No Fracking Way

Tioga Landowner Napalm Clusterfrack

by Chip Northrup on March 28, 2012

Update here –  the Tioga Napalm Clusterfrack was shut down as another fracking scam.

Tioga County Landowners have issued a “world wide” press release announcing a deal on their mineral rights : At exactly the lowest price for natural gas since the turn of the century.  

Terms are not a conventional royalty, but some communal sharing arrangement  that sounds a whole lot like . . . communism. The landowners, the press release crows, will get  “the majority of the profits earned by the communal sharing company”.  The economics of which can be summarized with the following equation:

$ 0 x 0 = $ 0

Unless you are an attorney that represents one of these “landowner” groups. . . in which case it’s candy from babies. Consequently, it was the landowners attorney that are touting the deal to the press, and hyping Gasfrac . . . when nobody else is using them:

This is what’s known in the industry as a “clusterfrack” – whereby many naive landowners are fracked at the same time. It is believed that the Tioga County Landowners deal is the largest clusterfrack in history. If you know any landowners that want :

1. A big piece of nothing

2. Using a propane frack method that would not be economical even at $5mcf . .

3. That can blow sky-high at any time before, during or after the frack

4.  At the worst gas price since the turn of the century

5.  Get ripped off by some lawyers and landmen . . again . . .

(fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me) Then by all means have them join the Tioga County Landowners Commie Clustefrack.  Call today. Operators are standing by. “Se Habla Amish”.  Gelled propane (ie. napalm)  fracks – might be  less environmentally hazardous than dirty water – if you can stand the occasional conflagration –

What propane does not address is the release of methane from well bores into groundwater –

So if big chunks of Tioga County do not blow up during the clusterfrack, they will be flammable after the well bores start to release methane into groundwater.  There are a whole bunch of unknowns regarding propane fracks:

* still needs large quantities of additional, but different chemicals to add to the LPG

* big compressors on each site to recondense returned propane for reuse, and additional processing on each site  for re-use = heavy industrial hazardous operation

* frack process has to be nearly  “robotic” because of risks to personnel at the well head

*  two LPG frack explosions/fires in past year, with hospitalizations;

* many truckloads of LPG needed for each frack job- these trucks are  transporting hazardous material, not water

* Schlumberger, Hallliburton, et al. will not like encroachment on their turf..they have billions invested in equipment and personnel training for water based fracing, but they currently say they are “interested” in this new line of research . . . enough to block it until they own it . . .

* the ONLY substantive information about the process comes from the company –  in effect advertising claims. There has been no independent empirical analysis  of the complete life cycle of LPG frack

* pumps toxic substances into the formation, with the same risks

1) communication back to surface via faults and orphan wells

2) communication/migration of methane, gaseous propane and other pollutants  via casing sealing failures and leaks (cf the Pavilion/EPA study (11-10-11 released) and the “Duke” methane migration study), and

3) surface spills of frack related materials that comes back up

4) added danger of propane near the well pad in large amounts and causing an explosion hazard, since propane is heavier than air, it will sink and channel down slope – don’t  light your grill.

The deal reads as a way around the proposed regs. for high volume horizontals SGEIS

Via the 1992 GEIS, which was a bad joke – in 1992 –

DEC regs. would allow a propane frack 100′ from your door or 150′ from a school:

DEC spokesperson Emily DeSantis quoted as saying  this might need”additional SEQRA review and EIS if warranted” –  which assumes it is not a complete hoax. Meaning one of the DEC’s  dozen oil and gas inspectors might have to figure this propane clusterfrack out under the GEIS:

Gas fracks are addressed is in Chapter 12 (1.36 MB)
Fracturing or well stimulation begins on page 12-10. 
Page 12-27, under Miscible Displacement Methods,  which might apply to a water (or gas) flood as well as a frack:
“The enriched gas process consists of injecting a slug of natural gas primed with ethane, propane and butane, followed by a slug of lean gas or lean gas, and water.”
Since the technology evolved after the 1992 GEIS, arguably not adequately addressed, particularly the safety aspects of the well blowing up during a frack. As to the “landowners” themselves – not that many residents of Tioga County involved
  • Population Tioga County NY = 51,049
  • Total Land Area = 523 sq mi  => 334,720 acres
  • 135,000 acres under lease = 40% land area -
  • land ostensibly owned by 200 + “families”. . .
  • However lots of leased land is owned by LLCs (corporations) etc.not  families.
  • So if each owner is 2 people who live in the county . . .200 x 2 = 400 people => 0.7% of the total population control 40% of the land to be fracked beyond recognition – as the PSU study indicates

My guess – they might do a test frack with propane – to test the Marcellus in Tioga County. Which they could do by extrapolating across the border from Pa.  And use that test to try to get a real deal – when gas comes back to $5 mcf – some time in the next decade.

Beyond that, the great Tioga Landowners Napalm Clusterfrack deal is just fracking BS. So, under the heading, “Fractured Fairy Tale”- here’s a copy of their memo, hot off the Net:

To All:Below you will find a summary statement which describes the high points of our deal.  Here is the a link to the full press release which has been sent world wide. We don’t have all of the contractual documents in place and I working to define the program plan.  I wanted to let you know that we are making huge progress which will be very beneficial to everyone. I will continue to provide more information as we move forward.  We have a new website in development with lots of content.  We will also have a kickoff meeting next month as we need time to refine the deal.   There is also a link below to the news article on Gasfrac.
“As the press release states we are working to put together the business structure to form an unconventional leasing arrangement where in landowners will receive a majority share of the profits earned by the sharing company made up of contiguous parcels with their neighbors. The landowner’s only investment will be to commit their mineral rights to the sharing company while retaining rights similar to the “royalty interest” provided in more conventional oil and gas leases. Under this concept the landowner will enjoy royalty from hydrocarbons produced from their property as well a share prorata in the value of the sharing company.  STEP would be the contract manager and liaison to eCORP which would become the exploration and production operator providing the development funding.In addition to a very lucrative financial arrangement the upmost attention has been given to environmental responsibility with eCORP serving as Operator, and plans to employ “pad” drilling where a number of wellheads are confined to a small surface location. Plans include proven drilling technology that presents a smaller footprint than conventional rigs and a reservoir stimulation technology using liquefied petroleum (LPG) developed by GASFRAC. Reservoir stimulation with LPG uses no water and has no waste, which greatly reduces truck traffic and has a smaller footprint than a conventional hydro fracture. These techniques will be used to prove the viability of both Marcellus and Utica shale’s in the southern tier.We currently have a team of attorneys forming the organizations and legal instruments necessary to accomplish this plan.  eCORP and STEP are also planning future public meeting to further discuss the details of this plan as they are developed.”Gasfrac news article:



{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Krys Cail March 28, 2012 at 9:08 pm

What a novel idea, Chip– they are the scammed landowners, the scammed investors, and the scammed impacted community all rolled up into one package! Super-marks, ultra-suckers!


Kevin Millar March 29, 2012 at 3:42 pm

In my opinion, this is a distracting PR stunt. While LPG fracking may not be in the dSGEIS it will still need to go through a full SEQRA process to be approved. The Gas Frac people are good sales people, I have seen their presentations. The bottom line is that it is a lot more expensive than hydrofracking, has not been not proven to be successful( they did about 8 wells in PA but did not release the results) and it is more expensive than hydro fracking.At a price of 2.21 $/MMBtu today and an extraction cost of well over 5$ /MMBtu to extract with current techniques, why does adopting a more expensive extraction method make any sense?
This is a sign of desperation by gas corps and gas coalitions.
My essential message-chill on the LPG extraction issue. It is bullshit.


Richard Averett March 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Generally, an existing pipeline needs to be in place BEFORE this technique is used, because all the propane used for fracking will come back up, and unless it can be “captured” for re-use the cost will be excessive.

This technique is also MORE efficient in several respects than is “slick-water hydrofracking”, and so there will be more concern about fractures going “out-of-zone”, which may amplify the problems curently associated with private wells becoming contaminated by gas drilling operations in the area.


Sue Heavenrich March 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Are we given to understand that these leases will be for a specific technology? What a concept…. OR will landowners find out that the proposed gas-frack doesn’t pan out so the company will use another, more “proven” technique such as hydro-fracking?
Given the two explosions last year (in Canada) and no concrete production data yet from Chevron, and the need to do an EIS (because, really, neither the GEIS or SGEIS address LPG fracking) this sounds like a potential way to tie up land in leases for a long long time.


M.Lebron April 1, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Sounds like a whole-lotta-hypin’ goin’ on. I don’t think we’ll be seeing any fracked wells in NY soon, slick-water or propane.

My 2 cents.


Russel Minturn March 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm

You can expect gas prices to rise every spring. It seems to get earlier and earlier each year. That’s because oil futures traders know demand for gas rises in the summer. They therefore start buying oil futures contracts in the spring in anticipation of that price rise.”

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