ATEX Ethane Pipeline Explodes, Burns in Brooke County, WV

Follansbee pipeline fireYesterday morning a section of the 20-inch ATEX (Appalachia to Texas) ethane pipeline ruptured and caught fire in Follansbee (Brooke County), WV. No one was injured but two families living nearby were evacuated as a precaution. The first calls of an explosion and fire came around 10:40 am yesterday. The cause of the rupture is not yet known…
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Hess Cuts Utica Drilling Budget 42% for 2015

Hess Corporation, with some 90,000 leased acres in the Ohio Utica Shale, announced yesterday they are whacking their Utica budget, reducing it by 42% for 2015. Last year Hess spent $500 million in the Utica. This year they plan to spend $290 million and drill 20-25 wells (around $11-$12 million per well). Hess will continue their joint venture with CONSOL Energy in the Ohio Utica. Here’s the announcement from yesterday:
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More Bids to Drill Under WV State-Owned Land, Incl Ohio River

West Virginia keeps up its aggressive push to lease and allow drilling under state-owned land–both under the Ohio River and under other tracts of state-owned land in prime Marcellus/Utica country. Last Friday the state Dept. of Commerce, responsible for overseeing the leasing program, opened its latest round of bids. Some of them are truly eye-popping. You may recall Antero Resources has paid $12,000 per acre (with 20% royalties) to drill under 518 acres of the Conaway Run Wildlife Management Area (see Record High Bid to Drill Under Bambi’s Home in Tyler County, WV). In the bids opened Friday, Jay Bee bid an even higher price to drill under the Jug Wildlife Management Area, also in Tyler County…
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The Tax Man Returneth — for PA Landowners with Royalties

Landowners who get royalty checks in Pennsylvania beware: the PA tax man may be coming for you. It’s a shame, but landowners who get royalty checks have to employ a bevy of accountants and tax experts in order to file a tax return. Such is life. One of the deductions landowners take from their royalty checks are for production costs. On paper, a landowner may be paid 14% in royalties, but in actuality it works out to be much less. Landowners have to navigate sometimes confusing statements from drillers to put the right numbers in the right boxes. What’s happening now is that the PA Dept. of Revenue is telling some landowners the numbers in the boxes don’t add up–according to their convoluted calculations anyway. And PA wants some of that money back they say should have been paid to them all along. It’s a confusing mess…
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Congressman Proposes Bill to Compensate NY’s Jilted Landowners

Congressman Tom Reed (Republican, Conservative) from the Southern Tier/Twin Tiers area of New York (Corning region) is “leading the charge” in Washington by proposing new legislation that would require states, like New York, to compensate residents when it causes them harm by action or inaction–like the recent Gov. Andrew Cuomo decision to ban fracking in the state. Under Reed’s proposal, called the “Defense of Property Rights Act,” landowners would be entitled to receive $20,000 or 20% of the value of their land. Below is the press release from Reed’s office, a few extra details we’ve gleaned from news accounts, and our own opinion of this strategy…
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Utica Drilling Still Going Strong in Northern Ohio/Columbiana County

Although the received wisdom is that natural gas drilling in Ohio has “moved south” to places like Belmont, Harrison, Guernsey, Noble and Monroe counties, the fact remains there is still a strong and stead program of drilling in counties further north–like Carroll and Columbiana. Point in fact: Who’s drilling in Columbiana County, where are they drilling, and how much are they drilling? We have the latest stats that show a still-thriving Utica Shale industry in Columbiana…
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Why Such Intense Opposition to Pipelines in the Northeast?

An excellent article from the Natural Gas Intelligence’s (NGI) Daily Gas Price Index publication, sister to the excellent Shale Daily, delves into the reasons behind the widespread and ongoing opposition to pipeline projects in the northeast. Pipelines like PennEast from Wilkes-Barre, PA to Trenton, NJ, and the expansion of the mighty Tennessee Gas Pipeline across Massachusetts and New Hampshire, have raised the ire of anti-drillers. The Daily Gas Price Index article delves into the reasons why folks in the northeast are resisting new pipeline projects…
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Guest Post: Bradford Co Landowner Asks Gov. Wolf to Support HB 1684

MDN has written plenty about Pennsylvania’s HB 1684–the Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act (see these MDN articles). In essence, some companies (cough *Chesapeake Energy* cough) have gotten creative with deducting post-production costs from royalty checks. According to the PA Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act of 1979, royalty owners (landowners) must receive no less than 1/8, or 12.5%, by law. But when Chessy and others start deducting this and that, never spelled out in the original lease agreement, landowners are getting the shaft–way lower than 12.5%. In some cases they get royalty checks for a few dollars! Bradford County landowner John Williams is concerned, both about HB 1684 and newly elected Gov. Tom Wolf’s stand on that bill, and about Wolf’s proposed 5% severance tax. Will the severance tax be the next deduction gas companies take, further reducing royalty checks? Is the severance tax Tom Wolf proposes a tax that will be paid, in essence, by landowners? We thank John for his guest post…
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