Rumor Mill: Indian Oil Co Wants to Buy Chesapeake Energy

rumor millCarl Ichan, corporate raider and puppet master at Chesapeake Energy, must be rubbing his hands together in glee. The rumor mill is buzzing that Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC), the state-run national oil company of India, is “aggressively” pursuing Chesapeake–to buy it. It appears ONGC wants to buy the whole company, although we don’t know that for sure. The ONGC/Chessy buzz has Chessy’s stock trading higher, which delights Mr. Ichan. Here’s what we’re able to find about this latest rumor…
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WV Leases Another 1,400 Acres Under Ohio River for Drilling

More drilling under the Ohio River is about to become reality. Last October, MDN told you about the deal to lease a 232-acre tract of land around and under the Ohio River in Marshall County, WV. The state leased the land for drilling to Gastar Exploration for $3,500 per acre plus a 20% royalty (see Gastar Wins Lease to Drill Under Ohio River in WV). That deal netted WV a tidy signing bonus check for $812,000, to say nothing of the royalties they’ll get once the gas starts to flow. WV liked that deal and decided to put more land under the river on the market (see WV Looks to Lease More Ohio River, Other State Land for Drilling). Yesterday the state confirmed they are close to finalizing a deal with Noble Energy to lease another 1,400 acres of state-owned land around and under the Ohio River–also in Marshall County. This new deal also nets the state $3,500 per acre, or $4.9 million, as a signing bonus…
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Rex Energy: Production Up 66% in 2014, New Drilling Area in 2015

Rex Energy, the little energy company that could (and does) successfully drill in the Marcellus and Utica Shale, announced in December that they would reduce their drilling budget in the Marcellus by 44% in 2015 (see Rex Energy Reduces 2015 Marcellus/Utica Drilling Budget by 44%). Yesterday the company released an operational update for 2014 that shows production was up 66% in 2014 over 2013 numbers. Fourth quarter production numbers were up 15% over third quarter. In addition, Rex has begun drilling a series of Marcellus wells in a new area of Butler County, what they call the Moraine East Area. They plan to drill drill 10 to 16 wells in the Moraine East Area and complete 4 to 10 wells in 2015. Here’s the rundown from Rex for what happened in 2014, and what they intend to do in 2015…
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Total Scales Back Investment in Utica Shale, Blames Low Oil Price

Total (pronounced “toe-tail”), is a French multinational integrated oil and gas company and one of the six “supermajor” oil companies in the world. Yesterday the relatively new CEO of Total, Patrick Pouyanne, announced that he’s scaling back in the North Sea fields and in U.S. shale plays. In 2012, Total plowed more than $2 billion into the Utica Shale, partnering with Chesapeake Energy (see Chesapeake Sells More of its Utica Leases to Total). In September 2014, Total sold off a smallish investment they had in Cardinal Midstream, a Utica midstream company, to South Korean investors for $400 million (see Total, EVEP Sell Interest in Cardinal Midstream to S Koreans for $612M). Patrick Pouyanne became CEO of Total last October after a freak runway accident killed Total’s colorful and long-time CEO Christophe de Margerie (see French Supermajor Total CEO Killed in Freak Runway Accident). Pouyanne is now making his mark on the company. He blames the plunge in oil prices for his action. Here’s what Pouyanne said at a conference in Davos, Switzerland earlier this morning…
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Baker Hughes Announces 7,000 Layoffs Due to Low Oil Price

Although Baker Hughes, one of the largest oilfield services companies in the United States, had “record high” revenue in 2014 ($24.6 billion for the year), the company announced yesterday that they will lay off 7,000 employees in the first three months of 2015. This comes on the heals of Sclumberger’s announcement that they will lay off 9,000 (see Schlumberger Firing 9,000 to Reduce Head Count, “Low Oil Prices”). Both companies have a major presence in the Marcellus/Utica and both blame low oil prices for the layoffs. Their customers (exploration and production companies) are scaling back and not drilling as much, and for what drilling they do they are now squeezing oilfield services companies like crazy to lower costs. It certainly makes sense, on paper, for these companies to take drastic actions like this. But that’s not much comfort for the 7,000 families who are losing the jobs. Baker Hughes employs 62,000 people. The 7,000 jobs cut represent 11% of their workforce. Baker Hughes CEO Martin Craighead called the coming layoffs the “crappy part” of his job and the thing he really “hates” about the drilling industry…
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Anti-Fracking Protesters Spoil PA Governor Inauguration Ceremony

Yesterday, Democrat anti-drilling protesters spoiled the inauguration of one of their own–Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (Democrat, wants to tax the shale drilling industry into oblivion). There were “more than 100” very loud demonstrators outside of the inauguration according to the AP, which in partisan liberal math translates into “several hundred” protesters for PBS’s StateImpact Pennsylvania. Eight of these ill-behaved children adults were were so loud and obnoxious Pennsylvania State Police arrested and removed them. Two of them stood up during the inauguration speech hollering “ban fracking now” and were removed by State Police. The “ban fracking now” chant could be heard throughout the inauguration–spoiling the ceremony for everyone. According to those who organized this shameful performance, they were emboldened by New York’s recent ban–hoping if they can make enough noise and throw enough temper tantrums, they’ll get PA to ban it too. (Hey, it worked for them when they were children, why wouldn’t it work now?)…
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WV Gov Earl Ray Tomblin Praises Marcellus Shale During Speech

At Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s inauguration yesterday, Wolf didn’t even mention the word “Marcellus” and said nothing of shale drilling in the state beyond a vague statement about the state being “blessed with an abundance of natural resources” which includes “gas.” Compare Wolf’s total lack of acknowledgement of the Marcellus and the key role it plays in Pennsylvania with the West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s State of the State speech last week, a speech in which he positively gushes about the Marcellus, by name. Tomblin even treats two representatives from Southwestern Energy present in the audience as exalted guests, asking them to stand for applause (Southwestern has just invested $5 billion in WV). The kicker: both governors are Democrats. In part, here’s what Tomblin said last week in his annual speech to the state:
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Poll: Majority of NYers Support Cuomo’s Frack Ban – Or Do They?

Results of a new statewide poll for New York were released yesterday by Siena College. Siena provides one of the leading polls of political issues and politicians in the state. We’ve covered their polls many times. The media coverage of this latest poll is a meme that Siena themselves are pushing: there is “overwhelming support” for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ban on fracking in the state–both Upstate and Downstate. That’s the meme, that’s the template/narrative they want you to believe. However, when we look at the poll numbers, we find a lot that Andrew Cuomo should be VERY concerned about. For example, how does he launch a legitimate campaign for president when nearly half of all New Yorkers (40%) either have an “unfavorable” opinion or indicate they have “no opinion” of him? Nearly half! There’s no way you win a national election when the voters in your own state don’t like you. Let’s dig in to the numbers and see what the real story of this poll tells us…
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Obama’s Faint Praise of Natgas in State of Union, Inhofe’s Rebuttal

Last night was the second-to-last State of the Union speech to be given by our Dear Leader, Barack Hussein Obama (hallelujah!). While Obama gave credit to the oil and gas industry for generating most of the jobs created during his pathetic presidency, he also said he wants to regulate it more. Typical. He persists in calling carbon, the stuff you breathe out with every breath, “pollution” and he’s hellbent on regulating it–even though at the same time he admits we’re producing less of it! Go figure. Below we have the section of Obama’s speech where he talks about energy, including shale gas, along with the response from Sen. Jim Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. We love Inhofe–he doesn’t suffer fools well and he minces no words about Obama’s out-of-control regulatory mandates. We like Inhofe’s take: Americans are resilient. Together we can survive the Obama Administration…
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Top Marcellus Shale Attorney Michael Joy Heads West

BakerHostetler, one of the country’s top energy law firms, has lured MDN friend Michael Joy away from the Marcellus/Utica region to the sunnier mile-high climes of Denver, Colorado. Michael is an attorney with a long and distinguished resume. He also has a Ph.D. in geology. Michael once taught oil and gas law in the only program that teaches it in New York State (University at Buffalo). He later joined the Reed Smith law firm in Pittsburgh, practicing oil and gas law with the firm. Now he’s heading west, to help BakerHostetler with clients interested in expanding into the Marcellus/Utica. Our first memory of Michael was hearing him present at a Binghamton landowners meeting back in March 2011 (see Sizable Crowd Gathers in Binghamton to Hear Hear Expert Panel Discuss Marcellus Drilling’s Potential Impact on New York). We’ll never forget, at that meeting he answered the question, “If NY opens the door to drilling now, would anyone bother to show up and drill?” (see Audience Q&A About Marcellus Shale Drilling at Recent Landowner Meeting in Binghamton, NY). We wish Michael the very best in his new move. Here’s more about that move and Michael’s distinguished background…
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