Vallourec Announces Layoffs for One-Third of its U.S. Workers

Vallourec, headquartered in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, manufactures steel pipes used in the oil and gas industry. The company employs some 19,000 people in 20 countries, including the U.S. In fact, Vallourec employs more than 750 at three Youngstown, Ohio units: Vallourec Star, VAM USA and Vallourec USA Corp. Yesterday Vallourec corporate headquarters announced it will reduce (layoff/eliminate) some 900 positions “across all plants as well as support functions.” That number, 900, represents over one-third of Vallourec’s total workforce and contractor positions in North America. The announcement implies all 900 of the positions being eliminated will happen in North America.
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Apartment Dwellers Near Philly Sue Sunoco for ME2 Pipe “Nuisance”

More than a dozen residents living in the Turnbridge Apartments in Media (Delaware County), PA recently filed a lawsuit against Sunoco Logistics (Energy Transfer) alleging construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline project has created all sorts of problems. The lawsuit says ME2 construction has caused (1) environmental contamination; (2) a major nuisance and inconvenience, especially during 24/7 operations; and (3) intimidation, harassment, fear, and loss of access to outdoor space. This isn’t the first time residents in that area have sued over ME2.
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What May Lie Ahead for Chesapeake Energy in the Near-Term

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In mid-March, MDN brought you the news that Chesapeake Energy had hired “restructuring advisers” to help the company navigate a $9 billion debt millstone hanging around its neck (see Chesapeake Energy Hires “Restructuring Advisers”). We got some blowback at the time for implying restructuring is more-or-less a euphemism for bankruptcy. Fair enough. Sometimes restructuring avoids bankruptcy. But Chesapeake’s stock is now down 99% in value, trading this morning at 17 cents per share. The picture by anyone’s standard is pretty bleak. The company is about to do a reverse stock split to boost the per-share price. What happens next? Can the company stay out of the bankruptcy ditch?
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Saudi-Russian Oil Deal on Shaky Ground; Texas to Join OPEC++?

Is your head spinning yet with all the news about the oil price crash and what the U.S. may or may not do to “fix” it? Ours is! Last week President Trump tweeted to the world he had a conversation with his “friend” the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the Prince told Trump the Saudis and Russians are close to announcing a major cut in world oil production (see Trump Says Saudis, Russians Agree to Major Oil Production Cut). That news sent oil soaring, up more than $5/barrel. But then Russia denied such talks, and a hasty meeting planned for yesterday between OPEC and Russia (OPEC+) was postponed until Thursday at least. Then a lame-duck Texas Railroad Commissioner (the agency that oversees oil drilling in Texas) piped up to say he wants Texas and the U.S. to join a pact with Saudi Arabia and Russia to restrict oil production. Some are calling it OPEC++. Then, over the weekend, President Trump hinted he may slap tariffs on imported oil if the Saudis/Russians don’t turn back the taps.
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Frac Spreads – What They Are and What They Portend for 2020

While the drilling rig count is an important signal for the future of oil (and gas) production, drilling a hole in the ground is only half of the process (and only one-third of the cost). After the hole is drilled comes “completions”–fracking and other work to get the hole producing and connected to a pipeline. Fracking is done by a collection of equipment–things like high-pressure pumps. It’s known in the industry as a “frac spread” (or a “frac fleet”). Counting the number of frac spreads is a better indicator of how much oil will come online than counting active rigs. What does the frac spread count show right now? How quickly will U.S. oil production decrease?
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What a National Ban on Fracking Would Mean in Real Numbers

We’re not anywhere close to being “through” the worst of the coronavirus siege. Yet the environmental left in this country is opportunistically using the virus to push for the end of oil AND natural gas use. It’s mindblowing how stupid they really are. They are blinded by their own wacko non-God environmental religion. As we begin to exit from the virus crisis, attention will once again return to the race for the U.S. presidency and to calls from a majority of the Democrat Party to slap a nationwide ban on fracking. What would that *really* mean, in dollars and cents and jobs? We have some numbers for you to mull over.
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Shale Energy Stories of Interest: Tue, Apr 7, 2020

MARCELLUS/UTICA REGION: Albany’s natural gas drilling ban: crushing blow to Upstate New York; NATIONAL: Most North American E&Ps seen cutting 2020 capex by 35-40% as coronavirus wreaks havoc; Oil and natural gas industry responds to COVID-19 with charitable and community assistance; Natural gas will benefit as oil producers shut in production; Fear creates opportunity: Williams Companies and Archrock; INTERNATIONAL: Trump should prepare to be scapegoated for a failed Russia-Saudi oil meeting.
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M-U Condensate Prices Briefly Go Negative, Down 91% from Jan 1

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting Marcellus/Utica condensate, produced in places like southwestern Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, briefly touched and went below $0/barrel last week, before recovering slightly. The article says the price M-U drillers are getting for condensate is down 91% from January of this year. What’s lacking in the Post-Gazette story is context for how important (or not) condensate is as a revenue stream for M-U drillers.
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Shell Files for Waiver to Restart PA Cracker Work w/Fewer Workers

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, like governors in neighboring states hit hard by the COVID-19 coronavirus, has elected to shut down all non-essential (called non-life-sustaining) businesses in the state until further notice to prevent the spread of the virus. The state issued a comprehensive list of which kinds of businesses could, and could not, continue working during the shutdown. Some 35,000 businesses on the non-life-sustaining list have requested a waiver from the state Dept. of Community and Economic Development (DCED). The DCED has so far granted 5,693 waivers, denied 8,952 requests, and ruled another 8,365 do not require a waiver because they fit the life-sustaining definition outlined in the shutdown order.
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Antis Gang Up on PennEast Pipe, Bombard FERC Demanding New Review

Leftist anti-fossil fuelers (nutters all) have worked themselves into a frenzy with a new campaign to bombard the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with requests and demands to begin all over again in its review of the PennEast Pipeline project. Last week MDN told you about the Delaware River Basin Commission’s haughty demand that it be given the right to review and pass judgment on the project before construction begins (see DRBC Oversteps Authority, Says It Must Approve PennEast). In addition to DRBC, the New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) has also requested FERC redo its review. And those two agencies have somehow prompted the Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make its own request that FERC redo its environmental assessment for the project.
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Time for Upstate New Yorkers to Sue, Overturn Permanent Frack Ban

Although it seems counterintuitive to say this, maybe NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his legion of radicalized Democrats have done New York landowners a favor with a permanent ban on fracking, passed as part of the most recent state budget (see Cuomo PERMANENTLY Bans NY Fracking in Now-Adopted Budget). How so? They have overplayed their hand by passing a permanent ban. It gives Upstate New Yorkers a VERY strong case against NY in court, to argue that the state has engaged in a “taking” of our private property rights without just compensation as provided for under the U.S. Constitution. So says our good friend Tom Shepstone…
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CARBO Ceramics Files Prepackaged Bankruptcy, Selling to Wilks

Oil billionaire Dan Wilks is going discount shopping. He’s buying up companies in the oil and gas space that are struggling. One of them is CARBO Ceramics, a company that provides a ceramic alternative to sand for use as a proppant in hydraulic fracturing. Proppants, for those new to MDN, “prop open” the fractures created during the fracking process to allow natural gas and natural gas liquids (even oil) to drain out of shale. A special kind of sand called silica, mined mostly in the Midwest is the most prevalent proppant used. However, CARBO has an innovated a ceramic substance–tiny little beads–used as an alternative.
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Rig Count Drops Like a Rock, Biggest 1-Week Drop “in Decades”

Two weeks ago MDN told you about the biggest single-week drop in U.S. rig counts since the final week of December 2015–more than four years ago (see Biggest Rig Count Drop in 4 Years – Who’s Still Drilling?). Rigs dropped by 47 in a single week. That was then. Last week rigs dropped by another 64! NGI says it was “one of the largest down weeks in the past two decades.” Call it a new (and somber) record for the past 20 years. The good news, if there is any, is that the counts in the Marcellus/Utica remained the same week over week. Once again it seems that gas-focused shale plays are the beneficiary of the oil price crash as everyone assumes associated gas coming from shale oil plays will (sooner or later) dry up.
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Going Virtual – List of Canceled, Postponed, and Virtual Events

MDN is updating our Calendar page more frequently to bring you the latest news on events of interest that have either been canceled, postponed, or in some cases, have gone virtual. We encourage you to review the list. A number of free and low-cost webinars and online events have popped up as an alternative to in-person meetings. RBN Energy has taken its excellent School of Energy (next week) completely virtual this time around. That event will set you back some change, but it’s well worth it in our opinion.
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Shale Energy Stories of Interest: Mon, Apr 6, 2020

MARCELLUS/UTICA REGION: Pennsylvania faces a new wave of abandoned oil and gas wells; Southwest Pa. runs on natural gas, coal; Cabot helping to stock food pantries in Marcellus Shale region; Your view: Wolf was wrong to veto HB 1100; OTHER U.S. REGIONS: Texas gets double punch from coronavirus and oil shock. ‘There’s no avoiding this one.’; California issues first new fracking permits since July; NATIONAL: Free webinar on the impact of COVID-19 on oil and gas industry; Chaos, scrambling in the U.S. oil patch as prices plummet; Greenfield natural gas, oil projects in pre-FID ‘all at risk’ for deferral; U.S. oil industry can still surprise with resilience: Mercuria CEO; Embattled energy companies snub creditors to conserve cash; Starwood Energy, OGCI Climate Investments and Elysian Ventures launch new carbon capture project; Victor Davis Hanson: U.S. still the leader in crisis; Democrats’ energy policies hurt black Americans.
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Cuomo PERMANENTLY Bans NY Fracking in Now-Adopted Budget

While no one was paying attention, distracted with literal life and death issues due to the coronavirus pandemic, the uber-corrupt and sleazy Andrew Cuomo (worst governor EVER) slipped in a permanent ban on fracking into the annual state budget bill which is now the law of our fallen (and sick) land. This is truly a sad day for those of us who live in New York State. We seriously doubt there will ever be a Republican legislature and governor in NY to reverse the horrific damage now done to our civil liberties. Freedom died yesterday in New York State. We now live behind enemy lines.
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