Findlay Twp Signs Deal w/Range to Drill Under Town Park, $3K/Acre

Findlay Township (Allegheny County, PA, west of Pittsburgh) has just signed a deal with Range Resources to allow drilling under (not on) the towns 61-acre Clinton Park. Terms of the deal: Findlay gets a $3,000 per acre signing bonus and when the gas begins to flow, an 18% royalty. That means Findlay will get a nice, fat check for $183,000 in the next 90 days. The lease has been a long time in coming. Town supervisors worked on a deal five years ago, but then drilling slowed down and the deal was “put on the shelf.” Range will actually drill under the property from the Seibel Farm, which sits just over the border in Beaver County. The board of supervisors voted unanimously to approve the deal…
Continue reading

Shell Cracker Plans to Build Truck Facility in Washington County

It looks like Shell is going to build a trucking dispatch operation for its ethane cracker–but it won’t be located anywhere near the cracker site. The new trucking facility will be located in Washington County, PA–more than an hour away! MDN was one of the first to announce Shell’s final investment decision to build an ethane cracker plant (that we now know will cost $6 billion) in Beaver County, PA (see Breaking: Shell Pulls the Trigger, PA Ethane Cracker is a Go!). A lot has happened at the site, situated on a former zinc smelting plant site in Monaca, PA. Shell built a new access road for trucks accessing the site–a concrete bridge overtop an adjacent highway–even before the final investment decision (see Shell Begins Building Bridge to PA Cracker Plant Site). Shell leased a huge office building and parking lot near the site (see Shell Leases 76,000 Sq Ft Office Space Near Cracker Plant Site). Shell even leased part of a nearby mall parking lot, for workers to park there (see More Evidence that the Shell Ethane Cracker Plant in PA is a Go). Everything we’ve seen thus far seems to be activity in and around Monaca–in Beaver County. That is, until now. A meeting yesterday of the Washington County (PA) Board of Commissioners hinted that Shell is about to build a facility there. Yesterday the commissioners voted to approve a new 31-acre development with a “90-bay distribution center and trucking dispatch operation” at Starpointe Business Park, in Hanover Township. The resolution contained this language in describing the project: “…to construct a two-unit building for Shell.” County officials and Shell officials won’t confirm a thing, but it seems pretty likely Shell is planning to build a big trucking facility in the business park, which is (by our calculations) about 46 miles and almost an hour from the cracker site…
Continue reading

Lawrence County, PA O&G Production “Inching Upward Again”

Lawrence County, located along Pennsylvania’s border with Ohio, is not the first county you think of when discussing Marcellus/Utica drilling in western PA. There have been no permits to drill new shale wells in Lawrence so far this year. However, the county does have 58 operating shale wells–and the amount of gas those wells produce is gradually rising. All but 10 of the wells are owned and operated by Hilcorp. Most of the wells are located in just two townships: Pulaski and Mahoning. Linda Nitch, executive director of economic business development for the Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce, believes Hilcorp is pumping more gas from the wells it owns in Lawrence. She’s hearing from some landowners that their royalty checks are “getting a little bigger”…
Continue reading

EXCO Resources Receives 3rd NYSE Notice of Delisting

EXCO Resources has just been threatened by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) with delisting their stock–for the third time. EXCO was once a sizable player in the Marcellus. They still have 184,000 net acres in the Marcellus, with 124 horizontal Marcellus wells drilled and in production. However the company, as we pointed out a year ago, has abandoned the Marcellus/Utica at this point (see EXCO: No Marcellus Drilling in 2015/2016, NYSE Threatens Delisting). The company flirted with bankruptcy for some time. In the end, they effectively turned over control of the company to its creditors (see EXCO Issues 2.7M Shares of New Stock in Lieu of Paying $23M). As we pointed out just a week ago, EXCO recently expressed interest in restarting drilling in our region again–in the Utica (see EXCO Resources 2Q17: Still No M-U Drilling, but Considering It). But the company faces steep challenges–primarily financial. Two times in the past the New York Stock Exchange notified the company it had fallen below the NYSE’s standards for listing and trading the stock, the most recent notice in January (see EXCO Resources Stock Threatened Again with De-Listing by NYSE). Both times EXCO’s stock had slipped below the $1/share level. EXCO finally fixed it by doing a reverse stock split–by combining outstanding shares into fewer shares worth more. The stock price currently is (and has been) trading well above $1/share. So why the NYSE notice this third time? Because EXCO’s market capitalization has fallen below $50 million. As of today, on paper, the company is worth only $30.8 million…
Continue reading

Utica Shale Powers Ohio’s Economy with Massive $68B Investment

The Utica Shale’s economic impact on Ohio has been nothing short of “staggering.” In fact the shale revolution has fundamentally changed the United States over the past 10 years. But nowhere is it more obvious than in the Buckeye State. Our friends at Energy in Depth have assembled the results of several research studies of just how much shale has impacted Ohio, and summarized it in a handy infographic download (below). The short version is this: through the first quarter of 2016, if you add the number all up thus far, the “upstream” (drilling) industry in Ohio has invested a whopping $39.2 billion. Amazing! But that’s not all. The “midstream” (pipeline) industry has invested $13.7 billion. But wait! There’s more! The downstream (petrochemicals) industry has invested, so far, $15.3 billion. And there’s far more downstream investment coming, especially if/when PTT Global Chemical decides to move forward with building a $5 billion ethane cracker facility in Belmont County. When you add it all up, the Utica industry has invested $68.2 billion SO FAR. And that’s all private money–not taxpayer money. In fact, millions of dollars have flowed into communities from taxes on the industry. It’s truly hard to put into words just how big a deal this is…
Continue reading

If NatGas Pipeline is Blocked, NY Elec Plant Will Use Oil Instead

For the past 2+ years MDN has chronicled the journey of Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) to build a $900 million Marcellus gas-fired electric plant in Wawayanda, NY, called the Valley Energy Center. Early on the project faced court challenges, but a judge gave final approval to build it in September 2015 (see Orange County, NY Marcellus-Fired Electric Plant OK’d by Judge). One of the “locals” who objected to the plant is Hollywood actor James Cromwell, star of movies like Babe and Star Trek: First Contact. Cromwell has a summer home in the area and doesn’t like the idea of an electric plant nearby, so he became a criminal protester (see Actor James Cromwell Arrested Protesting NY Power Plant Site). It took a few years, but Cromwell was finally jailed after refusing to pay a fine related to his arrest. He ended up serving just three of his seven day sentence (see “Privileged White” Actor Cromwell Serves < Half of Jail Sentence). Being famous and rich has its perks–including corruption of justice. The thing about Hollywood actors who are good at their craft, as is Cromwell, is that in other areas of life they are often stupid, as is Cromwell. Case in point: Cromwell thinks he can stop the $900 million plant, which is more than half built, by opposing a short, 7.8-mile pipeline spur off the Millennium Pipeline to feed the plant (see NY DEC Holds Sham “Hearing” for Power Plant Pipeline). Stop the pipeline, and the plant won’t open, right? Wrong! The owner has a Plan B for the plant, otherwise they would not have begun construction in the first place. If for some reason the natural gas pipeline doesn’t get built (highly unlikely), the plant will burn oil instead. Apparently Cromwell would rather have MORE air pollution around his home rather than allow a clean-burning pipeline to feed the plant. What a dope. The plant will open either way, with or without natural gas feeding it…
Continue reading

Marc/Utica Pipeline Troubles Led to Goldman Sachs Losing $100M

Yes, lack of pipelines in the Marcellus/Utica does hurt many people and businesses. When drillers can’t get their product to markets that fetch higher prices, the existing markets where they sell becomes saturated and the price drops. That means less money in royalty payments for landowners, less money in the pockets of drilling companies, less drilling until prices go up again, fewer jobs, less tax revenue flowing to the state and municipalities. Etc. You get the idea. It also can impact those who trade natural gas futures. Ginormous investment bank Goldman Sachs markets and trades natural gas–one of the world’s biggest natgas traders. The company “bet wrong” on which way the price of gas would go in the Marcellus/Utica, believing it would go higher with projects like Rover Pipeline coming online. Instead, Rover and other projects in our region hit obstacles and delays. And the price of gas stayed low. It cost Goldman $100 million this spring–turning in the worst performance ever for its commodities trading unit. Yes, we understand, it’s hard to shed a tear for a big company like Goldman. After all, they were rolling the dice in the Wall Street casino. Our point remains: When pipelines don’t get built, there’s a very real cost associated–a cost that ripples throughout the economy from the biggest players (Goldman) to the smallest players (landowners)…
Continue reading

The Legal Dance Between States and FERC in Pipeline Approvals

MDN has enthusiastically covered the story of Millennium Pipeline’s challenge of the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) refusal to (so far) grant a federal Clean Water Act stream crossing permit for a short, 7.8-mile pipeline from Millennium to natgas-fired electric plant currently under construction in Orange County, NY. States are given a year to respond to a request for such a permit, and the DEC was long past that date. So Millennium took the DEC to court–the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In June the court dismissed the lawsuit by Millennium, which at first blush may seem like a blow. But it was the reasoning and opinion of the judges in dismissing the case that will change everything in New York. The judges said there is no case because if, as Millennium says, the DEC is denying the water permits, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) itself has the power to jump back in and simply override NY DEC and issue the permits (see DC Court Tells Millennium FERC Can Override NY DEC Pipeline Delay). Millennium took the judge’s advice and filed a request with FERC to do just that (see Showdown: Millennium Asks FERC for Permission to Ignore NY DEC). We’re now waiting the outcome of that request. Actually, the DEC said it has until the end of this month, August, to deliver the permit–so perhaps they will do it to avoid losing their power. How does these matters get resolved between states and FERC? Why do the Appeals Courts get involved when there is a dispute? Does the state have more than just a rubber-stamp approval role when it comes to issuing stream crossing permits? A well-written article from an energy attorney explains the process (something we found very helpful in our own understanding of how these things work)…
Continue reading

The Many Types of Skilled Trades Jobs Needed to Build Pipelines

The Oil and Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee, led by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and North America’s Building Trades Unions, released a study this week on union pipeline employment across the county. The study outlines the many (many!) different types of jobs involved in building pipelines. You may think it’s just welders and their assistants. No way. It’s FAR more than that. Skilled tradespeople that work on pipelines include: boilermaker, carpenter, electrician, instrumentation technician, insulator, ironworker, construction laborer, millwright, operator, painter, scaffold builder, welder, and plumber, pipefitter, and steamfitter. Of special interest, however, are four occupations that traditionally play central roles in pipeline crews. Three are among the trades listed above: operators (i.e. operating engineers), construction laborers, and plumbers/pipefitters/steamfitters. The fourth is “drivers,” the occupation responsible for moving people and equipment around and between job sites. Now that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has a quorum, pipeline projects will start getting approved and all of the jobs above, in the Marcellus/Utica, will pick up. Below is a copy of the full report, titled “Skilled Trades Employment in the Pipeline Industry: 2006-2015″…
Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Aug 18, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: OH Utica permits resume rise in July; Shell cracker plant’s reach impacting OH; NJ tries to screw-up oil trains shipments with onerous bill; teaching old Dog Anadarko Basin some new shale tricks; the Permian Basin will provide oil “indefinitely”; Weather Channel founder says there is no man-made global warming; Deloitte predicts pause in growth of demand for natgas in US; Henry Hub emerges as global natgas benchmark price; Waste Management opens 100th natgas fueling station; Trump looking for new head for EIA; UK begins fracking its first shale well; and more!
Continue reading

Carbon Natural Gas Buys Cabot’s Conventional Wells in WV-OH-VA

Carbon Natural Gas Company, through its affiliate Carbon Appalachian Company, teased in a press release issued yesterday that the company has just completed the acquisition of “natural gas producing properties and related facilities” located “predominantly in the State of West Virginia” for $21.5 million. The release does not identify the seller–but MDN believes we know who it is: Cabot Oil & Gas. We supply our evidence below. Carbon Natural Gas is an independent oil and gas exploration and production company (i.e. “driller”) that owns, operates and develops oil and gas properties in the Appalachian, Illinois and Ventura Basin areas of the U.S. Most of the wells they own and operate are conventional. However, in April the company began dipping its toe into unconventional shale as well (see Carbon Natural Gas Targets Chattanooga Shale in TN). The April announcement said the company had formed a subsidiary called Carbon Appalachian Company, with backing from two unnamed institutional investors. The new venture has access to a whopping $100 million to get them going, with $20 million of that going to the purchase of “natural gas producing properties and related facilities” located in Tennessee. It is the shale-focused subsidiary Carbon Appalachian that closed on this new $21.5 million transaction of gas wells and a pipeline system located mostly in WV. So are the assets they just bought shale-related?…
Continue reading

New Pipelines Raise Gas Prices for M-U Drillers by 30% in 2017

Pipelines make a HUGE difference in the price drillers can get for their gas. When more pipelines get built to haul gas out of an over-saturated/producing area, like the Marcellus/Utica, the higher the price drillers can get for their gas. It’s simple Economics 101. Right now we have too much supply and not enough demand. When pipelines start flowing our gas to other markets, it the over-supply goes to places where there’s not enough supply and prices go up. This is not just theory. It’s fact. Our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, has done an analysis of the price fetched for Marcellus/Utica gas for the first seven months of 2017 versus the same period in 2016. Extra/new pipeline capacity has come online in the first half of 2017. The EIA found that in the first seven months of 2016, our gas averaged a sale price of $0.76 below the benchmark Henry Hub price. In the first seven months of 2017, our gas averaged a sale price of $0.53 below the Henry Hub. The gap is narrowing year over year. That 53 cent price is a 30% improvement over last year. So yes, pipelines make a HUGE difference in the price of natural gas!…
Continue reading

Pittsylvania County Decides to Obey Fed Law re Mountain Valley Pipe

Once upon a time it was a given that local officials (state, county, township) would obey federal laws. It’s what responsible adults do. You obey the law, even if you don’t agree with or like the law. If you don’t like the law, you work to get it changed. Ignoring the laws you don’t like is a prescription for anarchy and the end of civilized rule (a descent into tyranny). When local officials, like those in Pittsylvania County, VA willingly, enthusiastically obey the law these days (as it relates to federally-approved pipelines), it’s the exception rather than the rule. It’s noteworthy. Such is the post-Obama world we now live in. Don’t like a law? Ignore it. Break it. Subvert it. But not in Pittsylvania. Tuesday night the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors discussed the legal “wrangling” over easements and eminent domain for Mountain Valley Pipeline, a $3.5 billion, 303-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County. The Board was in agreement: this pipeline is a GOOD thing, and easements for it in Pittsylvania are bound and governed by federal law–not local or state laws. Residents and their representatives on the county board are not free to violate those laws. What breath of fresh Virginia mountain air!…
Continue reading

New Wireline Company Targeting Marcellus Attracts PE Funding

A brand new wireline oilfield service company called Reach Wireline has attracted an investment from private equity company Hastings Equity Partners. Reach Wireline, which is headquartered in Fort Worth, TX, either already has, or soon plans to have, operations in the DJ, Permian and Marcellus Shale plays, according to the company’s website. A wireline is a cable used to lower or retrieve equipment or measurement devices into a well for the purposes of well intervention, reservoir evaluation, and pipe recovery. Reach’s claim to fame is that it offers “leading edge greaseless cable.” The press release does not say how much money Reach received. Hastings Equity Partners focuses on investing in lower middle market energy services and equipment companies in the U.S. Hastings formed their “Hastings Equity Fund III” in 2014 with $172 million of commitments. Since that time Hastings has invested in a number of companies. Reach is the latest…
Continue reading

Corrosive Use of Legal System Attempts to Stop M-U Pipelines

Constant frivolous lawsuits against legal, legitimate businesses performing a valuable service for society is having a corrosive effect on our legal system. That’s the thought that hit MDN as we read, yet again, about lawsuits and actions against pipelines in Virginia and West Virginia. In Virginia, radicals from the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League are pressuring the state Attorney General to get involved to try and stop Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline–a $5 billion, 594-mile natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. In West Virginia, the Sierra Club and several other far-out-on-the-left fringe groups are suing the state Dept. of Environmental Protection for having the audacity to evaluate and then approve the Mountain Valley Pipeline project there. Mountain Valley is a $3.5 billion, 303-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County. This ongoing barrage of lawsuits and actions are meant to delay these projects–to give antis more time to whip up opposition and to figure out how to legally (or illegally) stop them. Yes, antis often engage in illegal activities when they disagree with a lawful activity, like building a pipeline. All of these legal machinations tie up our courts and, in our opinion, corrode our legal institutions, causing irreparable harm to pipeline companies. It’s time to fight back and hold these groups (and individuals) accountable. Make them PAY (money) for their strategy of delay. Only when we hold people accountable for their actions will this mess stop…
Continue reading

Energy Transfer Floats 54M New Units, Looks to Raise $1 Billion

Energy Transfer Partners (part of Energy Transfer Equity) is the company that built the Dakota Access Pipeline (now flowing, thankfully). They are also the pipeline company building both the Rover Pipeline in Ohio and Michigan, and the Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline from eastern Ohio across Pennsylvania to the Philadelphia area. Big company, big projects. ETP recently sold off 32% of the Rover project to Blackstone for $1.57 billion (see Energy Transfer Sells 32% Ownership in Rover Pipe to Blackstone). It takes a LOT of money to build these pipeline projects. Sometimes companies like ETP borrow via issuing debt (“notes”). More often they sell equity–or ownership. Earlier this week ETP announced is offering a new round of units (think shares of stock). No doubt the money will be used to help fund projects including Rover and ME2. ETP is offering 54 million units hoping to get $18.65 per unit–or a cool $1 billion…
Continue reading

« Older Entries  

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.