Chesapeake Tries to Wiggle Out of PA Royalty Lawsuit on Technicality

In December 2015, Pennsylvania’s felony-indicted Attorney General, Kathleen Kane (now gone), brought a lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy, Anadarko and Williams accusing them of, among other things, royalty fraud (see PA Atty General Sues Chesapeake Energy, Williams for Royalty Fraud). In May 2016, MDN reported that Chesapeake and Anadarko had filed to dismiss Kane’s complaints against them, accusing Kane of attempting to litigate federal antitrust claims in state court (see Chesapeake, Anadarko Try to Wiggle Out of PA Royalty Lawsuit). In June 2016 Kane’s office fired back by filing a motion to keep the case in state, not federal, court. In August, U.S. Middle District Judge Christopher C. Conner granted Kane’s motion–the case stays in the state court system (see Lawsuit Against Chesapeake, Anadarko Heads Back to PA Court). We now have a new AG (thank God), but it’s the same case and once again Chesapeake and Anadarko are trying to get the lawsuit tossed–this time by saying the law that the AG claims was violated has to do with consumer protection–for people who buy things. Chessy & Anadarko argue landowners aren’t buying anything, they’re selling (minerals), so the law doesn’t protect them from predatory leasing practices. The Bradford County judge in charge of the case is considering their latest argument to wiggle out of the lawsuit, based on a technicality…
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New Frack Wastewater Well on the Way in Allegheny County, PA

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is the agency in charge of approving oil and gas wastewater injection wells, will hold a hearing next Wednesday in Plum, PA (Allegheny County, near Pittsburgh) on whether or not to approve an application and plan from Penneco Environmental Solutions (division of Penneco Oil Co.) to convert a plugged gas well into a brine (wastewater) injection well. Typically when a hearing like this is held, it’s an indicator that the EPA will approve the project. However, just because the EPA approves it doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. After an EPA approval, the application then goes to the PA State Dept. of Environmental Protection where it goes through another round of reviews–and likely more public hearings. The stuff getting disposed of, which we generically call wastewater, is technically called brine, because of it’s salty/mineral-ly composition. Brine is naturally occurring water from the depths that comes out of oil and gas wells for years after they are drilled. Because of the high concentration of minerals in the water, it either must go through a rigorous recycling process, or get disposed of via an injection well. OH has more than a hundred such wells. WV has a few dozen. PA has less than a dozen, due to the geology needed. Every new injection well in PA is a big deal, including this one…
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New Penn State Frack Wastewater “Study” Beats a Dead Horse

Not long after Michael Krancer was appointed Secretary of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection in 2011, he “requested” (which was more order than request) that municipal sewage treatment plants still accepting and processing Marcellus drilling wastewater stop the practice. At the time there were 15 plants accepting Marcellus wastewater. Under pressure from Krancer, they ended the practice in May 2011 (see PA DEP, Marcellus Shale Coalition Admit Drilling Wastewater Likely Contaminating Drinking Water). His prescience was rewarded. A year later there were far lower bromide levels in PA rivers (see Marcellus Wastewater Ban Leads to Lower Bromide in PA Rivers). That’s how things should work: the state looks after its own environment. But that means less power for the power-mad bureaucrats in Washington, DC. Right on cue, before Obama was ejected from office next January 2017, his out-of-control EPA issued rules that do what Krancer did without a new law back in 2011. The EPA has issued a new regulation (i.e. unlegislated law) that declares no municipal sewage treatment plant in any state (not just PA) can accept and process shale wastewater (see EPA Bans Disposal of Frack Wastewater at Public Sewer Plants). Researchers at Penn State thought it would be fun to study this issue that no longer exists–disposing frack wastewater via municipal sewage treatment plants. They found evidence of “lasting environmental damage” in Conemaugh River Lake, claiming the damage came from Marcellus Shale wastewater treated at two centralized waste treatment (CWT) facilities years ago. Uh, OK. We already knew that. We already stopped it. But mainstream fake news is now treating this new “study” as some sort of revelation, implying one can never recycle frack wastewater again without grave consequences. More nonsense…
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WV Chemical Trade Group Hints Many New Downstream Projects Coming

We spotted an editorial in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail written by Kevin DiGregorio, executive director of the nonprofit Chemical Alliance Zone (CAZ). According to the CAZ website, the organization “works with partners across West Virginia to boost and maintain investments and jobs in the chemical industry and related industries, including natural gas, manufacturing, and technology in general. We create, initiate, and facilitate business opportunities, leading to opportunities for you, your business or organization, and the State of West Virginia.” In other words, Mr. DiGregorio and the CAZ are at the nexus of many deals to bring petrochemical businesses to the Mountain State. So if anyone should know what may be “up the sleeve” and soon to be revealed, it’s Mr. DiGregorio. He hinted at it in his column. Writing that everyone has heard about the potential for a Braskem ethane cracker plant in Parkersburg (a project that appears to still be alive), Mr. DiGregoorio then says, “What you haven’t heard are all of the other potential (and confidential) projects that many of us are working on that might lead to new facilities and high-paying STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) jobs that take advantage of methane and NGLs (ethane, propane, butane) to make various chemicals and plastics.” Wow! He seems to be saying there are a lot of projects in the works for WV in the downstream–those businesses that use the output from the shale industry…
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Research: Shale Dev in PA Leads to Spread of Invasive Plants

While we wrote about a Penn State research study today that appears legitimate, but seven years too late (see New Penn State Frack Wastewater “Study” Beats a Dead Horse), there is another recently published Penn State study that is also legit that is not yet a huge issue, but certainly has potential to be a big deal. Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences has found that invasive, non-native plants are making significant inroads with shale gas development in Pennsylvania, with negative consequences for PA forests. How so? The invasive, non-native plants are hitching a ride on gravel and equipment used to create roadways in forested areas, and once those plants take root, they crowd out local, native plants. The study, titled “Unconventional gas development facilitates plant invasions” and published in the Journal of Environmental Management, concludes that more monitoring and early detection can help put a lid on the problem…
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Supporters, Antis Turn Out for 2 NC Public Hearings on AC Pipeline

This past week, the North Carolina Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) held two public hearings on Dominion’s proposed $5 billion, 594-mile natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. One hearing was in Fayetteville, the other in Rocky Mount. Both had more people opposed to the project than for it, although the Fayetteville hearing saw a strong showing of people in favor of the project. The Fayetteville public hearing was held Tuesday, and Rocky Mount on Thursday. Here’s the coverage we could find of the two hearings…
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Report: Marcellus/Utica Contains 39% of ‘Potential’ NatGas in US

The Potential Gas Committee (PGC), a private non-profit organization loosely affiliated with the Colorado School of Mines, performs a comprehensive study of potential supplies of natural gas in the United States every two years. In April of 2013 MDN reported the committee’s findings of just how much gas is down there (see Marcellus Region Contains Huge 33% of All U.S. Recoverable NatGas). In 2015, we brought you the next report (see New Report: Marcellus/Utica Holds 35% of U.S. Recoverable Natgas). It’s now two years later and time for the latest report. PGC is reporting because of shale and new technology, the U.S. now has more technically recoverable natural gas than it has ever had in its history–over 2,817 trillion cubic feet. In 2013 the Marcellus/Utica represented 33% of the entire supply of recoverable natural gas. In 2015 that number went up to 35% of recoverable natgas. Now? That number is up to 39%! Coming from nowhere just a decade ago, shale now accounts for a staggering 64% of all recoverable natgas in the U.S. Below we have the press release and detailed summary of the report, along with a slide deck published by the PGC…
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Select Energy, Rockwater Merge to Create Huge Shale Water Provider

Rockwater Energy Solutions is a “leading provider of comprehensive water management solutions to the North American unconventional oil and gas industry” and the only company that provides complementary chemistry products and expertise in connection with its water solutions. Rockwater operates in the Marcellus/Utica region, among other shale plays. Select Energy Services is a billion dollar oilfield services company with three main divisions: water services, rentals, and wellsite completions. They operate in every major shale play in the country, including the Marcellus/Utica. Earlier this week the two companies announced they are merging in an all stock swap deal. It looks to be a true blending of the two companies, and not one company taking over the other. When the merger is done (later this year), John Schmitz, currently Chairman & CEO of Select, will become the full-time Executive Chairman and Holli Ladhani, currently the Chairman, President & CEO of Rockwater, will become the President & CEO of Select. The water parts of both businesses will be combined and branded with the Select name, but Rockwater branding will continue (as a division) for the chemicals business unit. Here’s the announcement of an impending marriage–made in heaven?…
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The Real Russia Scandal: Russia Funds U.S. Anti-Fracking Groups

We’ve been listening to fake news about a supposed connection between Russia and the Trump campaign for so long now, we’re ready to puke. It’s a totally fabricated story without even an allegation of wrongdoing. Fake news outlets like CNN run this garbage endlessly (so we’ve been told, we NEVER watch CNN). So perhaps you can forgive us for not highlighting and bringing you this news before now. There IS a Russia scandal–a serious one. But it has nothing to do with Donald Trump. The real Russia scandal is that Putin and Russia have been funneling millions of dollars to U.S. Big Green groups, like the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, in an attempt to smear and block fracking in the U.S. Russia is funding these efforts not because they care a scintilla about the the environment (come to think of it, the Sierra Club doesn’t care about the environment either, not really). No, Russia is funding anti-fracking efforts by Big Green as a way of eliminating competition for Russian oil and gas. If they can throw some money at the nutjobs in our country, and if those nutjobs can convince unthinking masses to go along, problem solved for the Russkies. Here’s the lowdown on the REAL Russia scandal…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Jul 21, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: MPLX’s expanded plan for piping Marcellus/Utica NGLs; Vermont clamps down on windmills; gas industry worried that Trump push for coal may affect gas-fired plants; US House votes to streamline pipeline reviews; why Millenials won’t work in the oil patch; America needs more pipelines; the EPA is everywhere; LNG drives US energy dominance; and more!
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