Cunningham Energy is a small oil driller based in West Virginia. In 2015, Cunningham struck oil in the Big Injun sandstone formation in Clay County, WV (see Cunningham Strikes Oil in West Virginia’s Big Injun Territory). In 2016, Cunningham announced they would target another shallow formation, the Weir Sand formation, a few layers below the Big Injun (same group of rocks called the Mississippian system), once again looking for oil (see Cunningham Using Horizontal Drilling to Target Weir Sand in WV). Last week Cunningham provided an update to say they’ve hit a milestone by producing 20,000 barrels of oil production from two new shallow horizontal oil wells located in Clay County, once again targeting the Big Injun. They also said they will soon begin to drill those previously mentioned Weir wells in Kanawha County. Normally we don’t cover news from conventional drillers, but Cunningham is interesting for a few reasons. While the rock layers Cunningham targets are layers typically targeted by conventional oil drillers, the lines are beginning to become blurred between conventional and unconventional. Cunninghamton targets shallow layers using horizontal drilling, and they drill increasingly longer laterals. Yet they don’t frack their wells. What is the definition of conventional vs. unconventional drilling? In brief, unconventional is the marriage of both horizontal drilling AND fracking. If you don’t have both, you don’t have what we consider an unconventional well. Yet conventional wells, like those drilled by Cunningham, increasingly have characteristics of unconventional wells, like long horizontal laterals (used to be vertical-only). Cunningham, in their promotional material, talks about one day drilling shale wells. Looks like they’re getting practiced up and ready… Continue reading
EQT’s Equitrans (pipeline) Expansion Project is on track to begin construction by the end of this year–likely sometime in November. We first covered this project in 2015 (see Time to Support EQT Mountain Valley & Equitrans Pipelines @ FERC). The Equitrans Expansion Project will upgrade compressor stations, add approximately eight miles of pipeline connectors to upgrade capacity on the Equitrans Pipeline from southwestern Pennsylvania into West Virginia. The $100 million project, when completed, will expand capacity on the Equitrans pipeline by 600 million cubic feet per day (Mmcf/d). The project when introduced was slated to be done by the end of 2018. Looks like they will keep that schedule. On Friday, October 13, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for both the $100 million Equitrans Expansion Project and $3.5 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline. The two projects are connected. On Saturday, the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection issued, via publication in the Pennsylvania Register, federal water crossing permits for the Equitrans Expansion Project. The bulldozers can’t be far behind… Continue reading
Correction: Please note the correction below. Opatho Gas Trans LLC is not owned by EmKey Energy, et al. Our understanding was in error. RH energytrans contacted MDN to correct the record. We appreciate it!
A new 60-mile pipeline is being proposed by a new pipeline company, to connect shale production in northwest Pennsylvania to markets in northeast Ohio. Last week RH energytrans filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build the Risberg Line Project. The route will begin in the Meadville, PA area (Crawford County) and extend in a northwest direction to Ashtabula County, OH. The project will use approximately 32 miles of existing pipeline in an established Right of Way originating in the Meadville, PA area. Approximately 16 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Pennsylvania and approximately 12 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Ohio. According to RH energytrans, there is a need for additional natural gas supplies in the Ashtabula area to enhance future commercial business development and as a backup for residential customers. The pipeline will provide 55 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of natural gas to Ashtabula. RH energytrans, with offices in Erie, PA, is owned by Opatho Gas Trans LLC. In a case of Russian matryoshka (nesting) dolls, Opatho is owned by EmKey Energy, Viking Energy Broker and Nucomer Energy. EmKey has pipeline operations in both PA and NY, so you might say (with some justification) that this is a project of EmKey.Corrected: Opatho is owned by three Norwegian companies: Solodden AS, Vicsund AS, and Hellberg Eiendom AS. Opatho has some owners in common with EmKey, Viking Energy Broker and Nucomer Energy. However, it would be incorrect to say that Opatho is owned by EmKey or that the Risberg Line Project is an EmKey project. Below is the official 449-page FERC filing with all the details, along with a summary of the project. We have a handy timeline, and a map of the pipeline route… Continue reading
Last Monday 23 radicalized protesters tried to block access to equipment being used to construct the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in Lancaster County, PA–on property owned by a sect of Catholic nuns whom we call Sisters of the Corn (see Lancaster Pipeline Protesters ‘Do the Hokey Pokey’ & Get Arrested). The protesters began singing the Hokey Pokey as they waited their turn for the handcuffs–including the arrest of a child. Such is the psychological abuse these people perpetrate on children. Over the weekend, on Saturday, another six protesters at the same location were arrested and carted away. One of them was a priest from New York, showing solidarity with the radical Sisters of the Corn. We have the names of the six arrested on Saturday, and a report of their arrest. What remains interesting to MDN is the low, low numbers of protesters who have been arrested. The people in charge of the protest movement, Mark and Malinda Clatterbuck (from Lancaster County) claim to have more than 1,000 people signed up to protest against the pipeline–to engage in illegal actions to block it. Yet so far 29 have been arrested. So much for the big boasts of the Clatterbucks… Continue reading
Last week the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) held a “first-of-its-kind” oil and gas open house to discuss communication between the agency and the oil and gas industry. Which is kind of interesting considering Craig Bulter, the head of OEPA, is no glittering example of communication. He’s been talking with Rover Pipeline people, saying one thing in private, and another in public (see Ohio EPA’s Craig Butler Goes Nuts, Demands $2.3M from Rover Pipe). But Butler wanted to paper over his actions-that-speak-louder-than-words, and the industry played along, participating in last week’s meeting. After all, what can they do? OEPA has the power to really screw with the Utica industry. Best to keep the emperor happy. Fortunately OEPA is more than just one man. There are, by accounts from a report coming from the meeting, good people who work in OEPA–people who are actually interested in good communication between regulators and regulatees… Continue reading
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said last week it will accept a case about strippers–stripper wells, that is. In brief, in 2012 Pennsylvania passed the Act 13 drilling law that includes a fee on wells targeting shale layers, including the Marcellus. Snyder Brothers, headquartered in Kittanning, PA, drills mostly conventional (vertical only) wells in southwestern PA. In 2011-2012 they drilled 45 vertical-only wells, but targeting the Marcellus, all of the wells fracked. Initially those wells produced more than 90 Mcf/day, but by December of the year they were drilled, they produced less than 90 Mcf/day. The way the 2012 Act 13 law is written, if a well produces less than 90 Mcf/day during “any” month it is considered a stripper well and exempt from paying the impact fee. The state’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) assessed the fee anyway because for 11 months the wells produced more than 90 Mcf/day. Snyder Bros. sued and after an appeal of the case, Snyder Bros. won their case in March, exempting those wells from paying impact fees (see PA Court Says Snyder Bros Wells are Strippers, No Impact Fees Due). That sent the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) into a tizzy with claims the Act 13 impact fees are now in jeopardy. The PUC is not letting it alone. They conscripted a sympathetic ally in the PA legislature to introduce a bill to “fix” the “loophole” (see PA Lib Dem Introducing Bill to “Fix” Strippers Once and for All). At the same time the PUC kept pushing on the legal front, and last week the PA Supremes agreed to hear an appeal of the case. Looks like those strippers just won’t go away… Continue reading
Rover Pipeline–$3.7 billion, 711-mile natural gas pipeline that (will eventually) run from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and on to Canada–began flowing natural gas through a large portion of the pipeline on Sept. 1st (see Big Portion of Rover Pipeline Now Up & Running – Thru Most of Ohio). Since then, Phase 1A of the pipeline has steadily increased its throughput and now flows over 1.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of yummy Utica/Marcellus Shale gas to Defiance, OH (see Rover Pipe Nearly Doubles Flow with Addition of Carroll, OH Compressor). However, it could flow more, if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would lift its considerable boot off Rover’s neck and let them finish Phase 1B pipeline work in eastern Ohio to feed more gas to the main part of the pipeline. The problem is that Rover had early missteps, the most serious of which spilled 2 million gallons of non-toxic drilling mud in a swamp (i.e. “wetland”) near the Tuscarawas River back in April (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). An investigation by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) found the presence of diesel fuel in the drilling mud, which means the mud wasn’t so non-toxic after all. Rover believes sabotage may have been the cause. From April until mid-September, FERC blocked all new underground HDD work for the Rover project. That changed when FERC allowed Rover to restart HDD work at nine locations in September (see FERC Lifts Rover Horizontal Drilling Ban, Pipeline Work Resumes). Late last week FERC issued permission for another two Rover HDD locations to restart work. No, the Tuscarawas River site is not one of them. That investigation continues… Continue reading
Last week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Enforcement (OE) released their 2017-18 Winter Energy Market Assessment, an annual look ahead to the coming winter. OE shares their thoughts and expectations about market preparedness, including an assessment of risks. What does the report show? OE says production is going up (increasing another 5 billion cubic feet per day by next April), natural gas in storage is “robust” (meaning high), and the upcoming winter weather looks to be warmer than normal in most of the country, including the northeast. Translation: Don’t expect the price of natural gas to spike this winter. Prices will remain relatively low. Here’s the full OE report (interesting reading, pretty charts)… Continue reading
Events related (or of interest) to the Marcellus and Utica Shale, primarily pro-drilling events.
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The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Rags-to-riches in the Texas shale oil boom; U.S. needs exports to balance natgas prices; why OPEC should be wary of U.S. shale; Charif Souki shops for buyers, only finds partners; shale gas manufacturing renaissance; former FERC chairmen bash Trump grid reliability plan; why natgas bears are worried; China drives natgas demand boom; Nigerian gas infrastructure needs $10B investment; global LNG oversupplied into 2020s; US helping India with shale gas exploration; and more! Continue reading