Rex Energy Improves Production for New Wells in Butler, PA

Ahead of providing its third quarter 2017 update, yesterday Rex Energy, a driller focused mainly on the Marcellus/Utica (headquartered in State College, PA) has issued an update on two wells recently connected to sales. The two wells are located in Rex’s Butler County, PA “Moraine East” area. What’s unique is that both wells were completed with a newly revamped/tweaked completion design. Completions is that part of drilling a well when you frack it and hook it up to production. Rex doesn’t comment on how they tweaked their completion design. Typically, changing up completions may involve how long each frack stage is, the type (and quantity) of sand or other proppant used, the kind of slick water used, etc. Rex worked with an engineering firm to review their completions process and made some changes–and they are happy with the results. Initial daily production for the two wells averaged 9.4 million cubic feet equivalent per day (MMcfe/d). Rex reports the methane (natural gas) portion was 4 MMcf/d, NGLs of 820 barrels per day, and condensate averaged 70 barrels per day. Looks like Rex has a couple of winners, with more on the way using the new completion design…
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PA Severance Tax Not Dead Yet, Industry Unites to Oppose

Sadly, the severance tax issue in Pennsylvania is not yet dead, as we had hoped. Last week budget negotiations broke down and PA Gov. Wolf took matters into his own hands by borrowing $1.25 billion from the state’s Liquor Control Board to plug a gap in this year’s budget (see PA Gov Wolf “Acts” to Finalize the State Budget, No Severance Tax). However, it’s not enough money, and it’s temporary. So Wolf, the PA Democrat Party, and a variety of RINOs (Republicans in Name Only, i.e. swamp dwellers) continue to beat the drum for a severance tax this year. Yesterday Gov. Wolf went to Erie, PA to stump for “a reasonable severance tax.” He and others in his party still think it’s possible to get a tax passed this year. Next Monday the PA House Finance Committee (controlled by Republicans) will reconvene and hold a hearing on a plan to impose a 3.2% severance tax this year. The shale industry and their friends are holding a rally in Harrisburg on the same day, to make the point loud and clear that such a tax is a Marcellus-killer. Below is news about Wolf’s tax stump speech, the hearing next week, and details about the rally opposing the severance tax…
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Guest Post: An Opposing View of PA’s Severance Tax “Mess”

Dan Markind

You know how MDN feels about a new/extra severance tax in Pennsylvania–we’re dead set against it. We have been from the beginning. We think the impact fee (i.e. tax) is doing just fine, having raised over $1 billion in revenue from 2013 to 2017 (assuming the Independent Fiscal Office’s 2017 projections are accurate). The best part of the impact fee is that 60% of it stays local–in counties where drilling happens–instead of going to the black hole of Harrisburg overspending. However, there are Republicans in the state legislature addicted to spending, just like Democrats, and they continue to lobby for a new severance tax, to be placed on top of the existing impact fee. As we saw yesterday, PA’s rig count has been static to slightly down all year long (see Marcellus/Utica Rig Count Race Tightens: OH Count Closes in on PA). Does PA want to drive even more business out of the state and into neighboring Ohio and West Virginia? That, in our humble opinion, is exactly what a severance tax will do. Although, MDN doesn’t play favorites, we love all our state children equally! We don’t want PA to make a serious mistake. However, there are opposing opinions on the severance tax issue from people we respect. One of those people is Dan Markind, a partner with law firm Weir & Partners. Dan writes a regular email newsletter covering the Marcellus Shale in PA. Last week he wrote about the budget negotiation collapse and the (admitted) debacle of House Republicans clutching at alternative straws–first a warehouse tax and then a hotel tax–anything but a severance tax. Dan believes the shale industry in PA has alienated other industries, and has boxed itself into a corner by not accepting some form of a severance tax. We disagree with Dan’s view on this matter–but his view is shared by many. Which is why we bring you his email newsletter from last week (with his permission), to present an alternative view on the severance tax issue…
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Utica Summit V: Investment in Utica Hits $55B, Petchem a Big Deal

Yesterday Utica Summit V was held in North Canton, OH. MDN could not, unfortunately, attend. But others did and the reports we’re reading indicate it was another great event. Two major news items of interest came from the event. The first was the results of a recent economic study that show an amazing $54.7 billion has been invested in the Utica Shale play from 2012-2016, across upstream ($42.7 billion), midstream ($8.6 billion) and downstream ($3.4 billion). In a surprise statement, the report’s author said, “the biggest impact of the Utica may be the development of gas-fired power plants in Ohio and surrounding states.” The second news item was a big emphasis at the event on the downstream–on the really big deal the petrochemical industry is and will be for Ohio and surrounding states. Presenters made the point that some manufacturers in Ohio were cut off from plastics supplies from the Gulf Coast after the recent hurricanes to hit that area–and that with the Shell and potentially PTT Global cracker plants coming along, manufacturers in the region change where they source their supply of raw plastics. In fact, the petchem industry will explode in Appalachia. All thanks to the Utica (and Marcellus) and the ethane produced. Here’s a pair of reports from yesterday’s event…
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NEXUS Cleared to Begin Construction, Rover Cleared to Restart HDD

Permission granted grunge rubber stamp on white, vector illustration

Important pipeline news for the Utica Shale. Yesterday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave permission to NEXUS Pipeline–a $2 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline that will run from Ohio through Michigan and eventually to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada–to begin construction. This is a momentous day! NEXUS had previously requested FERC allow it to begin by Tuesday, Oct. 10th (see NEXUS Pipe Seeks to Begin Construction Oct 10; List of Contractors). FERC was a day late, but certainly not a dollar short. We expect by the time you read this, some of the bulldozers and backhoes will already be fired up and working. What oh what will the antis do now (see CORNballs, Sierra Club Continue to Fight NEXUS Pipeline in Court)? The second bit of good news also from yesterday from FERC–Rover Pipeline is allowed to restart underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) at another four sites where such activity has been halted since May of this year. Rover has still not received permission to restart HDD drilling at the spot along the Tuscarawas River where they spilled 2 million gallons of drilling mud (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). However, Rover remains confident they will complete the entire project $3.7 billion, 711-mile natural gas pipeline running from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan by the end of this year…
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Tenaska Spends $22M in Water Plant Upgrades Ahead of Elec Project

In August 2016, energy giant Tenaska (headquartered in Omaha, NE) broke ground to build a 925-megawatt natural gas-fueled power plant in South Huntingdon (Westmoreland County), PA (see Groundbreaking for Tenaska Marcellus-Fired Electric Plant in SWPA). The Tenaska Westmoreland Generating Station will cost $780 million to build. Some of that money, $22 million so far, is being spent to upgrade the local Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County water treatment plant. Upgrades include 13 miles of new pipeline from the Tenaska site to a new pumping station in Bullskin, Fayette County. Upgrades also include a device that removes moisture from sludge left over after river water is treated. The Tenaska plant will use 8-10 million gallons of water per day. Hence the upgrades to the municipal water authority, upgrades that will benefit everyone who uses the system, not just Tenaska…
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American Energy Partners Subsidiary Buys 30% Share of Plugging Co.

Earlier this week MDN told you of the curious case of American Energy Partners, Inc.–a company headquartered in Allentown, PA that appears to have nothing to do with Aubrey McClendon’s now-closed American Energy Partners (see American Energy Partners Invests in “Tier I” Marcellus Assets). We highlighted a press release from the enigmatic AEP announcing investments in “Tier I” Marcellus assets (although no specifics were revealed). We received a note from AEP following that story to say another press release would follow, yesterday. And indeed it did. AEP announced yesterday that its drilling subsidiary, called Gilbert Oil & Gas Company, has just invested in a plugging & abandonment company focused on the Marcellus/Utica. Once again there were no specifics, other than Gilbert now owns 30% of the unnamed plugging company. Here’s the press release…
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Without New NatGas Pipelines, Virginia Faces Power Blackouts

It has seemed to us that anecdotally most of the media in Virginia has tilted left and anti-pipeline when covering stories about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) projects, both slated to cross the state. So imagine our surprise in reading an editorial from the editors of the Fredericksburg, VA Free Lance-Star that gives full-throated support for fracked shale gas pipelines. The editorial begins by calling those who oppose ACP “NIMBY’s” (Not In My Back Yard). Later in the editorial, we learn this startling fact: “To prevent blackouts in Virginia this summer, Energy Secretary Rick Perry had to give Dominion Energy permission to reopen two shuttered coal-burning plants (Yorktown 1 and 2) in response to a request by PJM Interconnections, which manages the electric grid in 13 states. That’s how close the East Coast is to a real power crisis.” Yes folks, without ACP (and MVP), Virginia faces rolling blackouts. They won’t be able to produce enough electricity to meet the demand–unless they want to keep using coal. When will the NIMBYs wake up? Will it take a blackout to snap them out of their denial?…
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Deloitte 2017 Survey: O&G Execs Not Confident in Price Recovery

Each year the consultants at Deloitte conduct a survey of oil and gas industry professionals. Last year the survey showed o&g execs believed we were already in the midst of a recovery for the industry (see Deloitte’s 2016 Survey: O&G has Finally Turned the Corner). What about this year’s survey? Deloitte reports the pendulum has swung back–from optimism back to full-blown caution. They are cautious about prices for oil and gas over the next few years, and cautious about how much activity we’ll see in new drilling (spending will be lower). With respect to the price of gas, a majority of execs believe the price of natural gas at Henry Hub will remain between $2.50–$3 per million British thermal units (mmbtu) in 2017, with slight price increase next year, and eventually $3.50/mmbtu by 2020. Most execs think there will be a 10% decrease in drilling budgets in 2018. Here’s the report, hot off the presses…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Oct 12, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: False report claims New England natgas companies constrained supply to drive prices up; Patterson-UTI completes buyout of MS Energy; factors affecting ethane prices; US natgas production, price expected to rise; China demands Saudis trade oil in yuan instead of dollars; Russia gets a foothold in world’s hottest natgas discovery; and more!
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