Wheeling Park HS Signs Lease with Southwestern for $3500/Acre

It’s not often these days we come across a story that mentions a new lease signed, and the amount of money paid as a signing bonus. Such is the case in Ohio County, WV. The Wheeling Park High School has just signed a lease with Southwestern Energy for $3,500 per acre for 66 acres–giving the school district $231,000 of newly found revenue, thanks to the Marcellus/Utica industry. No drilling equipment will be placed on or near school property. When the drilling eventually happens UNDER the school, and the wells begin to flow, Wheeling Park High School will then get more revenue–18% royalties on all gas produced…
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Blackstone Group Invests $250M+ in Driller Huntley & Huntley

According to the Wall Street Journal, private equity firm Blackstone Group has invested $7 billion in U.S. natural gas. The way the Journal puts it, Blackstone is “betting” $7 billion, implying it’s a risky roll of the dice. A seriously big chunk of that investment was the recent announcement that Blackstone has bought part ownership of Rover Pipeline for $1.57 billion (see Energy Transfer Sells 32% Ownership in Rover Pipe to Blackstone). However, it was a short paragraph in the WSJ article that really caught our attention. The WSJ says Blackstone has invested $250 million in Huntley & Huntley. We’ve written plenty about H&H, including an article today about their challenge in obtaining a well permit in Westmoreland County. H&H is a privately-held, Pennsylvania-based corporation that’s been around since 1912–founded as a geologic and engineering consulting firm for the oil and natural gas industry. Over the years the company has transitioned into a drilling company. The company is now owned by Keith Mangini, a petroleum geologist who started working at H&H in 1978. Mangini acquired the company in 1993 and since that time has served as its CEO. He added Mike Hillebrand as a partner in 1996. Does $250 million in private equity backing sound familiar? It should! That’s the exact amount of backing promised by another private equity firm (Denham Capital) for a different SWPA driller (LOLA Energy). LOLA was recently sold to Rice Energy (see LOLA Energy Sells Out to Rice Energy, Deal Kept Hush-Hush). Which raises a good question: Is such a deal in the cards for H&H?…
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Frivolous Lawsuit Delays H&H Drilling in Westmoreland County, PA

Huntley & Huntley has plans to drill shale wells in Upper Burrell Township (Westmoreland County), PA. As MDN reported in June, a landowner in Upper Burrell filed an appeal against Upper Burrell’s zoning ordinance that allows drilling in rural, agricultural districts (see Westmoreland Zoning Challenge Heads to Court, Delays H&H Drilling). H&H plans to drill a well near where the woman lives, and she’s arguing such drilling will violate the state’s environmental rights clause and “devalue her property.” The case was supposed to go to township’s Zoning Hearing Board, but all of the (many) lawyers involved agreed to instead move it to county court, making the process faster and less expensive. Last month the judge said he would make a decision in the case “next month” (meaning in August) about whether or not the town can issue conditional use in agricultural-residential zoning district (see Westmoreland Zoning Challenge re H&H Wells Closer to Resolution). But on Monday, the judge put the case on pause again because the landowner has sued the town claiming the town’s very right to issue conditional use permits in agricultural-residential districts is unconstitutional. A hearing on that charge will happen in October. H&H is in a holding pattern, thanks to a frivolous lawsuit…
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Ground Broken for Lawrence County, PA NatGas-Fired Electric Plant?

It was only two days ago MDN told you that a Marcellus gas-fired electric plant planned for Lawrence County, PA appears to be active and moving forward once again (see Signs of Life in Lawrence County, PA NatGas-Fired Electric Plant). Tyr Energy, a subsidiary of ITOCHU Corporation, purchased the Hickory Run Energy project in 2016 from LS Power Development. The news we brought you earlier this week is that South Korea’s KB Asset Management just announced they are investing $150 million in the project, which we said is “a sure sign that the pieces are now coming together for construction to begin.” Little did we know how prophetic those words were. Another report in the Korean Investors publication reports that French banking giant BNP Paribas has originated $460 million worth of loans for the project–of which the KB Asset Management investment is part. Not only that, the article also reports, “Ground has been broken for the plant.” We don’t know for sure whether or not that is true, but if ground has not yet been broken, we expect it will happen soon…
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Progress in Building $9M Natgas Valve Manuf Plant in WV

In January MDN told you that Italian company Pietro Fiorentini had signed paperwork to buy land to build a $9 million factory in Weirton, WV (see Italian Co. Building $9M Natgas Valve Manufacturing Plant in WV). The company will manufacture pressure regulators and valves for the natural gas industry at the site. One big problem: The site is a former surface coal mine and before they can build, they first must be cleaned up (“remediated”) to prevent exposure to metals in groundwater. Pietro Fiorentini and the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle (BDC) filed a cleanup plan. That plan has been accepted by the Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP). After the site is cleaned up, construction will begin on the new manufacturing plant…
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Mountain Valley Pipe Pushes Back Against ‘Emasculate FERC’ Lawsuit

Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is not taking a ludicrous, outrageous lawsuit by anti-pipeline residents from West Virginia and Virginia lying down. They are fighting mad as recent court filings show. MVP is a $3.5 billion, 301-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA. A lawsuit was filed in federal court at the end of July to block the MVP project (see New Lawsuit Against Mountain Valley Pipe Seeks to Emasculate FERC). The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, VA, seeks to block the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) from doing its job by issuing a certificate to approve MVP. The plaintiffs claim FERC would be violating the U.S. Constitution by approving a private project that “takes” private land without just compensation. The plaintiffs maintain that according to the Constitution, land can only be taken for “public use” and that the pipeline is for private use, not for the public good. That’s the claim. As we said at the time, “If these virulent antis win this case, it would emasculate FERC–take away its authority to approve major interstate pipeline projects.” MVP in a court filing last Friday (full copy below) said pretty much the same thing. MVP says in their filing the lawsuit asks the court to invalidate the Natural Gas Act–the law of the land–which would have the effect of stopping all pipeline projects being built. The outcome of this lawsuit is already preordained. The lawsuit will get tossed. The only question is, how fast?…
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Fed Court Exonerates Anadarko in PA Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In May 2012 a water truck driver delivering water to an Anadarko Marcellus Shale well pad in Clinton County, PA missed a turnoff for the road he was supposed to take, at 2:30 am in the morning. A couple of miles later he crashed and tragically died because the road he was on was not marked well and not conducive to the truck he was driving. There was a sign warning the driver not to go beyond a certain point. The driver had previously–that night–already delivered to the well pad and successfully turned onto the road he was supposed to take. Why did he miss it the second time? His widow maintains that even though he worked for a subcontractor, Anadarko was the company in charge and should have had a light illuminating the “No Anadarko Traffic Beyond This Point” sign. So she sued Anadarko, and the subcontractor, for wrongful death. Lower courts threw out the lawsuit but a federal appeals court reinstated a civil suit against Anadarko (see Fed Court Rules PA Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Anadarko Proceeds). The federal court has just ruled. The judge found that Anadarko is not at fault in this tragic accident…
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Trump Signs Exec Order to Speed Up Pipelines, Infrastructure Work

Pipeline companies face enormous governmental roadblocks when it comes to building new pipelines. “Red tape” doesn’t begin to describe the hassles they face in going from government agency to government agency in order to build an interstate pipeline. Yesterday, with the stroke of a pen, President Trump helped correct that situation. Trump signed a new executive order that will speed up approvals of permits for highways, bridges, pipelines and other major building efforts by shortening the time for environmental reviews. Trump’s executive order (full copy below) revokes an idiotic Obama executive order aimed at reducing exposure to flooding, sea level rise and other consequences of mythical climate change. Obama intentionally screwed things up and created long delays. Trump is fixing it. The American Petroleum Institute and business groups applauded the new EO and said it will directly translate into more jobs…
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Recent Drilling Downturn Created “The A-Team” of Rig Fleets

According to a recent column on WorldOil.com, you can thank the recent downturn in oil and gas prices with producing the lean, mean drilling machines we have today. Because of the downturn, only the “most mechanically sharp, efficient and best-equipped drilling rigs and crews were left operating in the downturn.” The result? It created “the A-Team.” The rigs and crews operating now drill twice as fast at half the cost of just a few years ago. According to Chesapeake CEO Doug “the ax” Lawler, “We don’t need to run 175 rigs anymore. Forty or 50 rigs can deliver the same volume today.” Our point: Today we have far fewer rigs operating, but they’re producing far more oil and gas than they ever have. Welcome to the world shale created…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Aug 16, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Prepping for Rover, ETP asks FERC for permission to start up Panhandle, Trunkline projects; EQT Foundation awards $4M in 2017 so far; NY refusal to OK natgas infrastructure hurting economy; engineering firm Aecom in the market for a new Pittsburgh office; Cabot adds 2 new board members; Penn Virginia names John Brooks as CEO; LNG exports reach 310 Bcf in 1H17; peak oil and peak demand two different animals; why Blackstone invested $7B in natural gas; first LNG cargo on way to Lithuania; and more!
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