New Drilling Regulations Coming to OH in Next 30-60 Days

coming soonThe Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will soon release new rules for shale drilling in the state. The new rules will cover well pad construction, wastewater treatment and a number of other aspects of drilling. According to ODNR’s Chief of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management, Rick Simmers, the new rules are “good stuff.” The question is, good for who?

Some of the new rules will be released later this month and some in early January. Others will take longer. The route to becoming enforceable “law” (or “regulation” which is the same thing) is somewhat circuitous. The rules will be subject to a 30-day public comment period and will go before a special committee with members from both the OH State Senate and House before final approval and acceptance…
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PDC Energy to End Marcellus Drilling in 2014, Continue in Utica

It’s the “Get out an update on what we plan to do in 2014” time of year. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue like “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” End of year is not only about holidays but also about telling investors what they can expect next year–how a company plans to make money and provide a good return. Even though these statements are sometimes routine and dry, often you find interesting details when you pick through them. Like yesterday’s 2014 guidance statement from PDC Energy, a driller in both the Marcellus and Utica Shale.

In a low-key but to us surprising announcement, PDC’s statement says they will suspend drilling in the Marcellus in 2014. They plan to finish drilling four wells already under way in Taylor County, WV and then not drill any more Marcellus wells, but instead concentrate their time and effort on the Utica Shale and on Colorado’s Wattenberg Field. For those interested in Marcellus and Utica drilling, reading these updates is anything but dry! Take time to look over PDC’s plans for 2014, particularly their plans for the Utica…
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Impending Rice Energy IPO Creating a Buzz

MDN has known–well, suspected–since October that Rice Energy would soon be going public and that an initial public offering of stock (IPO) would value the company as much as $2.5 billion (see Rice Energy Rumored IPO – Dan Rice Gets Last Laugh). So when we reported yesterday that Alpha Natural Resources was selling its 50% joint venture stake to Rice for $300 million ($200 million of it in Rice stock when it goes public), we didn’t think much of it (see Alpha Natural Resources Sells 50% Marcellus Stake to Rice Energy).

Apparently not everyone knew about Rice going public and the news has hit like a thunderclap. Here’s an example, along with an estimate of when shares in the IPO will be offered:
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Southwestern Energy’s Board Changes, Marcellus Plans for 2014

Some fairly big news from one of the Marcellus Shale’s largest drillers–Southwestern Energy. In a flurry of announcements issued yesterday, we learn that Southwestern’s President & CEO, Steve Mueller, will take over as Chairman of the Board next May when current Chairman Harold Korell retires. Mueller plans to keep the title of CEO but apparently he will shed the title of President, so that begs the question, who will become Southwestern’s new president next year? Interestingly (perhaps related?) Southwestern also announced yesterday the promotion of Jeffrey Sherrick to the position of Executive Vice President for Corporate Development. Hmmm.

In addition to personnel announcements, Southwestern issued a guidance statement about their plans for capital spending in 2014. The statement indicates Marcellus production will increase by a whopping 60% next year. Southwestern’s estimated Marcellus production for 2013 is 148-149 billion cubic feet (Bcf). Next year they expect it will be 244-249 Bcf based on superb well performance in Bradford, Lycoming and Susquehanna counties. Southwestern boasts that one of their Susquehanna County wells achieved an initial production of 32 million cubic feet per day! In 2014 Southwestern plans to begin drilling in three additional northeastern PA counties…
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After 9 Months, Chris Abruzzo Confirmed as Sec. of PA DEP

In September MDN told you that Chris Abruzzo, the “Acting” Sec. of the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) was nominated by Gov. Tom Corbett to fill the post vacated by former Sec. Michael Krancer (see No More “Acting” for Abruzzo – Nominated as Secretary PA DEP). Last week Senate Democrats tried to rake Abruzzo over the global warming coals because Abruzzo doesn’t believe global warming is quite the big deal they do (see PA DEP Sec. Abruzzo Grilled by PA Senate on Global Warming).

We’re happy to report that Abruzzo has now been confirmed by the Senate (42-8, with partisan Democrats voting against). Finally, after holding and executing the duties of the office for nine months, E. Christopher Abruzzo is the full Sec. of the PA DEP. We congratulate him!…
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MarkWest Extends Open Season for “Little” Ethane Pipeline

MarkWest conducted an open season for their “little” 30-mile ethane pipeline that will run from Majorsville, PA to Houston, PA (in Washington County) from early November until December 9th. The MarkWest Liberty Ethane Pipeline is a pipeline to other pipelines (see MarkWest Open Season for “Little” Ethane Pipeline). Ethane arriving in Houston, PA will be able to hitch a ride out of the northeast via other pipelines to cracker plants and processing facilities in Canada and the Gulf Coast.

Apparently the open season didn’t garner as much business as MarkWest had hoped, because yesterday they announced “ya got a few more days to sign up.” The new deadline for the open season is this Friday, December 13th at 5:00 pm Eastern. So hurry and sign up, while you still can! Here’s the MarkWest announcement from yesterday extending the open season for the Liberty Ethane Pipeline:
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Halcon Proposes 14-Mile Pipeline from Vienna to Lordstown, OH

Halcon Resources has been pretty tightfisted when it comes to spending money on leases for drilling–and now, perhaps–for pipelines as well. More than a year ago MDN told you about a landowner group that had formed in the Lordstown, OH area that hoped to negotiate new leases. The landowners were bound under 20-50 year-old leases purchased by Halcon that never envisioned shale drilling. Halcon said they wanted to work with landowners but stopped short of agreeing to renegotiate the leases (see Halcon Resources Responds to Lordstown, OH Landowners Group).

Halcon not only drills wells, they also have a midstream (pipeline) division to connect them. Halcon even stores and ships oil and gas–they’re building a $70 million storage and railroad transloading facility in Lordstown (see Halcon Resources Plans $70M Oil Terminal in Lordstown, OH). As part of the new storage facility, Halcon wants to run a 14-mile pipeline from Vienna to Lordstown. The problem, according to some communities along the route, is that Halcon doesn’t want to pay all that much to install a permanent pipeline…
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Gulfport Energy Beefs Up Management Team for OH Utica

Gulfport Energy may be based in Oklahoma City, OK, but their heart (and most of their focus) is in Ohio–in the Utica Shale. Gulfport is one of the premier Utica drillers with some of the most impressive wells drilled to date (see Gulfport’s New Record-Breaking Well in Belmont Cnty – 30.3 Mmcf/d). In keeping with their laser focus on the Utica, Gulfport announced yesterday a bunch of new hires and promotions–all of them focused on the Utica Shale.

At the top of the hit parade is a brand new Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the Utica–Ross Kirtley–who was previously a VP with Sandridge Energy. Robert Jones was appointed VP of drilling for Ohio, Mark Malone was appointed VP of operations for Ohio, and Ty Peck was appointed Managing Director of Midstream Operations. Certainly seems like a pretty major restructuring on the part of Gulfport as they prepare to do more great things in the OH Utica. Here’s the press release with details…
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Handful Protest Mariner East Pipeline at Sunoco HQ in Philly

Something like two dozen paid, professional protesters showed up at Sunoco Logistics headquarters yesterday in downtown Philadelphia to preen before (a few) media cameras and make outrageously false statements about the Mariner East pipeline. These are people with nothing better to do with their time than to desperately try to grab 15 minutes of fame.

Here’s an example of the bilge that flowed from the groups financing the protest:
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Clear Fork Royalty Now Buying Royalty Rights in PA & WV

There are companies that will purchase landowners’ royalty payments–giving them a lump sum payment in return for signing over all future royalty payments to the company (or individual) buying them. It’s not unlike companies that approach and pay lottery winners who receive payouts over a long period (for life, or for a period of years), the winners selling their future payments for a single lump sum now. Of course by selling future royalty payments for money now, the landowner will typically accept far less than they otherwise would have received by continuing to get the royalty checks over time. But there are certain circumstances (terminal illness, for example) when the landowner would rather have as much of their money as they can get–right now. And so royalty-purchasing companies exist to oblige.

One of those companies is Texas-based Clear Fork Royalty, who (by press release) has announced they’ve now hung their shingle in the Marcellus/Utica region–in PA and WV. If you’re a royalty owner, Clear Fork may come knocking on your door…
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WV Well Pad Liner Company Gets Shot of Investment Money to Grow

Extreme Plastics Plus (EPP) has been manufacturing and installing well pad liners since 2007. Pad liners protect the ground from accidental spills of frack wastewater and chemicals used during the drilling process. Located in Fairmont, WV, EPP’s customers are in the Marcellus and Utica Shale region. In order to expand, EPP has just accepted an undisclosed amount of investment money from Hastings Equity Partners. According to EPP CEO Bennie Wharry, the money, and Hastings’ expertise, will help EPP grow “to the next level.”

The Hastings/EPP announcement:
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Can Towns Ban Fracking in NY? Webinar Today Tackles Question

Can localities ban oil and gas development in New York State? That is the question New York’s highest court (Court of Appeals) will answer when it hears arguments by attorneys representing Norse Energy and a dairy farmer versus the towns of Dryden and Middlefield. The decisions in these two important cases could have a huge impact on the future of shale development in New York. If the court decides that municipalities can ban drilling town- or citywide, MDN believe’s it lights out on serious shale drilling in New York–forever. Happily, we don’t think the court will decide that way.

A webinar is being offered today, Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 1 pm that will address that issue. Greg Sovas, President and owner of XRM, LLC and former Director of the Division of Mineral Resources at the NYS DEC will review the history of the supersession clause and its importance, implementation over the past thirty years and what has changed, the arguments being made on both sides in the court case, and how a decision either way could affect the future of oil and gas development in New York State.  A Q&A at the end.

MDN encourages you to attend this 30-minute presentation. Sign up here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/694678240.