Marcellus/Utica Frack Waste Illegally Dumped in Kentucky Landfill

illegalSeems to us like folks in Kentucky swing more to the liberal side of the isle when it comes to opposing natural gas drilling and pipelines. Just our observation over time. We think they overreact to anything related to fracking and gas drilling. However, in this case, we don’t think they’re overreacting. It appears that 47 dumpsters full of concentrated frack waste from OH, PA and WV was illegally dumped in a Kentucky landfill in Estill County, KY. They were buried between last July and November, near as anyone can tell. And the landfill sits across the road from a school. Normal frack waste has extremely low (usually no) kind of radioactivity. But when drill cuttings are further processed and concentrated, as was the case with this series of loads, the naturally occurring radiation present can become more concentrated. There’s no indication of a problem at the landfill…no indication that it’s leaking radioactivity into the water table, etc. Radiation levels are being monitored and do not show anything above normal background levels. But still, somebody somewhere should have known this was happening. Local residents have a right to be up in arms over not being told…
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WV Forced Pooling Bill Headed for 5th Defeat in 6 Years

Although the drilling industry in West Virginia had high hopes that “this was the year” a forced pooling bill would be passed–the latest attempt has once again gone down in flames. Each year the WV legislature meets for a 60-day period at the beginning of the year. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the 50th day and the last day for a bill to advance out of the house of origin if it’s to be considered by the full legislature–what is known as “crossover day.” House Bill (HB) 4426 is this year’s forced pooling bill, introduced on Feb. 5 (see WV Forced Pooling Bill HB 4426 Introduced – Debate Rages). HB 4426 has until tomorrow to be reported out of committee. It’s not going to happen, meaning it cannot, under the rules of the legislature, be considered for a full vote. The West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association sounds rather pessimistic about trying again in the future…
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PA Landowners Ask Judge to Intervene in Chesapeake Royalty Case

In March 2015 MDN reported on the “Demchak” royalty case in which a group of Pennsylvania landowners had agreed to a settlement with Chesapeake over Chessy’s alleged shorting of royalty payments (see Chesapeake’s PA Royalty Settlement Affects Some, Not All Landowners). As we reported at the time, “several thousand” landowners (we now know the number is 9,000 landowners) would share two-thirds of the $11 million settlement (the other one-third going to the lawyers), which doesn’t seem all that great a deal to us. Toward the end of last year the issue got heated again as many landowners were faced with a decision of whether or not to opt out of the settlement (see Packed Meeting in Towanda Discusses Chesapeake Royalty Settlement). Then the whole thing came to a screeching half with a new lawsuit by PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane. Her lawsuit stopped the settlement from proceeding (see PA AG’s Lawsuit Derails Demchak/Chesapeake Royalty Settlement). Afraid that Chesapeake will file for bankruptcy protection (not related to this case), landowners in the Demchak case are asking a federal judge to appoint a mediator and finish the deal–so at least they will get pennies on the dollar instead of nothing at all…
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Antis Lose Court Decision to Stop Constitution Pipe Construction

Some of the worst of the worst radicalized environmental groups–Catskill Mountainkeeper, Sierra Club, Riverkeeper, Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society and Clean Air Council–had filed a request in U.S. District Court for the 2nd Circuit to stop Williams from “all activities” related to constructing the Constitution Pipeline. The Constitution, you may recall, is a 125-mile pipeline that will deliver natural gas from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY, connecting with two interstate pipelines that will carry that gas to points along the Eastern seaboard. Recently Williams won the right from the federal government to begin clearing trees in Pennsylvania (see FERC OKs Tree-Cutting for Constitution Pipeline – in PA). Tree-clearing permission seems to have tipped the antis over into a state of near-delirium. They filed a request to stop all Constitution construction activity–and the 2nd Circuit has denied their request. It’s not exactly “game over” for the radicals–but it’s the fourth quarter and their down by double digits with no hope of winning. Which of course delights us to no end…
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New Report Finds Property Values Not Affected by Pipelines

Can we finally lay to rest the old canard that putting a pipeline across someone’s property lowers that property’s value–or makes it impossible to get a mortgage? Those lies have circulated for years. A new study commissioned by The INGAA Foundation finds, “The presence of an underground natural gas transmission pipeline does not affect the sales prices or value of residential properties.” The study, titled “Pipeline Impact to Property Value and Property Insurability” (full copy below), looked at suburban areas outside of Cincinnati, OH, a rural neighborhood in Clinton, NJ, a master-planned residential community in Prince William County, VA, a small town subdivision in Dallastown, PA, and a suburban area near Jackson, MS. In each and every area the study found “no negative impact on price, and no correlation between price and proximity to pipeline easement.” Case closed…
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WV Gov. Tomblin Signs Severance Tax Cut into Law

You may recall our amazement two weeks ago when we reported that West Virginia was on the cusp of passing a bill that will lower the state’s oil/natural gas and coal severance taxes (see WV Senate Passes Bill to Eliminate Part of State Severance Tax). In 2005 when now Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was then President of the WV Senate, he presided over slapping a new/extra severance tax on oil, gas and coal–for the express purpose of paying down the state’s old workers’ compensation debts. At the time Tomblin promised when the debt was paid off, the tax would end. And by gaw he actually did it. Yesterday Tomblin signed the bill into law. A politician who keeps his word. Rarer than hen’s teeth…
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EV Energy Partners: No New Utica Wells in 2016, in Survival Mode

EV Energy Partners, an upstream master limited partnership (MLP) created by EnerVest that holds enormous acreage in the Utica Shale play, released their fourth quarter and full year 2015 update yesterday. Company mucky mucks also held an earnings phone call with analysts. What did we learn? EV has no plans to drill new Utica wells in 2016. The company is on an austerity budget–only spending to complete 10 already-drilled wells in the Texas Barnett Shale. EV will spend between $10-$18 million on exploration and production in 2016. You read that right, $10-$18 million, NOT $100-$180 million. In other words, essentially nothing. According to EV’s Chairman, John Walker, “Needless to say we all should be running our companies today for survival.” Indeed. Below is yesterday’s EV Energy update, along with a portion of the analyst phone call transcript…
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M3’s Stonewall Gathering System in WV Gets New Investor/Partner

In April 2015 MDN told you that a section of M3 Midstream’s Appalachia Gathering System (AGS) had been spun off into its own company called Stonewall Gathering System (see M3’s New Stonewall Gathering System Extends Existing AGS in WV). At the time, plans were under way to build out gathering pipelines in West Virginia’s Harrison and Doddridge counties, running through Lewis and into Braxton County where the pipeline will connect with Columbia Transmission’s interstate pipeline. The plans came to fruition and the Stonewall Gathering System was built and now gathers 1 billion cubic feet of Marcellus Shale gas per day (see Construction on WV Stonewall Gather Pipeline Begins, Runs Thru Dec). The project now has a new investor/co-owner. WGL Midstream announced yesterday that it has exercised an option to invest $89 million in the Stonewall Gas Gathering System, representing a 35% ownership stake…
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CONSOL Sells Coal Mine for $420M; Transforming into Gas Driller

Calling it “another significant event in the execution of CONSOL Energy’s strategy,” CONSOL Energy CEO Nick DeIuliis announced yesterday the company has sold another of its coal mines–this one in southwestern Virginia–for $420 million. The reason? CONSOL continues on its mission to convert from being one of the largest coal companies in the North America to becoming one of the preeminent “pure play” natural gas drillers in the Marcellus/Utica. That’s the goal–and this sale helps propel them toward that goal…
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Getting Serious: Ohio Ethane Cracker Gets its Own Website

A brief mention, because it’s noteworthy. PTT Global is the Thailand-based chemical company floating a plan to build a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker plant in Belmont County, OH (see It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site). Since the announcement last April, PTT has taken a number of steps toward making the Belmont ethane cracker a reality. They are in the midst of spending $100 million on engineering plans for the plant (see PTT Announces 2 Contractors Working on Belmont Cracker Plant). Paris, France-based Technip was also hired to design and build the furnaces and other key components of the cracker (see French Co. Gets Contract for Key Components in Belmont Cracker). It may seem minor in comparison, but PTT has just launched a new website dedicated to the cracker plant project…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Mar 1, 2016

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: REX Pipeline gets FERC OK for more East-West capacity; Big Green groups fund Little Green group in OH; oil & gas optimism in the Ohio Valley; DEP wants wi-fi; Noble Energy gives up some of its Southpointe office space; shale health registry in SWPA; Maine gov wants NED pipeline asap; FL Dems stall pro-fracking bill; $3 gas…someday; torn between two fossil fuels, feelin’ like a fool; what really controls the price of oil?; and more!
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