Federal Court Says Chesapeake Royalty Deductions Allowed in Ohio

The U.S. District Court in Akron, OH has just made a major ruling that affects all Utica landowners and drillers. In 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court accepted a case that will sound familiar to readers of MDN. The case, known as Lutz v. Chesapeake Appalachia, is about whether or not drillers (Chesapeake in this case) are allowed to deduct certain post-production costs from landowner royalty checks. The Ohio Supremes were asked to decide whether Ohio follows the “at the well” rule, which permits the deduction of post-production costs, or if the state follows the “marketable product” rule, which limits the deduction of post-production costs under certain circumstances. The Supremes came down off Mount Olympus in November 2016 to render their verdict (see OH Supreme Court: Royalty Deductions Decided Case-by-Case). The court said, in so many words, “We’re not deciding.” In other words, each royalty case should be litigated individually, case-by-case, in a trial court. There is no one-size-fits-all with respect to deducting expenses from royalty checks. Each case will depend on how the contract is written, and the success of lawyers litigating it. The Supremes refused to tackle the ultimate issue, which is: What does “at the well” really mean? How is it defined? The U.S. District Court in Akron did tackle that issue. The federal court took up the Lutz case and has now defined what is meant by “at the well.” The court’s decision means that Chesapeake Energy (and by extension other drillers) CAN deduct post-production expenses from landowner royalty checks…
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EQT 3Q17: Profit $23.3M, 2.3 Bcfe/d Production, Rice Merger on Track

Yesterday one of the biggest Marcellus/Utica drillers, EQT, issued their third quarter 2017 update. EQT will soon be THE biggest Marcellus/Utica driller, indeed the biggest shale gas producer in the United States (surpassing Chesapeake Energy), once a deal to buy Rice Energy consummates later this year. But what about just EQT in 3Q17? The company reports making a profit of $23.3 million during the quarter, versus losing $8 million in the same quarter last year. EQT produced 205.1 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe) of natural gas during the quarter–which works out to be 2.3 Bcfe per day. Here are some interesting stats from the update: Since EQT began drilling shale wells, they have drilled (called “spud” in the industry) 1,288 shale wells. Of those wells drilled, 1,060 are online, making the company money. Below we have the full update, a copy of the transcript from the analyst phone call, the latest slide deck loaded with charts and graphs, and a bit of amusing analysis about the update/phone call…
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Mountain Valley Pipeline: “We Don’t See Any Major Obstacles”

Yesterday EQT provided an update for both its drilling and midstream operations. On the midstream side, EQT had an interesting comment about it’s biggest project on the books–the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). MVP is a $3.5 billion, 303-mile natural gas pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final approval for the project two weeks ago (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). However, the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) which had issued a federal water crossing permit for the project in March, withdrew the permit in September (see Trouble for Mountain Valley Pipe: WV DEP Withdraws Water Permit). The permit process has now restarted in WV. Committed radicals in Virginia are pressuring the state’s Dept. of Environmental Quality to reject the project (see 19 Radicals Arrested for Blocking DEQ Building in Richmond, Va.). Apparently the absence of permits in WV and VA isn’t bothering the brass at EQT because yesterday they said this about the project: “We don’t see any major obstacles”…
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Mountaineer NGL Storage Spending Up to $500M on Ethane Facility

Mountaineer NGL Storage wants to build a new underground NGL storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see New Company Announces Open Season for NGL Storage in Ohio Utica). The project, which will store primarily ethane but also propane and butane, still needs to build a 3.25 million barrel brine pond, used to pump out stored NGLs. Mountaineer is waiting for a clearance from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources to build the pond. At a recent industry event, Mountaineer CEO David Hooker said 20 drillers are interested in storing ethane at the facility, when it gets built (see Mountaineer NGL Says 20 Drillers Interested in Ethane Storage). Hooker keeps the NGL storage project front and center in the news. Yesterday he announced plans to spend an initial $150 million, and potentially as much as $500 million, to build the facility. To the best of our recollection that’s the first time numbers have been offered for how much money it will take to fund the project. Hooker also gave a new timeline for the project, saying he expects all permits to be in hand “within the first six months of 2018,” and after that, construction will begin…
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The Circuitous Route Marcellus Gas Takes to Get to Nova Scotia

Yesterday MDN brought you the exciting news that Marcellus shale gas molecules have been/are finding their way all the way to Nova Scotia, Canada (see Marcellus Gas Now Flows All the Way to Nova Scotia). A paper mill in Nova Scotia has been buying Marcellus gas since this summer to power the plant, via a now-reversed portion of the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline (M&NE). Today we spotted a different article that sheds more light on how our gas is getting to our Canadian cousins. In yesterday’s post, the paper mill operator was quoted as saying: “For the majority of the summer I’ve been importing Marcellus Shale gas from Pennsylvania and some from an exchange in Ontario.” Which we thought odd. We searched every map resource we could find and found no pipelines from Ontario to Nova Scotia–they don’t exist. The only pipeline into (out of) Nova Scotia is M&NE. Enter the article we spotted today. The article below chronicles the fight in Weymouth, Mass. to block the expansion of a compressor station there. Enbridge (i.e. Spectra Energy) plans to expand the compressor as part of the Atlantic Bridge project. Atlantic Bridge will flow more Marcellus gas north into Maine, and potentially beyond Maine into Canada, via the M&NE. The compressor is needed to flow more gas along the existing pipeline. While the article is largely about the fight over the compressor station and implications of further delays in building it, it is the other details that supplied the missing pieces of the puzzle that explain how our gas currently gets all the way to Nova Scotia…
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PA DEP Enviro Justice Office Head Leaves to Work for Radical Group

This is the perfect illustration of how parts of state government, like the so-called Environmental Justice division of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), get co-opted by Big Green groups. In 2015 then-Secretary of the DEP, John Quigley, “reactivated” the Office of Environmental Justice at the DEP to give poor folks and minorities an important new weapon to oppose shale drilling (see Environmental “Justice” for Some, Not for All, Courtesy PA DEP). If you live in a community where at least 20% of the people are below the poverty line, or if the community is composed of at least 30% minorities (defined as “non-whites”), the so-called Office of Environmental Justice will give you special treatment if you claim to have been harmed somehow by the Marcellus industry. Everyone else gets ordinary/regular environmental “justice”–no special treatment if you’re white or middle class. The radical Quigley (later fired for colluding with environmental groups) hired an equally radical person to head up the Office of Environmental Justice–Carl Jones, an African-American lawyer from Philadelphia. Jones stuck around after Quigley got canned, but now Jones is out too. He resigned to become the staff attorney for the ultra-radical Earthjustice. You see how it works in Harrisburg? It’s a revolving door between the administration of Tom Wolf and radical environmental organizations like Earthjustice and PennFuture (John Quigley, John Hanger, Cindy Dunn, Katie McGinty, Carl Jones)…
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Doddridge, WV Drilling & Processing is Marcellus-Central

Doddridge County, WV

There’s no question that Doddridge County is one of the most active counties in West Virginia, with respect to the Marcellus/Utica industry. Doddridge is home to MarkWest’s Sherwood complex, the single largest gas-processing complex in the Northeast with eight cryogenic processing facilities. Antero Resources, an active (really big) driller in Doddridge, is building a huge wastewater recycling facility in the county. As we reported in September, the tax base in the county has tripled over the past seven years (see Doddridge County, WV Tax Base Triples in 7 Yrs Thx to M-U Shale). Dominion Energy also has a large presence in the county with hundreds of miles of gathering and interstate pipelines. Yes, Doddridge is a happenin’ place when it comes to the Marcellus. We’d call it “Marcellus-Central” in WV…
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PA Budget Almost Done, Tone-Deaf Gov. Wolf Still Wants Sev Tax

The Pennsylvania legislature has spoken. The PA Senate and House have now sent all three budget-related bills to liberal Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature. In the end, severance tax proponents, including traitorous Republicans in the Senate (and House), could not ramrod through a new, punishing tax on the Marcellus industry–on top of the many taxes the industry already pays. RINOsaur Gene DiGirolamo could not get his 3.2% severance tax bill passed in time for this year’s budget–but it hangs out there like a zombie, not quite ready to die, just yet (see An Honest Discussion about PA’s Proposed Severance Tax). And even though the nosebleed-high spending plan for this year’s budget is now fully “funded” by hackery like borrowing against future tobacco settlements, and expanded gambling, Gov. Wolf still won’t let a severance tax go. Why? Because his political future, getting reelected next year, depends on it. Without a severance tax Wolf is toast politically (among his rabid base), and he knows it. So Wolf, tone-deaf as ever, keeps on harping to pass a severance tax–even though it’s not needed for this year’s budget. Fortunately it appears there are now fewer swamp dwellers in Harrisburg willing to back Wolf’s request…
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Antis Push Back on Albany, NY Tiny NatGas-Fired Electric Plant

It’s not supposed to work this way. Wednesday evening a “public meeting” was held in Albany, NY to share details about construction of a “state-of-the-art, locally-sourced mini-power grid” that will connect to the statewide electric grid but will also be able to operate independently, to power the Empire State Plaza in Albany–a complex of buildings in downtown Albany housing much of New York State government (see NY Gov Cuomo Building New Fracked Gas Elec Plant to Power Albany!). The energy-efficient microgrid, powered by fracked Pennsylvania Marcellus natural gas, will supply 90% of the power for the 98-acre downtown Albany complex, and is expected to save the Plaza more than $2.7 million in annual energy costs. Using the new micogrid to generate electricity in downtown Albany will remove more than 25,600 tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere each year–the equivalent of taking more than 4,900 cars off the road. What’s not to love, for an environmentalist? As it turns out, plenty. Some of the more rabid among Andrew Cuomo’s left-leaning base turned out to object to the project on Wednesday. Apparently they didn’t get the memo. Here in NY the corrupt Cuomo rules with an iron fist. This “public meeting” was not about the public objecting to His Lordship’s superior plans, it was about the public shutting up and listening to what’s coming. Don’t worry, Cuomo will make sure they don’t miss the second memo…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Oct 27, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Pipeline projects open new opportunities for Range Resources; Marcus Hook upgrades boost tax bill by $4.8M; Marcellus drilling literally saved family farms in Bradford; Talen Energy says makes sense to stay in Allentown; local town in Virginia grants permit for Dominion compressor expansion; oil & gas megadeals taper off in shale; and more!
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