19 Oil/Gas Companies on “Death List” – 8 are in Marcellus/Utica

The Death ListDavid Fessler is energy and infrastructure strategist (i.e. stock analyst/researcher) with The Oxford Club–a publisher based in Baltimore, Maryland that publishes the Oxford Resource Explorer, among other financial publications. Fessler spends his days immersed in the energy industry and in the stocks of companies in that industry. Fessler and The Oxford Club have produced a special report called “The Oil Company Death List” which is a list of 19 publicly-traded oil and gas companies that, according to a formula worked out by Fessler, will “die soon.” That is, they’ll go bankrupt if they don’t sell themselves or otherwise sell off major assets. Why? They’re “swimming in debt” and way over leveraged with “ugly balance sheets.” Fessler’s simple formula is all about a company’s debt ratio. When a company’s debts reach 4 times or higher its earnings (EBITDA), that’s a huge red flag. Below we have the list of 19 on the “death list” along with a copy of Fessler’s full report (describing his methodology). The interesting/troubling aspect is that 8 of the 19 are Marcellus/Utica operators–one of which is #1 for highest debt-to-earnings ratios. Some companies in the list surprised us–others did not. Is your favorite Marcellus/Utica driller in the list?…
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Parkersburg Cracker Plant Decision May Not Come in 2015 After All

Last week MDN noted having spotted the first cloud over the Odebrect project to build a $3 billion ethane/petrochemical plant near Parkersburg, WV (see First Cloud Appears for Odebrect WV Ethane Cracker Plant Project). Ostensibly it is the low price of oil that’s causing Odebrecht to reconsider whether or not they will move forward with the project. As we pointed out, “reevaluating” doesn’t mean they’ve decided not to move forward. It just means they’re taking their time. There is, however, a marked change in the “feeling” about this project. Prior to recent comments by Odebrecht the very strong presumption is that the project will proceed. Now? That presumption is no longer quite so strong. WV officials, from both the state and from Wood County where the cracker is due to be built, weighed in with their observation that it’s not the location of the cracker that’s in question…
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GreenHunter Keeps Pressure on USCG to Barge Brine on Ohio River

GreenHunter Resources is keeping up the pressure on the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)–essentially daring them to stop GreenHunter from proceeding with barging brine–or produced water–from shale wells down the Ohio River (see GreenHunter to Coast Guard, We’re Barging While You Fiddle Around). In new comments last week, GreenHunter’s Chief Operating Officer Kirk Trosclair reaffirmed his company is proceeding with its plan to begin barging from a facility in Wheeling, WV. Meanwhile, so-called “environmental” groups are organizing and joining forces with the Wheeling Water Warriors (Warriors, Warriors, Warriors…that’s an echo you hear for our superheros) to oppose GreenHunter from barging a substance that isn’t anywhere near as toxic as the chemicals that currently float down the river on barges every single day. Here’s what Trosclair said last week…
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Magnum Hunter 7-Well Pad in WV Online, Yields 80/20 Gas/Liquids

Last week Magnum Hunter Resources announced their recently completed Marcellus Shale well pad in Wetzel County, WV went online to production–all 7 wells on the pad. Combined, the 7 wells are producing an average 35 million cubic feet per day equivalent (MMcfe/d) of natural gas. Actually it works out to be around 17% natural gas liquids, 3% condensate and 80% natural gas/methane flowing from the wells. Here’s the details from MH…
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Lights Out for Marcellus Drilling in Lackawanna/Luzerne Counties

It’s lights out for Marcellus drilling in both Lackawanna and Luzerne counties in northeastern Pennsylvania. Lackawanna and Luzerne are otherwise known and Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, respectively. But it’s not because of the two large cities located in those counties that Marcellus drilling will not be done (there are plenty of rural locations in each). It’s because there’s no gas in the shale layer to be had in those counties–at least not in quantities that are commercially profitable. Over the past five years seven different wells have been drilled in both counties (or very close by in neighboring Columbia County). The seventh and final well, drilled by WPX Energy, has just been plugged and abandoned…
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Some Options Still Available After OH Court Strikes Down Home Rule

Last week we brought you the good news that the Ohio Supreme Court ruled against local municipalities trying to block Utica Shale drilling by using local zoning ordinances (see OH Supreme Court Strikes Down Home Rule in Gas Drilling Case). In Munroe Falls v Beck Energy (sometimes called Morrison v Beck Energy) the supremes said ONLY the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) has the right, under state law, to control when and where drilling occurs. However, according to at least one energy attorney in the state, there’s still a lot local municipalities can do affect–even control–where and when drilling happens. That’s his claim anyway…
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Talisman Energy Sale to Repsol Takes 2 Giant Steps Closer

Not that there was really any doubt, but last week the deal for Spanish oil giant Repsol to buy out Canadian shale driller Talisman Energy took a couple of big leaps forward (see Spanish Respol Buys Marcellus E&P Talisman Energy for $8/Share). Talisman has major drilling operations in the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale. The company was having problems for some time and that invited the vultures, er, corporate raiders to show up (see Carl Icahn’s Claws Go Deeper into Talisman – 2 New Board Members). No doubt under pressure by Ichan’s lieutenants, Talisman had to either sell off key assets, or sell the whole company. They opted to do the later last December. Last week both the shareholders and the Canadian government gave it’s blessing to the sale. Now all that’s left is for the proverbial fat lady to sing…
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PA MCOR Director Goes on the Road — to Alergia

We’ve never been to Algeria, but Thomas Murphy, the co-director of the Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research (MCOR), has. Last week Murphy attended an oil and gas conference in Algiers, Algeria to present on the “American experience” in extracting oil and gas from shale. We don’t have a transcript of his statements, but we do have international reaction. According to reports, Murphy admitted that “the shale industry will always pose some environmental risk” including “the contamination of aquifers, infiltration of natural gas in drinking water or failures related to landfill processes of chemical and radioactive waste are the main risks relating to the exploitation of unconventional gas.” We suspect the comments in context are a simple acknowledgement that you have to be careful and follow regulations to avoid problems. But international Arab media seems to be presenting his comments as some sort of grudging admission that shale drilling pollutes the environment, which of course is not the case (when it’s done properly)…
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