Is Shell Pulling Out of Pennsylvania Marcellus?

Is Shell (or SWEPI, formerly known as Shell Western E&P Inc.) leaving its Pennsylvania Marcellus drilling program behind? You may recall we posted a story in June quoting Tonya Williams, general manager for Appalachia with Shell, as stating (during her talk at the DUG East event in Pittsburgh) that Shell plans to spend $150 million to drill wells on four pads in 2018, all of it in Tioga County (see Shell Focused on Single PA County, No New Drilling in Other Areas). Although Shell has wells and acreage in 10 Pennsylvania counties, Tioga is the focus for this year. Barley two months later, in early August, MDN received a note from a trusted reader saying that Shell is pulling out, ending its Marcellus program and sending their personnel to Texas. Frankly, we were skeptical.
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Ohio EPA to Hold Air Permit Hearing for PTT Cracker Nov. 27

PTT Global Chemical announced in April 2015 they want to build a $6 billion ethane cracker plant complex in Belmont County, OH (see It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site). Since that time, PTT has purchased land, paid $100 million to get the cracker facility designed, and repeatedly said a final investment decision (FID) is imminent. It’s been imminent for more than two years now. Belmont County officials recently said the decision is coming “by the end of this year” (see Belmont, OH Leaders Say PTT Cracker Decision Coming This Year). But we’ve read comments by others who say the decision won’t happen until sometime next year (see Rumblings that PTT Will Once Again Delay OH Cracker Decision). We finally have some signs of life that a decision is, indeed, coming soon.
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NTSB: Columbia Gas Unlicensed Engineer Error Led to Mass. Tragedy

Ever see a someone’s name listed on a business card or in a directory, and there’s a “PE” after his or her name? Know what that means? It means Professional Engineer. To get a PE, an engineer must complete a four-year college degree, work under a Professional Engineer for at least four years, pass two intensive competency exams and earn a license from their state’s licensure board. The engineer who drafted plans for NiSource Columbia Gas to replace gas mains about 25 miles north of Boston, in Lawrence, MA, didn’t have a PE after his name. And the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says it was his fault that when the gas main was replaced, the old main still had sensors that detected low pressure and kept pressurizing (overpressurizing) the gas system that led to multiple explosions and one person dying, 25 injured, and 8,000 residences and business still without natural gas service some two months later.
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Wild Ride – Price of NatGas Crashes Day After it Spikes, Down 20%

Yesterday MDN brought you the news that the price of the NYMEX natural gas futures contract closed (on Wednesday) at a four-year high, up 18% (see Price of NatGas Spikes to Highest Level in 4 Years – $4.84/Mcf). We said this in our closing comments: “We maintain the jump in prices is due to psychology more than reality. If traders believe there’s about to be a shortage, they react. In a sense, they panic. And the cycle feeds itself. Until the prices come crashing back down in a few days or weeks.” It took exactly one day. Yesterday the same futures contract (the price of gas at the Henry Hub) closed down $0.80 to $4.04/Mcf–a 20% drop! The day before it went up 18%, next day, down 20%. Day before was the biggest one-day increase in 14 years, yesterday the biggest one-day decrease in 15 years. Help! Let us off this roller coaster!
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Va. Air Pollution Control Bd Delays ACP Compressor Station Vote

If there’s one more black person living in a given rural community than white, and if a pipeline company wants to put a compressor station in that community as the best location to push gas through the line, the very act of building that compressor station in that community is racist. That’s the horse manure being pedaled in Buckingham County, Va. Last week the State Air Pollution Control Board held two days of public hearings where antis, detecting they may lose the battle to stop a compressor station for Dominion Energy’s 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, trotted out their so-called “environmental justice” argument. Last Friday the board decided to delay a vote on whether to approve the compressor station, until their meeting on Dec. 10.
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3 Drillers Pay $50K to Fund Mobile Emergency Unit for Belmont, OH

New mobile emergency response trailer (Credit: WTOV)

A feel-good story for your Friday. Three Utica Shale drillers operating in Belmont County, OH–EQT Corp., Ascent Resources and Antero Resources–between them donated $50,000 to the Belmont County Emergency Management Agency to purchase a mobile command unit trailer that can be hauled to sites where’s there is an ongoing emergency/crisis and used on location. Neighboring Monroe County will get to use it too. Taxpayers didn’t have to pay a dime. Everyone is tickled pink. Yes, there is some self interest in the donation, since better emergency response can theoretically aide their own workers in case of an emergency. But such incidents (in the shale industry) are rare. Chances are the trailer will be used for other types of emergencies. Which is just fine with the shale industry.
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B&V 2019 Natural Gas Report: LNG Ramps Up, More Infra. Needed

The annual Black & Veatch “Strategic Directions: Natural Gas Report” (full copy below) explores the complexities and market dynamics impacting today’s natural gas landscape. As the world continues to invest in the adoption of so-called renewable energy options, the outlook for natural gas has never been more positive. You read that right! More renewables = more investment in natural gas. Shifts in the global energy market are influencing gas production and transportation, altering the volume of supply. Developers, who know a good opportunity when they see it, are investing heavily in liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefaction capacity. But more infrastructure and pipeline capacity will be needed to continue to support the growth in LNG, especially as Asian markets continue to migrate away from coal in an effort to meet environmental goals. This report explores how complex geopolitics will impact upstream, midstream and downstream operations, while global forces reshape the industry across the board.
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Energy Stories of Interest: Fri, Nov 16, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: More Permian pipelines are coming. Will there be enough workers?; Total U.S. natural gas stocks end refill season at lowest level in 13 years; Once sleepy pipeline sector now at center of the action; Interior credits increased fossil fuel production for jump in revenue from federal lands; World has no capacity to absorb new fossil fuel plants, warns IEA; South Korea becomes top Asian destination for U.S. oil after China trade spat; India ready to import more U.S. oil and gas; Russia’s $11 billion natural gas pipeline is primed to fuel Europe.
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Price of NatGas Spikes to Highest Level in 4 Years – $4.84/Mcf

From even a cursory glance at news over the past 24 hours it would be hard to miss the stories blaring the trumpets that the price of natural gas closed at a 4+ year high yesterday (NYMEX futures price closed at $4.84/Mcf), and that the price jumped an amazing 18% in a single day–the biggest jump in 14 years! The primary reason, according to news reports and interviews with traders, is low stockpiles (low storage) combined with short-term weather forecasts for colder weather in the northeast. Indeed, as we write this (sitting in Binghamton, NY), we await the arrival, in a few hours, of an early winter snowstorm of proportions usually not seen until the dead of winter. Some 3-7 inches of snow on the way, more in the higher elevations. The system will affect most northeastern states. Crank up the gas heat! The bazillion dollar question is: How long will the price of gas stay “high”–by which we mean over $3.25/Mcf?
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NatGas Prices in PA Catching Up with Rest of Country

Since our lead story today is about the spike up in the price of natural gas (see Price of NatGas Spikes to Highest Level in 4 Years – $4.84/Mcf), we thought it fitting to bring you a related story that caught our eye–on the price of natgas in Pennsylvania. For years PA, especially the dry gas northeast, has been plagued with some of the lowest natural gas prices in the U.S. Why? Prolific production and not enough pipelines to get all that production to higher-paying markets. The situation is changing, rapidly. Prices in the northeast Marcellus are catching up with the Henry Hub price in southern Louisiana, thanks to multiple pipelines coming online. What does it all mean for Pennsylvanians?
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EnCap Looks to Sell Royalty Stake in “Core” of Ohio Utica

EnCap Investments is a venture capital investor that funds independent companies in the U.S. oil and gas industry. EnCap has its fingers in a number of pies in the Marcellus/Utica. EnCap is the major investor behind Eclipse Resources and was instrumental in Eclipse selling itself to and merging with Blue Ridge Mountain Resources (see Eclipse Resources Merging with Former Magnum Hunter). EnCap is also a major investor in (i.e. owner of) PennEnergy Resources, which recently cut a deal to buy Rex Energy (see Rex Energy Sells Itself to PennEnergy Resources for $600M). Another way EnCap invests in our region is by funding drilling programs in return for royalty payments (or more properly, for a thin slice of the royalties). EnCap has put their royalty interests in several “core” Utica Shale counties up for sale.
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FERC Approves Rest of Columbia WB XPress Pipe for Startup

In early October the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted TransCanada permission to begin service on part of its Columbia WB XPress pipeline project, the “Western Build” portion of the project (see FERC Approves Columbia WB XPress Pipe for Partial Startup). The good news is that yesterday FERC granted permission to start up the rest of WB XPress, the “Eastern Build.” The $900 million WB XPress project is located in West Virginia and Virginia and expands capacity along the Columbia Gas Transmission (CGT) pipeline system by 1.3 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), linking Marcellus gas supplies to new markets. The whole WB XPress enchilada is now ready to let it flow.
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NY State Court Denies Northern Access Pipe Eminent Domain

Another bump in the road for National Fuel Gas Company and their Northern Access Expansion pipeline project. Not a major hurdle. Not an apocalypse. Not the end of the line. A bump. The Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court (in NY, Supreme Court is a low court, one step up from county court), overturned the decision of the lower Supreme Court granting NFG the power of eminent domain to build Northern Access, a project not scheduled to get built until 2022. The attorney who won the case against NFG proclaimed without eminent domain, “The pipeline is dead.” We say he’s dead wrong.
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The War to Build PennEast Pipeline Continues

It’s been almost a year since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted final approval for the PennEast Pipeline project, a $1 billion, 120-mile natgas pipeline that will stretch from northeast PA to the Trenton area of New Jersey (see FERC Grants Final Approval for PennEast Pipe – Real Battle Begins). DTE Energy’s NEXUS Pipeline, a 255-mile pipeline from Columbia County in Ohio to Southern Michigan, received its FERC approval around the same time. NEXUS is already built and flowing, PennEast hasn’t turned the first shovelful of dirt yet. What’s going on?
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Virginians Save $11B in 10 Years Thx to Fracked Shale Gas

Residents of Virginia have benefited in a major way from an abundance of cheap, clean-burning shale gas. How much benefit? Try $11 billion of money went directly into the pockets of Virginia residents and businesses over the past 10 years thanks to low-priced natural gas–fracked gas, coming from the Marcellus/Utica. Industry group Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) has just published a new report that shares the good news (full copy below). You may recall not long ago CEA published a similar study for Pennsylvania (see PA Consumers Save $30B Over 10 Years Thx to Marcellus Shale), and West Virginia (see WV Consumers Saved $4B Over 10 Years Thx to M-U Shale). Now it’s VA’s turn. Even though VA doesn’t extract shale gas, they still enjoy its benefits!
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Energy Stories of Interest: Thu, Nov 15, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: US LNG player Cheniere fires up Corpus Christi production; Haynesville’s gigantic gas resurgence could be a winner in LNG export race; Think oil has been volatile? Watch natural gas; Firmer Henry Hub natural gas price, high shipping rates pressure US LNG margins; Cheniere bets $15 billion on world gas demand despite tariff; U.S. crude oil and natural gas production increased in 2017, with fewer wells; Why new rail car specs are creating obstacles for crude-by-rail; Climate contrarian uncovers scientific error, upends major ocean warming study.
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