WV Drillers & Landowners Want New Law re Post-Production Issue

Earlier this week MDN reported on the recent West Virginia Supreme Court decision to reverse it’s earlier decision and allow EQT (and by extension, other drillers) to deduct some post-production expenses from royalties paid to landowners (see WV Supreme Court Reverses Itself, Post-Production Deductions OK). The Leggett v. EQT case turned on the meaning of three short words: “at the wellhead” (see WV Supreme Court Post-Production Royalty Case Hinges on 3 Words). This latest final final decision must be the…well…final decision, right? Not so fast. There is another Supreme Court case from 2006, Tawney v. Columbia Natural Resources, which also dealt with post-production expenses and found drillers do not have the right to deduct them from royalties. But there are differences. “Leggett deals with the statute on royalties, while Tawney is about lease contracts.” It’s a pretty safe bet that a new case will be filed challenging Tawney in light of the Leggett decision. All of this back and forth in the courts is unsettling for both drillers and landowners. Both sides are in agreement about one thing: They both want the WV legislature to pass a new law clarifying the issue of post-production deductions…
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Uptick in Utica Drilling Predicted for Jefferson County, OH

Jefferson County, OH is not the first (or even second or third) county you think of when you think “Utica drilling.” But that may soon change. Jefferson shares borders with other counties that are heavily drilled–Carroll, Harrison and Belmont. There has been some drilling in Jefferson in the past, but with the slowdown over the past few years, not much has happened. But according to Ascent Resources and Chesapeake Energy, their respective companies are putting a renewed focus on the county in the coming months. Which is good news indeed. Couple that with a possible ethane cracker plant coming to Belmont County, and (according to the Chamber of Commerce), Jefferson is heading for “a brighter future” thanks to the Utica industry…Continue reading

Former Head of Fed Pipeline Agency Sticks Up for Rover re Leaks

We’ve spilled plenty of digital ink covering the Rover Pipeline and its recent troubles with “inadvertent returns” (i.e. leaks) of non-toxic drilling mud, called bentonite (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). Rover and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) have been in a spat over “numerous” leaks–with OEPA claiming they’ve levied a $431,000 fine on Rover, although it turns out the fine is not yet officially levied (see Turns Out OEPA & Columbus Dispatch Were Lying – Rover NOT Fined). The leak issue has led to FERC shutting down, for now, any further underground horizontal drilling to install pipeline (see FERC Slaps Rover Pipeline with Stop Drilling Order). On MDN, we have, admittedly, been pretty hard on Rover. Seems to us they are rushing too fast, leading to mistakes–mistakes the industry can’t afford to be seen making. Have we (and others) been too hard on Rover? We spotted an editorial by Ohio resident and the former head of the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the agency charged with oversight for developing and enforcing regulations for 2.6 million miles of pipeline transportation in the U.S., sticking up for Rover. Brigham McCown says accidents happen and that Rover, “responded to the situation promptly and by the book to control any potentially larger fallout.” Is he right? Is Rover being unfairly criticized for accidents that are bound to happen?…Continue reading

Air Products Closing Wilkes-Barre LNG Manufacturing Plant

Air Products owns a manufacturing plant located on the outskirts of Wilkes-Barre, PA. If you’ve ever heard of the Air Products business, you may conjure up an image of small cylinder tanks of helium or other “rare” gases sitting inside a chain fence. Yes, Air Products sells gases by the tank, but they also manufacture the mother of all gas tanks in their Wilkes-Barre facility–huge rocket-looking “production trains” or “heat exchangers,” which are pieces of equipment that turn natural gas into liquefied natural gas, or LNG. The heat exchangers manufactured by Air Products in Wilkes-Barre are two-thirds of a football field long (180 feet), used by plants all over the world to condense natural gas into a liquid. We’ve written about Air Products a few times, theorizing some of the heat exchangers they manufacture are being used by plants to liquefy Marcellus/Utica gas (see our Air Products stories here). Sadly, Air Products has just met with its employees at the Wilkes-Barre plant to let them know the plant close on August 1st, resulting in a layoff of 75 employees. Air Products is not getting out of the heat exchanger manufacturing business. They own a second plant in Port Manatee, Florida. The Wilkes-Barre plant is limited in the size of the exchangers it makes, while the Florida facility is not. Demand for shorter exchangers is down, meaning no work for the plant. Also, the Wilkes-Barre facility must ship the huge exchangers they manufacture via railroad to Philadelphia–a process that takes five days. The Florida facility is located at port where the exchangers are loaded directly onto ships heading to other countries, where much of the product is destined. It seems in the end, geography is what defeated Air Products’ Wilkes-Barre operation…Continue reading

Canadian Co. Uses Virtual Pipeline to Sell LNG in New England

For some time, MDN has had an eye on a trend we find exciting: “virtual pipelines,” by which we mean facilities located along a pipeline that compress natural gas, load it onto tanker trucks, and then distribute that gas to businesses that are not fortunate enough to be located near a natgas pipeline. With irrational opposition to pipelines rampant, virtual pipelines are a good alternative. We recently highlighted a new project coming in our own area of Broome County, NY (see NG Advantage Virtual Pipeline May be Coming to MDN’s Backyard). We have a new twist on the virtual pipeline–something we’ve not read about before: Setting up a virtual pipeline for LNG (liquefied natural gas) instead of CNG (compressed natural gas). Typically virtual pipelines are CNG-based, far easier to transport and to use. Gaz Metro is Quebec’s largest natural gas distributor with an LNG facility in Montreal. Gaz Metro also happens to own Vermont Gas Systems. Gaz Metro recently beefed up its Montreal LNG plant and is now trucking LNG to Vermont and other New England states, targeting large industrial users and energy companies who use LNG for “peaking”…Continue reading

Wireless Device Monitors Abandoned PA Wells for Fugitive Methane

What if there was a small device, about the size of a paperback novel, that could sniff the air and detect fugitive methane, escaping into the atmosphere? And what if that small device was operated with rechargeable batteries, and the batteries recharged every day using solar energy? And what if that device could also then transmit data about the air quality via the internet to servers back at HQ? And what if it could operate remotely, like at an abandoned well site? Dream no more. Such a device exists. We first heard about PixController’s Optical Methane Emissions Detection System (OMEDS) when it won a $25,000 prize from the 2015 Shale Gas Innovation Contest (see Winners of $100K for 2015 Shale Gas Innovation Contest Announced). The OMEDS has just won a second prize, the Global “Internet of Things” Challenge for Innovation, a contest held in Barcelona Spain. Seems innovations happening in the Marcellus are making international headlines…Continue reading

Must-Attend 37th Annual IOGANY Summer Meeting

We all know that currently, New York State is closed for business when it comes to shale drilling (see After 6+ Years, Andrew Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York). New York is also closed for business with regards to interstate gas pipelines (although that may soon reverse, see Constitution Pipeline Still Waiting on “Biggie” Court Decision). You might think the oil and gas industry in New York has all but shriveled up and gone away. You would be wrong. There is still drilling, AND fracking, in New York–with vertical/conventional wells. Gas still flows through New York via pipelines. Yes, Cuomo has been a disaster for the state in general, and for the oil and gas industry in particular. But here in NY we’re cut from tough cloth. We’re fighters, and we’ll keep fighting until justice prevails. All of which brings us to the point of this post: The Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York (IOGANY) is hosting their 37th Annual Summer Meeting in July, at a resort in western NY. We’ve had a look at the agenda (below) and it’s loaded with great sessions. There’s even a few sessions that feature speakers from Pennsylvania and Ohio. You see, we’re al part of a larger industry. What happens across the border DOES affect us here in NY–and vice versa. We New Yorkers continue to prepare for the day when fracking (and pipelines) will be legal once again. If you have an interest in the Empire State and its vast oil and gas reserves (including Marcellus and Utica reserves), you need to attend IOGANY’s Summer Meeting. Here’s the details…
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Three Cheers! Trump Pulls U.S. Out of Horrible Paris Climate Treaty

We wonder how many people actually watched President Trump’s address yesterday, announcing his decision to pull out of the horrible (and so-called) Paris climate treaty? Did *you* watch it? Or did you rely on the non-stop “hate Trump” mainstream media tirade that reported, endlessly, that we’re now all fried and the future of Mom Earth is over. What…utter…garbage. If you listened to President Trump, as we did, you would have learned that if we had stayed in this VERY bad deal, the United States would have been punished economically–transferring billions of our taxpayer dollars to other countries for generations to come. All in the name of supposedly stopping global warming. China and India would get to add as many coal-fired electric plants as they want–while we would have to close ours down, essentially shifting our jobs to other countries. The deal was bad from the beginning. Even if we had stayed in and even if all countries lived up to their obligations under the treaty, the projected difference in lowering global temps by 2100 would have been 0.17 Celsius–little more than one-tenth of a degree. After spending hundreds of billions of dollars. THIS PLAN WAS INSANE from the start. But you won’t learn that from mainstream media. We’ve found a few responses to Trump pulling out of Paris, from people who DO believe in global warming, but have the guts to tell the truth about the disastrous Paris deal and why it’s a GOOD THING Trump pulled out of it…
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The Truth About EPA’s “Mass Advisory Board Firings”

What role should appointed (i.e. not-elected) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) boards have with respect to environmental regulations in our country? It’s a valid question and timely, given the recent negative news coverage over EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s action in not automatically reappointing some board members. The way the press howls about it you would think board members have a Divine Right to be on those boards. Did you know there are 20 such “advisory boards” at the EPA? And did you know that many of the board members receive EPA grants–in the millions of dollars? This is the swamp Trump repeatedly referred to when campaigning. It’s downright corrupt. And yet when Pruitt tells board members that will have to stoop to the level of reapplying if they want to stay on a board, establishment Washington has a cow. The EPA, as we’ve written about for years, has profound impact on the oil and gas industry–hence our interest. MDN friend Steven Heins, an energy and regulatory consultant and former vice president of communication for Orion Energy Systems, has written a guest post for MDN musing over the EPA’s advisory boards and the role of the public and private sectors with regard to environmental issues… Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Jun 2, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Rover and other Marcellus/Utica pipelines to the Midwest/Canada; boosting renewable energy sources in NY requires gas too; Blue Mountain lodge gets green light, but won’t build without PennEast Pipeline; PA pipeline fight could upend intl oil flows; new WV budget axes graduated severance tax for natgas; New England turns off its last big coal burning plant; lower 48 states gross natgas output drops; Dakota Access Pipeline now online and pumping; do proposed pipelines get enough review?; BP hits gas off Trinidad; and more!Continue reading