Marcellus Shale

Wizard Chip Northrup Meets Truth in Pulteney; Explodes in Reaction

Regular readers of this blog will recall I previously pointed out that anti-natural gas spokespeople masquerading as experts is a rampant problem. It was the same story last night as the Town of Pulteney, Steuben County, New York was poised to vote on a proposed moratorium on natural gas development (one based on the Park Foundation funded Slottje model).  I have a summer cottage in the town on Keuka Lake and have been following this issue since it was first raised.  When I entered the town hall, I saw the last minute guest speaker, James Northrup lurking in the shadows behind a poster stand.  It reminded me of the Great Wizard of Oz behind the curtain before he was exposed.

When he finally appeared, James Chip Northrup immediately set the tone as he started off his “Shale Shill” presentation by joking that he was chosen as an Otsego 2000 board member and expert because of his Texas accent. How true it turned out, as his arrogance and lack of expertise was evident from the start which was no surprise to readers of the Energy in Depth – Northeast Marcellus Initiative blog.

He then unabashedly joked that he was only the second smartest oil and gas guy in Cooperstown next to Lou Allstadt. Heaven forbid! If Lou Allstadt is the benchmark then the anti shale gas contingent might as well fold now. I dealt with him previously here.  Yeah, Allstadt sets the standard for anti-natural gas “experts” – that much is sure.

Chip Northrup - The Wizard of Shale

The Wizard or Chip Northrup?

Northrup then proceeded, in his usual condescending tone, with a sensationalized arm waving presentation of fictional tales including supposed casing and cement failures, fracture stimulation pathways to the surface, lack of jobs and minimal tax revenue.  He even ventured into Debroah Roger’s aka “Mother of all Spin” fantasy land of overstated reserves and ponzi schemes.  She is an empress with no clothes, as I explained in a previous series.  Likewise, Chip Northrup’s errors were certainly not news to me or anyone else with credibility in the industry.

Mercifully, Northrup’s pitiful presentation finally ended, as the crowd had began to yawn and squirm.  Then the fun began, with the question and answer period. Northrup was pummeled time-and-again by a well informed audience that saw through his charade. As the challenges mounted, I could tell he was getting more and more agitated.  I didn’t even plan to ask a question because it was obvious the audience and Board were unimpressed but when the Supervisor said the Board could take one more question I couldn’t resist.

I was planning to ask for his credentials to even speak on shale exploration but the discussion never quite got there.  I opened by stating my name and background, reminded him of my ongoing criticism  of his  factual mistakes and stated that, after tonight’s presentation, I was even more sure he didn’t have any relevant expertise in the oil and gas field – that he didn’t know what he was talking about!

Before I got to ask him to cite his credentials, however,  he began shouting.  His angry face revealed two wild eyes and his two arms were flailing and motioning me to the exit, all this being accompanied by a “let’s take this outside and settle this once and for all” threat.  

I thought for a moment I was back in grade school.

Needless to say the audience and even the anti-natural gas members of board were aghast at his outburst. The whole thing was immediately halted, Chip Northrup quickly packed up and away he went, bringing the whole ridiculous episode to an end.

The town board then proceeded to vote. I am not sure how the board was leaning before Northrup’s performance but the moratorium resolution was immediately defeated in quick order on a three to two vote, despite the town supervisor having advocated strongly for it.

Thanks Chip! Keep up the good work and I’ll see you at the next presentation.

Interestingly, the rest of the meeting was focused on the severe revenue shortfalls of the Town, the necessity to raise property taxes and how to fix the problem. Sometimes people just refuse to see what is in front of their face.

Dr. Cline holds s a BS in geological science from Penn State, and both MS and PhD in petroleum engineering from University of Oklahoma and an MBA. He began his career in 1976 for Gulf Oil Corporation (now Chevron) and later worked as geophysicist, geologist, petroleum engineer, and senior manager for several other oil and gas companies based in Houston and Oklahoma City. He currently lives in the Finger Lakes region of NY and consults with the oil and gas industry. He also teaches corporate finance and is an accredited business valuation specialist. He was involved in the early study and implementation of horizontal drilling, published on a wide range of oil and gas topics and his research interests include horizontal drilling in fractured reservoirs, well construction and design, reservoir simulation, fluid flow in porous media, oil and gas valuation, reserve and resource estimation, and unitization matters. His PhD dissertation was on decline curve analysis of horizontal and vertical wells in fractured reservoirs. He has recently served as subject matter expert at the US EPA technical sessions on well construction and hydraulic fracturing in Arlington, VA, the Quebec’s Office of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE) in regard to formulating oil and gas regulation in Quebec and testified before the NY State Assembly Energy and Environmental Committees on hydraulic fracturing.

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