New Twist in PA Act 13 Case: Motion to Re-Hear Oral Arguments

no cheatingA new twist in the ongoing court battle over Pennsylvania’s still relatively new Act 13 Marcellus Shale drilling law. A court case has been before the PA Supreme Court since last year challenging provisions in the new law to replace local zoning of oil and gas drilling with a uniform, statewide standard. As MDN told you a few weeks ago, it appears the newly sworn-in seventh justice on the PA Supreme Court will not participate in the decision, leaving a split 3-3 decision a likely outcome (see PA Problem: Act 13 Zoning Case to be Decided by 6 Supremes, Not 7). Split decisions are not good for anyone, and a split decision in this case would leave the lower court rulings stand, gutting part of the Act 13 law.

The new twist: On Tuesday, the PA state Public Utility Commission (PUC) and the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) filed a joint request that the entire seven-member court re-hear oral arguments in the case so the entire court can make a decision and finally lay this thing to rest, one way or the other. The towns that brought the lawsuit in the first place are objecting because they think they have a better chance at winning with a six-justice panel–a split decision means they win. Are the towns trying to cheat justice?…
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2 New OH Projects: Cryo Processing Plant & NGL Pipeline to Gulf

Looks like the Williams/Boardwalk Bluegrass NGL pipeline is about to get some competition. Yesterday, Kinder Morgan, MarkWest and The Energy and Minerals Group (EMG) announced a new joint venture on two projects aimed at the Marcellus/Utica Shale region. The first project is a 400 Mmcf/d cryogenic processing plant in Tuscarawas County, OH to separate raw natural gas into methane and natural gas liquids (NGLs). The second project is a new NGL pipeline that will, like the Bluegrass, run from Ohio all the way to the Gulf Coast. There’s no mention of how much the partners will invest in the two projects, but we believe it could easily approach $1 billion of new investment in the northeast.

This announcement is great economic news for Ohio (Tuscarawas County in particular), and great economic news for Marcellus/Utica drillers who need extra takeaway capacity for the NGLs they’re currently producing. The press release from Kinder Morgan with details about the two new projects:
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Gulfport Signs Pipeline Deal to Sell Utica Gas to Midwest Market

Straight off a conference call yesterday comes the news that Gulfport Energy has just signed a 10-year contract with Dominion Transmission to transport the natural gas Gulfport produces in the Ohio Utica Shale to the Midwest–using Dominion’s pipelines. The agreement is to ship 100 million cubic feet per day of gas (100 Mmcf/d), ramping up to 150 Mmcf/d by late 2014. Gulfport’s CEO James Palm made the announcement yesterday.

Palm also said on the conference call that Gulfport continues to lease acreage in Ohio and plans to drill “at least” 70 new wells next year in the Utica. More from yesterday’s call:
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What if PA Dems Win the Next Election and Ban Drilling Statewide?

MDN reader, friend and contributor Chris Acker provides the insightful commentary below in response to (and building on) our article of a few days ago, titled: 18 PA House Democrats Dissent from Party’s Vote for Frack Moratorium.

Chris delves into the economic apocalypse that would happen should PA Democrats gain power again in the next election and fulfill their promise of enacting a statewide moratorium/ban on drilling. It is, as Chris points out, a true nightmare scenario:
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At What Mmcf Price Do Shale Drillers Make Money?

Ken Medlock, senior director of Rice University’s Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies and a team of Rice researchers recently performed a study of shale drilling economics. One of the questions they looked at: At what price per million cubic feet (or Mmcf) must a driller sell the gas in order to at least break even and not lose money? They have some interesting findings…
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Bluegrass NGL Pipeline Encounters Resistance from Some in KY

The Bluegrass natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline, announced in March 2013, will run from the Marcellus/Utica region southwest all the way to the Gulf Coast in Louisiana (see Williams, Boardwalk Announce Marcellus-to-Gulf Coast NGL Pipeline). The pipeline’s route will take it through Kentucky, where it will connect to Boardwalk’s Texas Gas Transmission, LLC system (Texas Gas) in Hardinsburg, KY. From Hardinsburg, the existing natgas Texas Gas pipeline will be converted to run NGLs. The entire project is slated to be up and running by late 2015.

However, some residents in KY are objecting to the pipeline. Do they have any valid points?…
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Range Rolls Out New Fleet of CNG Trucks in SW PA

Range Resources is practicing what it preaches–or rather consuming what it produces. Yesterday at a ceremony at Range’s regional HQ in Southpointe (near Pittsburgh), the company showed off a new fleet of Dodge and Chevy pickup trucks that run on compressed natural gas (CNG). With the new trucks added, Range now operates 100 of them out of their Southpointe operation. With CNG prices running at the gasoline equivalent of around $2 per gallon, Range says the trucks will pay for themselves within two years due to the low price of using CNG.

According to the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection, by the end of this year there will be 100 CNG fueling stations across PA. More and more Pennsylvanians are interested in converting to CNG vehicles…
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