The Real Story of Why Forced Pooling Bill Failed in WV

knickers in a twistYesterday MDN reported a story that (so far) few others have bothered to report: West Virginia’s House Bill (HB) 2688 failed to gain passage at literally the eleventh hour–one hour before the annual 60-day session ended (see Republicans (!) Help Defeat WV Forced Pooling at 11th Hour). We believed, and repeated, the reporting we saw on the final vote–that Republicans were largely responsible for the last minute defeat of the bill. That was inaccurate. We were contacted yesterday by Ron Hayhurst, head of the West Virginia Royalty Owners Association, who was himself very much a part of brokering what he believes is the best possible bill (HB2688) to protect mineral rights owners in the Mountain State. Ron told us the last minute change in the House vote had nothing to do with Republicans defecting–and he is right. Although House Del. Pat McGeehan (a Republican) voted “no” both times, he was not the hero of the day, as reported in some media accounts. The truth is this: WV Democrats got their knickers in a twist over losing several other votes last Saturday and they decided to punish the Republicans by denying them passage of this bill. The original House vote was 60-40 in favor of HB2688. The final vote was 49-49 tie (with 2 people missing in action for the final vote). Of the 11 who changed their votes (names below) from “yes” the first time to “no” the second time–all 11 were Democrats. There were two Republicans who changed from an original “no” to vote “yes”–but it wasn’t enough to eke out a win. Hayhurst says when forced pooling is passed (a question of when, not if) the bill may not be as favorable to mineral rights owners as this one was…
Continue reading

What’s Wrong with the Employment Picture in the Marcellus? Ageism.

ageismThis is not an easy story to write. It’s about employment in the Marcellus Shale industry–and about age discrimination. Until late last year, by all accounts the Marcellus Shale industry was, from a jobs perspective, going great guns. Yes, sometimes it was/is necessary to import workers from other states to handle specialized jobs. But increasingly the jobs have been going to local workers and not out-of-staters. Yesterday we received a heartfelt letter (below) from an MDN subscriber. This gentleman is a mechanical engineer with degrees from Penn State and Lafayette College. He has loads of experience in a variety of areas–engineering, contracting, even running a small business. He wants to get involved with the greatest industry on the planet–the Marcellus Shale energy industry. He can paper every room in his house with the number of resumes and job applications he’s filled out. He’s applied for everything from technician to field hand to roustabout (he’s physically fit). In the last five years that he’s been trying, he hasn’t been called for a single interview. Not one. He’s now 52 years old. We don’t like calling attention to stories like this one, but MDN doesn’t shy away from sharing the “bad news” about our beloved industry along with the overwhelming good news…
Continue reading

Important & Overlooked Details on PA Gov Wolf’s Severance Tax

More details continue to come out about PA Gov. Tom Wolf’s Marcellus-killing severance tax. For example, did you know that towns and counties that previously received money from the impact fee will continue to get money under this tax–but that the amount they get will be capped? Under the existing impact fee the more drilling in an area the more money that area receives to compensate for the drilling (roads that need repairing, beefing up first responders, etc.). No more. Under Wolf’s plan, there is an upper limit on how much money he’s willing to give those locations that actually see drilling. The rest, you see, must go to pay off campaign debts to teachers unions. Another fatal flaw in Wolf’s severance tax: He calculates the tax based on $2.97 per thousand cubic feet sale price, regardless of what the actual sale price is. Do you know what the sale price for natural gas at the Leidy hub was on March 13th? It was $1.435/Mcf–about half of what Wolf is using as the standard rate. That means the effective tax rate for drillers selling gas for $1.435 is twice what it is for drillers selling at Wolf’s magical $2.97. What do you think drillers in northeast PA (near the Leidy hub) will do? That’s right. Shut in their wells and lay down their rigs…
Continue reading

PA Gov Tom Wolf Supports DRBC Moratorium on Marcellus Drilling

As we’ve stated a number of times, newly-elected PA Gov. Tom Wolf is a major disappointment–a man out of his depth in attempting to run an entire state. Now comes word that Wolf supports the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) anti-drilling policies that prevent drilling in his own state. We previously told you Wolf had employed the former anti-drilling head of the DRBC as a member of his transition team (see PA Gov-Elect Wolf Transition Team Includes DRBC’s Carol Collier). Two weeks ago, Wolf proposed increasing the DRBC’s budget by 73%, while states like New York and New Jersey continue to refuse paying their fair share (see PA Gov Wolf Increases DRBC Funding by 73% to 3/4 Million Bucks). Now he adds insult to injury by saying he supports the drilling ban in Wayne and Pike counties in his own state…
Continue reading

Atlantic Sunrise Will Pump $1.6B into Economy, Create 8K Jobs

Williams pushed out a new economic analysis of their Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project yesterday. The project, if built, will cost $2.1 billion and consist of compression and looping of the Transco Leidy Line in Pennsylvania along with a greenfield pipeline segment, called the Central Penn Line, connecting the northeastern Marcellus producing region to the Transco mainline near Station 195 in southeastern Pennsylvania. Additional existing Transco facilities are being added or modified to allow gas to flow bi-directionally. The preliminary project design includes 178 miles of new greenfield pipe (Central Penn North & Central Penn South), two pipeline loops totaling about 12 miles (Chapman Loop, Unity Loop), 2.5 miles of existing pipeline replacement, two new compressor facilities in PA, and other facility additions or modifications in five states (PA, MD, VA, NC, SC). There’s been some push back by small groups of anti-drillers in places like Lebanon County and Lancaster County (PA) where a phony Indian tribe claims the pipeline will run through ancient burial grounds (see Convicted Lancaster Protesters Taunt Williams After Court Date). Meanwhile, the adults at Williams continue to make progress. The analysis they released yesterday shows the Atlantic Sunrise project will pump $1.6 billion into the economies of the states where it’s built, and create 8,000 jobs…
Continue reading

Is Natgas a Good Long-Term Fuel to Fire Electric Plants?

Last week MDN told you the Union of So-Called Concerned Scientists had issued a “report” (rather unscientific, written by someone with a political science degree) to say even though Obama’s war on coal has been successful, it’s having the unintended consequence of electric generation power plants switching from coal to natural gas to fire them. UCS and other so-called green groups irrationally hate fossil fuels and want the switching to be from coal to so-called renewables, like solar and wind. So in an effort to besmirch and call into doubt the long-term viability of natural gas as a fuel source to generate electricity, UCS issued a report saying using natural gas to power electric plants is a “gamble” (see UCS “Report” Says Using Natural Gas for Electric Generation Big Gamble). The theory is that natural gas will run out in a few years, or become obscenely expensive, and all of those natgas-fired electric plants will mean super high electric rates. The problem with such “reports” is something called reality. We just noticed a press release from Midland Cogeneration Venture (MCV), the country’s largest natural-gas fired combined heat and electrical power generating plant, located in Michigan. The release was to commemorate an important milestone for MCV–the plant has been up and operating and supplying enough electricity for one million homes PLUS electricity and steam for major industry facilities, for the last 25 years
Continue reading

Eureka Hunter Pipeline Volume Continues to Expand, now 623 Mmcf/d

Every few months Eureka Hunter, the midstream subsidiary of Magnum Hunter Resources, issues a press release to update investors on their progress toward filling their WV/OH pipeline system with natural gas. Eventually they hope to flow 1 billion cubic feet per day through the system. Last September Eureka reported they were up to an average 307 million cubic feet per day (see Magnum Hunter’s Pipeline System Boosts Volumes in OH/WV). In January they were up to 400 Mmcf/d and expecting to hit 500 Mmcf/d by the end of that month (see Eureka Hunter Nears 1/2 Billion Cubic Feet per Day in WV/OH). As of last Friday, Eureka has hit north of 623 Mmcf/d on their path to a billion cubic feet…
Continue reading