PA DEP Fines Kinder Morgan $745K for Spills in Philly

pay fines here signEDITOR’S NOTE: It’s interesting what a negative story can produce. The DEP posted a back-dated press release on their site after MDN released this story pointing out they had not informed anyone but StateImpact. We can assure you the release was not there until we pointed out its absence. You can read the back-dated press release here.

Is the Democrat-controlled PBS outlet StateImpact Pennsylvania now the official stenographer for PennFuture Secretary of the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), John Quigley? That’s the thought we had when reading a StateImpact story that the DEP has fined Kinder Morgan $745,000 for leaks at two Philadelphia-area storage facilities owned by Kinder. In every case we can recall, going back more than six years of writing the MDN blog site, whenever the DEP fines a driller or midstream company (Kinder is the latter), the DEP issues an official public press release on their own website. Not this time. Apparently the only “news” outlet to receive notification of the fine has been StateImpact because we’ve searched high and low and nobody else is (so far) carrying the news. Why did the DEP not post the news on their own website as they always have in the past? Why did only certain (perhaps just one) news outlets get this particular press release? Hence our observation that perhaps StateImpact is the new official stenographer for the PennFuture DEP. Here’s what the Dems at StateImpact say about the Kinder fine…
Continue reading

Some PA Republicans Beginning to Cave on Severance Tax

Kudos to Pennsylvania Republicans for hanging tough and pushing back against the bullying of PA Gov. Tom Wolf with respect to a Marcellus-killing severance tax. However, the battle for a severance tax may have taken its toll. At least one, perhaps more, Republicans are going squishy now that the fight is over for the 2015/2016 budget. State Rep. Jim Christiana, a Republican (RINO) from Beaver County (where Shell may build an ethane cracker plant) says he will propose new legislation that creates a 3% severance tax. His tax plan includes abolishing the existing impact fee, which is the equivalent of a severance tax, and using some of the 3% tax revenue to replace the impact fee. Christiana says, “many Republicans support the concept of a severance tax, but simply reject the governor’s punitive approach.” He also says Republicans “have lost the public relations battle in explaining that the impact fee is a severance tax.” In other words Christiana has lost his nerve. Christiana is a major disappointment and, possibly, an harbinger that PA Republicans may cave and pass a severance tax after successfully fending one off this year…
Continue reading

Ouch: Patterson-UTI Rig Count Drops Another 10% in December

As we do every month, MDN tracks how many rigs oilfield services company Patterson-UTI Energy reports operating–as a proxy for when/if the drop in rig counts for the Marcellus/Utica will turn around. Patterson operates a number of rigs in the northeast, as well as other areas of the continental United States (and Canada). Patterson’s November rig count number went down, but only by one, which led us to speculate that perhaps we had finally turned the corner on falling rig counts (see Patterson-UTI Rig Count Hits New Low in November). Alas, we were wrong–in a big way. Patterson released their December rig count numbers yesterday and their U.S. rig count dropped from 91 in November to 82 in December–down 10% in a single month. For months and months Patterson has operated four rigs in Canada. In December the Canadian rig count went to one. It seems like there’s no end of bad news when it comes to domestic shale drilling…
Continue reading

2015 NatGas Prices Traded at Lowest Level Since 1999

Anecdotally we know that the price of natural gas in the U.S. as bought and sold along hundreds of locations on major pipelines was low in 2015. At least it seemed low. Story after story told us it was low. The price of gas as traded at the Henry Hub delivery point in southern Louisiana is used as a proxy for “the price” of natgas nationally–and it was low. But what does the actual data tell us? According to our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the data confirms what everyone already “felt” was the case: the price of natgas in 2015 traded at its lowest level since 1999. Here’s the proof…
Continue reading

Explaining the Rift Between Saudi Arabia & Iran; Impact on Oil

Daniel Markind
Daniel Markind, Esq.

You may have noticed a flare-up of tensions in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The “crisis” as it’s being called by news organizations like CNN has quickly escalated with other Arab countries taking sides–most of them siding with Saudi Arabia. The flare-up initially caused an uptick in the price of oil based on fears there may be oil disruptions in the region–but those fears quickly died down and along with it, the price died down too. What is this conflict all about? And how might it affect the price of oil (and gas) in 2016? MDN reader Daniel Markind, an attorney and partner in the Philadelphia law firm Weir and Partners, provides us with an excellent summary/overview of what this conflict is about…
Continue reading

2 New NatGas Electric Turbines Planned Near Richmond, VA

An electric generating operator with an existing facility near Kings Dominion amusement park (about 20 miles from Richmond, VA) has filed a plan with the Virginia State Corporation Commission seeking permission to build two new smaller natural gas-fired electric generating turbines at the existing facility in Hanover County, VA. The two turbines would create up to 340 megawatts of electricity and would be used only during peak electric demand times–when demand rises due to really cold or really hot weather. Doswell Energy Center already operates four combined cycle natural gas units (producing up to 665 megawatts of electricity) and one other turbine (generating 171 megawatts) at the site. The two new turbines would be built at the same location. There’s little doubt that Marcellus/Utica Shale gas will feed the new turbines, if built. Hanover County officials are on board with the plan…
Continue reading

IHS Study: M&A Deals Plunged in 2015, So Did Shale Investment

No doubt about it, 2015 was a tough year in the shale energy industry. With shale energy, investment happens when drillers decide to drill holes in the ground. Without a hole, money doesn’t get spent. And when money isn’t being spent on drilling, other businesses along the supply chain begin to see their revenue dry up. Global consulting and research firm IHS, or Information Handling Service, has just published the “IHS Energy Global Upstream M & A Review.” As part of their promotion of the new study (must be a customer to score a copy), IHS released a detailed summary of their findings. One finding in particular stood out to MDN: In 2014 unconventional/shale drillers spent $75 billion on upstream (exploration & production) activities. In 2015 that number plunged to less than $30 billion–a 60% drop. That statistic more than any illustrates what happened to the oil and gas industry in 2015. Here’s more great insights from IHS on what happened in 2015…
Continue reading

Antis Celebrate OH Appeals Court Hearing with Street Dramatization

Note: Somewhere along the way MDN received incorrect information and previously said the case was being heard by the Ohio Supreme Court. It is not. It is being heard by the 8th District Court of Appeals. Our error!

It may be impolite to say so, but those who oppose fossil fuels, and therefore oppose drilling, and pipelines, and anything/everything to do with fossil fuels, are just plain nuts. They prove it, repeatedly, with their words and their actions. Take the group which purportedly represents a coalition of groups and individuals in Ohio called the Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN). Today the 8th District Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a case where one Ohio community, Broadview Heights, illegally tried to pass a so-called Community Bill of Rights that bans fracking. That measure got tossed by lower courts (see OH Antis Handed Crushing Defeat in Broadview Hghts Home Rule Case). But that hasn’t stopped the green faithful from appealing and appealing and appealing. They finally got their day before the high court–so what do they do? They issue a press release calling oil and gas drillers, and the State of Ohio, Goliath, and of course they cast themselves and the wacko citizens of Broadview Heights who passed the frack ban as David. Further, to commemorate this “historic event,” the crazies from OHCRN will present a “street dramatization” at 11:30 am today to illustrate the David vs. Goliath nature of the case…
Continue reading

FERC Extends New England Pipeline Comment Period by 1 Week

The comment period during which those in favor of, or more likely, those opposed to, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Northeast Energy Direct (NED) project was supposed to end today, Jan. 6. But the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has extended the comment period for one more week because a glitch with FERC’s online commenting system–a glitch that prevented people from filing comments from Dec. 24-27 and Dec. 31-Jan. 3. Oops. To compensate FERC is extending the window. It also gives antis more time to sleazily file as intervenors (see Intervenor Contagion Catching on with Radical Green Groups in NE). Here’s the poop scoop…
Continue reading

SWPA Local Leaders Forecast 2016, What’s Ahead for Marcellus?

We’ve brought you a number of opinions and perspectives on what lies ahead for 2016 with respect to our beloved shale energy industry. But it’s one thing for investors and politicians and commentators to pontificate. What about leaders in local communities, like the leaders of one of the most-drilled places in the Marcellus: southwestern Pennsylvania? What do local economic leaders see coming along in 2016? We think getting the opinion of some locals provides much-needed balance…
Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Jan 6, 2016

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: NY town bans frack waste; crude oil by rail slows down; Ohio’s Utica permits for last week – 0; expert analyzes prospects for Halliburton-Baker Huges deal; Raymond James says oilfield services in for a roller coaster ride in 2016; Josh Fox and his delusions of grandeur; Middle East tensions and the price of oil; and more!
Continue reading