Important: OH Supreme Court Finally Rules on Dormant Mineral Act

Gavel-falling.jpgMDN has been reporting on the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (DMA) for years (see Video: OH Lawyers Explain Dormant Minerals Act & Impact on Utica). In a nutshell, there are two DMAs in Ohio–one passed in 1989 that went into effect in 1992, and another in 2006 which added certain additional procedural requirements to the 1989 version. The DMA in its various versions provides for mineral rights that had previously been separated from surface rights to transfer back to the surface owner under certain conditions. The problem, for drillers and for landowners in Ohio, is in knowing which set of DMA rules to use (1989 or 2006) in determining who owns the mineral rights. A number of DMA cases went before the Ohio Supreme Court. Some of the minor cases have already been decided (see Ohio Supreme Court Rules in Important Dormant Mineral Act Case). However, most of the big cases remain stalled at the Supreme Court. That is, until now. Yesterday the Ohio Supreme Court ruled on the remaining big DMA cases. The Supremes issued full rulings in three cases and stated the other cases come under those three. The biggest of the three is Corban v. Chesapeake Energy, in which the justices said the 2006 law now trumps (pun intended) the 1989 law. Here’s a summary of what the court decided…
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Spectra Ready to Open Valve on Expanded Pipeline from NE to Gulf

Spectra Energy logoFantastic news for overabundant supplies of Marcellus and Utica Shale gas: Spectra Energy has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to open the valves on their Texas Eastern Transmission Gulf Markets Expansion Project. The project will shuttle supplies of natural gas from the northeast, along with supplies from Texas, to “meet the needs of demand growth in the power, industrial and LNG export sectors particularly in the Gulf Coast region of Louisiana and Texas.” Spectra began construction for the Gulf Markets Expansion Project in February. Construction will come in two stages, with the first stage targeted to go online in November. Spectra got done early and has asked for permission to begin operations at several compressor stations. More than half of the eventual 650,000 decatherms per day of new capacity along the Texas Eastern pipeline will come in the northeast, moving Marcellus/Utica gas to the Gulf Coast. Marcellus drillers EQT and Range Resources are signed up to ship gas along the expanded-capacity pipeline. Facilities along the pipeline have been or are being upgraded in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Here’s more about the project…
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Former D&L Injection Well in Ohio Goes Online “in a Big Way”

big-wayGood news for Marcellus/Utica drillers. You now have access to a previously-shuttered wastewater injection well in the Youngstown, OH-area. You may recall the sad story of D&L Energy, a Youngstown, OH operator of several wastewater injection wells. D&L’s owner was Ben Lupo, who also owned sister company Hardrock Excavating, operating both companies under the D&L Energy Group umbrella. In September 2012, Lupo instructed a Hardrock employee to dump untreated frack wastewater down a sewer drain that emptied into the Mahoning River. Lupo and the driver were found out in early 2013 (see Youngstown Business Dumped >200K Gal of Untreated Wastewater). The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) promptly shut down both D&L Energy and Hardrock in February 2013 (see OH Wastewater Dumper D&L Energy Gets Business Death Sentence). Both Lupo and the driver received prison sentences and fines for their role in this ignominious affair. One of the injection wells D&L drilled was located in Beaver Township, known as Northstar Lucky #4. The well never did begin operations because of the action shutting down D&L. D&L filed for bankruptcy and sold its assets in late 2013. The buyer of those assets, Denver-based Resource Land Holdings LLC, “expressed interest in operating the well in the future” and began work at the site to reopen the well in July (see Shuttered D&L Injection Well Near Youngstown, OH May Reopen Soon). The good news is that the well “has come back to life in a big way”…
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FERC Fights for Constitution Pipeline in Federal Court

boxing-glovesTwo days ago MDN told you that the Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA) had filed a brief in a lawsuit brought by anti-drilling zealots against the much-needed Constitution Pipeline (see NGSA Lobbies Fed Court, DEC to Advance 2 Stalled Pipelines in NY). The Constitution is a $683 million, 124-mile pipeline from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY carrying Marcellus gas. Radical environmental groups sued in federal court to challenge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) environmental review of the Constitution. If the wackos can get FERC’s review cast aside, they can slow the project to the point where they can (hopefully for them) kill it. That’s the game plan. The NGSA pushed back against it, and now, so has FERC. On Monday, FERC filed its own brief in federal court, asking the court to throw out the challenges by the zealots…
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Dominion Lockout of Union Workers Ends, New Labor Talks Begin

lockoutOne week ago Dominion Transmission locked out over 900 union workers, many of them in West Virginia (and others in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland), preventing them from working (see Dominion Locks Out Labor Union Workers in WV-PA-OH-NY-VA-MD). Dominion has a contract with Local 69 of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) that expired on April 1st and a new contract is nowhere near done being negotiated. Dominion said they didn’t want to run the risk of a strike or work slowdown during the winter months, so they locked out union members, including those that work at compressor stations and along pipelines (see Dominion Locks Out Union Workers at Compressor Stations/Pipelines). The dispute revolves around pension and health care. The union wants to keep the pension plan and health benefits it has now. Dominion wants to end paying full health benefits for new hires after they retire, and also wants to change their pension to a 401(k), shifting the risk of the pension to the individual and not the company. Although a new contract is still nowhere near ready, the lockout is over. Local 69 agreed to not strike or engage in work slowdowns, and in return Dominion will pay workers for their one week vacation/protest. Now they go back to the negotiating table and the new deadline is April 1, 2017–one year after the old contract expired…
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Vantage Energy Tries New IPO After Striking Out 2 Yrs Ago

Vantage Energy logoIn July 2014, Vantage Energy, a Colorado company with major operations in the Marcellus, announced they would launch an initial public offering (IPO) seeking $400. Then in September the number was revised up–the company felt like $601 million would be the goal of their IPO (see Vantage Energy IPO Target Goes from $400M to $601M). In September, Vantage announced they were postponing the IPO, citing “unfavorable equity market conditions” (see Vantage Energy Postpones IPO Citing Unfavorable Market Conditions). Apparently market conditions have improved, because Vantage is back. On Tuesday Vantage filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) looking to raise an estimated $600 million in an IPO. If it is successful this time, it will be the first U.S.-based driller to float an IPO in more than two years…
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New Frack Wastewater Recycler Launches in Marcellus

gradiant2We have a new entrant into the frack wastewater treatment industry in the Marcellus Shale. Gradiant, which was founded in 2012 by a group of engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has rapidly established itself in both the Marcellus and Permian shale plays with innovative technology to treat and recycle produced water from shale wells. Gradiant has been experimenting in the Marcellus and Permian and is now ready to roll out their technology to all comers. In order to roll it out, Gradiant the mother ship is establishing a wholly-owned subsidiary called Gradiant Energy Services. Here’s more about the company and their new technology…
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Frackenstein 2: Gassy Utica Critters May Increase Well Output!

Frankensteins_monster_Boris_KarloffLast week MDN reported researchers from Ohio State University had discovered a new form of microorganism in fracked Utica Shale wells–something they call “Frackibacter” (we call it Frackenstein). As researchers continue to pour over the research, they’ve hit upon a stunning new revelation. Those little critters may actually INCREASE natural gas output from the well. Now that is exciting news! OSU is on the case, promising to further examine Frackibacter’s origin and “more of its applications”…
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AEP Sells 2 Ohio NatGas-Fired Electric Plants to Blackstone JV

aepAmerican Electric Power is selling four electric generating plants to a newly formed joint venture of Blackstone and ArcLight Capital Partners. Three of the plants are natural gas-fired–two of them in Ohio and one in Indiana. One of the plants is coal-fired, located in Ohio. Total sale price for all four: $2.17 billion. While the announcement doesn’t say, we expect at least the gas-fired plants in Ohio, and perhaps the one in Indiana, are fed in part by Utica/Marcellus natural gas. Which is why the story caught our eye. The plants are already up and running–this is simply a transfer of ownership and (we presume) management of the plants. The larger story is just how important these types of plants are in the Marcellus/Utica ecosystem–because they use a huge amount of gas. Here’s the details of the deal…
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ShaleNavigator Internet Mapping Software Service Available for Purchase

shalenavigatorMDN previously partnered with the ShaleNavigator online mapping service to produce a popular research report called the Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook. MDN editor Jim Willis did the data research and partnered with ShaleNavigator for the maps displaying that data. ShaleNavigator’s founder and owner has accepted a new job in another industry–a position that occupies most of his time–so he is looking to sell the service. Below are the details…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Sep 15, 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: REX sees new signups for East-to-West capacity; ODNR issues 7 new Utica permits; Philly Energy Solutions ends bid to go public; developer tells Maine regulators to look at LNG storage instead of pipelines; Saudis keep buying America’s oil assets; Europe’s biggest natgas producer is running out of gas; and more!
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