Range Resources Finally Wins Case to Drill 2 Wells in Robinson Twp

cold shoulderA surprising victory for Range Resources in a court case against Robinson Township (Washington County), PA. Robinson is one of the seven selfish towns that sued the state and eventually got large portions of the Act 13 law overturned–potentially screwing all townships out of impact fee money throughout the state. The court case between Range and Robinson is over Robinson’s decision to block permits and drilling at two proposed wells Range wanted to begin drilling back in 2012. Range won the right to proceed, in a decision by Judge John DiSalle.

The surprise is because Judge DiSalle is married to a very active and vocal anti-driller and the judge is known for a string of anti-drilling decisions in the past (see Washington County, PA Judge Continues Anti-Drilling Decisions). Based on yesterday’s decison by DiSalle, Range is free to begin drilling as early as today, if they want to. We predict Judge DiSalle will get the cold shoulder from the misses at home for a while…
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PDC Accident: Drilling Mud Spills into Creek in Morgan County, OH

In the hubbub of news that comes from Utica Shale drilling in eastern Ohio, one county we don’t hear much about is Morgan County (southeast part of the state, below Muskingum County and left of Noble County). So it was with interest we noted last November that PDC Energy was issued permits to drill three wells in Morgan County (see Morgan County, OH Looks to Join the Utica Shale Well Club). The drilling has been under way and we didn’t know it! Except now.

Last week there was a “mishap” at the drill site for one of the wells and about 140 barrels of drilling mud spilled at the site (something like 5,800 gallons). Around 100 barrels of the semi-liquid mud was contained on the drill pad, but about 40 barrels spilled into a nearby creek where it was contained. Apparently PDC hit a pocket of gas which escaped and forced the mud out of the hole faster than they could contain it. The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources is now investigating to determine whether PDC can move forward with drilling or will need to plug that well and abandon it. Here’s what we know at the moment…
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Corporate Raider Pressures National Fuel Gas to Sell Seneca Res.

MDN loves capitalism–the BEST economic system ever devised by humans, benefiting the most people and lifting more out of poverty than any other system in the world. Capitalism is the free market making its own decisions about where, and how, to invest. But there are downsides. One of the negatives with capitalism–in the U.S. version of it anyway–is putting up with loathsome corporate raiders. Corporate raiders buy up enough shares in a publicly traded company to force that company to sell off assets and slash employees in order to drive the price of the stock up so they can turn around and sell their shares at a huge profit. Think of the snake Carl Icahn and what he’s done to Chesapeake Energy (via his toady Doug Lawler). The media today has euphemistically renamed what they used to call corporate raiders to “activist investors.” Same thing with the same end result.

So we were sad to see that a corporate raider is now targeting National Fuel Gas (NFG), the Buffalo, NY-based utility company that also owns a sizable Marcellus drilling division called Seneca Resources. Corporate raider Mario Gabelli has snapped up 9.1% of NFG’s stock, and now he’s making noise about forcing the company to sell off Seneca Resources, which he thinks will raise the stock by another $25/share–from the current $75 to around $100/share–making him even richer than he is now. We think corporate raiders are a cancer on the oil and gas industry. Here’s more about Gabelli pressuring NFG…
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Access Midstream: Major Expansion of Utica Processing Facility

Seems like Chesapeake Energy and its old subsidiaries can’t get enough of…Aubrey McClendon?! MDN told you in April that Cheapeake Energy is leasing some of its rigs to its former CEO, Aubrey McClendon, for drilling in the Utica Shale (see Aubrey McClendon Leases Rigs from Chesapeake to Drill in the Utica). Yesterday came word that Access Midstream (used be called Chesapeake Midstream before Chessy spun it off into its own company) is planning a major expansion of its Utica East Ohio natgas processing facility in eastern Ohio. Why? Three existing customers need more capacity–but also because they’ve picked up a brand new long-term, VIP customer. Can you guess who it is?

Here’s the press release from Access about the coming expansion of UEO which will give them a capacity to process 1.1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas…
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Gastar Top Brass Discusses 1Q14 Results, Drilling Program in WV

Gastar is a sizable driller mostly concentrating on the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia. Gastar has begun to target the Utica layer as well. Yesterday Gastar’s top brass held their quarterly analyst call to discuss the company’s financial and operating performance. We’ve gone through the transcript and lifted out areas specifically dealing with the Marcellus and Utica Shale and have shared those below. You sometimes learn quite a bit from the prepared remarks–but you usually learn a lot with the Q&A that follows the prepared remarks.

In the prepared remarks we learn that Gastar is planning to move the focus of their WV drilling south–to Wetzel County–beginning in the third quarter of this year. They’ll drill two Marcellus and one Utica well first. Gastar’s CEO hastens to add that their drilling program is still intact in Marshall County with 10 wells planned for the second half of 2014. The Q&A gets into the nitty gritty of where and when pipelines will be run, how much it costs Gastar to drill a Utica well, and more…
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GreenHunter 1Q14: Injection Well Volume up 97%, Barging Soon?

In the parade of quarterly analyst calls, GreenHunter Resources–the wastewater handling division of Magnum Hunter Resources Corporation–held their call yesterday. We learned some interesting things from reading the transcript. Like, GreenHunter now owns and has operational 9 wastewater injection wells (often referred to as salt water disposal wells, or SWDs). We also learn that once the U.S. Coast Guard grants permission to begin barging wastewater down the Ohio River, GreenHunter will need something like $20 million to build out their barge facilities.

Below is the opening/prepared remarks from Kirk J. Trosclair, GreenHunter’s Chief Operating Officer, along with one Q&A about the barging facilities…
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Wetlands Banking Comes to PA – No, It’s Not a Savings & Loan

At some time in the past 25 years, radical environmentalists succeeded in renaming swamps to “wetlands,” thereby re-casting the debate over whether it’s OK to build something on, in or under them. In other words, environmentalists made it really hard to drain a swamp, giving rise to things like mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus. But we digress. Although this will sound rather bizarre, there is a new program alive in Pennsylvania whereby companies that want to, say, dig up a wetland to lay a natural gas pipeline, can buy credits to do so. What kind of credits and how?

Companies may now buy credits that create swamps, er wetlands, in other areas. That is, as long as the net amount of wetland acreage remains the same, the federal fascist bureaucracy is happy. (We know! Don’t bother will silly logic. Don’t ask questions like, “What happened when Indians ruled North America and nature created and destroyed swamps all on her own? Was there anyone around to ensure Mother Nature didn’t screw herself?”) Here’s the (to us) funny and bizarre story of what’s called “mitigation banking,” sometimes referred to as “wetlands banking”…
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Plan Advances to Build $615M Gas-Powered Electric Plant in WV

The plans continue to advance to build a 549 megawatt electrical generating plant near Moundsville, WV that will be powered by Marcellus Shale gas (see Marcellus-Powered Electric Plant Coming to Marshall County, WV). As MDN previously reported, the deal to get it built and operating is a tad complicated (see Complicated Deal for Proposed WV Gas-Powered Electric Plant). Essentially the deal boils down to this: the company that will build and operate the plant will turn over the deed to the facility once it’s built to the county and pay the county lease payments each year in lieu of paying taxes. It’s a win/win for everyone. Right now the land on which the plant will be built is an EPA brownfield producing no taxes.

Here’s more details on just how the plan will work for Marshall County:
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PA Marcellus Shale Gas Going to…Latvia?!

The prime minister of Latvia–Her Excellency Mrs. Laimdota Straujuma–recently visited Philadelphia. For those who don’t know, Latvia is an ex-Soviet Union country in eastern Europe. Mrs. Straujuma wants U.S. natural gas–Marcellus gas–really bad. Some of the unnamed people she met with in Philly said they’ll be more than happy to sell her some–as soon as the Obama administration gets off it’s rear-end and issues export permits.

Here’s the story of how home-grown, cheap, abundant Marcellus Shale gas may give freedom in Europe a boost (and give the dangerous bully Putin a poke in the eye)…
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Media Bias in Story re NJ Senate Vote to Ban Frack Waste

We’re always amazed that because a newspaper is published on dead trees, the reporters for that paper are somehow accorded the honor of being impartial and unbiased–and the pap they write, especially about drilling and fracking, is somehow impartial and unbiased. When in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Case in point: an article appearing in today’s Hackensack, NJ’s The Record, reporting on a bill that passed the NJ Senate yesterday that would ban the treatment or disposal of frack waste in the state. The story says “environmentalists” are delighted because they may be able to arm-twist enough legislators to override a veto by Gov. Christie this time around (they tried it in 2012 and failed).

It’s the way the obviously anti-drilling reporter “reports” (or rather mis-reports) the news that is so egregious. The article is anything but impartial. The “reporter” (we’d say anti-drilling advocate) definitely takes a side, and attempts his best smear job at clean, safe fracking for natural gas–used by his own state in quantities larger than most other states. To which we say: When will PA, WV and OH start banning their shale gas from being sold to states like NJ and others who ban fracking or the clean, safe treatment of frack waste? Here’s is the article with MDN’s suggested edits, using strike throughs and [brackets]
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Final PA Democrat Gov Debate Interrupted by Anti-Drilling Kook

Last night was the final debate in Philadelphia between the final four Democrat candidates seeking the nomination to run for governor in November in Pennsylvania. Which was a yawner. All four are Democrat hacks that will try to screw up the economic miracle happening in PA from Marcellus Shale drilling. None of them deserve your vote–including the presumptive winner of today’s primary, Tom Wolf.

We only mention last night’s debate because a hysterical (i.e. distraught) young woman who is anti-drilling took to the stage and interrupted the debate to vomit out the same old lies that drilling’ll kill everyone and Mother Earth, while the obsequious candidates just looked on. It was, well, hysterical (i.e. funny)…
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