PA Court Rules Fracking Not ‘Abnormally Dangerous’ Under PA Law

An article in the left-leaning Harrisburg Patriot-News has this incendiary opening: “Is it ‘abnormally dangerous’ to drill and frack for oil under a massive oil refinery, particularly if that well is bored beneath a tank filled with 3.6 million gallons of gasoline? A decision issued by a divided Commonwealth Court panel on Monday will give a Pennsylvania community a chance to find out.” In a court decision filed on Monday, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania will allow a driller to drill and frack a well that is close to (but not directly underneath) the above-ground 3.6 million gallon petroleum tank. At first blush, especially when reading an opening like the one in the Patriot-News story, the average reader would think such a plan is stark raving mad. But when you dig into the details, a far different story emerges. As usual, mainstream media misrepresents many of the facts. We’re here to sort it out for you…
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NYC Democrats Target Upstate with Proposed Ban on PA Frack Waste

Every now and again anti-fossil fuel nutters in New York will pop up from whatever hole they live in to claim that the couple of NY landfills accepting drill cuttings (leftover rock and dirt) from PA shale drilling will result in an environmental apocalypse. One landfill in particular, in Chemung County, seems to be the focus of their ire (see NY Anti Drillers Apoplectic Over Soil in Chemung Co. Landfill). From time to time they attract the attention of some of NY’s less-than-bright legislators who float bills to ban “importing frack waste” into the haughty Empire State. They tried in 2014 (see NY Dem Senators Want to Ban PA Drill Cuttings from NY Landfills). Fortunately, the bill went nowhere. Earlier this year the anti-drilling group Environmental Advocates of New York published a 24-page sham “report” trying to rekindle momentum for a frack waste ban (see Anti-Drillers Try to Ban Drill Cuttings from PA in NY Landfills). Environmental Advocates appears to be in league with Democrats from the New York City area who have floated yet another bill to ban PA frack waste from entering NY. New York City just LOVES to tell us hicks in Upstate what we can and can’t do…
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Westmoreland Zoning Challenge Heads to Court, Delays H&H Drilling

Westmoreland County townships (Click for larger version)

In May MDN told you that Huntley & Huntley was conducting seismic surveys in Lower Burrell, in Westmoreland County, PA (see Huntley & Huntley Targets New Drilling in Westmoreland County, PA). When a company begins to conduct seismic surveys, you know that applications for drilling permits are not far behind. Next door to Lower Burrell is Upper Burrell. H&H plans to drill there too. A landowner in Upper Burrell filed an appeal against Upper Burrell’s zoning ordinance that allows drilling in rural, agricultural districts. H&H plans to drill a well near where this woman lives, and she’s arguing such drilling will violate the state’s environmental rights clause and (more importantly), “devalue her property.” Of course nothing of the kind has happened in areas where there is drilling. Quite the opposite, in fact. Still, the lawsuit is stopping H&H from sinking any new holes in the ground. The case was supposed to go to township’s Zoning Hearing Board, but all of the (many) lawyers involved agreed to instead move it to county court, making the process faster and less expensive. The only problem with that is the judge may decide to hold off on a decision until two similar cases are heard and decided by the PA Supreme Court. No telling how long that will take…
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Cincinnati Leaders Smear Duke Energy Ahead of Pipeline Meeting

Duke Energy needs to replace an aging pipeline, built in the 1950s, near Cincinnati, OH–or some people in Cincy will have to go without natural gas (see Hearings Scheduled for Proposed Duke Pipeline in Cincinnati). Duke has proposed a 13-mile, 20-inch pipeline along two potential routes. Both routes are opposed by antis, including a group calling themselves NOPE–Neighbors Opposing Pipeline Extension. We call them DOPEs–Dummies Opposing Pipeline Extensions. Will the DOPErs volunteer to shut off the natural gas to their homes and businesses if the pipeline doesn’t get built? Not on your life! Two public hearings have now been scheduled, one for tomorrow (June 15), and the other July 12. Just ahead of tomorrow’s meeting, two Democrat politicians–one from the city, the other from the county–are smearing Duke Energy, accusing the company of using “intimidation tactics” to “push through” the pipeline. Which is, of course, nonsense. What kind of intimidation? Did Duke hire thugs with baseball bats to roam the streets? No. Duke had the audacity to send surveyors out to chart the path of the proposed pipeline. For our hyperventilating politicians (displaying mock outrage), such activity is “alarming” and Duke should immediately “cease and desist”…
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Atlantic Sunrise Hearing in Bloomsburg Repeat of Previous Hearings

As we reported yesterday, the first two (of four) public hearings were held on Monday by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) to elicit comments on the proposed $3 billion, 198-mile Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, an expansion of Williams’ Transco Pipeline system (see Atlantic Sunrise Supporters Far Outnumber Antis at PA DEP Hearings). Supporters of the pipeline far outnumbered opponents at both hearings, which has left antis spitting and sputtering: “How did we get outmaneuvered?” The third hearing was held last night, in Bloomsburg, PA (Columbia County). How did it go there? Pretty much a repeat of the meetings on Monday night: supporters far outnumbered opponents of the pipeline. Like the other meetings, a somewhat odd alliance between the local Chamber of Commerce and labor unions provided many of the supporters who attended–to talk about the jobs and enormous positive economic impact of the project…
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“Sources” Say Penn Virginia Putting Itself Up for Sale

Although headquartered in Radnor, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia), Penn Virginia Corporation is an oil and gas driller with (at last check) only a small presence in the Marcellus Shale: 21,700 net acres with no drilled wells. They concentrate on oil drilling the Texas Eagle Ford Shale play. Penn Virginia is one of the Philly area’s oldest companies, started in 1882 by Philadelphia coal barons. It later transitioned into an oil company. MDN told you in March 2015 that Penn Virginia’s top stockholder, the vile corporate raider George Soros, forced the company to put itself up for sale so George can line his pockets with more cash (see George Soros Finally Bullies Penn Virginia into Selling Itself). That didn’t work out so well for old George. Penn Virginia filed for bankruptcy in May 2016 (see George Soros’ Penn Virginia Corp. Files for Bankruptcy). They exited bankruptcy last September. The company did what many have done: wipe out existing shareholders, making their shares worthless, and giving new shares of stock to debtholders. Now those debtholders want out and are, according to sources quoted by Reuters, forcing the company to put itself up for sale. Looks like old George was a day late and a dollar short. The company will sell itself after all…
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Analyst Says Gulfport Energy ‘Ripe’ for Merger/Sale

According to an article appearing on Forbes, “The sell-off of oil and gas exploration and production stocks has been brutal. Exchange-traded funds that specialize in the sector have fallen around 10% to 20% this year, versus an 8% uptick in the market overall.” Why? Low oil prices. Several analysts are quoted as saying the market is “ripe” for some companies to sell themselves. In a companion story today, we covered one such rumor–that Penn Virginia Energy is shopping itself. An analyst with Williams Capital Group has offered up a list of five such companies he believes may be next. Note we said “may.” There’s lots of hedging in this prediction. This is one analyst, albeit an experience analyst, spitballing about what “may” happen. The final entry in his list of five companies that “may” get sold this year is none other than Gulfport Energy, an Oklahoma City-based independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company that is a “top 5” driller in the Ohio Utica Shale. One alternative to selling itself, according to the analyst, is that Gulfport could sell it’s 24% interest in oilfield services company Mammoth Energy Services…
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SPACs Overtaking MLPs to Finance New Energy Infrastructure

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We’d heard of MLPs–or master limited partnerships–but we’d never heard of SPACs. Until now. According to Motley Fool, “An MLP combines the tax benefits of a limited partnership with the liquidity that publicly traded securities — like stocks and bonds — offer.” You buy a “unit” in an MLP, which you can think of as a stock, but you the unit-buyer get treated (for tax purposes) like you’re a partner in the company–not like a typical stockholder. Which means you would get certain tax breaks not available to stockholders. MLPs have been quite popular, especially in the midstream (pipeline) sector. But according to an article in the New York Times, special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, are beginning to fill the “gap” left by the declining use of MLPs. How do SPACs work? We’ll let the NYT explain…
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DUG East Coming to Pittsburgh June 20-22

If you’re deeply involved, or even peripherally involved, with the Marcellus/Utica, there are two events each year that you should attend. One of those events is DUG East (hosted by Hart Energy), and the other is Shale Insight (hosted by the Marcellus Shale Coalition). DUG East will be held next week in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately MDN will not be able to attend this year (we did last year). But we have reviewed the agenda and we can highly recommend next week’s event. Next week you will find out what’s working, what’s not and what’s next for upstream producers and midstream operators in the Marcellus and Utica–the biggest natural gas-producing region in the United States…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Jun 14, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: NH newspaper calls NY Attorney General Schneiderman a “rogue prosecutor” over Exxon witch hunt; rig count in Utica climbs to 27, and 8 new drilling permits issued; pipelines needed to get gas to market; demonstrators rally against Mariner East 2 pipeline; new tech getting more oil from early Bakken wells; race is on to export U.S. natgas; Trinidad gas supply shortage leads to job cuts; and more!
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