Rice Energy, Gulfport Midstream Form Midstream JV in Eastern OH

Rice Energy, a pure play driller in the Marcellus/Utica, and Gulfport Midstream, a subsidiary of Gulfport Energy (big driller in the Utica) have entered into a joint venture. The new jv is called Strike Force and the purpose is to connect to and gather natural gas from wells drilled in Belmont and Monroe counties in Ohio. That is, this is a new midstream business. Rice contributed $41 million, certain pipelines, facilities and rights of way in return for a 75% ownership of the jv. Gulfport contributed an existing gathering system in return for their 25%. Neither Rice nor Gulfport have made a public announcement about the new venture. We know of it via a Securities and Exchange Commission 8-K filing…
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Whatever Happened to Fracking in North Carolina?

Last year North Carolina was ready to begin drilling in shale layers of the Triassic Basin, which is part of a broader area called the Deep River Basin. Everything was set to go. And then the lawsuits began. A NC judge issued a ruling that prohibited the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) from issuing any permits until another case currently before the NC Supreme Court–questioning the legality of the appointment of several boards that manage state resources and the environment–plays out (see Judge Puts NC Fracking on Hold Pending Outcome of Lawsuit). That case was just resolved at the end of January. However, in the meantime, the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) didn’t let the lawsuit stop them from drilling a series of test holes in Stokes, Scotland, Hoke and Cumberland counties to see whether shale gas is present in those locations (see Lawsuit Won’t Stop NC Agency from Drilling Test Holes in Shale). The results are now in. Three of the four counties tested show there’s no measurable presence of Triassic shale and therefore not suitable for drilling…
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More Evidence of the Slowdown in the Marcellus

We won’t continue to beat the drum indefinitely that “it’s bad out there.” Everyone knows it. However, we did honestly and truthfully report when the Marcellus industry was on the upswing and it seemed like everything was coming up roses. So we will now honestly and truthfully report when our beloved industry is on the downswing. We don’t sugarcoat it here at MDN. The latest bit of “it’s bad out there” evidence comes from Greene County, PA and Hot Rod’s House of Bar-B-Que where it used to be you couldn’t get a seat at lunchtime, but now it’s “walk right in, sit right down”…
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More on Wolf’s New 6.5% Severance Tax – What Could of Been

A quick update on the new, higher severance tax being proposed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf in his second budget (the first budget never passed and the state has survived on continuing budget resolutions). We reported yesterday that the new 6.5% severance tax would be “on top of” the existing impact fee. That may have left a wrong impression. Yes, the impact fee, which is already high, would remain. But drillers would be able to deduct the impact fee from the 6.5% severance tax, lowering the severance tax for them. It still works out to a 6.5% rate–ON TOP OF corporate income taxes these companies pay. Meaning Wolf’s new severance tax would be one of the highest in the country, if you include corporate income taxes paid by drillers (income taxes that don’t exist in other oil & gas states). In addition to more comment on Wolf’s proposed severance tax, we also have some inside scuttlebutt about the severance tax and what could have been had Wolf not blown it last year…
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Wolf Vows to Push Forward with Clean Power Plan in PA

Are there any doubts remaining that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is anti-fossil fuel? He’s trying to tax the Marcellus gas industry out of existence (see Wolf’s Demented 2nd Budget: Tax PA Marcellus 6.5% Instead of 5%). He’s now trying to regulate the coal industry in PA out of existence. Yesterday we brought you the great news that the U.S. Supreme Court has stayed the execution of coal by stopping–for now–implementation of President Obama’s draconian and misnamed Clean Power Plan (see Supreme Court Shocker – Justices Halt Obama’s Clean Power Plan). That means a decision on whether or not the plan can proceed will come from the courts no earlier than 2017. So what does Tom Wolf say? PA is going to go ahead and put a bullet in the head of coal (and to some degree natural gas) by moving forward with its own implementation of the Clean Power Plan. Arrogance personified…
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Anti Groups Abruptly Cut Funding for OH Fracking Study

Two days ago we told you about a three-year study conducted at the University of Cincinnati that looked at fracking and its potential affects on water wells in five Ohio counties. The research found no evidence that fracking had led to any kind of water well contamination (see Antis Not Happy with Results of OH Fracking Study They Funded). We now have a bit more to the story. The two anti groups that funded the research, the Deer Creek Foundation in St. Louis and the Alice Weston foundation from Cincinnati, abruptly stopped funding the study when they got the preliminary (and as yet, unpublished) results. The foundations thought they had bought and paid for a particular outcome, and when that didn’t happen, they withdrew their money and presumably will now support someone they can buy off. Here’s an update on this developing story from the Ohio Oil and Gas Association…
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Oil & Gas Investment in 2015 Down Average 35% – 2nd Largest Ever

Another interesting article from our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). We all know that drillers spent a lot less last year than the year before on drilling. How much, on average? According to new research by the EIA, mining and exploration investment (which includes oil and gas and coal) declined 35% in 2015, the second largest year-over-year decline since the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) began reporting the series in 1948. Did you catch that? Last year investment in oil and gas decreased the second largest amount since the government has kept records on it. Wow. This year promises even more cuts. Here’s what the EIA says in their latest report…
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Love’s Travel Stops Buys Trillium CNG, Expands CNG Network

Loves, the big truck stop chain, has just purchased Trillium CNG. The purchase will add 37 public-access CNG locations to the Love’s network, bringing the number of Love’s-operated public CNG facilities to 65. Why is that an MDN story? For a few reasons. It shows the growth and importance of CNG (compressed natural gas) as a use in passenger vehicles and long-haul trucking. As demand grows for CNG, prices paid for natural gas will grow too. It’s an important developing market for natural gas. Also, there’s a Love’s and a Trillium CNG about three miles from where MDN editor Jim Willis lives. So this is a “local” story of interest for him! Here’s the good news of Love’s being in love with Trillium (along with a cool map)…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Feb 11, 2016

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: OH antis gear up to protest injection well; oil & gas downturn not all bad; where Wolf is leading; court rules WV oil & gas lease not divisible; VA bills to stop pipeline going nowhere; natgas still on the ropes; why oil & gas is still a great industry to work for; and more!
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