Kidder Twp Approves Zoning for PennEast Compressor Station

A little good news to share about the PennEast Pipeline project–a $1 billion, 118-mile, primarily 36-inch pipeline that will get built from Dallas (Luzerne County), PA to Transco’s pipeline interconnection near Pennington (Mercer County), NJ. Last month PennEast got some bad news–a further delay from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in delivering a final environmental review. The review was supposed to be done last August, but got pushed to this December. Then in November, FERC announced it would be next February before the final review is delivered (see FERC Delays PennEast Pipeline Final Review – Again). That review is the big nut to crack. However, there are many smaller regulatory issues along the way that are also important. One of those is getting permission to build a few compressor stations along the pipeline’s route. One of those locations, in Carbon County, PA, has just approved PennEast’s plan to site a compressor station there…
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Rover Pipeline to FERC: Please OK the Project NOW, by Dec. 31

Rover Pipeline is turning up the heat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Rover is a $3.7 billion, 711-mile Marcellus/Utica natural gas pipeline that will run from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and eventually into Canada. It is a critical piece of sorely needed infrastructure for the Marcellus/Utica industry. In July, FERC issued a favorable final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project (see Big News: FERC Grants Final EIS for ET Rover Pipeline). The only thing left is for FERC to issue the certificate that allows the project to commence. Here’s the problem for Rover: If they don’t begin clearing trees in January, they won’t be able to have the tree-clearing done in time for bat season–when federally-protected Indiana and northern long-eared bats begin to roost in those trees. Rover (indeed all pipeline and drilling companies) can’t harvest trees after March 31. The moratorium on tree-cutting lasts until Oct. 31. So Rover has three months to clear trees, and if they don’t get it done then, the project will get delayed by another full year. So Rover sent a letter to FERC on Friday asking/cajoling/pleading with FERC to issue the certificate. However, Rover is currently on the excrement list at FERC over demolishing an historic house in Ohio without getting “Mother May I?” permission first (see Rover Pipeline in Hot Water Over Demolishing Historic House in OH). We wonder if perhaps that’s one reason why FERC is dragging its feet…
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Chesapeake, VA City Council Approves NatGas-Powered Electric Plant

In September MDN wrote about a new natural gas-fired electric plant being planned for Chesapeake, Virginia (see New NatGas-Fired Electric Plant Proposed for Chesapeake, VA). Macquarie Infrastructure filed an application to build the new plant in Chesapeake, Virginia’s third most populous city (located near Norfolk). Even though Macquarie is funding it, they’re using a subsidiary called Matex Virginia Power to build the 1,400-megawatt plant. In October, the project got a name–Great Bridge Energy Center–and also received an important approval from the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Review Committee (see NatGas-Fired Electric Plant Proposed for Chesapeake, VA Advances). Great Bridge Energy Center, which will no doubt be fired with Marcellus Shale gas, continues to make excellent progress. Yesterday Chesapeake City Council voted to approve a use permit and rezoning request for the plant. In other words, City Council just gave this project their stamp of approval…
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Rice Energy Board Member Exits to Become CEO of Tapstone Energy

Steve Dixon

Steven Dixon, who had been a member of the board of directors at Rice Energy since 2014, has resigned from the Rice board in order to become CEO of Tapstone Energy, which drills in shale plays in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. Dixon is a geologist by training. He worked at Chesapeake Energy for a number of years. In 2006 Dixon was named chief operating officer (COO) in 2006. He was upgraded to vice president of operations and geoscience in 2010. And after Carl Icahn booted Aubrey McClendon from the company he had co-founded, Dixon was acting CEO of the mighty Chesapeake for a period of time in 2013. While a single board member departing won’t negatively affect a company like Rice (financially), we’re sure his presence and deep experience will be missed. Here’s the announcements from both Rice about Dixon leaving, and Tapstone about Dixon arriving…
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1st NRG Pops Back Up 2 Years Later – Still in Love with the Utica

Going all the way back to 2012, MDN has chronicled, from time to time, the myriad press releases issued by a small driller headquartered in Denver called 1st NRG Corp. They’ve been saying since that time that they really really really really want to drill in the Utica Shale–on a small 7,000 acre leasehold they own (see our stories about 1st NRG here). Ever hear of the boy who cried wolf? Eventually they did participate in drilling a Utica well, in 2014 (see 1st NRG Begins Pushing Dirt on First Utica Well Pad). That was the last time we wrote about 1st NRG–until today. Turns out the well they drilled, which was supposed to be a horizontal Utica “test” well, turned into a vertical Beekmantown Dolomite well. But 1st NRG hasn’t given up. In a “corporate update 2016” press release issued yesterday, the company said “these are exciting times” for the company, and that they are on a “growth trajectory for 2017.” What has the company so jazzed? They expect that Dolomite well to get hooked up to production in January. Although they still love the Utica, the company will focus on the reviving activity in the Clabaugh Ranch field in Wyoming in 1Q17 (coal bed methane, not shale drilling). Finally, the company is working on the purchase of a 364-mile natural gas gathering pipeline system, which they “hope” to close in 1Q17. The company cagily does not identify where the gathering system is located. Here’s the recent update from 1st NRG, along with a slightly older announcement about the pipeline gathering system they “hope” to buy…
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Nuverra Environmental Line of Credit Expanded, Payback Extended

Nuverra Environmental Solutions is one of the largest companies in the United States that handles transportation and disposal of shale drilling wastewater and leftover rock and dirt from drilling. The company has major operations in the Marcellus/Utica region. In January the company, going through tough economic times, was de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange (see Nuverra Environmental Delisted from NYSE, Now a Penny Stock). We recently noted that in 3Q16 the company “only” lost $38 million–which is $90 million less than they lost in 3Q15 (see Nuverra Environmental 3Q16: Still in the Red, but Improving). The company continues to struggle financially. We make that statement based on a recent 8-K filing made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In that filing Nuverra discloses that they have worked out an agreement with their bank, Wells Fargo, to extend the payback date for a loan made on a line of credit from December 31 of this year to March 31 of next year–an additional three months. The disclosure also shows Nuverra will be allowed to borrow more money–going from the current $30.6 million cap to $58.1 million. When you consider companies like Chesapeake Energy have over $9 billion in debt, Nuverra’s debt seems pretty tiny. But the fact remains they’re pushing out the time for repayment, and potentially borrowing more money…
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Union (Once Again) Lies About PA Marcellus Severance Tax

From the beginning of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s disastrous administration, we have told you the unvarnished truth: Wolf’s call for a high tax on Marcellus Shale gas production is a giveaway, a pay-back, to teachers unions for their support of him in defeating Republican Gov. Tom Corbett (see PA Gov Wolf Proposes Marcellus-Killing 7.5% Severance Tax). Wolf held up the first budget by nine months, wreaking havoc on the state, over this very issue–screw the Marcellus industry to give its money to teachers (i.e. for “education” and “for the children”). What a boatload of horse manure. As we’ve repeatedly SHOUTED–PA already has the equivalent of a severance tax. It’s called an impact fee plus a corporate income tax. When you take the two together, the average “tax” paid by Marcellus drillers is HIGHER than that paid in other big oil and gas states, like Texas and Oklahoma. Enacting an ADDITIONAL severance tax on top of it–even in place of it–would be a disaster, shutting down most Marcellus drilling. And yes, there is gas in other states and yes drillers will leave PA if such a tax is enacted. And yet unions, like AFSCME Council 13, continue to pedal lies about the severance tax…
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Desperate Antis Try One Last Legal Maneuver to Stop Mariner East 2

You may recall our story about the daughter of a Huntingdon County, PA landowner, radicalized by Big Green groups (as evidenced by her association with well known protesters previously arrested), who took to a tree on her mom’s property in order to illegally stop crews working on tree clearing for the Mariner East 2 pipeline (see PA Anti Literally Goes Up a Tree to Stop Mariner East 2 Pipeline). It ultimately didn’t matter, because Sunoco came back and cut down the few trees they need to cut anyway (see Sunoco Tricks Radicalized Protester – Returns and Cuts More Trees). Eventually law enforcement got around to arresting the daughter, and the mom (who also trespassed during tree clearing). Law enforcement also arrested a serial criminal trespasser/anti who aided and radicalized them. Unfortunately, in a miscarriage of justice, the charges against all three were dropped (see Charges Dismissed Against Tree Sitting Anti in Huntingdon County). The up-a-tree girl and her mom, with backing by Big Green money, continue to litigate. They are being used by Big Green, and fossil fuel-hating Big Green lawyers for the mom and daughter think they’ve found a clever legal tactic to stop Mariner East 2–not just from their property, but from being built across the state period. It is their final “hail Mary” pass…
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Cool Tool Shows Where Working Rigs are Located in M-U

The GoMarcellusShale Forum where landowners and others interested in shale drilling hang out and swap messages back and forth was recently updated to become ShaleForum.com. It’s an excellent site with lots of great chatter going on for those with an interest in shale-related matters, including a very active Marcellus/Utica discussion. One of those discussions recently caught our eye. A poster on ShaleForum provided a link to an interactive map application hosted by Baker Hughes. We had not previously seen the app and found it to be very useful. The app shows where all of the active rigs currently drilling are located–across the entire country. You can filter the app to show only states or regions you are interested in. We played with it a bit to show you maps for PA, WV and OH where shale rigs are currently located…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Dec 21, 2016

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Drilling facts ignored; Pittsburgh law firms adjust to down energy market; PA firms poised to benefit from Shell cracker plant; o&g 2016 year in review; ten things to know about EPA’s final fracking/groundwater report; natural gas price in denial; China’s LNG imports hit record high, again; and more!
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