CONSOL Energy’s Executive Management Shake-up

shake it up CONSOL Energy, headquartered in Pittsburgh, has been known as a coal company for generations. More recently, they’ve accumulated the fourth largest number of Marcellus Shale acres under lease and have a very active shale drilling program in both the Marcellus and the Utica Shale. So when CONSOL issues an “innocent” press release announcing three members of the executive management team are retiring, we notice.

MDN has no idea whether these announcements really mean anything beyond what they are: long-time employees retiring—although one of the three has only been with the company since 2005. Still, a big change (shake-up?) in upper management may spell a strategy change coming for the company. Here’s CONSOL’s press release from yesterday:

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JLCNY Sends Gov. Cuomo a Special ‘Happy New Year’ Card

The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) wants its 77,000 members to keep up the pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo—especially over the holiday period—by sending him a very special “Happy New Year” card (see a copy below).

MDN received an email from the JLCNY to its members encouraging them to print out and mail a copy of their special holiday greeting card. In addition, they want members to phone the governor’s office. The message to convey? “We’ve waited long enough.”

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Status Report on Chesapeake’s Utica Shale Drilling Program

Chesapeake Energy is the second largest natural gas producer in the United States, behind ExxonMobil. If you’ve followed the shale gas drilling space for any length of time, you no doubt have heard about Chesapeake’s “problems” this past year. Their main problem is overextension: Leasing too much acreage without possessing enough money to drill on it. A further complication has been the low price of natural gas, meaning Chesapeake doesn’t make as much profit when they do drill. Too many bills to pay, not enough cash to pay them. The solution? Sell some of your assets.

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Motley Fool’s “Ubiquitous in the Utica”

The Motley Fool investing website published a “round-up” type of article two days ago that focuses on the major players (drillers) in the Marcellus Shale (see this MDN story), part of a series that looks at major energy plays in the U.S. Yesterday they continued the series with an article that looks in detail at the Utica Shale.

The article starts off by listing the top 7 companies by the amount of acreage they lease. They are (from highest to lowest amount of acreage):

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Venango County Geophysical Study for Marcellus/Utica is Done

NEOS GeoSolutions, a company that measures and analyzes what’s under the ground to help energy companies figure out “what’s down there” announced yesterday they have completed a new geological and geophysical study of the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays in and around Venango County, PA. NEOS delivered the findings to the unnamed party or parties that paid for the project (the “underwriters”). According to NEOS, the rest of us (euphemistically called non-underwriters) will get to see the study results on March 15, 2013.

Landowners in Venango County: Between now and March 15, if someone turns up on your doorstep eagerly wanting to sign you to a lease, take a deep breath and ask to see a copy of the survey results before you sign anything. Information is power, and the information in these kinds of studies can give those who possess it an advantage.

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Dominion, Caiman in $1.5B Utica JV: Blue Racer Midstream

Two large midstream (pipeline & processing plant) companies, Dominion and Caiman Energy II, announced a new $1.5 billion, 50/50 joint venture to form a new midstream services company to service the Utica Shale in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The name of the new company is Blue Racer Midstream. Sound familiar? It should. Yesterday MDN brought you the news that Williams is investing $380 million in Caiman Energy/Blue Racer (see this MDN story).Williams owns nearly half of Caiman Energy II (47.5%).

One of the core assets of the new Blue Racer Midstream company will be Dominion’s previously announced $500 million natural gas liquids processing plant in Natrium, WV (see this MDN story). The Natrium plant was scheduled to go online by Dec. 31—a deadline that won’t be met. However, work on the new NGL plant continues at a “furious pace” and the plant will be online in early 2013. Dominion’s extensive gathering pipeline system in eastern Ohio is also part of the deal.

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PA PUC Rules Against Anadarko & Talisman on Impact Fee

Contrary to the wishes of Anadarko Petroleum and Talisman Energy, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), charged with collecting Act 13 impact fees from shale drilling in the state, ruled that setting conductor pipe does in fact trigger or require a company to pay an impact fee from that point forward. Anadarko and Talisman had argued it does not constitute spudding (or starting the drilling process) for a well. The impact fee is levied when a well is spud.

From the PUC announcement yesterday:

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OH Municipality to Sell Treated Sewage Water for Fracking

The Buckeye Water District, a municipal sewer and water authority in Wellsville (Columbiana County), OH, voted yesterday to sell treated sewage water for use in fracking Utica Shale wells. MDN would call that a win/win and smart.

Just how much are companies willing to pay for treated sewage water to use in fracking?

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United Airlines Beginning Flights from OK to OH

Don’t tell Ohio Gov. John Kasich, but more “foreigners” (i.e. out-of-state oil and gas workers) are coming to Ohio, and they’re doing it using (gasp) commercial airlines. Call the TSA! Beef up the border guards! If you’re not quite sure what MDN is referring to, see this MDN story for background.

A sure sign that Ohio’s Utica Shale is undergoing a rapid expansion is that United Airlines has just announced they will begin offering nonstop flights between Oklahoma City and Cleveland in February. The new flights begin on Valentine’s Day—giving Gov. Kasich a big metaphorical kiss on the smacker. Here’s the new news:

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Common Cause Concocts Sham Report on NY Political Donors

The ultra-liberal Democrat organization called “Common Cause of New York” is pushing a sham analysis of contributions to local political candidates in New York State under the pretense that “Big Oil & Gas” money bought the recent elections in local races. They’re still smarting in the Southern Tier of New York where every single anti-fracking candidate in any race that matters—lost. Pathologically incapable of admitting the truth—that people in the Southern Tier want natural gas drilling—they’ve set about to create the illusion there is a conspiracy—a reason why their candidates lost so badly.

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