Bradford PA Landowner Rally over Chesapeake Royalty Shenanigans

fox in henhouseLandowners in Bradford County, PA feel like they’re getting screwed by Chesapeake Energy on royalty payments, a complaint they’ve been making for some time now (see Bradford County, PA Landowners Sue Chesapeake over Royalties). PA state law guarantees a minimum 12.5% royalty to landowners, but because Chesapeake keeps deducting post-production expenses (like pipeline costs, processing costs, perhaps marketing costs), landowners end up getting squat–in some cases a 1.5% royalty. The landowners have some righteous anger over the issue. More than 100 landowners and officials gathered at the Bradford County Courthouse in Towanda on Friday in a rally to raise awareness of the issue and to support passage of PA House Bill 1648, which would protect landowners from large deductions from their royalty checks for post-production costs.

We applaud these landowners and their elected representatives for seeking justice in this situation. The problem is, they’ve invited a fox into the hen house to help them out. State Senator Gene Yaw, whose district includes Bradford County, along with PA Gov. Tom Corbett, has asked PA’s anti-drilling Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, to investigate Chesapeake and this matter of landowners getting shorted on royalty payments. She’s only too glad to “help out.” Normally that would be a good thing, except Kane is just as likely to turn around and bite the people she’s supposed to be helping. She hasn’t met a driller yet she wouldn’t rather see behind bars (see PA AG Abuses Her Authority, Files Criminal Charges Against XTO). If it were up to Kathleen Kane, there would be no Marcellus drilling at all and consequently no royalties for landowners to argue about. We think it’s an ill-advised move to involve Kane, but that’s just our humble opinion…
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Shame & IgnomiNY: Cuomo Sued by 70K NY Residents over Frack Delay

The shame and ignominy of being sued by residents of your own state to do you job. That’s what happened to Gov. Andrew “Can’t Make a Decision” Cuomo on Friday when the 70,000-member Joint Landowners Coalition of New York filed an Article 78 lawsuit last Friday (see D-Day: JLCNY Files Lawsuit Today Against Cuomo, Martens, Shah). You might think 70,000 residents suing a governor would be important news–even the whiff of something like that should rate at least a mention in the news, right? If you live in Binghamton (where the JLCNY is headquartered), and your newspaper is a local liberal Gannett newspaper–that answer would be: “wrong.” In the lead-up to the lawsuit being filed, the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin obstinately (and angrily) refused to cover the story. They censored it. It was only after MDN friend and intrepid blogger Andy Leahy, writer of NY Shale Gas Now! prodded and poked and agitated the great dragon did they finally deign to post an article about the lawsuit.

The article finally appeared in the Saturday, Feb 15 edition (the day no one reads the paper). To their credit, it was a front-page story–“above the fold.” But it was tucked along the right side (see the front page of that issue below). What, you may ask, was the all-important lead news item dominating the front page, taking up more than half of the editorial space? An open house at Binghamton University. Talk about journalistic integrity and keen insight–people with a real bead on what’s important for readers. Those editors at the PSB, there’re a sharp bunch…
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Chevron Well Fire Update: Fire Spreads to 2nd Well, Both Fires Out

MDN previously told you about an explosion and well fire at a Chevron drilling site in Greene County, PA last Tuesday (see Explosion & Fire at Chevron Well in SWPA – 1 Person Missing). We then brought you Chevron’s series of updates on progress (or lack thereof) in extinguishing the fire and locating a missing worker (see Update: Chevron Well Fire in Greene County Still Burning). On Saturday, a second well at the pad caught fire and started to burn–something Chevron feared may happen. However, as of 3 pm on Saturday, both well fires were out, although Chevron isn’t quite sure why (theory: lack of gas to fuel them). The very careful work of removing a badly burned crane now begins so Chevron can start “well intervention work.”

There is still, so far, no sign of the missing worker, who is presumed dead. Chevron has issued a steady flow of updates on their website. Below are the most recent three updates issued (since the first four we brought you), which gives a timeline for what’s happened at the site since the explosion…
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Chevron Well Fire Victim – Native of Warren County, PA

Although we’ve not heard the missing worker at the site of a Chevron well fire in Greene County, PA has been located, we do now know who it is that is missing. His name is Ian McKee and he’s a native of Warren County, PA. Ian works for Cameron International, the sub-contractor working on completing and hooking up the shale well to a gathering pipeline.

A prayer vigil was held for Ian last Thursday night…
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Magnum Hunter’s Prolific (& Dry) Utica Well in Monroe County, OH

Last week Magnum Hunter released an announcement (below) about their first Utica Shale well, drilled in Monroe County, OH. The company reports it’s an almost totally “dry” shale well–producing 97% methane (almost no natural gas liquids). But oh baby, is it ever productive! MH’s Stalder #3UH, which sits on a well pad that may at some point support up to an eye-popping 18 wells, had an initial production (IP) of 32 million cubic feet of natural gas per day (Mmcf/d). That’s not the highest rate we’ve seen (that honor still goes to Antero Resources’ Yontz well in Belmont County). However, 32 Mmcf/d puts the Stalder #3UH well in an elite group of the top 2-3 best-producing wells in the Ohio Utica–so a big congratulations to Magnum Hunter!

Here’s last week’s announcement from MH:
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CONSOL to Begin Ethane Shipments Next Year–to Europe?!

CONSOL Energy is a big, important driller in the Marcellus and Utica Shale. Most of their operations are in “wet gas” areas–those locations that produce a lot of natural gas liquids (NGLs), like ethane, along with “dry gas” or methane. Although CONSOL has a lot of acreage in southwestern PA and in WV and eastern OH, the ethane they produce will not be going to a proposed new ethane cracker plant being built by Odebrecht in Parkersburg, WV. Instead, CONSOL is going to send their ethane by pipeline to an export facility in Philadelphia, and from there, on to Europe for processing and use in European petrochemical factories.

Why in the world ship ethane all the way to Europe for processing instead of selling it in your own back yard? Timing. CONSOL doesn’t want to wait the 4-5 years for an ethane cracker to be built (if it’s built at all). They’ve adopted a “bird in hand” strategy. They’d rather start shipping it next year, when Sunoco Logstics’ Mariner East pipeline is up and running, rather than wait. And so CONSOL, according to their announcement below, has locked in a deal with Ineos Europe AG. But don’t despair, CONSOL also previously signed an agreement with Shell to provide its cracker plant in Beaver County, PA with ethane–when and if that plant gets built…
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Williams’ Oak Grove, WV Plant (Slowly) Gets New De-Ethanizer

The Oak Grove processing plant in Marshall County, WV is about to get its first de-ethanizer, a huge piece of equipment that strips ethane from “wet gas” so it can be sold, via pipeline. Until recently most ethane in the northeast has been a waste product for drillers–something that’s blended with other hydrocarbons or even burned (flared) to get rid of. However, with two new ethane pipelines up and running–one to Sarnia, Canada (Mariner West) and one to the Gulf Coast (ATEX), ethane is a valuable commodity. And so Williams is adding a de-ethanizer to their still-under-construction Oak Grove processing plant.

The de-ethanizer recently arrived by train at Benwood CSX rail yard along the Ohio River. Now the 123-feet long (and 14 feet wide) piece of equipment will go on a very special “superload” truck and it will take 3 days to go just 30 miles to reach the Oak Grove site. If you live in WV, you might want to reconsider plans to travel along routes WV-88 or US-250 later this week, unless you like moving along at 5 miles per hour…
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Setting the Record Straight on PA Drill Cuttings Going to NY Landfill

Every now and again it’s necessary to run around and clean up the poopy mess made by reckless and inaccurate claims from anti-drillers. It’s a distasteful but necessary job that needs to be done, otherwise the mental feces they leave strewn all around would begin to pile up.

With respect to inaccurate claims made by anti-drillers (with faux outrage) over drill cuttings (leftover rock and dirt) from PA shale wells that go to the Chemung County Landfill just across the border in NY, Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli is on clean-up duty. Hey, somebody has to do it, so with plastic bag in hand…
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Databook Vol. 3: Marcellus Well Decline Rates, Waste Facilities & More

2013 Databook Vol 3MDN is extremely proud to announce the release of the Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook 2013, Volume 3, covering permits and happenings in northeast shale drilling from September to December 2013. Make no mistake, we are blowing the trumpet and blowing it loud. In this volume is something totally unique and extremely important: a new section on Marcellus shale well decline rates. That is, we tackle the topic of quickly, and how much, does production for the average Marcellus shale well taper off. Just as important, how much will the average well produce over it’s lifetime, and how long is that lifetime? Based on data from more than 3,700 Marcellus wells, two experts have written and contributed this new section for the Databook–and you need it if you need reliable, accurate information on what to expect in the way of production (and royalties) for a Marcellus well.

In addition, we have compiled a directory of the 150+ shale waste processing facilities–for both wastewater and drill cuttings–most used by Marcellus and Utica Shale drillers. We give you the list sorted two ways: by geography and by facility type (centralized recycling center, injection well, landfill). As always, the heart of the Databook is a series of maps–one for each county in the northeast with active shale drilling–showing where permits were issued for the last four months of 2013. These maps are your guide to where drilling either has already begun–or soon will. Here’s the press release MDN and partner ShaleNavigator issued this morning about the newly release Databook:
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