OH, WV Landowners Sue Antero re Post-Production Royalty Deductions

Lawsuits filed against Antero Resources in both Ohio and West Virginia seek class action status. Both lawsuits make similar claims: Namely that Antero has improperly deducted post-production expenses from royalty checks (not allowed under lease terms), and that Antero has avoided, with creative accounting, paying royalties on natural gas liquids (NGLs) produced. The OH lawsuit was first filed in January of this year, followed by a lawsuit filed in WV in May. We have copies of both complaints below, so you can read the language for yourself. In the case of the OH lawsuit, Antero filed a motion to dismiss. The landowners amended the complaint and Antero dropped their motion to dismiss. The OH lawsuit, and as near as we can tell, the WV lawsuit, are both moving forward. Here’s our summary of both lawsuits–the MDN Cliffs Notes version…
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PA Gov Wolf Offered Deal in ’15 to Open Dela. River Basin Drilling

Here’s a surprise: Big Green mouthpiece PBS StateImpact Pennsylvania is dishing some dirt on one of their own–PA Gov. Tom Wolf. We’ve been closely following the developing situation with the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) finally coming out of the closet as an extended arm of radical Big Green group Delaware Riverkeeper. The DRBC will vote (today) on beginning the process to permanently ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin (DRB), which will prevent landowners in Wayne and Pike counties (PA) from accessing the bountiful shale gas under their land (see our article yesterday, DRBC Votes Tomorrow on Permanent Frack Ban Resolution). The DRBC is composed of five voting members: the governors of NY, PA, DE, NJ and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A final new regulation that permanently bans fracking would need those five votes. According to an article published yesterday by StateImpact PA, in a 2015 meeting with Wayne County landowners who support fracking, Gov. Wolf offered to work on opening up the DRB for fracking–IF the landowner group in Wayne County would support his push for a severance tax in return. People at the meeting said, “it almost felt like a bribe.” Maybe because it *was* a bribe! A political bribe. Fortunately the landowners from Wayne didn’t take the bait, they did not support his loony tunes severance tax plan. So now it’s payback time, with Wolf signaling he will vote for a permanent ban on fracking…
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Lawyers ask US Supreme Court to Hear WV EQT Royalty Case

WV Supreme Court Justice Beth Walker

In a decision that thrilled drillers, but angered landowners, the West Virginia Supreme Court decided in May to overturn its own previous decision (from last December) and allow driller EQT to deduct post-production expenses from royalty payments (see WV Supreme Court Reverses Itself, Post-Production Deductions OK). Last December MDN reported on the huge WV Supreme Court decision against driller EQT that disallows EQT from deducting post-production expenses from royalty checks, even with signed contracts in place (see WV Supreme Court Rules EQT Can’t Deduct P-P Costs from Royalties). The justices, in their ruling, said that drillers can “not deduct from that (royalty) amount any expenses that have been incurred in gathering, transporting or treating the oil or gas after it has been initially extracted, any sums attributable to a loss or beneficial use of volume beyond that initially measured or any other costs that may be characterized as post-production.” A really big deal. Then in February, with a brand new justice on the bench, the WV Supreme Court agreed to rehear the case after an appeal filed by EQT–a rare and unusual step (see EQT Catches Big Break in WV Supreme Court re Royalty Deductions). Those who won the case say newly elected Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Walker had conflicts of interest and should not have been allowed to vote to rehear the case in the first place (which she did). On that basis, they tried to avoid the rehearing altogether, but that failed. As it turns out, the lawyers mainly argued over the meaning of three short words: “at the wellhead” (see WV Supreme Court Post-Production Royalty Case Hinges on 3 Words). In the May decision, the justices reversed their earlier decision, voting 4-1 in favor of allowing EQT to deduct “reasonable” post-production expenses. Newly elected Justice Beth Walker, with (according to the other side) conflicts of interest, voted in favor of EQT. On the basis that Walker should not have been part of the process at all, lawyers for the losing landowners have appealed the case all the way to the United States Supreme Court…
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Shale Crescent’s Ambitious Plan to Bring 100K Jobs to Mid-Ohio Valley

In June 2016, MDN told you about an economic development group of business and government leaders from Ohio and West Virginia (the Mid-Ohio Valley) called Shale Crescent (see Group Promotes Mid-Ohio Valley for Petrochem: Shale Crescent USA). The group was two years in the making and officially launched in June at a public event in Washington County, OH. The aim of the group is to attract manufacturers–particularly petrochemical manufacturers–to set up shop in the region. It didn’t take long for the fledgling organization to begin having an impact. Within months it was talking to large petchem companies with “household names” about building plants in the Mid-Ohio Valley region to take advantage of cheap Marcellus/Utica Shale gas and NGLs (see Shale Crescent Luring Petchem Companies to Mid-Ohio Valley). Shale Crescent continues to impress. The organization has an ambitious plan to lure 100,000 new jobs to the Mid-Ohio Valley over the next eight years…
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It’s Time to Start Drilling, Fracking & Piping in…New Jersey?!

Will fracking come to New Jersey? We asked that question back in 2013 (see Will Fracking Come to…New Jersey?!). At the time we pointed out the Marcellus/Utica only marginally touches the border of NJ, but that another rock layer called the Newark Basin underlies most of the state. We cautioned folks not to hold their breath, with good reason. There’s been zero talk about drilling in NJ since that time. However, there’s been plenty of talk about building pipelines to carry PA’s fracked Marcellus gas into the Garden State. What got us to thinking about fracking in NJ was an opinion article published yesterday by TV and radio personality Bill Spadea–a conservative Republican who lives and works in NJ (qualifies him as a missionary, in our book). Spadea makes a strong case that if NJ wants to fix its perpetual budget mess (huge state debts), there is a way–by encouraging (yes) fracking, and off-shore drilling, and more pipelines into and through the state. If NJ takes his advice, it would “Make New Jersey great again”…
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MDN’s Prayer for North Carolina Clergy Who Pray Against Pipeline

We spotted an article that says clergy and lay people from the United Church of Christ in Robeson County, North Carolina will hold a prayer vigil today. A liberal pastor has decided to show up at the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to pray against approval for Dominion’s $5 billion, 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. The DEQ is scheduled to announce a decision about granting the project a necessary permit, at a meeting on Sept. 19th. Which got us to thinking. Perhaps we should pray for the pastor and lay people who will show up to pray today. Here’s our prayer…
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NY Court Tells Exxon to Turn Over Records to Corrupt AG

Bruce Plante Cartoon

New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, has just ruled that the New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, has the right to demand documents in a court case that accuses Exxon of hiding internal research that shows burning oil and gas leads to catastrophic, man-made global warming. Schiederman has been on a witch hunt for more than year. Schneiderman himself is accused of secretly (illegally) colluding with Big Green groups in targeting Exxon. Schneiderman has been subpoenaed and told to turn over emails and other records, and he has refused to do so (see NY AG, Others Served Congressional Subpoena re Exxon Witch Hunt). Yet Schneiderman demands Exxon turn over records for his fishing expedition. The man is a menace–and a putz. Unfortunately New York’s high court appears to be corrupt too–witness their decision to uphold local frack bans (see Shale Drilling in NY is Over – High Court Upholds Town Bans). Now the high court says Exxon must comply (like a Borg drone) with Schneiderman’s request. Our advice to Exxon: Pull a Hillary and say the emails got deleted from a private server. Hey, it worked for her!…
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French Schizo: Ban Gas Drilling; Gas Bridge to Renewable Future

MDN editor Jim Willis had the pleasure of visiting France in 2006. It is a breathtakingly beautiful country. Jim found the French people to be personable and easy to deal with, contrary to the popular myth they are arrogant and hate Americans. But hey, that was just one guy’s experience. Maybe you have had a different experience? We’ve written about France’s on again, off again frack ban over the years (see our stories about France here). You don’t have to worry about whether or not France will ever allow fracking. Beginning this fall, the country will stop issuing ANY/ALL permits to drill for ANY/ALL oil and gas–conventional, shale, doesn’t matter (see France Commits Energy Suicide – No New Oil & Gas Exploration, Ever). France says it will transition to “environmentally-friendly energy.” You know, like solar and wind–even though discarded solar panels are about the same thing as disposing of nuclear waste (an ecological disaster). But appearances are everything for French President Emmanuel Macron and his certifiably-insane government. France (as of 2013, the most recent stats we could find) gets 44.5% of its energy from oil and gas, the single largest block of energy powering the country. Nuclear is second, at 41%. Wind and solar? Together they make up less than 1% of France’s energy supply. Here’s another bit of evidence that France is schizophrenic when it comes to energy: Recently the French international association for gas, CEDIGAZ, released a report (copy below) that predicts worldwide natural gas use will rise 1.6% per year from 2014-2035, outstripping all other forms of energy, renewable or not. CEDIGAZ also says natural gas and LNG are “a key transition fuel” to the renewable, sustainable nirvana that awaits us in the future. And yet France is banning all oil and gas drilling–eliminating the bridge to that future. How do you reconcile that?…
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The Totalitarianism of Environmentalism

We recently spotted an article written by Marian L. Tupy, editor of HumanProgress.org and a senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. He specializes in “globalization and global well-being, and the political economy of Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.” He’s a smart guy–and a policy wonk. Tupy had an interesting experience when he gave a speech to college students in Ottawa, Canada. Somebody in the audience asked Tupy a question about climate change (i.e. man-made global warming). Tupy, who considers himself a “lukewarmer” (someone who thinks man may contribute to global warming, but the jury is still out on how much), cautioned the students against excessive alarmism when it comes to climate change. Until that point the students in the crowd were Tupy fans. But when Tupy had the temerity to suggest perhaps we ought to look more closely at the science before jumping to conclusions, they turned on him in an instant–like an angry mob. Which is illustrative, and disheartening. It’s disheartening that many of our college students have been mis-educated–we’d call it brainwashed–into denying science and the scientific process. Because students today have not studied and do not understand history–recent history of the past 70-80 years–they are repeating it, eagerly rushing into totalitarianism under the guise of environmentalism…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Sep 13, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: PA budget noose tightens, House working on plan, “moderate” Repubs still want severance tax; first Rover flow volumes sign of growth in Appalachia; NY’s stand against pipelines puts fate of projects in doubt; Plum, PA frack wastewater plant to get hearing; idiot anti-fracking protesters end up protesting at wrong house; climate changers admit natgas, not renewables, biggest factor in emissions decline; Schlumberger gets into the production business; White House nominates new PHMSA administrator; and more!
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