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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created an "Eyes on Drilling" tip line for the public to report nonemergency suspicious activity related to oil and natural gas development in the Marcellus shale region. The tip line has been set up to principally handle complaints from people living in the Marcellus shale region, which covers several states in the Mid-Atlantic region, said David Sternberg, spokesman for EPA's regional office in Philadelphia. While the tip line is primarily limited to drilling activities in the Mid-Atlantic, "if people call from other regions complaining, we will handle the calls and pass them along to the appropriate people," Sternberg said. The tip line (1-877-919-4EPA) will give the public a chance to report, either anonymously or otherwise, incidents involving the illegal disposal of wastes or other suspicious activity. Reports can also be sent via e-mail to, the agency said.

Midstream operator Frontier Gas Services LLC has acquired two more natural gas gathering systems in Arkansas' Fayetteville Shale, adding to the four it already operates in the play. The systems, located in Faulkner and Conway counties, AR, include 20,000 hp of leased compression, two gas treating facilities and 38 miles of eight-, 10-, 12- and 16-inch diameter steel pipe with current capacity to deliver more than 100 MMcf/d into the Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP and Ozark Gas Transmission LP pipelines (see NGI, April 13, 2009; April 7, 2008). Frontier plans to "significantly" expand the new Fayetteville Shale properties in 2011, including adding interconnects with the recently approved Fayetteville Express Pipeline (see NGI, Dec. 21, 2009). Chesapeake Energy Marketing Inc., an affiliate of Chesapeake Energy Corp., dedicated its interest in the newly acquired systems to Frontier from a defined area adjacent to the two gathering systems where it has an "aggressive drilling plan in progress," Frontier said. Frontier already has four existing systems in Arkansas: Wilson Creek Gathering System, 100 MMcf/d of capacity; Prairie Creek Gathering System, 50 MMcf/d; Twin Groves Gathering System, 60 MMcf/d; and Rose Bud Gathering System, also with 60 MMcf/d.

El Paso Corp. raised its total unproved natural gas and oil reserves by an estimated 44% in 2009 from year-end 2008 levels, with most of the gains coming from the Haynesville and Eagle Ford shales, the Houston-based company reported. As of year-end 2009 El Paso had 5.1 Tcfe of estimated total risked unproved reserves, or 8.9 Tcfe unrisked, in addition to 2.75 Tcfe of proved reserves, it said. The totals include the company's proportionate interest in Four Star Oil & Gas Co. About 2.475-3.62 Tcfe of the unproved reserves are in El Paso's unconventional resources business, which consists primarily of the Haynesville and Eagle Ford shale plays, as well as coalbed methane operations in the Raton, Black Warrior and Arkoma basins. An estimated 2.05-2.65 Tcfe of unproven reserves are included in El Paso's conventional low-risk drilling program, which includes the Altamont Field, other Rockies programs, South Texas and Brazil development programs. It also includes tight gas drilling in the ArkLaTex area. Conventional, higher-risk unproved reserves total 600 Bcfe-2.64 Tcfe, El Paso said.

ConocoPhillips has agreed to install pollution control equipment and implement other emission-reduction practices to reduce harmful emissions and conserve natural gas at its Argenta and Sunnyside compressor stations on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in the San Juan Basin near Ignacio, CO, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said. Under a settlement agreement with EPA, ConocoPhillips agreed to pay $175,000 in civil penalties. According to a complaint filed with the settlement, the producer allegedly violated provisions of its air emissions permit under Title V of the Clean Air Act. EPA said ConocoPhillips had cooperated in resolving the violations.

Dominion Resources closed on the $780 million sale of Pittsburgh-based Dominion Peoples, its Pennsylvania natural gas distribution company, to PNG Companies LLC, an affiliate of SteelRiver Infrastructure Fund North America. Dominion Resources turned to SteelRiver Infrastructure after its plans to sell Peoples to Pittsburgh-based Equitable Resources fell through in mid-2008 (see NGI, July 7, 2008). Dominion plans to use approximately $542 million in after-tax proceeds to reduce debt. Dominion Peoples provides gas service to about 359,000 residences and business in 32 counties in Pennsylvania.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (Oxy) said its year-end 2009 worldwide proved reserves jumped to 3.23 billion boe from 2.98 billion boe at the end of 2008. In 2009 the Los Angeles-based producer's proved reserve additions from all sources totaled 483 million boe, compared with production of 235 million boe, for a production replacement ratio of 206%. Oxy also cut its finding and development (F&D) costs dramatically in 2009 to $7.90/boe; for the last three-year period, F&D costs averaged about $15.10/boe. At year-end 2009 73% of Oxy's proved reserves were oil and 27% were natural gas. Of the total proved reserves, about 64% were in the United States, with the rest in overseas locations. Around 23% of the proved reserves were proved undeveloped; 77% were proved developed. Of the total reserve changes, improved recovery, which reflects Oxy's enhanced oil recovery activities, represented 173 million boe of proved reserves additions, mainly in California, the Permian Basin and In Oman. Extensions and discoveries added another 92 million boe of reserves, mainly in the Kern County, CA, discovery area, with smaller additions internationally. Oxy also added 160 million boe through purchases of proved reserves, which mostly consisted of domestic acquisitions in California and New Mexico.

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