Obama administration finally allowing for a little exploratory fracking on public lands in Nevada

posted at 1:21 pm on April 29, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

The Obama administration is quite partial to taking credit for the widespread economic benefits of the shale boom — brought on by the freshly deployed technology of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling — despite the fact that the lion’s share of the production increase has happened on state and private lands while the federal government has deliberately slow-walked new drilling leases on the third of the surface area of the United States it controls (and let’s not even get started on the offshore drilling opportunities it has actively thwarted). This rule has held particularly true in Nevada, where the feds own over 80 percent of the land and have been fairly passive-aggressive in only processing a few mining and drilling permits here and there — which is a damn shame, because eastern Nevada sits atop the Chainman shale play and could potentially benefit enormously from the widespread introduction of hydraulic fracturing.

In 2005, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the Chainman formation could have as much as 1.598 billion barrels of oil and 1.836 trillion cubic feet of natural gas sittin’ pretty underground, and it looks like energy companies are finally getting around to exploring the possibility further — mostly on private land so far, but with at least the tiniest bit of cooperation from the federal government, via the AP:

In a state world-famous as a gold producer, Houstonbased Noble Energy Inc. is looking deep underground to make big bucks from previously untappable oil deposits, spending up to $130 million to identify the possible rewards.

The venture is still in its early stages, with company representatives saying they have yet to assess the true potential, but word is out it could be significant. …

“What’s unique about Nevada is it really is a frontier area,” said Kevin Vorhaben, Rockies business unit manager for Noble Energy. “It’s a chance to get in and really do the right thing for oil and gas development. We’re excited to be in Nevada.” …

Noble’s activities target a checkerboard of private and public land in northeastern Nevada generally located between Elko and Wells north and south of Interstate 80. Sixty-seven percent of the 580-plus square-mile area is privately owned, with the remaining public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM is currently processing environmental assessments for Noble to drill up to 20 wells at Mary’s River, 4 miles northwest of Wells and up to another 20 just west of Jiggs. Fracking would be used to complete all wells drilled.

The two exploratory wells already drilled, with fracking already conducted at one, are located on private land about 17 miles east of Elko.

It’s too soon to know if Nevada will be the next North Dakota or Texas when it comes to shale development and economically viable extraction, but at least the federal government isn’t totally trying to stand in the way of progress here. That’s something, I suppose.


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Just give the Feds time. Once reserves have been proven the Blm, EPA, et al, will swoop in and nix all drilling/fracking in order to save the desert hornswaggled toadstool.

vnvet on April 29, 2014 at 1:31 PM

If Nevada were able to take back some of that land that is marked as federally owned, they could potentially get millions from the oil.

Maybe with that much money at stake, they’ll be motivated to push harder on getting back the land that should never have been taken from them in the first place.

84% of land in a state belonging to the federal government is clearly excessive, and it could be argued prevents Nevada from being on an equal footing with other states. That kind of argument in the past has won.

There Goes the Neighborhood on April 29, 2014 at 1:33 PM

So they found some federal land near undeveloped public land owned by Harry Reid?

gwelf on April 29, 2014 at 1:36 PM

Interesting analysis of what Reid might do – presuming he hasn’t invested in it – here.

Protect Potential Oil Find From Reid, The Feds And The Legislature

As we noted earlier, Reid suddenly had a religious epiphany after he became the Senate Minority leader in 2006 and almost singlehandedly killed two power plants and the economy of Ely in one shot. You can bet that unless both Democrats and Republicans in Nevada firmly remind Reid that he’s still our Senator and he’s still supposed to represent us, he’ll go and do whatever the Democratic intelligentsia wants. In short, Reid could be a big problem.

And, finally, there are the back door regulatory schemes at the Federal level. Adding the Sage Grouse to the endangered species list could simply shut down rural Nevada for any use including building a playground. And the Obama EPA is just poised to rain regulations. We have a state bureaucracy in the habit of saying, “thank you sir, may I have another,” to Federal regulators.

Drained Brain on April 29, 2014 at 1:38 PM

These Americans using all this ENERGY…..

When is someone going to put a stop to all this WATER being guzzled by these Hydrohogs with their big water bottles?

If you’re consuming more than say a quart a day are you using too many of the scarce resources that the Earf has?

We need someone in the Federal government to investigate all this stuff being consumed.

We must stop it, we’re exploiting our resources…..ewwwwwwww.

PappyD61 on April 29, 2014 at 1:39 PM

The venture is still in its early stages, with company representatives saying they have yet to assess the true potential, but word is out it could be significant. …

Translation: Nobel Energy Inc. has yet to work out just how much Harry Reid (or his creepy son Rory) needs to be paid to make this thing happen.

Happy Nomad on April 29, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Cliven Bundy should sink a few exploratory wells just to see how many snipers show up.

knutsandvolts on April 29, 2014 at 1:41 PM

save the desert hornswaggled toadstool.

Never heard of that one….got a picture???…

PatriotRider on April 29, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Frack baby frack.

Immolate on April 29, 2014 at 1:43 PM

So they found some federal land near undeveloped public land owned by Harry Reid?

gwelf on April 29, 2014 at 1:36 PM

That’s so cynical. More likely, Noble Energy will be offered a tract of land that requires them to lease Reid’s land for access. Purely coincidental, just like Reid had no idea that he was going to be approving an interstate across the worthless desert property he happened to own in Southern Nevada.

Happy Nomad on April 29, 2014 at 1:43 PM

(and let’s not even get started on the offshore drilling opportunities it has actively thwarted)

Which earned Barky a contempt citation from federal court … which Barky has proudly hung up in the Oval Office bathroom.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on April 29, 2014 at 1:43 PM

In other news, Harry Reid’s granddaughter has found a deep-pocketed investor for her jewelry business.

Zoomie on April 29, 2014 at 1:44 PM

I presume the money goes to Reid.

pat on April 29, 2014 at 1:46 PM

You can bet Reid gets a cut.

knutsandvolts on April 29, 2014 at 1:48 PM

Nevada could use the shale oil tax revenue to build a high speed train from Winnemucca to Elko.

jadedad on April 29, 2014 at 1:48 PM

Because Harry Reid.

John the Libertarian on April 29, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Wonder where Reid’s sights are set for what’s left private in Nevada. Is there anything left that’s not in BLM’s/His pocket?

knutsandvolts on April 29, 2014 at 1:52 PM

So they found some federal land near undeveloped public land owned by Harry Reid?

gwelf on April 29, 2014 at 1:36 PM

You can bet Reid gets a cut.

knutsandvolts on April 29, 2014 at 1:48 PM

…first thing I was thinking!…somehow… a cut of any money made… is going to end up in the family of Reid’s pocket!

KOOLAID2 on April 29, 2014 at 1:54 PM

Just give the Feds time. Once reserves have been proven the Blm, EPA, et al, will swoop in and nix all drilling/fracking in order to save the desert hornswaggled toadstool.

vnvet on April 29, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Or the endangered free range Cow-Pattie. Once a common sight on the prairie, they are few and far between.

BobMbx on April 29, 2014 at 1:54 PM

is going to end up in the family of Reid’s pocket!

KOOLAID2 on April 29, 2014 at 1:54 PM

That sense doesn’t any make.

BobMbx on April 29, 2014 at 1:55 PM

save the desert hornswaggled toadstool.

vnvet on April 29, 2014 at 1:31 PM

That’s the kindest description of Harry Reid I’ve seen in some time.

Happy Nomad on April 29, 2014 at 1:57 PM

save the desert hornswaggled toadstool.

Never heard of that one….got a picture???…

PatriotRider on April 29, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Oddly, the wrinkled, slippery old critter bears a remarkable likeness to Senator Reid.

Turtle317 on April 29, 2014 at 2:02 PM

There’s not a grain of sand or stand of cactus in Nevada that Reid doesn’t eye as his own. Bank on it.

knutsandvolts on April 29, 2014 at 2:02 PM

Interesting that everyone has the same reaction: They’ll frack indeed for Harry Reid.

de rigueur on April 29, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Yep. Everybody beat me to it. Reid is bringing home the bacon.

iwasbornwithit on April 29, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Face it, less than 20% of Nevada is in private hands. The BLM has an entire army ready to protect the interests of the Dept. of the Interior.

Nevada is an Aparthied state.

Happy Nomad on April 29, 2014 at 2:11 PM

It’s too soon to know if Nevada will be the next North Dakota or Texas when it comes to shale development and economically viable extraction, but at least the federal government isn’t totally trying to stand in the way of progress here. That’s something, I suppose.

The difference is probably that this time Dingy Harry stands to enrich himself or his demon spawn further from this new fracking in some way.

slickwillie2001 on April 29, 2014 at 2:19 PM

These Americans using all this ENERGY…..

When is someone going to put a stop to all this WATER being guzzled by these Hydrohogs with their big water bottles?

If you’re consuming more than say a quart a day are you using too many of the scarce resources that the Earf has?

We need someone in the Federal government to investigate all this stuff being consumed.

We must stop it, we’re exploiting our resources…..ewwwwwwww.

PappyD61 on April 29, 2014 at 1:39 PM

I’ll start paying attention when the envirofascists are drinking their own urine.

slickwillie2001 on April 29, 2014 at 2:22 PM

So they found some federal land near undeveloped public land soon-to-be owned by Harry Reid?

gwelf on April 29, 2014 at 1:36 PM

Fixed it for you. Harry will fix the ownership for himself.

trigon on April 29, 2014 at 2:22 PM

That sense doesn’t any make.

BobMbx on April 29, 2014 at 1:55 PM

…and I haven’t even been drinking!
(:->)

KOOLAID2 on April 29, 2014 at 2:41 PM

FEDs on board with the dreaded fracking in Nevada, home of Harry Reid?

Surely you jest.

Meremortal on April 29, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Nevada isn’t a state.

It’s an occupied territory.

flyovermark on April 29, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Anyone see a coincidence concerning Bundy, his land, the BLM property and the fact that there is fracking? Interesting, since I have been stating something like this for a while.

upinak on April 29, 2014 at 3:08 PM

You don’t suppose that company is a crony of Harry Reid. Inquiring minds want to know. Why do they have to frack? Why not drill?

crankyoldlady on April 29, 2014 at 3:21 PM

You don’t suppose that company is a crony of Harry Reid. Inquiring minds want to know. Why do they have to frack? Why not drill?

crankyoldlady on April 29, 2014 at 3:21 PM

They do drill to get to depth, in which they take out the stem pipe, and put in a kick (or a wedge) at the depth drilled, and use a directional drill with a special attachment, to go horizontal and “frack”. Fracking can be anything from pressurized air, to pressurized water.

upinak on April 29, 2014 at 3:35 PM

I live in Elko and make my living in the area gold mines. I can say for certain that all extractive industries are under attack by the Obama administration. It’s all being done very quietly. The EPA has come in and forced the State regulators to bend to their will.

This oil and gas opportunity will be killed when the Feds make the Sage Grouse an “endangered species”. That will effectively shut down oil & gas, mining, and ranching in this part of the state…the only industries available to us in this area. All our expansion permits are on hold indefinitely. Pretty soon, the only endangered species left in this area will be the Hairy Chested Nut Scratcher.

Wyznowski on April 29, 2014 at 4:37 PM

Harry Reid might get rich off it, but miners tend to be conservative. The politics in Nevada have always been a struggle between Vegas and northern Nevada. Northern NV is heavily Mormon (the REAL kind, not the Harry Reid convenient kind) and those that aren’t socially conservative tend to be quite libertarian. It would be poetic indeed if he brings in enough rednecks to change the balance and get himself voted out of office.

Well, I can dream at any rate.

MC88 on April 29, 2014 at 4:38 PM

It’s not just Obama and Reid, you know.

The largest clean coal deposits in the world in Utah were declared off-limits by Clinton, in order to ensure coal plants stays “dirty” and EPA could eventually hope to shut them down.

Federal land is supposed to be managed for public benefit, not for environmental wackos. We should be exploiting energy, minerals, timber (one reason we have such devastating wildfires in the west now is the timber harvesting on federal land was drastically curtailed under Clinton).

Don’t forget the Clinton role in this travesty of sabotaging our economy and screwing the public out of its own resources. Just in case another Clinton comes along.

Adjoran on April 29, 2014 at 5:05 PM

I’m always up for a little exploratory fracking…you’ve got to drill to get to depth.

I apologize for myself.

Xasprtr on April 29, 2014 at 5:32 PM

This is a payoff to Harry Reid. He’d never do this for Utah, Wyoming, Colorado or anywhere else with shale or deep coal.

flataffect on April 29, 2014 at 6:16 PM

Nevada generally located between Elko and Wells north and south of Interstate 80.

They have been drilling that strip of ground for 40 years and have found nothing. Geologically it should be swimming in oil. The largest crude well in the US for years was 80 miles or so West of Elko. They could only find one well. Made the area look like a pin cushion. Drove the oil company crazy.

As said earlier however they will try to use Sage Hen to shut it all down.

CW20 on April 29, 2014 at 6:51 PM

They have been drilling that strip of ground for 40 years and have found nothing. Geologically it should be swimming in oil. The largest crude well in the US for years was 80 miles or so West of Elko. They could only find one well. Made the area look like a pin cushion. Drove the oil company crazy.

As said earlier however they will try to use Sage Hen to shut it all down.

CW20 on April 29, 2014 at 6:51 PM

You must mean Railroad Valley which Shell developed, more SSW. That is very heavy oil and far from any pipeline.

We know that there is a very large shale formation in NV under Railroad Valley, but it is deep, wells would need to be something like 50,000 feet deep (vertical and horizontal sections) into the shale formation. That costs a LOT of money per well, and price has to be most definitely above $100 per barrel just to break even.

Kermit on April 29, 2014 at 8:35 PM

Why compare to Bakken? That is a midget compared to TX’s Permian Basin.

Kermit on April 29, 2014 at 9:06 PM