PA Court Says Snyder Bros Wells are Strippers, No Impact Fees Due

In 2014 MDN brought you the interesting story of strippers in the Marcellus–stripper wells, that is (see High-Priced Strippers in PA: Semantic Gymnastics with Impact Fee). Synder Brothers is an oil/gas producer in Pennsylvania. Most of the wells they drill are vertical-only wells. Among them are 24 wells from 2011 and 21 wells from 2012 that are vertical only–but all targeting the Marcellus. According to the definition of a stripper well under the Act 13 law passed in 2012, a well qualifies as a stripper well if it doesn’t produce over 90 thousand cubic feet (Mcf) of natural gas per day for at least one month. Synder Bros. says although their wells may have produced over 90 Mcf in some months, they didn’t produce that much in at least one month during the years in question. Ergo, their wells qualify as stripper wells and not liable to pay an impact fee. The PA Public Utility Commission (PUC), charged with evaluating what does and does not qualify, said nope–your wells target the Marcellus formation and produced above 90 Mcf for “at least” one month out of the year, therefore must pay the impact fee. So the PUC sued Snyder Bros., intending to collect $500,000 in unpaid fees PLUS a $50,000 fine for inconveniencing the PUC (see PA PUC Sues Snyder Bros to Collect $500K in Unpaid Impact Fees). In January of this year, more than a year after first hearing the case, PA Commonwealth Court wanted to hear it all over again (see High-Priced PA Strippers Go Back to Court, Impact Fee Semantics). The court has finally ruled: the law clearly means if production is less than 90 Mcf in any single month, that well is a stripper. Snyder Bros. doesn’t have to pay the $500K impact fee on those wells…
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WV’s “Forced Pooling Lite” Bill Passes Senate, Heads to House

Earlier this week MDN reported that West Virginia Senate Bill (SB) 576, which addresses the issues of co-tenancy and joint development, was a freight train on a fast track to approval (see Co-Tenancy/Joint Dev Bill Heads to WV Senate – On Fast Track?). We call SB 576 “forced pooling lite” because it targets two of many issues that previously were bundled under WV bills aimed at creating forced pooling in the Mountain State. The freight train continues on down the tracks, although it’s lost a little bit of its steam. Yesterday the full WV Senate voted on the bill and passed it, “narrowly,” voting 19-14 in favor of the bill. It was an interesting bipartisan mix both voting for and against. There were 15 Republicans and 4 Democrats voting for the bill, and 6 Republicans and 8 Democrats who voted against. The bill now heads to the WV House. If it passes there, Gov. Jim Justice has signaled he will sign it…
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Wayne National Forest 2nd Lease Auction – List of Winners

Last week the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) auctioned off a second round of properties located in Wayne National Forest (WNF), in Ohio (see 2nd Wayne Natl Forest Lease Sale Hauls in $5.2M, Double Expectations). The first such auction was for 719 acres (see BLM Auction Leases 17 Parcels, 719 Acres in OH Wayne Natl Forest). The winners of the 17 parcels in the first auction were Eclipse Resources, Flat Rock Development, Gulfport Energy and Petrogas. This most recent (and second) auction was for 20 parcels totaling 1,180 acres. The winners this time were Eclipse Resources, Flat Rock Development, and private investor Philip White. In fact, this second auction was pretty much the Eclipse Resources show. Eclipse paid $3.5 million and took 987 of the 1,180 acres…
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OFS Mammoth Energy Buys Second Sand Co. to Keep on Frackin’

Oilfield services company (OFS) Mammoth Energy Services, headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, operates in both the Utica Shale and Permian Basin. Last week MDN reported that Mammoth, a new company formed in 2014 (but growing rapidly), had bought itself a sand mine/processing plant (Taylor Frac) in an effort to keep Mammoth’s fracking crews stocked with frack sand (see OFS Mammoth Buys Sand Co. to Ensure Steady Supply for Fracking). A couple of days later Mammoth did it again–purchasing a second sand mine (Chieftain Sand and Proppant) with twice the capacity. And they picked it up on the cheap, in a bankruptcy auction for $35 million…
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Antis Deliriously Happy with Maryland Frack Ban, Who Paid Who?

The same old (very small) cast of environmental radicals is claiming victory in Maryland over the recently passed bill to ban fracking statewide–a bill that now sits on traitor Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk (he’s promised to sign it). Radicals from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (and Food & Water Watch, and the Sierra Club, et al), who are waging a holy war against fossil fuels, say this momentous occasion is evidence of new “bipartisan” support sweeping the nation–that Maryland’s vote has “national implications.” It’s nothing of the sort. Anti-fossil fuel nutters are still by and large Democrats (and Socialists) and confined to a few far-left states (Maryland, New York, Vermont). Larry Hogan is an anomaly–a Republican who ran on a platform of support for fracking who suddenly, without warning and for inexplicable reasons, flipped and promised to sign a ban bill should one be proffered. We wonder, who paid who? There is corruption at work in this situation, of that we have no doubt. All of the so-called “leaders” of the ban frack movement in the Maryland legislature come from either the Washington, D.C. suburbs, or the Baltimore area. They are located on the opposite side of the state from where fracking would, theoretically, take place. These enviro radicals have hijacked the property rights of landowners in Allegany County and Garrett County, the only two Maryland counties with commercially viable shale deposits that could be fracked. It will be a sad day when Hogan turns his back on the people of Maryland and signs the law…
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Wayne Co. Landowner Welcomes Decision in Dismissed DRBC Lawsuit

As MDN reported, last week U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani ruled against a Wayne County landowner in a lawsuit that challenged the right of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to stop fracking in the Delaware River Basin (see Judge Tosses Wayne County, PA Landowner Lawsuit Against DRBC). At first blush this may see like a setback for landowners in Wayne and Pike Counties who have been denied the right to lease and allow drilling under their land for the past 10 years. But looks can be deceiving. As we pointed out in our article, if you read the judge’s decision, he harpoons all of the DRBC’s legal arguments, but in the end rules against the landowner. Why? Because that judge wanted to send this case to a higher court for an ultimate decision–the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. In fact, Judge Mariani set up the appeal of the case perfectly, we’d say intentionally, and that has the DRBC and their cohorts at THE Delaware Riverkeeper really nervous. It also has the Wayne Land and Minerals Group, the plaintiff in the case, really happy. MDN friend Tom Shepstone (Natural Gas Now) does a superb job of analyzing Mariani’s decision, and in predicting where things will (rapidly) go from here…
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Range Resources’ PR Chief Matt Pitzarella Jumps Ship to Law Firm

Matt Pitzarella

Here’s a bit of personnel news that caught us by surprise. Back in January Matt Pitzarella, director of corporate communications and public affairs for Range Resources, announced he was leaving Range. Matt has been a fixture in the Marcellus universe since we started writing the MDN website in 2009. Range, as you may or may not know, was the first driller to sink a Marcellus horizontal/fracked well–back in 2004. The company remains one of the largest and most active drillers in the PA Marcellus. Over the years Matt, working from the company’s Southpointe office, has been the face of the company. MDN editor Jim Willis bumped into Matt a few times over the years at various industry conferences–although Jim doubts Matt remembers. Still, it’s kind of sad to lose one of the most visible faces of the industry. So what’s next for Matt? That’s the new news. Matt has just been hired by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, Pittsburgh’s third largest law firm, to be the firm’s director of the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Section. No, Matt is not a lawyer. This is new territory for both Matt and Buchanan…
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Google’s Methane Sniffing Cars Featured in New “Study”

For years anti-fossil fuel agitators have been making noise about so-called fugitive methane. According to antis, methane (CH4) is a zillion times more “potent” than carbon dioxide (CO2) in making Mom Earth toast (i.e. global warming, which isn’t happening). If only we could capture every last molecule of methane so it couldn’t escape, life would be better, according to antis. We’ve written countless stories dealing with fugitive methane, because both the federal and state governments try to regulate it from time to time (see MDN’s fugitive methane stories here). The big, gaping hole in the antis search for fugitive methane and fixing it is that agriculture (farting and burping cows) emit far more methane into the atmosphere than oil and gas operations. From time to time we note the bizarre behavior of antis in strapping devices on cows to try and control methane emissions (no lie, they do it, driven insane by global warming hysteria). One of the most recent efforts to sniff out fugitive methane has been to use Google Street View cars, strapping on equipment that can “sniff” methane and report leaks (see Google’s Privacy-Invading Cars Map “Methane Leaks” in Pittsburgh). Google’s methane-sniffing skunk works project has now become an official scientific study–published in the “peer reviewed” journal Environmental Science & Technology. No doubt the publication of the study is an attempt to give methane-sniffing efforts gravitas, authenticity, and aura of scientific objectivity. We think it’s kind of fishy…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Mar 30, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Federal judge keeps AG Schneiderman and #ExxonKnew on defense; Rover Pipeline makes progress in Belmont County; Shale Crescent hosts forum in Marietta; Utica Shale Academy joins forces with trade school re welding; anti group wants Shell to “study” cracker’s “enviro footprint”; shale oil drillers face uncertain 2018 with hedges expiring; using DNA in oil drilling; years-old Chesapeake bond lawsuit grinds on; and more!
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