Hilcorp Files for Permits to Drill 3 Wells in Columbiana County, OH

Hilcorp has woken up and come alive in the Ohio Utica Shale–for the first time this year. The company recently filed for permits to drill three new Utica wells in Columbiana County. Which is interesting. Hilcorp zigs when everyone zags. Most drilling in the Ohio Utica currently happens in southeastern Ohio–in counties like Belmont, Monroe and Guernsey. When the play first became active for shale drilling, much of the early action happened in Carroll County, and Columbiana. But lately (over the past 2-3 years) most drilling moved south. But Hilcorp, with acreage in the northern Utica in both Ohio and Pennsylvania, continues to make money staying north. In fact, Hilcorp has been called the “dominant active prospector” in the northern tier area of the Utica Shale–an area including Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties in OH and Lawrence and Mercer counties in PA. Hilcorp is strong and steady. They make money when they drill. So we take this as a good sign that drilling is heating up in the northern Utica…Continue reading

6 Towns, 3 Schools in Jefferson Co., OH Split $5M/Yr in Pipe Tax

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With all of the negative talk about pipelines and opposition to pipelines and pipelines will kill ya and pipelines are from the devil, you may have overlooked the fact that some areas bow down and kiss the ground and thank their lucky stars to have a pipeline. One of those places is Jefferson County, OH. Six townships and three school districts in Jefferson County will be part of taxing districts to share in $5 million a year in public utility taxes paid by the Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline (TETCo), a major interstate pipeline system. This is newfound money that school districts and towns are starved for in this era of budget cuts. And the money doesn’t come out of taxpayers’ pockets. It comes from private industry–from a pipeline flowing clean-burning natural gas. In a situation not unlike Warren Beatty giving Faye Dunaway the wrong envelope, TETCo gave the wrong information to the Ohio Department of Taxation about which taxing districts the pipeline passes through. So some schools and towns that were initially elated and now deflated, and others have hit the lottery. Frankly, it’s too bad the pipeline doesn’t go through all of them!…Continue reading

$900M CPV Power Plant in Cambria, PA Gets Ready to Break Ground

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It’s taken a few years, but we are now only a few months away from groundbreaking to build a new Marcellus gas-fired power plant in Cambria County, PA. Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) will build the $900 million CPV Fairview Energy Center off Route 271 near Vinco, in rural Jackson Township (see 2 Natgas-Fired Electric Power Plants Coming to Cambria County, PA). Last June the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) held a public hearing on an Air Quality Plan Approval Application for the project (see Voice Support for CPV NatGas Power Plant in Cambria County, PA). After securing financing and filling out a forest worth of paperwork, CPV Fairview Energy is almost ready to begin construction. What can the locals expect from this new plant? Perhaps a field trip to another CPV power plant, in New Jersey, can enlighten us…Continue reading

Major Gen. James “Spider” Marks Takes Aim at Lawless PA Protesters

Major General James A. “Spider” Marks is the former Commanding General, U.S. Army Intelligence Center, and was the senior intelligence officer for the 2003 liberation of Iraq. Since retiring from the military, General Marks has led many business ventures in education, energy, and research, and served as the President and CEO of Global Linguist Solutions, a private company that provided linguistics services to the U.S. military in Iraq and was the largest employer of native Iraqis. He is an on-air national security, military, and intelligence contributor to CNN and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Spider Marks doesn’t suffer fools gladly. In an op-ed written for the Harrisburg Patriot-News, Marks takes aim at so-called protesters (paid activists) who ran up a $40 million tab of destruction in North Dakota (paid for by taxpayers) with their so-called protest camp there, and who now are attempting to invade Pennsylvania and recreate the same chaos. Marks calls a spade a spade in his deft column…Continue reading

Radical Antis Ask FERC to Stop ET Construction on Rover Pipeline

Radical environmental groups are seeking to stop the Energy Transfer Rover Pipeline project by using recent violations as leverage. The FreshWater Accountability Project, begun in Ohio after the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District signed agreements to sell water to the shale industry, along with Michigan Residents Against the ET Rover Pipeline, filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Wednesday asking the federal agency to stop all construction on Rover. The request will almost certainly go nowhere–but Rover’s own actions have opened the door to this action. We understand that accidents happen when drilling horizontally underground for pipelines and that sometimes you get an “inadvertent return” (leak) of drilling mud slipping up to the surface. But it’s tough to explain away a 2 million gallon leak (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). It’s also hard to ignore storm water runoff fouling farmers’ fields where Rover is digging trenches (see OEPA & Rover at Odds Over Storm Water Runoff, “Fine” Now $714K). It smacks of a rush job, and that gives the other side an opening in their quest to stop fossil fuel infrastructure projects like Rover…Continue reading

Radicals Protest Outside PA Senate Hearing on NatGas Benefits

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee and Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a joint hearing to examine the economic benefits natural gas production has brought the Keystone State. MDN friend David Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, was present and let legislators know that PA has become the #2 natural gas producer in the country, and that remarkable feat has brought PA billions of dollars in investment. The investment in new or converted natural gas electric plants alone has reached $10 billion! Thad Hill of Calpine Corporation (nation’s largest generator of electricity from natural gas) also spoke. While the adults were inside talking about serious issues, children in adult bodies were outside misbehaving, as they typically do. Radicals (paid protesters) from Earthworks held a protest rally on the steps of the Capitol where they held up big, black balloons. Yeah, we have no idea what makes them tick either…Continue reading

Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar Out, President Jeff Miller Promoted

Dave Lesar – Retiring CEO of Halliburton

There’s a shakeup at the top of the world’s second largest oilfield services company, Halliburton. Dave Lesar has been Halliburton’s chairman and CEO since 2000 when he replaced Dick Cheney (when Cheney was nominated to become Vice President of the United States). Lesar is retiring effective next week and being replaced by the company’s current president, Jeff Miller. The financial media is calling this “an expected move” because Lesar will reach mandatory retirement age next year. Some analysts, however, are not as kind–saying that Lesar’s botched attempt to buy Baker Hughes last year (with a resulting $3.5 billion breakup fee paid by Halliburton), and the company’s poor balance sheet over the past few years, are reasons enough to make the transition now. Halliburton, one of the largest fracking companies in the world, has major operations in the Marcellus/Utica region–hence our interest in changes at the top…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, May 26, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: DPS Land Services endows scholarship for WVU; new record for completion time/frac intensity in Eagle Ford; Venture Global LNG brings in more cash for projects; Congress considers laws to counter ‘sue-and-settle’ by Big Green groups; private equity using new strategy in o&g; WV AG leads coalition urging Trump to dump Paris climate deal; OPEC isn’t dead yet (unfortunately); and more!Continue reading

MarkWest’s Washington, PA Processing Plant Plans Reactivated

In October 2016, MDN reported that electric company FirstEnergy had begun construction of a new electric substation in Washington County, PA to provide electricity to “support two natural gas processing facilities being developed in the area” (see Work Begins on $40M Electric Substation in W PA to Help Marcellus). At the time we speculated that at least one of the beneficiaries would be MPLX’s MarkWest Energy subsidiary. We were right. Not long after, NGI’s Shale Daily reported that one of the projects to be served by FirstEnergy’s new substation will be the MarkWest Harmon Creek Complex, a new processing plant that would be built to process natgas for Range Resources (see MarkWest Building New Processing Plant in Washington County, PA). But then all went quiet, when the project went on “indefinite hold.” The hold is now over. MarkWest officials recently attended a Smith Township planning commission meeting (where it will get built) to discuss the project which is now front and center once again. According to MarkWest, plans call for initially building one cryogenic plant and one de-ethanizer. Eventually MarkWest wants to build four cryogenic plants and two de-ethanizers at the Harmon Creek Complex…Continue reading

Local Lancaster Businesses Ready to Profit from Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

When (not if) the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline begins construction this summer in Lancaster County, PA, area businesses plan to take advantage of the economic boon that will arrive along with some 250 workers who will build it. Atlantic Sunrise is a $3 billion, 198-mile pipeline project running through 10 Pennsylvania counties to connect Marcellus Shale natural gas from northeastern PA with the Williams’ Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County. Construction in Lancaster County will last approximately nine months and is projected to inject $75 million in the local economy. What kinds of businesses will benefit? Some include “housing, rental equipment, food sources, welding supplies, waste disposal, construction material, security, fuel, water trucks, concrete services, buses and transportation, auto repair, laundry services, drain tile work and hauling services.” And that’s only some of the services needed. Campgrounds are another business expected to experience a big uptick in demand. According to Williams spokesman Christopher Stockton, “We are encouraging all our construction contractors to utilize local service providers as much as possible.” That’s good news for local businesses. Here’s how local businesses in Lancaster County (and elsewhere) can sign up to get their piece of the Atlantic Sunrise action…Continue reading

Epsilon Energy: “Focused” on Marcellus, Buying Land in Anadarko

From time to time we check in on Canadian driller and midstream company Epsilon Energy. Epsilon, you may recall, had a shareholder rebellion in 2013 and threw out the sitting board of directors (see Shareholder Rebellion at Epsilon Energy – New Board as of Today). Epsilon CEO Michael Raleigh announced at the time that the company had embarked on a turnaround strategy of focusing on the Marcellus Shale–less than a year after saying they would scale back in the Marcellus (see Epsilon Energy Makes “About-Face” on Marcellus Drilling). Epsilon was and remains a very small player in the Marcellus, but the Marcellus is the company’s entire focus. At least that’s what they say. Epsilon did not drill any new new Marcellus wells in 2016. They spent just $300,000 on capital expenditures for all of 2016, and that was money spent on the Auburn Gas Gathering system in northeast PA (they own a 35% interest in the system). What about 2017? Epsilon plans to spend $1 million in capex in the Marcellus–half of it “for the ongoing development of the midstream system” (i.e. the Auburn system) and the other half to complete four Marcellus wells previously drilled (see Epsilon Energy’s Marcellus Budget Inches Up to $1M in 2017). Epsilon recently issued its first quarter 2017 update. It shows the company spent just $100,000 on capital expenditures during 1Q17–most of it on the Auburn Gas Gathering system. Revenue was up for the quarter–from $5.6 million in 1Q16 to $8 million in 1Q17. One thing we found somewhat incongruous with their “focus on the Marcellus” statements: the company recently raised money in an “over-subscribed Rights Offering” to “continue building our land position in the Anadarko Basin.” The Anadako is located in Oklahoma and Texas, nowhere near the Marcellus…
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Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Another Court Case Against Marcellus Pipe

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit slapped down THE Delaware Riverkeeper in yet another crushing defeat for the virulent anti-fossil fuel organization (and mouthpiece for the William Penn Foundation, its main funder). Even though Williams’ Transco Leidy Southeast expansion project went online some 18 months ago, Riverkeeper sued the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) some 14 months ago over its approval of the project (see Dela. Riverkeeper Sues FERC Again – Over Leidy Pipeline Expansion). Leidy Southeast was/is 30 miles of additional pipeline segments laid next to existing pipe, called loops, in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, along with upgrades at several compressor stations. The project bumped up the capacity of the mighty Transco pipeline by an extra 525,000 dekatherms of natural gas per day–enough natural gas to serve 2 million homes. The project means more Marcellus gas now flows south to new markets. Riverkeeper claimed FERC should not have approved the project until PA had issued federal 401 stream crossing permits under the Clean Water Act. It was a “procedural” objection. That is, Riverkeeper claimed FERC did things out of order and should be, we don’t know, shut down? Punished? Flogged? Prevented from doing it ever again? Riverkeeper also went after PA and NJ after they issued the 401 certificates, saying they shouldn’t have. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals (in Philadelphia) rejected that argument last August (see Court Rejects Dela. Riverkeeper Case Against PA DEP Pipe Approval). The new news is that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has now rejected Riverkeeper’s case against FERC. The justices said FERC is free to approve projects prior to states issuing 401 certificates because a project approval still doesn’t mean the project will get built–unless the states DO issue those 401 certificates. It all sounds rather complicated to follow. The short version is this: Delaware Riverkeeper lost yet another court case against a pipeline project…
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PA Manufacturers’ Assoc: NatGas Demand Going up 40% Next 10 Yrs

Yesterday the 11th “Think About Energy” Briefing was held at Misericordia University, near Wilkes-Barre, PA. The session aimed to provide an update on the economic and environmental benefits of PA natural gas, and was organized/sponsored by Borton-Lawson, Cabot Oil & Gas, UGI Energy Services, UGI Utilities, and Williams, in conjunction with ACT for America and the Back Mountain Chamber of Commerce. About 100 people attended. Carl Marrara, vice president of government affairs for the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, had this to say: “The demand for natural gas is expected to increase by 40 percent over the next decade, and even more in Pennsylvania.” He said that more natural gas is needed by PA manufacturers, but slow pipeline infrastructure approvals by “government officials” are “holding up growth.” MDN friend Bill desRosiers of Cabot Oil & Gas was the moderator and master of ceremonies. Other speakers included: Abe Amorós of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), Mike Atchie of Williams, and Larry Godlasky of UGI Energy Services. Although it was a gas-friendly crowd, the session wasn’t, however, without a touch of controversy. One anti showed up–a math professor from Luzerne Community College–and left in a huff when the audience told him to shut up and sit down during the Q&A portion…
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Dealing Honestly with Issue of Eminent Domain for Pipelines

Life is messy and complex. Nowhere is that more true than with the issue of using eminent domain to “condemn” a property, forcing the landowner to allow a pipeline company to cross the property with a decades-long (often extending past the lifetime of the current landowner) lease on the land. Sometimes landowners just don’t want a pipeline. We get it. MDN’s extended family owns rural property (a small farm), so we understand the objections. What if you plan to one day build a new barn in an area where a pipeline is set to run? No can-do. However, pipelines that cross a field or a pasture are (mostly) fine–you can grow back hay and grass and a few years after a pipeline is in the ground, you have use of that land again. You can even plant crops over top of a pipeline. Even though the presence of a pipeline can yield a number of benefits, money for the landowner being the chief benefit, there are drawbacks. But let’s put a different hat on. What if 9 out of 10 landowners along a pipeline’s route in a particular town have signed and welcome the pipeline, but one landowner smack in the middle of the others objects? And what if there’s no feasible re-routing to be done? Should the 9 suffer because of the actions of the one? Tough question. And what about all of the people who will benefit from the gas flowing through the pipeline? Should they suffer because one landowner objects? Again, tough question. For us, property rights are sacrosanct. You don’t tell me I can’t allow a pipeline or drilling–and I don’t tell you that you must allow it. What’s fair is fair. How do we resolve these issues?…
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No LNG Peakshaver for Maine – PUC Declines to Fund Project

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently declined to help fund a new LNG peakshaving facility in the state, concluding it would not reduce consumer natural gas and electricity prices. Er, a, what’s an LNG peakshaver anyway? Good question! According to industrial engineering company Fives, “LNG peak shaving units are used for storing surplus natural gas, so as to be able to meet the requirements of peak consumption later during the different seasons. Gas distribution companies and local administrations use this application to be more flexible in their consumption of natural gas. Thanks to these Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) peak shaving units, they will be able to face periods of peak consumption during cold winter times and extreme summer heat. Peak shaving can also be used to keep natural gas prices from soaring during periods of high gas consumption.” That helps. They are small LNG plants that kick in when demand for natural gas exceeds supply. There are 44 such peakshaving tanks at 29 locations in the northeast. Last September the Maine legislature authorized the PUC to spend $25 million on leasing capacity at a peakshaving plant, if they could find the right plant to do it. A number of projects were submitted, and the PUC said nyet–they don’t like any of them and don’t think a peakshaver will be needed going forward…Continue reading

Using Humor & Sarcasm to Fight Insane Antis

The following is a post from MDN friend Tom Shepstone about using humor (and sarcasm) to fight back against what MDN calls certifiably insane anti-fossil fuelers. Read (and watch) it, and enjoy!…Continue reading

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