Halcon Resources Stops Drilling, Gives Up on the Utica Shale

I Give UpJust last November in response to a question from an analyst about Halcon Resources’ plans for the Utica, CEO Floyd Wilson said, “Well, we won’t drill any more wells near the shitty ones we drilled already. That’s one major initiative.” (See Halcon CEO Says No More S***** Wells in Northern OH Utica.)

Not only will Halcon not drill any s***ty wells in the Utica, they’re not going to drill any more Utica wells–at least in 2014…
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Political Opposites Unite to Form Pro-Fracking Group in NY

The 70,000-member Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY), along with the Broome County Farm Bureau and several Southern Tier labor unions formed a new group (perhaps confederation is a better word) yesterday called Southern Tier Residents for Economic Independence. The new group illustrates how the fracking issue unites groups of people that often are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Many labor unions are pro-fracking, a little-known secret anti-drilling “environmentalist” groups like to hide since labor unions usually swing Democrat/Liberal with their voting block. The fact that unions are defecting to “the other side” on this issue is causing heartburn inside anti-fracking central–places like Citizen Action of New York and the Park Foundation. Such anti-drilling groups haughtily believe they “own” the labor unions. Problem is, rank and file union members didn’t get that particular memo.

Here’s the story of people with different political philosophies reaching across the isle for a righteous cause–shale drilling in NY…
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Phila. Gas Works Deal for $1.86B – Marcellus/Utica One of Keys

With an eye on its proximity to abundant and cheap natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shale, UIL Holdings Corporation, a Connecticut-based investor-owned gas and electric utility holding company, yesterday announced that it has reached an agreement to to buy Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW), currently owned by the City of Philadelphia, for $1.86 billion in cash. PGW is the nation’s largest municipally-owned natural gas utility. Last summer MDN told you that PGW was up for sale and that the Marcellus may well be the key to a sale (see Phila. Gas Works Goes on Auction Block – Marcellus Key in Sale?). Looks like our words ended up being prophetic, because UIL says the Marcellus/Utica is part of the reason why they want to buy PGW.

There had been talk that one PGW’s facilities could be turned into an LNG export terminal, but that idea seemed to be shot down later and hasn’t been mentioned since (see Consultant: Retooling PGW LNG Terminal for Exports Problematic). Still, this is a great day for PGW and its future. But the sale won’t happen without a fight. Even though UIL says they will honor labor union contracts already in place, the unions are staking out a position against the sale and intend to exert influence on Philadelphia City Council members who must approve such a sale. Here’s the announcement from UIL, and an update from the Philly Inquirer about opposition to the sale…
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OH Anti-Drillers Call for ODNR Chief’s Resignation Over PR Plan

A few weeks ago we told you about the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources’ brilliant communications plan to counter the wackos in their state on the issue of drilling under (not on) one state forest and two state parks (see ODNR Ticks Off Anti-Drilling Sierra Club with Drilling PR Plan). We also told you that this issue won’t go away for a while, and that Gov. John “foreigner hunter” Kasich has already backed down (see The Disgusting PR Mess in Ohio – No One Smells Pretty). As we predicted, the wacko contingent in Ohio never lets a good manufactured crisis go to waste, and so now a group of the nuttiest of the nuts is calling for the resignation of ODNR chief James Zehringer.

The only problem is, Kasich & co seem to be so intimidated by these kooks, you have to wonder if he’ll cave and make Zehringer a sacrificial lamb on the green altar…
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EVEP 2014 – Still Shifting from E&P to Midstream in the Utica

Quick: Which company holds the most combined Utica Shale acreage in OH & PA? Is it Chesapeake? Range? Chevron? Nope. It may surprise you that the #1 acreage holder, according to NGI’s Shale Play Factbook, is EV Energy Partners (EVEP). They own outright, or as part of joint ventures, interest in 903,000 Utica Shale acres (747,000 in OH and 156,000 in PA). MDN has long chronicled how this “accidental” Utica kingpin has been trying to unload their Utica acreage, first in big deals, later in smaller deals (see our EVEP category of stories here).

EVEP is certainly not leaving the Utica. They just want to unload the E&P part of their operation (drilling) and instead concentrate on the midstream (pipelines & processing plants). Yesterday the company issued their fourth quarter and full year 2013 update and management conducted the ubiquitous analyst phone call to explain where the company has been in 2013 and where they are heading in 2014. We have both the update and a portion of the phone call transcript below. Bottom line: More emphasis on midstream in 2014, continued Utica drilling (via jv partners like Chesapeake and EQT), and more sales of Utica acreage when/if buyers come along…
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Morningstar Report on Marcellus Pegs Production & More Thru 2015

The brains at investment research service Morningstar the February 2014 issue of their Energy Observer publication. The title of that issue? “Shale Shock—How the Marcellus Shale Transformed the Domestic Natural Gas Landscape and What It Means for Supply in the Years Ahead” (see a full copy embedded below). This is one seriously excellent analysis report–one that we highly recommend. Included in the report is narrative and charts that discuss the challenges forecasters have and continue to face when attempting to predict where shale gas production is headed. Also in the report is Morningstar’s best thinking on how much natural gas the Marcellus will produce as we exit 2015 (low-ball scenario, around 14 trillion cubic feet, rosy scenario, nearly 20 Tcf).

The authors address the interplay of supply and demand and provide forecasts for demand. They also compare the Marcellus to other major plays to see how it stacks up. Full of charts and graphs and clear explanations, this report is a keeper. Below is Morningstar’s press release announcing the report, followed by a copy of the report itself…
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Antero Resources & Gulfport Energy’s Utica Shale High Notes

In recent weeks as part of a flurry of year end and fourth quarter financial and operational reports, MDN brought you the latest news from Marcellus and Utica Shale powerhouse driller Antero Resources (see Antero Resources Keeps up the Pace in the Marcellus/Utica). We also told you the latest from Gulfport Energy, including our “takeaways” (see Gulfport Production & Profits Jump in 2013 Thanks to Utica Shale).

The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register reporter Casey Junkins has done a great job of summarizing the highlights from both companies–hitting the “high notes” as it were, particularly with respect to the Utica Shale–in the following update:
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Williams Happy with FERC Progress on NE Pipeline Expansions

Yesterday Williams issued a press release touting last Friday’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issuance of a final environmental review for the Transco Pipeline’s Rockaway Lateral and Northeast Connector expansions. The final review is prelude to a final decision by FERC to green light the projects, something Williams (the owner of Transco) clearly believes will happen. The final FERC decision will be issued this spring. When it is, and when Williams builds those expansions, it means more gas will flow to New York City by next winter–in time for the winter heating season.

The irony is, of course, that none of the gas flowing through the Transco to NY will be from New York State itself but instead will come mostly from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. Keep an eye out for the loonies who are bound to come out of the woodwork to oppose the expansion. Perhaps we’ll see more nutjobs like those that opposed the now-functioning Spectra Energy pipeline to Manhattan (see NYC Pipeline Protesters Get Naked, Paint Themselves Green). Here is yesterday’s “attaboy FERC” announcement from Williams:
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Binghamton Newspaper’s Informal Fracking Poll – Cast Your Vote Now

Just a quick word of encouragement to participate in an informal poll on the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin website that asks the question: “Should New York approve natural gas drilling?” This poll has been active since late last week, so we expect them to shut it down at any time–be sure to vote right away (if that’s your pleasure). As of this morning, some 18,133 people had voted. Here was how the results stood…
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