Wolf’s Severance Tax Threat Costs Small PA Town $315,000

threatTwo weeks ago the hapless newly elected governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, introduced a new 7.5% severance tax plan to soak the Marcellus Shale industry in his state (see PA Gov Wolf Proposes Marcellus-Killing 7.5% Severance Tax). Wolf wants to target one industry, oil and gas, to give their hard-earned money away to another industry, teachers. He’s trying to pay back all of those good union voters in Philadelphia who elected him. But Wolf’s threat of a tax is already having very tangible consequences. Huntley & Huntley Energy Exploration has pulled out of a deal to lease 90 acres of land owned by Harmar Township (Allegheny County), PA. That just cost Harmar $315,000. Why did Huntley & Huntley pull out? The uncertainty over Wolf’s severance tax. If the tax passes, a great deal of drilling in PA’s Marcellus Shale will be idled–and that’s not idle speculation…
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Cabot Cuts 2015 Budget 44%, Will Drill 70 New Marcellus Wells

Last week Cabot Oil & Gas issued its fourth quarter 2014 and full year 2014 update, along with guidance on what they plan to do for 2015. In October Cabot said they would spend upward of $1.6 billion on drilling in 2015 and planned to grow their production a very healthy 20-30% (see Cabot O&G 3Q14: A Wandering Eye + Welcome to the 2 Bcf/d Club!). Last week Cabot slashed the budget to $900 million and their new planned growth projection is 10-18%. Cabot also said they’re downsizing their rig fleet–in the Marcellus they’re going from 5 rigs to 3, and in the Eagle Ford (Texas) they’re cutting back from 3 rigs to 1. Revenue for 2014 was down 63% over 2013 due mostly to the low price of natgas along with certain other “impairment” charges. Amidst the bad news of budget cuts and lower revenue, there was really good news: Cabot hit a new production high of 531.8 billion cubic feet in 2014, up 29% from 2013; proved reserves increased 36%–to 7.4 trillion cubic feet equivalent; and they still plan to drill upward of 70 new wells in 2015 in the PA Marcellus (in Susquehanna County)…
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Harrison County, OH Hauls in $1.6M in 2 Weeks from Utica Leases

Even though the price of oil and natural gas is depressed, there are still lease deals happening–particularly in the Ohio Utica Shale region–that make your eyes pop out. Whoops! Just had to put an eyeball back in. It popped out at the latest lease numbers coming from Harrison County, OH where they’ve taken in $1.6 million over the past couple of weeks…
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OH Anti-Drillers on Rampage after Supreme Court Home Rule Decision

anarchyThere’s a stark difference between pro-drillers and anti-drillers. Take pro-drillers in New York State as an example. NY landowners have had their property rights stripped away by a lawless (and spineless) governor–Andy Cuomo. Yet NY landowners soldier on. When the state’s highest court handed them an unfair and crushing blow by allowing municipalities to ban drilling, they continued to make their case and use whatever means they can–within the law–to advance their cause. NY landowners hate the fact that Cuomo and the courts have bastardized the law in the Empire State, but they continue to recognize the rule of law and abide by it. They are good citizens. Let’s contrast that with anti-drillers–say those in Ohio. When a court decision goes against anti-drillers, like the recent OH Supreme Court ruling (see OH Supreme Court Strikes Down Home Rule in Gas Drilling Case), anti-drillers in OH huffily declare they “reject” the decision. In other words, they’re lawless, like the members of the Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN)…
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WV Moundsville Electric Generating Plant to Burn Methane + Ethane!

Since April of last year, MDN has written about and monitored a new project to build a $615 million electrical generating plant in Marshall County, WV that will burn Marcellus Shale gas (see MDN stories about it here). Called Moundsville Power, the project received a final green light last week (see Marshall Co Gas-Powered Electric Plant Gets WV Green Light). Andrew Dorn, managing partner for Moundsville Power, recently shed more light on the project. Dorn gave a timeframe for when construction will begin, along with some other interesting factoids. Here’s something we didn’t know: the new plant will be one of the first in the U.S. to burn ethane…
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Update on Bakken Oil Train Derailment in WV; Unreported Fact

Last week MDN told you about the latest train derailment hauling Bakken crude oil that occurred in West Virginia (see Bakken Oil Train Derails in WV: Destroys House, 2 Towns Evacuated). The good news is that no one was injured in the accident. However, it was/is a major disruption in the area where it happened, in Fayette County. Some of the oil ended up in the Kanawha River, one house was destroyed and two towns were evacuated. What a mess. We have an update on where things stand, along with new news that the rail cars hauling the crude were NOT the older DOT-111 style cars that have been criticized as not being strong enough–but indeed they were the newer CPC 1232 tanker cars…
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Will DEP Sec Quigley Intentionally Miss Deadline for New Drilling Regs?

Last week MDN gave you the heads up that new “acting” Sec. of the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection, John Quigley, is already signaling his desire to clamp down on the Marcellus industry. He mass-fired the members of the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board (OGTAB)–something no other governor and head of the DEP has done in living memory (see Why did PA DEP Acting Sec Quigley Mass Fired Gas Advisory Board?). Scott Perry, deputy secretary of the DEP, says long-awaited new regulations formulated after the Act 13 law was passed in 2012 will not be delayed because of the mass firings on the OGTAB. Others, however, are not so sure. We still see tremors of a coming earthquake in which Wolf/Quigley screw around and miss the deadline (intentionally) and then rewrite the new regulations once again, to suit their own proclivities on drilling…
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MarkWest Energy Accused of Using Non-Union, Non-Ohio Workers

the foreignerCalling OH Gov. John “foreigner hunter” Kasich. We have an infraction! Quick! You’re needed, stat. Word has leaked out that MarkWest Energy has not only reduced the number of union members they’re using on jobs in Harrison County, OH, they’re using non-union (gasp) out-of-state workers–from exotic places like Texas and Louisiana and Oklahoma. Those places have been defined by John Kasich as “foreign” locations (i.e. non-Ohio). Periodically the jingoist-in-chief gets on his high horse and goes riding after those darned foreigners (see OH Gov. Kasich Continues Trash Talk Out-of-State Workers and OH Gov. Kasich Goes After Out-of-State Engineers/Surveyors and OH Gov. Kasich Goes Foreigner-Hunting in Strasburg and OH Gov. Kasich Dedicates Hickory Bend Plant, No Foreigners Found). Well, we’ve found the site of another infraction…
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NY Anti-Drillers Still Unhappy — Maybe (Another) Meeting Will Fix It?

EeyoreNew York’s anti-drillers are still not happy–even after winning a ban by pressuring a spineless governor. They continue to rally and agitate and spread lies and threats and tell scary stories of environmental boogeymen…”that pipeline’ll kill ya”…”the fracked gas comin’ out the stove has radon in it”…”the compressor station three miles from your house that you didn’t even know existed is poisonin’ Mother Earth.” Why do they persist long after they’ve won? Are they empty in the soul and only find meaning in these silly pursuits and endless meetings? Do they have otherwise meaningless lives? Is there a permanent cloud over their heads no matter the circumstance? Who knows. Here’s the latest “fracking will still kill New Yorkers–even though there is no fracking in New York” event this Thursday, starring the so-called “distinguished scholar in residence” at Ithaca College, Sandra Steingraber…
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McClendon Hires Top PR Firm to Respond to “Stolen Data” Charge

Last week we told you about the silly lawsuit filed by Chesapeake Energy against its former co-founder and CEO Aubrey McClendon (see Chesapeake Energy Sues McClendon for Taking His Rolodex with Him). Chesapeake says McClendon took a bunch of data with him when he left and (gasp) used it to aggressively lease property in the Ohio Utica Shale. That is, they’re ticked that Aubrey continues to outclass them in every conceivable way. Did they think he’d just shrivel up and die after they tossed him out the door? Get real! Aubrey isn’t taking it lying down. This is a public relations battle as much as a court battle and in addition to having ace attorneys, Aubrey has hired one of the top PR firms in the country–Edleman–to respond to the Chesapeake lawsuit…
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