What Does PA Supreme Court Decision on Act 13 Mean?

what does it all mean?MDN reported the sad news on Friday that PA’s Supreme Court gutted big and important parts of the Act 13 legislation passed in early 2012 (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). The natural, follow-on question is, what does this decision mean for drillers and landowners? The honest answer is, in the short-term, not much. Until now we have lived under existing local/municipal zoning rules while the lawsuit worked its way through the court system. We remain under a crazy quilt patchwork of different rules for different towns. The drillers have, for the most part, learned to live with it and likely will continue doing so.

As MDN pointed out on Friday, there are some towns with boards packed with anti-drillers that will make drilling so miserable in that area (cough *Robinson* cough) drillers will likely just leave them alone–meaning landowners lose out, local businesses lose out, taxpayers will certainly lose out. Everyone’s a loser. But that’s the definition of victory for anti-drillers–everyone loses. So where do we go from here?…
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Range Strikes Deal with Mt Pleasant for 1 of 4 Water Impoundments

Finally a happy ending in the ongoing kerfuffle over the fate of our water impoundments (“ponds”) in Mt. Pleasant (Washington County), PA. For a long time now MDN has reported on the back and forth between Range Resources, who operates the impoundments, and the local town board over whether those impoundments can continue to operate now that the wells they were intended to support have been drilled. As recently as September the town was telling Range to stuff it (see Mt Pleasant Tells Range Resources “No Deal” on Water Impoundments).

However, after continuing negotiations, the two sides struck a deal last week for one of the four impoundments. At least it’s a start…
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Taking a Closer Look at Ohio’s “Piddly” Utica Shale Tax Increase

Now that the drilling industry is heavily invested in Ohio, Democrat (and yes, even Republican) lawmakers in Ohio think they have the industry by the short hairs and they can safely raise taxes on the industry–dramatically. The thinking goes, as expressed by an Ohio Democrat lawmaker, that because of the big-time investment by industry in the state they won’t leave the state if lawmakers now raise taxes on them. It’s a pretty big gamble to take.

As MDN has written, even the Ohio Oil & Gas Association (OOGA) is now backing the Utica Shale tax increase, although the Ohio Petroleum Council (OPC) has not yet signed on for higher Utica Shale taxes (see The Secret Back Room Deal to Raise OH’s Utica Shale Tax). What, exactly, is being proposed? Let’s analyze this tax and our objections to it…
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Iron Eagle Frack Wastewater Plant in Carroll County Goes Online

A month ago MDN told you about a new frack wastewater recycling plant about to start operation in Carroll County, OH (see New Frack Wastewater Recycling Plant Opens in Carroll County, OH). We’re happy to report the plant is now up and running–even though OH has yet to approve new regulations that oversee such operations.

Question: How can Iron Eagle Enterprises build and open the plant without fear it may be shut down again after the new regs are in place? Answer: Iron Eagle consulted with ODNR officials all along the way to be sure the plant they were building in Carroll County would comply with the draft regulations ODNR was writing…
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PA DEP Launches New Online Mapping Tool, Pinpoints Shale Wells

Late last week the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) launched an awesome new mapping tool to give everyone easy access to oil and gas well information–including Marcellus Shale wells. Display the location of wells, and turn on and off filters that allow you to view the type of well, whether or not it’s active, and a few other criteria. The DEP says the new mapping application (available here) contains basic information now, but in the future every shred of information they have on a well will be available from the tool. Very cool.

Below is the DEP press release announcing the launch of the new tool, along with our own use of the tool showing Marcellus wells in Susquehanna County, PA, to give you a sampling of what it can do…
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Magnum Hunter Top Brass Buys Their Own Stock

We usually don’t report on stock prices going up or down for a given company (unless it’s part of a larger story line). We also don’t typically report on the how much stock senior management holds in a company. This time are reporting it, for a couple of reasons. In our daily review of the news, we noticed an article about the CFO and CEO of Magnum Hunter, a large Marcellus and Utica Shale driller, buying large blocks of stock in their own company. Which of course makes you wonder, what do they know that we don’t?

As part of the story below, we also learn that the company’s largest outside investor is the odious George Soros who has upped his stake in the company by 882% in recent months. He now owns 1.43% of the company. Soros is an interesting, er, “character.” His money backs rabidly anti-drilling groups like the Public Accountability Initiative, while at the same time he’s buying up major stakes in companies like Magnum Hunter, EQT and Pioneer Natural Resources (see George Soros Plays Both Sides of Fracking Issue, for Profit). Here’s the low-down on MH’s top brass buying more of their own stock…
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Panda Power Buys Rights for 2nd Marcellus-Fueled Electric Plant

In August, MDN told you that Panda Power Funds, a private equity firm located in Dallas, TX had purchased the right from Moxie Energy to build the first new electric generating plant that will run exclusively on Marcellus Shale gas, to be built in Bradford County, PA (see Moxie Liberty Sells PA Electric Plant Project to Panda Power). Construction started on the “Panda Liberty” project in August of this year and it expected to take about 30 months to complete.

Panda announced last Friday they have purchased a second set of permits from Moxie Energy for a second electric generating plant that will run on Marcellus Shale gas–this one in Lycoming County, PA (southwest of Bradford County, but close by to the first project). This new, second project will be called Panda Patriot, adopting the Patriot name Moxie was using for the project. Here are the particulars from Panda:
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Transco Pipeline Shatters NatGas Delivery Record in Eastern US

Midstream company Williams owns the largest natural gas delivery pipeline in the country–the mighty Transco which is 10,200 miles long counting all of its offshoots. The Transco pipeline has a typical daily maximum capacity of 10.15 million dekatherms. On Dec. 12 Williams reports the Transco broke its own record by delivering 10.83 million dekatherms of natural gas during the recent cold snap.

Riding in on a white horse just in time to help out was (ta da ta da)–the Marcellus Shale. Williams brought its Northeast Supply Link project (in the Marcellus) online early, ahead of schedule, which contributed an additional 250,000 dekatherms for Transco to use in meeting the increased demand…
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Kinder Morgan Continues Marcellus/Utica Ramp-up…in Texas!

Kinder Morgan, the country’s largest midstream (pipeline) company, seems to have “all of a sudden” woken up to the opportunities in the Utica and Marcellus Shale. Last week alone they announced a $150 million upgrade to their Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) from “north to south” to cart away more Utica/Marcellus gas, a $74 million expansion of the TGP westward and on up to Canada (the Niagara expansion), and a new natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline from the Utica to Sarnia, Canada called UTOPIA (see MDN’s Kinder Morgan category for the rapidly growing list of KM stories).

It seems KM was not done! On Friday, the company issued yet another press release, this one announcing the expansion of fractionation plants in Texas. Why? To handle NGLs that will be pipelined from the Utica and Marcellus to the Gulf Coast. Seems you can’t get away from the Utica/Marcellus–even in Texas! Here’s the details from KM…
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Hess Has Gall to Drill Utica Well Next Door to a Cemetery in OH

We just have to bring you a story so…important…we’re…outta…breath…to…tell…you. The evil drillers at Hess–drilling in Belmont County, OH (one of the best places to drill on the planet)–have the gall, the temerity, the reckless disregard to drill a Utica Shale well right next to a cemetery! I mean, don’t they know they may disturb the dead? Don’t they know that for a full 30 days or so their drilling will ruin the view from some of those graves in that cemetery. The nerve!

Never mind the same area where Hess is drilling was mined for coal in the 1970s and 80s, a much more destructive process with years of eyesores. Hey, that was then and this is now. And don’t tell anyone (double-swear promise?)–but the cemetery has leased their 2.2 acres to Hess too–so the Hess well is going to go underneath the cemetery. Yes it’s nearly two miles down, but you know, (*whispering*) ghosts live down there. Here’s arguably one of the most important stories we’ll bring you (in the next 5 seconds)…
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