LOLA Energy Sells Out to Rice Energy, Deal Kept Hush-Hush

NGI’s Shale Daily has done it again. Ace reporter Jamison Cocklin has unearthed news that (so far) no one else has: Rice Energy has quietly, confidentially, hush-hush purchased all of the assets of LOLA Energy. The sale raises a lot of questions. But first, who is LOLA? No, not the show girl in Barry Manilow’s 1978 hit song Copacabana. LOLA Energy was birthed near the end of 2015, by former EQT executives using $250 million of private equity money from Denham Capital (see New Marcellus/Utica Drilling Company is Born – LOLA Energy). The name LOLA comes from the phrase Locally Owned, Locally Accountable. LOLA didn’t waste any time. They leased land in Greene County, PA–a prime location highly prized by both Rice Energy and EQT–and also in West Virginia, land in Monongalia, Wetzel and Marion counties. Shale Daily reports that rumors have been swirling for weeks, but NGI now has the goods–copies of transfer records going from LOLA to Rice. For some reason, perhaps related to EQT’s impending purchase of Rice Energy, Rice and LOLA have kept the deal hush-hush. But the lid is off now! Here’s what we know about the deal, sprinkled with some MDN speculation…
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WV DEP Orders Rover to Stop Pipe Construction in 2 of 4 Counties

Rover Pipeline has had trouble with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). The OEPA has jumped on Rover’s back and hasn’t gotten off–over spills of drilling mud and mishandling (according to OEPA) torrential rainwater that ended up in Rover trenches, which Rover pumped out, flooding local farmers’ fields (see OEPA & Rover at Odds Over Storm Water Runoff, “Fine” Now $714K). The OEPA also claims diesel fuel was found in some of the spilled drilling mud (see OH EPA Says Diesel Fuel Found in Rover 2M Gal Drilling Mud Spill). OEPA got the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) involved, asking FERC (the agency in charge of oversight) for help in reigning in Rover. FERC did just that, shutting down some of Rover’s activities while it (FERC) investigates. Now Rover is getting grief from the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection (WVDEP). The WVDEP issued water pollution control permits for the project, and now says Rover has violated the conditions of the permits and must cease and desist “land development activity until such time when compliance with the terms and conditions of its permit and all pertinent laws and rules is achieved.” The issue appears to revolve around handling of storm water runoff (one of the issues in Ohio). Construction of Rover in Doddridge and Tyler counties has stopped, but construction continues in Hancock and Marshall counties…
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Harrison County, WV NatGas Electric Plant Close to Final Approval

In June the West Virginia Public Service Commission held a public hearing in Clarksburg, WV on the proposed ESC Harrison County Power Plant project (see Public Hearing Held for Harrison County, WV NatGas Electric Plant). ESC (Energy Solutions Consortium ) 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 public hearing, about the only person to speak against the project was the predictable nuts from the Sierra Club–opposed because they claim it will contribute to man-made global warming. Whatever. The time for public comments to the PSC is now over, and the PSC reports receiving 540 positive comments–and one negative comment. What does that tell you? The project still needs a few more permits (air and water) and is jumping through multiple government hoops now. However, ESC plans to have everything in hand, and the project bidded out, by the end of this year–with construction beginning early next year. Here’s an update on this vitally important, $600-$800 million project…
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Anti Groups Panic, Demand Govs Ban Fracking in Dela. River Basin

Radical anti-fossil fuelers with THE Delaware Riverkeeper and New Jersey Sierra Club, along with a mish mash of other fringe “environmental” groups, are becoming shrill in their demand that fracking be permanently banned in the Delaware River Basin. Riverkeeper, Sierra Club and other nutjob groups are this week delivering a petition they claim has over 63,000 signatures (many of them made up or dead) calling on the governors of the four states that are part of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to vote to permanently ban fracking in the DRBC’s jurisdiction. Each day this week the group of, whatever you call them, are delivering the petitions in staged media events, in each state capital. These groups have wanted and lobbied for a permanent ban for years. Why push so hard for it now? What’s the urgency? Why go on the road now to demand an outright ban? There is only one reason we can think of for why these radicals are pushing so hard now: they are running scared, concerned that a lawsuit by a Wayne County landowner in federal court will go against the DRBC and finally force the issue, allowing fracking (see Wayne County Landowner Files Brief in Case Against DRBC Frack Ban). Once fracking begins in the Delaware River Basin–and let us assure you, it will–and once everyone sees that fracking is safe and has zero impact on drinking water supplies, the lie anti-frackers have pedaled since Josh Fox and Gasland will be exposed for all to see. That’s why they are in a panic, “demanding” that fracking be banned, NOW. They need to get it banned before the judge makes a decision to allow it…
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Report: New York City Needs More NatGas Pipelines, STAT

New York City needs more natural gas pipelines–and it needs them BAD. That’s the upshot of a newly released report from the New York Building Congress, a trade group representing some 450 other building-related trade groups with 250,000+ members. The report, titled “Electricity Outlook: Powering New York City’s Future” (full copy below) says NYC needs more pipelines built before the Indian Point Nuclear plant closes in 2021–both for electric generation (to replace Indian Point’s electricity) and because of the prohibition coming on heavier fuel oil used for wintertime heating. Interesting (and mind-blowing) fact: 81.5% of the electricity flowing in the five boroughs of NYC comes from natural gas-fired electric plants. The report calls for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to promptly approve Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, when FERC has a quorum, which will flow more PA Marcellus gas to NYC and New Jersey. The report also calls on officials to approve Millennium Pipeline’s expansion request in Upstate. Of course the irony is not lost on those of us who live in Upstate New York–the irony being that we could be the ones providing at least some of that natural gas to our cousins in the City, if sleazeball Gov. Andrew Cuomo hadn’t banned fracking. So yes, New York needs more natural gas and needs it asap, but New York has banned the production of it–so we’ll have to get it from places like Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia instead. Bad for us, but good for them…
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Judge Temporarily Stops ME2 Valve Station in West Goshen

West Goshen Township, in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester County, has won a short-lived, temporary victory in their efforts to stop Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner East 2 NGL pipeline in its community. Last March MDN told you about the desperate last stand taken by liberal anti-pipeliners in West Goshen (see West Goshen’s Last Stand to Stop Mariner East 2 Pipeline). West Goshen signaled it would deny Sunoco a zoning permit for a valve on the pipeline. Sunoco politely, but firmly, told West Goshen the pipeline doesn’t need a permit from the town to install a valve because it’s a state-permitted project. Sunoco said it would move forward at the appropriate time with a valve installation. In early July, West Goshen tried again, by filing a 135-page petition with the state Public Utility Commission on Monday, asking the PUC for an emergency order to stop construction of the new valve station that Sunoco is set to begin work on any time (see West Goshen Pulls Legal Stunt in Attempt to Stop ME2 Pipeline). But the PUC responded “no thanks” (see PA PUC Rejects West Goshen Appeal, ME2 Building Valve Station). So West Goshen appealed it and now an administrative law judge has put a temporary halt on building a new valve station. The whole issue seems to revolve around which side of the road to build the valve station. West Goshen wants it built next to an existing, Mariner East 1 valve station, but Sunoco wants to build the new station across the street, citing safety concerns…
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NGL Storage Facilities in Marcellus/Utica Good for the Environment

Can proposed NGL storage facilities in the Marcellus/Utica benefit the environment? The answer is a resounding, YES! How? First you must understand what an NGL is, and why we have so much of it in the northeast. NGL stands for natural gas liquid. When you drill a hole in the ground to extract oil, or natural gas, you almost always get not only oil, but natural gas (and vice versa). In addition, you also get NGLs. They are all hydrocarbons with slightly different atomic configurations. NGLs include propane, butane, isobutane and ethane. Aside from natural gas (or oil), the most common hydrocarbon coming out of a well is ethane. Ethane, as it turns out, is quite useful. It can be “cracked” chemically and turned into ethylene, which is the raw feedstock for manufacturing plastics, among other things. We have at least one ethane cracker plant coming in our neck of the woods–Shell’s cracker plant in Beaver County, PA (near Pittsburgh). Another one is likely to get built by PTT Global Chemical–in Belmont County, OH. Other smaller plants that process ethane are also likely to get built. They all need a ready supply of ethane. Enter storage hubs–huge underground caverns to store NGLs until they can be used. Mountaineer NGL Storage is close to beginning work on such a facility (see More Clarity on Status of Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH). However, a much larger, multi-state cooperative NGL storage project costing $10 billion to build is also actively under consideration (see WV, OH, PA, KY Should Cooperate on $10B NGL Storage Hub). In the meantime, what happens to all of the NGLs (like ethane) that are coming out of the ground now in the Marcellus/Utica? Some of it gets separated and sold, via pipeline, to markets in other countries or to the Gulf Coast. However, most of it is kept in the pipeline and mixed in with natural gas (methane), and ends up getting burned. In some cases ethane is “flared” or burned off. What a waste. If we capture and use that ethane for the plastics industry, it will remove it from being burned and ending up in the atmosphere. So yes, building NGL storage facilities can and will positively impact the environment…
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IFO Predicts PA Impact Fees for 2017 Will Soar, Near Record High

Since 2012, Pennsylvania has collected the equivalent of a severance tax from Marcellus Shale drillers via something called an impact fee. Same concept as a severance tax. You drill a well, gas comes out, you pay a tax. Except with an impact fee you pay whether or not anything comes out of the ground, meaning an impact fee is superior to a severance tax, which is based on how much comes out of the ground. The impact fee quickly started to generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year in extra revenue for Pennsylvania–60% of which goes back to the communities where drilling happens (which Philadelphia politicians hate), and 40% of which goes to the black hole of Harrisburg for redistribution (which Philadelphia politicians love). Drilling began to slow in 2014, and crashed in 2015/2016, with low low commodity prices for natgas. The impact fee doled out this year is based on revenues raised last year, in 2016, during the worst part of the downturn. So it’s no surprise that impact fees collected and distributed this year, in 2017 have been the lowest since the impact fee began (see PA PUC Impact Fee Report: Revenue Down Again in 2016). The PA Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) does a pretty good job of guesstimating how much impact fee revenue will get generated in the coming year, based on activity this year. The IFO just released an impact fee update (full copy below) with an outlook for 2017. The IFO predicts next year’s impact fee will generate around $222 million in revenue, which is very close to the highest amount generated thus far. Wow! What a swing in the pendulum–from lowest to near highest in one year…
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“Frack” No Longer a Naughty Word, Loses its Sex Appeal

For years anti-drillers have used the word “frack” and “fracking” as a pejorative, to try and smear the oil and gas industry. The word is shortened from “hydraulic fracturing” and meant to connote a “naughty” word of similar sound. The supremely untalented Julian Lennon (son of Beatle legend John Lennon) and his stepmom, Yoko Ono, went on Jimmy Fallon’s show a few years ago to sing a song called “Don’t Frack My Mother” (watch it below). That’s the mentality of anti-drillers. The word “frack” is short, sounds like something dirty, and is useful for protest signs, bumper stickers, and songs. Never mind that fracking is only one small part of the success in extracting shale oil and gas. The larger, arguably more important technological breakthrough is horizontal drilling. But it’s hard to shorten “horizontal drilling” into a bumper sticker slogan that sounds dirty. So back in 2013 we offered to enhance the fracking phrase (see MDN Proposes a New Phrase for Anti-Drillers to Use). We told antis they should shorten “horizontal drilling” to “horz,” and then they could coin the phrase, “fracking horz.” We thought it was kind of funny, but it never seemed to catch on. Sorry antis, but you’ve now waited too long. It seems that the power of using the term “frack” and “fracking” has now passed. Usage has become common and is no longer thought of as a naughty word like it once was. Antis have missed the boat, yet again…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Jul 25, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: PA’s Environmental Rights Amendment revisited; Butler County 3rd in SWPA for natgas production; corp raiders target NRG Energy; Trump names more nominees to EPA; electric vehicles are unsustainable (without subsidies); Schlumberger looks to take a bite out of Wall Street’s lunch; Halliburton back in the black; low oil prices pressure OPEC; and more!
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