$30M in PA Act 13 Money Missing – Theft or Bureaucratic Cock-up?

poofNearly $30 million of Act 13 shale tax money that comes from an impact fee (i.e. tax) on Marcellus drilling in Pennsylvania is “unaccounted for.” The media is playing this up as “the money has gone missing” with the implication something nefarious is going on. The truth is a little more mundane. Some local municipalities receiving the money are confused as to which forms they have to file, and which agencies they need to file the forms with. It appears to be a bureaucratic cock-up–not theft, as implied by some in the media…
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Gastar Deal to Lease Under the Ohio River in WV Falls Apart

Remember the brouhaha over energy companies bidding to drill on land underneath the Ohio River in West Virginia? We told you about one such lease–Gastar won a bid on a 232-acre tract underlying the river at the border of Marshall and Wetzel counties. They paid $3,500 per acre as a signing bonus and 20% royalties in their winning bid (see Gastar Wins Lease to Drill Under Ohio River in WV). There were just a few minor details to settle before the deal closed. Guess what? Gastar never closed the deal. Since October 2014 the price of natural gas has crashed, making it uneconomical to drill in many (most?) locations, and Gastar didn’t want to part with its precious capital–so no deal was never finalized. And now the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is about to call the deal dead and shop it again. Problem is, it’s now a buyer’s market for leases, not a seller’s market as it was in October 2014. WV won’t get anywhere near the same terms this time around, of that we’re sure…
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Actor James Cromwell Arrested Protesting NY Power Plant Site

James Cromwell as Zefram Cochrane
James Cromwell as Zefram Cochrane

Hollywood actor James Cromwell was born in Manhattan (NYC) and maintains a summer home in upstate–in Orange County, NY. Cromwell played Zefram Cochrane (mythical creator of the warp engine) in the 1996 movie Star Trek: First Contact (one of our favs). It was distressing to learn that Cromwell is the latest Hollywood know-nothing to oppose natural gas. Cromwell opposes a clean-burning natural gas-fired electric plant being built near his summer home in Orange County, because, well, because it’s being built near his summer home (see Star Trek Actor with Upstate NY Home Speaks Against Power Plant). In September Cromwell and other area anti-fossil fuelers sued to stop the Competitive Power Ventures $900 million project–perhaps they prefer dilithium crystals to natgas? The frivolous lawsuit was tossed out (see Orange County, NY Marcellus-Fired Electric Plant OK’d by Judge). Well, what’s a spoiled rich kid from Manhattan who wants to keep upstate pristine as his own private playground going to do? Get a bunch of easily-impressed neighbors to stage a sit-in and illegally block construction at the site. That’s what Cromwell and some of his homies did last Friday–they got arrested and carted away to the klink…
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IOGAWV Rep Says Marcellus/Utica Can Support “8 or 9 Crackers”

The president and CEO of Eagle Manufacturing in Wellsburg, WV is Joe Eddy. During a recent meeting in Oglebay Park, Eddy represnted the WV Indpendent Oil and Gas Association. He had some interesting things to say. Among them: the Marcellus/Utica region could right now support “eight or nine crackers.” He also spoke out against three ethane pipelines that transport northeast ethane to other regions…
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Dela. Riverkeeper Attempts to Discredit PA DEP Shale Radiation Report

Stay tuned for five feet of snow. No, it’s not a weather report, it’s the snow job THE Delaware Riverkeeper (i.e. Maya van Rossum) is attempting with respect to a research report issued by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). In January 2015, the DEP filed a report following two years of intense study to determine whether/if/how much radiation exposure is an issue in shale drilling. While the DEP found there is sometimes some low levels of radiation, the report concluded there is “little harm” from radiation in shale drilling (for the study results, see PA DEP Completes Fracking Radiation Study, Concludes “Little Harm”). When real science is published that contradicts the political science of global warming advocates like Maya van Rossum, the real science must go. And so van Rossum hired a discredited scientist to produce a review of the January 2015 report by the DEP, calling it “inaccurate and incomplete.” Van Rossum dragged out Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, who was humiliatingly slapped down by none other than the U.S. Geological Survey in 2012 (see Radon Debate: USGS Responds to Marvin Resnikoff Accusation). Resnikoff is the scientist-for-hire van Rossum used in concocting the latest snow job coming from her outfit…
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Canada Approves Marc/Utica NEXUS Pipeline to Dawn Hub in Ontario

Everybody always talks about the Henry Hub, which is the natural gas delivery point where more physical natural gas is bought and sold than any other single location in North America. However, do you know what the second largest physically traded gas hub in North America is? We just learned this interesting factoid ourselves. The #2 location for trading natural gas, after the Henry Hub, is the Dawn Hub in southwestern Ontario (Canada)–not far from the border of Michigan. The Dawn Hub is in the news because of the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline project. Last week the Ontario Energy Board approved applications from Union Gas Limited and Enbridge Gas Distribution to move gas along the NEXUS, once its built, to the Dawn Hub. In other words, Canada has just approved the Canadian portion of the NEXUS project. We’re glad Canada isn’t holding grudges against the U.S after the Obama Administration obtusely rejected the Keystone XL pipeline project, a Canadian pipeline coming through the U.S. Here’s the good news from Spectra Energy on Canada’s approval of NEXUS…
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Moxie Marcellus-Powered Electric Plant Breaks Ground in NEPA

Groundbreaking! Really great news from Salem Township in Luzerne County, PA. The Moxie Freedom Marcellus gas-powered electric plant broke ground last week. The $800 million, 1050-watt facility was approved by the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection in September (see Moxie’s NEPA Marcellus-Powered Electric Plant Gets DEP Approval). Just last month Gemma Power announced they were selected to build the plant for Moxie (see Gemma Power Gets Contract to Build Moxie Freedom Electric Plant). Here’s the good news that the first shovel hit the dirt last week…
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Judge Rules Yes, Mariner East Pipe IS a Public Utility After All

In June we told you that Sunoco Logistics Partners had sued two different families/landowners in Washington County, PA using eminent domain to complete a pipeline part of the Mariner East project (see Mariner East Invokes Eminent Domain Against 2 SWPA Landowners). As we said at the time, nobody wins when it comes to using eminent domain for pipelines. In the case of the Mariner East pipeline, the ongoing legal question/issue has been whether or not the pipeline qualifies as a public utility with the right to invoke eminent domain. Last week a Washington County judge ruled that yes, Mariner East is a public utility and that the state of Pennsylvania controls permitting for the pipeline, not the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The Washington County landowners who sued have lost their appeal of the eminent domain case against Sunoco, and the pipeline will now cut through their property…
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Scottish Company Buys OH Construction Co for Utica/Marcellus Work

Wood Group, a $7 billion energy services company headquartered in Aberdeen, Scotland, announced this morning they are purchasing Kelchner Inc., a privately-owned construction firm. Kelchner is located in Ohio and concentrates on providing civil engineering and construction services for midstream and upstream companies in the Marcellus/Utica. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Kelchner generated sales of $93 million last year and Wood just got done buying a similar company along the Texas Gulf Coast by the name of Infinity Group for $150 million. So it wouldn’t surprise us if they paid a similar amount for Kelchner…
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Moody’s: Fed Interest Rate Hike Hurts the Oil & Gas Industry

Moody’s Investors Service, one of the biggest and most respected ratings services on the planet, issued a statement last week after the Federal Reserve voted to raise interest rates from zero to a quarter point (0.25%). Moody’s offered their opinion of how the interest rate increase will affect U.S. companies. Their conclusion? Companies with good credit quality will be able to absorb the higher interest rate no problem. But companies that are, shall we say, “credit challenged” will have a tougher time. Among those most credit challenged? Yep, the oil and gas sector…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Dec 21, 2015

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Another bankruptcy in the oil patch; Cove Point Hail Mary; NY frack ban sentencing upstate to poverty; NY landowners demand Cuomo approve Constitution Pipeline; natgas pipeline in southern NJ makes progress; $30 crude leads to $6 natgas; is ETE in financial trouble?; shale gas drilling in UK close to reality; and more!
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