The Great Chesapeake Massacre: Lawler Fires 800 People in One Day

Jason Friday the 13thDoug Lawler, Chesapeake Energy’s new CEO–brought over from Anadarko Petroleum after Chessy board member and corporate raider Carl Icahn booted Aubrey McClendon to the curb–says he’s now done swinging the ax at the once-great natural gas driller. And boy did he end his ax-swinging with a bang–he must be exhausted. Yesterday Lawler fired another 800 people companywide, in addition to the ones already let go in his recent firing sprees (see Chesapeake’s Lawler Continues to Swing the Ax – More VPs Gone and God, Veggies & Bees – What’s Next on the Chesapeake Chopping Block?). Yesterday was more like a massacre than a mass firing. We seriously wonder how long Lawler will last after inflicting so much psychological (and real) damage on the company. Is he just getting the company ready for sale at his master’s bidding–so Icahn can add a few more zeros to his already robust bank account?

Some 640 of the 800 who were fired yesterday worked at Chessy’s Oklahoma City headquarters (is there anyone left to turn the lights out?). Twenty of the fired were Pennsylvania employees, on top of the dozen or more PA employees already let go a few months ago. No word on how many got the ax in OH or WV. However, the total body count now stands at around 1,200 since the beginning of the year. That’s 1,200 people out of work thanks to Carl Icahn and Doug Lawler. Here’s the bloody details…
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Carl Icahn Snaps Up 6% of His Next E&P Victim: Talisman Energy

Now that Carl Icahn has a toady in place to prep Chesapeake Energy for sale or greater things (we’re not sure which, see today’s story about the mass(acre) firings at Chesapeake), Icahn is already growing restless again. Apparently the wealth of the entire world would not be enough for Lord Icahn, so he’s out on the prowl–and what has he found? That’s right, another drilling company with operations in the Marcellus Shale: Canadian-based Talisman Energy (with 208,000 net acres leased, a number of wells drilled in the Marcellus).

Unfortunately for Talisman, Icahn now has his claws in the company, buying up nearly 6% of the company–more than enough to throw his weight around. Like a cat playing with a mouse, Icahn used Twitter to send a signal (threat?) to the company: “May have conversations with mgmt re strategic alternatives, board seats, etc.” If we were CEO Hal Kvisle, we would be very worried…
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Should PA Compressor Plants Miles Away be Considered “Adjacent”?

A few weeks ago at the Shale Insight 2013 event in Philadelphia, MDN heard a panel discussion that tackled a thorny, and on-going, issue in Pennsylvania. The issue is complex, but if we can condense it to a brief statement, it would be this: Should processing and compressor plants that are connected by pipelines but not directly next to each other be considered a “single source” when it comes to the pollution they emit? The argument comes down to the concept of adjacency–what does the word “adjacent” mean in the federal Clean Air Act? Does it mean “directly next to each other,” or “in the same general vicinity” (up to X miles away)?

If the plants scattered in a general area–say 20-30 miles around–are considered a single source or “adjacent”, it means collectively they would be considered a “major source” of pollution and therefore subject to very strict federal guidelines under the Clean Air Act. If they are not adjacent and not a single source, they are regulated by the state and the state has less onerous rules when it comes to air pollution emissions. It may sound like a small difference, but being regulated by the EPA or the state of Pennsylvania is a huge (and expensive) difference. The real question is, are residents who live in areas with an abundance of compressor stations and processing plants being exposed to dangerously high levels of air pollution?…
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17 State Chambers of Commerce to EPA: States Regulate Fracking

On Sept. 20, 17 state Chambers of Commerce sent a joint letter to President Obama’s new EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy. They opened the letter (full copy below) with a nice greeting and a congratulations on her recent confirmation as administrator, and then immediately launched into a statement (not really a request) that tells her to, in so many words, keep her mitts off fracking. That is, leave the regulation of fracking where it properly and Constitutionally belongs–with the individual states.

The federal government does not have a Constitutional role in regulating fracking and the Chambers of Commerce, representing 34% of all states and from the biggest oil and gas producing states in the Union–want to keep it that way. Not surprisingly, among the signatories are the Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia Chambers of Commerce…
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Drilling Mud Spill in Harrison County, OH – ATEX Express Pipeline

An Arizona company, Southeast Directional Drilling, was hired by Enterprise Products Partners to drill a trenchless hole underneath Conotton Creek in Harrison County, OH for Enterprise’s ATEX Express ethane pipeline–a pipeline that will stretch from Pennsylvania through Ohio and eventually all the way to the Gulf. However, Southeast hit a snag. Last week an “unknown quantity” of drilling mud used to lubricate the drill was spilled into Conotton Creek and onto the properties of two area homeowners.

Fortunately drilling mud is non-toxic–but in sufficient quantities it can suffocate both plants and fish. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is on the case investigating…
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PA Republicans Introduce 4 Royalty Bills, Mea Culpa?

A new PA law was supposed to give leased landowners whose property has had drilling more protections with respect to royalties, but instead ended up harming some landowners who are not leased by allowing forced pooling of their land–weakening their bargaining position (see PA Gov Corbett Signs Back-Door Forced Pooling Bill into Law). PA landowners in general and the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO), PA chapter in particular were not pleased with the new law. Perhaps in an attempt to get back into the good graces of PA landowners, several Republican state lawmakers whose districts are in the Marcellus Shale have introduced a plethora of new bills to protect royalty interests of landowners.

A group of four House Republicans, led by Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming County), recently introduced House Bill 1684, which seeks to clarify state law regarding the minimum royalty payment for landowners so that the deduction of post-production costs from unconventional wells may not result in royalty payments less than the guaranteed minimum. On the Senate side, Sen. Gene Yaw, whose district covers many of the northeastern PA drilling counties, introduced a series of three companion bills to HB 1684. It seems the Republicans can’t do enough now to help out leased landowners…
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NGLs in OH & PA: Roughly 30/70 Propane/Ethane

How much of what compound makes up what are called natural gas liquids? We read about NGLs constantly. The “wet gas” area of southwestern PA and eastern OH is said to have a lot of wet gas, or NGLs, which makes those areas more profitable for drillers. What’s in NGLs? In January 2012 we wrote a post to help readers understand the compounds found in NGLs–which ones are there, and what they are used for (see Just What are Natural Gas Liquids Anyway?).

However, MDN friend and intrepid reporter Bob Downing, from the Akron Beacon Journal, recently picked up on another piece of the puzzle. Bob found a reference as to how much of what makes up the typical barrel of NGLs–at least in the Marcellus/Utica region…
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