma, California, or wherever. But we fell in love with the area, ended up getting married, raising our family here, and have never left.”  

Work history:

Greene started working for The Oxford Oil Company in 1974 as a petroleum engineer. He worked for the vice president of the company, Graham Robb, who would serve as Greene’s mentor throughout the years.  Bill Straker was President of Oxford, but wasn’t around the office much as he was also running National Gas at the time. 

Greene recalled his first week on the job, as being an experience he would never forget. Going into it he didn’t quite know what to expect.

“I wasn’t afraid of the mud or the work because I’d worked for Halliburton up at Wooster for a summer and had been exposed to the oil and gas industry in Ohio.”

The second day on the job Greene was running casing on a cable tool rig. Greene had to pump paraffin out of the pipe before it could be ran in the ground, and they worked in the rain and thunderstorms all night long.

“We had worked all day and all night, and we finished up about 5:00 in the morning. I remember saying to my boss, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ and he said, ‘no I’ll see you at 7:00 AM in the office, that’s when our day starts.’ That was my first shock, and it was a great experience. Everyone in the company worked like that. They did whatever it took to get the job done.”

Bill Straker founded the Oxford Oil Company in 1946. The company started off working with Buckeye Supply, another Straker oilfield supply business. They would buy wells, salvage equipment, and produce enough oil that they could start drilling their own wells. Graham started with the company around 1956 and had graduated from Oklahoma State. With Graham on board, Oxford did more purchasing, drilling, and acquisitions. Early on, the company was successful doing re-fracks and was very inventive on holding cost down while getting good results; at the time, fracturing was pretty new to the area. This course of activities progressed through the 1970s when Greene was hired. 

“We had our own tools and would clean out the wells and re-frack many of the old wells that we purchased. We brought them back, a lot of times almost to full capacity. And the oil went from $3-4 to $14 in the 70s, so you could really make some money on a small investment, and that’s the way the company really grew.”

Graham ran the day-to-day operations and Greene ran a lot of the fieldwork. This continued until Graham retired and Greene took over his position. By that time John Straker, Bill’s son, had purchased the company from his father and was now the president.

Greene recapped that Oxford was probably one of the first companies to drill shale formations in the 1980s, focused in Monroe and Noble Counties in the Devonian shale. He also said they were likely the first company that drilled in that area and used water to frack with. Many people thought this was not the thing to do, but Oxford found success and did a lot of hydro fracking in the area.

“It was a nice area for Oxford, gas went up to $5, and the company was making money on shale work in Devonian shale. As a result that’s where all of our acreage was that people became interested in with the Utica. At the time we didn’t really know it but we were sitting on a gold mine.”

Look ahead to 2013 and when Eclipse Resources bought out Oxford Oil, which allowed Eclipse to hold its position in the shale play. Oxford was sold as a unit, including all of its conventional assets.

Greene agreed to stay for at least a year and help with the transition from Oxford to Eclipse. Greene recalls the transition going really well under the new leadership of Tim Altier. With Altier’s knowledge and background Greene felt comfortable walking away from the company, and felt it was in good hands. 

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after Eclipse purchased us. I felt like I was a bit young to retire, but yet I wasn’t sure with the new company. They didn’t really have anyone who could help with the conventional side that I was so familiar with.”

Following his year of assisting in the company transition, Greene decided to retire and left the company in June 2014. Reflecting on his time in the oil and gas industry, Greene has found it to be incomparable to anything he’s experienced.

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming, ‘wow, what a ride!’”

He commended the changeover and how it all took place, and will be forever appreciative of his time working for the Oxford Oil Company and Eclipse Resources.

“Really I only had two bosses my whole life, John and Graham, which is great. I did not realize that until we were bought out. I did not realize how nice I had it, answering to one person. When you work 40 years for someone, you become part of the family, and I think everyone in the company felt the same way. I don’t think there’s anything better than to work for a small family owned company.”

Shale-development’s impact on business:

Greene admits to being one of the biggest skeptics on the Utica and its potential returns. Having drilled 125 Rose Run wells through the Utica, and not having much show from the Utica, Greene needed to be convinced—and he has since been convinced!

“The Utica is definitely is a game changer and a formation to be reckoned with. It also takes more than the traditional, conventional, drilling industry in Ohio can support. It takes bigger companies.”

The investments needed for conventional wells that Oxford was drilling was roughly $250,000 and any project in the Utica today starts at five million looking at upwards of 10 million. Green says this changed everything: dramatically increasing lease costs, transformed royalty owners, and who could be in the business. It has also crowded a lot of the small operators out.

“Nobody 10 years ago would have ever fathomed that this industry and pipeline companies would be spending the billions and billions of dollars that its taken to put some structure in place to move this product. And that’s been exciting to see.”

When unconventional drilling began taking over, Straker saw that Oxford could not stay the way it was operating and he made the decision to sell the company. He also made the decision to sell the company as a unit, and held out until he found a company that was willing to buy the whole thing. Everyone wanted Oxford’s Utica assets, but no one really wanted the conventional along with the Utica. 

“Eclipse agreed to buy it as a unit, of course they could do whatever they wanted after that, but to its credit, they put a lot of money into the conventional stuff and they’re running the conventional. Both sides get a lot of credit for holding that together and retaining jobs for all the Oxford employees. Oxford was an old family company with many older employees. A third of the employees probably had over 20-30 years with Oxford. The way it was done, jobs were retained and expanded, which is good for the Zanesville economy and the oilfield.”

The acquisition went particularly well in this instance, but Greene still has his concerns with the shale play. What continues to hurt the oil and gas industry and worries Greene is the currently regulatory process. 

“There’s no differential between conventional and unconventional as far as the law makers and division of oil and gas goes any more. Always before there was a recognized industry, and we have two industries now, but the rules are being made for the more expensive industry.” 

OOGA Involvement:

Greene has been a member of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) since starting in the business in the late 1970s and says the experience has been invaluable. Oxford Oil always had a presence and been involved with the Association. Over the years Greene has been able to meet a lot of members he would not have normally met outside of the Association.

Greene was on the OOGA Technical Committee throughout the 1980s. He recalled working with the committee and sitting down with the division of oil and gas to work on issues. Some of the issues that were hammered out between the two groups were plugging for cable tool wells, cementing, and water issues. Greene said, “Everyone worked together, which was a great way to work, because there was compromise. Unfortunately it seems like you don’t have much of that any more.”

He also credited the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) for building familiarity of the industry throughout the state. The educational aspect of the industry is greatly important and it starts at the right place, education children and teachers.

“The Association helps its members to keep in touch with what’s going on in the industry. Even though I am retired now, I will continue to be a member of the Association so I can keep up with the industry. I’ve put 40 years in, you want to make sure its left in good hands.” 

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OOGA 2015 Summer Meeting Roundup

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Coordinator, Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The 2015 OOGA Summer Meeting held on Monday July 27 and Tuesday July 28 at the Zanesville County Club drew a large crowd with more than 310 people in attendance. The event opened with a breakfast business session spotlighting the current state of the industry provided by OOGA Executive Vice President Shawn Bennett and OOGA Director of Government Affairs Brian Hickman. 

Following the business session, 80 golfers teed off at Zanesville Country Club in tournament style competition. As has been the ongoing tradition since 2006, the 2015 Oilfield Patriot Award event, sponsored by Producers Services Corporation took place Monday evening. Jerry Olds was the recipient of the 2015 Oilfield Patriot Award. The festivities included a reception, dinner, award ceremony, and, as always, a video presentation honoring the recipient. It was an honor to present this distinguished award to an oilfield veteran such as Jerry Olds. 

The next day kicked off at 8:30 with 136 golfers participating in a relaxed recreational golf scramble at Zanesville Country Club while 50 golfers participated at Longaberger Golf Club in more competitive play. Meanwhile, 46 shooters met at Dillion Sportsman Center for the Ken Miller Supply Clay Shoot. In addition to the golf flights and shooting, afternoon activities at the Zanesville Country Club included a corn hole competition, putting contest, and tennis matches with eight individuals playing for top doubles and singles honors. 

As the event drew to a close, Shawn Bennett presented the sporting competitions awards to the winners. Following the sporting recognitions, door prize packages were presented to ten individuals. Packages included golf items and electronics. Jim Rose was the big winner, leaving with a 55-inch Samsung Smart HDTV. 

The Association would like to thank everyone whose attendance and participation in the 2015 Summer Meeting contributed to its success. Finally, a big thank you to ALL of our sponsors including our premier sponsors: Ergon Oil Purchasing, Inc. and Ergon Trucking, Inc.; and our platinum sponsors: American Refining Group, Inc., Ariel Corporation, and Eclipse Resources. We look forward to seeing you at our next OOGA event- the Technical Conference and Oilfield Expo, being held on November 4-5, 2015 at the Pritchard Laughlin Civic Center in Cambridge, Ohio.

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Five Facts to Know About a New Pennsylvania Fracking and Health Study

Posted By Nicole Jacobs, Energy In Depth, nicole@energyindepth.org Hughesville, Pa., Monday, July 20, 2015

This week, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University released a study, which asserts a correlation between natural gas development and an increase in hospitalizations in three Pennsylvania counties: Bradford, Susquehanna, and Wayne. However, in the study’s press release, the authors are clear that, “the study does not prove that hydraulic fracturing actually causes these health problems.” In the actual study the researchers also admit,

The precise cause for the increase in inpatient prevalence rates within specific medical categories remains unknown.” (Page 14)

Of course, one wouldn’t know that from the media’s response to the findings, which suggests a causal link between fracking and hospital visits. Here are the top five things to keep in mind when reading this report.

Fact #1: The county with the highest number of wells (Bradford) actually had the lowest overall inpatient occurrences

Using the data in the chart below, the ranking of the counties with the highest number of incidents by population is as follows: Susquehanna (1.92), Wayne (1.69) and Bradford (1.57).

Table2-CountyDemographics

If we are to follow the researchers’ logic and assume a link between well density and hospitalizations, shouldn’t Bradford County, which had the highest well density, have the highest number of incidents? One would think so, but actually the authors note that the zip code with the highest incidences of hospitalizations was found in Wayne County, where no natural gas development occurred due to a moratorium put in place by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). From the report:

“In our analysis, one particular zip code had extremely high inpatient prevalence rates compared to other zip codes. Thus, a sensitivity analysis was performed (data not shown). This zip code is located within Wayne County and had no active wells from 2007 to 2011.” (Page 12)

Interestingly, that zip code was removed from the analyses with no explanation as to why. What’s more baffling is that the authors also removed a zip code from Bradford County that had “extremely high wells/km2 in 2010 and 2011.” From the report:

“In our analysis, one particular zip code had extremely high inpatient prevalence rates compared to other zip codes. Thus, a sensitivity analysis was performed (data not shown). This zip code is located within Wayne County and had no active wells from 2007 to 2011. Removal of this zip code from the analysis had little effect on either the number of wells or the quantile analyses, and there was no change in inference and the estimated risk ratios. Next, a zip code in Bradford had extremely high wells/km2 in 2010 and 2011, 16.9 wells/km2 and 23.4 wells/km2, respectively. Consequently, we explored both sets of analyses without this zip code to determine whether removal of this zip code changed inference. Like the first sensitivity analysis, removal of the Bradford zip code had little effect on inference.” (Pages 12-13)

What the authors don’t make clear is what the incidence rates for hospitalization looked like in the zip code with “extremely high wells” or why it was removed. Could it be because the hospitalization rates were very low or stable?

Fact #2: Hospitalization rates by zip code remained stable or declined

The researchers state,

“Fig. 3 also shows that, within each zip code, the contribution by year was comparable, suggesting that within each zip code, the inpatient rates are relatively stable from 2007–2011. Indeed, the average overall inpatient prevalence rates for 2007–2011 are, respectively, 15.18, 15.30, 14.86, 14.00, 14.25. This indicates that on average, zip code overall inpatient prevalence rates were relatively stable or possibly declining from 2007 to 2011, which mirrors national trends.” (Page 9)

What’s more is these occurrences remained stable or even at times decreased, despite significant growth in the numbers of wells in each county, as Figure 2 from the report demonstrates.

Fig2-Wells

If the wells being placed near residences occurred at this high a rate and a link did exist between this and hospitalizations, shouldn’t the incidences of those hospitalizations also have risen? One would think so, and yet they didn’t.

Fact #3: Researchers don’t account for the fact that cardiovascular and neurologic disorders from outside exposures take decades to develop – or any other causes of health problems for that matter

Although the authors’ data show that overall incidents weren’t impacted by well density, they proceed to apply obscure modeling exercises, breaking health incidents down into 25 categories – and from that, they claim cardiologic and neurologic incidences increased more in zip codes with higher well densities.

But, of course, making such a correlation isn’t that simple. The researchers never address the specific diseases within these categories or if the patients suffered from a history of heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, artery obstruction, or neurologic disorders. Were these new incidences? Did these individuals smoke? Were they overweight?

Further, age and sex (i.e. being male) increases the risk of some heart conditions such as heart attacks according to the American Heart Association. Did the male population increase? Were these conditions occurring in younger individuals or the elderly who are more prone to heart problems?

In a recent radio interview, Dr. Theodore Them, the Chief of Occupational and Environmental Medicine for Guthrie Health Systems in Bradford Count,y noted that studies on shale development often leave out the very crucial element of “confounders.” As Dr. Them put it,

“And there can be confounders such as smoking habits, drinking habits, drug use that never get accounted for in these studies and cause people to come to the wrong conclusions.”  (28:36-30:09)

And this is confounded by the fact that the study focuses on two health categories (heart conditions and neurological problems) that are well-known to take decades to develop, rather than occur instantaneously from short-term exposures. The authors acknowledge this limitation in the study, noting,

“We recognize that a five-year observation period may limit our ability to discern a direct impact on health in the surrounding community but may offer an opportunity to assess hospital utilization rates over time.” (Page 13)

What can occur from short term effects, however, are pulmonary conditions (lung problems), but the researchers did not see any increase in these. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, quoting Reynold A. Panettieri Jr., a “senior author” in the study,

“Panettieri said that he had expected the analysis to find an increase in pulmonary admissions – it did not.”

Fact #4: Previous health studies by medical professionals in these counties contradict the researchers’ findings

This study is also not in line with previous studies conducted in the state, or with the experiences of medical professionals in these counties. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania recently conducted a study that looked at inpatient hospitalizations in Lycoming and Bradford Counties in northwestern Pa., and Green and Washington Counties in the southwestern part of the state. These are some of the most heavily drilled counties in the Marcellus. It found:

“Inpatient hospitalizations in the four counties and the two regions increased slightly in the northern tier and decreased slightly in the southwest, but it is not possible to directly connect this to Marcellus Shale drilling.”

It continued:

There are no overall trends for injuries in the four study counties or across the two regions; however, there are noticeable increases in injuries associated with falls, motor vehicle accidents, and accidents involving motorcycles. These types of injuries could be related to any type of large-scale construction activity and not necessarily to Marcellus Shale drilling.

In the radio interview mentioned before, Dr. Them provides a different view altogether on what the health system has seen in the years since natural gas development took off in the county. From that interview (emphasis added):

As far as the remainder of the population, in the six or eight years that we’ve been having drilling ongoing around us, I’ve had two people come to me or were referred to me. Two total. One was a gentleman who lived between a limestone quarry and a well and had his water quality tested and found there were relatively high levels of barium… This gentleman’s problem was not from the gas wells. It was from the limestone underlying his home through which his water well went and through which the groundwater flowed. And the solution was to put a reverse osmosis unit on his drinking water supply. And he went away. I never heard from him again.”

“The other one was a case of a middle aged woman who came to me and her demand was, “I want compensation.” And when asked why she wanted compensation, it was “for the chemical exposure” which she was alleging she experienced from hydrofracturing water tankers that went passed her house on a daily basis. Now this is a woman with 30 years of allergies to environmental materials such as dust, trees, mold spores, pollen, grasses and so on. And her complaints were nosebleeds and congestion. And her complaint was that the trucks were causing her nosebleeds and congestion because they were going by her house and carrying chemicals, when in fact they were carrying water… She wanted money from the gas companies from her alleged suffering from nosebleeds and congestion from which she had suffered the prior 30 years without any change.

That’s the extent of the people that I have either had referred to me or I have seen in my practice in occupational medicine since 2006-2007-2008. I’m not seeing a flurry of people coming to see us along these lines, despite the fact that the 275 other physicians in my group know that, I and my core colleagues, are the experts in these matters and that such patients should be sent to us. We’re not seeing them.” (18:30-22:18)

Dr. Them went on to say:

I have yet to see any conclusive study, any absolutely conclusive study, on confirmed adverse human health impacts from drilling, particularly in the Marcellus Shale. The Barnett Shale in Texas has been produced for 20 years—Dr. Zucker referred to that—no confirmable documented adverse human health effects there, despite the fact that the Barnett Shale formation is very similar structurally, geologically to the Marcellus Shale.” (29:32-30:06)

Fact #5: At least one of the researchers “aims to stop fracking”

At least one of the authors, Poune Saberi, has been openly opposed to shale development, as is evident from her blog posts on the website Protecting Our Waters, a group whose mission is:

“To protect our water, air, health, biodiversity, climate and communities, we aim to stop fracking.”

And while we’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt to be able to be unbiased in her research, it’s a little difficult to do when she has made her agenda to stop fracking very clear on multipleoccasions, such as following video:

 

“And I will say that until we have credible science that will help us answer these individuals and their communities, there must be a moratorium on all steps that are involved in the high volume and extreme methods of natural gas extraction, processing and transport.” (1:53)

Her mission extends to a wider anti-fossil fuel agenda. As she puts it in one of her blog posts,

There is a Dakota saying that goes like this: ‘When you find yourself riding a dead horse, dismount.’

My name is Dr. Poune Saberi and I am a physician in Occupational and Environmental Medicine and a faculty member at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. I am here to say: fossil fuels are dead and we must dismount.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that the researchers’ data show hospitalization rates remaining stable, with high oil and gas developing counties having the lowest hospitalization rates, while the county with no wells had the zip code with one of the highest hospitalization rates.

Health studies are important and should add to the growing dialogue and to improve best management practices for multiple industries. But this report appears to be yet another spearheaded by anti-fracking activists that resorts to claims of “needing more study” because it fails to find the scientific evidence to malign the development that’s bringing economic, and indeed, environmental and health benefits to Pennsylvanians and families across the country.

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State Budget Bill Finalized with Impacts on Oil and Gas Operations

Posted By Brian Hickman, Director of Government Affairs, Operations Managing Director, Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Now that the final version of House Bill 64 (Fiscal Year 2016-2017 State Budget Bill) has been passed and enacted, several new provisions have been placed into Ohio oil and gas law. While the focus of this year’s budget bill seemed to be the implementation of a higher severance tax on oil and gas interests, other regulatory changes were implemented into Ohio law.

A higher severance tax rate was not enacted in the final version of the budget bill. What was enacted was a special study committee on the issue as a part of the 2020 Tax Study Commission. The Commission will be comprised of seven members: three from the Ohio House, three from the Ohio Senate, and one appointment by the Governor. These members will analyze the issue and present their findings to the Ohio legislature by October 1, 2015.

Another issue that was inserted into the budget bill during conference committee deliberations was unitization. As you recall, a substantive overhaul of Ohio’s unitization statute (Ohio Revised Code Section 1509.28) was included in the Governor’s executive budget proposal. While this language was removed, language was inserted into the bill that would permit ODNR to issue unitization orders for properties that are wholly owned or partially owned by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

The largest regulatory undertaking during the budget bill was a discussion on providing the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) with notification during select emergency situations. The measure was originally proposed in the Governor’s executive budget proposal. After holding several negotiations with the ODNR, language was amended in the “As Passed By The House” version of the budget. This was the final language that was approved by the Conference Committee on the matter.

However, in all state budget bills, the Governor has the ability to line-item veto provisions. Governor John Kasich issued a line-item veto of this emergency notification provisions. He noted that the final language was “ambiguous and could result in unnecessary disputes regarding compliance”. The Governor went on to note that he intends to issue an Executive Order in the near future that would institute this notification for the ODNR.

Language that would streamline EPCRA reporting remained in House Bill 64 after conference committee deliberations. With this language now part of Ohio law, the ODNR will work on upgrading their current online system for reporting chemicals used on a well site. It is the hope, with this legislation now streamlined, that paper reporting for EPCRA will not need to be done for 2016.

These four topics are only a glimpse of the changes to Ohio law as it pertains to the oil and gas industry. For more information on all the changes, be on the lookout for the August edition of the OOGA Bulletin. If you have specific questions, feel free to contact the Association. 

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Ohio Oil & Gas Safety Council

Posted By Brian Hickman, Director of Government Affairs, Operations Managing Director, Thursday, July 9, 2015

 

The Ohio Oil & Gas Safety Council (OOGSC) is a not-for-profit organization organized by the Ohio Oil & Gas Association (OOGA) in collaboration with the Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) and the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) Division of Safety & Hygiene (DSH).

The goal of the OOGSC is to provide quality occupational safety training opportunities and safety resources for these member companies. Our mission is to promote health and safety awareness and environmental stewardship within the oil and natural gas industry in an effort to reduce workplace injuries.

The OOGSC continues to delve into several relevant safety topics. Over the past year, we have discussed topics pertaining to exploration and production safety, truck driver safety, proper handling of condensate, pipeline safety, the importance of establishing a unified command procedure when dealing with an on-site incident, sleep deprivation and its impact on oil and gas workers, amongst others.

The OOGSC is also a great way to learn more about industry-related training opportunities. Organizations like the Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) and the Ohio Bureau or Workers Compensation (Ohio BWC) provide several educational opportunities that are beneficial to the Ohio oil and gas industry. The OOGSC will update you on these opportunities in an effort to promote continued industry safety. 

Membership in the OOGSC is open to the public. Additionally with your membership, employers who pay premiums or administrative fees to the Ohio BWC may be eligible to earn a 2% to 4% rebate on their workers’ compensation premium. 

Membership in the safety council is open throughout the year to all companies. However, to realize any discount eligibility opportunities, companies must join or renew their membership prior to July 31st to qualify for the current year program. 

Additional information on the Ohio BWC Safety Council Program, including information on potential rebates and discounts, can be found via their website: https://www.bwc.ohio.gov/employer/programs/safety/SafetyCouncils.asp#

Membership in the OOGSC is $120.00 per company and reserves one seat (and meal) at each monthly meeting. Additional attendees from member companies are encouraged to attend. However, any additional members will be charged a nominal fee to cover the meal costs at the event.

The OOGSC currently meets on the second Wednesday of each month at the Cambridge Country Club, come by and see what the OOGSC has to offer. 

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