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By KELLIE M. PLACE, Realtor C21 | Agent in 13820

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Oneonta, Home Selling in Oneonta, Investment Properties in Oneonta  |  September 6, 2012 7:00 PM  |  503 views  |  2 comments

    Exquisite Equestrian Center: A private, sophisticated country estate and B&B on 147 acres in upstate NY.

    This magnificent 7,000 sq. ft. complex offers the finest in country living with 5 bedrooms 5 baths, a large Master suite w/XL bath bathed in sunlight. A large upgraded state-of-the-art kitchen designed for entertaining large gatherings or smaller intimate groups. A large formal dining, spacious living room with a cocktail bar and a cozy bluestone fireplace. Above the bar is an expansive balcony library. There is also a first floor media room  as well as an XL family/media/game room and bar in the finished basement. To top that off, there is an amazing, large gated wine cellar, and one wall is tastefully adorned with original stamped wine crate lids.

    Relax in the 20X40 heated indoor pool, hot tub and skylights or entertain guests on the large covered private entertainment deck that looks out over the fields, ponds and woods.

    The equestrian complex sports 2 large horse barns PLUS a large 70′X140′ indoor riding arena w/halogen lamps and an adjacent outdoor fenced riding ring.

    The large upper barn has18 stalls w/mats, tack room, kitchen, laundry & fabulous 2 story guest apartment or handyman’s suite. The lower barn has 7 stalls w/room for 8 more.And fenced pastures galore!

    NEW Low Maint.Eko high efficiency furnace that cut the heating bills to more than 1/2. . 2 large back-up generators, and an alarm system. The home is handicapped accessible.  All this plus an absolutely huge crystal clear aquifer, trout stream, 3 ponds,  acres and acres of woods, rolling hills, open meadows and amazing views of the Catskill countryside.


    Ask me about going “off-grid”!

    Convenient to Oneonta, Cooperstown, Saratoga, Albany, NYC, Boston and Finger Lakes region for convenient access to the racetracks. Located just north of Delaware County in the Foothills of the glorious Catskill Mountains in Upstate New York.

    Excellent horse ranch & B&B for sale in the Catskills ~ Oneonta, NY

    MLS# 84870 $1,350,000.  Contact: Kellie Place at 607-434-5263

    Kellie Place, Realtor                                                           
    Upstate New York’s Real Estate & Land Expert
    Multi-Million Dollar Producer
    Century 21 Chesser Realty
    607-434-5263 – cell
    with offices in Oneonta & Delhi


    Posted Under: Parks & Recreation in Hunter, Home Selling in Hunter, Investment Properties in Hunter  |  June 12, 2012 3:14 PM  |  473 views  |  No comments



    Hunter Mt Condo Unit Available

    And… it’s on the trail!

    Ski-in/ski-off~ Slopeside Sweet!

    Spend Christmas & New Years

     At Hunter Mtn. this year!

    Great opportunity to own a superior Slopeside CONDO at Hunter Mountain

    … Truly ski on ski off…only steps from Hunter Mountain slopes.


    Enjoy a year-round escape to the Catskill Mountains. The rustic craftsman style exterior is charming and welcoming. A perfect home away from home without the hassle!

    Combining the best of everything… slopeside location, luxurious amenities, hassle-free ownership and the unique quarter-ownership option – makes this condo at the Kaatskill Mountain Club the most sought after real estate opportunity in upstate NY.

    Available immediately: a 2 bedroom 2 bath lock-out unit, sleeps 8. Main unit is a suite, with a master bedroom and Jacuzzi, living room w/gas fireplace and sleeper sofa, full kitchen with granite counters and all equipment and appliances and an excellent private balcony. The lockout is hotel style w/queen bed and a sleeper sofa, kitchenette and bath. Stay in one unit while renting the other. Everything is fully maintained and furnished. You never have to do a thing! The balcony overlooks the outdoor pool area and the slopes. Best view at the Club!

    At Hunter Mtn, the Kaatskill Mountain Club’s around-the-clock staff takes care of almost anything that you might need. Skis need an overnight tune or wax? Feel like a quick massage at the spa before dinner? Après Ski in the lounge? There’s no request too big or small.

    Plus…the on-site daily housekeeping service ensures that you always come home to a clean condominium. Dishes are done, beds are made and carpets vacuumed. There are only two obligations at the Kaatskill Mountain Club…. RELAX and ENJOY. When you are on vacation, your time is precious.

    Why choose “quarter-share ownership” over a traditional condominium?  Ownership in the Kaatskill Mountain Club offers the best slopeside location at Hunter, the most amenities under one roof and on-site year-round property management, all at a fraction of the price of a traditional condominium. The quarter share concept takes the best aspects of timeshare flexibility, ease of ownership and RCI Vacation exchange and combines them with the best aspects of traditional second home ownership. BONUS:  Owners are able to call and stay at the condo anytime, room permitting! Discover a new way to play at HUNTER MOUNTAIN!!   Ski on/off, pool, gym, locker room, spa, game room, restaurant, lounge, four season amenities and activities, carefree rental management.

    PROPERTY FEATURES, OWNERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS & PERKS:      True Slopeside Ski-In/Ski-Out Location!

    •  Fractional Ownership & Worldwide Exchangeability through RCI
    •  Central Heating/ Central Air
    • Stove, Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Microwave & Fully Equipped Kitchens                       
    • Energy Efficient Systems
    • Granite Countertops
    • Four Season Outdoor Heated Swimming Pool &Hot Tubs
    • Fully Furnished
    • Club Lounge with Stone Fireplace
    • Carpet, Ceramic Tile
    • Health & Fitness Facility with State of the Art Equipment
    • Fireplace
    • Indoor Pool/Spa / Hot Tub
    • Balcony
    • Large Tiled Steam Bath and Cedar –lined Sauna
    •  Owners Private Club Room, TV, Cable & Internet access
    • Full Service Spa: facials, massage, manicure, pedicure, hot-stone treatments, etc.
    • Owners Private Locker Room & Permanent Individual Lockers                   
    • Guest Laundry Facilities
    • Smoke Free & Pet Free
    • Restaurant and Lounge
    • Disability Features
    • Family Room/Great Room, Game Room/Video Arcade
    • Elevator
    • Boutique/Gift Shop
    • Security Systems, Smoke Alarms
    • Stone Walls, Wooden Beams, Catskill Style Craftsmanship
    • Concierge, Valet, Bellman & Housekeeping Services
    • Conference, Banquet and Wedding Facilities
    • New Tree-top Zip Line down the mountain. 2nd Largest in the World
    • Mountain Bike Trails
    • Short Distance to Town/Shopping
    • Short Distance from Schools
    • Community Water/Lake/River Access
    • Walking/Jogging/Bike/Hiking Trails & Festival All Year Long!

    ENERGY SYSTEM is an efficient propane forced hot air heat, thermo-tru insulated front doors, programmable thermostat for additional energy savings, fiberglass wall and ceiling insulation.

    CENTRAL AIR-CONDITIONING for those warm summer days.

    Quarterly maintenance fee – 982.12 (monthly common charge)               

    Town/county tax- 406.87Village tax- 209.28

    Quarter 2 – 13 weeks.  4th floor unit.

    Total square feet 1041:  2 bedroom 2 bath.

    Built in 2006




    In addition to snowboarding, downhill, Alpine and cross country skiing,

    Hunter Mountain offers year round adventures!

    Experience the longest, fastest and highest Zipline Tour in North America and the 2nd largest in the world! This is an Extreme Sport.  The zipline includes five unique side by side racing ziplines.  A 3,200 foot cable 600 feet high above the valley, reaching speeds of up to 50 mph! This tour also features a special 500′ self-powered zap-line or a Burma bridge option

    The Mid-Mountain Tour is a family friendly tour that sweeps guests off their feet and into the canopy with a variety of activities including 6 ziplines, 4 rope bridges, 9 aerial tree platforms and an exciting rappel. The longest zipline on the Mid-Mountain Tour is approximately 650′ long and is nearly 60′ above the ground!

    Adventure Tower: Located at the base of Hunter Mountain, the 60′ Adventure Tower is great entertainment for all ages. Test your physical stamina and conquer 9 different obstacles as you spiral up the tower.

    Don’t miss the great winter entertainment on the slopes with the Catskill Mtn. Ski Races, the Firefighter Race, Police Winter Games, Chef’s Ski Club Race, LocalMotion Races and the Mini World Cup!

    New Quad Chairs on Hunter West – 2011!

    Summer Festivals, including the TAP microbrewery  festival, the annual Brat & Brew Fest, Wine & Brew Fest, Woodstock Mtn. Jam Fest, International Celtic Festival, Bluestock, Octoberfest, and a motorcycle rally!

    Golf, tennis, fly fishing, hiking, rock climbing, sightseeing, shopping, tour historic sites, or steep yourself in the Culture and Arts of the community. Play disc golf, relax in the spa, go horseback riding, hike Kaaterskill Falls, go kayaking, rafting, boating, water/jet skiing, mountain biking, or enroll in the BMW Off-Road School. Kids will love the Zume Flume Water Park!

    Whatever the season, Hunter Mountain is exciting, relaxing, entertaining, soothing, fun filled family get-away or a romantic escape!

    Hunter Mt. Condo – Slopeside Sweet!

    Available NOW! $79,900 – quarter share.


    Spend Christmas & New Years

     on the slope!


    Call:   Kellie Place, Realtor


    CENTURY 21 Chesser Realty









    Information provided is for viewer’s personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties the viewer may be interested in. All information is deemed reliable but its accuracy is not guaranteed and the viewer should independently verify all information.

    Kellie M. Place
    , “The Land Expert”
    “Upstate New York’s Real Estate Development Expert” 
    “Multi-Million Dollar Top Producer”

     CENTURY 21 Chesser Realty        607-434-5263 – cell
    607-432-7653 Ext. 102 – Oneonta
    607-434-5263 – Delhi



    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Bainbridge, Home Selling in Bainbridge, Going Green in Bainbridge  |  June 12, 2012 3:10 PM  |  449 views  |  No comments

    European 20686662-2style country farmhouse sitting on lovely 30 acres. Beautifully renovated inside and out (built in 1840 and fully renovated mid 1990s). Cedar siding, sunny entrance room, master bedroom, guest bedroom, spacious bathroom with antique fixtures, very large kitchen with 14 ft. cathedral ceiling and skylight.Beautiful hickory hardwood floors throughout. Lots of light and open space. French doors leading to back sundeck. Land (approx. 15 acres) on both sides of quiet back road pasture and surrounding woods, stream behind house. Ideal for horses. Large 2 story barn, recently renovated and it is  immaculate, a detached 2 car open garage, milk house, tool shed. Drilled artesian well. Includes security system, washer/dryer. Just 3 hours northwest of New York City in historic Bainbridge NY. Minutes drive from the quaint upstate village. Charming and tranquil. Euro Chic!  A must see for the serious buyer!

    Listing #82059  REDUCED TO: $229,000

    For your personal viewing, contact KELLIE PLACE, Century 21 at 607-434-5263.


    Kellie M. Place, “The Land Expert”
    “Upstate New York’s Real Estate and Land Expert” 
    “Multi-Million Dollar Top Producer”

     CENTURY 21 Chesser Realty        607-434-5263 – cell
    607-432-7653 Ext. 102 – Oneonta
    607-434-5263 – Delhi



    Posted Under: General Area in Otsego County, Home Buying in Otsego County, Home Selling in Otsego County  |  December 9, 2010 7:32 AM  |  883 views  |  No comments

    Exploring the promise and challenge of a new energy supply.

    Along the narrow two-lane roads that wind through Washington County in southwestern Pennsylvania, there is little sign that the surrounding pastures and hay bales, barns, homes, and children’s swing sets all are sitting on one of the largest reservoirs of natural gas in the world.

    But at second glance, an observer can see red and white lattice towers rising here and there over the hillside. New gravel roads separate the thick woods and brush. Fields feature long stretches of grass that don’t quite match the surrounding meadow—recently reseeded places where new pipeline has been buried. Giant barrel-like structures, pipes and valves, painted green to blend in with the landscape, are condensate tanks and compressor stations. And chemical tank trucks, sand haulers, flatbeds stacked with lengths of pipe, and cement mixers seem to be rumbling in every direction.

    It’s all part of a new energy industry that’s being built here. This is the epicenter of the Marcellus shale.

    From Barrier to Boon

    For decades, the Marcellus was known to geology buffs as a 389-million-year-old soft rock formation, a mile or more under the Appalachian Mountains, encompassing 95,000 square miles (246,000 square kilometers) in an arc from West Virginia to New York. Named for a surface outcrop of the rock near Marcellus, New York, the formation was thought of as an underground barrier, simply an annoyance to drillers who focused on little pockets of oil and gas in sandstone beneath.

    But within the past three years, all of that has changed.

    Applying a method developed in a similar geological formation, the Barnett shale in Texas, scores of energy companies proved that by combining and supercharging some old oil industry technologies, they could drive fissures through that rock to yield sizable amounts of natural gas.

    There are shale deposits all over the United States, well-mapped thanks in part to intensive geological research done by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Geological Survey in response to the 1970s energy crises. These studies sat on shelves for decades. Now they’re a key reference for producers in shale “plays,” as they’re called, around the nation—including the biggest by far, the Marcellus.

    How big? Estimates are that the Marcellus shale holds between 50 trillion cubic feet (TCF) and 500 TCF of natural gas. At the low end, that’s double the gas stores seen in Alaska’s big Prudhoe Bay at the dawn of its development. At the high end, the reserves would be second to those of the world’s largest natural gas field, the Pars field of Iran and Qatar.

    But unlike Pars, this gas isn’t in the middle of the Persian Gulf. It’s right in the heart of the energy-hungry East Coast of the United States. The eastern tip of the formation is less than 100 miles from New York City. With development centered in Pennsylvania, it’s a location that has lured billions of dollars of investment by companies around the world. Defying critics who wonder how such an energy boom can be sustained in a slow economy, companies from India, Japan, Norway, and elsewhere have descended on the scene, wowed by the Marcellus shale’s great potential and proximity to markets.* They also hope to take this made-in-the-USA technology overseas. The United States is the number one consumer of this fuel, but shale can be found all around the planet—and the world has plenty of interest in a new source of natural gas.

    Shaking Up the Energy Equation?

    Most people know natural gas as the fuel that lights the blue flame on the stove. It also heats half the homes in the United States and 35 percent of the homes in Europe. But the largest use around the world is at power plants, where it is burned to generate electricity. Depending too much on natural gas for power has long been seen as risky, because its price was traditionally volatile—largely linked to the roller-coaster global oil market. So natural gas provides just 20 percent of U.S. electricity, compared to nearly 50 percent for King Coal.

    The prospect of abundant, cheap natural gas in the United States—especially gas that’s easily delivered by pipeline to the populous East Coast—profoundly shakes up that energy equation. Natural gas generates electricity more efficiently than coal, with half the greenhouse gas emissions, fewer acid rain precursors and virtually free of many other troubling pollutants like mercury and particulates. Natural gas also burns cleaner than oil. And although only a tiny percentage of vehicles are now outfitted to run on natural gas, it’s capable of powering cars, trucks, and buses.

    Billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens says the United States ought to be producing vehicles to take advantage of domestic shale gas and break its foreign oil dependence. "This is our chance," Pickens told The Philadelphia Inquirer in an interview on the Marcellus shale. "I think it's almost divine intervention that we had all this gas show up at this time in the deal."

    Gas companies in Pennsylvania also frame their role as a pivotal one in the big U.S. energy picture. “We’ve talked a lot about taking control of our energy future in this country,” says Matt Pitzarella, spokesman for Range Resources, the first company to drill in the Marcellus and one of the most prolific drillers. “Now we have that opportunity, and it really was literally beneath our feet all this time.”

    Reversal of Fuel Fortunes

    Not long ago, it looked like the United States was running out of natural gas.

    Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned Congress in 2003 that the nation would need to begin to import substantial amounts of the key fuel from overseas. This raised the specter of foreign gas dependence that mirrored long-standing U.S. oil dependence, and risky reliance on big reserve holders like the Persian Gulf and Russia. In Europe, which imports a quarter of its gas by pipeline from Russia, gas disruptions pose a security problem.

    But precisely at the moment Greenspan was delivering his grim forecast for the United States, energy industry iconoclasts in Texas were proving definitively that combining horizontal drilling and large-volume hydraulic fracturing could unlock a huge rush of gas from shale. And in that same year, a Range Resources geologist decided to urge his bosses to try the method on a stubborn well he’d been working at in Pennsylvania.

    Although the Keystone State was thought to have tapped out its big-time energy supplies long ago, Pennsylvania was key to the rise of oil and coal that fueled U.S. industry in the 19th and 20th centuries. The world’s first oil well was drilled here, on leased farmland in Titusville in 1859.

    About 100 miles south of the storied Drake Well, in 2004, Range drilled the first gas well into the shale on leased farmland in Mount Pleasant Township.

    After several years of experimentation, there were nearly 20 Marcellus wells in Pennsylvania in 2007, nearly 200 were drilled in 2008, and nearly 790 last year. The Marcellus industry, now made up of 67 companies—ranging from the world’s largest to some of the smallest energy players—has already drilled about 1,100 wells this year. That puts producers on track to drill somewhat less than the 1,700 wells they had aimed to drill in Pennsylvania this year, a slowdown certainly due to tough economic factors roiling the industry. But more than 2,480 permits for new wells have been issued this year in Pennsylvania, and the industry’s plans call for a pace of more than 3,500 wells annually within the decade.

    Marcellus drillers say they can bring 200,000 jobs to a state that has struggled to revive its industrial sector, and they have paid $3.5 billion in lease payments and royalties to landowners in the past two years for the right to drill on private property.

    But all this means building a big extractive industry in a state that hasn’t seen this kind of development in decades, right near homes and schools, in the midst of rural farmland, and close to treasured parks and forests.

    For Pennsylvanians, even generations past the heyday of the state’s big coal- and coal-fired steel industries, it’s hard to forget the havoc that an energy business can wreak on the environment. To remind them, there are 260 million tons of abandoned waste coal in piles that mar about 8,500 acres across the state. And more than 5,510 miles of the state’s streams are impaired by discharges from 220,000 acres of abandoned coal mine lands, Pennsylvania’s worst water pollution problem.

    “Been there, done that,” says Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who is pushing for greater federal oversight of the industry. “For many, many years people said, ‘Don’t worry about this, don’t worry about that, just get out of our way, we need to extract this natural resource from the ground.’ ”

    The industry is battling to improve its image, recently hiring Tom Ridge, a former Republican governor of Pennsylvania and director of U.S. homeland security, as a strategic consultant. Early this month, Ridge and an industry group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, unveiled a set of “commitment to the community” principles, promising to implement state-of-the-art environmental protection and to improve transparency and responsiveness.

    Pennsylvania native Pitzarella of Range points out how his company has pioneered reuse of wastewater from the drilling process, and how it was the first shale operator to disclose chemicals used at each of its wells. “The challenge is demonstrating to people that this is not the second coming of the coal industry from 100 years ago,” he says.

    But across Pennsylvania, there also have been wastewater spills and conflicts with neighbors—for Range and for other drillers. And at least two serious documented incidents—an EOG Resources well blowout in a central Pennsylvania forest this summer and alleged faulty well construction by Cabot Oil & Gas that the state says allowed natural gas to migrate into home drinking water—have helped feed a backlash. There’s an effective moratorium on drilling above the border in New York and in eastern Pennsylvania’s Delaware River basin, enforced by a compact agency of four states and the federal government that oversees the watershed.

    “The industry is poised on a knife-edge of public acceptance that could affect its license to operate for years to come,” says Timothy Wirth, a former Democratic senator from Colorado who heads up the nonprofit United Nations Foundation, which is trying to ensure a safer and cleaner global climate. Wirth has touted the natural gas from shale as a “game-changer” that could help address global warming, but he says the industry’s inadequate response to land and water concerns have imperiled the fuel’s future as a bridge to a low-carbon future.

    Harsh Economics for Gas Producers

    An even greater risk, perhaps, is that the United States shows no sign of adopting the kind of national policy to cut greenhouse gases that would increase demand for natural gas in the energy marketplace, thereby enhancing its value. In fact, one key coal industry lobbying point against congressional climate action has been to warn that utilities’ inevitable switch from carbon-intensive coal to natural gas would expose consumers to the risk of higher-priced electricity.

    Ironically, natural gas prices are now extremely low—in the past two years they’ve been closer to coal prices than they have been at any other point in the past decade. That’s partly because the slow economy has kept all energy prices down. And it’s partly due to the drilling for shale gas, which has pushed new supply onto the market at a time when demand is weak. Shale gas companies, in fact, try to illustrate how they’ve benefited consumers by pointing to how the price of natural gas on the New York commodities market began to take a sharply divergent path from the price of oil in 2005 if the prices are compared by heating value. The 2009 price of natural gas on NYMEX, the New York Mercantile Exchange, was $6.55 less than oil per million BTU, and has averaged $8.80 less this year. The futures market price doesn’t translate exactly into what consumers are paying today, but it’s a gauge of where prices are heading. If this trend holds, Pennsylvania consumers would save $6.8 billion and U.S. consumers would save $205 billion annually compared to what they would have paid if natural gas prices were in line with those of oil.

    But low natural gas prices, welcome as they may be for consumers, put the gas companies in a squeeze. The more they produce, the more they depress the price of natural gas. And, given the high cost of drilling wells, the harder it is to make money.

    The history of the energy business is replete with boom and bust cycles: frenzy of competition to exploit a new opportunity, leading to ruin when the resulting excess of supply causes prices to plummet. A number of analysts wonder if that scenario is playing out in shale. "Most U.S. natural gas basins do not generate sufficient returns to justify drilling in today's weak price environment, suggesting that the current growth pace is not sustainable in a market that is likely to see little near-term demand growth," investment bank Credit Suisse said in a report earlier this year.

    Today’s harsh economic conditions force gas producers to cut costs. And for the time being, at least, that makes increased drilling in the Pennsylvania Marcellus even more likely. The “geologic risk” is low; companies don’t have to spend money finding the well-known rock formation, and the drilling process is standardized, repeatable from well to well. In Pennsylvania, they’ve been able to acquire land at a relatively low price and pay lower royalty rates than in other producing states. In fact, one of the reasons the bulk of development has been in Pennsylvania rather than in neighboring West Virginia, located on the same Marcellus shale formation, is because of the Mountain State’s higher taxes.

    “I believe that this is one of the highest, if not the highest rate-of-return gas play in the United States,” said Range Resources Chief Operating Officer Jeff Ventura at the company’s last quarterly conference call with Wall Street analysts. Range also benefits because its acreage is in southwestern Pennsylvania, where the gas is “wet,” mixed with other valuable products that can be separated out and sold, like propane and butane.

    There’s a catch for the drillers, though, if they want to hang on to their prime acreage. Many of the leases they signed with landowners compel them to begin drilling within a certain time frame—five years is typical—or the leases expire. So drilling continues apace. Range has told shareholders that its production will increase 14 percent this year and no less than 25 percent next year. “We believe that this accelerated drilling and completion is the right thing to do even at today's gas price,” Ventura said, given the rate of return and the production the company expects over the life of its Marcellus wells.

    Of course, drilling in the Marcellus is so new that nobody knows how much gas the wells ultimately will produce. And there are other uncertainties for the gas companies even as they try hard to keep their costs down. New environmental requirements—state or federal—could hike costs. Pennsylvania, its state government budget in woeful deficit, also is considering a severance tax on the industry; it is the only large oil- and gas-producing state that doesn’t take a percentage of the revenue from the natural resources “severed” from its soil. Analyst Kevin Book of ClearView Energy Partners, who typically follows developments in Washington, D.C., for his energy industry clients, has been regularly reporting to them on shale policy news from Pennsylvania, because of their potential implications for any place shale stores are found. “We cannot discount the viral nature of energy policy,” he wrote in one report.

    So the future of the boom hangs in the balance. How successfully producers will apply their new technology, whether they can add wealth to a place while preserving its cherished land and water, and how much fuel they can provide a world in dire need of cleaner energy—all will be decided on Pennsylvania’s changing farmland, in its forests, and in its shale.

    National Geographic News


    Posted Under: General Area in Broome County, Home Buying in Broome County, Home Selling in Broome County  |  December 9, 2010 7:11 AM  |  993 views  |  No comments

    Exploring the promise and challenge of a new energy supply.

    This energy business taking root in the Appalachian Mountains has opened the door to a new source of clean-burning fuel close to the population centers of the Eastern United States. In Pennsylvania, the epicenter of the development, there’s been plenty of debate over potential environmental impact.

    But an equally great focus has been on the chance for a much-needed boost to the state’s economy, and how state and local government can help with training and other steps to stoke the potential for revenue and jobs far beyond the drilling rigs.

    Truck-driving jobs are among the first and most abundant benefits to flow to Pennsylvania workers. The gas companies are promising many more. In fact, an industry-sponsored study (pdf) by Pennsylvania State University energy experts projects 200,000 new jobs in the Keystone State by 2020 if the shale is developed to its full potential.

    For the time being, at least, the jobs are not where one might expect them—the high-paying work on drilling rigs. Since drilling began in earnest in 2007, natural gas companies have been importing experienced crews from energy-producing states like Texas and Oklahoma to work on rigs that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    But the number of these sought-after jobs is small; only 2,400 to 3,000 workers are employed on about 100 rigs currently operating in Pennsylvania. The economic boom for Pennsylvania—as its impact can be measured so far—is in the lives of people who have found a way to service the rigs and the new industry from the outside, either with their labor or their land.

    An Opportunity Beyond Words

    The forecasts give shale-watchers hope for a surge of on- and off-rig jobs for Pennsylvanians in the future. The industry has drilled about 1,100 Marcellus wells so far this year, up from 780 in 2009, with projected growth to more than 3,500 wells a year by 2020. (Related interactive:  "Mapping a Gas Boom") Each individual well requires about 410 people working 150 different jobs, according to a needs assessment (pdf) by the Marcellus Shale Education & Training Center (MSETC) in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

    And the number is higher, perhaps more than 200 jobs, in southwestern Pennsylvania, where the gas requires extra processing, according to MSETC, a partnership between Pennsylvania College of Technology (Penn College), an applied technology education affiliate of Pennsylvania State University, and the Penn State Cooperative Extension educational outreach program.

    “I have never seen an opportunity like this, ever,” says Larry Michael, executive director of workforce and economic development at Penn College, who oversees MSETC. “Words absolutely cannot describe what is going on.”

    Shale looks like a boon to many in a state that was once the bustling nexus of the nation’s coal, steel, and rail industries, but which has struggled for at least a generation to create steady blue-collar jobs that provide a middle-class living.

    But with the state’s economy suffering with that of the rest of the nation, the new energy business’s impact so far is hard to discern. Even though the industry-sponsored study (pdf) by Penn State energy experts says the shale industry created 44,000 jobs in Pennsylvania last year, the state’s overall employment is actually down by 64,000 workers, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate of 9.3 percent is only slightly below the national average, and marked a 1 percent increase from 2009.

    But there do appear to be localized impacts.

    In Bradford County near the border with New York State, where the most wells have been drilled this year, unemployment is down a full percentage point to 7.5 percent—the second-lowest rate in the state. In Washington County, south of Pittsburgh, the next most active drilling area and birthplace of the state’s shale boom, wages are up 4 percent over last year and rank in the top fifth in the state—unusual for a rural county. “It is impossible to predict the impact of workforce needs for any one specific location,” the MSECT study said, because work at each drill site takes just a month, and companies move crews from site to site, depending on prospects and the land leases they happen to hold (which expire if drilling doesn’t begin within a certain time frame).

    Lease on a New Life

    In fact, before shale brought any jobs at all to Pennsylvania, it brought money, as companies rushed to secure the most favorable land.

    That meant signing lease deals for the right to drill on private property, agreements that early on paid landowners bonuses of about $50 an acre, with the going rate escalating to as high as $5,000 an acre for a time when the value of Marcellus became apparent. Pennsylvania law requires the lease deals to pay landowners royalties of at least 12 percent of the revenue from the gas extracted. In 2008 and 2009, the industry says, the deals netted Pennsylvania landowners $3.5 billion, with another $3.2 billion expected in 2010 and 2011.

    The industry has a lot of fans among these landowners, although signs of wealth might not be apparent to outsiders. But Beverly Romanetti, whose family leased its approximately 150-acre cattle farm in Hickory, about 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, says the change is obvious to locals. "Farmers here never had any money to fix their farms,” she says. “They fixed their barns with duct tape and baler twine, but they kept at it because if that's your way of life, that's what you are. If you're born a farmer, you die a farmer.

    “Now because of the gas companies, you should see the barns getting fixed,” Romanetti says. “It's not going to give you money so that you can quit farming, but enough if you want to be able to keep farming.”

    In addition to the farming they’ve been doing since the 1960s, the Romanettis have started a small business. Starting with just one truck used to haul stone, they now have a crew of 10 people, including two of her adult sons, who do the numerous small jobs that crop up around the gas sites—building fences and dikes, and road repair. (A third son works for a gas company contractor.)

    Working Until the Job is Done

    The Romanettis aren’t the only ones to reap benefits from the gas industry by finding a new need and setting out to fill it.

    Just 10 miles up the road, Paul Battista, who has owned Sunnyside Supply for 28 years, has seen his sales double and his inventory triple after he revamped his store to service the gas industry. He stocks everything from fire-resistant clothing to filters, valves, and measurement tools needed in gas processing.

    Battista for years had specialized in selling equipment to local manufacturers. But when he realized the gas business was growing around him, he did some research. “It’s calling people in Oklahoma and asking them, ‘Well, what do you do for these guys?’ and ‘What is it that they look for?’ and ‘How do they operate?’”

    One big change: He and his wife have learned to expect calls on Sunday. Battista remembers getting an apology from one gas company customer who couldn’t wait until Monday for a 20-by-30-foot steel building to cover a compressor. “He said, ‘Tell your wife I’m sorry, I kind of lose track of what day of the week it is,’ ” Battista recalls. “In this business, they don’t think about when the day is done, but when the job is done.”

    Because rig equipment costs are so high, it is typical throughout the oil and gas industry to run drill sites 24 hours a day. In the Marcellus, the out-of-state workers typically live at the drill location in mobile trailers for two weeks at a time, working 12-hour shifts seven days a week, then heading home for two weeks off. It’s no wonder that some of the first Pennsylvanians who are actually getting jobs doing the actual drilling are workers used to grueling schedules—war veterans.

    One of them is Joshua Cannon, 30, of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, who served three tours of duty in Iraq, the last two with the Army’s highly regarded 101st Airborne Division. He was discharged in 2008, just as the recession hit, and found nothing but heartache in his search for a salaried job to support his wife and two children.

    He lost out on a job as manager of a discount variety store to a candidate with a business administration degree. The work he did find was making deliveries—sometimes earning $200 a day, sometimes $20 a day, depending on calls completed—with no benefits. He and his wife tried to move out of their cramped and cold apartment, but on the day of closing on their new house, the bank refused the loan because he had no steady salary. “I felt like I survived being in intense combat for three years, and I can’t survive in Pittsburgh,” Cannon says.

    He decided to see whether there were any opportunities in a business he had first heard about from an old friend—gas drilling in the Marcellus shale. He got the call, and started work last February.

    “Some days it's intensive labor, where you have to tackle one project individually or as a team,” he says. “Other days, when the driller is turning knobs and pushing buttons, you have to figure out little projects throughout the rig to keep things running. It might be cleaning or fixing or organizing something. It’s a good balance of work.” And it’s a steady salary, including health insurance and a 401 (k). “It’s a golden opportunity on so many levels,” Cannon says.

    But for now, Cannon is an exception.

    Gas companies say they want to move to a more local workforce on rigs, but the technical nature of the job—the actual driller manages the well from a bay of computer screens in an enclosed control room high in the derrick—means that only a small percentage of the team can be made up of inexperienced workers, producers say.

    Certainly, the jobs are attractive. The average oil and gas worker salary in Pennsylvania is about $60,000, or 50 percent higher than the average private wage job in the state, according to the Pennsylvania Economy League of Southwestern Pennsylvania. But job experts say at least 75 percent of rig workers are from out of state.

    “There’s a lot of talk about the pick-up trucks with Texas and Oklahoma license plates,” says Joe Iannetti, principal of the Western Area Career and Technology Center (WACTC) in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. “They’re skilled and good people and we like them because they spend their money here. But we want to see some Pennsylvania license plates at those work sites. I think that’s our duty, to make sure we can provide people who can work those jobs.”

  • Life Enjoyed from Natural Gas Benefits It’s OK to use but not produce….. at least Not In My Back Yard.

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Otsego County, Home Buying in Otsego County, Home Selling in Otsego County  |  December 9, 2010 6:28 AM  |  826 views  |  No comments

    Life Enjoyed from Natural Gas Benefits

    It’s OK to use but not produce…..

    at least Not In My Back Yard.

    One argument I read a lot from anti-drillers — especially in the relatively anonymous online comments sections of some upstate New York newspapers — is the green-eyed accusation of "greed" against both landowners and the natural gas industry.

    This bothers me, for a number of reasons.  For starters, I don't think wanting to be able to pay your bills is greedy (and, let's face it, that's what most landowners are going to wind up doing if they ever manage to make any money from their shale gas resource).  Furthermore, I don't think wanting to have a job is greedy (and, at the rate we're going, some of the New Yorkers we're talking about employing here are probably right now still in junior high school).  Lastly, I happen to know firsthand that getting natural gas out of the ground and available to the consumer requires a hell of a lot of effort — across an unbelievable variety of areas of expertise.  I don't think there's anything greedy about the willingness to risk one's money, or sell one's time, getting it done.

    Truly, these things are not about greed.  Do these so-called environmentalists drive around the upstate countryside, looking at the rows of ripening corn, and mutter cynically to themselves, "Greedy farmer"?  Or do they curse themselves as greedy, every time they tear open their monthly retirement account statements — which are almost invariably touched, directly or indirectly, by investments in the fossil fuel business?

    Let me just turn this around, and ask about greed in a way that nobody ever seems to want to contemplate:  Is it greedy to enjoy a lifestyle that includes all the benefits of natural gas (and other fossil fuels), but, at the same time, to loudly protest ever being asked to tolerate even just some of the acknowledged impacts required for its production?

    (Or is that just childish?)

    Shale makes for a big rubble pile, and shale gas makes for a big argument — no doubt about it.

    How can there be such a wide variety of very different truths for different people on the shale gas issue?  I think — through a process of contagious persuasiveness and misinformation, some of it even appearing as regular journalism — otherwise intelligent, concerned, and well-meaning people have become, essentially, very afraid.  I don’t mean to be disrespectful or dismissive in saying this.

    The fear that is making the rounds these days has quickly converted some New Yorkers into die-hard opponents of the whole concept of shale gas.  Essentially, these folks advocate turning our backs to development of this resource.  (It’s okay to use, but not to produce — at least not from around these parts.  That seems to be the logical end result of their line of thinking.)

    The fear also quickly becomes the lens through which opponents take in all further information, and the way in which they spread the word.  And so it goes, like a virus.

    I don't know how to turn this virus around, but I do know it's not what I believe.  I believe that we in New York have a choice between figuring out how to make shale gas work for all of us in a careful, sensible, and regulated way — or letting fear, ignorance, and political turmoil shackle our future.  So long as we use natural gas, I think it’s a much more responsible approach to get it out of the ground, safely, right here in New York State, where we can manage our own impacts, and where our own citizens stand to benefit — rather than just idly pawning off all the risks, and all the rewards, on the people of Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Texas, or Canada.


  • Central New York Landowner’s Coalition Rally: Petroleum Geologist Don Zaengle

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Otsego County, Home Buying in Otsego County, Home Selling in Otsego County  |  December 9, 2010 5:44 AM  |  788 views  |  No comments

    Central New York Landowner's Coalition Rally: Petroleum Geologist Don Zaengle.

    The third and final speaker at the April 10 Central New York Landowner’s Coalition (CNYLC) meeting held at the Unadilla Valley Central School was Don Zaengle, a consulting petroleum geologist from Worcester, NY. Zaengle opened his talk with a map showing an outline of those regions in New York State that fall within the Marcellus Shale zone. He said New York State has 12 million acres of potential Marcellus Shale, but not all of it is commercially viable. To put it in context, the entire Appalachian Plateau, which is the area in the Eastern United States that contains Marcellus Shale reaching from New York as far south as Georgia and Alabama, has some 34 million acres in it. So New York State represents about 35% of the entire Marcellus Shale region by acreage.

    Zaengle showed a cross section of different shale and sandstone deposits and briefly discussed a few of the different types of shale found in the Central New York region. The exciting news is that Marcellus wells far out produce other types of natural gas wells. An example: It takes six Herkimer Sandstone/Oneida gas wells to equal the production of just one Marcellus Shale gas well. Or put the other way around, one Marcellus gas well equals (revenue-wise) six Herkimer Sandstone/Oneida wells.

    Another example Zaengle offered to give attendees an idea of the importance of the Marcellus Shale: In Dimock Township, Pennsylvania, Cabot Oil & Gas has drilled a number of wells in a seven-mile area. The well production from that small area over the course of a single year is on track to generate $180 million in gross revenue. The Marcellus gas play is huge.

    Cabot Oil & Gas fracked a well in the Dimock, PA area called Teel #6. It is a vertical well and the fracking “interval” is 370 feet, spanning several different rock layers. The interesting thing is that Cabot has been able to extract gas from many of the non-Marcellus layers, indicating energy companies may be interested in leasing land for non-Marcellus plays as well.

    With respect to whether or not a landowner’s property is attractive to an energy company, and the terms a landowner might receive for leasing their mineral rights, Zaengle offered eight geological factors that influence a successful shale play.

    Geologic Factors Influencing a Successful Shale Play

    1. Total Organic Carbon. This is the amount of organic matter in the shale. The Marcellus Shale in New York is typically in the 2-6 percent range. Energy companies want to see this number over 2 percent in order to drill.

    2. Thermal Maturity. This measures how much the rock has been “cooked” in geologic ages gone by. If the rock was cooked too much, or not enough, the likelihood of finding natural gas decreases. Thermal maturity is measured with units called vitrinite reflectance, abbreviated as Ro. The Ro values found in the Central New York region range from 2.7 to 3.3. Energy companies like to see the Ro value below 3.0.

    3. Brittleness and Natural Fractures. A lot of natural gas is found in naturally occurring fractures. Energy companies use seismic testing to determine brittleness and fractures and the data is considered proprietary and closely guarded. The more naturally occurring fractures, the better.

    4. Gas in Place. This is the total volume of natural gas in the shale rock. Estimates for the Marcellus Shale in Central New York range from 35-75 Bcf per square mile. (Bcf=billion cubic feet; one square mile equals 640 acres)

    5. Porosity and Permeability. Porosity is a measure of how much of a rock is open space. Permeability measures the ease with which a substance (natural gas) can move through a porous rock.

    6. Mineralogy. The makeup and composition of the rocks. Is there a lot of clay? The wrong kind of clay can plug up the fracking holes and cause the well to not produce. Also, the higher the silica content in the rock, the better the rock will fracture. Silica is the main chemical compound found in sand. Zaengle said mineralogy is an extremely important factor.

    7. Pore Pressure. This is the amount of pressure the gas is under. The more pressure the better. Energy companies want shale layers to be at least 3,000 feet down so the pressure is sufficient.

    8. Thickness. The depth of the shale layer. The Marcellus Shale gross thickness, from the very top to the very bottom ranges from 600 to 800 feet. But the useable, drillable part of that layer in the Central New York area is 10 to 160 feet. The thicker the better.

    Zaengle followed geologic factors with a list of non-geological factors that influence success in a shale play.

    Non-Geologic Factors Influencing a Successful Shale Play

    1. Proximity to Pipelines. Having a way to get the gas to market is critical. According to Zaengle, everything around the Millennium Pipeline and south of it will get leased first because of pipeline proximity.

    2. Available Water Resources. It takes a lot of water for hydraulic fracturing, so abundant water supplies help. In five to ten years water will not be as important. Drillers are working on alternatives to water, using carbon dioxide and even natural gas itself in the fracturing process. But for now, water is still critical.

    3. Access to Roads and Railways. Good transportation is needed to get get equipment and materials, including sand and water, to the drilling site.

    4. Geo-Political Regulations. Drilling companies will avoid areas where the regulations are simply too restrictive. Zaengle said that drillers have told him they prefer to not drill anywhere in the Delaware River Basin because the Delaware River Basin Commission makes it so difficult to get a permit to drill. However, they don’t mind drilling in areas where the Susquehanna River Basin Commission is involved as they tend to be more reasonable. He also said that Sullivan County, NY and other counties in the New York City Watershed area of the Catskill region will likely never see drilling. Not only because of the opposition from New York City, but also because the geology in that area is not good for Marcellus drilling.

    5. Topography. The natural characteristics of the land—is it flat, mountainous, rolling hills, flood plain, etc.

    6. Proximity to Schools and Residential Areas.

    7. Environmental Considerations. Are there wetlands or sensitive wildlife habitats close by?

    8. Natural Gas Prices. The higher the price, the more money can be spent to extract natural gas because it is profitable. The lower the price, the less likely new drilling will take place.

    In summary, Zaengle said that Central New York has “a lot of different shale plays.” The offer a landowner will receive will depend on his or her geology and other factors. Zaengle encouraged those attending to join multiple coalitions. He said it’s important to be in a coalition and that, “Your lease will be affected by your neighbor’s lease.”

    Kellie M. Place

    "The Land Expert"

    CENTURY 21 Chesser Realty

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