DRBC Jumps Off Cliff – Votes to Permanently Ban Fracking

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), a quasi-governmental organization composed of four states (NY, PA, DE, NJ) plus the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, voted yesterday to permanently ban fracking within the boundaries of the DRBC’s jurisdiction, which includes Wayne and Pike counties in Pennsylvania where there is abundant Marcellus Shale deposits. But don’t despair. The DRBC is in the midst of two legal challenges and one (or both) is sure to win, reversing the illegal action taken yesterday. Chin up! The sun will rise again.
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Biden Breaks “No Frack Ban” Promise to PA 5th Week in Office

Remember the statement, uttered by then-candidate Joe Biden as he stood in Bucks County, PA (which sits in the Delaware River Basin) when he emphatically promised PA residents and union workers, “I’m not banning fracking in Pennsylvania or anywhere else!”? It took him slightly less than five weeks to break that promise. Yesterday the Biden administration, in the form of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (which is an Executive Branch agency) abstained and then voiced moral support for the DRBC’s vote to ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin. That action bans fracking in two northeastern PA counties where there are frackable shale deposits (see today’s lead story). FIVE WEEKS. Still happy you voted for lyin’ Biden?
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FERC Gives OK for NFG’s FM100 Pipeline to Begin PA Construction

Some good news to share on this Friday. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has given National Fuel Gas Company (NFG) the green light to begin construction on its FM100 pipeline project. The FM100 Project will beef up and extend an existing pipeline network in northwestern Pennsylvania to flow an extra 330 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of Marcellus gas to Williams’ mighty Transco Pipeline (see NFG FM100 Pipe Project in NW PA to Feed Marcellus Gas to Transco).
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PA DEP Picks Pocket of Sunoco Another $497,000 for ME2 Pipe

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is sticking its sticky fingers into the pocket of Energy Transfer/Sunoco one more time, and this time drawing out nearly half a million dollars to pay for a series of small spills of nontoxic drilling mud in Snitz Creek in Lebanon County. It isn’t the first time the DEP has fined ET for Mariner East 2 (ME2) work. We’ve lost track of how many millions of dollars ET/Sunoco has paid in various fines–some of it legit, some of it (in our opinion), not legit.
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Mountaineer NGL Storage Hub Reapplies for Permits, Building Soon?

Last fall Mountaineer NGL Storage, a $500 million project in Monroe County, OH to build underground storage for ethane and other NGLs, asked Ohio regulators to cancel a key permit for the project (see Mountaineer Asks Ohio to Cancel NGL Storage Hub Permits). Our understanding was that until PTT Global Chemical makes a final investment decision (FID) to build an ethane cracker in nearby Belmont County, OH, Mountaineer would not be ready to proceed. The two projects will move along together. We thought Mountaineer would wait to reapply for the permit after PTT announces. PTT has not announced, yet according to statements from Mountaineer’s CEO, the company is now waiting on permits to proceed and hopes to begin construction “later this year.” Ergo they have already reapplied.
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CNX Gets More Diverse – Working with Minority-Owned Co. EQT Dumped

Yesterday, CNX Resources, Bettis Brothers, and The Bus Stops Here Foundation announced a partnership intended to bring greater awareness and access to opportunities in the natural gas industry to disadvantaged urban and rural communities in the Pittsburgh region. Does the Bettis name ring any bells? It should. Pittsburgh-based IntegrServ, a trucking company partly owned by former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis, filed a federal lawsuit last summer against EQT claiming discrimination against his company (a minority-owned company) after EQT canceled a contract worth some $66 million (see Trucking Company Sues EQT for Racial Bias, Canceled $66M Contract).
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Enverus US Rig Count Holds Steady at 461, M-U Ties Haynesville!

Another week, another rig count to share with you. As we often point out, rig counts go up and down each week, so it’s good not to get too wrapped up in the “up one week down the next” narrative. After the rig count crashed to historic, all-time lows last year (due to the pandemic and price war from Russia and Saudi Arabia), we began to report more frequently on the rig count. It has become an early indicator for the pace of our country’s economic recovery.
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2nd Biggest NatGas Storage Withdrawal on Record, but Prices Fall

On Monday of this week we reported about natural gas withdrawals from underground storage for the week ending Feb. 12, which were the twelfth largest on record since 2010 and the biggest one-week withdrawal in the past two years (see Biggest Withdrawal from Underground NatGas Storage in 2 Years). Yesterday withdrawal numbers came out for the week ending Feb. 19. Yesterday’s numbers were dramatically higher than the week before–the second-largest withdrawal from storage on record since 2010. Yet the gas traders yawned and didn’t seem all that impressed. The price of natgas actually fell.
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Other Stories of Interest: Fri, Feb 26, 2021

OTHER U.S. REGIONS: Texas natural gas production fell by almost half during recent cold snap; Port Canaveral to welcome first liquified natural gas-powered cruise ship in North America; NATIONAL: EIA: US weekly LNG exports increase; New postal delivery vehicle omits natural gas option; Americans can’t afford president Biden’s green obsession; Jennifer Granholm sworn in as energy secretary; INTERNATIONAL: Macquarie launches WaveCrest Energy to develop LNG markets in Asia, Latin America.
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Cabot 2020 Update: Drilled 74 Wells, Avg 2.3 Bcf/d, Made $200M

Yesterday Cabot Oil & Gas issued its fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 update. Cabot continues to be one of the few drillers that consistently makes a profit quarter after quarter, year after year–even during a downturns like what happened in 2020. Although down from 2019, in 2020 Cabot made just over $200 million in net income. They drilled 74 wells, completed 86 wells, and produced an average of 2.3 billion cubic feet equivalent per day (Bcfe/d) last year.
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Range 2020 Update: Drilled 67 Wells, Avg 2.2 Bcf/d, Lost $712M

Range Resources issued its fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 update yesterday. Range was the very first driller to sink a Marcellus well, back in 2004. The company currently owns ~460,000 acres in the M-U, most of it in the “wet gas” region which produces higher-profit NGLs. Range made $38 million in net profit during 4Q20, but lost $712 million for the entire year. However, the yearly loss is better than 2019 when Range lost $1.7 billion (heading in the right direction).
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PA Legislators Strongly Disapprove Ch. 105 Water Permit Changes

In December MDN brought you the news that the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is proposing and seeking comments on changes to the state’s Chapter 105 (water obstructions and encroachments) permit (see PA DEP Proposes Changes to Ch. 105 Water Permits). It’s a fundamental permit almost all outdoor construction projects in PA are required to obtain, including the drilling of shale wells. Republicans on the PA House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee voted yesterday to send a letter to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) expressing their strong disapproval of the proposed changes.
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US Supreme Court May Hear Illinois Takings Case – NY Implications?

More than six years ago a group of landowners in Wayne County, Illinois sued the state for its refusal to grant permits to drill and frack in the New Albany Shale deposit. Over the years the case morphed and the plaintiff became Next Energy, LLC, which acquired the leases to explore and develop the shale under the landowners’ property. The huge news is that the U.S. Supreme Court has taken an active interest in the case and is demanding the Illinois Attorney General file a response to the case–a key indicator the Supremes are leaning toward hearing the case.
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Cheniere Energy Strikes New LNG Export Deals – Rebound in 2021

Cheniere Energy operates two huge LNG export facilities–one in Sabine Pass, Louisiana, the other in Corpus Christi, Texas. Cheniere is the #1 LNG exporter in the U.S. Yesterday the company issued its fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 update. The company said it secured over 4 million tonnes of LNG supply deals during 4Q20. While the company took a hit with canceled cargoes during the pandemic, Cheniere expects 2021 to rebound and be a banner year. Why do we care? Because a significant quantity of Marcellus/Utica gas flows to the Cheniere facilities for export.
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GECF Says NatGas Eclipses Oil as World’s Top Fossil Fuel by 2050

The Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) is an international governmental organization providing a framework for exchanging experience and information among member cuntries. The GECF is a gathering of the world’s leading gas exporting countries and was set up as an international governmental organization with the objective to increase the level of coordination and strengthen the collaboration among its members. GECF publishes an annual report called Global Gas Outlook 2050 (full copy below) that provides long-term energy projections based on assumptions regarding macroeconomic conditions, energy prices, and policies. The most recent report, issued yesterday, makes a startling prediction.
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Other Stories of Interest: Thu, Feb 25, 2021

MARCELLUS/UTICA REGION: UGI work to begin on $6 million pipeline that will change fuel mix at Northampton County’s Keystone Cement; Antero Resources presents a check to the Mountaineer Food Bank for $150,000 to help battle food insecurity; OTHER U.S. REGIONS: Midcoasters say $90M natural gas line expansion isn’t aligned with state climate change plan; NATIONAL: Day 2: Rep. Haaland goes further, says federal lands moratorium is not a “permanent thing”; Quantum Fuel Systems awarded substantial natural gas virtual pipeline trailer order; Natural gas price spike curtails ammonia plants, linking hydrogen and gas markets; INTERNATIONAL: Keystone XL’s death sparks rush to ship oil-sands by rail.
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