I put this in the "Finally, some science to go along with the Hysteria" category.
As a geologist I have never been comfortable with the shoddy "proof" that
the DEP used to confirm that Marcellus drilling ruined the Dimock water
supply. I have heard A LOT of anecdotal evidence from both industry and
the field level DEP inspectors that gas was in the water supply long
before any drilling even started in Susquehanna County. And I have been
very critical of Cabot for not speaking up sooner if they believed they
were innocent of the accusations.
Well, looks like the industry just fired a salvo back across the bow of the governmental agencies. No,
maybe more like a direct hit...broadside.
This is a long read but Cabot seems to have proof, including testing and signed affidavits.
Every anti drilling group uses Dimock as their poster child...looks like they won't be able to anymore...IF THEY ARE HONEST!

This will get interesting.

Article with links to Cabots letter to Secretary Hanger

Cabots letter to Secretary Hanger

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Finally is correct. I can't believe Cabot waited this long. I wrote about setting the creek on fire when I was a kid along with neighborhood friends, some included in the dispute with Cabot. Also a gentleman in Montrose recently told me that some 50 so years ago, he was visiting someone on Carter's road, he went to the sink to get a drink of water and was told don't drink that, it will kill you. Get the water out of the fridge.
I can show you a courthouse down here in bayou country where they had a artesian well out front that burned a flame for most of the last century from natural gas in the water.
This brings to mind one of my favorite quotations from Mark Twain: "A lie will get halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its boots on"...
One thing left out of the discussion is exactly how successful Cabot's drilling operations have been in Susquehanna Co. They have some of the most prolific wells there in the entire Marcellus shale. It makes Cabot an obvious target for those opposed to development. Litigation is probably the last place where this should be headed. There are many constructive things state governments throughout the Appalachian Basin can do to help ameliorate conditions both for E & P companies as well as the general public. Instituting taxation and embroiling it in litigation is no way to nurture an infant industry. Instead, deal with it with firmness but compassion, and it won't disappoint. --Tom
Cabot's "response" was to issue a press release. It's not difficult to determine if the casing/ cement job failed on a well - you can either see it on YouTube - in the case of BP's Gulf well to see what happens - or you can check the bradenhead pressures on the well, plus inspect the casing itself to determine if it failed. The Cabot wells that leaked showed bradenhead gauge pressures that indicated that the casing was not containing the gas. So produced gas got into the aquifers and into people's wells.

Cabot was cited on 52% of its 62 Dimock wells. 39% of which had surface problems - spills.

The place for Cabot to address this is in court - not with a PR piece and some newspaper ads.

The Cabot wells failed on the first frack. 8 of the 62 drilled or 13%. Since shale wells can be fracked several times to maintain production, it is likely that more of these Cabot wells will fail.

Unfortunately, over time, casing is prone to fail. Particularly casing/ cement that is subject to extreme pressures in seismically active areas - such as New York. See for instance:

Casing Shear: Causes, Cases, Cures
Maurice B. Dusseault, SPE, Porous Media Research Inst., U. of Waterloo, and Michael S. Bruno, SPE,
and John Barrera,* Terralog Technologies Inc.

Casing impairment leads to loss of pressure integrity, pinching of production tubing, or an inability to lower workover tools. Usually, impairment arises through shear owing to displacement of the rock
strata along bedding planes or along more steeply inclined fault planes"

Meaning a seismically active fault can buckle or shear the casing, causing gas to leak into an aquifer.

Made a video about my thoughts on horizontal hydrofracking in New York. Several people have focused on my comparison of horizontal hydrofracking to a "bomb". The full paper is on Otsego 2000 website.

I was addressing the extreme pressures involved - and the difficulties in containing those pressures. Horizontal hydrofracking of shale involves a series of explosions. The first being the perforation of the casing with explosives. Then a series of explosions to break up the rock. The only difference between these explosions and a "bomb" is time, not motive force.

Dr Ingraffea does an excellent job of explaining the process in his videos. See for instance

http://www.mefeedia.com/watch/28577813 ;

The pressures of these shale fracks are extreme - considerably more than the pressure that blew out out the BP Gulf well. Such pressures are difficult to contain - and they are not being sufficiently contained, as evidence by the blow-outs on the Cabot wells.


The second challenge with horizontal hydrofracking are the volumes of the fluids used.
Frack flowback is polluted with frack chemicals and whatever it picks up in the formation - which can include Radium 226, as shown in NYS DEP tests, and as reported in Scientific American.

There is no safe way to dispose of the expected quantities of waste water in New York state. Not any time soon. New York only has 4 permitted disposal wells in seismically questionable geology. Texas has almost 12,000 permitted disposal wells in seismically stable formations.

Until New York is adequately prepared to dispose of the expected volume of flowback, horizontal hydrofracking of shale should not proceed.

The NYS DEC draft dsGEIS was grossly flawed. It did not have to be - but it was. The DEC could have addressed the particular risks of horizontal hydrofracking of shale more effectively from the outset. But they didn't.

Please take a minute and read our comments at Otsego2000.org.


When the DEC has adequately addressed the issues of horizontal hydrofracking in NY, then the exploitation of the Marcellusa and Utica in NYS can begin safely.

Many of the advocates for proceeding without those safeguards in place - and disposal facilities ready to handle the waste water - are, IMO, acting irresponsibly. They have made economic bets - before the regulatory rules of the game have been established in NYS. Their objectivity on the proposed rules is questionable.

The rules and regulations in NYS should be tied to NY's geology, surface conditions, and disposal facilities - and on empirical data for this region. Not to what worked in the Fort Worth Basin. Getting those regulations in place may take some time, because they need to be right.


James "Chip" Northrup
Chip, I see that you have conveniently become a NY resident recently, no doubt via an association with certain activist groups.

However, your past is still out there on the internet. Here is a quote, one of many, which shows that you are not exactly an industry expert who is trying to educate us but rather a member of a wealthy Dallas TX family known for development, among other things.

"I hope I'm not going to get James "Chip" Northrup kicked out of the Club Positivo by revealing that he breaks bread occasionally with the likes of me: Northrup is of the Northrup family of landowners and developers who have long been important players in both the downtown Dallas and suburban outlying areas."

Again we are being lied to by the anti-drill groups and led to believe that yet another wealthy trust fund family member is concerned with our well being. This time I guess they thought you should use your vacation residence to make us believe you are a local rather than a Dallas resident.

Robin it looks like you know a bit about James could you or do you know if this is the James here?


James "Chip" Northrop was former co-owner of Northrop Energy , which was sold to ARCO and subsequently became  BP Solar.   He was also  a partner and investor in the acquisition  and sale of offshore oil rigs, including the Teledyne fleet and WR Grace  fleets.  He holds a BA from SMU and an MBA from the Wharton School , University of Pennsylvania  MISTAKE HERE SEE http://www.facebook.com/pages/Leonard-L-Northrup-Jr/105642789468941 Looks like a typo was not caught as this aligns itself up to close.  Question was James “Chip” Northrup Leonards son and in the acquisition process accumulate large shares of stock in the solar energy field that the gas play can kill right now? 

 While I am at it does this surprise you?


The League of Women Voters of Broome/Tioga Counties will sponsor an information program on New York DEC’s Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Study on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011. The program will be held at 7 p.m. in the Hubbard Auditorium of the Tioga County Office Building, 56 Main St., Owego.

The speakers will be Dr. Ronald Bishop Biochemist, SUNY Oneonta and James “Chip” Northrup, real estate developer, energy investor and environmental advocate.

  Wow and the League of Women Voters endorses ballot inititives!  You also missed this as well.


James (Chip) Northrup, Partner and investor in oil and gas projects, served on Governor of Texas’ Energy Advisory Council

On January 12, 2012, the Office of the Governor of Texas (the “OOG”) received your request under the Public Information Act.  Specifically, the request was for:

   I am searching for records that would show that a individual by the name of James L, Northrup aka James “Chip” Northrup did indeed was in fact in this position at one time as indicated at this website.


James (Chip) Northrup, Partner and investor in oil and gas projects, served on Governor of Texas’ Energy Advisory Council.

Dang I hit a dry hole on that lease!

James-- Cabot Oil and Gas will undoubtedly have its day in court, and hopefully the company's legal representation will prepare some excellent arguments, but in the meantime it is being tried in the court of public opinion. The least Cabot can do is run ads and publish PR pieces. They should probably do far more to help educate the public about their point of view. By the way, thanks for making your excellent video. I learned several new things by watching it and recommend others see it too. --Tom
Re-read the Cabot report. Unfortunately, it consists almost entirely of hearsay, legal rebuttals, blanket denials.

There are no independent engineering reports on the wells themselves.

The Pa DEP fine cites how the wells failed, citing elevated bradenhead gauge pressures, etc.

There is nothing in Cabot's denial that disproves that they wells in question did not contain the produced gas.

So not convinced that Cabot should not have been fined for gassing those water wells.
Although I have not had the time to research all of your links, let me assure you that this industry has been drilling, fracing and producing gas wells in the faulted areas of the Appalachian basin for some time. And checking the annular space on the casing head tells you nothing more than you have some gas behind the string of pipe. It could be shallow gas from the aquifer itself!

In my humble opinion, the DEP in that area is known for writing multiple violations for 1 well, in effect tripling or quadrupling the violations when there should have only been 1 violation. The majority of "spills" were not true violations, I mean nothing got away from under the rig or near the tanks. Most of this was due to overzealous water quality specialists with very little experience in this industry writing up nuisance issues as if they were all violations.

Not sure what you mean by wells failed on the first frac? But you can frac multiple times and todays casing and cement jobs are more than adequate to handle those frac pressures. and please no more talk of bomb like explosions, down hole perforating in fluid is nothing like the explosions you speak of. and fracing is not explosion like at all.

Anything can fail if an earthquake should happen , but the trouble is we do not see that happening. Much like mine pillars can fail and shear casing...you just don't see it happening much.

The flow back water is now being recycled by most companies and the radium that you will see is nothing more than the natural radiation one sees in normal granite counter tops or other rock / shale formations that we have been hiking through and picnicking over for millenia.

There does not need to be a moratorium, PA is handling the drilling at the field level just fine.

I can't speak to why Cabot would admit to the Consent order that they signed, but it wouldn't surprise me that the DEP at the Harrisburg level would try to force companies to admit to wrong doing just to say they are top of all problems.

Have to run, will continue tomorrow.
Just something I would like to add here, a reminder of the remedy imposed in the first place and the chain of events that followed... Originally, when this gas appeared in the water, DEP's solution demanded of Cabot for the company to install filters in all the effected homes. However, the majority of the families elected not to allow the installation companies on their property. At that time, the litigants told DEP they would not accept these filters, even though they are the industry standard for removing methane from water supplies, tried and true. Never mind those who accepted the new filters report the remedy as working. Even though these families were the ones who wouldn't allow the remedy to take place, somehow it was still made Cabot's responsibility to provide a solution. None of the solutions laid forth were acceptable enough for this group.

This all leads to where we are today... The families filed suit and the DEP decided they would take over that suit. However, before the legal action even begins, DEP decides Cabot WILL absorb the cost (around $12 million) of providing municipal water to these 18 homes but decides to tell the general public first instead of informing Cabot. Little wonder Cabot fought fire with fire. They have tried to be good neighbors, they have tried to remedy the situation each time DEP's John Hanger changed his mind and and decided an earlier penalty was still not tough enough,. To put it another way, use the analogy of an insurance company regarding an auto accident. Someone's in an accident that totals their 1990 Ford Mustang. The insurance company initially offers to get them another 1990 Mustang or at some point, maybe even a brand new Mustang. The person with the wrecked car states that won't do and refuses to accept it or any comparable model. After the a few months, the case goes to court, where the insurance company asks, "Just what do you want then?", the person's court representative tells the judge only a brand-new Lamborghini will do.

I also beg to differ with Mr. Northrup that Cabot has no substantial evidence they are not liable. No one knows for sure yet what they DO have. They obviously aren't going to reveal all the exhibits in their letter and "legal rebuttals" (heaven forbid!) are often provided by expert witnesses, i.e. water well-drillers who are familiar with the Dimock area over a number of years.
1. The Cabot denial fails to address the majority of the Pa DEP complaints - most of which were surface problems - ie. spills.

Over a third of Cabot's 62 Dimock wells had spills. Cabot's PR piece does not address any of them in detail.
Spills are the most likely source of water pollution. So worthy of being addressed by Cabot as they were by the Pa DEP citations. Instead Cabot focuses on the gassing of the 10 local water wells - and it does this with "affidavits" from local residents and rhetorical denials.

It goes into great length to deny that one of the water wells did not "fountain" or "explode" when the Cabot frack was put on nearby.

2. Cabot has already plugged, capped and abandoned 3 of the 8 wells that allegedly gassed nearby water wells.

This impairs Cabot's ability to prove that they were not a problem. And it destroys the evidence that Cabot could have used to prove they did not leak. Leaving the Pa DEP report on the wells as the only independent source of information as to whether the wells failed to hold pressure. By plugging them, Cabot has effectively admitted they were a problem - before denying in ads that they had any problems.

3. Cabot does not offer any evidence that the wells didn't fail.

The Pa DEP cited the Cabot wells for leaking - Cabot does not prove they did not. The Pa DEP fine specifically cited the wells for elevated leak gauge pressures- indicating a leak in the casing/ cement. Read the fine. Cabot offers nothing in its denials to disprove that. No engineering report on the leak gauge pressure readings. Cabot just denies it rhetorically - then issues a press release - long after the wells were plugged.


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