Wolf’s Demented 2nd Budget: Tax PA Marcellus 6.5% Instead of 5%

straight jacketSomeone needs to bring out a straight jacket for PA Gov. Tom Wolf. He’s gone stark…raving…mad. He’s not only a danger to himself, he’s a danger to all of Pennsylvania. The only thing missing from yesterday’s budget address in Harrisburg was frothing at the mouth. In his mean-spirited budget address, Wolf insulted nearly everyone present–blaming everyone but himself for the budget disaster of last year. Wolf is either bipolar (off his meds) or just plain nuts. How else can you explain that after not passing his first budget because he demanded a 5% severance tax on drilling (which was really closer to 15%, see Pittsburgh Economic Leader Says Wolf Severance Tax Really 15% Rate), in the worst oil and gas downturn in 30 years, he’s just proposed a second budget with a 6.5% severance tax? It’s sheer madness…
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Warren Resources: Potential Bankruptcy, No Drilling in 2016

Last week MDN told you of a troubling sign at Warren Resources–the company had missed a $7.5 million payment on notes (IOUs) and the clock is now ticking (see Warren Resources Misses $7.5M Debt Payment, 30-Day Clock Ticking). Yesterday Warren released information on 2015 reserve and production figures. As part of that update, they say this: “If Warren cannot come to a workable agreement regarding an out-of-court restructuring, it will have to seek protection from its creditors through a bankruptcy proceeding in order to preserve and maximize value for its stakeholders” (emphasis added). In other words, if the people they owe money to don’t back off, the only choice left is to declare bankruptcy. Warren also said yesterday they won’t spend a penny on drilling in 2016…
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Shell Begins Hiring for Monaca, PA Ethane Cracker Plant

Yesterday a sharp MDN reader called our attention to a job posting on LinkedIn. The posting, by Shell, seeks a “Technical Service Team Lead Polyethylene (Pittsburgh, PA).” When you read the job listing (below) it clearly states it the job is for their Monaca, PA ethane cracker plant complex. Now this is a single job posting–so far–although it’s for a very important position. Still, our point is this: You don’t spend millions building a new bridge over a highway as a new entrance to a piece of property (see Shell Begins Building Bridge to PA Cracker Plant Site), you don’t spend $80 million to clean up that site (see Shell Paying $80M to Clean Up PA Site for Ethane Cracker Plant), you don’t spend $69 million to move a water intake site and build a new water treatment site for the local town because the current water intake is on the site where you want to build (see Shell Paying $69M to Move Water Plant for Cracker Project), you don’t spend money to lease land to build two ethane pipelines to that site (see Exclusive: Shell Leasing Land for 2 Pipelines to PA Cracker Plant), and you don’t begin hiring people to work on/at the plant–unless you’re serious about building it…
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Supreme Court Shocker – Justices Halt Obama’s Clean Power Plan

On January 26, 2016, 29 states and state agencies, including Ohio and West Virgina, filed an application with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking an immediate stay of President Obama’s EPA Clean Power Plan (see 29 States Ask Supreme Court to Stop Obama Clean Power Plan ASAP). A week before that a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied such a stay, so the states had no alternative but to take their case all the way to the top. Yesterday, in a surprise decision, the High Court granted their request! That is, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped Obama’s draconian EPA regulations dead in their tracks. Now an extended and protracted court case will ensue. What it means is that CPP is dead for this year, and likely dead altogether…
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EIA Feb DPR: Utica NatGas Output Continues to Increase

Earlier this week our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), issued our favorite monthly report, the Drilling Productivity Report (DPR). The February 2016 report shows what the EIA predicts oil and natural gas production will be in March from the seven largest commercial shale plays in the U.S. What does the report (full copy below) show? Very broadly, it shows that the decline in natural gas production is picking up speed, while the decline in oil slowed (reversed, actually). In January’s report, the EIA said for February the combined output of natgas would decline by 405 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d). In this report, forecasting March production, the EIA says the decline will go down another 451 MMcf/d over the February number. That is, the rate of decline is increasing. There’s only one shale play of the seven with an increase in natgas output from the previous month. Can you guess which one? That’s right–the Utica…
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PA Rig Count Hits 9-Year Low Last Week

Two days ago MDN briefed you on the latest rig counts–worldwide, U.S. and for the Marcellus/Utica (see Rig Counts for World, US & Marcellus/Utica Continue to Tumble). What we didn’t note in that article is last week Baker Hughes showed the number of active rigs in Pennsylvania had fallen to 19. Eeeks! That is the lowest number of active rigs working in PA since before the Marcellus Shale revolution got underway in 2007. How much lower will it go?…
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Philly Council President Says Green Jobs Plan to Create 10K Jobs

Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke was one of the chief opponents of a deal that would have sold the city-owned Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) to Connecticut utility company UIL for $1.86 billion. Clarke, more than anyone, torpedoed the deal (see UIL Makes it Official: $1.86B Deal to Buy Phila. Gas Works is Dead). Clarke is, in our opinion, corrupt and in the pockets of unions and others who benefited from that deal falling through. So it was with some amusement we noticed that Clarke announced on Monday that somehow, somewhere, he’s going to magically put his hands on $1 billion to “invest” in a “green jobs” boondoggle that will, supposedly, create 10,000 jobs over the next 10 years. This would be fall-off-your-seat funny if it weren’t so sad and angering. The city could have had a legitimate infusion of non-taxpayer money–$1.86 billion to be exact–but instead has chosen to continue its corrupt ways of using taxpayer money to line the pockets of political supporters…
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Obama’s Final Disastrous Budget Targets Fossil Fuels

In a final, parting shot at the fossil fuel industry, President Obama yesterday introduced what will be his final budget (thank God!). The plan calls for a new 25 cents per gallon tax on gasoline, cleverly disguised as a $10 per barrel “fee”–to be phased in over five years, long after Obama has retired to the links on some golf course in Hawaii. The fee would go to pay for the highway fund, and (of course) to fund Big Green projects (i.e. line the pockets of his supporters). The man knows no shame. The plan is clearly meant to force America away from using fossil fuels as an energy source, what the American Petroleum Institute calls Obama’s “leave it in the ground” strategy. The thing is, we don’t know of more than half a dozen Republicans on Capitol Hill (who happen to control Congress) who still possess their male equipment. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the Emasculated-in-Chief himself. Will McConnell oppose this plan? Probably not. And that’s scary…
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Seventy Seven Energy Releases Cherry-Picked Numbers

It must be worse at oilfield services company Seventy Seven Energy (SSE) than we thought. The former Chesapeake Energy Oilfield Operating unit that was spun into its own company a few years ago. In January SSE announced they had hired a turnaround expert (see Seventy Seven Energy Hires Turnaround Expert, Hopes to Stay Afloat). Not long after that, also in January, the New York Stock Exchange threatened the company with delisting (see Seventy Seven Energy’s Stock Threatened with Delisting from NYSE). Although third quarter 2015 results were bloody, it seemed to us the situation was improving at SSE (see Seventy Seven Energy 3Q15: Still Losing Money, But Not as Much). However, SSE has just released a preliminary fourth quarter and full year 2015 update–and the update is nothing more than a few cherry-picked facts and figures. No financials. No updates for their various divisions. No context at all. Just a few facts and figures plucked to make the company look as good as it possibly can–until the other shoe drops when they have to release their financials…
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Natural Gas Breaks Another Record in Generating Electricity

One of the ongoing stories over the past year or more has been the tightening relationship between natural gas and electric power. What do they have in common? Last year natgas edged out coal to become the number one fuel source that powers electric generating plants in the U.S. The electric generation market is already a hugely important market for natural gas, and it’s only going to increase in the coming years. Especially now that Obama’s Clean Power Plan has been put on hold by the Supreme Court (see today’s companion story). Our friends at the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) have authored another great story for their Today in Energy series–this one about natgas use in power generation. According to the EIA, “So far this winter, natural gas consumption in the electric power sector (gas burn) has been higher than in any previous winter.” Here’s the full story from the EIA…
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New CNG Tanks on the Way for Passenger Vehicles – Game Changer?

There’s been a break through in technology used for compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel tanks used in cars and trucks. Until now, the typical CNG fuel tank must be big and bulky and holds compressed gas at a pressure of 3,600 pounds per square inch (psi). United Technologies Corp. has innovated a new tank that is much smaller, using “activated carbon adsorbents” technology that will allow CNG to be stored at 1,000 psi. United Technologies has licensed their technology to Adsorbed Natural Gas Products, Inc. which will manufacture the new fuel tanks. If this catches on, it has the potential to up-end the passenger vehicle market by making CNG as attractive and convenient as gasoline–which would expand natural gas demand…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Feb 10, 2016

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Kinder Morgan eyes more NY locations for compressor station; permits & rig count weak in OH; world’s largest energy trader thinks oil price low for next 10 years; shifting energy markets end crude by rail reign; different strategies for different boards; UK charity lies about anti-fracking activity; and more!
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