Gas-Fired Plant (& Cracker?) Coming to Center Port Terminal in OH

[NOTE: In the original version of this post, MDN incorrectly referred to the name as Center Point Terminal. It is, in fact, Center Port Terminal. Sorry!] One of MDN’s sharp subscribers emailed us with an exciting tip. On March 27 a public meeting will be held in Woodsfield, Ohio (Monroe County) about building a 485 megawatt gas-fired power plant–to be built on twenty acres of the 200 acre former Ormet site, now known as Center Port Terminal. That much we have been able to confirm. Our tipster also speculated this new power plant may be used to provide electricity to an ethane cracker. We have not, so far, been able to verify the cracker rumor. Here is what we do, and don’t, know about this new power plant project coming in Monroe County…
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Fed Judge Dismisses Dela. Riverkeeper Lawsuit Against FERC

It took a whole year, but a federal court has just thrown out a frivolous lawsuit filed by Maya van Rossum, THE Delaware Riverkeeper, which attempted to defund the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Last year MDN reported on the lawsuit filed by Maya and company–a lawsuit which aimed to shut down the entire agency by defunding it (see THE Delaware Riverkeeper Sues FERC, Tries to Close it Down). Delaware Riverkeeper filed their lawsuit against FERC in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia–one of the most liberal jurisdictions in the country. The lawsuit claimed FERC can’t objectively make decisions about projects like the Penn East Pipeline (running from the Wilkes-Barre area to New Jersey) because FERC derives some of its operating revenue from the projects it either approves or does not approve. Liberal U.S. District Justice Tanya Chutkan found Riverkeeper’s arguments don’t hold water (pun intended). In her 20-page opinion (copy below), Chutkan doesn’t buy Maya’s BS line that FERC is hopelessly biased. Although Maya tried to spin the bad news as good (because Riverkeeper achieved “standing” in the case), the decision is, in fact, a crushing blow for Maya and her merry band of eco-nuts…
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OH Court Says Grandkids Can Claim Mineral Ownership Under DMA

MDN has previously highlighted the importance of last year’s Ohio Supreme Court decision with regard to the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (DMA). In September 2016 the OH Supreme Court ruled in three DMA cases, saying all of the other cases come under those three (see Important: OH Supreme Court Finally Rules on Dormant Mineral Act). Following that ruling, we brought you insights on what it means from international law firm Jones Day (see One More Look at Important OH Supreme Court DMA Decision). We later ran a copy of an analysis done by attorney David Wigham, who said, “[T]he landscape regarding title and ownership to mineral interests in Ohio has significantly changed” (see Expert Says OH DMA Decision “Significantly Changed” Mineral Rights). The ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision continues–and various aspects of the now-settled law are still, well, getting settled. Under the DMA if a surface landowner advertises his or her intent to reclaim mineral rights (when the rights have been dormant for period of years), the rights owners have a certain amount of time to respond to reassert their ownership. But what if the original rights owners are now dead. Can their heirs, as in grandchildren, claim those rights? Under a case just decided in Ohio’s Seventh District Court of Appeals, the answer to that would be, “Yes”…
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Williams Launches PA Media Campaign to Promote Atlantic Sunrise

Williams is in the years-long (and almost impossible) process of building the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project–a $3 billion, 198-mile pipeline running through 10 Pennsylvania counties to connect Marcellus Shale natural gas from PA with the Williams’ Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County. On Feb. 3, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave its final approval for the project (see FERC Approves Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline! Cabot Grabs More Capacity). From FERC’s perspective, Atlantic Sunrise can start the bulldozers any time–except the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has not yet granted some necessary permits. As we reported earlier this month, Williams is keeping up the gentle pressure (see Williams Keeps Pressure on PA DEP to Issue Atlantic Sunrise Permits). That pressure continues. Williams has just launched an “expanded” media campaign, complete with on-air commercials, which aim to “educate the community about these benefits and the importance of designing, constructing and operating critical natural gas infrastructure projects in Pennsylvania.” The new media effort is also meant to ratchet up the pressure on the DEP another notch…
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NJ’s Lib Dem Senators Bash PennEast Pipe Over Arsenic “Concerns”

New Jersey’s reliably lefty Democrat U.S. Senators, Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, played to their fringe, unhinged base of eco-nut supporters by sending a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission claiming the PennEast Pipeline project, due to run through a small portion of NJ, “may” cause problems with arsenic–as in releasing the toxic substance into drinking water supplies from digging trenches and erosion. It is a flat out, bogus, BS claim–and they know it. But they were put up to the letter-writing task by some of their Big Green donors, including ReThink Energy NJ and New Jersey Conservation Foundation. It’s nothing new that campaign contributions (i.e. bribes) buy you access. PennEast has responded that the issue has already been addressed in their application with FERC–there is a plan to monitor and protect against any potential disturbance of the ground that would cause arsenic levels to increase. That’s what responsible adults do. They respond in an adult-like, responsible manner. Unlike the other side…
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EnerVest Selling 1,100 Wells, 361K Acres in Appalachia

In September 2012 EV Energy Partners/EnerVest put 539,000 Ohio Utica Shale acres on the auction block. It didn’t sell. In 2013 they announced they would begin selling sections piecemeal, a strategy that has netted a few sales since then (see EnerVest Strategy: Sell Utica, Drill Vertical, Expand Midstream). However, EnerVest still retains a lot of Utica acreage. According to the NGI’s Shale Play Factbook, EnerVest owns 903,000 acres, slightly less than powerhouse Chesapeake Energy. In 2014, EnerVest made another run at trying to figure out how to get oil out of their acreage (see Utica Shale Oil Far from Dead – EnerVest, EQT Try Again). In September 2015, EV Energy Partners, a subsidiary of EnerVest, purchased property from the mothership EnerVest in the Appalachian Basin, San Juan Basin, Michigan and Austin Chalk for $259 million (see EV Energy Partners Buys $259M in Wells/Leases from Parent EnerVest). And last year, in 2016, we brought you a story about EnerVest experimenting with drilling horizontal wells in the Ohio Clinton sandstone layer (see EnerVest Likes Clinton Sandstone “Utica-lite” Oil Wells in OH). The company remains active. MDN friends at Kallanish Energy have some new news about EnerVest. In yet another “drop down” deal, EnerVest is selling 360,621 acres of leases and 1,100 wells in the Appalachian Basin to EnerVest Operating, yet another subsidiary. [NOTE: MDN read the news wrong on this. EnerVest previously bought the leases/wells and now THOSE leases/wells are for sale–to someone else. This is not a drop down deal. Apologies to our friends at Kallanish!] The land and wells cover West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky. We suspect that most, if not all, of the wells are conventional (non-shale) wells. However, the possibility remains that some of the wells are shale wells. And certainly the land has potential for horizontal shale drilling, which is why we’re interested in this bit of news…
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Ascent Resources Continues Aubrey’s Borrowing Ways: $1.5B in IOUs

Feed me, feed me! Let’s be honest. Aubrey McClendon (God rest his soul) almost bankrupted Chesapeake Energy. The company’s stock price took a nose dive when the price of oil and natural gas went over a cliff. Aubrey had the company leveraged to the eyeballs and it teetered on the edge of bankruptcy until last year, when CEO Doug “the ax” Lawler claimed the company was out of the woods. We won’t recount our disdain for how Aubrey was ejected from the company he founded (by evil corporate raider Carl Ichan). After leaving Chesapeake, Aubrey started a new company–American Energy Partners (AEP). That company, AEP, set up a number of subsidiary companies to target different shale plays. One of the largest was aimed squarely at the Ohio Utica. That company later left the AEP fold (under pressure from investors) and became an independent company, renaming itself as Ascent Resources. However, Ascent, just like pappa Aubrey, went on a money-raising binge. In March 2016 Ascent floated 2.2 billion common units (think shares of stock) to raise $500 million (see Ascent Resources Sells More of Company to Pay Down Debt). Ascent planned to use that money to pay off existing notes, or IOUs. In August 2016, Ascent flirted with bankruptcy but pulled its bacon out of the fire by restructuring its debt (see Ascent Resources Talking to Creditors to Restructure $1.2B Debt). In November last year Ascent sold another 3.5 billion common units, hoping to raise $787 million to (yes) pay down outstanding debt (see Ascent Resources Sells Another 3.5 Billion Units for $787 Million). Here we are four months later, and Ascent is back, floating (yep)–new debt. New IOUs. Ascent pushed out an announcement yesterday that the company is offering $1.5 billion of senior unsecured notes. Unsecured means if they go belly up, investors in those notes won’t see a penny…
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OOGA Joins Fight Against Obama BLM Venting-Flaring Rules

In January 2016, the Obama Dept. of Interior posted a new rule that will make it all but impossible for oil and gas drillers to drill on federal lands (see Obama’s Interior Dept. Sneaks in New Rule to Limit Methane). The new 298-page rule requires companies to use expensive equipment to capture every last molecule of methane, the stuff these companies already capture so they can sell it, to prevent any “fugitive” methane from escaping into the atmosphere where it contributes to mythical global warming. Obama has also hiked the price drillers will pay to drill on federal lands. The aim is, of course, to shut down drilling on all federal lands. The “venting and flaring rule,” as it’s known, was adopted by the outgoing Obamadroids in the closing days of Obama’s ignominious administration. The new rule was due to be rolled back by a vote in the new Republican-controlled Senate. But that hasn’t happened–yet. Timid Republicans are afraid that rolling back the horrible rule will lose them votes with green radicals (not that greens will ever vote for them anyway). There is a full court press to get the Senate to vote. The Ohio Oil & Gas Association (OOGA), representing hundreds of Ohio drillers, has joined the effort and is trying to convince Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman to support the repeal of the BLM rule…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Mar 23, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Maryland Senate panel OKs ban on fracking; NY AG’s private email history raises questions about anti-Exxon campaign; Ohio’s ad valorem tax positively impacts Guernsey County; Solebury Twp, PA takes steps to oppose PennEast Pipe; MarkWest establishes scholarship at WCCF; VA conservation agency puts new restrictions on Atlantic Coast Pipe; ICE to start trading first US LNG futures contract; Rex Tillerson says his wife convinced him to take Sec State job; and more!
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