Noble Energy Sells Remaining M-U Assets for $1.2B – Who Bought?

Yesterday Noble Energy dropped a bombshell that it has sold its 100% interest in 385,000 Marcellus/Utica acres and wells producing 415 million cubic feet equivalent of natural gas in West Virginia and Pennsylvania for $1.225 billion to “an undisclosed buyer.” That works out to be $3,181 per acre. Not included in the sale is Noble’s half operating interest in the CONE Midstream pipeline gathering system. It was just three years ago that Noble announced it would lease 138,000 feet in a new office building in Southpointe, and move in 200 employees (see Noble Energy’s Huge Vote of Confidence in the Marcellus). At the time, Noble’s CEO said the Marcellus is “the premiere gas play in the United States” and that the Marcellus figures prominently in Noble’s future plans. That was then, this is now. Noble will use the money from the sale to pay down essentially all of the debt the company incurred from its recent $2.7 billion purchase of Clayton Williams Energy–a deal that expanded Noble’s “core Delaware Basin position” (i.e. the Permian Shale in Texas, an oil play). All of the above is what you get from other news sources. The reason you read MDN is because we’ve found out who the buyer of the Noble acreage is
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Huntley & Huntley Targets New Drilling in Westmoreland County, PA

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It’s been a few years since MDN has written a post about seismic testing. Typically before land gets leased and drilled on, drillers will contract with seismic testing companies to conduct a mapping survey of the land. The survey does not show the surface, but rather the sub-surface–a kind of “x-ray” of what the rock layers look like deep underground. Drillers then use that information to determine the best places to drill. Seismic surveys, like every aspect of drilling, is not without controversy (see our previous stories about seismic testing here). Folks understandably have concerns. Will the survey company use dynamite charges? Will they use those big “thumper” trucks? Will it affect water wells? Sewer lines? All legitimate questions. On Monday city officials from Lower Burrell (Westmoreland County), PA asked a lot of tough questions of seismic contractors hired by Huntley and Huntley to map the township–presumably (and the point of this post) so that H&H can soon apply for permits and commence with new drilling in the town. Here’s how it went…
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WV Supreme Court Post-Production Royalty Case Hinges on 3 Words

Yesterday the five justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court reheard a case involving post-production deductions from royalty payments. Last week we reported that the court *might* rehear the case this week–if they didn’t grant a late-breaking motion to dismiss the rehearing (see WV Supreme Court to Rehear EQT Post Production Royalty Case, Maybe). In December MDN reported on the huge West Virginia Supreme Court decision against driller EQT that disallows EQT from deducting post-production expenses from royalty checks, even with signed contracts in place (see WV Supreme Court Rules EQT Can’t Deduct P-P Costs from Royalties). The justices, in their ruling, said that drillers can “not deduct from that (royalty) amount any expenses that have been incurred in gathering, transporting or treating the oil or gas after it has been initially extracted, any sums attributable to a loss or beneficial use of volume beyond that initially measured or any other costs that may be characterized as post-production.” A really big deal. Then in February, with a brand new justice on the bench, the WV Supreme Court agreed to rehear the case after an appeal filed by EQT–a rare and unusual step (see EQT Catches Big Break in WV Supreme Court re Royalty Deductions). Those who won the case say newly elected Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth D. Walker has conflicts of interest and should not have been allowed to vote to rehear the case in the first place (which she did). On that basis, they tried to avoid the rehearing altogether, but that failed, and yesterday the lawyers were in court arguing. As it turns out, the lawyers mainly argued over the meaning of three short words: “at the wellhead”…Continue reading

Ohio Legislators Push to Allow Fracking in State Parks, Forests

Thumbing their collective noses at Ohio RINO Gov. John “foreigner hunter” Kasich, Republican legislators in the House added a “little-noticed provision” in the state budget deal that will give the legislature, and not the governor, the power to select members of the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission. That small change would have huge consequences. How? the Oil and Gas Commission is charged with approving potential drillers on state land. Five years ago, Kasich flip-flopped on the issue and since then has not allowed shale drilling in state-owned forests and state-owned parks–by refusing to add any new members to the Commission. It is a de facto moratorium from the governor that prevents fracking on state-owned land. Enough is enough. Republicans intend to change it this year…
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Radical Green Groups Sue Fed Govt to Block Fracking in Ohio WNF

After 10 long years, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) auctioned 719 acres in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest (WNF) last December (see BLM Auction Leases 17 Parcels, 719 Acres in OH Wayne Natl Forest). In March, the BLM held a second auction for 1,180 acres (see 2nd Wayne Natl Forest Lease Sale Hauls in $5.2M, Double Expectations). Ultimately there are some 18,000 acres under consideration for leasing by the BLM in WNF. WNF is a “patchwork” of public land scattered among private land. Some 60% of the mineral rights below WNF are privately owned. Those mineral rights owners have been denied the use of their property rights for more than a decade. Until now, with these lease sales. Just when progress was being made, three radical Big Green groups have sued the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service to prevent fracking in WNF. Yesterday the odious Sierra Club, Ohio Environmental Council, and Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit (copy below) in federal court to block fracking in WNF…
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CONSOL Energy 1Q17 – Posts Loss, Selling Everything in Sight

Yesterday CONSOL Energy, one of the larger drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, released its first quarter 2017 update. The company reports losing $34 million in 1Q17. Production was down too–but just slightly at less than 2% less than 1Q16. The big news is how fast CONSOL is selling stuff. CONSOL sold $108 million worth of assets in the Marcellus/Utica in 1Q17, part of their plan to sell off a total of $400-$600 million in assets this year. According to a CONSOL statement, the company “recently closed on three asset sale transactions for total cash consideration of $108 million…One of the transactions was the sale of approximately 6,300 net undeveloped acres of the Utica-Point Pleasant Shale in Jefferson, Belmont and Guernsey counties, Ohio, for total cash consideration of approximately $77 million, or approximately $12,200 per undeveloped acre.” We have a highly placed source that tells MDN that Ascent Resources is the buyer. CONSOL CEO Nick DeIuliis said on an earnings call yesterday that the bust-up with Noble Energy last year has allowed CONSOL to sell off acreage that was previously tied up in the joint venture. Noble is doing the same (see today’s lead story). Below we have the full update from CONSOL, including financial statements, along with the latest PowerPoint presentation…
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Lancaster Forum to Focus on Handling Anarchists in Pipeline Protest

We live in a country of laws, governed by “the rule of law.” That means we elect people to pass laws, and then we collectively live under those laws–whether we like them or not. If we don’t like the laws, we vote in new representatives to change the laws. Or we challenge the laws in court. But what if those laws become tyrannical? Our founding fathers, like Thomas Jefferson, said a little revolution every now and again isn’t a bad thing and may be necessary. There is a small but well-funded group of radical environmentalists who apparently believe the time has come for revolution. Their motivation is an irrational hatred of fossil fuels, operating under the wrong belief that by burning fossil fuels mankind is doomed. That belief motivates them to use (and abuse) the court system to try and block any and all drilling and pipeline projects. And when the courts don’t decide a case their way? They threaten revolution. They call it “peaceful protest”–but we’ve seen what they mean by that (see Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Turn Violent; Coming Here Next?). Just last week MDN highlighted words taken directly from some of these people, who claim they want to incite “riots, strikes, sabotage, occupations, expropriations, rebellion, revolt, insurrection, whether together or alone – we support liberatory revolt” (see Anti-Govt Radicals Begin 24/7 Tree Sit in PA to Block ME2 Pipe). Some of the same people who made trouble in North Dakota and have advocated for rebellion are now organizing to launch something similar in Lancaster County, PA–to try and block construction of the $3 billion Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. State Senator Scott Martin is hosting a forum tomorrow in Lancaster, for local officials and law enforcement personnel, to prepare them for what may be coming. The forum (closed to the public) will feature a video link with North Dakota officials. Lancaster is gearing up for a battle against lawless anarchists…
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Sunoco LP Hiring 50% Local to Build Mariner East 2 Pipeline

As construction of the Mariner East 2 NGL (natural gas liquids) pipeline project heats up, thousands of Pennsylvanians are going back to work. Sunoco Logistics Partners (now called Energy Transfer Partners) said it would take some 8,000 workers to build the twin pipelines called Mariner East 2–from eastern Ohio through the state of Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia. When Sunoco LP signed a deal to hire union workers for the pipeline, the deal stipulates half of the hires are local–from within PA. Sunoco has lived up to its word, as evidenced by the testimony of the Operating Engineer’s Union (Harrisburg) who has already seen 50 of its members hired to work on the project. What about the other half, the “foreigners” who come from other states? They’re brought in because of required specialized skills. But even the out-of-staters are welcomed–they’re adding big bucks to the local economy…Continue reading

Antis Mad Middletown Won’t Block Mariner East 2 Pipe Near Homes

Looks like Middletown Township, in Delaware County, PA (Philadelphia suburb), has finally faced reality that the Mariner East 2 Pipeline is coming through town. To be fair, town council came to that conclusion last September when they voted to grant easements to Sunoco Logistics Partners to build Mariner East 2 across four parcels of public land (see SEPA Town Votes to Allow Mariner East 2 Across Town Land). However, Middletown has still officially opposed the pipeline. In January Middletown colluded with other towns to pass a resolution opposing it–a totally empty gesture meant to placate a few disgruntled residents (see Towns Near Philly Collude with CAC to Block Mariner East 2 Pipe?). Those disgruntled residents are still not placated. Six residents living near where the pipeline will pass asked town council to reject the path of the pipeline near their property because it would, supposedly, pass closer than town code allows. At a meeting earlier this week, town council told the residents they’re out of luck–the town will not pursue any action to block Mariner East 2. Period. The residents, amped up and agitated by Big Green groups, is considering a lawsuit against the pipeline to force it to conform with Middletown’s ordinance…Continue reading