McClendon Confirms 3 New Utica Shale Deals: Hess, XTO, Paloma

Aubrey McClendonAubrey McClendon’s American Energy continues its rapid expansion. Aubrey is raising money like crazy–and spending it like crazy too. Last week Aubrey landed another half billion dollars to spend in the Utica (see McClendon’s New Company Gets Another Half Billion $ for Utica). Then he spent it! The rumor was the mystery buyer of Hess’ 74,000 Utica Shale acres they sold for $924 million last week was McClendon (see Hess Sells 74,000 OH Utica Shale Dry Gas Acres to Mystery Buyer). It’s no longer a mystery–American Energy verified it is the buyer of the Hess acreage.

But hey, that was last week. It’s a new week, so it’s time for a new deal for Aubrey and American Energy. And right on cue, we have one: XTO Energy has announced they’ve done a deal whereby American Energy will fund 100 percent of XTO’s near-term drilling costs in a “core area” of 55,000 Utica Shale acres. In return, American Energy will get ownership of 30,000 net acres of XTO’s holdings in three Ohio counties. Yesterday Aubrey said he’s cut three deals recently–Hess, XTO and Paloma Partners. Between the three deals, Aubrey says he’s picked up another 130,000 acres in the Utica in the past week. The man is on a tear…
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GreenHunter’s Management Shakeup, Sells S TX Injection Well

GreenHunter Water, a division of GreenHunter Resources and based in Texas, has its eyes on the northeast. GreenHunter is building up a series of frack wastewater recycling and shipping facilities throughout the Marcellus and Utica Shale region. Perhaps the most prominent GreenHunter facility in the northeast, because it’s been in the news recently, is the one they’re building in Wheeling, WV (see GreenHunter’s Wheeling Frack Wastewater Facility Hits a Snag for the latest).

We have a pair of recent announcements from GreenHunter to share. The first announcement is that GreenHunter has just sold a South Texas wastewater injection well for $3.9 million, which may not seem like MDN news, but it is because GreenHunter sold it expressly to continue the company’s laser focus on the Marcellus/Utica region. The second announcement is about a shakeup at the top. As of a few weeks ago, Jonathan Hoopes, who had been on the Board of Directors and was the interim CEO, President and COO, is now gone. GreenHunter’s Chairman of the Board, Gary Evans, has taken the reigns as interim CEO. A number of other people have changed chairs in upper management and there’s been a few new hires as well. Details below…
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Pass Me a Joint – Pot Smoking Coming to NY, But Not Fracking

New York State Health Commission Nirav Shah apparently has no problem rushing his “research” and decision that New York State is ready for pot smoking–but dang, there’s just no telling how long it will take to figure out if fracking is OK for New York. That’s what he told New York lawmakers yesterday during budget hearing testimony.

Whip out a joint–for “medical purposes” (wink wink nod nod)–and that’s hunky-dory with Shah. Lower everyone’s energy costs, create thousands of new jobs, take some of that nasty carbon out of the environment, and stick some coin in farmers’ pockets? Nah–a bridge too far for Nirav Shah (i.e. Andrew Cuomo). We wonder what they’ve been smoking…
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CONSOL Reports Record Gas Production in 4Q13, Bumps Up Guidance

On Friday CONSOL Energy (and its CNX Gas division) issued an update on activity for the fourth quarter of 2013. The company reported net income of $738 million, but the majority of that ($591 million) came from “discontinued operations”–which means from the five WV coal mines they recently sold (see CONSOL Sells More Coal Mines, Investing $24B(!) in Shale Drilling). The gas division had a record 4Q13, producing 48.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent (Bcfe). Although it’s a 4Q13 update, CONSOL also hauls out the crystal ball and says that for 2014 the company estimates it will produce 215 – 235 Bcfe of natural gas. In addition, they’ve stuck their necks way out and say that for 2015 and 2016 those numbers will go up an average 30% each year.

And so, like a broken record, we once again repeat that CONSOL continues its transformation from coal energy producer to natural gas energy producer. Here’s the update from Friday:
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A Peek Behind the Curtain of Crosstex/Devon Midstream Marriage

For a number of months, MDN has told you the story/news of the merger between Crosstex Energy (a Dallas, TX company) and Devon Energy (Oklahoma City, OK company). It’s an important story because both have a major presence in the Marcellus/Utica region. Essentially Devon Energy, a driller with a major midstream division, bought out Crosstex, a midstream company, and merged the two operations leaving Crosstex in command of the newly created midstream entity. The newly formed subsidiary company was recently named EnLink Midstream (see Crosstex Energy Gets a Name Change, Merger with Devon Proceeds).

An article in the Dallas Morning News about the merger caught our eye because it profiles the people involved and how the merger happened. We’re not sure that the story reveals any new, salient news about the deal–but it does reveal the depth of experience and character of the people involved. And it inspires confidence that this particular merger, a merger in which no one lost their job, portends very good things for the northeast where EnLink will continue to grow and expand. We’d call it a “here’s why you should feel good about this merger and doing business with these guys” kind of story…
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CT DEEP Wants Frack Waste Reclassified Hazardous to Keep It Away

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is concerned that fracking waste–both wastewater and drill cuttings–may end up coming to the state. So DEEP has asked CT legislators to consider a bill that will reclassify fracking waste as hazardous waste–even though the federal government itself doesn’t consider fracking waste “hazardous.” Apparently the DEEPers are afraid that those wily shale drillers will sneak across the border and contaminate the pristine wilds of CT, so they want to put severe restrictions on frack waste hauling with the aim of just keeping it away.

Here’s the DEEPer story:
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League of Liberal Democrat Women Voters Targets Fracking in WNY

Recently the Portland Town Board in western NY held a special meeting to learn more about fracking. So who did they have present? Who did they find to present the facts on both sides of this contentious issue? That’s right, the League of [Liberal Democrat] Women Voters. You know–that “non-partisan” organization? (Excuse us as we now pick ourselves up off the floor from laughing so hard.)

The LO[LD]WV is, of course, extremely partisan, extremely liberal and extremely anti-drilling–so it’s no wonder the town board members in Portland (located near Buffalo), got an honest-to-goodness real western NY snow job…
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Welders Needed in Utica/Marcellus – Training Options in Mahoning

Of all the jobs in the Marcellus and Utica Shale that need qualified, skilled people in them, perhaps none is more needed (right now) than welding. According to Marty Loney, training director for Local 396 in Mahoning County, OH, there’s a shortage right now of between 2,000-3,000 welders for the Utica and Marcellus in the Mahoning Valley area. Local 396 has developed an innovative apprenticeship program to address the need (although it takes five years to complete). Other organizations, like the Trumbull Career and Technical Center also train welders and other hands-on types of jobs for the drilling industry.

Here’s a good review of a couple of training options for those interested in getting a hands-on job in the Marcellus/Utica in the tri-state area when it comes to welding and other physical jobs:
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