PA Game Commission Cuts $15.5M in Deals to Lease State Land for Drilling

PA Game CommissionThis is something you don’t see often these days: The Pennsylvania Game Commission is getting $15.5 million of revenue from new Marcellus leases with Chief Oil & Gas and EQT. The bulk of the money will come from a deal with Chief to lease 5,870 acres in Bradford and Sullivan counties. Terms of the lease? Chief is paying $2,500 per acre as a signing bonus and 20.55% in royalties when/if they drill and the gas and oil begin to flow. It just about floored us to see this deal! We though all deals were done until the price of gas goes up again. We’d not heard of any new deals being cut. As for EQT, they are paying the Game Commission $917,000 for the right to drill under a 306-acre parcel in Washington County, PA. Details on the per acre bonus and royalty for the EQT deal below…
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WV Senate Passes Bill to Eliminate Part of State Severance Tax

Politicians who keep promises? Consider us thunderstruck. It’s actually happened in West Virginia. In January MDN told you that WV Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin had proposed reducing the oil and gas severance tax (see WV Gov. Tomblin Proposes to LOWER Oil & Gas Severance Tax). Here’s the back story: In 2005, before he was Governor, Tomblin was President of the WV Senate. At that time the WV legislature passed an extra fee on top of the existing severance tax–a fee of 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas (along with a fee on coal extraction). The fee was to be used to pay down the state’s old workers’ compensation debts. Tomblin promised that once the debt was paid, the fee would be lifted. “Yeah, right” was the reaction. However, the debt is now nearly paid, and Tomblin has kept his promise. The WV Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill (SB) 419 that will lift the extra fee…
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UTOPIA Ethane Pipeline Faces Virtually No Opposition in OH

This is not a story you often hear these days: A natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline slated to be built in Ohio is facing virtually no opposition. Last month we updated you on Kinder Morgan’s UTOPIA (Utica To Ontario Pipeline Access) ethane pipeline (see Kinder Morgan Ready to Move Forward with UTOPIA East Pipeline). The 12-inch ethane pipeline will run 240 miles and will only be built in Ohio–therefore the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) won’t be involved in permitting the project. The pipeline will connect to another pipeline (in Ohio) and that pipeline will carry ethane all the way to Ontario to a cracker plant. Perhaps lack of FERC involvement is the secret to limited opposition? Who knows! Construction won’t begin on the project until 2017 and UTOPIA won’t be online until early 2018. But before that can happen, Kinder Morgan has to secure easements from approximately 900 landowners in Ohio. A full one-third of the deals are ALREADY DONE. Some 98% of landowners granted permission for Kinder Morgan to survey their property. Seems to us like a textbook case of how to build a pipeline! Now if Kinder could only duplicate that success with their Northeast Energy Direct pipeline running through New England (sigh). Here’s an update on UTOPIA’s rapid progress…
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Antero Plans Salt Landfill Next to Proposed Wastewater Recycling Plant

In August of last year, MDN told you that one of the biggest drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, Antero Resources, floated the idea of building a $275 million state-of-the-art frack wastewater treatment plant in Doddridge County, WV (see Antero Building New 60K Bbl Wastewater Recycling Facility in WV). The new plant, which will process 60,000 barrels of wastewater per day, will save Antero $150,000 per well in completion costs once it’s up and running. Antero tapped French company Veolia to engineer and build the plant (see French Company Confirms Building $275M Wastewater Plant for Antero). The plant will go online in late 2017. The new news is that last week Antero filed for a permit to build a landfill next to the wastewater plant. The wastewater plant will separate water, salt and radioactive particles. The salt can be sold to municipalities for use as road salt–but frankly there’s not enough of a market to sell it all. And not all of it will be of sufficient quality to be sold that way. So Antero needs a place to dispose of it–hence the $20 million landfill proposal…
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WV Forced Pooling Bill HB 4426 Introduced – Debate Rages

The forced pooling debate is now raging in West Virginia. As we previously reported, Republican chairman of the WV House Energy Committee, Lynwood “Woody” Ireland believes a new version of the forced pooling bill he recently introduced is as fair as it gets for both landowners and drillers (see Bill Sponsor Says It’s Now or Never for WV Forced Pooling Law). Ireland also believes if the bill doesn’t pass this year, it is likely a dead issue. However, other Republicans in the legislature called forced pooling tantamount to big businesses bullying private property owners. A forced pooling bill has been floated in five of the last six years (2012 was the exception). Will it pass this time? On Feb. 5 Ireland introduced House Bill (HB) 4426, called the “Horizontal Well Unitization and Landowner Protection Act of 2016” (full copy embedded below). Here’s an update on the debate now raging in Charleston and beyond…
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WV Senate Bill Stops Frivolous Nuisance Lawsuits Against Drillers

There’s been an interesting twist in pack of so-called “nuisance” lawsuits filed against Antero Resources in West Virginia (see Scores of “Nuisance” Lawsuits Against WV Drillers Combined). As we reported, more than 200 residents in WV (likely those who don’t own the mineral rights under their land) began filing “scores” of “nuisance” lawsuits over the past couple of years against Antero Resources and Hall Drilling, in places like Doddridge County. The lawsuits claim excessive traffic, odors and noise from nearby drilling make it “impossible” for them to enjoy their homes. The individual lawsuits were rolled up into one mega lawsuit that, at the time, sat before the WV Mass Litigation Panel. More recently it seems the mass lawsuit was transferred to Ohio Circuit Court (see More People Pile on Antero, Seek to Join Mass “Nuisance” Lawsuit). The strategy by anti-drillers is to form a piranha-like school of fish to attack a large mammal and kill it with thousands of tiny bites. But a problem has appeared for the antis. A bill was just introduced in the WV Senate on Feb. 4, Senate Bill (SB 508) that defines what, exactly, a nuisance is for the purposes of such lawsuits. In other words, legislators are about to plug a hole being exploited by antis–and the antis are squealing like stuck pigs…
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Atlantic Coast Pipeline Proposes New Route to Save the Salamanders

MDN told you last month that the US Forest Service, drunk on its own power, vetoed a path through a few miles of national forests for the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (see US Forest Service Blocks Atlantic Coast Pipeline in National Forests). Using cow nob salamanders and red spruce as their excuse, USFS said “nyet comrade” to Dominion in their quest to build a natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina. Dominion had requested a special permit to cross teeny tiny sections of the Monongahela and George Washington national forests in West Virginia and Virginia. So now what? Last week Dominion announced an alternate route for the pipeline (see map below) that avoids most of (not all of) the forests–adding another 30 miles to the 564-mile pipeline, and disrupting 249 landowners in Pocahontas and Randolph counties who will now need to sign easements to allow the pipeline across their land. All to avoid a few miles of forestland. Here’s the latest on the mighty Atlantic Coast Pipeline, re-routed because of a salamander…
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PA Lawmaker Wants Turnpike to Allow Pipelines, Charge Ongoing Fee

A RINO member of the Pennsylvania House (from the Philadelphia area) has introduced a new bill that he believes is totally brilliant. Rep. Scott Petri, R-Richboro, introduced a bill to give the PA turnpike commission authority to allow use of its right of way for natural gas pipelines–and charge a fee for it (of course). Rep. Petri, you may recall, LOVES severance taxes (see PA Republicans Commit Adultery with Severance Tax – Again). But a severance tax would generate small potatoes compared with a “fee” assessed on gas flowing through pipelines. Instead of calling his proposal to allow pipelines along turnpike corridors a tax, Petri calls it a fee. Same thing. He’s proposing that the turnpike commission (i.e. the State of Pennsylvania) should all natgas pipelines and receive an ongoing fee for the amount of gas flowing through the pipeline. When NOBODY rushes to sign up for such a plan (should it ever pass), the next step would be to force pipeline companies to use said corridors–banning pipelines from being built on private property. That’s our prediction…
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FTS International Lays off PA Workers – Won’t Say How Many

More job causalities from the slowdown in Marcellus/Utica drilling to report. FTS International, the largest private well-completion company in North America with offices and employees in the Marcellus/Utica, has laid off workers. But they’re not saying how many. There were reports FTS had closed their offices in Eighty Four and Venetia–but FTS says that’s not true. Here’s what’s known (which isn’t much)…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Feb 16, 2016

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Why David Einhorn still loves CONSOL Energy; coldest place in NY keeps warm with natgas; CT’s last coal plant converting to natgas; rigs last year 350, this year 100, is it “just enough”?; ratings agencies downgrade oil companies; LNG imports up last year–in US!; would Chessy bankruptcy boost the price of natgas?; Zombie oil companies, again; why OPEC likely won’t cut production; and more!
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