ATEX Express Ethane Pipeline Now Fixed, 100% Back Online Today

Aaannnd, we're backSometime today, the Appalachia-to-Texas Express (ATEX) ethane pipeline will once again be fully operational. On January 26 a section of the pipeline in Brooke County, WV ruptured and caught fire (see ATEX Ethane Pipeline Explodes, Burns in Brooke County, WV). The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is investigating but so far they don’t have a final determination. When that section of the pipeline went offline, two of four processing facilities that feed ethane to the line we bumped off. Starting today, all four processing plants will once again be flowing ethane through the ATEX…
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EPA Sees Connection Between Some Injection Wells & Earthquakes

On February 5th the Underground Injection Control National Technical Workgroup, part of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, released their final report on a potential link between wastewater injection wells (called Class II wells) and earthquakes. To which we say, we knew a probable connection existed three plus years ago. That’s the typical lag you get with when the federal government “investigates” something. The report is titled “Minimizing and Managing Potential Impacts of Injection-Induced Seismicity from Class II Disposal Wells: Practical Approaches” (the full 415-page copy is embedded below). The report says, in essence, while they can’t prove there’s connection between injection wells in some locations and earthquakes, the relationship is “undeniable.” MDN’s comment: What everyone acknowledges is that when you inject fluid into the earth over an active fault line, that fluid acts like grease and eventually the rock layers can, in RARE circumstances, slip and slide, causing a LOW LEVEL earthquake–typically so light no one feels it at the surface. The EPA study was based on cases from four states, two of them (OH & WV) in the Marcellus/Utica region…
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Potter County, PA Hospital Leases Land to JKLM for Utica Drilling

UPDATE: A sharp MDN reader tipped us with more of the details on this deal. The Cole property is 742.9 acres (located in the Townships of Eulalia and Sweden, and in the Borough of Coudersport); the lease signing bonus payment is reportedly $2,200 per acre, which makes the up-front payment to Cole Memorial a whopping $1,634,380; and the royalty is rumored to be 15%. Thanks to our great reader!

Cole Memorial Hospital in Coudersport (Potter County), PA has reportedly signed a lease with JKLM Energy to allow shale drilling on a “substantial amount” of hospital-owned property. What we don’t know about the deal is more than we do know. We don’t know how many acres. We don’t know how much the signing bonus was for. And we don’t know what royalty was agreed to. How’s that for good reporting? What we do know is that they signed a lease, JKLM has “ties” to Buffalo “Marcellus” Bills owner Terry Pegula. JKLM is potentially interested in the Utica layer and they will only be allowed to drill on non-hospital campus property…
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Latest Tax Marcellus Bill from Rep Tina Davis: Effective Rate of 11%

It’s another day, must be time for another liberal Pennsylvania Democrat to propose taxing the the Marcellus industry into oblivion, and right on cue PA Rep. Tina Davis (Bucks County, near Philadelphia) has introduced one. Her plan goes well beyond the plan offered earlier this week by PA Gov. Tom Wolf. Wolf’s plan is for a 7.5% tax, that taken with the existing state corporate income tax pushes an effective severance tax rate to well over 10%. That’s not enough for the tax ravenous Tina Davis: She not only wants a 5.2% severance tax with 4.6 cents per Mcf (effective rate of maybe 8% total), she wants to keep the current impact fee, which is another 3% (not the 1.9% claimed), creating an effective rate of somewhere around 11%. Let’s just save the Dems some time: Tax the Marcellus industry 99% and let those money-grubbing corporations keep 1%. That’s what PA Dems really want. What’s that? You say not all money earned by corporations (and citizens) belongs to the government? You silly goose. Of course it all belongs to the state…
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WPX CEO Riffs on Company Strategy Change from Gas to Oil Drilling

bad timingSome people, and some companies, just have plain old bad luck and rotten timing. Like WPX Energy. WPX didn’t like the business it was in–drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania, so they’ve sold off 46,700 acres and 63 operational wells in northeastern PA to Southwestern Energy for $300 million (see WPX Finalizes Sale of NEPA Marcellus Leases/Wells to Southwestern). They still have some acreage in southwest PA they’re trying to dump. What has WPX’s attention these days? What’s the all-fire hurry to get out of the northeast? They’re trying to convert the company from gas to oil drilling–just in time for oil prices to go as low as they’ve been in a generation. Talk about bad timing!…
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More Silly Antics from Antis at FERC PennEast Pipeline Hearing

We’ve been to a number of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) scoping hearings, as well as hearings by the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation. Whether it’s a hearing on pipelines, compressor stations or shale drilling, anti-fossil fuel nutters always show up and it seems as if they read from the same script every time. The latest example of that comes from Carbon County, PA where the silly antics of antis was on full display once again, this time at a FERC hearing on the PennEast Pipeline. Example: One anti-pipeline nutter used part of her 3 minutes of talk time to read the lyrics from a Disney movie (boggles the mind)…
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Williams CEO Says Pipeline Opposition Equals More Coal Use

In a recent interview, the CEO of Williams, Alan Armstrong, was quite candid: The problem slowing natural gas pipeline development is not the low price of oil and gas–it’s politics. Armstrong says he would prefer federal oversight, by FERC, shutting out “local voices” that muck up the works. We’re not sure we totally agree with that viewpoint. Freedom and liberty are messy things, but we understand his sentiment. Armstrong points out there’s no one “who’s in charge” when it comes to pipelines, and process which makes for endless debates and trying to reconcile innumerable opinions…
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Halliburton Laying Off Up to 6,400, Says Baker Hughes Not a Factor

Halliburton, the county’s second largest oilfield services company, announced earlier this week they’re laying off some 6.5% to 8% of their 80,000 employees, which translates to 5,000 to 6,500 jobs. The company Halliburton is buying, Baker Hughes, announced in January they are laying off 11% of their workforce (see Baker Hughes Announces 7,000 Layoffs Due to Low Oil Price). Also in January, the country’s (and world’s) largest oilfield services company, Schlumberger, laid of 9,000 workers (see Schlumberger Firing 9,000 to Reduce Head Count, “Low Oil Prices”). To which we say, it’s getting ugly out there…
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EV Energy Partners CEO Resigning, VP/CFO Promoted

Changes are coming at the top of EV Energy Partners (EVEP). Mark Houser, current president and CEO, will resign at the end of February. Houser will remain on the board. In his place, EVEP is promoting Michael Mercer, senior VP and CFO, to the top post of president/CEO. EVEP says the move was planned. EVEP, you may recall, has been trying to unload a hoard of Utica Shale acreage (more than a half million acres) for the past three years–largely unsuccessfully (see EVEP’s Mark Houser Says More Utica Acreage Sales Ahead in 2014). They recently sold their interest in Cardinal Midstream to a pair of South Korean companies (see Total, EVEP Sell Interest in Cardinal Midstream to S Koreans for $612M). Perhaps Mercer will have more luck shopping their considerable inventory of Utica acreage?…
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New Study: Most Natgas Processing Facilities Leak < 1% Methane

The EPA is getting ready to drop draconian new regulations on the oil and gas industry claiming that methane is leaking out everywhere. A major field study led by Colorado State University and published this week in the peer reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology examined 114 gathering facilities and 16 processing plants across 13 states looking for methane leaks. What did they find? The vast majority natural gas facilities had minuscule leak rates of less than 1%…
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