Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Sep 16, 2013

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading:

New York

Steingraber Scare Tactics Reveal Shameless Scam at EHP
Natural Gas Now
Sandra Steingraber and other anti-fracking true-believers have built careers around promoting junk science of the “it’s a fact that it’s a possibility” sort, a variant on the old guilt by association trick. They’re at it again.


NOPEC to use Ohio natural gas
Warren Tribune Chronicle
Natural gas users in Warren, Newton Falls and Liberty Township may soon be using Utica Shale gas to heat their homes. The Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council, or NOPEC, on Friday announced a six-year agreement with Ohio-based NextEra Energy Services to supply natural gas to hundreds of thousands of residential and commercial natural gas customers in northeast Ohio. Using locally produced gas is expected to be less expensive than purchasing out-of-state gas due to high transportation costs.

Shale play focus for Rotary meeting
Steubenville Herald-Star
The impact of the emerging shale gas market was discussed during the Friday luncheon meeting of the Steubenville Rotary Club at the YWCA on North Fourth Street. Joe Hamrock, a native of Mingo Junction and executive vice president and group chief executive officer for NiSource Gas Distribution, discussed how the Marcellus and Utica shale gas plays were having an impact on the industry, including across the local region.

Increased fracking tax could send gas companies packing: Thomas Stewart, Ohio Oil and Gas Association
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Three years ago, as Ohio was trying to recover from the recession, oil and gas producers began investing billions into the state to explore the Utica shale formation. Needless to say, the administration welcomed them with open arms. However, today, with more than 526 horizontal wells drilled, the welcome mat has been replaced with a proposal to increase the severance tax on oil and gas production. The administration believes the state’s current severance tax rate is antiquated and far lower than other oil-and-gas-producing states. In fact, Ohio’s severance tax rate was doubled in 2010, an increase supported by the industry because it was based on good policy and would be used to expand the budget for oversight and regulation.

Magnum Hunter’s Hidden Billion Dollar Assets
Seeking Alpha
Magnum Hunter is a mid-tier exploration and production company operating in three exciting unconventional domestic resource plays – the Marcellus, the Utica, and the Bakken. MHR represents a unique value investment with short-to-medium term catalysts via the divestiture of non-core assets, which currently receive little to no recognition in the market.


1 Company Rocking It in the Marcellus
The Motley Fool
With U.S. natural gas prices still extremely low, one might wonder how some natural gas companies continue to generate solid profits. It’s quite simple, really: The ones that are prospering are the ones drilling in the right areas. Most of these companies have piled into a shale gas play known as the Marcellus, a vast formation that extends from southern New York to West Virginia and spans most of Pennsylvania, the eastern part of Ohio, and parts of Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee. The main reason the Marcellus is still profitable for many of these companies is its extremely low cost of production — by many measures, the lowest of any shale gas play in the country. With that said, let’s take a closer look at Cabot Oil & Gas, a Marcellus-focused oil and gas producer that continues to thrive despite depressed gas prices.

Boundary battle: Snow Shoe, Boggs townships at odds over land, Marcellus Shale revenue
Centre Daily Times
A dispute over Marcellus Shale wells and the money they bring back in impact fees is shaping up between two Centre County townships. Snow Shoe Township says nine wells on its land are improperly being credited to Boggs Township in the state’s formula for compensating counties and communities in the Marcellus Shale play. The outcome of the boundary dispute means about $60,000 for one of the townships. And because the system also gives money to surrounding municipalities, more than $100,000 is on the line for a total of 17 boroughs and townships in the county. But the delivery of any of that money, which comes from 2012 impact fees, is being held up until the boundary issue is settled.

With declining natural gas prices, the oil industry is getting burned
AP/Harrisburg Patriot-News
EJB Paving & Materials Co. used to burn recycled fuel oil in its Ontelaunee Township facility, but following a nearly five-year decline in natural gas prices, the company made the switch in 2012. “We converted the first plant (to gas) in June last year and our other plant this year,” said Steven D. Bright, a partner in the firm. The Berks County company is following a national trend in commercial, industrial and residential properties converting from oil to natural gas for economic and environmental reasons.

$210K coming for housing in county
Warren Times Observer
The Warren County Housing Project will receive $210,000 from Marcellus Shale impact fees and the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) Fund to improve the availability and affordability of housing. The Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) approved $8.45 million in funding for projects in 22 counties in the Marcellus Shale region of the state.

Federal Court Holds Lease Extended By Shut-In Royalty Provision
On August 14th, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania adopted a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation that recommended granting SWEPI, LP’s (“SWEPI”) motion to dismiss a lawsuit regarding the extension of a lease by tendering shut-in royalties. In a case titled Mesner v. Swepi, LP, a landowner filed a lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas against SWEPI in order to terminate the oil and gas lease. SWEPI then removed the suit to the federal district court based on diversity jurisdiction, and filed a motion to dismiss arguing that it had extended the term of the lease by tendering the shut-in royalty pursuant to the terms of the oil and gas lease.

Surprise: Clean Air Council Cries Wolf
Natural Gas Now
Earlier this year the Heinz Endowments funded Clean Air Council (CAC) issued a news release claiming “The Barto Compressor Station in Penn Township, Lycoming County is creating pollution concentrations nearly three times the amount allowed under the federal health-based air quality standards.” It was a highly flawed study, as Energy In Depth noted at the time, and one based on predictions rather than real-time results, which seems to a common trick employed by some environmentalists these days when the simple facts don’t suit their desired outcomes.

PA Bill Would Require Monthly Production Reports to Landowners
NGI’s Shale Daily (paid or free trial subscription required)
A state lawmaker in Pennsylvania has introduced a bill that would require operators to submit monthly production reports, giving landowners more information to ensure that they are receiving accurate royalty payments. Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Towanda) told NGI’s Shale Daily that before the rise of unconventional drilling, state law required operators to report on an annual basis, but production figures were kept confidential for five years. “In other words, it was kind of looking at proprietary information for five years,” Pickett said Thursday. “Then we changed that to every six months, early on in the drilling stage. Now we’re looking at [requiring reports from] every company, no matter who you’re getting you’re checks from.”

West Virginia

Oil/gas trust ‘a plan for the future’
Charleston Gazette
For decades, coal from West Virginia’s vast deposits was mined, loaded on rail cars and hauled off without leaving behind a lasting trust fund financed by the state’s best-known commodity. Big coal’s days are waning, but now a new bonanza in the natural gas fields has state leaders working to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself. West Virginia’s Senate president, Jeff Kessler, is pushing to create an oil and natural gas trust fund to support core government functions decades from now. His goal: a cushion of funds long after the gas is depleted to buoy an Appalachian mountain state chronically vexed by poverty, high joblessness, and cycles of boom and bust.


Is Dominion Resources Destined for Greatness?
The Motley Fool
Investors love stocks that consistently beat the Street without getting ahead of their fundamentals and risking a meltdown. The best stocks offer sustainable market-beating gains, with robust and improving financial metrics that support strong price growth. Does Dominion Resources fit the bill? Let’s look at what its recent results tell us about its potential for future gains. The graphs you’re about to see tell Dominion’s story, and we’ll be grading the quality of that story in several ways…

Kinder Morgan exec: Company in good shape, but billions in infrastructure needed
SNL Financial
Kinder Morgan Inc. is well-positioned to take advantage of increased U.S. oil and gas production and has a $14 billion project backlog of additional infrastructure, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP Executive Vice President and COO Steven Kean said Sept. 12. In a presentation at the Barclays CEO Energy-Power Conference in New York, Kean described Kinder Morgan as having a “great network across North America” as unconventional oil and gas production expands across the continent. When it comes to natural gas transportation, he said, Kinder Morgan is already in an excellent position with an opportunity to expand.

‘Clean Energy’ Is Cooling The Economy And Damaging The Environment
“Better safe than sorry.” Many people take this advice to heart, especially when it comes to environmental regulations. Policymakers have eagerly supported pre emptive green measures like clean energy subsidies without first waiting for scientific verification or considering their broader economic costs. After all, who wants to be “sorry” when it comes to environmental degradation? “No one” is the easy answer, especially when someone else is picking up the bill. However, as we continue to pile precautionary energy policies onto a struggling economy, we’re bumping into an inconvenient truth. Boosting “clean” energy is damaging the economy — and, ironically, the environment. That’s not precautionary — that’s risky!

What Unemployment Crisis? Oil, Gas Firms Now Hiring
Investor’s Business Daily
Finding a job after college or changing career paths can be a daunting task, especially in a sluggish economy, but the energy sector has its “now hiring” sign up as companies struggle to fill positions and salaries soar. Hence another positive offshoot of the Brave New Energy World. Advancements in hydraulic fracturing have made natural gas in the Marcellus shale region (which extends from New York state through Appalachia) and oil in the Bakken (Montana, North Dakota, Canada) and Eagle Ford (Texas) shale plays easier and more cost-effective to extract. The boom in drilling has created jobs in the energy sector and beyond.

Gas-electric study says new pipeline needed, leaves firm contract issue unanswered
SNL Financial
A new gas-electric report is recommending that a $1.2 billion natural gas pipeline be built in New England to address long-term gas-fired generation fuel supply woes. While sources say such a pipeline may come to fruition, they question whether, absent new wholesale power market mechanisms, generators will sign long-term capacity contracts for a pipeline when most have historically declined to do so. The New England States Committee on Electricity report comes at a time when ISO New England Inc., other RTOs and state and federal regulators are studying how much increasing regional reliance on gas-fired generation will affect reliability and what to do about it.