Huge Victory for PA Republicans – NO Severance Tax in Budget Deal!

celebrateIt appears the fat lady is getting ready to sing with respect to no severance tax in Pennsylvania–at least for this year. The Republicans have won–kudos to them for hanging tough against the unreasonable Marcellus severance tax proposed by a neophyte governor attempting to pay off a political debt to teachers’ unions. There will be no new severance tax this year. Wolf has found another way to pay off the teachers–he’s going to siphon slot machine money for a big boost in education funding. The teachers’ unions don’t care–money is green and spends the same whether it comes from shale or slots. While a final deal is not yet done (let’s not count our chickens just yet), it does appear the outline of a budget deal, now more than five months late, is in place and moving toward passage in the next few weeks. Here’s the details…
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Environmental “Justice” for Some, Not for All, Courtesy PA DEP

If you live in Pennsylvania and you live in a community where at least 20% of the people are below the poverty line, or if the community is composed of at least 30% minorities, you now have an important new weapon to oppose shale drilling, courtesy the PennFuture Secretary of the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), John Quigley. Apparently the laws and regulations on the books that apply to everyone else are not good enough for po’ folk or black folk and you need extra special laws and regulations not available to others–so Quigley has “reactivated” the Office of Environmental Justice at the DEP to give you a voice that apparently you had lost. You may recall Quigley recently began talking about “establishing” such a department–only to embarrassingly learn his agency already has such a department (see Quigley Faux Pas: DEP Already has Office of Environmental Justice). With the help of mainstream media, Quigley pivoted to cover his faux pas (see Quigley Changes Story, “Reactivating” Enviro Justice Office at DEP). “Environmental Justice” is now officially reactivated at the DEP, complete with a new hire, an African-American lawyer from (yes) Philadelphia, violating the current state ban on new hiring until a budget is in place. Oh, and if you’re not poor or a minority (i.e. you’re working class or white collar)? No special favoritism for you. You get ordinary/regular environmental “justice”…
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EIA November DPR: Marcellus Production Down Again, Utica Increases

Yesterday our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), issued our favorite government report, the Drilling Productivity Report (DPR). The November report predicts what production will show in the month of December for both oil and natural gas from the seven biggest commercial shale plays in the U.S. The numbers EIA predicts shows natural gas production dropping once again–down another 100 million cubic feet per day (Mmcf/d) across all the plays combined. However, as with last month, the Utica Shale and Permian Basin are the exceptions–both predict an increase in natgas production for the month of December. Several major drillers have changed focus in the northeast from the Marcellus to the Utica (EQT and CONSOL Energy come to mind), which may help explain some of those numbers. The Permian is an oil play and doesn’t produce much natural gas–but since natgas comes out of the hole along with oil, and since oil drilling in the Permian is picking up lately–that explains why there’s an increase in “associated gas” for that play. Gas production in the mighty Marcellus continues to drop. It’s the biggest gas producer, so perhaps that’s why it’s dropping the most–down 215 Mmcf/d last month, and predicted to be down average 229 Mmcf/d in December…
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Will the Utica Shale Bump Off the Mighty Marcellus?

As we’ve been writing now for the past few months, the Utica Shale play is beginning to turn the heads of big, established Marcellus producers (see CONSOL Energy: Utica Drilling May Soon Replace Marcellus Drilling and EQT Dumps Marcellus Drilling, Concentrates on the Utica in 2016). There’s beginning to be more talk about the Utica one day surpassing the Marcellus. Is that even possible? How could it happen? Indeed it is possible, but there’s a lot of “ifs” with the theory that the Utica may soon bump off old man Marcellus…
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Monster Dry Gas Utica Wells Changing the Picture in the NE

While Marcellus natural gas production will slide again for the third month in a row according to the latest EIA Drilling Productivity Report, Utica natural gas production continues to climb (see today’s companion story). One important note: Utica production, while climbing month after month, is still just a fraction of Marcellus production (about 20% of Marcellus production). According to another story we highlight today, the Utica may challenge the Marcellus as reigning champ of natgas production. Will/can the Utica actually produce as much or more natural gas as the Marcellus some day? It’s not out of the realm of possibility. How can that be? It all has to do with monster dry gas Utica wells…
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Canadian Mounties Visit Marcellus to Learn About Greens Who Go Bad

There is a segment of the radical environmental movement that resorts to violence. That is indisputable as we’ve seen it–in the Marcellus/Utica. To be fair, violence by antis doesn’t happen often. We would say most of the anti movement is non-violent (although a fair number do tend toward criminality with “non-violent” protests). But there are those among radical greens who cross the line and engage in acts of violence and terror, sometimes aimed at people who work in the industry (see FBI Investigates Death Threats Against PennEast Pipeline Workers and Domestic Eco-Terrorism: Worker Shot at Rural WV Oil Well Site). Anti-drillers in Canada (or anywhere in the world, for that matter) are no different than anti-drillers in the United States. Some of them turn violent. For that reason, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the Mounties) visited Williamsport, PA in June 2014 to learn more about how their American cousins deal with greens who go bad. Apparently this story–that the Mounties came here to learn about dealing with green crazies–is just now coming to light…
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Panel of 7 PA Senators to Determine AG Kathleen Kane’s Fate

The end is near for accused criminal Kathleen Kane. Kane also happens to be the top law enforcement officer in Pennsylvania–the PA Attorney General. We’ve covered the rapid rise and fall of Kathleen Kane. She’s a hardened anti-driller bent on attacking the Marcellus industry which is why we’re doing a happy dance that she’ll soon be gone. However, the Marcellus industry has nothing to do with her impending removal from office. Kane leaked protected grand jury information to a reporter in an attempt to discredit a political enemy, and then she lied under oath about it–the worst offense anyone who’s a member of the justice system can do. If truth is not sacrosanct in the justice system, it all comes unraveled. You lie under oath and it’s the equivalent of a death sentence–you have no future in the justice system. Kane violated that trust and her oath and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspended her license to practice law (see End is Near: PA AG Kane’s Law License Suspended by Supreme Court). Now a panel of Pennsylvania Senators will decide her fate. The special panel is holding a series of public meetings to discuss whether or not she can still do her job without a law license. At the end of November the panel will then vote–and if the vote goes against her it goes to the whole Senate for a vote, and if they vote against her, Kane will be forcibly removed from office…
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Baker Hughes – October Rig Counts Continue to Fall

Oilfield services giant Baker Hughes released the latest rig count numbers last Friday. It’s not pretty. Worldwide the number of active drilling rigs for oil and gas plunged yet again–down to an average 1,111 active drilling rigs worldwide in October (down 29 from September). In the U.S., October’s average rig count was 791, down 57 from the 848 counted in September 2015, and down 1,134 from the 1,925 counted in October 2014. Rigs in Ohio went up by one in October, stayed the same in West Virginia, but tumbled in Pennsylvania, giving us a new low rig count for the northeast…
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Summit Midstream 3Q15: Current Owner ECP Looking to Sell

Summit Midstream has a small but growing presence in the Marcellus/Utica region largely through purchasing pipeline systems from other companies, including Mountaineer Midstream, Summit’s Marcellus-area pipeline system in Doddridge County, WV. Yesterday the company issued its third quarter 2015 financial results. Of particular note: Summit is majority owned by Energy Capital Partners (ECP), a private equity firm (investment company). ECP is talking about selling their interest. That is, it’s sounding like Summit may soon see a change in ownership. Below is the update on that possible change, along with an update on Summit’s Mountaineer Midstream gathering system…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Nov 10, 2015

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Marcellus gas affecting NE electric grid; ET asks FERC to hurry it up on Rover approval; Downeast LNG down & out; Spectra says New England warming up to pipeline idea; Big Oil is NOT Big Tobacco; NY AG’s witch hunt; big storage equals low prices; o-oh Mexico; and more!
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