Rig Counts Hit Lowest Level Since 1999

1999What was happening in the year 1999? Let’s see. Then-President Bill Clinton went on trial in the Senate for lying under oath about getting a BJ in the Oval Office by a young girl, Monica Lewinski. Even though he was guilty, the Republican-controlled Senate lost its nerve and didn’t convict him. He was later stripped of his license to practice law in Arkansas for perjuring himself. The “Sopranos” debuted on HBO in 1999. Seth MacFarlane’s “Family Guy” first aired on Fox. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman star in the movie “Eyes Wide Shut.” Basketball star Michael Jordan announced his (first) retirement–only to return in 2001. Hip Hop artist Eminem released his first major record album called ‘The Slim Shady’ which would win him a Grammy the following year. The great Wayne Gretzky played his last hockey game in the NHL. Gretzky’s New York Rangers lost 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Quarterback John Elway retired from the NFL in 1999. The third Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” was published. “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace,” directed by George Lucas, was released in 1999. Oh, and one more thing. The year 1999 was the last time oil and gas rig counts were as low as they were last week, just 700 rigs operating…
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NY Fractivists Block Seneca Lake Facility, Santa & Grinch Dance

We’ve written many stories over the past few years about anti-drilling zealots who oppose the plan to convert a depleted salt cavern owned by Crestwood Equity Partners (nee Crestwood Midstream) along the shore of Seneca Lake, in Schuyler County, NY, to store liquefied petroleum gas (i.e. propane). The protests are typically a dozen people or less and often organized by Sandra Steingraber, a minor celebrity in fractivist circles. Steingraber is a so-called “scholar in residence” at Ithaca College. They pay her to do nothing but trot around making anti-fracking speeches, no doubt funded with money from the Park Foundation. A group of antis once again assembled in front of the Crestwood facility a few days before Christmas in an illegal blockade of the facility. What’s interesting about this latest infraction is that they no longer even pretend the facility would somehow be unsafe for Seneca Lake or nearby residents–a common lie they use in an attempt to scare the general public. No, this time the mask came off and their message was loud and clear: they oppose the facility because it would store a fossil fuel and in their irrational minds, all fossil fuels are evil. Or as their Christmas-themed sign said, fossil fues are “dirty energy” and that equals “naughty.” So-called renewable energy sources, like solar, are “clean” and “nice.” These nutters believe their “superior” intellect should dictate which energy sources *you* use, and they won’t stop insisting on your energy source until they’re either in jail, or in a retirement home (many of these old hippies are nearing that age)…
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Federal Judge Rules for EQT in Ohio Lease Dispute – Ramifications

An important decision was recently made in a lease case in Ohio–a case which has implications for both drillers and landowners with Marcellus/Utica leases. Driller EQT signed a lease with Jefferson County, OH landowner Alex Cooper on Oct. 6, 2008. The initial term of the lease was for five years, with a five year extension IF EQT makes an extension payment. The lease also stipulates that EQT MUST drill a well on or before Oct 6, 2013–the end of the first term of the lease. EQT opted to extend the lease, making (or rather attempting to make) a payment to Cooper–but EQT did not drill a well by Oct 6, 2013. Cooper claimed since EQT hadn’t drilled, the lease expired on Oct 6, 2013 and he is free to lease again. The case ended up in Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio and U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley decided in favor of EQT, even though the language in the lease stipulates a well MUST be drilled during the first term of the lease. How and why did Judge Marbley decide the case as he did? Below is a recap of the case, followed by a copy of the full decision from Judge Marbley…
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ODNR Boss: Ohio Will be Net NatGas Exporter in 2016

Little-know fact: Ohio is the seventh most populous state in the U.S. The only states with more population are California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Another little-known fact: In 2015 Ohio produced enough natural gas to meet the needs of 95% of what the state uses. Just four years ago that number was 9%. The director of the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR), James Zehringer, predicts that next year Ohio will produce more natural gas than can be used by the entire state–making Ohio a net exporter of natgas. Zehringer issued a year-end message from ODNR to tout not only the enormous production coming from Ohio’s shale fields, but also the big emphasis his agency places on safety for people and the environment…
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Judge Tosses Appeal to Re-Open Trumbull, OH Injection Well

It appears that in Ohio it’s A.O.K. for regulatory bodies to write laws–something the legislature is supposed to do–and not only can they write laws, they can take their sweet time doing it, denying a legally permitted business the right to conduct operations in the meantime. And if the legally permitted business seeks justice in the court system? Yeah, even the judge sides with the all-powerful state to prevent that business from operating. That about sums up the situation in Ohio for American Water Management Services (AWMS). AWMS owns a wastewater injection well in Trumbull County that supposedly caused a low-level earthquake (that nobody could feel) in 2014. Two wells located at the site, both operated by AWMS, were “temporarily” shut down by the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources following the quake (see ODNR Temporarily Shuts Down Injection Wells After Low-Level Quake). One of the two injection wells was allowed to re-open, but not the other (see ODNR Clears Trumbull Co. Injection Well in August Quake). Why was one well allowed to re-open but not the other? Because the ODNR is supposedly crafting new regulations that will govern the offending well that may or may not have caused the low-level quake. When will we see those new regs? Who knows! AWMS appealed ODNR’s decision to keep the second well shut down to the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission, a body that works for (yes) the ODNR. Unsurprisingly the Commission found ODNR is within its right to keep the second well shut down while it takes its time writing new regulations. AWMS appealed the Commission’s decision to a court, and the judge threw out the case because of a filing deadline legal hoop AWMS didn’t jump through properly…
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Scare Tactics re Ohio Injection Wells Continue, Aided by Newspaper

The Columbus Dispatch is doing its best to paint safe frack wastewater injection wells as dangerous underground dumps ready to spring a leak at any moment and contaminate life as we know it. They’ve brought out their biggest anti arguments in a recent “article” (i.e. propaganda) that focuses on Athens County, OH–hotbed of far-left liberalism and anti-drilling sentiment. The article, boiled down, goes like this: Athens is a dumping ground for frack wastewater via injection wells. It saw the highest volume of wastewater disposed of by injection wells in the state, and most of the wastewater came from operations outside of Ohio. Implied (but not stated) in the article: It’s time to shut down injection wells in Athens County…
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PA PUC Commissioner’s Full-Throated Support of Marcellus Shale

Pamela A. Witmer is one of five Commissioners of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Service (PUC). She is, in our opinion, one of the stars of the PUC–having been appointed by then-Gov. Tom Corbett in 2011. Pam is also a strong supporter of the Marcellus Shale industry and the miracle of fracking, as she indicates in a column she wrote for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Pam writes about the “numerous benefits” of the Marcellus…
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Dominion East Ohio Gas Bills Fall 40% in 1 Year, Thx to Shale

Utility company Dominion East Ohio says it’s customers are benefiting from the low cost of natural gas, thanks to the Marcellus and Utica Shale. In fact, according to Dominion, the cost of the gas itself is down 53% this year over last–and the savings gets passed on to consumers. That’s really good news for those who heat and cool using natural gas. Just because the commodity itself is only half the price, doesn’t mean rate payers will see their bills go down by the same amount. There are two components to the price consumers pay: the commodity flowing through the pipes, and the pipes/infrastructure itself. Even though Dominion East utility bills won’t go down by 53%, they will go down by about 40%. Not too shabby! Here’s what Dominion East is saying about rate decreases for its customers…
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Seventy Seven Energy Sells Frac Sand Subsidiary, Undisclosed Sum

Seventy Seven Energy (SSE), an oilfield services company with major operations in the northeast, is the old Chesapeake Oilfield Operating division of Chesapeake–spun off into its own company on July 1, 2014 (see Long Labor & Delivery: Seventy Seven Energy Born Yesterday). Each quarter we report on the performance of this public company, and each quarter it’s the same story: red ink (see our stories here). In May of 2015 Seventy Seven sold one of its assets, a trucking operation, in an effort to raise money (see Seventy Seven Energy Sells Trucking Subsidiary for Undisclosed Sum). Also in May the company secured a $100 million loan to stay afloat (see Seventy Seven Energy Secures $100M Loan to Keep on Drillin’). We’ve just learned that a few days before Christmas Seventy Seven sold off a Wisconsin frac sand operation. Like the trucking sale earlier this year, terms of the deal were not disclosed. In fact, Seventy Seven hasn’t said anything about the sale–it was the buyer, Emerge Energy Services, who issued a press release about it…
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9 Fatal Flaws with Obama EPA Clean Power Plan

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article addressing the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s lawless tendencies, including what is perhaps the Agency’s “crowning” achievement under the oversight of Barack Hussein Obama: the so-called Clean Power Plan (see WSJ: Brushing Back a Lawless EPA). We’ve written a number of stories about the CPP–primarily that it not only outright assassinates the coal industry, it mortally wounds (with intent to kill) all fossil fuels, including natural gas. MDN guest blogger Stephen Heins saw the WSJ article and created a succinct list of nine flaws with the Obama EPA CPP. Steve’s arguments are rock-solid and unmask the CPP for what it really is: fatally flawed…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Dec 29, 2015

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Pipeline to gas-powered electric plant in PA approved; new WV pipeline begins operations; Piedmont Natural Gas spent $8.9M on merger with Duke; DrillingInfo opens new Houston office; low natgas price = low coal price; energy sector bankruptcies on the increase; P&G’s natgas fleet; most outrageous fractivists stunts of 2015; and more!
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