Baker Hughes May Rig Count – Steady & Holding Both US and M-U

The International (non-U.S.) Baker Hughes rig count for May 2017 was 957, up 1 from the 956 counted in May 2017, and up 2 from the 955 counted in May 2016. However, the U.S. rig count for May 2017 was 893, up 40 from the 853 counted in May 2017, and up 485 from the 408 counted in May 2016. Like last month, the U.S. rig count continues to be more than double year-ago levels. Canada’s rig count continued further into the abyss in May, falling another 23 after falling 145 last month–down to 85. However, Canada’s May rig count was 43 higher than May 2016. So perhaps it’s not yet an apocalypse for our Canadian cousins. What about rig counts in the Marcellus/Utica? Although 1 net rig changed location–from WV to OH, overall the combined PA/OH/WV rig count remained the same as last month: 68 active rigs drilling…
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Wyoming County Landowners Organize re Low Royalties; Arbitration?

Pennsylvania’s landowners, at least many of them, continue to be angry about getting low–or no–royalty checks. That’s not what they signed up for when leasing their property. A group of 200+ landowners packed a meeting last week in Wyoming County, PA to discuss the situation, and what to do next. The meeting was organized by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO). One distinct possibility raised at the meeting: force Chesapeake (and others) into arbitration. NARO’s approach is to push for legislation, specifically PA House Bill (HB) 557 (see PA Rep. Garth Everett Reintroduces Minimum Royalty Bill, 3rd Time). NARO encouraged attendees to share their royalty stories with lawmakers, telling attendees such stories have an impact. Here’s what happened last week in Wyoming County…Continue reading

Public Hearing Held for Harrison County, WV NatGas Electric Plant

Tuesday night in Clarksburg, WV, the state Public Service Commission heard public comments about a non-utility utility–the Energy Solutions Consortium Harrison County Power plant project. The project is a Marcellus-gas fired electric generating plant that will produce 580 megawatts of electricity to sell to the PJM power grid serving 13 states. Hence our label of a “non-utility utility” project. Technically, the project is not a utility because it’s not regulated with strict price controls, like “traditional” utilities. However, it will sell electricity to regulated utilities. ESC was founded by father and son team Andrew and Matthew Dorn, based in Buffalo, NY. The Dorns are behind a series of WV natgas-fired electric plants, the first of which will get built in Marshall County (see Progress for 3 WV NatGas Electric Plants; 1 Breaks Ground in 2016). At the PSC hearing in Clarksburg, the usual Sierra Club nutters came out to complain. But there were also pro-fossil fuelers there as well, to promote this $880 million clean-burning power plant that will create over 700 jobs while it’s being built…Continue reading

Unmasking PA DEP’s War on Shale via Methane Regulations

Since the beginning of this year, MDN has warned our readers about a push by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) to revise methane emissions rules, something called Air Quality General Permit 5 (GP-5), and Air Quality General Permit 5A (GP-5A). According to the DEP, proposed GP-5 and GP-5A, “establish updated Best Available Technology (BAT) requirements for the industry regarding air emission limits, source testing, leak detection and repair, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements for the applicable air pollution sources.” The Marcellus industry perceives the changes to be a threat to the future of the industry in the state (see DEP GP-5 & 5A Regs – Imminent Threat to PA Marcellus Drilling). In March, MDN editor Jim Willis heard former PA DEP Secretary Mike Krancer say if GP-5A is enacted as written, it will result in a 12-18 month moratorium on new production in Pennsylvania (see Big News from the O&G Awards Northeast Industry Summit). This week Mike Krancer and another expert provided testimony to the PA House of Representatives State Government Committee Hearing about GP-5 and 5A, sounding the alarm and making the case that the PA DEP is unfairly targeting the shale industry with these revised regulations. We go a step further and call it a war on the shale industry…
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Attack of the Clones: 10 PA Legislators Use Fractivist Form Letters

It seems the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has some air cover in its war against the Marcellus Shale industry (see Unmasking PA DEP’s War on Shale via Methane Regulations). The DEP has support from 10 PA legislators who have become fractivist tools by all using the same form letter/template in writing to the DEP. It’s really kind of funny. Below we have a copy of all ten letters so you can see for yourself. The letter signers (since they didn’t actually write them) are from eight PA House Democrats (Dom Costa, Dan Frankel, Robert Freeman, Patty Kim, Stephen Kinsey, Daniel Miller, Greg Vitali, Jake Wheatley), and from two PA Senate Democrats (Art Haywood, Sharif Street). Each form letter starts the same way: “It is critical that as a Commonwealth we continue our efforts to protect our residents and the environment from emissions associated with natural gas drilling.” And the drivel goes on from there. Oh, each one varies a word here or there, but make no mistake, this is form letter fractivism, plain and simple. Look for yourself at the Attack of the Clones…
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Franklin County, VA Landowners Use Sheriff to Eject MVP Surveyors

In May, MDN noted a disturbing trend in the Commonwealth of Virginia of entangling law enforcement in the non-criminal issue of surveying for a federally-authorized pipeline project (see VA Landowner Uses State Police to Eject Pipeline Surveyors). A small minority of landowners continues to use (we’d call it abuse) local law enforcement in their zeal to oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a $3.5 billion, 301-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA. Under Virginia State law, surveyors may enter a property without the property owner’s express permission to survey, as long as they have sent a prior notice to the landowner with target dates of when they will be on location. Some landowners, knowing the surveyors are coming, call in the cops to pressure the surveyors to leave. And the cops play along. Not a good situation. What typically happens is that the surveyors will leave and subsequently file for a court order of eminent domain, forcing the property owner to later allow the surveyors on their property. It’s a SURVEY for goodness sake! It’s a couple of guys (or girls) walking across the property, using a transit to figure out if/where the best route would go. Landowners are far better off working WITH surveyors to convey their wishes–“I’d prefer you’d leave that area alone”–rather than being obstructionists. But such is the uncivil world we now live in. We have another abuse of cops to eject surveyors, this one involves landowners in Franklin County, VA who called the Franklin County Sheriff’s office to order the surveyors off their property. No worries, the surveyors will be back in a few days with a court order in hand…Continue reading

PA Court Rules Compressor, Gas Well Not “Single” Emission Source

A somewhat obscure court case in Pennsylvania has potentially big implications for drillers who also own pipeline subsidiaries. In Lycoming County, PA, Seneca Resources (subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Company) drilled a series of wells on a pad called Well Pad E. Another NFG subsidiary, NFG Midstream, connected gathering lines to Well Pad E. NFG Midstream operates a compressor station to push the gas through the pipeline system. Both the well pad and the pipeline/compressor station are subject to air emissions regulations by the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Each subsidiary on its own–the well pad, and the compressor station–don’t produce enough emissions to trip a costly upgrade in technology. However, if you combine both together into a single “source,” the two together do cross the threshold and would cost NFG big bucks in emissions technology to comply. The DEP lumped both together and told NFG to upgrade their emissions technology. Thing is, if another company owned the pipeline system, say Williams, the DEP would not have tried combining the two into a single source. So NGF appealed the DEP decision to the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), a quasi-court set up to hear appeals of DEP decisions. The EHB found in favor of the DEP, so NFG appealed it again, this time to PA Commonwealth Court. Last week the court overturned the DEP decision and said just because two subsidiaries have the same parent, you can’t just lump them together as a single source for air emissions regulations…Continue reading

Group Forms to Shill for High Electric Prices from PA Nuke Plant

Exelon Corporation, the company that operates the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg (yes, THAT infamous TMI), is accomplishing what it set out to do. Nuclear power simply can’t compete against low-cost, abundant, clean-burning natural gas. And it’s losing. Just like coal did. But nuke plants produce a lot of electricity. And until the past few years, they’ve been quite profitable for the companies that own them. Not any more. So what do those companies, like Exelon, do? Ask the government to stack the deck, of course! Exelon recently announced they will close TMI in the next year or two–unless Pennsylvania behaves like socialist New York and Illinois to prop up the money-losing plant with subsidies. We wrote about this issue recently (see Nuke the Nukes: Harrisburg Battle to Prop Up Failing Nuke Energy). TMI is now the poster child. “Give us money, or we’ll shut ‘er down.” And with the threat of a shutdown, Exelon has enlisted local and state politicians to “sound the alarm” (i.e. shill) in order to “save jobs” and “save our communities” by injecting taxpayer and ratepayer money into these failing power plants…Continue reading

Liberal DC Court Asks EPA to Respond to Lawsuit by Radical Enviros

Yesterday we reported on the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s wise move to begin the process of rolling back Obama-era regulations on methane, designed to regulate the oil and gas industry (see Beginning of the End: EPA Issues 90-Day Stay for Methane Rule). Big Green groups with deep pockets sued a few days later, claiming the agency that instituted the rules in the first place (the EPA) shouldn’t be able to roll back the rules they themselves made up. Now, a federal court has somewhat agreed, telling the EPA they have to justify themselves by next week. Funny, the same court never tried to stop these rules in the first place, when 15 states sued to block their implementation. It seems the door only swings one way for the far-left Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C….Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Jun 8, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: NJ electric & gas bills going down thx to Marcellus Shale; fossil fuel industry pushes back against divestment in NY; Nexus Pipeline hopes for speedy FERC approval; permitting up in OH Utica in May; 41 drilling permits issued in central PA; Arkansas jury hears royalty case against Southwestern Energy; gas-fired power plant planned in Minnesota; the global market for natgas has finally arrived; Shale 2.0 vs. OPEC 2.0; and more!Continue reading