PA IFO Predicts 2016 Impact Fee Revenue Will Drop Another 7%

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Each year since 2012 Pennsylvania has assessed and collected their version of a severance tax–called an impact fee. As you can see from the chart, the first three years’ worth of collections were over $200 million per year. But starting in 2015 and the collapse of oil and natural gas prices, drillers laid down many of their rigs, and the gas slowed down–resulting in lower tax (whoops, fee) collections. Which is to be expected. In PA, the impact fee is collected and disbursed by the Public Utility Commission (PUC). However, a different state agency, the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO), analyzes production and does a pretty fair job of estimating what the collections will show. Last July the IFO made predictions for 2016 collections that range from $5 million to $56 million below what was collected in 2015 (see PA Independent Fiscal Office Predicts Impact Fee Revenue for 2016). With production numbers now updated by the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection, the IFO has re-run the numbers and now has a much better idea of what collections, which occur in April, will show. The IFO says the state will collect $174.6 million in impact fees, which is $13.1 million (~7%) less than last year. Perhaps most interesting is a number calculated by the IFO called the “Effective Tax Rate” (or ETR). The ETR is what the impact fee would be if it were called a severance tax. Last year the ETR was 6.9%. This year it will be 5%. When you add corporate income taxes paid by drillers to the ETR, you get a “severance tax” rate that is higher than any other oil and gas producing state! And still RINOs and Democrats want to tack on an extra severance tax. Blithering idiots…
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Columbia Pipeline Launches Open Season for New M-U Project

Last week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Columbia Pipeine’s Leach XPress and Rayne XPress pipeline projects (see FERC Approves $1.8B Leach & Rayne XPress Pipeline Projects). The two projects together will flow an additional 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of Marcellus/Utica gas to the Gulf Coast. With those two successes in hand, Columbia Pipeline Group (now owned by TransCanada) is floating another project, called Buckeye XPress. As you can guess from the name, this new project will beef up service along the Columbia Gas Transmission pipeline from Ohio (and PA and WV) to send even more Marcellus/Utica gas to the Gulf via the interconnection at Leach, Kentucky. Columbia launched a non-binding open season to gauge interest in the project, which will use looping and beefed up compressor stations to increase capacity another 700 million cubic feet (MMcf) per day along the existing pipeline Columbia pipeline system, which is abbreviated TCO…
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Speculation: Transco Sending M-U Gas to Louisiana LNG Terminal

Over a year ago the mighty Transco turned bidirectional, sometimes sending gas northward from the Gulf (as it’s done for 50 years), and now, sometimes sending gas from the Marcellus/Utica southward, to the Gulf. Much more gas will head south once the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project gets built (see FERC Approves Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline! Cabot Grabs More Capacity). However, from various stories we’ve read, and from our speculation, we’ve assumed that at least some Marcellus/Utica gas now flows far enough south that perhaps some of it reaches the Cheniere Energy LNG export facility in Sabine Pass, Louisiana (see LNG Slowly Changing the NatGas Game in the Marcellus/Utica). Until now, the gas traveling from north to south has only made it as far as the Creole Trail pipeline and from there Creole Trail would conduct the gas to Cheniere’s LNG plant in Sabine Pass. But beginning yesterday Transco is now connected directly to the Sabine Pass facility. We have to confess this is speculation on our part, but we don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that Marcellus/Utica gas is now flowing to Sabine Pass for export. And if our gas is not now flowing to Sabine Pass, it soon will be. Here’s our evidence…
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PA Royalty Bills Approved by Senate Panel, Sponsor Chides House

Yesterday a Pennsylvania State Senate panel met to discuss two bills that would help landowners in their quest for more visibility into how royalties are calculated–and what kinds of expenses are deducted (see 2 Royalty Bills Focus of PA Senate Hearing Today). As we said yesterday, Senate Bill (SB) 138 will allow landowners the right to review drilling company records to verify proper royalty payment. It also requires drillers to pay royalties within 90 days of production. SB 139 prohibits drillers from “retaliating” against a landowner who questions royalty payments by canceling the lease or stopping drilling activity. Both bills were unanimously approved by the Senate panel and will go to the full Senate for a vote. However, as the bill’s prime sponsor Sen. Gene Yaw indicated, the Senate is not the problem. Last session the same thing happened–speedy passage by the Senate. Then the bills got bogged down in the PA House because they were attached to another bill that guarantees a minimum royalty of 12.5% regardless of post-production costs. That bill has proven toxic–vigorously opposed by the drilling industry. Sen. Yaw’s not-so-subtle message to the House: Don’t repeat the same mistake this year. Let these bills stand on their own…
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Patterson-UTI Floats $418M of New Stock to Pay Off SSE’s Debts

As MDN told you in November, Patterson-UTI Energy, an oilfield services company with major operations in the northeast, is buying out and merging in Seventy Seven Energy (SSE) in an all-stock deal worth $1.76 billion (see Seventy Seven Energy Throws in the Towel, Sells to Paterson-UTI). SSE is the former Chesapeake Oilfield Operating company, the oilfield services subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy that Chessy spun out into its own company in July 2014 after it couldn’t find anyone to buy it (see Long Labor & Delivery: Seventy Seven Energy Born Yesterday). It was an ill-fated venture from the beginning. SSE never turned a profit after becoming its own company. In June of this year, SSE, which has major operations in the Marcellus/Utica, filed for bankruptcy, then emerged from bankruptcy two months later borrowing $100 million (see Seventy Seven Energy Pops Out of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2 Mos.). In the third quarter of this year, the red ink continued to flow, with SSE losing $36.5 million. Now that Patterson is buying it, they are on the hook for SSE’s debts. So even though the deal to buy SSE is a no-cash stock swap, Patterson still needs a boatload of cash to pay off SSE’s debts. So Patterson is floating 15,800,000 shares of stock at $26.45 per share to raise $418 million. The stated reason? “To fund the repayment of the outstanding indebtedness of Seventy Seven Energy Inc.”…
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Large Crowd Turns Out For/Against 22-Mile Pipeline in NJ Scrub Pines

On Monday the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, which oversees a stand of scrub pines in South Jersey, held a public hearing to listen to comments on a plan to build a 22-mile pipeline through the scrub pines, burying it alongside the road so as to not disturb any spindly trees. The pipeline will supply clean-burning natural gas to a power plant currently fed by coal, cleaning up the air and lowering CO2 emissions. But dunderheads in the area are still opposed–largely incited by radical environmental groups like the NJ Sierra Club and the odious Food & Water Watch, who spread lies about the project. So many people turned up for the meeting, it maxed out the meeting room of 260 and some had to wait outside in the rain (which didn’t sit well with the pampered snowflakes). Predictably many who showed up wanted to go on record as opposed to the project. Isn’t that always the case? It’s easy to motivate people to attend a meeting when they’re against something–much harder to attract people who support something. At any rate, the surprising thing about yesterday’s meeting were the many people who turned out to support the pipeline. Also predictable, at least one anti (from the odious Food & Water Watch) couldn’t contain herself and had to be ejected for disrupting the meeting…
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UMH Snaps Up More PA/OH Trailer Parks, Targeting M-U Workers

You don’t often hear about a company that owns trailer parks as being a publicly-held company (trading shares of stock on the New York Stock Exchange). But such is the case with New Jersey-based real estate investment company, UMH Properties, Inc. We’ve written about UMH a number of times before (see our UMH stories here). Why? Because they keep buying trailer parks in the Marcellus/Utica with the express hope that drilling activity in the region will lead to high occupancy rates. They’ve just done it again. Last week UMH closed on two more trailer parks in Ohio, and yesterday they closed on purchasing another park in Pennsylvania. Their target seems to be workers in the shale industry. Their strategy is working…
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Trump Signs Executives Orders to Restart DAPL, Keystone XL Pipes

President Trump is wasting no time in correcting the mistakes of the Obama Administration. Yesterday Trump signed a pair of Executive Orders meant to restart and advance the XL Keystone Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline projects. The orders include a requirement that the pipes manufactured for the projects be manufactured right here at home, in the U.S. The orders in no way require the projects to get completed, they are simply meant to help clear regulatory hurdles so the projects’ builders can get moving again. Predictably the action is making radical fossil fuel haters apoplectic…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Jan 25, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Whatever happened to GreenHunter Resources; Marcellus money saving farmland in Blair County; Susan LeGros talks about holding drillers to higher standards; Citizens Energy sells LNG business; expect a new shale boom this spring; Trump’s ‘scary’ energy policy; Mexico preps for shale push in 2017; and more!
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