Heartbreak: Weatherford, ECA Lay Off Combined 175 Jobs in WV

cutting jobsA pair of companies operating in the Marcellus Shale announced late last week that they are laying off a collective 175 jobs in West Virginia between them . Energy Corporation of America (ECA), which ranked 20th for most production in the Marcellus Shale in 2015 according to NGI’s 2016 Shale & Resource Plays Factbook, announced last Thursday they will lay off 51 positions (28 of them in WV). Oilfield services company Weatherford International has a branch office in Buckhannon, WV. Weatherford announced last week that it will lay of 147 positions in the Buckhannon office by the end of August. The announcement hit the local community hard…
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Marcellus Electric Line Vandalized in WV – $20K Reward Offered

jail cellFirstEnergy is one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. FirstEnergy loves the shale industry. In April, MDN reported that FirstEnergy’s construction crews had begun erecting steel poles for a new 18-mile high voltage power line that will run through Harrison and Doddridge counties in WV (see FirstEnergy Installs $92M Electric Line in WV for Shale Industry). The new $92 million power line project will help power both processing plants and compressor stations that flow Marcellus and Utica Shale gas. In what appears to be an act of environmental vandalism (terrorism?) somebody used a cutting torch to destroy 28 anchor bolts on a foundation, preventing FirstEnergy from proceeding with their work on the project. FirstEnergy is offering a $20,000 reward to catch the sleazebag that did the deed…
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PA DEP Fines Stonehenge $1.5M for Damaging 2 Butler County Swamps

StonehengeA year ago MDN told you about a new gathering pipeline project in Butler County, PA. Rex Energy contracted with Stonehenge Energy Resources to build a gathering system in Butler County (see Rex Energy Hires Stonehenge to Build Gathering Pipeline in PA). The new system got built last year and now provides Rex with an additional 400 million cubic feet per day of natural gas pipeline capacity. The Stonehenge gathering system delivers Rex’s gas to MarkWest Energy’s Bluestone processing plant. When Stonehenge built the pipeline, they had a few minor accidents. Some dirt slid down a hill into a creek. The creek empties into a couple of swamps. Ergo, some of the dirt got into the swamps. For that little mishap, Stonehenge has agreed to pay the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection a $1.5 million fine. DEP Acting Secretary Pat McDonnell called the minor mishaps “egregious and avoidable.” Whatever…
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Court Forces SWEPI to Pay PA Landowners $4.1M in Lease Dispute

Gavel-falling.jpgThe U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has sided with landowners in a dispute with Shell’s shale drilling arm, called SWEPI (Shell Western Exploration Production Inc.). SWEPI signed a lease with two landowners who own a collective 1,036 acres in Lycoming County. SWEPI promised a $4,000 per acre signing bonus, but a few months after signing SWEPI decided they didn’t want the acreage after all and tried to cancel the lease and the bonus payment. The judge ordered SWEPI to pay $2,072,000 to each of the two landowner families…
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CONSOL’s First Pittsburgh Airport Wells Begin to Flow NatGas

Pittsburgh AirportUPDATE 7/20/16: Yesterday afternoon, after we had published this story, CONSOL Energy issued a press release announcing a few more details. We have included the release below.

In early 2013 the Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County, PA signed a deal with CONSOL Energy to lease 9,000 acres surrounding the airport for natural gas drilling (see $50M Check in the Mail: Pittsburgh Airport Lease a Done Deal). The airport received a $50 million signing bonus and the promise of 18% royalties on anything produced and sold. In August, CONSOL released their drilling plan, which calls for 6 well pads, 47 Marcellus Shale wells on those pads (with the possibility of drilling Upper Devonian wells later on), three fresh water ponds (“impoundments”) and 17 miles of gathering pipelines (see CONSOL Energy Reveals Drilling Plan for Pittsburgh Airport). All told, in the coming years the airport may see as much a $1 billion in remuneration. It’s staggering. CONSOL has been busily drilling (MDN editor Jim Willis has spotted rigs when he’s flown into/out of the airport). Exciting stuff. Now, finally, the first six Marcellus wells are online and producing…
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Guernsey County, OH Opposes Facility to Treat/Store Drill Cuttings

Guernsey County, OH
Guernsey County, OH

EnerGreen 360 wants to build a facility in Guernsey County, OH to treat and re-use drill cuttings (leftover rock and dirt from shale drilling). The plan is to clean up the cuttings and use the leftover leftovers (rock and dirt) to backfill part of a business center were the facility would be located–near Cambridge, OH. But County Commissioners are unanimously against the plan, saying that although Guernsey sees a lot of Utica drilling, producing lots of drill cuttings, the county already absorbs “more than our share of frack-related waste.” The commissioners cite multiple injection wells in the county as being evidence of shouldering more than their fair share of the burden. So apparently the commissioners want some other county to take Guernsey’s drill cuttings instead, since Guernsey takes other counties’ shale wastewater. Fair? Not fair? You decide…
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Which Energy-Related Items Survived, Which Didn’t in PA Budget

SurvivorSome interesting Marcellus-related items were included in the recently adopted Pennsylvania state budget that have largely flown under the radar. There are also a few things that weren’t in the budget bill–previously intended to be part of it–that didn’t survive the process. At the top of the list is lack of a severance tax. But right behind that (for us) is that a gross receipts tax on natural gas use, which we thought would be part of the final deal, was not. As MDN previously reported, a gross receipts tax taxes end users of natural gas, in essence targeting low-income households (see Proposed NatGas Gross Receipts Tax Targets PA Low-Income Earners). So three cheers that those two onerous taxes–a severance tax and gross receipts tax–were eliminated by vigilant Republicans (Democrat Gov. Wolf wanted both). What about things that made it through? One item is an amendment that eliminates extra fees and permitting requirements if a driller happens ti “nip the top of the Onondaga” rock layer when drilling a Marcellus well, as sometimes happens. Another provision diverts some money from a fund intended to encourage “high performance buildings” to a program that gives businesses incentives to switch to using natural gas. Love it! Here’s what made the cut, and what didn’t, in the 2016/2017 PA budget…
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Shell Cracker May Spur $2.3B Upgrade of Locks/Dams on Ohio River

Ohio River Montgomery lock and dam
Ohio River Montgomery lock and dam – click for larger version

You may not think barging on the Ohio River has much to do with Shell’s plan to build an ethane cracker in Monaca (Beaver County), PA–but you would be wrong. The river has a great deal to do with that cracker plant, and Shell’s decision to build its plant in Monaca. For one thing, Shell plans to (already has) built two barge docks and has barged materials into the site for use in constructing the plant. For another, numerous manufacturing plants are expected to spring up around the cracker, like little satellites circling a planet, because they will use the ethylene and other materials produced by the cracker plant. Those manufacturers will also need cheap barge transportation for their products. The problem is, the locks and dams along the Ohio were built in the early Twentieth Century (between 1922-1936). They were updated in the 1980s and 1990s, but truth be told, the infrastructure is past its life expectancy already. If barge traffic picks up dramatically, that old infrastructure will show its age. Since 2003 the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) has had a potential project on the books to study and upgrade the Ohio’s infrastructure. Shell’s announcement may be the impetus to get the USACE to launch its already pre-planned $2.3 billion lock and dam project for the Ohio River…
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Eclipse Resources 2Q16: Drilling Resumes, 2 New Utica Wells

Eclipse_logo_hiresIn what appears to be a new standard operating procedure, Eclipse Resources yesterday released their second quarter 2016 operating update, delaying the release of the “bad news” (i.e. financial update) until a later date. A few days Antero Resources and Gulfport both did the same thing. Drillers like to brag about increasing production, but hate to talk about how much money (at least on paper) they’re losing. We understand. Eclipse is a Marcellus/Utica pure play driller headquartered in State College, PA that drills mostly in Ohio. What do we learn? Eclipse’s production went up 19% in 2Q16 over 2Q15. Previously the company had stopped all drilling, but they resumed again in 2Q16 (a good sign) and ended up drilling and completing 2 Utica wells during the quarter. Here’s the operational (not financial) update from Eclipse for 2Q16…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Jul 19, 2016

best of the restThe “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Drilling on upswing nationwide, but OH permitting down; PA rig count up for first time in months; antis protest pipeline in Mass.; how a single natgas-fired electric plant in VA is saving consumers billions; ND sues EPA over new methane rule; Chesapeake & Tom Ward sued for alleged collusion; oil & gas deals coming back; and more!
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