Ohio Utica Drilling Showing Signs of a New Boom

Ohio Utica Shale drilling is showing signs of a new boom in drilling–much to the delight of everyone, except anti’s. A new shale boom in the Buckeye State is good for landowners, it’s good for the economy, and it’s good for jobs. Frankly, it’s good for everyone. What are the signs of a burgeoning new shale boom? Here’s one sign: Business at a barge facility on the Ohio River where drillers offload equipment and supplies had all but dried up–at least traffic coming from shale-related customers. The facility operator kept afloat by handling soybeans and corn. But now? The bookings from the oil and gas industry are rolling in again. Drilling supplies like barite are once again coming to the facility. Add to that rig counts in Ohio are inching up–almost at parity with Pennsylvania (see Marcellus/Utica Rig Count Race Tightens: OH Count Closes in on PA). These are sure signs that a new drilling boom is on the way in the Buckeye State…
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List of 26 Shale Gas-Fired Electric Plant Projects in OH-PA-WV

Last week the The Independent Power Producers (IPPs) of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia wrote an official letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) detailing their objection to a proposed plan by the Dept. of Energy (DOE) to give special treatment to electric power generating facilities powered by coal and nuclear plants. The DOE recently ordered FERC to devise new market rules favoring coal and nukes on the premise they contribute to “grid resiliency.” The IPPs writing the letter in opposition represent at least 26 shale gas-fired electric plant projects across the three states, which will contribute $21 billion to those state economies and generate 20,000+ jobs. Below we have the letter sent to FERC by the IPPs. That letter prompted our friends at Energy in Depth to produce a list of the projects the IPPs are building (or have built) in the tri-state area. It is an impressive list. We liked it and grabbed it to share with the MDN audience…
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Shale + Large Conventional Gathering Pipes Added to PA One Call

In just about every state in the country, before you start digging a hole in the ground for some reason (water well, septic system, laying an underground electric line, etc.)–the first thing you do is call 811 or some similar phone number. The “one call” or “first call” reaches a state-authorized (not necessarily state-run) office where they have, on file, maps detailing any kind of underground cables, pipelines and other infrastructure. If such underground structures exist, a representative of the owner for the underground line will, if necessary, stop by and mark the areas so when you do begin digging, you don’t hit it. Makes sense. A bill introduced last year in the Pennsylvania legislature would “enhance” the existing 811 law in PA. One of the “enhancements” is that it removes an exclusion for low-pressure natural gas gathering pipelines from being required to be part of the 811 system, mainly lines run to low-producing conventional gas wells. The bill was opposed by the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (see PIOGA Opposes Bill to Regulate Unregulated PA Gathering Pipelines). The bill was reintroduced in March of this year (see PA State Senator Introduces Bill to Regulate Gathering Pipelines). Once again PIOGA pushed back, and in June a compromise was reached to exclude pipelines running to “stripper wells”–i.e. low-producing conventional wells. With that compromise in place, both the PA Senate and House have voted to adopt the plan and it is now on its way to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk for a signature, which is expected to happen…
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PA Republican Senate Changes Lease Terms for Landowners

The Pennsylvania State budget is a complicated pile of…bills. At it’s core are three basic budget-related bills that implement the $31.9 billion state budget (unwisely) passed in June. It was unwisely passed because Republican lawmakers voted for a plan to spend money without having a way to pay for it. Stupid. PA Gov. Tom Wolf (liberal Democrat) demanded part of the new revenue required to pay for all that wild spending is to tax the Marcellus industry with a severance tax–on top of the existing impact tax (already the equivalent of a severance tax in other states). One of the three main bills to pay for the budget is the Fiscal Code bill–House Bill 674. HB 674 was adopted by the PA Senate on Monday (vote of 41-9). In the Senate version, which now goes to the House for final adoption, there are a number of “environmental riders”–or bits of legislation that have nothing to do with the budget or spending, but tacked on as a way of getting them passed without the mess of voting on them individually. Swamp politics. One of those provisions is “SECTION 1610-E” which gives drillers the right to reactivate old, non-producing wells after they have not been producing (and the lease considered terminated) under certain conditions…
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PA Republican Senate Extends SE PA Drilling Ban in Newark Basin

As MDN has explained in a companion story appearing today (see PA Republican Senate Changes Lease Terms for Landowners), the PA legislature has slipped a number of “environmental riders” into one of the final budget bills. The riders are bits of legislation that have nothing to do with the budget or spending, but tacked on as a way of getting them passed without the mess of voting on them individually. One of those riders affects the potential to drill for oil and gas in southeast PA. Back in 2012, an eleventh hour deal was snuck into the Pennsylvania budget signed into law by then-Gov. Tom Corbett (see Republicans Sneak SE PA Drilling Ban into Budget Deal). An amendment was introduced to the budget that established a moratorium on drilling in southeastern PA in the South Newark Basin, a small area which stretches from New Jersey through Bucks, Montgomery and Berks counties in PA. Caving to pressure from the libs that elect them, RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) placed an ongoing moratorium on any kind of drilling–test wells or otherwise–in their region. Disgusting. However, Section 1607, as it is called, had this provision: “This section shall expire January 1, 2018.” Senate Republicans have once again screwed the drilling industry by removing the expiration date, but leaving the moratorium in place. There are certain conditions that must be met according to 1607 (see them below), but practically speaking, we doubt those provisions will ever happen, meaning there will never be drilling in southeast PA…
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Judge to Rule on Apex Energy Well Drilling in Westmoreland County

As we have said for years, ever since the Pennsylvania legislature modernized and updated drilling regulations to account for shale drilling in 2012, known as Act 13, anti-fossil fuel nutters have attempted first to destroy Act 13, and later subvert it. Act 13 originally provided for uniform zoning across the state with respect to siting wells. But seven selfish townships sued and eventually won (at the PA Supreme Court) the right to retain their own zoning regulations with respect to oil and gas wells (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). Each town must have at least one zone where oil/gas wells are allowed. However, towns also have the right, via special exemptions, to allow wells in zones that don’t specifically allow wells, or where wells are otherwise prohibited. Exemptions happen on a case-by-case basis, and the town zoning or planning board must approve them. Antis object. They like it when drillers are banned from a zone, pointing to Act 13, saying the town has that right. But when the town then exercises their right to allow a well, also in Act 13, antis object and sue to prevent it. The door only swings one way for antis–to block shale wells. Such is it in Westmoreland County, in Penn Township, where the Penn Township Zoning Hearing Board approved a special exemption for Apex Energy to drill shale wells permitted by the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection. Antis sued saying the Board erred in their decision, and now a judge will decide the fate of the legally-permitted wells…
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Millennium Raises Stakes Against NY, Asks FERC to Begin Pipe Work

On Aug. 30, the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued a letter to FERC and Millennium Pipeline denying Millennium’s request for a water permit to build a 7.8 mile pipeline spur from the main Millennium Pipeline to a natural gas power plant under construction in Orange County (see Corrupt NY DEC Denies Water Permit for 7.8 Mile Power Plant Pipeline). In their rejection, the DEC claimed that FERC’s review of the power plant project (that the pipeline will feed) is deficient based on a recently-decided court case about a pipeline project in Florida. Since the project the pipeline would feed is deficient (in DEC’s view), so too is the pipeline that feeds it. A few weeks later, in September, FERC fired back by overruling NY DEC and granting the project permission to proceed without NY approval (see History Made! FERC Overrules NY DEC on Millennium Pipe Permit). On Friday (Oct.) the 13th, the DEC filed a petition for rehearing with FERC, the first step in a situation that is sure to end up in court (see NY DEC Appeals FERC Override of Millennium Pipe Decision). The DEC wants FERC to hold up on any further action with the pipeline project until their appeal is heard. Millennium doesn’t want to wait. In an escalation of its now outright war against the DEC, Millennium filed a request last Friday requesting FERC proceed by issuing a Notice to Proceed with construction of the pipeline. It needs to get built and completed by February, in time to begin flowing natural gas to the electric generating plant that is under construction and will be done by then…
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NY Appeals Court Denies Constitution Pipe Motion for Rehearing

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (in liberal New York) has refused to re-hear the case against New York’s corrupt Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for its arbitrary and capricious refusal to grant a water crossing permit to Williams’ Constitution Pipeline. In August MDN brought you the sad news that the Second Circuit ruled against the Constitution Pipeline and their lawsuit against the Cuomo-corrupted DEC (see Court Rejects Constitution Pipe’s Case Against NY DEC; Now What?). On Sept. 1st Constitution filed a request for a rehearing at the Second Circuit (see Not Lights Out for Constitution Pipe Just Yet – Rehearing Request). Last week the court responded loud and clear: NO. By our reckoning Constitution has one card left to play, and they played it a few weeks ago: Request the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to overrule NY DEC because the DEC took more than a year to deliver its rejection of the permit (see Constitution Pipeline Asks FERC to Override NY DEC). If FERC does grant Constitution’s request to overrule the DEC, you can expect a legal challenge from the corrupt Cuomo machine. That’s how it works in dictatorships like New York…
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Empire State Showdown: The NatGas Battle For New York

Marcellus Drilling News began in early 2009 after editor Jim Willis noticed an article in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin detailing how a group of farmers in Broome County (near where Jim lives) had become overnight millionaires after signing leases with XTO Energy–to allow shale drilling on and under their land. Jim was stumped. He had never heard of gas drilling in the Southern Tier of New York, nor had he heard of XTO Energy. The issue of shale drilling appeared to be an interesting issue, full of technology, politics and money. Sounds like the makings of a soap opera! And what a soap it has been since that time–at least in New York State. Jim has followed the ups and downs (mostly downs) of attempting to launch shale drilling in the Empire State. When Andrew Cuomo was first elected governor, it appeared that he would (eventually) allow fracking. Now? He won’t even allow the state’s environmental agency to approve major interstate pipelines–projects most residents were unaware of just a few short years ago. Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI) ace reporter Jamison Cocklin recently wrote an in-depth series of articles focusing on New York and what’s happening with the gas industry in the state. It was/is an EXCELLENT series of articles. NGI has assembled the series, along with extra information, into a 16-page Special Report titled, “Empire State Showdown: The NatGas Battle for New York.” Below is a description of the report, with information about how you can download a copy…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Oct 24, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Mountain Valley Pipeline spending $811M in WV alone; PA keeps a slim lead in rigs over OH; EQT to add 2 new board members post-Rice merger; Hulk-sized fracking misinformation in Florida; ignitable natgas from compressor plant?; Vermont AG sued to uncover emails revealing anti-Exxon collusion; the environmental case for natural gas; China, natgas’ next boom market; and more!
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