A SECOND Ethane Cracker Coming to Pennsylvania? Maybe!

secondLast week MDN reported that Dennis Davin, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) had gone on a roadshow to three counties that will be most affected by Shell’s ethane cracker plant planned for Beaver County (see PA Econ Dev Secretary Hits Road to Promote Shell Cracker). Of course one of those counties was Beaver. Davin addressed a forum in Beaver last Tuesday. What we’re just learning now is that, at the Beaver forum, there was brief talk about a SECOND ethane cracker for Pennsylvania. You read that right. There are no concrete plans as yet, but the scuttlebutt is that an unnamed company is scouting PA for a second cracker plant. According to Davin, his agency has “heard rumblings” but “nothing more.” However, following Davin’s appearance in Beaver and the talk of a second cracker, the DCED issued a statement clearly meant to stoke those rumors…
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Trump to Speak at Shale Insight Event in Pittsburgh on Sept 22

Shale InsightThe Donald is coming to Steel City to talk to frackers. Last Friday the Marcellus Shale Coalition, organizers and operators of the top notch Shale Insight conference and trade show held each year, announced that they had extended an invitation to both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to speak at this year’s event being held in Pittsburgh on September 21 & 22. The Donald said “yes” and Hillary said “no.” The Donald supports fossil fuels and their safe extraction and what they can do for America’s energy security. Hillary doesn’t. Need we say more? Oh, one more thing: MDN is happy to announce we will have a booth at this year’s Shale Insight. More on that in future posts. For now, here’s the exciting news that The Donald will address attendees at Shale Insight in less than a month…
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Shift in Utica Drilling – from Wet Gas to Dry Gas

shiftOne of NGI’s (Natural Gas Intelligence) ace reporters, Jamison Cocklin, wrote a top notch news/analysis article last Friday in NGI’s Shale Daily publication about the “crucial priority” of new gathering pipelines and pipeline infrastructure in general that’s needed in the Utica Shale. Jamison made the observation that while not every operator in Ohio’s Utica Shale has shifted from focusing on wet gas extraction (concentrating on wells that extract not only methane but also natural gas liquids) to dry gas (or methane only), some of the biggies have. A change in focus doesn’t mean a change in geography. The change in focus from wet to dry is happening in core wet gas counties, including Monroe, Belmont and Jefferson…
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Shale Crescent Luring Petchem Companies to Mid-Ohio Valley

Shale Crescent USAIn June MDN told you about an economic development group of business and government leaders from Ohio and West Virginia (the Mid-Ohio Valley) called Shale Crescent (see Group Promotes Mid-Ohio Valley for Petrochem: Shale Crescent USA). The group was two years in the making and officially launched in June at a public event in Washington County, OH. The aim of the group is to attract manufacturers–particularly petrochemical manufacturers–to set up shop in the region. Although the organization is still in its infancy, it’s already having an impact and is talking to large petchem companies (“household names”) about building plants in the Mid-Ohio Valley region to take advantage of cheap Marcellus/Utica Shale gas and NGLs…
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Ascent Resources Talking to Creditors to Restructure $1.2B Debt

AscentResources-logo_whiteLast week MDN told you that ratings agency Fitch Ratings had issued a “Loans of Concern” report, which is a report on loans the agency believes companies will soon default on. One of the names in the list stood out to MDN: American Energy-Marcellus (see Fitch Ratings: American Energy-Marcellus May Default on Loan). We speculated at the time, and have now confirmed, that American Energy-Marcellus is the same company as Ascent Resources. Shortly after the Fitch report, Bloomberg ran an article reporting Ascent Resources-Marcellus (the former Aubrey McClendon American Energy subsidiary focused on the Marcellus/Utica) is in talks with creditors to “restructure” some $1.2 billion worth of loans and debt. Restructuring doesn’t always mean “bankruptcy”–but it usually does. Especially when dealing with the amounts we’re talking about, over $1 billion, and especially when that word is used in the oil and gas industry. The latest trend has been to work out bankruptcy deals ahead of time, before you file, called a “prepackaged bankruptcy.” Here’s what Bloomberg is saying about talks and plans to “restructure” debt at Ascent Resources-Marcellus…
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PA Landowners, Drillers Fight over HB 1391 Minimum Royalty Bill

Garth Everett
Rep. Garth Everett

It appears that legislation in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, House Bill (HB) 1391 that would fix the issue of landowners getting shorted in royalty payments, is about to die. It’s not the first time a bill meant to ensure landowners get a minimum of 12.5% in royalties has died in the PA legislature. Bradford County Commissioners chairman Doug McLinko is blaming the Marcellus Shale Coalition and other drilling industry groups. And he’s not a happy camper. Last June MDN told you about a renewed effort by Pennsylvania State legislators to pass a minimum royalty bill that will guarantee PA’s landowners get at least 12.5% royalties (see New Bill HB 1391 Will Guarantee PA Landowners 12.5% Royalties). HB 1391 is was introduced by State Rep. Garth Everett, a Republican from Lycoming County, PA. Everett said in June the new bill was “narrowed” in focus from a previous bill (that had failed) and because the more narrowed focus, he hoped the Marcellus industry would not oppose it this time around. Everett was dead wrong. As we reported in June, the rift between landowners and drillers on the matter of minimum royalties continues (see Rift Continues Between Drillers & Landowners re Royalty Bill). Due to some hard work by Everett, the bill finally moved out of committee where it had been stalled, and on to the full House for a vote (see Progress: PA Minimum Royalty Bill Heads to Full House for Vote). But now the bill is stalled in the full House and it appears there will not be a vote by the end of the fall session, due to close in another two weeks…
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Williams (WMB) Investing $250M in Williams Partners (WPZ)

Williams logoOnce upon a time, before Energy Transfer Equity (ETE) made an indecent proposal to Williams to buy them out (see Energy Transfer Makes “Indecent Proposal” to Buy Williams for $48B), a deal that eventually fell apart, Williams the stockholding corporate mother ship had planned to buy out all of the “units” in subsidiary Williams Partners, a master limited partnership (MLP). But when ETE insisted on buying Williams, that ended the program of Williams (stock ticker WMB) from buying out Williams Partners (stock ticker WPZ). However, on Friday WMB announced it will purchase 6.975 million units (the equivalent of shares of stock in an MLP) for $250 million. Is this the revival of Williams’ original plan to merge what is now two entities on paper into one?…
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Indiana NatGas Electric Plant Seeks Permission to Double Size

St. Joseph Energy Center – artist’s rendering (click for larger version)

For years there had been a plan to build a new natural gas-fired electric plant near the town of New Carlisle, Indiana. The original plan, called the St. Joseph Energy Center, was to build a $500 million, 700-megawatt plant, to be fed by gas “coming from Canada, the West and the Gulf of Mexico.” The plant had a groundbreaking this spring. However, plans are changing. The developer wants to double the size of the plant to 1,400 megawatts. There has been no mention of Marcellus/Utica gas feeding the plant, but our own speculation is that a lot has changed since this plant was first planned. One of the big changes has been a reversal of the Rockies Express (REX) pipeline, owned by Tallgrass, which now flows gas from the Marcellus/Utica west to Illinois (right through Indiana) delivering northeast gas to the Greater Chicago area, where this plant will be built. So that has MDN wondering if the St. Joseph Energy Center will get some yummy northeast gas to power it (the reason why we’re highlighting this story)…
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Texas Fracking Study Shows How to Reduce Emissions at Well Pads

real-science.jpgChemists at the University of Texas at Arlington published a new study last week that indicates certain activities on top of the ground at shale drilling sites are the cause of nasty emissions–and not the fracking process itself. The study, “Point source attribution of ambient contamination events near unconventional oil and gas development” published last week in Science of the Total Environment, found “highly variable levels of ambient BTEX, or benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylene compounds, in and around fracking gas drilling sites in the Eagle Ford shale region in South Texas.” BTEX compounds are nasty, and in high concentrations can be carcinogenic (cancer causing) and have harmful effects on the nervous system. The good news is that recognizing where BTEX emissions are coming from can lead to fixes. Nobody, the industry included, wants to harm workers or nearby residents’ health. We reckon this study under the category of “real science” that leads to industry improvements…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Aug 29, 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: Marcellus/Utica takeaway capacity to Gulf Coast; the New York energy game; OH residents express concerns re NEXUS pipeline; Shell buys 2 more properties for cracker operation; bumbling EPA spills again in Colorado, near the original spill; cheezy: Duke U files $9.9 claim on McClendon estate; Weather Channel founder warns Gore may “win” climate debate in 2016; and more!
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