New Marcellus/Utica Driller Quietly Launches w/$800M Investment

APP logoDetails are just now coming to light of a new E&P (exploration and production, or drilling) company headquartered in Pittsburgh and focused totally on the Marcellus and Utica region. Until now the company has flown under our radar. The company is American Petroleum Partners (APP)–not to be confused with Aubrey McClendon’s American Energy Partners (AEP)–and is headed by Rice Energy alumnus Varun Mishra, who is the founder and CEO. The big news is that last September Mishra’s new company, founded in 2014, received a major injection of investment capital. Apollo Global Management invested $411 million in APP with the option to double it up to $800 million. MDN has it on very good authority that although APP quietly issued a press release about this last September (see it below), the company has intentionally kept the news quiet. Not any more! Big mouth MDN is blabbing it to the world. Below are the bits and pieces we’ve been able to put together about this newest Utica/Marcellus driller…
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MHR Wiggles Out of One Midstream Contract, Sues to End Another

Two weeks ago Magnum Hunter Resources (MHR), a driller focused almost exclusively on the Marcellus/Utica and going through bankruptcy protection proceedings, struck a deal with pipeline company Texas Gas Transmission Inc. to terminate four existing contracts with company to use its pipelines. MHR was pressuring Texas Gas to cancel the contracts it has with MHR subsidiary Triad Hunter, but Texas Gas was resisting. In the end Texas Gas agreed to cancel the contracts provided they get a $15 million “unsecured claim” which grants Texas Gas the right to be near the front of the line to get paid $15M when MHR is either sold or emerges from bankruptcy proceedings. MHR isn’t, however, having as much success with canceling signed contracts for another of its subsidiaries in the Bakken Shale region. Bakken Hunter has an existing, signed contract with Oklahoma midstream company Oneok. Citing the recent Sabine Oil & Gas ruling in which that company was allowed to cancel midstream contracts during bankruptcy (see Midstream Nightmare Comes True: Judge Lets Driller Cancel Contracts), MHR is asking a Delaware bankruptcy court to allow them to wiggle out of the Oneok deal. In addition to updates on these two situations, we also have news that the Securities and Exchange Commission is at least partially blaming two former Magnum Hunter employees–a chief financial officer and chief account officer–for the company’s financial predicament…
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MarkWest Hazardous Spill at Mobley Plant Now Cleaned Up

One month ago there was an accidental release of a hazardous chemical at the MarkWest Energy cryogenic processing plant in Mobley (Wetzel County), WV (see MarkWest’s Mobley Processing Plant Spills Hazardous Oil into Creek). The fluid in question is DOWTHERM™ MX Heat Transfer Fluid, a chemical used as as a heat transfer fluid meant for closed-loop systems. An estimated 3,000 gallons of the fluid spilled, some of it reaching the North Fork of Fishing Creek and some of that entered the water intake for the community of Pine Grove, WV. However, the plant (Pine Grove Water Works) was closed before any of the water was used by local residents–so there was no harm done. MarkWest has reported they are done cleaning up the spill and the Pine Grove Water Works is back up and running…
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Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline Makes Major Strides

Some very good news for the $5 billion, 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. Dominion, the main sponsor of the project, reports they have agreements for 96% of the capacity along the 1.5 billion cubic feet per day pipeline. Not only that, but 90% of the landowners along the pipeline’s proposed route have granted Dominion survey access, and some 500 landowners (representing 18% of all landowners) have already signed contracts to allow the pipeline. The antis are desperately trying to stop this project–and they’re failing…
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US NatGas Production Hits Record High in February – 73.3 Bcf/d

Something historic has happened. Natural gas production in the lower 48 states hit the highest-ever production levels. Which may seem strange since the U.S. Energy Information Administration has been telling us month after month about decreases in natgas production in the seven major shale plays they track. Bentek Energy, the analytics reporting unit of Platts, closely tracks production and has been since 2005. When you include all sources of natgas production (offshore, conventional onshore, etc.), the U.S. hit a record high in February of 73.3 billion cubic feet per day of production. February usually sees a decrease in production–so why the increase this year? The Marcellus/Utica is the big reason. But the reason behind the reason is that because the winter months were warmer than usual, it led to less “freeze-offs” or wells freezing up and stopping production due to cold temps. With fewer freeze-offs, more gas flowed, and a new record was hit…
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Rex Energy Extends & Sweetens Offer to Refi Outstanding IOUs

Earlier this month Rex Energy offered to refinance its notes (i.e. IOUs) so the notes expire later, meaning they don’t have to cough up cash sooner to pay off the debt (see Rex Energy Offers to Refinance Outstanding IOUs). It pushes repayment out further, after (presumably) the market has turned and Rex is once again making a profit. Apparently Rex isn’t having much luck convincing its note holders to go for the deal–so they’ve decided to extend the time and sweeten the deal…
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Shale Companies Keep Giving to PA Charities, Even During Downturn

Shale companies in Pennsylvania have been hammered hard. The prices they get for natural gas in PA are already among the lowest in the country (in the world!); they’ve cut back their budgets by 50-80% on average; they’ve laid off thousands of employees. In fact, things right now are fairly bleak in Marcellus-land. And yet….and yet these same companies continue to fund charities and non-profits at the same level they previously funded them when times were good. Which amazes and disappoints anti-drillers, both at the same time…
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Who Pays for Abandoned O&G Wells in PA?

Pennsylvania state officials estimate there are as many as 200,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in the state–the vast majority of them conventional wells drilled over 50 years ago. Most of them are not mapped or known. Some of them are hazards for shale drillers who stumble across them when drilling new wells. If you drill horizontally and clip an old/abandoned well, it becomes like an elevator pumping fluids and gas to the surface. Not good. Everyone is committed to finding and marking and capping these old wells–the question is, how do you pay for it? The shale industry says it’s not fair to put the economic burden solely on the shoulders of the Marcellus industry. The PA Environment Protection Agency (DEP) Abandoned and Orphan Well program attempts to find an owner of the well first, before committing public money to plug it. However, there’s a second way to get public money to plug an old well…
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Oil Company Uses IBM’s Watson to Beat Anti-Frackers on Twitter

We found this story fascinating. A “big oil company” was tired of being trashed by anti fossil fuelers–especially in social media circles. So they’re fighting back by using insights gleaned from IBM’s Watson super computer. Watson is able to analyze millions of tweets (messages on the Twitter social media platform) to determine which messages are likely to be popular, or “go viral” in the parlance of social media. And that foreknowledge lets the oil company respond to, and in some cases preempt it, with its own messaging on Twitter…
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U of California Carbon Crazies Fret over Burning NatGas

The carbon nutjobs at the University of California are on the horns of a dilemma. They want to be “carbon neutral” by 2025. They can get plenty of high cost electricity from solar and wind producers–no problem. But four of its 10 campuses and one of its five medical centers run on big cogeneration plants, which produce electricity and use the excess heat to supply campus heating and cooling. And the plants are powered by (gasp) natural gas. What is a carbon-allergic nutter to do? They can’t just shut down those facilities! Or can they? We don’t put it beyond these idiots to consider such a scenario–so deluded are they with global warming flummery. Of course they overlook an even bigger source of carbon production on their campuses–all of those vile, nasty humans running around exhaling carbon dioxide with every breath. If they eliminate the humans, they can then eliminate the power plants. Problem solved!…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Mar 23, 2016

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Appalachia pumps up the volume; natgas price differentials in the Marcellus; Belmont County Ohio’s #1 drilling hot spot; OH unitization bill stuck in the Senate; OH court decision affects drillers, landowners; Peoples Natural Gas pulling construction in-house; natgas change in WV speeds coal’s demise; Stone Energy heading for default in 2016?; Trump energy adviser promotes natgas; and more!
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