Rice Energy Buys Vantage Energy for $2.7B, 85K Marcellus Acres

M&ALast week MDN reported that Vantage Energy, a Colorado company with major operations in the Marcellus, was once again attempting to float an initial public offering of stock (see Vantage Energy Tries New IPO After Striking Out 2 Yrs Ago). Must be that was a clever fake-out move because yesterday Rice Energy announced they are buying Vantage in a deal worth $2.7 billion. Included in the deal are 85,000 acres of Marcellus leases in Greene County, PA. Also included, another 52,000 acres of Utica Shale leases. Oh! And 37,000 acres of leases in the Texas Barnett Shale–meaning Rice is about to lose its laser focus on the Marcellus/Utica and will no longer be a “pure play” company. The deal instantly elevates Rice’s production predictions for 2017 by 70% over the previous guidance given. In order to pay for the deal, Rice also announced they are floating a new massive round of stock, 40 million shares, which they hope will bring in something over $1 billion in cash. Here’s the details…
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DTE Energy Buys Marcellus/Utica Pipelines for $1.3B

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Click for larger version of AGS System map

The buyouts keep on rolling in. Detroit-based DTE Energy announced yesterday they are buying 100% of M3 Midstream’s Appalachia Gathering System (AGS), located in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and 40% of M3’s Stonewall Gas Gathering (SGG), located in West Virginia. In addition DTE is buying another 15% of SGG owned by Vega Energy Partners. The combined deals will cost DTE $1.3 billion. Whew! Lots of moving parts in this story. Let’s sort it out. In April 2015 MDN told you that a section of M3 Midstream’s Appalachia Gathering System (AGS) had been spun off into its own company called Stonewall Gathering System (see M3’s New Stonewall Gathering System Extends Existing AGS in WV). At the time, plans were under way to build out gathering pipelines in West Virginia’s Harrison and Doddridge counties, running through Lewis and into Braxton County where the pipeline will connect with Columbia Transmission’s interstate pipeline. The plans came to fruition and the Stonewall Gathering System was built and now gathers 1 billion cubic feet of Marcellus Shale gas per day (see Construction on WV Stonewall Gather Pipeline Begins, Runs Thru Dec). Why does DTE want these two pipeline systems? Because they will provide a reliable source cheap, abundant, clean-burning Marcellus/Utica natural gas to DTE’s utility customers in the Midwest. These gathering systems already connect to the Columbia Gas Transmission and the Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline systems. They will also connect to the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline once it’s built…
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Status Update for 5 Important Bills Affecting PA Fracking Industry

update.jpgThe legal beagles at the Norton Rose Fulbright law firm recently issued a post on their Hydraulic Fracking Blog with updates on five important bills currently before the PA House and Senate that will affect the Marcellus industry (drillers, midstreamers and landowners)–with details for what’s in the bills and the status for each bill. Likely the most controversial of the bills is House Bill (HB) 1391, which would guarantee PA landowners a 12.5% minimum royalty regardless of post-production costs. That bill is due for a procedural vote today. Other bills are in bottled up in various committees where they may or may not make it out for a full vote. The PA House is in session today, tomorrow, and then Oct 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, and Nov 14, 15. That’s it–just 10 more days in session before the end of the year. The PA Senate is in session today, tomorrow, and then Oct 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26. Just 8 more days for the Senate. So whatever is going to happen must happen quickly. Here’s a rundown on the five important bills, including HB 1391 (“Amendments to Oil and Gas Lease Act”), HB 2275 (“Changes to Environmental Quality Board membership”), HB 2277 (“Amendment to Oil & Gas Act related to bonding requirements”), HB 2319 (“Amendment to Oil & Gas Lease Act”), and HB 2361 (“Pennsylvania Turnpike Right-of-Way Act”)…
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$900M Utica Gas-Fired Electric Plant Coming to Harrison County, OH

emberclearSeveral news sources are reporting that EmberClear has committed to fund and build a new $900 million, 1,000-megawatt electric generating plant in Harrison County, OH. The new plant will be fed by Utica Shale gas. Officials in the county have been working on a deal to lure the plant to the county since December of last year and stress it is a “long-term project” and “not a slam-dunk” because of extensive regulatory hurdles. If the project happens, it will generate 500 temporary construction jobs and 30 permanent jobs and use a huge amount of natural gas to power it (good for drillers!). MDN did some checking and found one potential cloud over the deal. EmberClear was, until July, a Canadian-based company. But it went bankrupt and after emerging from bankruptcy it changed its name to Ember Partners, now based in Houston, TX. Apparently the bankruptcy hasn’t slowed them down–but it does raise a question about the financial stability of the company and its ability to fund a big-money project like the Harrison Power Project. However, these projects are typically funded by one or several investors and not by the company that builds and operates the facility…
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Obama’s Disastrous Clean Power Plan Goes to Court Today

court-houseWe’ve written plenty about President Obama’s so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP), introduced last summer, a plan to force electric generators to convert to using more “renewable” sources of energy–and less fossil fuels (see Obama Stabs Natural Gas Electric Plants in Clean Power Plan). The CPP outright assassinates coal powered generation, and wounds (but doesn’t kill) natural gas. It is Obama’s attempt at picking winners and losers in who and how we get our energy. We all saw how that worked out with Solyndra. Earlier this year 29 states and state agencies, including Ohio and West Virgina, filed an application with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking an immediate stay of the CPP (see 29 States Ask Supreme Court to Stop Obama Clean Power Plan ASAP). In a shock decision, the Supreme Court did just that (see Supreme Court Shocker – Justices Halt Obama’s Clean Power Plan). Today the enormously complex CPP gets its day in court. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear arguments from 16 lawyers (egads!) in a marathon session that will run for nearly four hours. Here’s a bit more about what to expect today, and in the days ahead, for this disastrous regulation forced on the American population by a dictatorial El Presidente…
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Radical Enviros Beg FERC to Pull Plug on PennEast Pipeline

bamboozleYet another desperate attempt by radical environmentalists to stop the much-needed PennEast Pipeline from getting built. Yesterday the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF) and Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association (SBMWA) asked (more liked begged) the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to withdraw the PennEast application, something called a “no alternative” action, and just let it die a stillborn death. Their argument to FERC seems to rely on the old tactic of “if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull$#@!.” Because a few sympathetic rads exist within government agencies like the EPA and Fish & Wildlife Service, and because those agencies were co-opted into sending negative comments about the project to FERC, the radicals at NJ Conservation and Stony Brook Watershed tell FERC it’s best just to scrap the whole thing. No sense in continuing. Move along–nothing else to see here. A nice try at bamboozling FERC, but it’s an agency wise to such deceptions…
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More Board Shakeups Coming to Williams

As the World TurnsWilliams continues to face challenges with its board of directors–the people hired to oversee the company and the path it will chart into the future. Nearly half of the Williams board (6 of 14 board members) were part of a cabal that tried to force the company to sell itself to Energy Transfer Equity–a deal that went horribly wrong. Following the aborted merger, six of Williams’ board members tried to engineer a palace coup to depose current CEO Alan Armstrong. The coup failed and the board members quit in July (see Half of Williams Board, Including 2 Corporate Raiders, Quit). In August, Williams appointed three new members of the board, all of them well-qualified (see Williams Appoints 3 New Board Members, Confounds Corp Raider). Williams is continuing with what it calls its “Board refreshment plan.” The latest: the company has just appointed two more new board members, effective immediately. Williams also announced that three current board members who were on the board prior to the big shake-up (three who didn’t quit in July) will be gone by the next annual meeting on Nov. 23. Here’s the latest in our ongoing soap opera, As the (Midstream) World Turns…
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Williams Completes Sale of Canadian Assets for $1B

soldIn August, Williams announced a deal to sell its Canadian businesses and assets to Inter Pipeline for $1 billion (see Bold Move – Williams Selling Canadian Assets for $1B). Williams CEO Alan Armstrong has been under extreme pressure to step down following the aborted attempt by Energy Transfer Equity to buy his company. Armstrong wants to stick around and selling off the Canadian assets was his first big, bold move since the palace coup against him failed. Armstrong says the Canadian asset sale will help fund major capital projects in the second half of 2016. Good news: the deal is now done and Williams is $1B richer…
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