FERC Expected to Approve NEXUS Today; Surveyors have Armed Guards

NEXUS map
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Word on the street is that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will announce a decision today to approve the NEXUS Pipeline–a $2 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline that will run from Ohio through Michigan and eventually to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada. It is a critically needed pipeline to move Utica and Marcellus Shale gas from an over-saturated market in the northeast to markets in the Midwest and Canada. If the decision doesn’t come today, it will come very soon. As MDN reported yesterday, the small city of Green, OH (population 26,000) has put NEXUS on notice that if its surveyors show up and landowners refuse access, those surveyors will be arrested if they “trespass” on the landowner’s property (see Green, OH Threatens NEXUS Surveyors with Arrest for Trespassing). Other news agencies are reporting that surveyors are about to show up with armed guards. Into this mess may come an approval for the project. If NEXUS gets approved, it will have the right to use federal eminent domain laws to build the pipeline, regardless of landowner desires. Does eminent domain also include surveying? One would think so since surveying is part of the construction process. Green’s bluster may amount to nothing if the project receives a final approval today. Below are several stories about surveying for NEXUS, as well as a look at the FERC commissioners who will make the final decision on NEXUS…
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Baker Hughes, CSL & GS Form New US Fracking Co: BJ Services

bj-servicesThe world’s third largest oilfield services company, Baker Hughes, has struggled to stay afloat given the radical reduction in revenue they get for the services they offer. BH’s recent third quarter update showed the company lost $430 million, which is down from losing $912 million in 3Q15, a positive sign we suppose (see Baker Hughes 3Q16: Bleeding Slows, but Hefty Loss of $430M). Halliburton tried to buy BH last year, but earlier this year the Obama DOJ killed the proposed merger (see Obama DOJ Kills Halliburton/Baker Hughes Merger, Deal “Terminated”). Last month GE Oil & Gas launched its own takeover/merger with BH (see Breaking: Who Needs Halliburton? Baker Hughes Merging with GE O&G). In the midst of all that, BH is not sitting on its hands. Yesterday the company announced it will spin off its North American shale fracking business into a new company, BJ Services. The deal involves investments and assets contributed from both Goldman Sachs and CSL Capital Management. Here’s the lowdown on BH’s new “pressure pumping” (i.e. fracking) deal, and the real reason BH is doing it…
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PECO Breaks Ground on New Gas Lines for 160 Homes in Philly Suburb

pecoIn November 2014, MDN told you about an innovative plan by PECO–formerly known as the Philadelphia Electric Company, is the largest combined electric/natural gas utility company in PA serving some 500,000+ natural gas customers in southeastern PA–to allow customers to sign up for its natural gas service and spread the cost over 20 years (see PA Utility’s Innovate Plan to Deliver Marcellus Gas to Customers). It costs a lot of money to install new gas mains through an area–$500,000 – $1,000,000 per mile–and PECO needs a lot of customers along a route to sign up to make it profitable. So they innovated a plan to make it possible. But the plan needed approval from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC). PECO got approval in October 2015 (see PA Utility’s Plan to Deliver Marcellus Gas Approved by PUC). Now, some two years after they first floated the plan, PECO is breaking ground to build pipelines that will service 160 new customers in the suburbs of Philly…
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Stone Energy’s Largest Shareholder Opposes Current Bankruptcy Plan

Stone EnergyStone Energy, an independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company (E&P) headquartered in Lafayette, Louisiana drills mainly in the Gulf of Mexico but also has a presence in the Marcellus/Utica Shale with 90,000 acres of leases. Last year Stone quit drilling in the northeast and actually shut-in part of their production due to low prices (see Stone Energy 3Q15: Shut Down 110 Mmcfe/d of Marcellus Production). In June Stone cut a new midstream gathering agreement with Williams to return some of their shut-in Marcellus wells to full production (see Stone Energy Opens Marcellus Spigots Again; New Midstream Deal). However, things changed for Stone in a big way in October when the company announced (a) it is selling its Marcellus/Utica assets to Tug Hill for $350 million, and (b) the company is preparing to file for bankruptcy (see Stone Energy Enters Bankruptcy, Sells Marc/Utica Assets for $350M). Stone’s bankruptcy plans are facing a challenge from it’s biggest shareholder. It seems investor Thomas Satterfield, who now owns 9.9% of the company’s stock, doesn’t want to see that stock turned into toilet paper by handing the keys over to debtholders, as is the typical route E&Ps have taken with bankruptcy filings over the past year or so…
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Enviro Nazis File Petition Against Drilling in Wayne Natl Forest

Wayne National Forest
Wayne National Forest

It’s been 10 long years, but finally in October the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) posted a lease sale auction for 33 parcels in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest (see BLM Launches Auction to Lease Wayne National Forest for Fracking). Although there are some 18,000 acres under consideration for leasing by the BLM in WNF, this first batch amounts to about 1,600 acres–most of it in Monroe County, OH. Monroe is a prime location for Utica Shale drilling. WNF is the only national forest in Ohio and portions of it are found in Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Lawrence, Perry, Scioto, Vinton, and Washington counties. WNF is a “patchwork” of public land scattered among private land. Some 60% of the mineral rights below WNF are privately owned. Those mineral rights owners have been denied the use of their property rights for a decade–an absolute crime. But Constitutional property rights mean nothing to miseducated liberals who love to protest in faddish “causes”–like banning drilling in WNF. A group of these miseducated miscreants recently presented a petition with 92,000 signatures on it (so they claim) to officials of the BLM in Washington, DC–asking the BLM to stop the lease sale and slam the door on drilling in WNF. Are all 92,000 signatures from Ohio residents who might, theoretically, be impacted by shale drilling in WNF? You can bet your bottom dollar most of the signatures are from people who live outside Ohio…
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Philly Energy Hub Plan – Not Dead Yet

not-dead-yetEarlier this week MDN reported that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf helped kill a plan by Philadelphia Energy Solutions to expand its shale oil refinery in Philly by denying a lease on 200 acres at the Southport Marine site (see PA Gov Wolf Kills Plan for PES Refinery Expansion in Philadelphia). As we noted, the PES plan to expand its refinery facilities was one of the key elements of a plan to turn Philly into an “energy hub” in the northeast–perhaps one day rivaling Houston, TX. However, even though the PES plan is now dead, the dream of turning Philly into an energy hub is far from dead. At least it’s not according to Rob Wonderling, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. Wonderling recently published an editorial touting the economic benefits of Marcellus Shale and how Marcellus gas is already creating new jobs and opportunities in the Philly area. He calls on those who want to see Philly’s manufacturing and jobs picture improve by leveraging Marcellus gas to join him in “picking some stones” to help Philly achieve its dream…
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PA PUC Commissioner Rob Powelson Elected as President of NARUC

robert-powelson
Robert Powelson

Rob Powelson is a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC). At one point, under then-Gov. Tom Corbett, Powelson was the PUC Chairman (see PA’s PUC Pro-Drilling Chairman Powelson Leads Mid-Atlantic Group). After Democrat Tom Wolf was elected as governor, he replaced Powelson with Gladys Brown as Chairwoman (see Anti-Drillers Cheer PA Gov Wolf’s New Appointment to Head PUC). However, Powelson remains on the PUC as a member. He’s one of the good guys–someone who supports shale energy. At a recent natural gas conference in Washington, DC, Powelson had some sharp words of criticism for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the topic of pipelines (see PA Regulator Criticizes NY Gov. Cuomo for Pipeline Obstructionism). Powelson said, in so many words, that Cuomo’s screwing around with pipeline delays (like the Constitution) threatens the reliability of the electrical grid in the entire northeast and New England. He even poked fun at Cuomo, saying it takes Andy two hours to watch 60 Minutes–a cut on Cuomo for his “overly cautious” approach to pipeline approvals. Good news. Rob’s stature and reputation have just increased, yet again. He has been elected as the next president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). He will serve a one-year term. It is not a full-time gig–he remains a commissioner with the PA PUC. Our point: It’s great having a Marcellus booster as the head of this prestigious national organization…
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DC NatGas Utility WGL Considers Selling Itself to Spanish Company

iberdrolaWord has leaked out that WGL Holdings, the umbrella company that owns Washington (DC) Gas Light Company and WGL Midstream, is considering selling itself to utility giant (and Spanish-based) Iberdrola. The deal, if it happens, has implications for the Marcellus. Earlier this month MDN reported that WGL Midstream, which already is a 7% owner in the Mountain Valley Pipeline project, had upped its ownership stake to 10% (see WGL Midstream Buys More of Mountain Valley Pipeline). WGL’s plan is to pipe more Marcellus/Utica gas to the Washington, DC area for sale to customers living in our nation’s capital. Would/could a change in ownership change that plan? It might…
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Technip, FMC Believe Merger is in the Bag, Release Board Mbr List

M&AIn May, U.S.-based oilfield services company FMC Technologies announced they will merge with their much larger quasi-competitor, France-based Technip, in an all-stock deal that will create a new company called TechnipFMC worth $13 billion (see FMC Technologies & Technip to Merge, Create $13B Oilfield Giant). FMC had/has some operations in the Marcellus/Utica, hence the merger has implications for our region. The Obama Dept. of Justice approved the deal in June (see FMC Technologies/Technip Merger Approved by Obama DOJ/FTC). Apparently it’s A.O.K. for a French company to buy an American company, but when one American company (Halliburton) wanted to buy another (Baker Hughes), that wasn’t OK with the Obamadroids (see Obama DOJ Kills Halliburton/Baker Hughes Merger, Deal “Terminated”). But we digress. The European Union, like the Obama DOJ, has now given its blessing on the deal. The shareholders for the two companies will vote next week on the merger, to make it official. Apparently management for the two companies thinks the deal is already in the bag because they’ve released a list of board members for the newly combined company…
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Shale Oil About to Drive the Final Nail in OPEC’s Coffin

final-nail-in-coffinMiddle Eastern counties who sell us oil, including Saudi Arabia, have never been our “friends.” To pretend otherwise is dangerously stupid. We have depended on them for their oil, plain and simple. Oil equals energy and energy equals freedom and prosperity for the U.S. In the 1970s OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, flexed its economic muscles against our country and brought us to our knees with an oil embargo that caused shortages and prices to skyrocket. MDN editor Jim Willis recalls growing up in the 1970s when gas was rationed and you could only buy gas every few days (odd and even days) based on your license plate number. A scary time in our country. Thing is, our enemies haven’t changed–they are still there. They’re just a whole lot richer than they were back then, richer with our money in their pockets. The shale revolution changed all that. We are close to being 100% energy independent–without the need to import oil. Oh, we’ll have to keep importing for the foreseeable future. We don’t have enough refineries here to process the type of oil we produce (light sweet crude). But in a pinch, we’d figure out a way. OPEC and Saudi Arabia have badly misjudged America. They thought they could flood the market with cheap oil and bankrupt America’s shale drillers. Didn’t happen. In fact, we got better. We figured out how to drill for less money. Little known fact: Bakken drillers can now make money with oil selling as low as $29 per barrel! In other words, it’s now time to put the last nail in OPEC’s coffin and kiss them goodbye. We sincerely hope finally defeating OPEC will be a top priority in the new Trump Administration…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Nov 30, 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: OH Utica rig count stays 19; fake news in energy; energy woes trigger business bankruptcies in PA; criminal pipeline protesters in ND strain courts; ND law enforcement cuts off supplies to protesters; US doesn’t need Paris to meet emissions targets; o&g mergers making a comeback; Schlumberger making “rigs of the future”; gas exports to Mexico increase; and more!
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