Range Resources

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This article is about the US-based oil and gas company. For the Australian-based oil and gas company, see Range Resources Limited.
Range Resources Corp.
Type Public
Traded as NYSERRC
Industry Oil and gas
Founded 1976
Headquarters Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Key people
  • John H. Pinkerton, Chairman/CEO
  • Jeffrey L. Ventura, President/COO
  • Chad L. Stephens, Vice President
  • Ray Walker, Vice President
  • Matt Pitzarella, spokesman
Revenue Increase$907 million USD (2009)
Operating income Increase$59 million USD (2009)
Net income Increase($54)million USD (2009)[1]
Employees 787 (2009)[1] b
Website www.rangeresources.com

Range Resources is an independent oil and gas exploration and production company based in Fort Worth, Texas. Range is best known for its pioneering of the Devonian-aged Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania,[2] which is now the most productive natural gas field in the United States.[3] Range has over $1 billion USD invested in southwestern Pennsylvania,[4] while it also has operations in the Southwestern United States. Founded in 1976, the current President and Chief Executive Officer is Jeffrey L. Ventura.[5]

History[edit]

Range Resources traces its roots to Lomak Petroleum, which was based in Hartville, Ohio in 1976, and drilled wells in eastern Ohio. In 1992, it moved its headquarters to Fort Worth and merged in 1998 with Domain Energy Corp. to become its present form. It also participated in a joint venture with FirstEnergy called Great Lakes Energy Partners LLC which it bought out in 2004 to form the subsidiary Range Resources Appalachia LLC.[6] Before its major expansion into the Marcellus Shale, Range Resources only held a small position in the Texas Barnett Shale and 9000 "worn-out gas wells across the Appalachian basin that had been producing for 25 years".[citation needed]

However, geologist William Zagorski, who worked for the company, used the knowledge of fracking gained working in the Barnett Shale (pioneered in the region by Mitchell Energy) to attempt fracking in Appalachia, where according Ventura, "it worked on the first try".[citation needed] The first test used a vertical drill, but Range Resources built three horizontal test wells in 2005 (in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania) and bought $200 million USD worth of land in 2007. The company had spent less than $1000 per acre on average to acquire land suitable for drilling, compared to larger traditional oil and gas players who joined the exploration rush late in the game who had "recent deals primed at $14,000 an acre".[7] In 2010, Forbes called Range Resources "King of the Marcellus Shale" with an enterprise value of $8 billion USD, suggesting that its position should attract energy investors scared by offshore drilling's unlimited liabilities, as shown by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It suggested that after factoring Range's profitable use of land acquisitions, a true value could be closer to $20 billion USD.[7]

Environmental record[edit]

Range Resources lists chemicals used in its hydraulic fracturing on its website, giving regulators and landowners an account of the chemicals injected into each well. The Range list includes the volume, concentration and purpose of the chemicals.[8] However recent court documents show that Range Resources does not know the makeup of the products it uses to extract natural gas from shale.[9]

Hydraulic fracturing critics list Range Resources wells and violations at FrackTrack [10]

Washington County, Pennsylvania[edit]

This American Life and New York Times investigated Range operations in Amwell Township and Mount Pleasant. Journalists Eliza Griswold and Sarah Koenig found allegations that Range Resource gas wells caused water pollution and air pollution. Residents complained of black running water that corroded faucets and household machinery, showers smelling of "rotten eggs" (hydrogen sulfide) and diarrhea, "mysterious stomach pains", extreme fatigue or anemia. Medical tests of residents complaining of headaches, nosebleeds and the inability to concentrate showed elevated blood levels of organic solvents and heavy metals such as toluene and arsenic. When presented with such complaints, Range Resources argued their labs' test results show that complaints of illness and dying animals may have causes other than poisoning or pollution.[4][11] According to a letter from Range Resources to a complainant, "On November 10, 2010, you voluntarily supplied Range Resources with lab results from both your dog and horse veterinarians. Upon review of these results, Range contacted the canine and equine veterinarians. … [I]t was stated by the veterinarian that the test results were inconclusive for anti-freeze [ethylene glycol] poising. … The veterinarian indicated that the horse had toxicity of the liver, which he felt was not related to [ethylene glycol] poisoning.[12]

One resident in Amwell was riding her horse behind Range Resources' chemical pond for holding fracking flowback when she encountered "a hissing and bubbling sound in the stream" and a "red foamy oil slick" that caused the stream to exhibit "rainbow water". Range maintained that it was likely caused by "decayed vegetation that gave off gas", having attributed previous complaints of malodor to harmless anaerobic bacteria that grew near their fluid compressor stations. However chemical tests of the area later "revealed the presence of acetone, toluene, benzene, phenol, arsenic, barium, heavy metals and methane".[11] Range Resources then paid to have a water well drilled for the landowner, which the owner said was also contaminated. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) tested the landowner's well water twice, and found no contamination in the water.[13]

Range Resources has paid $219,875 in fines to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as of May 2010. The bulk was $141,175 levied for a fracking fluid spill that killed aquatic life in Washington County's Brush Creek — protected by the state as a "high-quality waterway" — according to the Pittsburgh Business Times. However, Ray Walker, vice president, said that Range Resources has "made a lot of adjustments since then". The fluid spill was due to a "faulty elbow pipe"; according to Walker, Range has since "gone to a completely different pipe manufacturer and a completely different pipe design". Firings and changed procedures also followed the incident.

Parker County, Texas[edit]

In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an emergency order against Range, stating that the company's drilling activities in Parker County, Texas had led to the contamination of at least two residential drinking water wells. The company denied the allegations, and said the presence of methane was a result of naturally occurring migration, and had shown up in nearby water wells long before Range drilled its gas wells.[14][15] However, after a January 2011 Texas Railroad Commission (TRRC) hearing, TRRC staff concluded that, based on chemical composition, the gas in the water wells came from the shallow Strawn Formation, rather than the deeper Barnett Shale, in which the Range wells were completed. They also concluded that pressure tests by Range showed mechanical integrity of the casing. EPA and the two homeowners were invited to present evidence at the TRRC hearing, but did not. [16]

In March 2012, the EPA dropped its order against Range.[17] Range Resources said the move could help its $4.2 million defamation lawsuit against a Parker County couple who alleged in a $6.5 million lawsuit that Range contaminated their drinking water.[17]

In December 2013, the federal Office of the Inspector General, addressing complaints by six US senators, issued a report concluding that the EPA had been justified in issuing its 2010 emergency order, and had acted reasonably in withdrawing the order after Range had agreed to groundwater quality monitoring. [18]

Public relations[edit]

Range Resources has sponsored public relations campaigns supporting permitted use zoning regulations rather than conditional use zoning, which would provide for case-by-case hearings for citizen review of Range's drilling near their land or neighborhoods. According to NPR: "Mount Pleasant and its three citizen supervisors were ridiculously outmanned...in [an ensuing] full-scale PR war" with Range Resources when the supervisors decided to follow conditional use zoning policy used in other states such as Texas, Colorado and Wyoming. Through letters to lessors, Range wrote that it might stop drilling in the township if the township enacted conditional use zoning. Other townships that enacted conditional use zoning have been sued by Range Resources.[4]

On November 8, 2011, CNBC reported on a conference which Range Resources attended, in which those in the energy industry were advised to "download the US Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, because we are dealing with an insurgency". In the conference, Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella also said that Range had "several former psy ops folks...[who are] very comfortable in dealing with localized issues and local governments. Really all they do is spend most of their time helping folks develop local ordinances and things like that. But very much having that understanding of psy ops in the Army and in the Middle East has applied very helpfully here for us in Pennsylvania." [19] Pitzarella later clarified that he meant to refer to "one employee of the firm", whose psy ops background made him adept at handling emotionally-charged township meetings. However, Sharon Wilson, the recorder of the remarks, said "the comments reveal what the fracking industry thinks about people in the communities that are impacted by the industry." [19]

"My Range Resources"[edit]

As part of an effort to reassure the public of its activities, Range Resources has started a campaign, "My Range Resources" which depict "ordinary people... who have benefited from allowing drilling on their land". The ad campaign includes, in the words of one Centre Daily Times journalist Bob Myers, "real Pennsylvanians talking earnestly about the wonderful experiences they’ve had with Range Resources".[20] According to Elwin Green of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Range Resources stands out because most gas companies generally prefer to keep a low profile, preferring to "tout their successes to Wall Street, but not to Main Street". In contrast, Range Resources' campaign uses testimonials such as, "Natural gas has been ... a godsend to this area," from farmers or "In the last two years, probably 60 percent of our business is natural gas," from local business owners.[6] Vice president Ray Walker was quoted as saying, "A lot of people don't know much about our industry or about Range Resources...we're committed to being the very best that we can be. We want to be accountable, transparent and accessible to people." Videos produced by public relations firms Big Picture Communications and Downtown's Animal Inc. used "unscripted video and purposely avoided using company spokespeople". Blake Lewis, CEO of Lewis Public Relations in Dallas and a board member of the Public Relations Society of America gave Range Resources' website "high marks". However, journalists' reactions have been skeptical or mixed. According to Myers, "a quick review of the state Department of Environmental Protection records suggests that the truth is more complicated than the ads suggest...the folks at Range define good stewardship in a slightly different manner than is customary." Reg Henry of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette thought "the whole promotion was skin crawling... but now I read MyRangeResources and I think: How cute is that for a gas drilling company? It makes me think of my daughter’s My Little Pony when she was a mite".[21]

Litigation and settlements[edit]

In 2011, Range Resources reached a $750,000 settlement agreement with a Pennsylvania family that alleged their 10-acre farm had been destroyed by oil and gas development. Between 2011 and 2013, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sought to obtain court records related to the case.[22] When a judge ordered records unsealed, the settlement agreement was initially not included in the 900 pages of records released.[22] The agreement itself was released after the Post-Gazette and another newspaper, the Observer-Reporter, sued to gain access.[23] As part of the settlement, the family agreed to a gag order preventing them from talking about fracking for the rest of their lives. The gag order covered not just the adults, but also the children, then aged seven and ten years old.[24]

Although the court transcript records an attorney for Range Resources saying that the order applies to the children and that the company "would certainly enforce it", the general counsel for Range Resources said otherwise after court records were unsealed. In a 2013 letter to the Hallowich's attorney that was also released to the media, the general counsel for the company said. "Range has never, at any time, had the intention of seeking to hold a minor child legally accountable for a breach of that provision of the settlement agreement." The lawyer for the Hallowich family said Range had waived the confidentiality of the agreement by releasing the letter to a cable network, and that the family would seek judicial remedy.[25]

In 2011, Range Resources settled for $22 million a class-action lawsuit alleging that royalty payments to Pennsylvania landowners had been improperly reduced.[26][27]

In 2013, Range Resources settled for $87.5 million a class-action lawsuit alleging royalty underpayments on sales of natural gas in Oklahoma.[28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://finance.yahoo.com/q/pr?s=RRC+Profile
  2. ^ Helman, Christopher (9 August 2010). Forbes http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0809/companies-energy-range-resources-bp-gas-blowout-beneficiary.html |url= missing title (help). 
  3. ^ http://finance.yahoo.com/news/marcellus-shale-becoming-top-us-162527250.html
  4. ^ a b c Glass, Ira. "Game Changer, episode 440". This American Life, National Public Radio. 
  5. ^ http://www.rangeresources.com/Our-Company/Senior-Management.aspx
  6. ^ a b Green, Elwin (13 October 2010). "Ads say Range Resources is a responsible driller". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  7. ^ a b Helman, Christopher (9 August 2010). "Range Resources Is King Of The Marcellus Shale". Forbes Magazine. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  8. ^ Public, Pro. "Drilling Company Says It Will List Hazardous Chemicals Used in Fracking". Pro Publica. Retrieved 20 December 2011. 
  9. ^ Colaneri, Katie. "Reports: Range Resource admits it doesn’t know makeup of fracking fluid". StateImpact Pennsylvania. StateImpact Pennsylvania. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  10. ^ Range Resources Marcellus Shale Map
  11. ^ a b Griswold, Eliza (17 November 2011). "The Fracturing of Pennsylvania". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  12. ^ Voyles, Mr. and Mrs. "Water Well Complaint". Retrieved 20 December 2011. 
  13. ^ DEP. "letter to Mrs. Beth Voyles, 19 Oct. 2011". State of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 20 December 2011. 
  14. ^ Das, Krishna N (8 December 2010). "UPDATE 1-Range Resources denies water contamination charges". Reuters. Retrieved 6 August 2013. "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Tuesday that natural gas drilling by the company has contributed to the contamination of at least two residential drinking water wells in the county and ordered it to step in immediately. "Based on our findings to date, it's very clear that our activities have not had any impact on the water aquifer in southern Parker county or the subject water wells," Range Resources said in a statement. The company said its investigations revealed that methane in the aquifer existed long before its drilling and likely is a naturally occurring migration from several shallow gas zones immediately below the water aquifer." 
  15. ^ US EPA, Region 6, EPA Issues an Imminent and Substantial Endangerment Order to Protect Drinking Water in Southern Parker County, 7 Dec. 2010.
  16. ^ Texas Railroad Commission, http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/pressreleases/2011/032211.php, 22 Mar. 2011.
  17. ^ a b Fort Worth Star-Telegram, EPA drops action against Range Resources over Parker County water wells, 31 Mar. 2012.
  18. ^ Jim Malewitz, “Report: EPA Followed Rules in North Texas Drilling Case”, National Public Radio, 26 Dec. 2013.
  19. ^ a b Javers, Eamon (8 Nov 2011). "Oil Executive: Military-Style 'Psy Ops' Experience Applied". CNBC. 
  20. ^ Myers, Bob (26 January 2011). "A vast wasteland awaits". Centre Daily Times. 
  21. ^ Henry, Reg (17 August 2011). "Corporations are the funniest people". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  22. ^ a b Hopey, Don (1 August 2013). "Pittsburgh-area shale settlement 'gag' questioned". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  23. ^ Jones, Mike (12 August 2013). "Full Hallowich settlement released to the public". Observer-Reporter. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  24. ^ Goldenberg, Suzanne (5 August 2013). "Children given lifelong ban on talking about fracking". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  25. ^ Don, Hopey (7 August 2013). "Hallowich children not part of Marcellus Shale gag order agreement". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  26. ^ "Range Resources Settles Royalty Lawsuit from Landowners for $22 Million". Marcellus Drilling News. March 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  27. ^ Duffy, Shannon (23 March 2011). "Judge OKs $22 million Marcellus Shale case settlement". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  28. ^ Fuquay, Jim (4 June 2013). "Range Resources says it’s settling Oklahoma class-action suit for $87.5 million". Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 

External links[edit]

  • Range Resources website, Home page
  • Range Resources website, Well completion reports, details frac fluid volumes and composition for each well, including water volumes and sources, and amounts and identities of chemicals.