Rare Schism Between Landowners & Drillers over PA Royalty Law

Several weeks ago MDN told you that the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners had sent out a flash email to encourage support of House Bill (HB) 1684, the Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act. The bill would clear up shady dealings from Chesapeake Energy (and perhaps others) in deducting certain expenses leaving some landowners with checks for royalties way under the 12.5% guaranteed minimum (see PA NARO Alert: Tell Your State Rep to Vote YES on HB 1684). Not long after NARO sounded the rallying cry, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau joined NARO in supporting HB 1684 (see PA Farm Bureau Joins Chorus Against Chessy on Royalty Issue).

However, this is one issue on which landowners, who are strongly pro-drilling, and the drilling industry itself, part ways. The Marcellus Shale Coalition, through its new grassroots organization called Shale Advocates, is asking shale supporters to oppose HB 1684. According to the Shale Advocates website, they want their supporters to “Take a few moments to contact your representative and let them know you oppose HB1684 and any effort by the Commonwealth to intervene in private contracts. Here’s your opportunity to be heard. Your voice will make a difference.” After HB 1684 has been larded up with amendments, NARO met to consider whether or not they would still support it and in the end, they see more to like than no like about the bill–so they issued the following press release last week to reaffirm their strong support:
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Exxon Mobil Shaken Down by NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli

GoodFellasThe Comptroller of the State of New York, Thomas DiNapoli, is the sole person in charge of The New York State Common Retirement Fund–a fund with $160 billion in it. DiNapoli, or rather the NYS Common Retirement Fund, owns $1.02 billion of Exxon Mobil stock. Unfortunately, DiNapoli is an anti-drilling bully (see our list of MDN articles here). When someone like DiNapoli has you by the short hairs and is pulling, you ask him how high he wants you to jump. That’s what’s happening to Exxon Mobil.

DiNapoli is forcing Exxon Mobil to write a cockamamie report on the so-called hazards of fracking, to be released this September on the Exxon website. So what if the report shows there are no (or very few) actual hazards in fracking? Yeah, right. They don’t call people like Tommy DiNapoli a goodfella for nuttin’. Exxon is getting shaken down by a bullying investor that holds a lot of stock. And not just any investor–but a government official to boot. It’s sleazy, it’s disgusting, and it’s New York politics. What do you think Exxon’s report on fracking will say?…
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Anti-Frackers Win Lawsuit Against Muskingum Watershed District

Last October MDN told you the anti-drilling group calling themselves the FreshWater Accountability Project (FWAP), a front group for the Washington, D.C.-based (and odious) Food & Water Watch had thrown a snit fit and sued the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District’s (MWCD) to gain access to personal details (names, addresses, phone numbers) of people living in the watershed so FWAP and FWW could launch smear campaigns against the MWCD over their decision to sell a thimble full of water for fracking and lease some of their considerable acreage for shale drilling (see Muskingum Watershed Taken to Court by Anti-Frackers (Yawn)).

Last week the liberal Fifth District Court of Appeals granted the anti-drillers their wish: access to MWCD records along with a fine for holding back the information. Let the smear campaigns begin!…
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The Tough Process of Breaking into the Utica Shale Supply Chain

A small, 24-person company in Akron, OH is looking to break into the Utica Shale supply chain. Excelsior Marking, a marking and engraving company, is looking to see if their existing services/products, or perhaps a new service/product, would be a match for the Utica Shale industry. But breaking in–landing that first oil & gas customers, is not easy.

Here’s a look at what Excelsior has done, and the things that have given them the most success (so far) in their quest to get connected to the Utica supply chain…
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Trumbull County Gets $100K to Conduct CNG “Feasibility” Study

The state of Ohio Controlling Board has approved a $100,000 grant for Trumbull County to “gauge the benefits of using vehicles that run on compressed natural gas.” Er, OK. It seems the Trumbull County engineer will use the funds “for a two-part feasibility study on the advantages of converting existing vehicles or purchasing new ones, as well as the potential construction of a CNG fueling station in the county.”

Just a thought: But might it not be better to buy a couple of CNG vehicles with the money and check to see how much they save by using them? Rather than a full-blown study to come to the same conclusion dozens of other municipalities have already come to (which is CNG saves money)? Perhaps we’re just being obtuse and missing something about this story…
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Update on What’s (Not) Happening in Wayne, Holmes Counties in OH

Early on, way back in 2010, landowners in Wayne and Holmes counties along the western reaches of the Utica Shale play in Ohio received a lot of interest–and offers–to lease their land. For a time it seemed promising. Some landowners signed on for under $100 per acre as a signing bonus, which at the time seemed like a good deal. Some got paid as much as $2,500 per acre to sign. Today, for landowners in the “sweet spot” of the Utica in places like Belmont, Guernsey and Harrison counties, it’s not uncommon to receive $5,000 or more per acre as a signing bonus.

Devon Energy was one of the early drillers to get permits in Ashland, Wayne and Holmes counties. But then it all went sideways for Devon when they didn’t get good results from the early test wells they drilled in the region. Devon threw in the towel in the Ohio Utica and put their (considerable) acreage up for sale (see Devon Energy Puts 240K Acres of Utica Shale Leases Up for Sale). What’s been happening in Wayne and Holmes over the past few years? Not much–and it appears it will stay that way for some time to come…
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New CSSD Director Says “Entrenched Views” Biggest Obstacle

In January MDN told you that the Center for Sustainable Shale (CSSD) had come roaring back to life and had appointed a new executive director. Environmentalist lawyer Susan LeGros from Philadelphia was appointed to the post. In her previous law practice she worked with solar companies–which seems like an odd fit for someone to head up an organization aimed at shale drilling. As we said at the time, we’ll withhold judgment for the time being (see Center for Sustainable Shale Comes Roaring Back (to Life)).

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette caught up with Ms. LeGros to ask her how it’s going at the CSSD and how she likes her new home in Pittsburgh. Here’s what she had to say:
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Media Picks Up on Report Listing $18.7B of OH Shale-Related Projects

Last week MDN called attention to a report “quietly” released by the Columbus, Ohio law firm of Bricker & Eckler LLP that lists more than 100 small to large infrastructure and economic investment projects under way in Ohio, county by county, related to the shale industry (see New List of Shale-Related Infrastructure/Economic Projects in OH). We noticed that after we highlighted the report, a number of other media outlets did too (jest sayin’).

In fact on Monday, Crain’s Cleveland Business ran a big article highlighting the report and the data about the projects found in it, including the grand tally of the projects now being developed thanks to shale drilling in Ohio: $18.7 BILLION. We thought you would like to read more about the good economic news happening in Ohio, thanks to shale…
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UN Global Warming Panel Tells Delegates Get Enlightened…or Else

Not our usual fare here on MDN, but important to the Marcellus and Utica nonetheless. The United Nations will conduct closed door (i.e. secret) sessions this week in Berlin, Germany on the topic of mythical global warming and how to try and convince those pesky Americans (and other citizens of the world who think for themselves) to bend over and take their medicine. The head of the United Nations scientific panel on climate change “urged” diplomats and scientists to show “enlightenment” on Monday, as they begin a week-long meeting aimed at spelling out in “plain terms” what options the world has if it wants to prevent “catastrophic global warming.”

Translation: Get your *$%# heads screwed on straight and regurgitate the party line: We believe in global warming. We believe in global warming. We believe in global warming…
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