Marcellus Frack Chemical Plant Near Pittsburgh Goes Up in Flames

More than 200 firefighters from 20 different fire companies battled a five-alarm fire in the tiny borough of Leetsdale, PA (Pittsburgh metro area) yesterday before getting the fire under control. There was a reported explosion and fire at Lubrizol Corporation’s Oilfield Chemistry site. The company manufactures chemicals used in shale drilling and fracking. Liberals will be conflicted over the news–they’ll be happy that a chemical plant feeding the fracking industry is fried, but the plant is owned by liberal billionaire icon Warren Buffett. So this is a good news/bad news thing for anti-drilling libs. Fortunately no one was killed in the blast and fire. Some 75 nearby homes were evacuated for a few hours and several people received minor injuries…
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Top 10 Marcellus/Utica Drillers by Number of Permits May-Aug 2015

MDN recently published Volume 2 of our 2015 Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook–a research book that chronicles who’s drilling and where in the Marcellus/Utica region. We thought it would be interesting to bring you some of the results from this latest volume. Below is a list of the top 10 Marcellus/Utica drillers based on the number of permits they were issued from May through August 2015. The numbers of permits shown are for discrete, individual wells. Each well drilled typically involves multiple permits–one to begin drilling, another to frack, etc. We toss out all of the multiples and show the numbers for discrete, individual wells. The top driller ranked by number of permits received may just surprise you–it did us. In addition to the list, we’ve included stock charts for each company to show you just how badly the industry has been hit over the past year. Stock prices for most of the top 10 have plunged…
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Marathon Ups Cash Offer for MarkWest 2nd Time – Deal in Trouble?

For a second time in as many weeks, Marathon Petroleum has increased the amount of cash it’s willing to pay as part of the deal to purchase Marcellus/Utica midstream giant MarkWest Energy. Last week Marathon upped the cash portion of the deal from $675 million to $1.075 billion–a hefty $400 million increase (see Marathon Increases Cash Dowry for MarkWest Buyout by 63%). Yesterday Marathon announced they have increased it again–they’re now willing to pay $1.28 billion in cash, in addition to unit swaps and other financial high jinks in a deal worth $15 billion (initially was worth $20 billion). That is, Marathon has just added another $205 million to the dowry they’re offering. Does the increase have anything to do with former MarkWest CEO John Fox telling everyone MarkWest is crazy for selling itself for such a low price (see Former MarkWest Energy CEO Urges Vote Against Marathon Buyout)? MarkWest is attempting to win a PR battle against Fox. In their announcement about receiving more cash as part of the deal, MarkWest claims three big unitholders (i.e. shareholders) representing a collective 15% of the outstanding units (i.e. shares) say they will vote in favor of the deal. That’s still a long way from 51%. We wonder if this deal is in trouble…
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New Report Finds Less than 1% of Injection Wells Cause Earthquakes

One of the news stories that is constantly recycled by anti-drillers and a sycophantic media is that “fracking causes earthquakes.” They intentionally perpetuate a knowing lie because, well, because it’s so effective. Who in their right mind would support an activity that causes earthquakes?! Here’s the thing: Fracking itself has been tied to earthquakes in less than five instances worldwide. Statistically zero. However, wastewater from fracking that’s disposed of via a deep injection well (sometimes called a saltwater well) has caused earthquakes. So antis try to link the two together, blurring the lines and claiming fracking itself is the cause. Our friends at the top notch Energy in Depth has just issued a research paper (full copy below) that quantifies just how often earthquakes are tied to injection wells. What they found is that earthquakes have been tied to (caused by) 218 wastewater injection wells. Know how many injection wells there are in the U.S.? Around 40,000. If you do the math, that’s about one-half of one percent of injection wells cause earthquake problems…
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Virginia Rejects Deal for DC-based Utility to Buy Marcellus Wells

A Washington, DC-based natural gas utility company, Washington Gas (WGL Holdings), announced in May they had cut a $126 million deal with Energy Corp. of America to purchase a 96% interest in 22 Marcellus Shale gas wells in Greene County, PA and another 3 shale wells in Clearfield County, PA. The gas flowing from those wells would go to WGL’s customers in the State of Virginia, requiring state approval of the deal. The Virginia State Corporation Commission (VSCC) turned them down and nixed the deal. Why? VSCC said WGL’s assumptions about how much the wells will produce, and about the price of gas over the next 20 years, were not solid. Furthermore, the VSCC didn’t like that WGL is essentially shifting the risk of well production/prices onto the backs of rate payers. More deals like this are rumored to be coming down the pike. Will they get nixed too?…
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Dominion Investing $10.1B, Creating 20K New Jobs in VA Next 5 Yrs

It’s a shame to have to prove to people what should be self-evident–that building new natural gas electric plants and natural gas pipelines will bring both new jobs and inject billions into a state’s economy–but that’s what you sometimes have to do. You have to prove it to counteract the negative drumbeat from radical anti-drillers and leftist mainstream media. So Dominion, a huge utility/pipeline company operating in 14 states including the Marcellus/Utica region, commissioned a study that looks at how many jobs and how much money will be pumped into the State of Virginia over the next five years if all of the pipeline and electric plant projects they have on the books happen. The study (full copy below) finds Dominion is set to invest $10.1 billion and create nearly 12,000 jobs over the next five years in the Old Dominion. A sizable portion of the new projects and jobs are tied to natural gas…
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Update on Study that May/Might/Possibly Show Stressors from Drilling

In September MDN told you about a newly published study that purports to evaluate potential “stressors” on streams from unconventional (i.e. shale) oil and gas drilling–including drilling in the Marcellus/Utica (see New Study Evaluates Stressors on Streams from Shale Drilling). As we said at the time, the study appears to be real science as opposed to the usual political science that passes for real science. The one great negative, in our opinion, is that it was published in a non-peer reviewed journal that publishes a lot of “fracking will kill you” bull–PLOS ONE. The study has popped back up in the news once again. We find it interesting that newspapers run this headline–“Study indicates gas drilling can impact rivers, streams”–and a few paragraphs into the story, one of the lead authors of the paper says this: “What we’ve developed is a predictive model…We have not proven anything about whether shale gas development is affecting streams or not.” You always see lots of “cans” and “maybes” and “mights” and “possiblys” when it comes to anti-drilling mainstream media. How about sticking to “does” and “will” and “proven” instead? In other words, let’s have some hard science instead of theoretical science. Prove your statements. Do some in-the-field research. Here’s the latest update on a study that “may” indicate “some” problems with shale drilling…
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Hess Proud of Pleasing Those Who Want to Shut the Company Down

Has the world always been this screwed up? Perhaps. How do you explain one of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies, Hess Corp., trying to please the lunatics who are trying to shut them down? Do you call that self-loathing? Do you call it fear? Do you call it dysfunctional co-dependency? Whatever you call it, Hess is crowing about the “honor” of being recognized as a “leader” among S&P 500 companies for “climate change transparency”. This “honor” has earned Hess a position on something called the “2015 Climate Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI)”–a hall of fame thing cooked up by a group of self-righteous global warming true believers called the CDP who would love nothing better than to see oil and gas companies like Hess go extinct…
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EXCO Board Member Goes on Company Stock Buying Bender

[Note: This story was updated on Nov. 19, see note below.]

EXCO Resources’ Board of Directors member John Wilder, Jr. has been on a one-man stock-buying bender over the past couple of weeks. You may recall Wilder purchased 297,100 shares of EXCO stock for ~$315,000 at the end of October (see EXCO Stock Short Selling Goes Up; Board Member Buys 297K Shares). Last Friday and again on Monday Wilder purchased another ~$830,000 worth of company stock (~793,000 shares), for a grand total of $1.14 million worth of stock (1,090,063 shares). Why the sudden purchases?…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Nov 18, 2015

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Seneca continues to curtain production; Gastar appoints new chairman; natgas tugboat coming courtesy the Ohio Valley; natgas bumped off NY nuke plant; Utica rig count slides more; midstream dealmaking; Chesapeake a good deal?; and more!
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