OH EPA Director Manipulates Atty General to Sue Rover Pipeline

The director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Craig Butler, continues to go off the rails with a major grudge against Rover Pipeline (see Ohio EPA’s Craig Butler Goes Nuts, Demands $2.3M from Rover Pipe). Using his position and the power of his agency, Butler has now convinced Ohio’s wishy washy Republican Attorney General, Mike DeWine, to sue Rover “for polluting state waters while constructing a natural gas pipeline across Ohio.” Which is, of course, nonsense. Yes there have been some spills of drilling mud. It happens. Yes, one of them was totally unacceptable (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). However, using the mighty power of the entire state to sue a private company because Butler has an ego trip and wants to shake down the Rover project for millions is unacceptable. It’s time to fire Craig Butler. Below is the AG DeWine’s brief statement, a copy of the sham lawsuit DeWine filed late last week, and a response from Energy Transfer Partners, the builder of Rover…
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First Atlantic Sunrise Pipe Gets Buried on Nun Property

We find this story amusing. A group of left-leaning Catholic nuns in Lancaster County, PA, whipped up by radical environmentalists with ties to Big Green organizations, got it into their heads to try and block a very-safe natural gas pipeline from crossing their property–the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline being built by Williams. The Sisters call themselves Adorers of the Blood of Christ. We call them Sisters of the Corn, because they put a couple of wooden park benches in a cornfield on their property (leased to a local farmer), christening it a “chapel” and claiming because the pipeline would run through the middle of their so-called chapel, building a pipeline is a violation of freedom of religion. In September a federal judge tossed the lawsuit (see Fed Judge Tosses Lancaster Nuns’ Freedom of Religion Lawsuit re ASP). However, the Sisters and their bought-and-paid-for-by-Big-Green lawyers have appealed it. The Sisters are hypocrites. They heat an old folks home they operate on the very same property–with natural gas! Talk about chutzpah. Over the past few weeks, mostly non-local Big Green protesters have showed up at the property as work began. So far 29 of the wackier protesters have been arrested trying to block work on the pipeline (see Lancaster Pipeline Protesters ‘Do the Hokey Pokey’ & Get Arrested and 6 More Arrested for Blocking Pipe Work at Lancaster Nun Property). Williams wisely chose the cornfield site owned by the Sisters as the first place to dig and lay pipeline. Within a few days (perhaps already), that very location will be the first portion of Atlantic Sunrise to be laid in the ground and covered up. Williams isn’t stupid. Get the location with the most resistance done first and the rest is a piece of cake. Meanwhile, Big Green lawyers are screaming for court intervention, even as the pipes are lowered into the trench (we just can’t wipe the smile off our face)…
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PA Landowners “Furious” Over Royalties, Backdoor Lease Changes

An off-hand comment by a Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf staffer has landowners in northeast PA hopping mad–and with good reason. Speaking on the topic of PA landowners getting screwed out of royalty payments by drillers deducting inflated post-production costs (sometimes sending royalty statements where landowners OWE the drillers money!), Wolf deputy policy director Sam Robinson said this: “I think there was a crescendo of that kind of claim in 2015 to 2016…There’s been real movement in a positive direction on that issue.” Really? Not according to Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko and National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO) PA president Jackie Root. Not only is the issue not resolved, but the industry, under the prompting of EQT, snuck through an “environmental rider” in the recently passed-and-signed-into-law Fiscal Code bill (called Section 1610) that gives drillers a back door to reactivate old, non-producing wells after they have not been producing (and the lease considered terminated) under certain conditions (see PA Republican Senate Changes Lease Terms for Landowners). Far from moving in a “positive direction” as Robinson stated, landowners in PA are “furious” according to McLinko, and feel as if they have been “thrown under the bus” according to Root…
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Corp Raider Jana Partners Admits Defeat Ahead of EQT/Rice Vote

The guy who runs the investment firm Jana Partners, Barry Rosenstein, is a corporate raider. He invests millions in a company he’s targeted in order to get one or two people elected to the board of directors. Those people then agitate and force the company to lay off hundreds or thousands of employees, and sell off assets, in a bid to make the stock price jump. When the price does jump, corporate raiders like Rosenstein then sell their shares, making a profit on the new/higher price (buy low sell high). It may be legal, but we consider it immoral. In June, EQT, one of the biggest drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, announced a deal to buyout and merge in Rice Energy, another sizable M-U driller (see EQT Buys Rice Energy in $8.2B Deal, Becomes #1 Gas Producer in US). A few weeks later Jana targeted EQT in an attempt to stop the deal (see Proxy Fight: Jana Partners, Atlas Tries to Stop EQT/Rice Deal). Jana believes it could make a whole lot more money if the deal doesn’t go through, and instead if EQT splits itself in two–one half a drilling company, the other half a pipeline company (firing a bunch of people along the way). So Jana went on a smear campaign, making all sorts of wild accusations against EQT, including calling EQT management’s compensation structure “perverse,” and accusing the company of using “deceptive” maps of EQT and Rice acreage positions (see Corp Raider Continues to Trash Talk EQT/Rice Merger, Vote Set Nov 9). All the trash-talking and bullying didn’t worked. The deal will happen–this week–and Jana is now officially throwing in the towel. They will still vote against the deal with their shares, but they have withdrawn their proxy fight to enlist enough other shares to vote down the deal…
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Rice Energy 3Q17: Record High Production for “Shalennial Team”

Rice Energy, while not the biggest, is certainly one of the best-operated drillers in the Marcellus/Utica. Rice issued their third quarter 2017 update last week. It will be the last quarterly update for the company as Rice shareholders will vote this week to sell out to larger competitor EQT. Because of the impending vote this Wednesday, Rice elected not to conduct an analyst phone call with the release of their 3Q17 update–we only have written statements to go by. The latest quarterly report shows Rice hit yet another record-high for production for natural gas and equivalents, producing 1.44 billion cubic feet equivalent per day (Bcfe/d). During 3Q17 Rice drilled 25 Marcellus wells and 7 Utica wells (32 total). The company lost $107 million during 3Q17, versus making a profit of $66 million in 3Q16. Rice is and always has been run by young guys (and gals). The Rice boys are Millennials. So in this last quarterly update, they displayed some of their trademark irreverent humor by coining a new word: shalennial. Dan Rice, CEO, said this in a quote in the release: “Our success is a testament to the core assets that we have acquired and developed with our shalennial team and I am highly confident that our operational momentum, as evidenced by our record third quarter results, will meaningfully contribute to EQT’s future success. We are excited to combine our core assets with EQT’s to create one of the most complete energy companies in the United States and derive even more long-term value for our shareholders.” A footnote next to the word shalennial defines the term thus: “Shalennial /SH?l?en??l/ noun: (1) an evolving, tech-driven leader of the shale generation; (2) an employee of Rice Energy.” We’ll sure miss Rice’s humor, and their go-get-em, can-do attitude, around the Marcellus/Utica shale patch…
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NFG 3Q17: Delayed Northern Access Pipe No Closer to Resolution

Last week National Fuel Gas Company, headquartered in Western New York State with drilling subsidiary Seneca Resources and pipeline subsidiary Empire Pipeline, issued its fourth quarter (everyone else’s third quarter) 2017 update. In the accompanying analyst phone call, CEO Ronald Tanski blamed the delay of the Northern Access Pipeline project (delayed by the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation) for lower earnings than the company would have otherwise realized. Thanks, business UNfriendly NY! You may recall in July NFG filed a lawsuit against the DEC for arbitrarily rejecting the project (see Northern Access Pipeline Court Case Further Threatens NY DEC). On the analyst call, Tanski said the case, filed in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (in NY), will hold oral arguments on Nov. 16th. Tanski also said it’s “anyone’s guess” when NFG will get an answer about the project–either from the lawsuit or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). On the drilling front, Seneca Resources produced 40.4 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe) last quarter, up a tiny 1% from the same quarter a year ago. After hedging, Seneca got $2.91 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) for their gas–not too shabby. Below is the full update for NFG for last quarter (remember they also have a huge utility business, in addition to drilling and pipelines), along with excerpts from the analyst call and the latest slide deck…
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Still Lots of Marcellus/Utica Jobs to Fill in Southwest PA

Although there is still quite a bit less drilling than there was in 2014-2015, for a number of reasons, there are plenty of jobs to be had in the Marcellus/Utica Shale–especially in southwest PA. Companies that do work in the industry held a job fair last Thursday night at the Deer Lakes High School, looking for truck drivers, roustabouts and construction workers. Seems like a week doesn’t go by now that we don’t read about a job fair somewhere in the Pittsburgh region. Yes, there may be less drilling, but there’s still plenty of jobs to be filled, especially with Shell’s cracker plant construction ramping up. Below is news about last week’s job fair–who was looking, and what they’re willing to pay…
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Scranton Antis Get Political Revenge for Gas-Fired Power Plant

Recently the profoundly biased mouthpiece for Big Green groups, PBS StateImpact Pennsylvania, ran an article about the political fallout around the construction of what will be Pennsylvania’s largest natural gas-fired electric generating plant, located near Scranton. Invenergy is currently building the Lackawanna Energy Center, a 1,480 megawatt plant in Jessup, PA that will cost “well over $1 billion” according to an exclusive MDN source working on the project. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) approved the plant in December 2015 (see PA DEP Approves Jessup, PA Marcellus Gas Electric Plant). The locals in Jessup approved the project in March 2016 (see Jessup Borough Final Approval for PA’s Largest NatGas Power Plant). The plant will use up to 240 million cubic feet (MMcf) of natural gas per day–provided by nearby Cabot Oil & Gas operations (see Cabot Cuts Deal to Supply PA’s Largest NatGas-Fired Electric Plant). It’s a win/win all the way around–except for NIMBY’s who live in Jessup and don’t want the plant in their “backyard.” The NIMBY’s couldn’t stop it, so they’ve done the next best thing. They mounted aggressive political campaigns to oust local town officials who approved the project. Unfortunately they were successful. What it means is that when the project is done, sometime in 2018, it will have to contend with local officials who are hostile to natural gas and toward the project–they can’t stop it, but they can hassle it. Such is the messy nature of our democracy…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Nov 6, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: More permits, more drilling equals more PA natgas; Sen Baker’s One Call bill regulating gathering pipelines signed into law; Renovo Energy submits application for 1,000 MW gas plant air permit to PA DEP; Green, OH refuses to give up fight against NEXUS Pipeline; new pipelines won’t help gas prices at Dominion South hub; Shell keeps talking about how much they love their new cracker; the battle for Dawn Hub natgas; China plans to cut gas supplies to some users due to shortage; and more!
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