Gulfport 2Q17: Most Active Utica Quarter Ever, 29 Wells Added

Yesterday Gulfport Energy released the company’s second quarter 2017 operational (not financial) update. Gulfport is one of those companies that teases by separating the two. Normally we’d wait and report both together, but there is some interesting news coming from the operational side. Gulfport, which drills mainly in the Utica (but also the SCOOP, in Oklahoma) reports production is through the roof, mainly due to bringing online 29 new Utica wells during 2Q17. Gulfport said in a statement that 2Q17 for the Utica Shale was “the most active quarter from a tie-in line perspective the Company has experienced since entering the play in 2011.” Meaning some (many?) of the wells were already drilled, but they all got completed and hooked up to production in 2Q17. When you add all of Gulfport’s production together across the Utica (the majority) and the SCOOP and tiny bit in Louisiana, the company joined the 1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) club in 2Q17. If you look only at Utica production, Gulfport averaged 867 million cubic feet (MMcf) per day of production, which is getting close to the 1 Bcf mark–in just the Utica. That is a massive amount of production in the Utica…
Continue reading

Energy Transfer Sells 32% Ownership in Rover Pipe to Blackstone

In a surprise move, Energy Transfer Partners has sold what amounts to be 32.44% of the ownership of the still uncompleted Rover Pipeline to Blackstone, a private equity and so-called alternative equity firm based in New York City. In fact, Blackstone is the largest alternative equity firm (investing in things other than stocks/bonds/cash) in the world. Blackstone is paying ET $1.57 billion in a somewhat complicated transaction. There are multiple companies, on paper, involved. ET has a subsidiary (on paper) called HoldCo which owns 65% of the Rover project. Blackstone (and its subsidiary Blackstone Energy Partners) is buying 49.9% of HoldCo. When you do the math, it works out to be a 32.44% stake in the Rover Pipeline venture. Rover, as we have covered, is the $3.7 billion, 711-mile pipeline project that will run from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and eventually into Canada. The project is facing setbacks and delays in both Ohio and West Virginia due to various accidents and spills. Phase 1 of the project–from Cadiz, OH to Defiance, OH–was supposed to be online by yesterday. That has now slipped to “late summer” (see Rover Pipeline’s Phase 1 In-Service Date Slips to “Late Summer”). The ET/Blackstone deal will close by the end of this year, presumably when the pipeline is up and running…
Continue reading

Anatomy of a Merger – The Years’ Long Road to EQT/Rice Deal

In June EQT and Rice Energy announced that EQT will buy out and merge in Rice Energy, to create (in EQT) the largest natural gas-producing company in the United States (see EQT Buys Rice Energy in $8.2B Deal, Becomes #1 Gas Producer in US). You may see headlines from time to time that say EQT is paying $6.7 billion for Rice. However, EQT is also assuming $1.5 billion worth of Rice Energy debt as part of the deal–so in our book, the total price paid is $8.2 billion, not $6.7 billion. Have you ever wondered how a massive deal like this comes together? Did the top brass at EQT phone up the top brass at Rice and say “let’s go for coffee” and a few months later there’s a deal? Nope. Doesn’t happen that way. In paperwork filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, EQT (and Rice) outlined the chronology of how this deal came together. It’s far more complicated than the most complicated soap opera you can imagine. The story begins with EQT keeping a close eye on available acreage in the southwestern Marcellus region. EQT noticed an “accelerating trend” of consolidation. In 2015, a full two years before the EQT/Rice announcement, EQT lusted for more acreage and feared that if Rice combined with someone else, an important opportunity would be lost. So EQT got outside help (Wachtell Lipton) to begin the process of evaluating a buyout of Rice (June 2015). In July 2015, the muckety mucks from both Rice and EQT got together to talk, and “informally” discussed the potential benefits of a merger. But the talks went nowhere at the time. In early 2016, two other companies (unnamed) held similar talks with Rice. EQT then jumped back into the mix, in May 2016. EQT and Rice promptly got more serious about sniffing around each other, signing confidentiality agreements and beginning the due diligence process. Things moved quickly. Rice investigated mergers with two other companies and with EQT. EQT pressed Rice for an answer in July 2016. Talks broke down by the end of the summer in 2016. Rice then bought out Vantage and EQT snapped up more Marcellus acreage in various deals. And the soap opera goes on from there. We have the full script below…
Continue reading

Update on “Evolving Giant” Utica Shale – from Range Resources

In early April of this year the 2017 AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) Annual Convention & Exhibition was held in Houston, TX. During one of the sessions, William Zagorski and Taylor McClain delivered a talk called “Discovery of the Utica Shale: Update on an Evolving Giant.” The interesting thing is that Zagorski and McClain work for Range Resources–the first driller in the Marcellus, not the Utica. We don’t have a transcript of that talk, but we do have an abstract and the slide deck used during the talk (below). The slide deck is fascinating. It begins with a history of the Utica. Did you know that the earliest Utica discoveries were in Ontario, Canada? And that the earliest drilling done in the play here in the U.S. was done in Upstate New York–near the Watertown area? No, we didn’t realize that either. In fact, a large swath of the Utica Shale layer underlies New York State–what a pity we can’t explore it because of a corrupt dictator by the name of Andrew Cuomo. At any rate, below is the slide deck, with slides outlining where the “wet gas” and “dry gas” zones are in the Utica. And exploring how Ohio became synonymous with the term Utica Shale…
Continue reading

Two Democrat Backbenchers Try to Interfere in Rover Pipe, FERC

Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Frank Pallone

A United State Senator from Washington State (left coast) and a Congressman from New Jersey, both of them liberal Democrats, have sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) over “troubling reports” regarding Energy Transfer Partners and the Rover Pipeline project. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is a ranking member of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She looks like a kindergarten teacher. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) is the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He looks like an extra on The Sopranos. In their roles on their respective committees they are asking FERC to conduct a wide-ranging investigation of ET and Rover–even though the pipeline doesn’t traverse a square inch of either Washington State or New Jersey. They begin by regurgitating old news about ET knocking down a dilapidated “historic” house, and move on to leaks of drilling mud. All of it old news. All of it currently being handled/reviewed/remedied. They go on from there to ask FERC to investigate *all* ET projects. While one could say this dynamic duo have an “interest” in the Rover project because of their role on the energy committees to which they belong, it’s a stretch. This is more swamp politics–a couple of obscure backbenchers trying to raise their profile with their own constituents. They don’t care a scintilla about the people in Ohio (or West Virginia) that may or may not have been impacted by the Rover project. The real purpose of the letter is to cast doubt on FERC itself. Near the end of the letter, they ask a series of questions, including a question for how many applications has FERC received over the past 17 years, and how many they have denied. It’s a setup by two backbenchers to try and question the authority (and competency) of FERC. We say let them eat white noise. Refuse to even acknowledge the letter…
Continue reading

2 Marcellus/Utica States Produce More Energy than They Consume

When a state produces more energy than it consumes, that state is a net energy “supplier” (or exporter). States consume energy in the form of oil, gas, coal and electricity, primarily. They produce energy in the same way. Our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, recently released State Energy Data System estimates for net energy supply, state by state, from 1960-2015. Their analysis found that currently, for the year 2015, some 12 states produced more primary energy than they consumed, while 38 states and the District of Columbia were net recipients of energy. Among the state producing more than they consume, two of the top five are Marcellus Shale states: Pennsylvania and West Virginia. PA’s net supplier status is due mostly to the rise of the Marcellus. In the case of WV, the state still is a big coal producer, but it is the Marcellus that lifts the state into the column of net energy supplier…
Continue reading

Sierra Club Asks NC Regulators to Revoke AC Pipeline Contracts

The radicals at the Sierra Club are taking another run at stopping Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project in its tracks–before the first inch of pipe is laid. ACP is a $5 billion, 594-mile natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. This time Sierra Club nutters are using a novel approach to try and stop ACP. They’ve asked North Carolina regulators to revoke approval of affiliate agreements by Duke Energy to use the gas that will flow through the pipeline. The Sierra Club’s argument is that the agreements, signed in 2014, are no longer valid. Duke doesn’t need as much natural gas (for electric generation) as they thought they would. And therefore to stay locked into the agreement would be an unfair burden to Duke’s rate payers. If Duke were to pull out of the deals, the ACP project would collapse, which is what Sierra Club happens. Duke has responded that the gas will be used for more than electric generation. Given that NC now has a Dem governor who doesn’t like fracking (see NC Fracking Remains in Limbo, 5 Yrs After Legislature Approved It), and given that regulatory functions come under the oversight of the executive branch, it does raise a minor red flag that the Sierra Club has launched this latest effort. Will it get traction with NC regulators?…
Continue reading

Update on NG Advantage Virtual Pipeline near Binghamton

What’s the latest with the proposed virtual pipeline in Broome County, NY? NG Advantage wants to build a “virtual pipeline” operation in a suburb of Binghamton. The location NG picked, after considering up to six locations in the region, was selected because of it’s proximity to major highways, proximity to the Millennium Pipeline, and availability of high-power electric lines. A virtual pipeline is nothing more than a compressor plant (series of compressor plants) that grabs gas from a pipeline, in this case the Millennium, and compresses it and loads it onto special tractor trailers that then deliver the gas to industrial customers like manufacturing plants, hospitals, and even small regional gas distribution systems servicing residential homes. The location NG selected, in the Town of Fenton (within spitting distance of Hillcrest and Port Dickinson) was approved by the Town of Fenton after a detailed review. The area they selected is zoned industrial and is, in fact, a former dump site. However, residents from nearby neighborhoods (Hillcrest and Port Dick) were not aware of the project (so they claim) and when construction began to clear the dump site, and residents learned what was going to be built at the site, some of them demanded court action to oppose it. So far we’ve had two court cases asking county-level court (called “Supreme Court” in NY) to stop the project, which it temporarily has. And there we sit–waiting on a local court. When traveling through the neighborhoods near the site you see plenty of “No Compressor Station” signs. Ask any of the locals why they oppose it and the issue pretty much centers on truck traffic. The plant itself is safe. It doesn’t emit anything in the way of air pollution. It’s quiet–running on electric motors. The only thing people have to complain about is 3-4 trucks an hour going in and out of the plant. That’s it. But that’s enough to warrant a major fuss. The very latest is that State Senator Fred Akshar and Assemblyman Clifford Crouch, both of whom represent people in the Town of Fenton, visited the NG Advantage facility in Vermont last week–a facility similar to the one proposed for Fenton. They wanted to see it for themselves. Neither rep really has a say in what will happen in Fenton (the matter is in the courts at this point), but at least they informed themselves about the issue and can talk, rationally, with some of their irrational constituents…
Continue reading

Is Truck Traffic the Culprit in Fracking’s So-Called ‘Health Effects’

West Virginia University professor and researcher Dr. Michael McCawley, chairman of the Dept. of Occupational & Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health, has been studying the health effects of fracking since 2012. Dr. McCawley launched the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory (MSEEL)–a project that drilled a test well is providing real-time air, noise, occupational safety and health monitoring over a five-year period (see WVU Launches 5-Year Study of Local Frack Site for Air, Noise, H&S). It is one of three such projects approved and funded (in part) by the U.S. Dept. of Energy. When Dr. McCawley theorizes on something to do with fracking, we sit up and take notice. He does not appear, to us, to have any ax to grind with drilling. He’s a researcher looking for answers to questions. We spotted a report by The Allegheny Front, a PBS program with an anti-drilling bent, but sometimes with good reports, interviewing Dr. McCawley about his newest theory as to whether or not, and how, fracking may have local health impacts. McCawley’s theory, after standing in the middle of Montrose, PA watching truck after truck after truck pass through town, is that the presence of so many trucks, most of them burning diesel fuel, may indeed impact people who live close to drilling sites. Diesel emissions in concentrated form are not good. Here’s what McCawley had to say, via Allegheny Front
Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Aug 1, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Oil & gas commission in Ohio full of vacancies; don’t balance PA’s budget on the backs of Marcellus drillers; pipeliners in WV must follow the rules; new bill in Congress aims to expedite LNG approvals; shale oil drilling will finally money, in 2020; Cheniere said to be chilling gas in fourth plant; Australia weather bureau caught tampering with climate numbers; and more!
Continue reading