Although pro-drilling groups in New York are attempting to put a positive face on it, yesterday NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state has not yet made a determination on whether fracking will be allowed. Not “when” it will be allowed, but “whether” it will be allowed. He said, “We haven’t made that determination.” His remarks in context were about whether the state will add funding in this year’s budget (being released today) for an estimated 140 regulators that would be needed if fracking were to begin.
At a minimum, it seems Cuomo is saying that fracking won’t be a resolved issue during this budget year, although his remarks are not exactly clear.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has sent proposed new legislation to lawmakers asking for a 25-year break from business property taxes for any company investing at least $2 billion to build an ethane cracker plant in the state. There is a bidding war going on among West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania to attract the plant, a facility that processes ethane from shale gas drilling into ethylene, a raw material used to make plastics.
Last year’s mergers and acquisitions activity in the oil and natural gas sector set new records, both in the total value of deals and the total number of deals. Although the Marcellus Shale was responsible for a great deal of M&A activity in 2010, for 2011, the Utica Shale, considered an emerging shale play, ranked higher than the Marcellus in M&A activity. For 2011, the Utica saw 12 deals worth a combined $5.3 billion.
Although a comprehensive bill to tighten regulations on Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania along with an impact fee has still not passed the PA legislature, a separate, smaller bill is about to. The smaller bill requires Marcellus Shale well operators to provide geographic siting information to local, county and state EMS officials and to develop an emergency response plan.
Pembina Pipeline Corp., a Canadian oil and gas pipeline operator (based in Calgary), just announced an agreement to buy Provident Energy Ltd. (another Calgary-based company) for C$3.2 billion to add natural gas liquids assets. The combined company will have a market cap of C$7.9 billion and a total enterprise value of C$10 billion, making it one of Canada’s largest energy infrastructure companies. Although the combined company will have far-ranging operations, part of their portfolio includes pipeline capacity to transport shale gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shales into Canada.