Just this morning Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), a huge pipeline company that owns 23,500 miles of pipelines and gathering systems, including the largest intrastate pipeline in Texas, announced they are buying Sunoco for $5.3 billion. One of the main reasons for the purchase? ETP said they have a growing interest in the Marcellus Shale and they want Sunoco’s assets in the Marcellus region—a sure sign that midstream and downstream will be where the action is for the foreseeable future. Infrastructure to move gas from point A to point B, and even to end users (consumers) will drive much of the activity in the Marcellus. In that light, the buyout/merger makes sense.
Sunoco is not a driller (“upstream”) but instead is mostly a downstream company, owning pipelines, terminals and marketing assets. Sunoco also has a network of approximately 4,900 retail locations in 23 states.
Terry Engelder, Penn State geosciences professor and “father of the Marcellus Shale” once coined the term “line of death” for the point where shale stops being productive. He was specifically talking about the coal region in Pennsylvania where once-upon-many-millennia-ago high temperatures that hardened the anthracite coal also “cooked out” methane natural gas from the shale. Geologists and gas companies know the area around the Lackawanna Syncline—a banana-shaped formation that runs through Luzerne and Lackawanna counties—is likely to be devoid of methane, but what they don’t how is how far from the Syncline the line of death will be found.
We now have another plugged well that helps indicate where shale is unproductive—this one in Sugarloaf Township in neighboring Columbia County:
Old news being reported as new news: The PA Department of Environmental Protection continues its investigation into a possible case of methane migration in two water wells just outside of Dimock Township. The investigation started in 2010 and is not part of the ongoing Dimock situation. The “new news” part of the story is that Cabot Oil & Gas added more cement in the casing of a nearby Greenwood 1 well (in March).
DEP officials are now monitoring to see if the additional cemented casing cuts down on methane in the two water wells. If it does, it will be obvious that Cabot’s Greenwood 1 well is the cause. If it does not reduce methane in the water wells, back to the drawing board and the investigation continues.
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who is anti-drilling, “scolded” Chesapeake last week (according to the headlines) over the program that allows CEO Aubrey McClendon to participate in every well drilled by the company, with up to 2.5 percent ownership in each well. Although DiNapoli released a press statement to his favored mainstream media (MSM) buddies, he has yet to publicly release the statement “scolding” Chesapeake.
Speaking at the Eastern Ohio Development Alliance’s annual meeting last Friday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said that although he supports shale oil and gas drilling in the Marcellus and Utica Shales in his state, he doesn’t want to put all of Ohio’s economic eggs in one basket. He said the state needs to focus on more than just the energy sector to help elevate Ohio out of its current economic doldrums.
MDN launches a new poll today. Over the past several weeks, Chesapeake Energy has been in the midst of a public relations storm. Chesapeake operates a program called the Founders Well Participation Program (FWPP) which allows CEO Aubrey McClendon to invest his own money, and reap the financial rewards, of up to a 2.5 percent stake in every well drilled by Chesapeake. He must help fund his 2.5 percent of drilling costs. Reuters disclosed a few weeks ago that McClendon has been borrowing—big time—in order to meet his obligations to the program. He has borrowed (i.e. mortgaged his interest) to the tune of $1.1 – $1.4 billion, depending on the news source.