Norse Energy Sues Gov. Cuomo to Force Release of Fracking Regs

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Newly appointed Norse Energy lawyer Tom West (from Albany) is a man of his word. He says what he means and means what he says. Exactly two weeks ago West had a “demand” letter hand-delivered to NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens. The letter, “demanding” to have a release date for the now 5 1/2 year-old draft fracking regulations, was also delivered to State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah and to Gov. Andrew Cuomo himself (see Tom West Demands DEC Com. Martens Release the SGEIS – Soon). The unstated threat was that if there is no response, West fully intends to file an Article 78 lawsuit against all three to force the release. Article 78 is a provision that makes recalcitrant (and ineffective) government officials do their job.

Yesterday afternoon West made good on the threat and filed the lawsuit (see a full copy embedded below). Among the justifications for requesting the court to force the release of the fracking regulations (called the SGEIS), is this “hit it out of the park” statement:
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Chief O&G Buys 210K Acres/Operations in NE PA from Chesapeake

Chief Oil & Gas announced yesterday that they’ve purchased 210,000 Marcellus Shale acres from Chesapeake Energy in northeast Pennsylvania. Along with the acreage comes 130,000 million cubic feet per day of natural gas production and 40 wells waiting to be completed and/or connected to a pipeline. This doubles the amount of Marcellus acreage for Chief.

The big question is, does this mean Chesapeake has now completely exited the Marcellus in northeast PA? It may well (we’re not sure). Here’s the statement by Chief about their deal with Chesapeake:
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USGS Study Finds 15% of NY Water Wells Already Have High Methane

Well, imagine that. Even more scientific evidence has just arrived, courtesy the US Geological Survey (USGS), that there’s a whole lotta methane in the ground in the Southern Tier of New York State. So much methane that 15% of the water wells tested across nearly 2,000 square miles for more than a year by the USGS show methane levels so high that the methane needs to be monitored and/or mitigated. That is, miles away from any fracking or existing gas wells, water wells are saturated with naturally occurring methane. In case you miss the point: Fracking is NOT the cause of methane migrating to water wells in northeast PA and in New York. There is no shale fracking in NY! And yet, there’s methane–so much you can, oh, light your tap on fire?

What say you now anti-frackers? Yeah, we thought so. There’s NOTHING you can say. Your lies are exposed. Here’s the press release and a full copy of the study released yesterday by the USGS with data from their tests of water wells in NY state:
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Bad News: Corporate Raiders Take Aim at Williams

Oh oh. Keith Meister runs a hedge fund (investment fund) called Corvex Capital. Keith Meister is a Carl Icahn student and disciple (have we told you lately how much we despise corporate raiders like Icahn?). Meister’s Corvex Capital has disclosed “surging” its position in midstream company Williams. In fact, Corvex Capital has a signed agreement with Soroban Capital Partners, another big investor in Williams. The two companies together are now the single largest shareholder in Williams. This is definitely not good news. It means the Corvex and Soroban plan to make mischief with Williams.

Corporate raiders like Icahn (and Meister) invest in companies purely to force the sale of assets and the firing of employees (i.e. to “cut costs”) in order to drive up the price of the stock, which they then turn around and sell at a huge profit. It’s sleazy, it’s slimy, and it’s the part of capitalism we don’t like (and we’re raging capitalists here at MDN HQ). Icahn, through his “tool” Doug Lawler, has forced the firings of 1,200 people at Chesapeake in the past year. Will such a fate come to Williams? We’d be nervous if we worked there…
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Rice IPO Seeks to Raise $800M – Some Details Leak

As MDN has been reporting since October, Rice Energy will, at some point, float an initial public offering (IPO) and start to trade shares on a stock exchange (see Rice Energy Rumored IPO – Dan Rice Gets Last Laugh). Last week the details started to come into focus. The company may be valued as high as $2.5B, initial initial public offering paperwork had been confidentially filed, and the public will get to the see the paperwork soon, likely in January (see Impending Rice Energy IPO Creating a Buzz).

The Rice story continues to fascinate and more information continues to “leak” out. The latest: The company is looking to raise $800M with their IPO. They’ve been losing money, but certainly not a lot as a percentage of the money they’re spending to drill. And, we have more insight into the (very young) management structure of the company…
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Marcellus Moves PA to #2 Top NatGas Producing State

Yesterday the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released an analysis that says Pennsylvania, because of the Marcellus Shale, is now the third largest producer of natural gas in the U.S., and it will almost certainly blow by Louisiana to become the #2 producer by the end of this year. PA’s production is up a mind-blowing 72% from 2011 to 2012–in one year! When the numbers are finally in this year, EIA expects another remarkable year for the Keystone State.

Also of note: For the first time (in a long time) West Virginia has broken into the top 10. Here’s the latest top-notch analysis issued by the EIA (the one government agency we actually love), that crows about PA and has a cool chart of the top 10 U.S. natural gas producing states:
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TGP Signs up Seneca Resources for Niagara Expansion to Canada

MDN already brought you the announcement that Kinder Morgan, owner of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, successfully closed an open season that will allow the the TGP to expand their service to the Gulf Coast. A second announcement from KM yesterday says they’re also expanding service northward, to eastern Canada. KM said they’ve signed up Seneca Resources (drilling subsidiary of Buffalo-based National Fuel) to ship 158,000 dekatherms of natural gas per day to eastern Canadian markets on what KM calls their Niagara Expansion Project.

Seneca and their Marcellus Shale production will be the “foundation shipper” for the $74 million Niagara Expansion. Here’s the second KM announcement from yesterday:
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TGP Pipeline Hits Open Season Target, $150M Expansion Coming

Kinder Morgan, owner of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP), recently ran an open season to sell more capacity along the TGP to deliver Marcellus and Utica Shale gas to points along the Gulf Coast. They were looking to sell an extra 500,000 dekatherms per day. Yesterday KM announced they hit pay dirt and had achieved their goal. KM says they’ll now spend $150 million to extend and expand the TGP to meet the new demand.

Yesterday’s KM TGP announcement:
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Midstreamer MarkWest Issues (More) Stock to Raise $301M in Cash

MarkWest Energy Partners is one of, if not THE largest midstream company in the Marcellus and now the Utica Shale. They have a LOT of irons in the fire, with multiple processing plants and pipeline projects under way in the northeast. Billions of dollars worth of projects. Which means every now and again you have to feed the cash monster–shovel in some new money–to keep those projects moving forward.

And so yesterday MarkWest announced yet another round of new stock being offered in hopes of raising a quick and cool $301 million worth of cold, hard cash to fuel continued growth and progress. Here’s the announcement:
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