Wheeling, WV High School Leased for Shale Drilling, $6K/Acre

Deals to lease land for Marcellus and Utica Shale drilling happen on a regular basis–even today. Perhaps not as much as several years ago when large deals cut by landowner groups were headline news. But lease deals still happen–you just don’t hear about them because they are private deals (deal terms are not recorded at the county clerk’s office). However, every now and again a public entity–a town or school–will lease land for shale drilling. And that IS a matter of public record. When we spot such deals, we like to bring you the details. Such a deal was cut on Monday, by the Ohio County Board of Education. The Board of Ed signed a deal with American Petroleum Partners (from Pittsburgh) to lease the 66 acre Wheeling Park High School campus for shale drilling–under (not on) the campus. Which is so cool for a number of reasons. First of all, the deal includes a $6,000 per acre signing bonus, and if/when the gas begins to flow, an 18% royalty. Second of all, it’s a school! How many times have we read about nutjob anti parents with their knickers in a twist over putting a shale well more than a half mile away from a school, like we heard about endlessly from those in the Mars School District (Butler County). It was a long, hard fight, but we eventually won (see Martian Victory! 2 Wells Near Mars School Nearly Done Drilling). The antis claimed drilling near schools would harm the crumb-crunchers. We see the result of that lie. We’ve pointed out, many times, that a school near MDN HQ, located in northeastern PA (Elk Lake), leased their property for drilling and has reaped enormous financial rewards (see Elk Lake School LOVES Their 2 Marcellus Shale Wells & Gas Heat). We’ve seen the Elk Lake school building and the nearby wellhead. No negative effects on the chil’ren. And now the very smart members of the Ohio County Board of Ed and the kids at Wheeling Park High will enjoy the same financial rewards…
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Bradford County, PA Judge Keeps Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit Alive

A Bradford County, PA judge has turned down Chesapeake Energy’s attempt to wiggle out of a royalty lawsuit on a technicality. However, the judge also punted the case to a higher court to settle what he calls “novel questions of law”–rather than spending more time and money on such issues at the county court level. This is good news for landowners in Bradford County who have been shafted by Chesapeake’s royalty scheme to shift the cost of piping and processing to landowners by using inflated values for those services. In December 2015, Pennsylvania’s felony-indicted Attorney General, Kathleen Kane (now gone), brought a lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy, Anadarko and Williams accusing them of, among other things, royalty fraud (see PA Atty General Sues Chesapeake Energy, Williams for Royalty Fraud). In May 2016, Chesapeake and Anadarko filed to dismiss Kane’s complaints against them, accusing Kane of attempting to litigate federal antitrust claims in state court (see Chesapeake, Anadarko Try to Wiggle Out of PA Royalty Lawsuit). In June 2016 Kane’s office fired back by filing a motion to keep the case in state, not federal, court. In August, U.S. Middle District Judge Christopher C. Conner granted Kane’s motion–the case stays in the state court system (see Lawsuit Against Chesapeake, Anadarko Heads Back to PA Court). With a new AG now in place, Chesapeake and Anadarko tried to get the lawsuit tossed yet again–this time by saying the law that the AG’s office claims was violated has to do with consumer protection, for people who buy things. Chessy & Anadarko argue landowners aren’t buying anything, they’re selling (minerals), so the law doesn’t protect them from predatory leasing practices (see Chesapeake Tries to Wiggle Out of PA Royalty Lawsuit on Technicality). The Bradford County judge didn’t buy Chesapeake’s argument…
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Seneca Resources 100% PA Utica Focused by ‘End of Fiscal Year’

While Buffalo “Marcellus” Bills owner Terry Pegula’s JKLM Energy has been “steadily increasing activity” in Potter County, PA (northcentral PA) grabbing headlines, another company, National Fuel Gas (NFG) subsidiary Seneca Resources, is also active in Potter and several neighboring northcentral PA counties (Cameron, McKean, Elk, and Lycoming). We spotted a pair of stories in a local newspaper recounting Seneca’s activity to date, and outlining plans for the future. One statement in particular stood out for us: Seneca will be “shifting to 100-percent Utica development by the end of this fiscal year.” At first blush, you might think “end of fiscal year” means by Dec. 31, 2017. However, NFG and subsidiary Seneca operate on a strange fiscal year. Fourth quarter 2017 (Oct-Dec) is NFG/Seneca’s first quarter 2018 fiscal period. Since the quote about focusing 100% on PA Utica drilling came at the end of November, we interpret the quote to mean “Seneca will be 100% focused on the PA Utica by September 2018.” At any rate, let’s not get caught up in semantics and timing. The takeaways from the pair of articles below, which appeared about a week apart at end of November/beginning of December, are: (1) Seneca is shifting to 100% Utica drilling; (2) Seneca spent 60% more on drilling in 2017 than 2016; (3) Seneca is currently running either 1 or 2 rigs, depending on which quote from which story you read; and (4) between royalty payments, impact tax payments and money spent with local PA businesses, Seneca has now spent nearly $1 billion on shale drilling–all of it in northcentral PA…
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Dominion Signals Delay in Cove Point Start-up; Contract Related?

For months Dominion’s top brass has signaled that the country’s newest LNG export facility, Cove Point (situated along the coast of Maryland), would begin full commercial operations “by the end of this year” (see Dominion 3Q17: Cove Point LNG Coming Online, ACP Permits in Dec). That has now changed to “early next year”–which is a disappointment. Earlier this month Dominion began the commissioning process, where they use already-chilled LNG (from a tanker) to cool down the equipment, prior to running regular natural gas through it for the first time (see Dominion Cove Point LNG Export – Dress Rehearsal Begins). It appears the commissioning process to check out all of the equipment and to make triple sure everything is OK is taking longer than Dominion expected. The delay, along with a Reuters story, has given rise to rumors that Dominion’s signed-on-the-dotted-line customer from India is getting cold feet and attempting to renegotiate their long-term, 20-year contract. Dominion says, in so many words, that’s hogwash. Dominion says the slight delay in beginning full commercial operations has nothing to do with “contract renegotiations” and everything to do with a “comprehensive round of thorough testing and quality assurance activities.” However, the Reuters article quotes an Indian official as saying they have held a “number of discussions…for re-negotiation of the contracts.” Is contract renegotiation really the reason for Cove Point’s delayed start?…
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CORNballs Lose Fed Court Bid to Stop NEXUS Pipeline Construction

A group of landowners in Ohio calling themselves the Coalition to Reroute Nexus (CORN), whom we affectionately call CORNballs, filed a lawsuit in federal court in May against the NEXUS pipeline project (see CORNballs Strike Again, File Lawsuit to Stop NEXUS Pipeline). The aim of the lawsuit is not to actually reroute NEXUS, but to kill it. To stop it. The landowners asked the court to block the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) from allowing the project to proceed, which has been the aim of the CORNballs from the beginning–contrary to the party line that they just want it rerouted around where they live. Flummery. In May when CORN filed their lawsuit we predicted the court would not grant CORN’s request. We were right. Yesterday the federal judge in the case dismissed the lawsuit by CORN. Why? The court in northern Ohio doesn’t have jurisdiction in the case. The CORNballs thought they could get a favorable decision to block NEXUS by filing it in the wrong court. They just burned off seven months (and thousands in legal fees) trying. All for nothing…
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FERC Approves Millennium Pipe’s Eastern System Upgrade in NY

The Millennium Pipeline stretches ~244 miles from Independence in Steuben County, NY to Buena Vista in Rockland County, NY. The Millennium, which is supplied by local production and storage fields and interconnecting upstream pipelines, serves customers along its route in New York’s Southern Tier region and helps meet the energy needs of northeast markets. In August 2016, the Millennium filed an application for what it calls its Eastern System Upgrade (see Millennium Pipe Asks FERC to Approve Eastern System Upgrade in NY). The ESU would add 7.8 miles of extra looped pipeline in Orange County, upgrade a compressor station in Delaware County, build a new compressor in Sullivan County and make some minor tweaks to metering stations in Rockland County. In late March the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a favorable environmental assessment for the project (see FERC Favorable EA for Millennium Pipeline Eastern System Upgrade). In what can only be described as completely out of character, the corrupt New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) also approved the project, in early September (see NY DEC Grants Permit for Millennium Pipe Eastern System Upgrade). Yesterday FERC gave Millennium permission to begin construction on essentially all of the project, with one tiny exception…
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Mountain Valley Pipe Eminent Domain Lawsuits Begin in Virginia

It’s full speed ahead for Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP)–a $3.5 billion, 303-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA. In October, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave final approval for the project (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). In early November, the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection gave the project its approval (see WVDEP Reverses, Waives Water Permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline). And just a few weeks ago, the Virginia Water Control Board voted to approve the project (see Virginia Water Board Approves Mountain Valley Pipe – Antis Erupt). It’s clear sailing for MVP–except for some holdout landowners who refuse to sign easements. Which is forcing MVP to move forward with court actions against them in Virginia…
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Antero Agrees to Add Monitoring Near New Frack Waste Landfill

By our reckoning, Antero Resources’ $275 million wastewater recycling facility in Doddridge County, WV is now operational (see Antero’s $275M WV Wastewater Recycling Facility Ready to Launch). In 2015 Antero hired Veolia Water Technologies Inc. to build a new shale wastewater recycling facility in Doddridge County (see Antero Building New 60K Bbl Wastewater Recycling Facility in WV). The facility, called the Clearwater Facility, can process up to 60,000 barrels of wastewater per day, separating water, salt and radioactive particles. The salt can be sold to municipalities for use as road salt–but frankly there’s not enough of a market to sell it all. And not all of it will be of sufficient quality to be sold that way. So Antero also spent $20 million to build a landfill next to the plant for the salt (see Update on Antero’s $275M Wastewater Facility in WV). In a move we were previously unaware of, a pair of Big Green groups–West Virginia Rivers Coalition and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy–made a fuss about the landfill. They filed an appeal with the West Virginia Environmental Quality Board back in May challenging the permit allowing the landfill to get built. Antero has just settled the matter by signing an agreement to conduct additional surface water monitoring at and near the landfill site…
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Ohio Utica Gives Rise to…Beer?! Introducing Shale Brewing Co.

Looks like the Utica/Marcellus has its own brand of beer! Who knew? We spotted an article about a small startup called Shale Brewing Company–saying the company is “back.” Back from where? We didn’t know it existed and had left, let alone that it’s now “back.” The company produces microbrews with names like “Cold Rolled Ale” and “Roughneck Red.” Hmm, we thought that sounded intriguing, so we kept digging. We found information that Shale Brewing Company was started by shale co-workers who had “a passion for easy drinking brews.” The company, started in 2014, “has had a couple of starts and stops since its early days as a nanobrewery.” But once again it’s back–this time making batches of beer in downtown Canton, OH. Currently it’s hard to find a bottle of Shale Brewery’s beer, but there are a few locations around Canton where you can score a six pack…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Dec 20, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: OH Utica Shale counties to watch in 2018–Belmont & Jefferson; Rover Pipe donates to first responders; Atlantic Sunrise donates mountain of toys to Toys 4 Tots; Florida considering new gas-fired power plant; Duke gas-fired turbine gets NC approval; Utah’s cleanest natgas power plant comes online; Big Green sues Trump admin re delay of methane rule; Wall Street returns to funding shale; plenty of opportunities to invest in midstream in 2018; the next oil price collapse; France to end all oil & gas production by 2040; and more!
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