Martian Update: Principal Doesn’t want Rex Drilling Near his Home

My Favorite MartianBetween Christmas and New Year, Middlesex Township (Butler County), PA held the second of what may be up to five hearings on the already-granted permits for Rex Energy to drill five wells on a single well pad in the township. You may recall that two agitating “environmental” groups–headquartered on the other side of the state, in the Philadelphia area–along with four parents from the Mars School District, filed an appeal of the legal and legitimate permits granted by the state Dept. of Environmental Protection to Rex in September (see Rex Drilling Operation Near Mars School Put on Hold). The first hearing was held in November and the antis (as they always do) droned on for more than four hours (see Martians & Enviro Groups Continue to Block Rex Drilling in W PA). They continued their whine-fest on Dec. 29th with another five hours of mind-numbing sameness–drilling will kill us, drilling will pollute Mother Earth, yada yada yada. The main excuse is that drilling 3/4 of a mile from a local school will harm the kiddies. No mention that at least two school districts in the state, one close to Mars, has allowed drilling ON SCHOOL PROPERTY with no harm to the kiddies in those districts. At the hearing on the 29th, we get the REAL story behind the (ab)using of children as an excuse. One of the Mars School District principals lives near the drill pad and he opposes drilling near his expensive new home…
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Gastar Wins WV Lawsuit to Keep Fracking, Completes 10 New Wells

In November we told you that Chemical manufacturer Axiall, with a plant in Natrium (Marshall County), WV, had successfully stopped Gastar from fracking several drilled shale wells located near the chemical plant (see Gastar Fracking Near WV Chemical Plant Halted Pending Court Review). Axiall was afraid that fracking the wells would release fugitive methane into their nearby brine wells. Axiall says something similar happened previously with some of their brine wells near a Triad Hunter fracking operation. But Gastar fought back and today announced a WV court has thrown out the lawsuit brought by Axiall and that Gastar is now free to frack. According to Gastar, Axiall tried to stop them in PA with a similar kind of lawsuit which was also dismissed…
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What’s a Fair Price for Running Pipelines Through Your Property?

The landowners in Tyler County, WV who sit along the proposed route of Energy Transfer Partners 800-mile, $4.4 billion pipeline, called Rover, to connect the Marcellus/Utica region with the Midwest and Canada are asking for one thing: a fair price. According to one landowner, they’ve received an offer from ETP that’s about 1/3 of where it should be. Problem is, if landowners don’t accept ETP’s offer, once the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approves the pipeline, ETP can then use eminent domain to simply take the land it needs and pay the price it wants to pay. Landowners’ only recourse at that point is to ask a court to arbitrate a price. No, we’re not fans of eminent domain–it’s an imperfect concept for an imperfect situation in which some hold-out landowners remain unreasonable. But that doesn’t excuse lack of a fair price. So what price has been offered and what do landowners think is a fair price to receive?…
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Marcellus Gas Price Got as Low as $0.53/Mcf on Friday in PA

An article in the Financial Times (yes, THE Finanical Times, published in London) says even though the weather has turned colder and snowier in the northeast U.S., natural gas prices are still in the basement. And boy are they right. According to the FT article trading from last Friday at the Leidy hub in Pennsylvania traded for 80 cents per Mcf (or the equivalent, 80 cents per million British thermal units). It’s actually worse than that at the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Zone 4 Marcellus trading point. Last Friday the price got as low as 53 cents per Mcf. The average for all trades last Friday at Zone 4 Marcellus was 67 cents per Mcf. Talk about prices going into and through the basement!…
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Home Values in Heavily Drilled Western PA Go Up, Not Down

Yet another anti-drilling lie is put to rest–again. You often here that “the value of my house, my property, will decrease if drilling comes to the area.” Not so. Take the uber-drilled area of Allegheny and Washington counties, essentially the Pittsburgh, PA area. Housing values there have gone up–and it’s a “seller’s market” according to real estate professionals. Why? The Marcellus Shale, of course…
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Feds Eye Regulating Local Natgas Gathering Pipelines

Is it a good idea for the federal government to start regulating local natural gas gathering pipelines? We can debate whether or not it’s good to have more federal encroachment on the states, but at the end of the day, it may be academic because the feds intend to do it. The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has been studying the issue of local gathering line regulations since 2011 and will, later this year, propose new regulations (i.e. un-legislated laws). Although new regulations may be coming from the PHMSA, it’s not clear to us who (which agency, federal or state) would enforce those new regulations. Likely state regulators would enforce the new regulations…
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Obama Sec of Interior Says Frack Bans ‘Wrong Way to Go’

President Obama’s Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, told a PBS reporter she thinks fracking bans, like those passed by several California towns and by the state of New York, are “the wrong way to go.” She says, in so many words, that fear-mongering results in bad laws, like frack bans. Needless to say, anti-drilling zealots are not pleased that Jewell, who happens to be a former petroleum engineer (someone with a brain who knows what she’s talking about), has popped their pretentious bubble and questioned their fear-mongering tactics…
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NY: Forget Shale Methane, Tap Organic Waste (i.e. Poop) Instead

We had to pick ourselves up off the floor after laughing so hard at the latest machinations to be turned out by the in-the-tank-for-Andrew-Cuomo and left-of-Vlad-Putin Albany Times Union. The TU recently ran a commentary piece by the anti-drilling “Energy Vision” organization that, we kid you not, says forget about evil, nasty fossil fuel methane. Instead, we need to start using “renewable” methane–from poop…
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Reminder: NY Landowner Frack Ban Protest Today in Binghamton, NY

A quick reminder from the Central New York (CNY) Landowner Coalition–perhaps the largest of the member coalitions that belong to the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY)–that today, Jan. 5, there is a mass protest scheduled in Binghamton, NY to send the message very loud and very clear to Gov. Andrew Cuomo that he screwed up big-time with his politically-based decision to ban fracking in the Empire State. Here’s the details for the protest:
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Calendar of Events for Jan 5-18, 2015 [Free]

Below are upcoming events for this week and next. To see the full list of future events, visit this page: http://marcellusdrilling.com/calendar/.

NOTE: To have an item included, please email it to: calendar@marcellusdrilling.com.
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Jan 5, 2015

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading:
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Southwestern Energy on a Tear – Doubles Marcellus Budget for 2015

double or nothingSouthwestern Energy is on a tear in the Marcellus/Utica region. In 2014, the company picked up 413,000 acres and some 1,500 wells from Chesapeake Energy for $4.975 billion and paid another $394 million to Statoil as part of that same deal (to get more ownership of the jointly-owned acreage); Southwestern purchased all of WPX’s acreage–46,700 acres and 63 Marcellus Shale wells–in northeast Pennsylvania for $300 million; and Southwestern cut a deal with DTE Energy to significantly expand their pipeline gathering system in northeast PA. They’ve also been busy in several other shale plays. On Monday, Southwestern issued a company update and guidance for 2015. The very notable thing about that update: Southwestern, contrary to almost every other major and minor shale player, is increasing spending on shale drilling in 2015, by $200 million…
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Explosion, Fire at Meter Station Along Williams Ethane Pipeline in SWPA

A meter station along the Williams Ohio Valley Ethane pipeline reportedly exploded and caught fire in in Chartiers Township (Washington County), PA–about four miles from Houston, PA–on Christmas Eve. The fire has caused the shut-down of the ethane pipeline that runs some 50 miles from Marshall County, WV to an ethane hub in Houston…
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Moundsville Leases Park Land for $5K/Acre, 18% Royalties

Moundsville (Marshall County), WV recently signed a deal with Chevron that allows Chevron to drill under (not on) the municipal-owned Valley Fork Park. The deal leases the park’s 14.95 acres for $5,000 per acre plus 18% royalties when the gas begins to flow. Moundsville received $74,750 up front in lease bonus payments…
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Anti Groups Ask FERC to Stop Construction on Cove Point LNG Plant

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently concluded a years-long process of evaluating all of the ins and outs, environmental and otherwise, for the proposed LNG (liquefied natural gas) export facility in Cove Point, Maryland. FERC decided, after years of research, untold thousands of comments and hundreds of hours of testimony, to approve the project (see Dominion Gets Final Fed Approval to Build Cove Point LNG Plant). Dominion has since broken ground and is actively building the new plant. So what do the environmental extremists from the Allegheny Defense Project (ADP) and Wild Virginia, people who hate fossil fuels, do? They tell FERC, “You didn’t do your job right, stop Dominion’s construction until we can file a lawsuit to block the project.” Before ADP and Wild Virginia can file a lawsuit, they must first get a “rehearing” with FERC, something they’ve requested. FERC takes its time with these things, and the groups are afraid Dominion’s construction will get far enough along that the project can’t be stopped. So ADP and Wild Virginia are asking FERC to temporarily stop the Dominion project until the rehearing, the inevitable ruling in favor of Dominion, and then a newly-minted lawsuit can be filed in federal court. In other words, ADP and Wild Virginia want FERC to help them stack the deck against Dominion. FERC isn’t playing along…
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GreenHunter Cancels Deal with Michigan Co to Build 3 Pipelines

In June, GreenHunter Resources (water subsidiary of Magnum Hunter) announced it would build three new shortish pipelines in the Tri-state area–one each for brine/wastewater, fresh water, and condensate (see 3 New (Short) Pipelines from GreenHunter in Tri-state Area). We later learned that the three pipelines would terminate at a facility located near Wheeling, WV (see Mystery Solved: GreenHunter Pipelines to Terminate Near…). GreenHunter cut a deal with Major Pipeline of Michigan, which was supposed to build and operate the pipeline system on behalf of GreenHunter. But something happened on the way to the Forum. Major Pipeline couldn’t raise the money it needed to fund the projects, so GreenHunter has canceled the plan to use Major Pipeline…
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