Chevron Settles PA Marcellus Wrongful Death Lawsuit for $5M

gavel on moneyIn February 2014 there was an explosion and fire at a Chevron well pad that eventually spread from one Marcellus well to a second well on the same well pad in Greene County, PA (see Explosion & Fire at Chevron Well in SWPA – 1 Person Missing). Ian McKee, 27, a Cameron International contractor working at the site was tragically killed in the blast (see Remains of Chevron Contractor Found at Greene County Well Site). The final report of the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) investigating the accident concluded there was plenty of blame for Chevron, primarily from using overworked and inexperienced well site managers (see DEP Issues Final Report – What Caused Chevron Well Fire?). Ian’s girlfriend/partner was pregnant at the time of his death. Ian’s parents sued Chevron for wrongful death (see Parents of Worker Killed in Chevron Greene Co Fire Sue). That lawsuit has just been settled for $5 million, broken down as follows…
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Rex Energy to Restart Drilling Near Mars School Following Vote

My Favorite MartianLet the drilling begin! The three members of the Middlesex Zoning Hearing Board (Butler County, PA, where the Mars School District is located) voted unanimously on Wednesday to reject challenges by anti-drillers to changes in zoning laws that allow Rex Energy to drill a series of wells on a pad about 3/4 of a mile from the Mars School. Four Martian parents have worked themselves up into a frenzy, convincing themselves that faraway drilling will harm their precious, innocent lil’ chil’ren. The Martians have enlisted the help of anti-drilling groups from the opposite side of the state–the Philadelphia area–tapping into their deep pockets to fund endless lawsuits and appeals that are costing Middlesex taxpayers big bucks to defend (see Dela. RiverKeeper, Clean Air Council Cost Middlesex Residents $35K+). (By the way, when is the IRS going to investigate THE Delaware Riverkeeper for clear violations of their 501(c)(3) tax exempt status? Riverkeeper continues to operate, politically, far outside of the Delaware River Basin. Their tax exempt status should be revoked.) The zoning board vote was good news for Rex who says they won’t waste any time in returning to the drill site to begin work. By the time the Martians are done suing, the wells will already be drilled…
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Range Capitulates, Closing 4 Freshwater Ponds in Mt. Pleasant, PA

More than two years of acrimony and lawsuits are now over for Range Resources in Mt. Pleasant (Washington County), PA. Mt. Pleasant is one of the original seven selfish towns that sued PA to overturn portions of the Act 13 oil and gas law. The town was giving Range a hard time over four freshwater ponds (called “impoundments,” not to be confused with wastewater impoundments) the company was using to drill wells in nearby non-Mt. Pleasant locations. The town served the company with notices of violation in July 2013 and then held a public hearing in August 2013 where things got heated between the town and Range (see Range Resources Argues with Mt Pleasant over Water Impoundment). Mt. Pleasant kept after them (see Mt. Pleasant Zoning Bd Says Range Water Impoundments in Violation), and after them (see Mt Pleasant Twp Shenanigans re Range Request for Water Ponds), and after them (see Mt. Pleasant, PA Continues to Ride Range Over Water Ponds). Sooner or later a company can take a hint that a township is anti-business. Range is throwing in the towel, closing down all four freshwater ponds, and leaving town…
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Hardrock Pleads Guilty to Illegal Wastewater Dumping, Fined $100K

A final footnote to tell you about concerning the notorious case of illegal frack wastewater dumping near Youngstown, OH that happened in 2012 and 2013. Ben Lupo, previous owner of D&L Energy and its associated company Hardrock Excavating, directed employees to dump frack wastwater hauled by Hardrock into a drain that emptied into a stream that emptied into the Mahoning River near Youngstown, OH (see Youngstown Business Dumped >200K Gal of Untreated Wastewater). It was later discovered that from September 2012 to end of January 2013, Lupo was responsible for dumping at least 30 loads of frack wastewater literally down the drain and into the river. After an investigation and charges, last August Lupo plead guilty and was sentenced to 23 months in prison and a $25,000 fine (see Final Chapter for Youngstown Illegal Wastewater Dumper: Prison & Fine). The final final chapter has now been written. Lupo’s company, Hardrock Excavating, pleaded guilty on Thursday and was fined $100,000. In an interesting twist, the judge ordered $25,000 of that total to be paid to two environmental organizations…
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PA Drought Conditions Begin to Affect Marcellus Drilling

Drought conditions now exist over a large part of Pennsylvania, and because of it, we are beginning to see some impacts on Marcellus Shale drilling. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) oversees water management/withdrawals from streams and rivers in the central and western part of the state. The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) oversees it in the northeastern part of the state. The DEP has not (yet) issued any restrictions, but the SRBC reports that restrictions previously written into water permits for drillers in the northeast have affected the withdrawals of two drillers: Cabot Oil & Gas (in Susquehanna County) and Seneca Resources (in Tioga County)…
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Is Marcellus Production Heading for a Decline? EIA Says Yes

A Reuters story is quoting analysis done by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (our favorite government agency) saying the EIA expects production in the Marcellus to remain flat for the next several years, and then begin a slow decline of 1% or so per year. The EIA prediction is based on the theory that natural gas prices in the Marcellus will remain really low–below $2 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) through 2016, and the average price won’t hit $4/Mcf until 2020 or later. Private analysts (many of them) disagree and say production will continue to climb over the next several years as new pipelines come online and drillers “uncurtail” production that is idled right now. Who’s right?…
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MarkWest Floats Another Round of IOUs–This Time for $1.2B

Back in March, MarkWest Energy floated IOUs, otherwise called unsecured notes, and raised a cool $650 million in cash (see MarkWest Hauls in $650M Cash from New IOUs, Paying Down Old Debt). It worked so well the first time, MarkWest has decided to try it again. This time they’re floating IOUs looking to haul in a whopping $1.2 billion (with a “b”). MarkWest will use some of the proceeds from the new IOUs to pay off older IOUs. The new IOUs will be due and payable by MarkWest in 2025. Some of the new cash raised will no doubt go to finance MarkWest’s operations and expansion in the Marcellus/Utica…
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Warren Resources Converts Refinanced Debts into $200M Cash

Warren Resources, an independent oil and gas company headquartered in New York City whose drilling is focused primarily in California but with a small operation in the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale, has just refinanced $250 million worth of existing loans and notes and somehow has wound up with just over $200 million in cash as part of the process. How you can refinance loans and pull out that much cash we have no clue. If you understand the following financial machinations with its talk about first lien credit lines, second lien debt, incurrence tests, LIBOR floors and other financial mumbo jumbo, please enlighten us!…
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Will Companies Continue Making Grants after Pipelines are Built?

We love pipelines. We love the companies that build them. Pipelines are the safest form of transportation period–bar none. The thing we don’t love is how pipeline companies are buying support for their projects. We’ve written about it before (see Constitution Pipeline Payments to Groups – Donations or Payola?; PennEast Payola? Buying Support One Community at a Time; and Kinder Morgan Hops on the Pipeline Payola Bandwagon in NEPA). Our objection is not to these midstream companies making community grants–much needed funds for very worthy purposes. Our objection is to the timing of the grants. Rather than make the grants before all of the permits are granted and the work has begun, wait and make the grants after the work has begun–to prove you want to be a good neighbor. An article from Schoharie County, NY about the Constitution Pipeline’s payola caught our eye and sparked a question for us: Will the Constitution still be making these community grants, to prove they’re good neighbors, long after the pipeline is built?…
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Who Ya Gonna Call? PA DEP (Noise) Ghostbusters!

ghostbustersThe Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection is wading into an area that’s likely best left to towns and municipalities: regulation of noise coming from Marcellus Shale drilling operations. The DEP wants drillers to craft a site-specific plan for noise mitigation for each and every well pad they drill. Problem is, the DEP won’t give drillers any standards against which to devise their plans. That is, the DEP isn’t willing to say “this loud is too loud at this distance from the drill site.” Drillers are understandably confused. How do you draw up a plan with no standards/no regulations? The DEP says noise is a funny thing–it can carry in one place but not another. They claim you can’t draw up hard and fast guidelines. One noise expert says trying to figure out the source of noise (and how to prevent it) is “sort of chasing ghosts”…
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