Chesapeake Energy Throws in the Towel on NY Shale Drilling

throw in the towelA good news/bad news story. The good news is that Chesapeake Energy is giving up the legal fight with landowners in New York to extend their leases beyond the original lease term. MDN has long chronicled the fight on the part of landowners to stop Chesapeake from claiming force majeure to extend leases signed for (in some cases) just a few dollars per acre–leases signed long before horizontal drilling and fracking were contemplated (see More on the NY Force Majeure Ruling Against Chesapeake). After two years of legal wrangling, Chesapeake is throwing in the towel. Landowners will now be able to sign with another company, if drilling ever comes to NY.

The bad news is, Chesapeake is throwing in the towel–as in they are giving up on NY–tired of the ongoing five-year moratorium in shale drilling. Wake up Cuomo! Your actions have caused this! You are causing direct economic harm to your residents every day the moratorium stays in place…
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Washington County, PA Judge Continues Anti-Drilling Decisions

What if a county judge’s wife was an anti-drilling activist–so motivated by her fervor she knocks on area residents’ doors to ask for their signature on petitions to ban drilling. Do you think that might affect the objectivity of said judge? And what if that judge repeatedly rules against gas drillers in case after case? Do you think that might be evidence that said judge is not capable of setting aside his own bias? Yeah, we would think so too–and such is the case with Washington County, PA judge John DiSalle.

Earlier this year, Judge DiSalle blocked Range Resources from obtaining two permits to drill wells in Robinson Township (see Judge Refuses to Recuse Himself from Range v Robinson Twp Case). Judge DiSalle is back–this time on a different case. DiSalle is now refusing to allow Range and MarkWest Energy to build a compressor station in Cecil Township. See a trend here? Range and MarkWest are appealing DiSalle’s latest anti-drilling ruling to the PA Commonwealth Court…
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Range Resources Backpedals on Gag Order for Hallowich Children

Last week MDN told you about the “final document” to be released in a previously sealed court case in Washington County, PA (see Last Document Released in Hallowich v Range $750K Settlement). The document was a transcript of a court hearing where the Hallowiches, their attorney and attorneys for Range and MarkWest discussed the non-disclosure “gag order” agreement being signed by the Hallowiches. The agreement binds the Hallowiches from ever talking publicly about the case for which they received a $750,000 settlement.

The funky part is, it appears the agreement signed by the Hallowich parents would also bind their children from ever talking about fracking and drilling in public too. Even the judge in the case admitted the agreement seemed to do just that, saying it would be “a law school question.” In a new twist in the case, lawyers for Range now say the gag order does not apply to the children, although previously they said it would apply and that they would “certainly” enforce it…
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Epsilon Energy Makes “About-Face” on Marcellus Drilling

Wow! What a difference a year can make. Last year at this time, MDN told you about Canadian independent driller Epsilon Energy’s decision to scale back drilling in the Marcellus in favor of drilling more in the oil-rich Bakken Shale play in Canada (see Epsilon Energy 2Q12 Update: Scaling Back in the Marcellus). Less than a month ago, there was a shareholder rebellion and the entire sitting board of directors was canned (see Shareholder Rebellion at Epsilon Energy – New Board as of Today).

Yesterday, Epsilon released their 2Q13 update–an update all about the Marcellus. Epsilon CEO Michael Raleigh is quoted in the update as saying the company is just starting to execute a new plan to turn the company into a “pure play” driller–concentrating solely on drilling in the Marcellus Shale. That’s quite a turnabout in 12 months! Relevant portions from yesterday’s Epsilon update and what they hope to accomplish in the Marcellus this year:
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Gulfport Energy 2Q13: “All in” for the Utica Shale

Gulfport Energy is definitely “all in” when it comes to drilling in the Utica Shale. The Oklahoma City-based company released its second quarter update yesterday, an update that shows that of the nine active rigs Gulfport is operating across three different shale plays, seven of those rigs are operating in the Ohio Utica Shale. Need we say more?

The operational update section of yesterday’s Gulfport update, outlining some of the outstanding results they’re getting in the Utica:
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Carrizo Oil & Gas 2Q13: Scaling Back in the Marcellus…for Now

Carrizo Oil & Gas is a Houston-based driller that concentrates on U.S. shale plays. They have active drilling operations in the Eagle Ford and Barnett (TX), the Niobrara  (CO), and in both the Marcellus and Utica Shale region in the northeast (PA & OH). In reviewing today’s Carrizo 2Q13 update, it’s obvious the company has decided to scale back in the Marcellus/Utica for now, in favor of putting their effort into the other plays. Carrizo’s average daily gas production in the Marcellus decreased from 38 million cubic feet per day (Mmcf/d) in 1Q13 to 33.9 Mmcf/d in 2Q13. Why? They’ve “shut-in” a number of their wells in Wyoming County, PA, waiting for the price of Marcellus gas to go up before they sell more.

Gas prices in the very-productive Marcellus are typically some of the lowest in the country. More supply than demand at this point. For example, yesterday the average sale price for natural gas along pipelines in the northeast Marcellus was $1.89 Mmcf according to NGI’s Shale Daily. The average sale price for gas yesterday in the Barnett Shale was $3.36 Mmcf! You can see why Carrizo is cooling their heals in the Marcellus. Here’s the portion of today’s Carrizo update dealing with their drilling program in the Marcellus/Utica:
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Rex Energy 2Q13: Revenue Up 83%, “Super Rich” Upper Devonian Well

Marcellus driller Rex Energy released its second quarter update yesterday. Operating revenue was way up–83% from last year this time. Gas production was up too–38% from this time last year. Rex has drilled 11 Marcellus wells so far this year, with plans to complete 19. They’ve also drilled 8 Utica Shale wells with plans to complete 11.

Below are the details of Rex’s drilling in both the Marcellus and Utica–along with details about their newly completed “super rich” Upper Devonian well. Select portions of the Rex 2Q13 update:
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Marcellus Gas to Power Combined-Cycle Electricity Plant in NE PA

A very interesting latest-and-greatest technology is slated to be used in an electricity generating power plant in Jessup Borough (Lackawanna County), PA. The project will use locally produced Marcellus Shale gas from northeastern PA to power a combined-cycle electricity plant. Here’s how combined-cycle technology works: In the first pass, natural gas is burned and the resulting combustion turns a big turbine to produce electricity. The hot exhaust  from that process is captured to boil water, turning it to steam, and the steam turns a second turbine. Very efficient and far less polluting than other types of fuel.

More combined-cycle plants are planned for the greater Scranton-Wilkes-Barre area as well. As coal-fired plants continue to shut down due to strict new regulations from the federal EPA, something has to replace the lost power. Either that or turn off your smart phones and televisions. However, look for short-sighted nimby-types and anti-drillers to try and stop this bit of progress…
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PA Frack Wastewater Plant Closes, Loses Permit to Operate

Although companies like GreenHunter Water can’t get enough fracking wastewater facilities online fast enough to meet demand from Marcellus and Utica drillers, it appears not everyone has the same level of success when it comes to operating such facilities. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has pulled the operating permit for a frack wastewater treatment facility in Indiana County, PA. Seems the facility operated “sporadically” in July and August of last year before stopping operation in September. The owner, Aquatic Synthesis, ran into financial difficulties (i.e. bankruptcy).

Problem is, there’s still a million gallons of wastewater at the plant that need to be disposed of. Who will pay for that?…
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