Chesapeake Sells Utica Leases in Columbiana County, OH to Hilcorp

investigationA great piece of investigative journalism from the Youngstown Business Journal has found that Chesapeake Energy, the largest leaseholder in the Utica Shale, transferred nearly 1,100 leases (representing tens of thousands of acres) in Columbiana County, OH to Hilcorp earlier this year. No announcements of any kind from either Chesapeake or Hilcorp about the deal. Which is interesting, because not long after the deal was signed, sealed and delivered, Chesapeake on an earnings call singled out Columbiana as one of two Utica counties that they are committed to (see Chesapeake Earnings Call Highlights Utica Results in 2 OH Counties).
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Utica, NY Bans Shale Drilling in the Utica (and Marcellus)

It seems life in New York State is full of irony. The Marcellus Shale is named after the town of Marcellus, NY, where there is an outcropping of shale at ground level and the reason that particular shale layer was so-named. A while back the Town of Marcellus banned shale drilling. In like manner, the Utica Shale is named for Utica, NY. Tuesday night, the City of Utica Common Council banned drilling and fracking within city limits. Not that it would happen there anyway–but still, Et tu, Brute?

We find this brief reference on the blog site of the local Utica newspaper:
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Latest OH Utica Permit Numbers, Rig Count Discrepancy

As of June 1, Ohio has issued 693 Utica Shale drilling permits. Of the permits now issued, 339 (about half) of the wells have been drilled. Of the half now drilled, Utica has 102 wells (almost one-third) now online and producing natural gas, gas liquids and oil. According to the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR), there are currently 37 drilling rigs operating in the Utica Shale. That number is different from the Baker Hughes weekly tracking number which reports for the last week of May there were 32 active rotary rigs in Ohio. Why the difference? We don’t know. (We’ve included the Baker Hughes monthly averages in a handy chart below for OH, PA and WV.)

During the week of May 26 – June 1, the ODNR issued 18 new permits, most of them to the usual suspects. Here’s where the permits were issued, and the companies that received them:
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MarkWest Sells Doddridge County, WV Pipeline System to Raise Cash

From the “hmm, that’s interesting” department: MarkWest Energy Partners yesterday announced they have sold their pipeline gathering system (but not their gas processing plant) in Doddridge County, WV to Summit Midstream Partners for $210 million in cash. MarkWest is the largest midstream company in the Marcellus and is quickly becoming the largest in the Utica as well. MDN previously reported on funding shortages for some of MarkWest’s projects in the Utica, a situation which we thought had been resolved in February (see MarkWest: We Just Banked $450M from EMG, Another $2.8B Available). Perhaps it was not resolved. This latest sale sure seems like MarkWest is trying to raise more money to keep some of their new projects afloat…
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Conventional Driller Eyes Marcellus Under Murrysville, PA Park

A privately-held, small conventional driller from southwestern PA near Pittsburgh, Huntley & Huntley, wants to begin drilling unconventional wells that target the Marcellus Shale. They’ve chosen Westmoreland County, PA as the place to do it. Huntley & Huntley has already leased land surrounding the Murrysville Community Park and now wants to lease the 305-acre park too. They plan to set up drill pads outside of the park, on adjoining land, and drill under the park.
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Perry Twp Anti-Driller Trots Out Same Old Lies about Drilling

A local anti-drilling, anti-fossil fuel resident of Perry Township (Fayette County), PA asked the town board on Tuesday to institute a five-year drilling moratorium in the town. A quick check of the Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook 2013 (Vol. 1) shows no permits issued in Perry for drilling for the first four months of 2013, although a few permits were issued in neighboring towns. The anti-driller used the old, worn-out fear tactics of cancer-causing sand and chemicals (run for the hills!) to try and convince town officials into acting unwisely…
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Anti-Drilling Group Tries to Connect Harch to Radioactive Issue

Unfortunately when someone from “our side” violates the public trust as happened with yesterday’s revelation that Harch Environmental Resources had been caught dumping frack wastewater on the ground in Ohio (see Another OH Company Shut Down for Illegal Frack Wastewater Dumping), it gives the irrational anti-fossil fuel opposition ammunition. The pro-fracking side is held to a standard of near-perfection, while the other side plays fast and loose with facts, truth and lies.

So it was no surprise to MDN that the odious and misnamed organization Food & Water Watch (FWW) issued a statement yesterday calling for…we’re not quite sure. Less regulation? More regulation? Hard to tell with that bunch what they really mean/want…
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