Fed Court Rules PA Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Anadarko Proceeds

court-gavel.jpgIn May 2012 a water truck driver delivering water to an Anadarko Marcellus Shale well pad in Clinton County, PA missed a turnoff for the road he was supposed to take, at 2:30 am in the morning. A couple of miles later he crashed and tragically died because the road he was on was not marked well and not conducive to the truck he was driving. There was a sign warning the driver not to go beyond a certain point. The driver had previously–that night–already delivered to the well pad and successfully turned onto the road he was supposed to take. Why did he miss it the second time? His widow maintains that even though he worked for a subcontractor, Anadarko was the company in charge and should have had a light illuminating the “No Anadarko Traffic Beyond This Point” sign. So she sued Anadarko, and the subcontractor, for wrongful death. Lower courts threw out the lawsuit but a federal appeals court has just reinstated a civil suit against Anadarko that will go to a jury…
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Alpha Natural Resources Does NOT Own Nearly Half of Rice Energy

It’s not often we get to set the record straight on a story run in the financial press–but we get to this time. A story appeared yesterday on the American Banking & Market News site that coal company Alpha Natural Resources (ANR), which has a joint venture with Rice Energy to drill in the Marcellus Shale, owns 42.8% of Rice Energy’s outstanding common shares of stock. Which made our eyeballs nearly fall out. How in the world could a coal company that filed for bankruptcy earlier this year (see Alpha Natural Resources in Bankruptcy – What about Marcellus?), own that much of Rice Energy? It made no sense to us. So we went digging. The story quotes from an extensive filing by ANR with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The 13D/A filing appears to make the claim that ANR owns 54,306,610 shares of Rice Energy (see below). However, if you read it closely, the language is dense and even misleading. We believe what it means to say is that ANR along with Rice Energy Holding, Rice Energy Family Holdings, and NGP Rice Holdings–all of them together–own 54,306,610 shares of stock. NOT just ANR by itself. We think the author of the story misinterpreted what is very obscure financial language. We reached out to Rice Energy and Rice’s president Toby Rice responded that he believes (is not 100% sure) that ANR owns less than 4 million shares of stock in Rice Energy
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Rice Energy Sells Part Ownership in Rice Midstream for $500M

Rice Energy announced yesterday they’ve pocketed a cool $500 million from an unnamed energy investment company in return for an ownership stake in their subsidiary Rice Midstream. Rice Energy (the mother ship) will use $375 million of that new cash to pay off debts, and the other $125 million will get used for drilling new Marcellus and Utica Shale wells…
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Canadian Summertime Earthquake Said to be Tied to Fracking

This is not strictly a Marcellus/Utica story, but interesting and relevant nonetheless. Last summer a 4.6 magnitude earthquake hit northeast British Columbia (Canada). The BC Oil and Gas Commission has confirmed that the quake was as a result of fracking shale wells in the area. This is perhaps the fifth or sixth time fracking itself–and not a wastewater injection well–has been tied to an earthquake. Ever. Worldwide. Which means fracking causes earthquakes, statistically speaking, 0% of the time. Of course that kind of context won’t get reported as the meme of “Canada confirms fracking caused quake” bounces around the mainstream mediasphere. Which is why we bring you the news here on MDN–to provide context that an instance where fracking actually does cause an earthquake is as rare as hen’s teeth. The truly amazing aspect of the story is this: BC authorities didn’t shut down the fracking operation! They took a very adult, mature approach: Back off a bit on the pressure you’re using to frack the well with, and if another quake then happens, we’ll shut it all down and think through another approach…
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Energy Investor Jennison Ups Ownership in PDC Energy

PDC Energy, with leased acreage in the Ohio Utica Shale, paused their Utica drilling program in 2015 but recently announced plans to restart that program and drill five wells in 2016 (see PDC Energy to Restart OH Drilling in 2016, Drilling 5 Utica Wells). So when we spotted a notice that investment firm Jennison Associates had boosted its stake in PDC, we noticed. Anything that may affect a Marcellus/Utica driller is of interest to us. Jennison has upped their investment in PDC and now owns 6.95% of PDC Energy stock worth $147,721,000. That’s a far cry from the 42.8% of Rice Energy stock owned by Alpha Natural Resources (see today’s companion story about that deal). Typically when investors increase their stake to the 7-8% range, they begin asserting their influence on the company–getting a board member elected, etc. Not always, and not every investor pursues that course of action. But it’s worth watching for, which is why we bring you this news about Jennison’s investment in PDC…
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Problem: Some Marcellus/Utica Drillers Entering 2016 Not Hedged

A recent report issued by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services sounds an alarm over the issue of hedging for 2016–in particular for independent producers in the Marcellus and Utica Shale region. What’s hedging and why do we care? Drillers (and others who buy and sell natural gas) often engage in a practice called hedging, which is, in a simplified explanation, a contract to sell (or buy) a commodity like natural gas at an agreed-on price at a future date. There is an element of risk in hedging. From a driller’s perspective, if you strike an agreement to sell your gas in the future and the price goes a lot higher, you have to sell your gas at the lower price you agreed to. That’s the down side. But if the price goes a lot lower in the future, you’ve covered your derriere by locking in a higher price for the gas you produce–making money when your competitors aren’t. Drillers and others who buy and sell gas use hedging as a way to guard against price swings. It’s a “risk management” function in a company. Unfortunately most of the hedges previously arranged more than a year ago are now expiring. And nobody but nobody is willing to strike a contract right now for $3 or $4/Mcf gas a year or more down the road. No one believes the price will recover that much. Which means many drillers (in our neck of the woods) are entering 2016 without their production being hedged–a very scary proposition…
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Columbus Law Firm: How to Get the Best Pipeline Easement Deal

Goldman & Braunstein is a Columbus, OH law firm that’s carved a niche out of representing landowners in eminent domain disputes with pipeline companies. Earlier this year the firm asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to disallow Energy Transfer Partners’ use of eminent domain in building the ET Rover pipeline (see OH Law Firm Asks FERC to Stop ET Rover Pipeline Eminent Domain). Michael Braunstein and Bill Goldman are at it again. Last week they held a meeting in Huron County, OH to advise landowners who potentially face eminent domain action by the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline project. They offer some good counsel. But make no mistake–they’re there to drum up business. Goldman & Braunstein do not say landowners can block the pipeline from coming through their property. What they do say is that their firm can get landowners a better deal, and ensure pipeline installation is “put in properly” by using (yep) Goldman & Braunstein. The firm believes landowners should be paid “over $100 per foot” for any deal they do with NEXUS. That’s the highest per-foot price we’ve ever heard of when it comes to pipeline easements. If they can pull that off, more power to ’em!…
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Sierra Club Pressures WV County to Oppose Atlantic Coast Pipeline

The Virginia Chapter of the Big Green (and very radical) Sierra Club is pressuring county commissioners in Upshur County, WV to support their effort to block the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Atlantic Coast is a $5 billion, 564-mile natural gas pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. Dominion is the company building it. The strategy being employed by the radicals at the Sierra Club (and at other Big Green groups that should lose their non-profit status because the engage in political activities) is to try and force the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to combine all of the pipelines being proposed into one, massive environmental impact review–hoping that by combining separate projects together it will trigger a decision to deny all of them. The problem is by law FERC cannot combine separate projects together. Not all of those projects will get built. And they run in different geographies. FERC’s mandate, under U.S. law, is to evaluate each project individually. But silly things like obeying the law never stops Big Green groups–they just keep right on community agitating…
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Stone Energy 2016 Budget Released – Will They Drill in the NE?

Stone Energy, an independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company (E&P) headquartered in Lafayette, Louisiana drills mainly in the Gulf of Mexico but also has a presence in the Marcellus/Utica Shale. Earlier this year they stopped drilling in the northeast and shut in most of their Marcellus/Utica production (see Stone Energy 3Q15: Shut Down 110 Mmcfe/d of Marcellus Production). Stone has just released their 2016 capital expenditure budget. Are they planning to drill in the northeast in 2016?…
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EXCO Resources Director Buys Another 630K Shares of Stock

As we have previously reported, EXCO Resources board of directors member John Wilder is contractually obligated to buy $40 million worth of EXCO stock within a year of closing a deal between Wilder’s company (Bluescape Resources) and EXCO. Bluescape essentially runs EXCO. Wilder has been a busy beaver (see EXCO Resources Director Continues Stock Buying Spree). He’s just done it again. Last week Wilder purchased another 629,581 shares of EXCO Resources stock worth $579,214.52. He (and his company Bluescape) now own 14,745,961 shares of EXCO stock…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Dec 22, 2015

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Terra Nova dumps EQT Midstream stock; PA landowners happy about AG’s Chessy royalty lawsuit; fracking didn’t contaminate Pavillion, WY water well; EJF Capital dumps Carrizo stock; still plenty of cash for drillers; natural gas woes; natgas exports; weather forecast & natgas price; crude oil ban lifted; UK goes on shale lease spree; and more!
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