WVU Research Shock Finding: Utica is as Big as Marcellus!

Shocking NewsData from a two-year geological study conducted by the Appalachian Oil and Natural Gas Research Consortium, a group of state and federal officials along with university researchers representing West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and New York, was presented yesterday in Canonsburg, PA. The study, titled “A Geologic Play Book for Utica Shale Appalachian Basin Exploration” (full copy below), finds the Utica Shale play has 20 times more recoverable natural gas than thought just three years ago–an astonishing 782 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Utica. Here’s the shocker news coming from the release of this new study: The size and potential recoverable resources in the Utica are “comparable” to the Marcellus play, the largest shale oil and gas play in the U.S. and the second largest in the world. You read that right. The Utica is potentially as big as the Marcellus! The Utica is located pretty much underneath the Marcellus. The depths vary, but the Marcellus is around a mile down and the Utica around two miles down. Researchers at the top-notch West Virginia University took the lead in publishing the report. Here’s how they’re reporting it…
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CONSOL Slashes 10% of Workforce – 470 Jobs Gone

We have an update on the sad news we first reported yesterday–that CONSOL Energy has made another round of layoffs (see CONSOL Energy Swings the Ax Again – New Round of Layoffs). We now have numbers to share. CONSOL is laying off approximately 10% of its entire workforce–290 jobs (i.e. people) gone in its gas and corporate operations, and 180 jobs (i.e. people) gone in its Pennsylvania coal mines. That’s 470 families facing a major economic crisis with the loss of a job. What does Wall Street do? They pop the cork and celebrate–more cash in their pockets–driving CONSOL’s stock price higher. These cuts come just three months after CONSOL previously laid off 170 people in April (see CONSOL Energy Lays Off Workers in CNX Gas Division in WV/PA). That’s a grand total of 640 people gone in the past three months. CONSOL’s comment? “These are very difficult but prudent decisions given the depressed nature of commodity prices”…
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Magnum Hunter’s #1 Stockholder Continues to Divest

Last month MDN told you about one of Magnum Hunter Resources’ (MHR) major investors dumping 6.3 million shares of MHR stock (see Magnum Hunter Investor Dumps 6.3 Million Shares of MHR Stock). We have new information and a much better understanding about that investor–Relational Investors. Relational is the hedge fund for a “kinder, gentler” corporate raider by the name of Ralph Witworth. In June Witworth and Relational owned 27.5 million shares of MHR stock. Today? 17.7 million shares–a 36% reduction in the past month. According to reports, Relational is not done yet. Relational is on the way to divesting ALL of their MHR stock holdings. But that’s not as ominous as it sounds. The reason Relational is divesting all MHR stock is because they are divesting all of their holdings in all stocks. Witworth has health issues (throat cancer) and Relational is divesting so it can relaunch under new management and, presumably, re-buy stocks in many of the positions they previously held. Will that include a re-purchase of MHR stock? Who knows. One thing is for sure, as we noted in our previous story in June, Relational is taking a bath by selling MHR at these super low prices. Another observation: with this much MHR stock coming on the market, prices for the stock will likely remain low for the foreseeable future…
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Help Wanted: Warren Resources Launches Search for New CEO

Warren Resources is a small, independent exploration and production company headquartered in New York City. Warren has ongoing drilling programs in California, Wyoming, and in the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale. Warren’s Marcellus program is very small–they previously announced they would drill and complete two Marcellus wells in 2015 (see New Entrant in the Marcellus: Warren Resources Drilling 2 Wells in 2015). However, Warren has faced some serious challenges. Last December Warren’s CEO and Chairman of the Board, Philip Epstein, suddenly quit (see CEO of Warren Resources Quits, Replaced by Citrus Energy CEO). Since Epstein’s departure, Citrus Energy CEO Lance Peterson (a Warren board member) has taken the reigns as interim CEO. Now that the company has successfully “navigated the critical liquidity and debt issues,” they’re ready to find a new, permanent CEO. The search has begun…
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Manhattan Institute Says Now is Time to Ramp Up Shale Production

The New York-based Manhattan Institute, a non-profit think tank with a mission “to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility” has just released a new report titled, “Step on the Gas! How to Extend America’s Energy Advantage” (full copy embedded below). The 20-page report says now is the time for the U.S. to press its advantage in shale energy. The report’s writer, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, Oren Cass, points out the cyclical nature of commodity prices for oil and gas and says even though prices are down now–they won’t stay that way. In order to take full advantage of the shale boom, Cass suggests 11 reforms to help craft a smarter U.S. energy policy–one that will amplify the current boom and extend it far into the future. At the top of the hit parade: allow domestic producers to export oil and gas, and streamline the process to let it happen more quickly…
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Governors Assoc. Issues Recommendations on Water Usage in Fracking

The National Governors Association (NGA) issued a 16-page report last Thursday encouraging governors and their states to adopt policies that encourage a) the use of less drinking water for fracking, and b) the use of more recycling of flowback water in fracking. The report, titled “State Practices to Protect Drinking Water While Developing Shale Energy” (full copy below), is the result of a a 35-member panel that met in March. The panel included gubernatorial advisers, state and federal regulators, professors, environmentalists and representatives of the oil and gas industry. We’ve had a look over the recommendations and frankly, there’s really nothing new in them that isn’t already either being done or in the process of being done. In addition to the study, MDN includes below some perspective on just how much drinking water gets used for fracking versus water used for other purposes…
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Ben Franklin SGICC Technology Showcase Deadline is Friday, July 17

Listen up supply chain companies with cool/new technologies aimed at the shale oil and gas marketplace. Is your technology ready for a field test? Looking for companies to invest to get get your big idea to market? We have an opportunity for you. The Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation & Commercialization Center, the same great folks who bring you the annual Shale Innovation Contest (see Winners of $100K for 2015 Shale Gas Innovation Contest Announced), are sponsoring a Technology Showcase once again at this fall’s Shale Insight 2015 Conference. Up to 10 companies will get a chance to make an 8-minute pitch followed by a 2-minute Q&A with the audience. The Technology Showcase has been the successful launching pad for a number of products that are now a commercial success. Below are the details on how to enter. But hurry! You must have your application submitted by this Friday, July 17…
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Ohio EPA Issues Final Permit for Ashtabula GTL Plant

In March the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft permit to Ashtabula Energy that will allow the company to build a gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant converting Utica Shale gas into other products like diesel fuel (see OH EPA Issues Draft Lake Erie Discharge Permit for Ashtabula GTL Plant). The permit will allow the plant to discharge wastewater into Lake Erie (essentially freshwater used for cooling in the plant). After holding two public meetings and further consideration, the Ohio EPA has issued a final permit to Ashtabula–a sign that the project will now move forward. Just one teeny tiny problem that we can see. Ashtabula was bought out by Velocys GTL, the manufacturer of the equipment that will be used in the plant. Just over a week ago Velocys suspended its CEO for “possible serious misconduct” (see Velocys GTL Company Suspends CEO for Possible Serious Misconduct). So what does that mean for the future of the Ashtabula GTL project?…
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