Join MDN at RBN Energy’s “Summer in the City” Event July 23 – NYC

join usMDN invites you to join us in attending RBN Energy’s “State of the Energy Markets” one-day event in New York City on July 23. Before you hurry to say “yes,” a few caveats. It costs money (a lot of it). It’s aimed at executives working in the industry, as well as traders and investors. If that describes you (and we know that many of you read MDN), you may be interested in attending. We guarantee it will be a great event. Rusty Braziel & company will provide an overview of the key issues facing natural gas, NGLs and the crude oil market. They will explain how the markets for those three commodities interact and affect each other. They will also take a look at prices, where they may be heading, and how infrastructure affects price. If you are really “into energy” as we are, this is a must attend event. Details are below, along with a link to register…
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Alpha Natural Res. Expands in Marcellus, Drilling Begins in 30d

Aaannnd, we're backCoal company Alpha Natural Resources is expanding their operation in the Marcellus Shale natural gas business. Yesterday Alpha announced its wholly-owned subsidiary, Pennsylvania Services Corporation (PSC), has purchased back a 50% interest in its natural gas exploration and production joint venture, Pennsylvania Land Resources Holding Company (PLR) from joint venture partner EDF Trading Resources (EDFTR) for $126 million. Alpha’s PSC subsidiary now becomes the the sole owner and operator of the PLR joint venture (which is no longer joint). Lots of acronyms of subsidiaries owning subsidiaries! Bottom line: Alpha can now control and expand a highly economic natural gas development program with 25,000+ net acres AND associated infrastructure–in the Marcellus Shale. Alpha’s EVP Brian Sullivan says they plan to begin drilling in their Marcellus acreage position (in Greene County, PA) in the next 30 days…
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Dominion to Build Electric Plant in S VA Powered by Marcellus Gas

Dominion, a large utility and midstream (i.e. pipeline) company operating in 13 states, including the Marcellus/Utica region, yesterday filed a request with the Virginia State Corporate Commission (SCC) to build a $1.3 billion state-of-the-art natural gas-fired electric generating station in Greensville County, VA. The new power station will generate 1,600 megawatts–enough electricity to power 400,000 homes. Grennsville County sits along the southern border of Virginia–sharing a border with North Carolina. Oh, and guess which pipeline flowing boatloads of cheap, abundant, clean-burning Marcellus Shale gas is due to cross right through the middle of Greensville County? Yep–Dominion’s 550-mile, $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline project that will run from West Virginia through to North Carolina…
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PA Court Decision: Leases Don’t Go on Pause When Landowners Sue

Put on your hip boots, we have some deep waters to wade through with respect to an important court decision in Pennsylvania that affects landowners and drillers. Last October MDN told you about an important lawsuit that went to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, a case called Harrison v Cabot Oil & Gas (see Important Landowner/Driller Case Heads to PA Supreme Court). In brief, Susquehanna County, PA landowners Wayne and Mary Harrison signed a lease with Cabot Oil & Gas for $100 per acre and 12.5% royalties in 2010. Learning that others in their area got better deals and feeling they were not only hoodwinked but pressured into signing, they sued Cabot halfway through the lease (before any drilling was done) to dissolve the lease. Ultimately that lawsuit was decided in favor of Cabot. But by the time the lawsuit was done and dusted, the original 5-year term had expired without Cabot drilling. The Harrisons claimed since Cabot hadn’t drilled, the lease is now over with. Cabot said the lease went on “pause” when the Harrison’s sued–you can’t very well drill with an active lawsuit. This “lease on pause” case was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court in PA, and in February the Supreme Court ruled that just because there is ongoing litigation, Cabot didn’t have the presumption that the lease was paused (see Cabot O&G Loses PA Supreme Court Case to Extend Lease). That is, Cabot lost the case. But it was referred back to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals for more work before a final final ruling. We now have that final final ruling…
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Shell Greenlights Offshore Platform – Good Sign for PA Cracker?

reading tea leavesTime, once again, to haul out the tea leaves to see if there’s anything we can divine from an announcement yesterday by Shell that they’ve made a “final investment decision” (or FID) to move forward with a multi-billion dollar project to build a new deep-water offshore drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. What in the world does that have to do with the Marcellus/Utica? Good question! Let us read the tea leaves and connect some dots for you…
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Guest Post: The Political Disaster that is Gov. Wolf’s PA Severance Tax Proposal

MDN friend Charlie Schliebs, managing director of Stone Pier Capital Advisors in Pittsburgh, sent along a copy of his firm’s latest newsletter yesterday. In it, Charlie has penned a superb article about the PA Gov. Tom Wolf administration’s current disaster with respect to the state budget (and Wolf’s demand for a high severance tax). As MDN reported yesterday, Wolf did something no governor has done for 40 years–he vetoed the entire budget (see PA’s Partisan Gov Wolf Vetoes No-Severance-Tax State Budget). Let’s put Wolf’s veto in perspective. He turned down, wholesale, a balanced budget that raises education funding (for the chil’ren) all while holding the line on tax increases. Instead, Wolf chose to shut down the PA state government. Why? Because he wants a nosebleed high tax on Marcellus Shale drillers to transfer their hard-earned money over to teachers’ unions. It’s sick. Charlie is more of a diplomat than we are and uses nicer words, but make no mistake, he has an iron fist in his velvet editorial glove when it comes to “The Political Disaster that is Gov. Wolf’s PA Severance Tax Proposal”…
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Athens County Asks Gov Kasich & ODNR to Stop New Injection Wells

Athens County, OH Commissioners have just passed a resolution calling for a ban on new injection wells in the county. The resolution has zero force and no weight of law–it’s not a legal document and if it were, it would be illegal. Only the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) can decide whether or not to issue permits for Class II injection wells in Ohio. Local municipalities have no say in the matter. But that doesn’t stop the nutters in Athens County from mouthing off (the thing they do best). Here’s their latest haughty communication requesting the Governor and the ODNR immediately and indefinitely refrain from issuing any more injection well permits not only in the People’s Socialist Paradise of Athens County, OH, but throughout the entire state of Ohio as well…
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NiSource/Columbia Pipeline Divorce is Final

The NiSource/Columbia Pipeline Group are now officially divorced. Well, they call it a “separation,” but it’s really a divorce. Amicable, but permanent. Last September MDN brought you the news that NiSource, owner of Columbia Gas, would be spinning Columbia off into its own company in 2015 (see NiSource Splits in Two: Columbia Pipeline Will be Separate Company). NiSource the utility will remain focused on being a utility, and Columbia Gas will be spun off into it’s own company called Columbia Pipeline Group (CPG) under a master limited partnership (MLP) structure. As of yesterday the divorce is final and the two companies have gone their separate ways…
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Ohio Chamber of Commerce Endorses NEXUS Gas Pipeline Project

People in Ohio continue to choose sides in the debate over whether to build the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline, a $1.5-$2.0 billion natural gas pipeline that will carry Utica and Marcellus Shale gas spanning 11 counties in Ohio, 3 counties in Michigan, and eventually connect to the Dawn Energy Hub in Canada. NEXUS is a joint venture between Detroit-based DTE Energy and Houston-based Spectra Energy. Plenty of wackos have come out of the woodwork to oppose it (see Medina County, OH Antis Trot Out Home Rule Ballot Measure and NEXUS Pipeline Files Draft Reports w/FERC, Rejects CORNy Re-Route). Plenty of people have also endorsed the project. The latest power-house group to endorse the NEXUS is the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber points out the NEXUS project will not only be a super stimulant for Ohio’s economy and create jobs, it will also save consumers money on their gas and electric bills…
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Fossil Fuels Will Continue to Rule for Next 50-100 Years

Let’s disabuse ourselves of the fantasy that so-called renewable energy sources will, in our lifetimes, provide most of our energy needs. Ain’t gonna happen. And not because “we don’t have the political will” or “big oil is stopping it” or any of those malarkey utterings from so-called environmentalists who behave and think on a kindergarten level. Fact: Right now, today, if you lump together wind, solar, geothermal and biomass into the “renewable energy” category, all of them together provide an astounding, astonishing, hugeoriffic…5% of our energy needs in this country. Evil, nasty fossil fuels? They provide 80%+ of our energy needs–and it’s been that way for more than 100 years. So says the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a division of the Dept. of Energy, which belongs to the executive branch, which belongs to Barack Hussein Obama…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Jul 2, 2015

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading:
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New Gastar Utica Well in West Virginia Hits Peak of 36.8 Mmcf/d

Gas-Well-Decline-Curve-300x232Yesterday Gastar Exploration announced production rates for their second Utica well–drilled in Marshall County, WV. The Blake U-7H well production initially spiked at a high of 36.8 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) early in its first 30 days of being online. The overall average production rate during the first 30 days of going online was 20.2 MMcf/d. Following the first 30 days, the average production over the most recent 5 days was 14.8 MMcf/d. Which kind of gives you an idea of just how quickly well production tappers off…
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With Frack Ban Mission Accomplished, Joe Martens Leaves NY DEC

Joe MartensA day after issuing the final nail in the coffin of fracking in NY (see It’s Official: Cuomo Bans Economic Opportunity & Prosperity in NY), the guy doing the nailing is leaving. Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens is leaving the DEC to go back to the anti-drilling Open Spaces Institute–the organization where he was employed before coming to the DEC. It certainly appears like the main purpose in hiring Martens was to slow down, and then stop the momentum to allow fracking in NY. Now that Martens’ mission has been accomplished, he’s ready to make more money again, working for an organization dedicated to stopping any kind of development on land–including and particularly oil and gas development. MDN has been around long enough to have seen Martens come, and now go. We’re proud to say from his very first day on the job we questioned his appointment and commitment to seeing that fracking happens in the Empire State (see our article from February 2011: Gov. Cuomo’s Nomination to Head the NY DEC: Will the Real Joe Martens Please Stand Up?). We’ve always suspected, and shared with you our suspicions, that Martens is anti-drilling. We were right–not that being right feels any better because Martens has royally screwed every landowner in our beloved home state…
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Kinder Morgan Scores Important Victory in NH to Build NED Pipeline

The first domino has fallen. Kinder Morgan won an important victory in New Hampshire with respect to building the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline project–an extension of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline from New York through Massachusetts into New Hampshire and back into Massachusetts. On Friday the staff of the NH Public Utilities Commission (PUC) signed off on a request by the state’s largest utility company, Liberty Utilities, to buy capacity from the new NED pipeline as it passes through the state. Because Liberty’s action will potentially affect ratepayers (some of the cost may be passed to utility customers), the PUC must approve it. Full approval for Liberty to contract for capacity on NED will happen later in July–but full approval is almost certainly a foregone conclusion because of this initial approval…
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PA’s Partisan Gov Wolf Vetoes No-Severance-Tax State Budget

Proving just how partisan (and mean spirited) the Democrats in Pennsylvania have become, every single Democrat senator voted against a Republican balanced budget bill yesterday (highly partisan, those Dems) and when the bill went to Gov. Tom “in over his head” Wolf, Wolf immediately vetoed the budget bill–the first time a sitting governor has vetoed an entire budget bill in 40 years. Tell us again, John Hanger, whose philosophy is “my way or the highway”? It’s certainly not the Republicans’ philosophy. Wolf and the Dems are playing a high stakes game of “chicken.” They are in the minority in PA and they want to see if they can bully, pressure, and otherwise force Republicans to tax the Marcellus Shale industry out of existence in the state. The Republicans, to their credit, are hanging tough. Unfortunately the Republicans don’t have enough of a majority to simply override Wolf’s childish veto–but give it time. Sooner or later, if they hang tough, some Democrats will cave and vote to override the veto…
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Columbia Pipeline Does it Right Way: $10K Gift to WV Fire Academy

Finally a case of what appears to us as not pipeline payola (buying support for a new pipeline project before it’s built or approved), but in fact a case of true community support for community support’s sake. Being a good neighbor. Columbia Pipeline Group (CPG), which operates a many hundreds of miles of pipelines in the northeast already, made a $10,000 donation to the West Virginia University Fire Service Extension/State Fire Training Academy in Weston, WV on Monday. Weston is located in Lewis County, WV, sort of in the center of the state. No new pipeline projects anywhere close. Congratulations to CPG for a selfless donation–perhaps the first true case we’ve seen!…
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New EIA Monthly Report Breaks Out Natgas Production by PA/OH/WV

Our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), has just replaced a previous monthly report with a new report that will be of keen interest to MDN readers. It used to be that the EIA produced the Monthly Natural Gas Gross Production Report. That report is no more. Instead, it has been replaced by the Monthly Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production report. The old report tracked and reported natgas production by state/region for LA, NM, OK, TX, WY and the Federal Gulf of Mexico. Those locations were, traditionally, where the vast majority of natural gas was produced in the U.S. But with the shale revolution, that’s now changed–dramatically. In addition to reporting monthly natgas production by state for the traditional locations, the EIA is adding 10 new states to the monthly report: AR, CA, CO, KS, MT, ND, OH, PA, UT and WV. Yep–where the super producing shale plays are located, including PA, OH and WV where the Marcellus/Utica is located. What’s the difference between this new report (which we’ve included below) and the monthly Drilling Productivity Report (DPR) produced by the EIA?…
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