Stunned: Former Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon Dies in Car Crash

AubreyMcClendon.jpgWe are still stunned at the news–news you’ve likely already heard elsewhere. Yesterday morning Aubrey McClendon, 56 years old and the sole person in his SUV, was traveling along a 2-lane road in/near Oklahoma City when he crashed into a bridge foundation/embankment while moving at “a high rate of speed.” He was killed in the crash. Yesterday afternoon MDN editor Jim Willis received a call from reporter friend Bob Downing from the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal to ask for a response to the news. “What news?” Jim asked. And Bob told him. The accident is still being investigated, but the guy in charge of investigating it, without prejudging what he will find, has already pronounced it pretty cut and dried. We find it hard (nearly impossible) to believe, but most people, including the investigator, seem to believe it was a suicide, perhaps because the day before Aubrey was indicted by the U.S. Dept. of Justice (see Aubrey McClendon Indicted by DOJ for Conspiracy in Bid Rigging). Aubrey was traveling at 50+ mph and was not wearing a seat belt when his SUV hit the bridge embankment–without applying the brakes. He could have fallen asleep. He could have been distracted. Or it may have been intentional. The investigator said Aubrey had plenty of time to correct course and not hit the embankment. Below we have the details as we know them, along with reaction from a number of people and organizations. We join others in saying our thoughts and prayers go out to Aubrey’s wife and three adult children…
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Eclipse Resources: Production Up 186%, Continued Drilling in 2016

Eclipse Resources, a small but growing driller headquartered in State College, PA but drilling exclusively in the Ohio Utica Shale, released their fourth quarter and full year 2015 update yesterday. Among the highlights: Production was up 186% in 2015 over 2014. Revenue was up 97% over 2014. Eclipsed drilled 31 wells, completed 51 wells and brought 76 wells online in 2015. The company will continue to focus exclusively on the Utica in 2016, as they did in 2015. They plan to spend $168 million in 2016, of which $130 million is for drilling and completions, and with that money they will drill 7.6 net Utica wells, complete 9.4 net Utica wells and exit the year with 11.5 net Utica wells drilled but uncompleted (DUCs). The elephant in the room is that Eclipse lost nearly $1 billion in 2015. However, as with many other drillers, the loss was on paper only–not out of pocket. With impairments (write-down of lease values) and with depreciation and other accounting shenanigans, almost all of the loss was on paper. Hey, at least they will keep on drillin’ in 2016! Here’s the update with the details…
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Dimock Trial: Ingraffea Day 2 – Hides Behind a Woman’s Coat

Yesterday we brought you first-hand reporting on Day 1 of testimony from so-called expert witness Dr. Anthony (Tony the Tiger) Ingraffea at the Dimock water trial (see Dimock Trial: Cornell Prof Tony Ingraffea Exposed as Fractivist). Both MDN friend Tom Shepstone and FrackNation filmmaker Phelim McAleer are attending the trial and filing superb reports. It’s a good thing they are there. The Democrat-controlled Scranton Times-Tribune–the “newspaper of record” in the very place where the trial is being held–has stopped reporting on the trial, because the news is just so bad for anti-drillers. It’s a total news blackout by mainstream media. But there is a TON of news coming from this trial, and none of it so interesting as the total destruction of Ingraffea under cross examination. He’s not only been exposed as a fractivist, he’s been exposed as knowing nothing about the Dimock water well case! The very case he’s supposed to know about–the very reason he is testifying as an “expert.” Below is a summary of day two of Ingraffea’s testimony, in which he admits to a huge list of things he doesn’t know. Also below, Phelim got his camera out and tried to interview Ingraffea outside the courthouse and Ingraffea, sounding like a baby muttering “He’s harassing me,” hid behind a woman’s coat and wouldn’t answer Phelim’s questions. It’s hysterical! You have to watch the video (below)…
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Local Residents Demand KY Landfill Accepting Frack Waste Close

On Tuesday MDN told you about Marcellus and Utica Shale waste (concentrated drill cuttings) that were illegally dumped in a Kentucky landfill (see Marcellus/Utica Frack Waste Illegally Dumped in Kentucky Landfill). We have an update. Tuesday night a crowd of 300+ local residents, up in arms over the possibility of high levels of radiation that might potentially leak from the landfill, which sits across the street from a school, called on local officials to shut down the landfill. Although the local officials didn’t take action at the meeting, they did say they have “no problem” shutting it down if it’s found there was foreknowledge they accepted the waste. The operator of the landfill, Advance Disposal, claims they were lied to about what was in the loads they accepted. In other words, the fingers have come out and are all pointing at the other party…
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Exxon to Spend 25% Less in 2016, But Raises $12B to Go Shopping

ExxonMobil, the largest U.S.-based energy company and largest producer of natural gas in the U.S., released an interesting press release yesterday. In it, they divulge their high-level plans for 2016. Among those plans, the company will spend $23 billion this year, which is 25% less than what they spent last year. Exxon will start up 10 new upstream projects in 2016 and 2017, which will add an additional 450,000 oil-equivalent barrels per day to their already huge production. Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson is quoted as saying, “We are advancing several Downstream and Chemical projects to increase feedstock flexibility, produce higher-value products and expand logistics capabilities to strengthen our competitive advantage in these businesses.” Our thought: Let’s hope one of those downstream projects getting advanced this year is the Monaca, PA ethane cracker. It’s also interesting what Exxon didn’t say in yesterday’s press release: They didn’t comment on the recent $12 billion in bonds they’ve floated so they can go shopping and pick off distressed competitors and/or their assets…
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Maple Trees Finally Come Down for Constitution Pipeline

chainsawIn the end, not even self-righteous Hollywood actor James Cromwell–who played Zefram Cochrane (mythical creator of the warp engine) in the 1996 movie Star Trek: First Contact (one of our favs)–could stop the chain saws in Susquehanna County, PA. We’ve been telling you about some holdout the anti-drilling Holleran family who didn’t want the much-needed Constitution Pipeline to cross their land (see Maple Syrup Farm in Path of PA Pipeline, Antis Make Most of It). Cromwell and other antis heard about it and visited to add their shrill voices to the protest (see Actor James Cromwell Admits He’s Clueless, Fights Pipeline Anyway). The protesters tried to stop Williams from clearing trees on the property–and a judge got tired of that real quick (see Judge Tells NEPA Family to Let Williams Cut Maple Trees, Or Else). The Hollerans finally obeyed the judge’s order and the trees are now down…
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Which 2 Northeast Drillers Does Wall Street Love the Best?

Wall Street is looking favorably on Marcellus/Utica drillers. Why? Because they’re cutting back spending–way back. On average the eight largest drillers in the northeast are scaling back spending in 2016 by 51%. Good for the number crunchers–bad for jobs and economic benefits for communities. Collectively their stock price is up about 3% since the beginning of the year, while the S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF is down 19%. However, there are two northeast drillers who are scaling back a little, but not nearly as much as the others. These two drillers believe they can keep drilling, and pumping, profitably in 2016. Which ones are they?…
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Moody’s Oil & Gas Liquidity Stress Index Hits Worst-ever Level

Ratings service Moody’s issued a flash update yesterday to let everyone know that their Oil & Gas Liquidity Stress Index, a measure of the liquidity health of oil and gas companies, hit a worst-ever high of 27.2%. Translation: there are a record number of energy companies stretched to the limit, ready to run dry in the cash department. If prices don’t turn around soon, some (many?) of these companies will go under…
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Old Ormet Site in Monroe, OH Shopped as Power Plant Location

Going back a few years we’ve written about what used to be Monroe County, OH’s largest employer–the Ormet aluminum smelter plant–at one time employing 900 people. Ormet tried to get a price concession on electricity but couldn’t, so the plant closed (see Final Chapter of Ormet Plant Closing – Utica Could have Saved It). Niagara Worldwide bought the plant out of bankruptcy and renamed it Center Point Terminal. Early on they worked to convert part of it as a transloading facility for the shale industry (see Out with Old Ormet Plant, In with New Center Port Transload Facility). They also converted part of it into a barge facility (see New Ormet Aluminum Plant Owner Shops Barge Facility to Shalers). Niagara is now advertising the site as a perfect location for natural gas-fired power plants to locate at…
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The Critical Role of NatGas for New England’s Electric Generation

Not that there was ever any doubt, but natural gas is critical to New England. Why? Because it is the #1 source for powering electric generation in the region. Coal plants and the region’s last nuclear plant are closing. The only thing that stave off rolling blackouts is natural gas. The New England regional power system (called ISO New England) has just released their 2016 Regional Electric Outlook (full copy below). Here’s what they have to say about the critical role of natgas in New England…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Mar 3, 2016

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Ohio has 1,240 producing Utica wells; Gulfport gets 4 new Utica permits; REX pipeline temporarily shuts down in OH; PA job growth slows in 2015; the fight to stop Obama’s Clean Power Plan; natgas futures price hits 17-year low; Columbia J-School smear job on Exxon; and more!
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