Exclusive: CONSOL Energy Sells WV Acreage/Wells to Antero Resources

A week ago a sharp MDN reader (landowner) in West Virginia emailed us to ask about news of a sale by CNX Gas (i.e. CONSOL Energy) of their leases and wells in Doddridge County to Antero Resources. We were stumped. We’ve neither heard nor read anything about it. We searched. And searched. And searched. Nothing. She wrote again a few days later–had we heard anything? Nope. Then we got a second email from another MDN reader asking about the same thing. Our second questioner is in the oil and gas industry. When we questioned him, he gave us a few more clues: It may not only be in Doddridge, but also Tyler County too. There’s something happening in both areas. So we put our feelers out to a number of industry contacts and heard back from one of them–a highly placed source–who confirmed our tipsters. So we now have three people confirming. We know something has been sold and deeds are getting transferred from CNX to Antero in at least one county. Our best guess is that a sale is happening not just in Doddridge, but also in Ritchie, Tyler and Pleasants counties too. We have not (yet) been able to confirm this with Antero, but we feel we have enough to share with you, our valued readers. Here’s what we know, the evidence we have, and a map of the acreage we believe has been/is getting transferred from CNX to Antero…
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More Details on EQT/Rice Merger – Who Stays & Who Goes?

On Monday EQT announced what is some of the biggest news MDN has covered in the past few years: EQT is buying Rice Energy (see EQT Buys Rice Energy in $8.2B Deal, Becomes #1 Gas Producer in US). The resulting merger, which will be completed later this year (if regulators and shareholders approve), will result in the country’s largest natural gas-producing company, eclipsing Exxon Mobil and Chesapeake Energy. Yesterday we brought you the initial details of the deal, along with some early analysis and reaction by analysts. Today we dig deeper. Rice Energy filed a Form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission outlining the deal and its components–a 171-page document! No, we haven’t read the whole thing. However, the Pittsburgh Business Times apparently has, and they’ve come up with “seven things you should know” about the deal. One of the things the PBT found in the Form 8-K are details about non-compete clauses for Rice Energy’s top management. What it indicates to us is that the Rice boys and a few others at the top are getting golden parachutes and will leave the company when it merges with EQT…
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PA Supreme Court Hands Antis Partial Victory re State Land Drilling

In a sharply divided 3-2 decision (full copy below), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court of Appeals has sided with a virulent anti-drilling group, the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation, against the state in saying that any revenue generated from leasing and drilling on state-owned land MUST be used solely for conservation and the environment. The state cannot treat, as former Gov. Ed “fast Eddie” Rendell did, revenue from oil and gas drilling on state land as money that can be used for any old cockamamie political reason. That is, the money cannot go into the black hole of the “general fund” in Harrisburg. The three justices who rendered the decision say the law is clear on intent–that money must be used for environmental purposes. Fine. Except the foundation on which they decided the case is PA’s so-called environmental rights amendment. Even though this case is about how money from drilling will get used (a fairly narrow ruling), already antis at PA Big Green groups like THE Delaware Riverkeeper claim they will use this decision and the environmental rights amendment to try and block drilling on state lands because it “violates” the state constitution. That’s where they ultimately want to take this. Block it on state lands first, then go for private land next…
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Past PA Biz Roundtable Pres. Wants Severance Tax to Build More Pipes

As the Pennsylvania budget deadline looms (June 30th), the Democrats and RINO Republicans are out in full force pushing, like a broken record, the dead issue of a severance tax. For the next nine days (or more, if the budget doesn’t pass on time, which is likely), we will have to hear about the Grand Canyon budget gap that exists, and how only soaking drillers (and landowners) to use THEIR money, will fix it. Johnny one tune. Every argument we’ve read always says money from a severance tax is needed to help fund the general budget. So when we spotted an opinion column that argued for the severance tax so the state can use the money to build more pipelines to areas without pipelines, so more residents can use natural gas, we thought that was kind of unique and funny. No, building more pipelines is not a good reason to impose a severance tax. It’s nothing more than yet another way to try and get one passed, and once in place, change the things it funds. In other words, it’s a lie. This particular view was offered by the former president of the Pennsylvania Business Roundtable. He’s also someone who’s “spent four decades in and around state government.” In other words, a swamp dweller. And establishment insider–the establishment in this case located in Harrisburg. So we’re not surprised that he wants a Marcellus-killing tax. It’s just dressed up in pretty platitudes…
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OH Supremes to Decide if Landowner Getting Free Gas can End Lease

Here’s a case in Ohio that has the potential to impact Utica Shale, as well as conventional, leases. According to OOGA (the Ohio Oil and Gas Association) it has the potential to affect “the validity and viability of thousands of oil and gas leases across the state.” In brief, a conventional gas well was drilled on property in Washington County, OH in 1951. The landowner later agreed to exchange royalty payments for free, unlimited gas to her home. Leases can be terminated if they stop producing profitable amounts of oil and gas. Between 1977 and 1981 there was no commercial sale of gas from the well–but the landowner kept getting her free gas. Using that five-year period of time of no commercial output, the landowner filed paperwork to declare the lease has been terminated and reverts back to her, the landowner. The driller says she continued receiving her “royalty payments” (i.e. free gas) even though nothing was sold from the well–and that’s enough to keep the lease in effect. There appear to be strong arguments on both parts, and apparently this arrangement of receiving free gas in lieu of royalty payments is not uncommon in Ohio. So the Ohio Supreme Court will decide, having recently heard oral arguments…
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New Poll: Majority in NY, MA, CT, NH Support More Pipelines!

An overwhelming majority of voters in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York support energy delivery of transportation fuels and the use of natural gas infrastructure – including the approval and construction of more pipelines in the region, according to a new poll from Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA). The CEA calls itself the “voice of the energy consumer.” CEA provides consumers with sound, unbiased information on U.S. and global energy issues. The scientific poll conducted by CEA of voters in the four states found that energy issues will affect how 86% of them vote in the next election. It also found 58% approve of “expanding pipelines to deliver transportation fuels for consumers and markets.” And you thought voters in New England and New York were all brain-dead leftists. Huh. Turns out the media is covering up the strong support that exists for pipelines and other energy infrastructure. Hello Gov. Cuomo! Are you reading this? Here’s a summary of the poll, along with the detailed poll results…
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Babst Calland Report: Resurgence of M-U Industry & Challenges Ahead

The legal beagles of top energy law firm Babst Calland recently released their seventh annual energy industry report called, “The 2017 Babst Calland Report – Upstream, Midstream and Downstream: Resurgence of the Appalachian Shale Industry; Legal and Regulatory Perspective for Producers and Midstream Operators.” This latest annual review chronicles the comeback of the Marcellus/Utica and what challenges lie ahead. In an MDN exclusive, we have the first seven pages of the 74-page report (see below), along with details on how you can request a full copy. Worth the read! Here’s an overview…
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First Reserve Buys EMS’ Pipeline Maintenance Platform

First Reserve, a private equity firm (i.e. company that invests big money to buy other companies, or pieces of companies), has purchased the “integrity maintenance platform” of EMS USA, Inc. EMS is a company that fixes and maintains pipelines. Some of the work they do is in the Marcellus/Utica, hence our interest in this deal. No price was mentioned in the announcement. So what, exactly, is an integrity maintenance platform? And what does “acquiring it” actually mean?…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Jun 21, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Record keeping essential to prove lack of production in paying quantities; Firefighter pursuing chemical disclosure law in OH; Shell executive: Safety of workers, contractors at forefront of cracker project; Another Steyer-bankrolled anti-fracking campaign falls apart, this time in Nevada; Time for shale’s loners to settle down; Young people unimpressed with O&G careers: EY poll; Why oil prices are plummeting; and more!
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