Natrium, WV Fractionation Plant Still Closed After Explosion/Fire

updateAs MDN previously reported, an explosion and fire was reported at the Blue Racer Midstream’s Natrium, WV natural gas processing plant early Saturday on Sept. 21 (see Explosion/Fire at Blue Racer’s Natrium, WV Processing Plant). It’s a week and a half later and the plant, which both processes or separates wet gas and further fractionates it into its component compounds remains closed while an investigation continues. WV officials and the plant’s owners (Blue Racer is owned by Dominion and Caiman Energy II) still don’t know what caused the explosion and fire.

Meanwhile, at least one Natrium customer has found an alternative source to process their wet gas…
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Rice Pays Belmont County Higher Signing Bonus than Landowners

Rice Drilling is betting big on Belmont County, OH. County commissioners recently signed a sweet deal with Rice Drilling for 406 acres of county-owned land. The lease terms were $7,500 per acre signing bonus and a 20% royalty. That delivers just over $3 million to the county coffers, plus a lot more when the gas begins to flow.

The county deal is, however, sweeter than other recent contracts signed by Rice in the area–contracts between Rice and more than 1,000 landowners in Belmont County. Those leases resulted in payments from Rice for more than $236 million! But area landowners got “just” $5,900 per acre from Rice for a signing bonus…
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McClendon’s Utica Company Does JV with OH Driller, Drilling Soon

Yesterday MDN brought you the news that former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon had started a second company specifically created to target the Utica Shale (see Aubrey McClendon Forms Utica Company, Gets Major Investor). In true Aubrey “wheeling and dealing” fashion, his new company, called American Energy Utica, is already forming joint ventures with other companies in the Utica Shale. One of those companies is Red Hill Development, an independent oil & gas driller located in Dover (Tuscawaras County), OH.

Red Hill Development is tickled pink to be working with McClendon and says the partnership will be an ongoing venture “for many years to come.” According to Red Hill, the new joint venture is already applying for permits and will begin drilling by the end of this year. The focus of their drilling efforts? Guernsey and Harrison counties…
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WV Gov Going to Europe to Find Him a Cracker

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is nothing if not persistent. For several years, the governor and his trusty Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette have been talking about landing an ethane cracker plant for WV (see WV Gov. Tomblin Beats the Ethane Cracker Drum Once Again). MDN is pulling for them! We have been for a long time. And it seems every few months we see a story along the lines of, “Just hold on, it’s a comin'”. But it never seems to.

So if a cracker investment is not coming to WV, Gov. Tomblin is going out to find it! He’s heading off to Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy on a European vacation trade mission in October to thank those countries for investing in WV, and to invite them to invest more. In particular, he’d like someone to invest in a cracker plant…
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Salem, OH Votes Down Ordinance to Restrict Drilling in City

In July 2012, the city of Salem, OH signed a lease with Chesapeake Energy to allow drilling on 381 acres of city-owned land (land outside city limits). Terms of the lease: $7,000 signing bonus and 20% royalties (see Salem, OH to Sign Lease Deal with Chesapeake for $7K+20%). It probably wouldn’t send the right signal to turn around and pass a law that would prevent drilling inside city limits after signing a lease and accepting millions of dollars. Yet, such a law was under serious consideration by Salem City Council.

Tuesday night, City Council wisely chose to vote down a proposed zoning amendment that would have prevented drilling inside city limits…
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Hess Loses OH Court Case, May Owe Big Bucks to 300 Landowners

Hess has just lost a court case in Ohio that may end up costing the company dearly. Hess had purchased leases in eastern Ohio from other companies. The original leases date to 2006-2008 and in many cases the landowners were paid as little as $10 per acre for a signing bonus–absolutely peanuts compared to today’s rates for $5K or more per acre. A Jefferson County landowner sued Hess to get out of his lease agreement because the company had not drilled on his property. Hess argued provisions in the lease let them extend the lease by paying a nominal extra fee.

Hess lost, and now will have to pay that landowner (and by extension around 300 other landowners) big re-signing bonuses or risk losing the land…
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