New Marcellus/Utica Driller Snaps Up Assets in OH, PA

It’s not often these days we get to announce a new driller in the Marcellus/Utica. Today is one of those days. Actually, this company has been around since early 2015, but we’re only now becoming aware of them. Pin Oak Energy Partners, headquartered in Akron, OH, is an exploration and production company engaged in both conventional and unconventional oil and natural gas wells and the operation of associated assets (like pipelines). Pin Oak currently operates 363 wells producing nearly 5.7 MMcfe/d (32% liquids) across more than 32,000 acres in the Marcellus/Utica region. The company is also involved in midstream, field services and operations through its affiliate companies. Pin Oak is on an aggressive acquisition binge of shale AND midstream assets, as well as leasing new acreage. Who is Pin Oak? According to CEO Chris Halvorson, Pin Oak is comprised of folks who were formerly with AB Resources. You may recall that AB Resources built a position in the southwestern “core” of the Marcellus and sold out to Chevron several years ago. Pin Oak is “what’s next” for for the former AB folks. Their target: the Appalachian basin. In July, Pin Oak bought 9,300 acres of leases and 8 Utica wells from EQT in Guernsey, Muskingum, and Columbiana counties (Ohio). Earlier this week Pin Oak announced they’ve purchased another 7,700 acres of leases and 10 Utica wells from an undisclosed seller in Trumbull, Tuscarawas and Mahoning counties (in Ohio) and Mercer, Crawford and Venango counties (in Pennsylvania). Below are two recent announcements. Pin Oak can be summed up in one word: aggressive. Keep a close eye on this company in the coming months and years…
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FERC Quorum Finally Restored – Full Speed Ahead on Pipe Projects

Yesterday the U.S. Senate finally approved Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson as the newest commissioners for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Which means FERC now has a quorum of three voting members and can, once again, begin issuing final approvals for important pipeline projects that are currently stalled waiting for an approval. Among those important projects (in the Marcellus/Utica region) are Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline, PennEast Pipeline, NEXUS Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline. FERC has not had a quorum of three (or more) voting members since February, when Norman “cry baby” Bay left the commission in a huff in early February over being demoted as chairman of FERC to just regular member (see FERC Commissioner Resigns Threatening Major M-U Pipeline Projects). President Trump was tardy in appointing two new members. But then New York Sen. Chuck “the schmuck” Schumer decided he would delay it longer, just because he hates Donald Trump. Yesterday the Senate finally took was is called a “unanimous consent” vote, a rubber stamp approving the new members. And now they go to work. Immediately, the sole commissioner left at the agency, Democrat Cheryl LaFleur, tweeted this message: “Happy day! Very excited to work with new Commissioners Chatterjee and Powelson!” We share her enthusiasm!…
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Groundhog Day: Feds Back in Dimock, PA for More Water Testing

Just when you thought we’d heard the last of “Dimock” and “fracking poisons water” nonsense, the storyline as pushed by mainstream fake news has come roaring back to life–thanks to the Trump Administration. Dimock, Pennsylvania was made famous in Josh Fox’s faux documentary Gasland, which aired on HBO a bizillion times. It was Fox’s 15 minutes of fame. He lied about fracking, painting it as an evil practice that polluted water wells around Dimock. His lies were later exposed by a real documentary called FrackNation (by Phelim McAleer). Over the past 7+ years the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) as well as the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and private researchers have tested water wells around Dimock. Repeatedly. For years. The conclusion? Fracking by Cabot Oil & Gas may have (not 100% assured) caused methane to migrate into some of the wells (a charge Cabot strongly refutes). However, at no time did any of government or private agencies testing find any fracking chemicals in any of the wells. Methane migration can be mitigated. It can be fixed. You don’t die from drinking water with methane in it. Most people in Susquehanna County (where Dimock is located) drink water with methane in it every day and have been for over 200 years! Why do you think Cabot’s wells are so productive? They’re in some of the most methane-rich rock in the U.S. The wells of 14 families along the Carter Road area in Dimock have been repeatedly tested–with no fracking chemicals found. Yet the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which is a federal public health agency part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (executive branch, which is now under Trump leadership), says they are coming to Dimock to test both water AND air at 25 homes around Dimock. The poster boy for their testing is Ray Kemble, who keeps junk cars on his property and carries a little brown jug around with him to anti-fracking rallies. Kemble has been trying to shake down Cabot for big money for years, with no success, claiming after they began drilling his water well became polluted…
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Rice Energy Investor Sues in Fed Court to Block Sale to EQT

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. A few weeks after the announced merger, so-called “activist investor” (i.e. corporate raider) Jana Partners, in league with the Cohen family (Atlas Energy) started a proxy fight to block EQT’s takover/merger with Rice Energy (see Proxy Fight: Jana Partners, Atlas Tries to Stop EQT/Rice Deal). Instead of buying Rice, Jana is demanding that EQT split itself into two companies–upstream (drilling) and midstream (pipelines). Experts don’t give Jana much of a chance. However, we now have opposition on the other side of the isle–from a disgruntled investor in Rice Energy. On Wednesday, Rice Energy investor Patrick Gordon filed a lawsuit in Delaware federal court alleging that Rice, as part of the agreed merger, submitted incomplete paperwork (called an S-4) that “failed to include necessary financial information that would allow shareholders to make an informed decision when voting on the proposed sale to EQT.” Gordon says Rice’s sale price isn’t high enough. Gordon wants the court to stop a shareholder vote on the deal until an amended S-4 is filed, giving what Gordon says is the full financial picture…
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PA Senate Sneaks in Provision Hurting Landowners w/Old Leases

What’s this? The Pennsylvania State Senate, which is controlled by the Republican Party, has added insult to injury. We’ve already told you about Republican traitors in the Senate who sold out their House counterparts by voting for a disastrous severance tax to raise money to give away to teachers’ unions (see Traitorous PA Senate Republicans Pass Severance Tax Bill). Little did we know they also sneaked in, in the dead of night, a provision in the budget bill that will make it harder for PA landowners with old oil and gas leases to renegotiate those leases. Sometimes landowners have old oil and gas wells on their property, drilled decades ago before horizontal drilling and fracking were combined. And those leases were signed for pennies on the dollar. These days when shale drillers come calling, landowners can often command thousands of dollars per acre in signing bonuses. But a provision in the fiscal code, passed as part of the budget the traitorous Senate passed, would limit the ability of landowners to renegotiate those old leases, allowing drillers to revive expired leases and not pay new lease bonuses…
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Court Clears Path for Atlantic Sunrise Pipe to Begin Work in PA

Atlantic Sunrise route – click for larger version

Williams and their Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project are just a few properties away from having easements for all of the properties they need in Pennsylvania, thanks to a judge in the U.S. Middle District of PA and his decision yesterday. Judge Matthew Brann gave Transco Pipeline (the pipeline getting extended with the Atlantic Sunrise project) access to seven hold-out properties in Lebanon, Northumberland, Columbia and Luzerne counties. There are still a couple of holdouts left in Lancaster and Columbia counties, cases which are in a different court. Staking of workspace boundaries will begin in 10 days, on August 14th. Construction, things like clearing and grading the right-of-way, will begin in mid-September. Obviously Williams believes the state DEP is about to grant stream crossing permits for the project, which they still need. The good news is that the courts are backing Atlantic Sunrise, and work on the pipeline will begin in days…
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PA Gov Wolf Said He Thinks House Will Support Severance Tax

We suspect Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (a Democrat) may be smoking some of the state’s medical marijuana–sampling the goods, just to be sure it’s safe, ya know. During an interview with a PA public radio station yesterday, commenting on the horrible budget bill passed by traitorous Senate Republicans, Wolf said, “I believe that the House will support the Marcellus Shale tax as well.” Notice the Freudian slip? Wolf WANTS to target the Marcellus industry. He called it a “Marcellus Shale tax” as opposed to a severance tax. The Dems are attempting to conflate a “Marcellus Shale tax” with things like a “cigarette tax.” Nasty, vile stuff–but if people want it, tax ’em to hell and back. RINOs in the Senate fell for the severance tax trap sprung by Wolf and the Dems. We predict the House will NOT pass the Marcellus tax, Mr. Wolf. We don’t smoke weed–so we have a clear head about these things…
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NY DEC Holds Sham “Hearing” for Power Plant Pipeline

New York’s corrupted Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is running scared. For 19 months the DEC has intentionally delayed granting a tiny, 9-mile spur Millennium Pipeline wants to build in Orange County, NY the necessary federal 401 stream crossing permit it needs. Millennium took the DEC to federal court, but the court refused to get involved, telling Millennium if the DEC is delaying, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) can jump in and override the DEC (see DC Court Tells Millennium FERC Can Override NY DEC Pipeline Delay). So that’s what Millennium did. They asked FERC to grant the stream crossing permits themselves (see Showdown: Millennium Asks FERC for Permission to Ignore NY DEC). Sensing they are now in a death spiral and will lose control over not only the Millennium project, but also other projects like the Constitution Pipeline and Northern Access projects the DEC has been blocking, the DEC responded and asked FERC to wait until August 30th before granting the certificate–so the DEC could grant it (or not) themselves (see Corrupt NY DEC Fires Back at Millennium, Claims Deadline is Aug 30). So the DEC held a public hearing Wednesday night. A sham. Kabuki theater. It was the DEC going through the motions before they get off their rear-ends and grant the certificate they could have granted more than a year ago. The public hearing in Wawayanda, NY did not disappoint, with insane anti-fossil fuelers parading before the microphones and cameras, predicting the end of the world if this 9-mile pipeline to feed a gas-fired power plant gets built…
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GreenHunter Lawsuit Against Former Employees Dismissed

In November 2015 MDN reported on a lawsuit filed by GreenHunter Resources (filed in October 2015) against two former GreenHunter employees and a competitor (see GreenHunter Sues 2 Former VPs + OH Competitor for Conspiracy). The lawsuit alleged that John Jack, former vice president of Appalachia operations for GreenHunter, and Noble “Rick” Zickefoose, former vice president and operations manager at GreenHunter left the company and subsequently shared privileged company secrets with Dean Grose, CEO of Comtech Industries and a principle with Water Energy Services (both companies competitors of GreenHunter). At the time we said it appeared GreenHunter had a strong case. We also said: “Of course there’s always two sides in these cases–so we must ‘presume innocence’ until the court finds otherwise.” Prescient words. From the beginning, all three defendants strongly maintained their innocence. Rick Zickefoose contacted MDN to let us know he has worked tirelessly to clear his good name. Rick told MDN, “I have been employed in the oil and gas industry of the Appalachian basin for more than 37 years. In the industry your reputation is everything.” He, and the other defendants, fought hard. In June their efforts were rewarded when the case was dismissed, “with prejudice” (meaning “permanently”). Rick and the other defendants are now cleared, their names and good reputations restored…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Aug 4, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Chambersburg, PA natgas utility one of the best in the country; Gov. Wolf says pipelines necessary to “live the life we want”; Gov. Wolf postures and wastes time while DEP permits languish; pipeline vet named as EQT’s new midstream president; residents push back against natgas pipeline in Chesapeake, VA; Caudrilla’s early-hour rig move incenses fooled antis; and more!
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