UTOPIA Pipeline Construction Begins, OSU to Study Hole-Digging

obviousKinder Morgan’s UTOPIA (Utica To Ontario Pipeline Access) pipeline is a 12-inch ethane pipeline that will run ~240 miles and will only be built in Ohio–therefore the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) won’t be involved in permitting the project. In September we noted that Kinder Morgan is still facing opposition from some Ohio landowners (see UTOPIA Pipeline Still Battling OH Landowners with Eminent Domain). Aside from a few holdout landowners, Kinder Morgan will begin building UTOPIA next month, with plans to turn it on in 2018. When Kinder begins to dig trenches next month to lay the pipeline, researchers from Ohio State University will be watching–conducting “research” into “soil disturbances caused by pipelines and its impact on farmland.” Kinder Morgan is helping fund the 3-year project–kicking in $200,000. Forgive us for saying so, but the entire premise sounds kind of dumb. Farmers dig holes and trenches in their fields all the time and nobody “studies” it to see what kind of impacts it may have. You dig a hole (or a trench), you put something in it, you cover it back up with the same dirt you just dug up and then replant grass or crops over top of it. Not a lot of mystery. It’s been going on for millennia…
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PA Royalty Unrest Spreads from Bradford County to Western PA

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This week Pennsylvania House Bill (HB) 1391 is back on the docket. At least, that’s what landowners in Bradford County are hoping. As we’ve covered for some time now, there is a growing split between landowners and drillers over abuses in deducting post-production costs from royalty checks. HB 1391 aims to fix that situation by guaranteeing a minimum 12.5% royalty for landowners, regardless of post-production costs. Until now most of the complaints about royalty shafting have come from landowners in Bradford County. But it seems Bradford (in northeastern PA) is not alone in their discontent. Landowners in Washington and Greene counties (western PA) are also upset with diminished royalty checks and are adding their voices to the effort pushing for passage of HB 1391. Does the bill stand a chance of passing this year?…
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NH Regulators Veto Access Northeast Pipeline Contract

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Spectra Energy first announced an unnamed pipeline project to shuttle gas from the Marcellus/Utica to New England in July 2014 (see Spectra Energy to the Rescue! New England Pipeline Expansion). In September 2014 Spectra announced they had named the project Access Northeast and added Northeast Utilities–now called Eversource Energy–as a partner (see Spectra Energy New England Pipeline Gets a Name & a Partner). In December 2014, Spectra formed an alliance with a competitor, the Iroquois Gas Transmission pipeline, to further extend the reach of the project (see Spectra Energy Alliance with Iroquois to Sell Marcellus Gas to NE). The project is pegged to cost around $3 billion and will connect four different pipeline systems: Texas Eastern, Algonquin Gas Transmission, Iroquois and Maritimes & Northeast. Kinder Morgan’s competing project, Northeast Energy Direct, dropped out of the running (see NED is Dead – Kinder Morgan Suspends $3.3B New England Pipeline). Spectra stayed in–but was dealt a body blow by Massachusetts (see MA Supreme Court Ruling Endangers New England Gas Pipelines). But Spectra committed to pushing forward anyway (see Spectra Spits in MA High Court’s Eye – We’ll Still Build Pipeline). Now comes another body blow: New Hampshire regulators are following MA’s lead in not allowing utility company Eversource pass along some of the costs of the pipeline to electric rate payers…
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Part of AIM Pipeline Begins to Flow; Protesters Hide in Pipe

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Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline project is an $876 million expansion of the existing Algonquin pipeline system that will carry 342 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to New England states that badly need the gas. On March 3, 2015 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued their final approval for the project, allowing it to go forward. Construction began last year and continues now. Earlier this year NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried to stop work on the pipeline (see Gov. Cuomo Asks FERC to Halt Algonquin Pipeline Near Nuke Plant). A few months later NY’s lib Dem senators got in on the act (see NY’s 2 Radical Senators Call for Halt in Building Algonquin Pipeline). We’re happy to report none of the above efforts to stop AIM succeeded. Last week FERC issued an order allowing part of the AIM project–in Putnam County, NY, and Fairfield County, CT–to power up and begin service. However, not all of the project is yet built. Four nutjob protesters criminally locked themselves inside a piece of pipeline in Verplanck (Westchester County), NY yesterday. They were there to protest “filthy fossil fuels” like natural gas…
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Multiple Lawsuits Against Chesapeake for Alleged Securities Fraud

wild-kingdomWe remember watching Marlin Perkins on “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” growing up. For the younger generations, it was a TV program roughly the equivalent of watching today’s Discovery channel. In particular we remember watching a wildebeest being taken down by a pack of jackals. The jackals would watch for an advantage–a wildebeest that was old and slow, or wounded, or maybe too young to keep up with the herd. They would single it out and one after another jump on it to bring it down. That’s the image that floated through our heads as we noticed a sudden surge of law firms filing class action lawsuits against Chesapeake Energy. No, these lawsuits have nothing to do with Chesapeake shorting landowners in their royalty checks–there’s already a bunch of those lawsuits. These lawsuits are new and stem from the recent announcement that the U.S. Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission and even the U.S. Postal Service have launched investigations into Chesapeake (see Everybody Just Subpoenaed Chesapeake Energy for Everything). The suspicion is that Chesapeake may have engaged in securities fraud by making misleading or false statements that led investors to buy or sell stocks, bonds and debts in the company. With blood drawn (i.e. government suspicion and investigation), a plethora (at least 10) law firms have jumped on the back of the beast and are attempting to bring it down…
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Carbon Natural Gas Buys 2,300 Conventional NatGas Wells in WV

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Carbon Natural Gas’ operations

Carbon Natural Gas, an independent oil and gas exploration company which develops and operates oil and gas properties in the Appalachian and Illinois Basin regions of the United States, has just picked up 2,300 natural gas wells in West Virginia for $9 million. The seller was not named in the announcement. One thing we know: These are not Marcellus/Utica wells. They are conventional (shallow, vertical-only) wells. How do we know? They’re only producing a cumulative 9.3 million cubic feet (MMcf) of gas per day. Most Marcellus/Utica wells produce that much in a day or two–by themselves! However, one never knows what mineral rights go along with such a sale. It may be the case (although Carbon doesn’t say) that deeper mineral rights to one day drill in the Marcellus/Utica are part of the deal. Which is why we are highlighting the sale…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Oct 11, 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: Shell wants to sell electricity in Ohio; PA’s rig count goes up again; leaked emails shows Hillary knew Russians were backing anti-fracking groups; natgas hits a new 22-month high; what happens when Saudi Arabia quits exporting oil?; and more!
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