NiSource Splits in Two: Columbia Pipeline Will be Separate Company

Breaking Up is Not So Hard to DoNiSource is a very big public utility company (electric & gas) serving 3.8 million customers from the Gulf Coast through the Midwest to New England. Headquartered in Indiana, NiSource is also the parent of Columbia Gas, which owns extensive pipelines and recently announced they would build another two new pipelines in the Marcellus region (see Columbia Gas: $1.75B for 2 Projects to Send Marcellus Gas to Gulf). NiSource has decided and in an unusual move announced yesterday (Sunday) that they are splitting the company in two. NiSource the utility will remain focused on being a utility, and Columbia Gas will be spun off into it’s own company called Columbia Pipeline Group (CPG) under a master limited partnership (MLP) structure. MLPs issue “units” instead of shares of stock–although functionally they are about the same thing. Here’s the details from NiSource…
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Thailand & Japan Partner to Build 3rd Big Marcellus Ethane Cracker

Word has leaked out that Thailand’s largest chemical company–Bangkok-based PTT Global Chemical–and Japan’s fifth largest general trading company/conglomerates–Tokyo-based Marubeni Corp.–have formed an alliance and are actively looking to build an ethane cracker plant in the Marcellus/Utica region. The first such ethane cracker was announced by Shell in 2012, to be located in Beaver County, PA. The second was announced last year by Odebrecht, targeted to be built in Parkersburg, WV. We also recently told you about a “baby cracker”–a much smaller version of an ethane cracker coming to Monroe County, OH (see Ohio to Get “Baby” Ethane Cracker Originally Slated for WV). The PTT/Marubeni cracker will be the third big/major cracker plant for the northeast–with the caveat “if built” (which applies to all of these projects). The word on the street is that PTT/Marubeni have been looking for nearly a year…
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OH Utica Shale’s Most Productive Wells in 2Q14

Recently released production numbers from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) show a bit of a surprise. The single most productive Utica Shale well during second quarter 2014 (April – June) was from one of the smallest drillers. A well drilled by Hall Drilling (headquartered in West Virginia) in Monroe County, OH produced 1.43 billion cubic feet of natural gas during 2Q14. Other top-producing wells were drilled by Gulfport Energy, Antero Resources and Hess. Here’s some numbers…
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WV Receives 4 Bids to Drill Under the Ohio River

West Virginia doesn’t let any grass grow under their feet when it comes to the drilling industry. They are pro-drilling, by and large, and when they get an idea, they run with it. Latest example: Barely a month ago WV officials announced they will lease the land under portions of the Ohio River, to allow Marcellus/Utica drilling (see State of WV Looks to Lease Area Under Ohio River for Drilling). Last Friday they opened bids from four different drillers. Here’s what they found…
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Did DEP Mishandle Range Wastewater Impoundment Investigation?

Range Resources has had a long-running dispute with some of the neighbors near some of it’s wastewater impoundments in Washington, PA. Without recounting the details (see MDN’s previous stories here), the entire thing came to a head recently when the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) completed their investigation and fined Range the highest amount any driller has paid so far in the modern shale drilling era (see PA DEP Fines Range Resources $4.15M for Wastewater Impoundments). Part of the deal is that Range is closing those impoundments. There are, of course, legal actions involved, as you might expect. One of the neighbors near the Yeager impoundment sued Range with claims of well water contamination from chemicals leaking from the impoundment. The DEP determined the landowner’s well was not contaminated by the Range impoundment and the landowner challenged that finding in DEP’s version of court, the Environmental Hearing Board. Testimony at the hearing last week from a DEP official about the investigation indicates the DEP “might have used incomplete and inaccurate test information to decide whether chemicals leaking…contaminated a water well and springs”…
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Stone Energy: 1st Utica Well Drilled, 5 Extra Marcellus Wells

Stone Energy, an independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company headquartered in Lafayette, Louisiana with operations both on- and off-shore (and with an active drilling program in the Marcellus and Utica region) released an update today. Stone says they’ve drilled their first Utica well and will test it later this year. They also say they will drill 35 Marcellus wells total this year–up from the originally forecast 30 Marcellus wells…
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Canadian Driller Gets Permit for 1st Horizontal Well in Quebec

Devonian layer shale and limestone layers don’t stop at our border with Canada. In fact, some of the Utica Shale lies north of the border, in Quebec. The problem in Canada, as in New York State, is that the government largely prevents active shale drilling. However, a sliver of sanity poked through in Quebec and in July a “junior” oil and gas exploration company, Junex, announced they’ve been granted a permit to drill their first horizontal well in a rural area 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the town of Gaspé. The well targets the Forillon Formation–a limestone formation in the Devonian layer (where the Marcellus and Utica are found). Apparently the “junior” Junex thinks they may have a tiger by the tail, because their board has just adopted a shareholder rights plan that puts a speed bump on any attempts at a hostile takeover of the company…
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Will ‘Dominion South’ Replace ‘Henry Hub’ for Natgas Pricing?

From time to time MDN will cover stories about the price of natural gas because price determines whether or not drillers will bother to sink holes in the ground to extract natgas. One area we’ve not delved into a great deal is the trading of natural gas. We prefer to point you to top notch publications like NGI’s Daily Gas Price Index for stories about the price of natgas. However, there is a story out today from Reuters that talks about a possible change coming in how the price of natgas gets quoted. A really big change…
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Rigmaids to the Rescue – Cleaning Up After Dirty Men (and Women)

Let’s be honest, men are sometimes slobs. Men (and women) who work in a dirty profession like operating equipment at a drill pad, can generate a lot of filth. That’s where Pennsylvania company Rigmaids comes in. At every well pad is at least one (usually more) trailers where the men (and women) hang out–wash their hands, track mud, store food in refrigerators that sometimes go bad–the list goes on. Rigmaids will visit the pad site and clean out those filthy trailers and make them sparkle again. For a price…
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