DRBC Delay Costs Wayne County Landowners $187.5M, Hess Pulls Out

thanks for nothingThank you Carol Collier (Executive Director) and the other members of Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC): You’ve just cost Wayne County, PA landowners a collective $187.5 million by your continued inaction to allow drilling in Wayne County. Newfield Appalachia PA and Hess Corp. started sending notices last week to Wayne County landowners that they’ve decided to terminate the leases they made with them in 2009–on more than 100,000 acres.

Not wanting to tick off the DRBC and the member states of NY, NJ, PA and DE, the drillers blamed the lease terminations on a change in strategy–they want to drill in oily shale plays. But we know the real reason…
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PA Landowners with Marcellus Wells: The (Property) Tax Man Cometh

A developing story for Pennsylvania landowners, as reported by WTAE Channel 4 (ABC) Pittsburgh: If you’re a PA landowner with over 10 acres of farmland or woodlands, it’s likely you pay a much lower tax rate on the land because of the “Clean and Green” Act–technically known as the Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act of 1974. Clean and Green is meant to keep taxes on farms and other agricultural-types of property lower, based on the land’s value for agriculture, rather than taxed on the land’s prevailing or “full market” value. When the land’s use changes, however, to something like an industrial use (i.e. used for a drill pad), the landowner is responsible for paying higher taxes on the prevailing market value for that portion of land used for that purpose.

If you haven’t been paying a higher tax rate for the portion of your land used for drilling (as we understand it, only the surface portion used–where there’s a drill pad), you may retroactively owe back taxes. It seems that the Clean and Green tax issue for landowners with Marcellus wells on their property is now heating up, and if you’re not paying the higher tax, it’s being spun that you’re “hurting ordinary taxpayers”…
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REX Reverses Pipeline Flow from OH for Mystery Utica Customer

What a difference a year makes. Last August, RBN Energy President Rusty Braziel said the Rockies Express Pipeline (REX), which originates in Rio Blanco County, Colorado and sends gas to Monroe County, Ohio, was in danger of drying up because there’s so much shale gas coming from the Marcellus. His prescription? Turn it around and send gas the other way (see REX NatGas Pipeline Faces Stiff Competition from Marcellus). Looks like REX has taken Rusty’s advice.

In a press release issued yesterday, REX announced they have a binding agreement with an unnamed “large Utica Shale producer” who wants to use the pipeline to ship 200,000 decatherms of processed natural gas per day to the Midcontinent region of the country. That is, REX is reversing the flow for at least part of the pipeline. And who might the unnamed “mystery” producer be? We think we know…
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CONSOL 2Q13: Drilled 17 Marcellus/Utica Wells, Completed 15

Second quarter earnings and operational update season is upon us. Yesterday Pittsburgh-based CONSOL posted their 2Q13 update (below). CONSOL has traditionally been one of the country’s largest coal producing companies. In recent years, however, they’ve changed their focus to natural gas–specifically Marcellus and now Utica Shale natural gas. That ongoing changeover is quite evident by the amount of space in the update below devoted to gas vs that devoted to coal operations.

During 2Q13, CONSOL drilled 13 Marcellus Shale wells and 4 Utica Shale wells. They also completed 15 Marcellus Shale wells during that period. Overall, CONSOL produced 418 million cubic feet of natural gas per day on average during second quarter. However, perhaps the most exciting news in this update is CONSOL’s successful results for a new, third shale layer: the Upper Devonian layer. The full CONSOL update:
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Title Researchers Camp Out at Tyler County (WV) Clerk’s Office

There are at least two reliable ways to know where drilling is about to begin (or expand): One is to monitor where (and how many) permits for drilling have been issued. MDN covers that with our Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook series, each volume of which maps where permits were issued in the past four months. Drillers don’t pay for expensive permits unless they’re going to drill. But in order to get a permit, you already must have leased the land. So the other way to predict future drilling is by how busy the local county clerk’s office is–where the land records are kept. Case in point: Tyler County, WV.

According to MDN’s Databook 2013 – Vol. 1, Tyler County had 189 permits issued for 38 wells for January-April 2013. Going by the fevered activity at the county clerk’s office, however, predicts those numbers will soon go much higher. Title researchers are camping outside the county clerk’s office starting 6 pm the night before (!) in order to secure a spot in the clerk’s office the next day when the doors open. It’s becoming a problem for some residents…
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Smoke at MarkWest Chartiers, PA Gas Processing Plant

MarkWest operates a large natural gas processing plant in Chartiers Township (Washington County), PA. In the past few years they doubled the size of the plant. Apparently the installation of more new equipment due to go online yesterday didn’t go as planned. Characterizing it as “several events,” automated safety equipment kicked in and burned off (or flared) propane at the plant–resulting in smoke that could be seen for miles.

The (scant) known details of what happened yesterday at the Chariters processing plant:
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Range Resources 2Q13: Production Up 27% Due to Marcellus

Last week Range Resources released its 2013 second quarter update. Range reports its production volumes hit record highs of 910 million cubic feet equivalent per day–of that, 79% was natural gas the rest liquids, oil and condensate. The company credits its continued success and the dramatic increase from last year (up 27%) to a single cause: the Marcellus Shale.

The report issued by Range last Thursday:
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Trans Energy Presentation: Charts, Maps & More

Trans Energy, Inc. is a “pure play” (single focus) driller in the Marcellus Shale–specifically in the northern panhandle region of West Virginia. Along with its joint venture partner Republic Energy, Trans Energy owns and operates on 62,000 acres in WV, primarily in Marshall, Wetzel, Tyler and Marion counties.

In April, Trans Energy issued a investors presentation full of very useful charts and maps and details about their operations (embedded below). We’ve just noticed that presentation and believe it’s worth passing along now, even though it’s now three months old. We especially like the “Competitive Market Position” map on slide 8…
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