Some 200 hundred Teamsters union members working on Marcellus Shale gas pipeline construction have walked out on strike in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and the strike could grow to more than 700 workers in the near future, according to a Teamsters press release (see below).
At issue is a contract up for renewal with the Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA). The PLCA wants to let workers provide for their retirement benefits using 401(k) plans instead of a traditional defined-benefit pension plan. A 401(k) provides for individual investments in stocks or mutual funds, and the Teamsters say that Wall Street investments are too risky for their members.
The Chinese government, through state-controlled Sinopec, yesterday signed a deal with Devon Energy to buy into five prospective new exploration areas in the U.S. One of those areas is the Ohio Utica Shale, where Devon has increased it’s position to 235,000 net acres. With a $2.2 billion cash infusion coming from Sinopec, Devon will have the money to develop all five plays, including the Utica.
Although the Pennsylvania House, Senate and governorship are all controlled by Republicans (for the first time in many years), they have not yet agreed on new legislation that puts stricter environmental controls in place over shale gas drilling in the state. The pending legislation, introduced last year after Gov. Tom Corbett appointed an advisory commission to propose new regulations, also includes an impact fee assessed on each new well drilled.
PA Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati believes all parties to the discussion are very close to agreement and hopes the legislation will be passed by early February, before it can get bogged down in election-year politicking.
In October 2011, Enterprise Products Partners announced they were considering building a 1,230 mile pipeline to transport ethane from the Marcellus and Utica Shale regions in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio to the U.S. Gulf Coast (see this MDN story). Shortly after the announcement, Chesapeake Energy signed on to be the first customer for the new pipeline, if it’s built (see this MDN story).
In February of last year, Williams, one of the 10 largest natural gas producers in the U.S., announced that it would split the company and spin out the exploration & production (E&P) business into a new company (see this MDN story). True to their word, the split is now complete, and yesterday WPX Energy, the new company formed to take on the E&P division, began trading on the New York Stock Exchange.