FERC Delays PennEast Pipe 3rd Time, PennEast Spins as ‘Good News’

PennEast Pipeline is a very important $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. It will feed local utilities and power generation plants along its route. In April 2016 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which oversees permitting for the pipeline, told PennEast the agency would extend the amount of time they are taking until December 2016, rather than the original target of August, to complete their environmental review (see PennEast Spins FERC Delay as a Good Thing – Optimism or Denial?). It was (for us) a small red flag. Hey, it happens. Projects get delayed because regulatory agencies get bogged down. But then it happened again: FERC told PennEast they would once again move the goal posts and delay the final environmental review from December 2016 to February 2017 (see FERC Delays PennEast Pipeline Final Review – Again). Hmmm. Bigger red flag. Now FERC is doing it for a third time, which is a huge red flag in our book. FERC issued a statement on Friday to say the final environmental review now won’t happen until April. What’s going on? And why is PennEast once again spinning this as some sort of “good news”?…
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2 Royalty Bills Focus of PA Senate Hearing Today

PA Sen. Gene Yaw

Last week MDN brought you the news that several northeastern Pennsylvania counties are investigating an alliance to push for passage of a bill like last session’s House Bill (HB) 1391 to guarantee landowners receive a minimum 12.5% royalty regardless of post-production costs (see Northeastern PA Counties Explore Alliance to Pass Royalty Reform). However, landowners and those who support them in the PA legislature are not pinning all hopes on a guaranteed minimum royalty bill. Also proposed in the last session (2015/2016) were two bills meant to greatly assist landowners in their quest to monitor royalty payments and how they are calculated. In January 2015 (almost exactly two years ago) PA Senator Gene Yaw, who represents several counties in northeast PA, re-introduced Senate Bills (SB) 147 & 148 (see PA Senate Reintroduces Two Marcellus Royalty Bills, SB 147 & 148). “Re-introduced” in 2015 means both bills were introduced in the previous session (in 2013/2014). SB 147 would have allowed landowners the right to review drilling company records to verify proper royalty payment. It would also have required drillers to pay royalties within 90 days of production. SB 148 prohibits drillers from “retaliating” against a landowner who questions royalty payments by canceling the lease or stopping drilling activity. Both bills were embraced by the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO). They both passed the Senate and stalled in the House. Now, for the third time (going on the sixth year) Sen. Yaw has re-introduced both bills again. This time they are called SB 138 & 139 (full copies below). Sen. Yaw isn’t wasting any time–he’s holding a hearing today to discuss both bills. Will this time be successful?…
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RINOs and Dems Ramp Up Severance Tax Bills in PA Legislature

“As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” (Proverbs 26:11, King James Version) We could think of no better way to convey the news that no less than three so-called Republicans from the Philadelphia area, and a plethora of Democrats, are in the process of introducing severance tax bills in the Pennsylvania State Legislature, once again. The bills range from assessing a 3.5% tax all the way up to 9%. We won’t repeat our many MANY arguments for why such a tax is just plain stupid. We’ll just share with you who (in the PA legislature) wants to steal money from landowners and drillers and give it to teachers’ unions…
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PHMSA Publishes New Pipeline Rule on Faster Accident Reporting

Yesterday the U.S. Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a final “rule” (actually 31 pages of rules, which we’ve included below) in the Federal Register, which will become law (i.e. official regulation) on March 24th. The new “rule” requires pipeline operators to report incidents or accidents by phone within one hour of when they become aware of the incident/accident. It also steps up drug and alcohol testing requirements for workers. Here’s the latest in unlegislated laws to come down from on (Washington, DC) high…
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EXCO Resources Stock Threatened Again with De-Listing by NYSE

EXCO Resources still has 145,000 net acres in the Marcellus with 124 horizontal Marcellus wells drilled and in production. However, they have pretty much abandoned the Marcellus at this point. EXCO was officially warned by the New York Stock Exchange last week that their stock is in danger of becoming delisted on the NYSE. Sound familiar? It should. The NYSE warned EXCO of the same thing in March 2016 (see EXCO: No Marcellus Drilling in 2015/2016, NYSE Threatens Delisting). Bad timing for EXCO as they have a Feb. 1 deadline looming for their borrowing base “redetermination” (see EXCO’s Day of Reckoning with Bankers: Feb 1). A company’s borrowing base is the value of its assets–in this case the value of the leases and oil/gas wells EXCO owns. Those assets are used as collateral to back up loans and IOUs. If the bankers extending credit determine a company’s assets are no longer sufficient to cover their loans, the bankers may force that company into bankruptcy as a way to protect the bank’s investment. EXCO pushed off the asset checkup to November. Then in December, the company got a reprieve, pushing the overdue checkup from Nov. 1, 2016 to Feb. 1, 2017. Time is now up and the redetermination will happen on Feb. 1. Will the NYSE warning play a role in that redetermination? EXCO says they have a plan to stay listed…
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Rex Energy 4Q & 2016 Update – Production Slips from 2015

Rex Energy, a driller focused mainly on the Marcellus/Utica (headquartered in State College, PA), released their fourth quarter and full year 2016 operational update yesterday. As seems to be the trend with many drillers, Rex has released the “good news” about how they produced, etc. ahead of releasing their financial statements (which have tended to be the bad news). What do we find in the Rex update? Production of all hydrocarbons was up 12% when comparing 4Q16 with 4Q15, and up 6% when comparing all of 2016 with all of 2015. However, when you dig a little bit, you discover that Rex’s methane (dry gas) production was down slightly when comparing 2016 with 2015, which we attribute to lack of drilling new wells. Here’s the update…
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Halliburton 4Q & 2016 Update – Net Loss of $153M in 2016

Last week Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services (OFS) company, reported their numbers for fourth quarter and full year 2016. As we highlighted, the company experienced a net loss last year (see Schlumberger 4Q16 & Full Year 2016 Results – Swings to Net Loss). Yesterday Halliburton, the world’s second largest OFS company, reported their numbers for last year. Like Schlumberger, Halliburton also had a net loss–of $153 million. And like Schlumberger, Halliburton said in 2017 prices for drillers are going up. Halliburton is a global company. Various regions were profitable or unprofitable. North America was unprofitable in 2016. Let’s dig into the details…
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Chevron Recertified as Safe Driller; CSSD Changes Name to CRSD

In March 2013, the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) burst onto the scene. It had been a closely guarded secret, the creation of a few hand-picked people from both industry and the environmental movement working together to see if there is any common ground on which both sides can agree that shale development would be safe, sustainable AND affordable. They worked hard for over a year and finally hammered out a set of 15 standards that if a driller (or midstream company or contractor) would meet, it would get a stamp of approval from both the industry and environmental groups as being a good goobie–a safe driller. In Sept. 2014 the CSSD announced they have certified their very first driller–one of their founding members–Chevron (see CSSD Bestows First Certification for Sustainable Drilling: Chevron). Apparently a cert lasts for a little over two years. Yesterday the CSSD announced Chevron has achieved recertification, a new milestone for the CSSD program. Except it’s no longer called the CSSD. Somewhere along the line (not sure when) the organization changed its name from the Center for Sustainable Shale Development to the Center for Responsible Shale Development (CRSD)…
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EIA Says NatGas Prices Heading Higher This Year & Next

Good news for natural gas drillers in general, and Marcellus/Utica drillers in particular: Our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts the average price for natural gas in the U.S. will rise in both 2017 and 2018. EIA expects the Henry Hub natural gas spot price to average $3.55 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2017 and $3.73/MMBtu in 2018, both higher than the 2016 average of $2.51/MMBtu. Higher prices in 2017 and 2018 reflect natural gas consumption and exports exceeding supply and imports, leading to lower average inventory levels…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Jan 24, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: The future of northeast gas markets; drilling increases in PA, OH & WV; fringe OH fractivists chase more taxpayer money to fund sham studies; Standing Rock Indians want the paid protesters gone asap; Trump tells EPA to freeze all grants & contracts; weekly rig count sees biggest increase in 4 years; the days of cheap natgas are over, so says peak gas theorist; polar votex returning; OPEC vs shale; and more!
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