CONSOL 4Q15: All About that Utica, ‘Bout that Utica, No Marcellus

All About That BassLast Friday CONSOL Energy released their fourth quarter 2015 update and we couldn’t stop the Meghan Trainor song “All About That Bass” from going through our heads, changing the word “bass” to Utica and “treble” to Marcellus. CONSOL was positively effusive about their Utica program and what it means for the future of the company. And well they should be (pun intended). In 4Q15 CONSOL drilled and brought online it’s most initially productive-ever Utica well, the GH 9 in Greene County, PA. The well’s initial flow was 61.9 million cubic feet per day per day (MMcf/d). That’s not as high as EQT’s record-breaker of 72.9 MMcf/d, also in Greene County (see EQT’s 1st Utica Well Shatters Record – 72.9 MMcf/d IP Rate!), but still, it’s amazing output for the CONSOL well. That amazing second well comes on the heels of CONSOL’s first PA Utica well, drilled in Westmoreland County in 3Q15, with an initial flow rate of 61.4 MMcf/d (see CONSOL 3Q15: Natgas Production Up 33%, Natgas Revenue Down $56M). Here’s what really caught our eye about Friday’s update and accompanying analyst conference call: In the Ohio Utica, the first well CONSOL drilled took 84 days and the drilling phase cost them $9 million. By the fifth well, the cost had gone down to $5 million. And they now believe they can get the cost of drilling a Utica well down to $4 million and do it in 23 days. Astonishing! (Note: that number is not the “all in” cost, which still is still more than $15 million per well.) So what about CONSOL’s Marcellus program?…
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A Crack of Light for the West Virginia Cracker?

Speaking at an industry conference in Pittsburgh last week, West Virginia’s Dept. of Commerce Secretary, Keith Burdette, indicated there’s still a faint blip on the monitor that Odebrecht may yet decide to build an ethane cracker plant in Wood County, WV. According to Burdette, Odebrecht’s subsidiary Braskem will purchase more land for the cracker by the end of the first quarter. If the Odebrecht cracker project was as dead as a door nail (which it has appeared to be in recent months), it doesn’t seem like they would continue to spend money on it. Right? Burdette also said all three large cracker projects, Odebrecht, Shell’s project in PA, and PTT Global’s project in OH have indicated they are likely to push off a final investment decision (FID) until 2017. Bummer…
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FERC OKs Tree-Cutting for Constitution Pipeline – in PA

In a crushing blow to anti-drilling radicals who have tried their best to stop the Constitution Pipeline, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has granted Williams, builder of the Constitution, permission to begin cutting down trees along the pipeline’s path in Pennsylvania. Williams still cannot fell trees in New York State, where the bulk of the pipeline will be built. However, FERC would not grant permission for PA unless they intend to grant permission on the other side of the border too–and everyone knows it. Currently New York’s anti-drilling governor, Andrew Cuomo, is holding up the 125-mile project that will deliver natural gas from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY by connecting with two interstate pipelines. Cuomo is about to create a constitution crisis in which the federal government will be forced to overrule the state and allow the pipeline to be built. Cuomo is withholding stream crossing permits–the only thing left before bulldozers begin to clear a path. Cuomo is once again caving to pressure from his lunatic left base of supporters. And he’s about to turn New York into a third-rate state, controlled by the federal government, through his unwillingness to grant the permits…
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OH’s “Low” Severance Tax will Raise $30M+ in FY 2016

For all of Ohio Gov. John “foreigner hunter” Kasich’s bellyaching about a low severance tax, the state is doing very nicely, thank you. According to a report appearing in the Akron Beacon Journal, the severance tax collected mostly from Utica Shale wells in the Buckeye State for fiscal year 2016 (runs from July 1, 2015 throught June 30, 2016) could top $30 million. That pales in comparison to the $200 million or so Pennsylvania collects each year via an impact fee, their version of a severance tax. PA collects 6.5 times more in taxes on drilling than Ohio–but then again, there are 6.5x more wells drilled in PA than in OH…
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The Truth About “Green” Electric Cars & What Really Powers Them

This may offend some, but it has to be said. Electric cars are manufactured to make rich, white liberals feel good about themselves–like they’re actually doing something to Save the Planet. The truth behind electric cars, however, is the opposite of what they believe. The thinking goes like this: “I’ll buy and drive an electric car and by doing so I’ll show all of my rich, white friends just how Green I am.” Here’s the truth: In 2015, 61% of all electricity was produced by either natural gas (31%) or coal (30%)–evil, vile, nasty fossil fuels, in the eyes of the rich, white liberal elites. Another 20% of electricity was produced by nuclear power plants, giving us a grand total of 81% of electricity running in those electric cars comes from “dirty” sources, in the minds of the libs. Do they realize that? Do they know their so-called “green” cars are actually powered mostly by fossil fuels? Another statistic: In 2015, 9% of all electricity in the U.S. was produced by so-called renewables, like wind and solar. Still feel good about yourselves, you dolts? In what can only be considered a laugh-out-loud moment, last week the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its 19th Annual Comprehensive Environmental Ratings for Vehicles. Electric vehicles (EVs) got 9 of the top 12 spots in the ACEEE Environmental Vehicle Rankings for being “greenest.” There’s also a list of “greener” vehicles, and (of course), a list of “meanest” vehicles–those that use nasty fossil fuels and belch out carbon dioxide (the same thing you exhale with every breath). The ACEEE rating is yet another attempt to make rich, white libs feel good about themselves…
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Blue Racer Midstream: Keeping a Sharp Eye on the Bottom Line

Blue Racer Midstream is a joint venture between Caiman Energy II and Dominion. It is a privately-held company, so we don’t have SEC reports and public statements about the company from which to gage how it’s doing. However, every now again Blue Racer’s upper management shows up at an industry conference. Last week Blue Racer’s relatively new CEO, Stephen Arata, spoke at the Hart Energy Marcellus-Utica Midstream event in Pittsburgh. It’s no surprise that Arata said the company has had to curb spending and growth, giving the downturn in oil and natgas prices…
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Why Can’t We be Friends: Can Coal & NatGas Get Along in WV?

Can’t we all just get along? That was the message from Corky DeMarco, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, in responding to a call from Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray that West Virginia should trim the coal severance tax from 5% to 2%, and raise the natural gas severance tax from 5% to whatever in order to give coal a break in the Mountain State. Murray went after natural gas in a speech last week at the West Virginia Coal Mining Symposium in Charleston, WV. It appears Murray’s philosophy is “every man for himself” when it comes to government taxation. He’s wrong. Here’s why…
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CNG for 34 Cents/Gal Equivalent! Fill ‘Er Up for Price of a Coke

This story will appear to be inaccurate, or a “too good to be true” story. We assure you it is not. In December Congress passed a new law granting a retroactive (for 2015) tax cut on alternative fuels, and proactive tax cut for 2016. It amounts to a 50 cent savings per gallon equivalent for things like compressed natural gas (CNG). Following the tax cut, 7-Eleven Stores in Oklahoma at their locations with CNG pumps, reduced the price of their CNG to 39 cents per equivalent gallon of gasoline. If you use the 7-Eleven debit card, you can get it for 34 cents per equivalent gallon. No lie: you can fill up your CNG car up at 7-Eleven for little more than the price of a 20-ounce bottle of Coca Cola! Now THAT’s incredible…
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Chevron 4Q15: First Quarterly Loss in 13 Years, Scaling Back 2016

Chevron, one of the country’s largest oil and gas companies (with a sizable drilling operation in the Marcellus/Utica) issued its fourth quarter and full year 2015 update last Friday. It was not good news. Chevron lost money in 4Q15–their first quarterly loss in 13 years. The reason? Upstream (or drilling) got “crushed” due to low commodity prices for oil and gas. The news has created jitters on Wall Street. This week three more majors are due to release their updates: ExxonMobil, BP and Shell. Investors are worried they may show losses too. In their Upstream division, Chevron lost $1.9 billion in 4Q15 over 4Q14, and they lost $4 billion for the entire year, after making $3.3 billion in 2014. Chevron is a BIG company, so don’t fret. They still made money company-wide. Although Chevron lost $588 million in 4Q15 (company-wide), they made $4.6 billion of net income for full year 2015…
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IHS Says Hedging Woes Ahead for E&Ps in 2016 & 2017

A new study from oil and gas powerhouse research firm IHS says there’s problems ahead for U.S. drillers because of hedging. Hedging is a complicated trading activity that reduces risk. In plain English, drillers lock in prices for the gas they will sell in the future–several months or even years in advance–today. On the up-side they get a lot more money for their gas. One of the masters of hedging in the Marcellus/Utica is Antero Resources (see Antero Resources 4Q15 Update: NatGas Sales Averaged $4.40/Mcf). On the down side, you’re not able to lock in prices that earn you a profit. That’s the situation facing drillers as hedges in 2016 and 2017 “roll off” and companies are negotiating new contracts that just aren’t all that great. According to IHS’ “Comparative Peer Group Analysis of North American E&Ps” (unfortunately we don’t have a full copy) in 2016 will see a decline in hedging, and 2017 will be even worse…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Feb 1, 2016

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: OH groups & officials lobby for drilling in Wayne Natl Forest; latest Duke shale study comes up short; the collapse of shale gas production has begun; a look at the LNG market; the “great divide” between crude & natgas prices; Chesapeake’s next move; Halcon Resources may not survive; why the Paris climate agreement will fail; and more!
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