GreenHunter & USCG Argue over Barging, Homeland Security Reviews

Ohio River bargeGreenHunter Resources continues to aggressively push back against the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) with respect to barging brine from shale wells. Yesterday was the latest flare-up in the war of words between GreenHunter and the USCG. Once again GreenHunter COO Kirk Trosclair said the way they read the rules, they have permission under existing 1987 rules to barge it. And once again the USCG said no you don’t–not until we say you do. The latest twist is that the USCG says that brine might have high levels of radioactivity and so now the Dept. of Homeland Security is reviewing the whole matter. Which is a neat way of corrupting the issue–just claim there’s a national security issue and that shuts it all down. Still, GreenHunter is committed to begin barge shipments this year. However, we also learned yesterday that those shipments will not originate at GreenHunter’s proposed facility near Wheeling, WV…
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New Report Exposes NY’s Fraudulent “Science” Used to Ban Fracking

A new report just published by the always excellent Energy in Depth (EID) shreds to pieces the so-called science used by anti-driller and still Acting Commissioner of the New York State Health Department Howard Zucker. The report, titled “A Look Inside New York’s Anti-Fracking Echo Chamber” (full copy below) details Zucker’s use of a bunch of anti-driller-backed research reports, compiling them into a document he used as cover to recommend a ban on fracking in the Empire State. Zucker’s corruption is now exposed for the world to see. Simon Lomax from EID presented a copy of the highly damaging report to a House of Representatives committee hearing yesterday, convened to discuss state and local bans on fracking. New York officials are spitting and sputtering and backpedaling. They can’t find a rock big enough to hide under…
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Belmont County Elated with Cracker Plant Announcement (Drip)

Raindrops Keep Falling on my HeadWe hate to rain on Belmont County, OH’s parade, but we have to point out their celebration over the announcement about a potential ethane cracker plant announced on Wednesday may be a bit premature (see It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site). Yes, we’re super excited at the prospect of a cracker plant getting built somewhere in the northeast–and if it’s this one, to be built by Thailand and Japan, we’ll be as elated as the officials in Belmont County are (see below). However, we would like to point them to Beaver County, PA, about an hour’s drive across the border, where local officials there have been waiting for more than three years for Shell to get off the pot with a project to build a cracker plant there. Elation–when it comes to these cracker plant projects–sooner or later turns into concern, and eventually into dimmed and elusive hope. The one thing Belmont County CAN celebrate is that the company proposing to possibly build the cracker plant in the county will spend around $150 million to evaluate the site first–so at least the county will get a bit of an economic bump from that…
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PA Anti-Driller Fined $1K for Trespassing on Cabot O&G Site, Jail?

A little-known (outside of northeast Pennsylvania) anti-driller, Vera Scroggins, was fined $1,000 yesterday in Susquehanna County court. Vera’s biggest claim to fame is her potty mouth treatment of FrackNation filmmaker Phelim McAleer (watch it here). She is a repeat trespasser on Cabot Oil & Gas drilling sites and has been warned, repeatedly, to stay off their land–for her own safety and the safety of others. Scroggins runs so-called tours where she shows New York City celebrities and other urbanites (who don’t know the difference between a cow’s udder and a roof gutter) the gas fields of Susquehanna County, claiming drilling operations somehow harm local residents. The judge has had enough. He said at the hearing that Vera has 45 days to pay the fine for her latest violation and if she doesn’t, she’s going to jail. Vera maintains her latest violation wasn’t a violation–that the court is relying on the testimony of someone who lied under oath about seeing her trespass…
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Cabot O&G 1Q15: Production Up, Revenue Up, Profits Down

Cabot Oil & Gas released it’s first quarter 2015 results today. Most of the numbers are impressive indeed. Marcellus natural gas production was up 43% over last year. Liquids production was up 132%. And even though they’re not getting as much money for their product, revenue was up year over year–$267.4 million in 1Q15 vs $255.4 million in 1Q14 (up 4.7%). However, even the mighty Cabot couldn’t keep all of the numbers going up. Net income–the money you keep after expenses–was down from $107 million in 1Q14 to $40.3 million in 1Q15–a 62% drop year over year. Low prices for both dry and wet gas are the culprit. Here’s today’s 1Q15 financial and operational update from one of our favorite Marcellus drillers, which includes “guidance” (their best guess) as to what will happen for the balance of 2015…
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EQT 1Q15: Production Volume Up 37%, but Price Received Down 33%

EQT, one of the big drillers in the Marcellus (and Utica) Shale region, released a financial and operational update for first quarter 2015. It shows the company’s production increased 37% year over year, but the price they received for natural gas decreased 33% year over year. Consequently, EQT’s net income for 1Q15 dropped 9.8% from what it was in 1Q14–$173.4 million in 1Q15 vs $192.2 million in 1Q14. EQT has a major midstream (pipelines) division. Revenue for the midstream division was 38% higher than a year ago, meaning overall EQT’s net income would have been a lot worse if not for its midstream operations. As other companies have done, EQT has once again lowered its capital budget for 2015–another $150 million. They now plan to spend $2.05B instead of the originally announced $2.5B…
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PA DEP Rejects PIOGA’s Call to Dump 4 Non-Voting TAB Members

week and a half ago MDN told you about the brewing showdown between the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association, or PIOGA (see PIOGA Turns Up the Heat on Wolf/Quigley Over TAB/Article 78). The bone of contention is Acting DEP Secretary John Quigley’s appointment (illegal appointment according to PIOGA) of four mostly anti-drilling board members to the DEP’s Oil & Gas Technical Advisory Board (TAB). The four are non-voting members–but they gum up the real work that needs to get done by TAB in approving new drilling regulations–something called Chapters 78 and 78a. Yesterday the DEP doubled down and rejected PIOGA’s call to dismiss the four new members appointed by Quigley. Actually, all five voting members were replaced by Quigley too, in a great purge (see Why did PA DEP Acting Sec Quigley Mass Fire Gas Advisory Board?). PIOGA previously said they will consider a lawsuit to pursue the matter should Quigley continue down this road…
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PA DEP Plans to Air Conventional Drilling’s Dirty Laundry

Pennsylvania’s conventional (non-shale) oil and gas drillers have long argued they should be exempt from new rules and regulations that apply to shale drillers. The wells they drill are much shallower, use less water (and less of everything, including truck trips), and in general conventional drillers say shale regulations will drive mom and pop drillers out of business entirely. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection, however, doesn’t quite see it that way. The DEP has made certain allowances for the difference between shale and non-shale, but the DEP has drawn a line in the frac sand on other matters and plans to press it case that conventional drillers need to step up their game…
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PA Town Supervisors Say “No Thanks” To Wolf Severance Tax Plan

More and more people are waking up to the fact that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed severance tax is not only bad for the Marcellus industry–it’s bad for the state too. The latest group to officially oppose it is the influential Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS). The group’s president said yesterday that the fee from the severance tax intended to replace the current impact fee (under Act 13) that provides an important source of revenue for municipalities would not grow as drilling grows. PSATS has figured out the dirty little secret–Wolf intends to raid money that would have gone to townships in order to grease politicians hands in Harrisburg, allowing that money to disappear into the black hole of state spending…
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Richard Kinder: Northeast Energy Direct to Proceed Later This Yr

Richard Kinger, CEO of the country’s largest midstream company, Kinder Morgan, went on CNBC on Wednesday to chat about the price of oil and its “sweet spot” and other things. It was Kinder’s Kinder’s comments on his company’s future plans for the Marcellus/Utica region that most interested MDN. Topic A was Kinder’s plans to run an extension of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline into New England, the Northeast Energy Direct project (NED). Kinder said that project is very close to critical mass and should launch later this year, provided FERC approves it…
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Martian Sighting in Harrisburg – Keep Wells Away from Schools

My Favorite MartianWhere’s HG Wells when you need him? We’ve had another Martian sighting! At yesterday’s PA Dept. of Environmental Protection Oil & Gas Technical Advisory Board (TAB) meeting, Amy Nassif, representing some of the parents from the Mars School district in Butler County, PA, addressed TAB members imploring them to “keep oil and gas well pads away from schools.” Aaah, Ms. Nassif–what about well pads that already exist ON SCHOOL PROPERTY? Like the well pad at the Elk Lake School in Susquehanna County (see Rural NE PA School Nets $1.7M in Royalties from 2 Marcellus Wells). Should they rip out their two wells–wells that haven’t harmed a single student and have brought in millions of dollars for the school?…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Apr 24, 2015

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading:
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It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site

its officialAs we told you Tuesday, Ohio is now squarely in the ethane cracker race (see Rumor: Ohio Cracker Plant Announcement Coming This Week). As predicted, yesterday Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Belmont County, OH officials announced a pair of companies from Thailand and Japan were partnering with the aim of building an ethane cracker plant in Belmont County (see the announcement below). It is a $5 billion project, according to media reports–larger than the price tag for both the possible Shell ethane cracker in Beaver County, PA and the Odebrect ethane cracker/petrochemical facility in Parkersburg, WV–which is now on pause (see Odebrect Pushes the Pause Button on WV Ethane Cracker). Speaking of which–you may now color us skeptical and jaded that any of these projects, including the one in Ohio, will ever get built…
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PA Gov. Wolf Talks to Shell About Beaver County Cracker Plant

PA Gov. Tom Wolf is bullish on the possibility of an ethane cracker coming to Beaver County, PA. He thinks a cracker is “inevitable.” In what can only be described as a faux pas for Wolf, he spoke about his love of a cracker yesterday, on Earth Day (oops). Earth Day is all about Democrats professing love of Mother Earth and hatred of fossil fuels. Must be Wolf didn’t get the memo. Wolf says he’s spoken to Shell muckety-mucks to let them know PA still wants a cracker. He said the Shell muckety-mucks say the project is “still on track” although there’s no timetable for a decision–which we take to mean no decision will be made for the foreseeable future…
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Trans Energy Clean Water Act “Crime” Results in 2 Yrs Probation

We suppose Trans Energy, a WV-based shale driller, is now considered a hardened, convicted criminal. The company’s crime? Pushing dirt into a few creeks without a permit. It’s a crime for which they are paying dearly. Last October MDN brought you the story of the federal Environmental Protection Agency and WV Dept. of Environmental Protection joint investigation into Trans Energy’s dirt-pushing and the resulting $3.6 million in fines (see Court Adds Another $600K to $3M Fine for Trans Energy in WV Case). Investigators from the EPA’s Criminal Enforcement Program in the Mid-Atlantic States got involved. Bet you didn’t know the EPA has a Criminal Enforcement Program, did you? The kicker: under a plea agreement signed yesterday by Trans Energy’s CEO John Corp, the company (presumably Corp) will need to report to a federal probation office for the next two years. Scene at the probation office waiting room: Corp sitting on a bench in a tailor-made business suit, sitting next to a convicted meth lab operator covered head to toe with tats. “What are you in for?” says the drug peddler. “Violating the Clean Water Act,” says Corp. “Dang, you really are a nasty piece of work,” says the drug peddler…
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Williams Still Can’t Find Leak in 4-inch WV Condensate Pipeline

Ten days ago heavy rains in West Virginia led to two Williams pipelines rupturing within hours of each other–both in Marshall County (see 2 Williams Pipelines Rupture in Marshall County After Heavy Rains). One pipeline was a 12-inch gathering line for natural gas. The other was a 4-inch condensate pipeline that ended up spilling around 132 barrels of condensate that ended up in nearby Little Grave Creek (see WV DEP to Fine Williams for Condensate Pipeline Leak in WV). Although the WV DEP has rushed to assess a fine because of the condensate spill, they may be putting the cart before the horse. Williams hasn’t yet located where the leak occurred in the 4-inch condensate pipeline…
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