NatGas Trading in NYC Hits $175/Mcf – Highest Ever Recorded!

Click chart for larger version

Brrrr! If you live anywhere in the northeastern part of the country, you’re likely bundled up sitting at home, or bundled up sitting at work. Most schools dismissed today because of the brutally low wind chill values–minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit in upstate NY where MDN is headquartered. Over the past couple of days MDN has highlighted the news that with this latest winter ‘bomb cyclone’ as it’s called, the lack of natural gas pipelines to New England–to feed both homeowners who heat with gas and utilities that use gas to generate electricity–can no longer be ignored. Two days ago we told you that New England now has the dubious distinction of paying the highest average price for natural gas in the entire world (see New England’s Lack of Pipelines = Most Expensive Gas in the WORLD). Yesterday we told you that at least part of the blame for New England’s sky high natgas prices can be laid at the feet of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (see New England Can “Thank” NY Gov. Cuomo for Sky High NatGas Prices). However, lack of pipelines doesn’t only affect New England states, it also affects New York itself. Yesterday history was made when the spot price for natural gas in New York City hit an amazing $175 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) at the Transco Zone 6 New York trading hub. Incredible! In Boston, at the Algonquin City Gate trading hub, the spot price briefly hit $105/Mcf! Below we have the news about these record-breaking prices from the natgas price experts–Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI). Each weekday NGI publishes their MidDay Price Alert by 1 pm Central, both emailed and available at this webpage: www.naturalgasintel.com/middayprices. The MidDay Price Alert, which includes Intercontinental Exchange trade data, gives gas traders (and those with a keen interest in prices) the latest intel on what’s happening with prices at 125+ trading hubs across the country. Here’s what yesterday’s MidDay Price Alert showed for trading in the northeast… Continue reading

OH Supreme Court Rules Against Forcing Driller to Explore Utica

What if a landowner leased his or her land decades ago and a driller drilled a conventional natural gas well on the property, and that well has produced commercial volumes of natural gas for years–and still does. And what if the lease gives that driller the right to drill (or not drill) in any given rock lawyer. And what if that driller is content to simply let that conventional well keep producing and not drill further down, into the now commercially viable Utica (or Marcellus) shale layer? Does the landowner, whose land is located where the Utica/Marcellus exists, have any case for taking back the rights to the deeper shale layers the conventional driller refuses to go after? That’s a case that went all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court in March of last year (see OH Supreme Court to Hear Appeal re Driller Who Won’t Explore Utica). The Supremes heard oral arguments in the case in September. At that time we said this: “The winds appear to be blowing against the landowner, judging by what the judges said” (see OH Landowner Wants High Court to Force Driller to Explore Shale). Indeed we were right. In a January 3, 2018 decision, the Supremes ruled that Ohio does not recognize an “implied covenant to explore further” in oil and gas leases (full decision below). This is sad news for Ohio landowners who have old wells/leases with a driller who stubbornly won’t explore the Utica, nor allow anyone else to either…
Continue reading

Patterson-UTI Rig Count Hits All-Time High in December, Up to 163

As we do each month, MDN tracks how many rigs oilfield services company Patterson-UTI Energy reports operating–as a proxy for rig count health in general and rig count health in the Marcellus/Utica in particular. Patterson operates many rigs in our region. Last April, Patterson bought out and merged in Seventy Seven Energy (SSE). The addition of SSE’s rigs served to rocket Patterson’s rig count number in April and May much higher (see Patterson-UTI Rig Count Continues to Rocket Skyward – 159 in May). With SSE fully absorbed into Patterson, the rig count number settled down. In September Patterson’s rig count slipped by 1–the first loss since June 2016. In October the count retreated another three, to 158. But the trend reversed in November when the the count jumped again–back up to 161. The numbers for December were just released and show Patterson’s monthly active rig count hit 163–which is a new, all-time high…
Continue reading

Was PA DEP Justified in Shutting Down All ME2 Pipe Construction?

The news that the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has suspended all construction work on the Mariner East 2 Pipeline project until further notice continues to reverberate (see PA DEP Caves to Big Green Pressure, Stops All Work on ME2 Pipeline). MDN has taken some heat for our implication that the main reason for the shutdown is pressure from radical Big Green groups. While we maintain our view is not incorrect, we also don’t want to leave the impression that there aren’t problems that need to be addressed with ME2 construction. There are. And the DEP is right to address them. What we DO take issue with is a complete shutdown of ALL construction. If the underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work is the primary issue, shut that down–but not all construction, including trench work. At any rate, we spotted a story about a landowner in Cumberland County who says his private water well was fouled when ME2 construction began–and it’s still not right. Below is his story as an example of what the DEP *should* be paying attention to…
Continue reading

Propane Prices in the Northeast & ME2 Pipeline

A lot of the talk and chatter this week has been about the spike in the price of natural gas (see today’s lead story, NatGas Trading in NYC Hits $175/Mcf – Highest Ever Recorded!). The other hot topic of the week is the decision by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) to temporarily suspend all construction work on the Mariner East 2 (ME2) Pipeline. What antis in the Philadelphia area don’t realize is that ME2 is vital to their own region and their own pocketbooks. Yesterday we brought you one take on why Philly residents are missing the boat in opposing ME2 (see It’s Time We Stop Missing the Point About the Mariner East Pipes). In that guest post, MDN friend Garland Thompson makes the salient point that jobs and the Philly economy are tied to petrochemicals and the NGLs that will flow through the Mariner East pipelines. Today we bring you another article about why ME2 is so vital to the Philly area: the cost of propane. One of the primary NGLs that will flow through ME2 is propane, used in a variety of applications, but particularly used in places where there are not natural gas pipelines to deliver gas to homes (like the various suburbs around Philly, the ones opposing ME2). Propane prices are going up because (a) much of the propane produced by Marcellus/Utica drillers goes by railcars to Kansas, where it catches a ride on a pipeline to the Gulf Coast, and (b) the propane that does come to the Philly area also comes via rail cars, at a much higher price than if it were shipped via pipeline. Add to that other countries want our propane and are bidding the price up–and you have a prescription for spiking propane prices around Philly. The article below delves into the business of propane, explaining terms you may have heard but don’t know what they mean–like “contango” and “backwardation.” Buckle up–here’s a deep dive into the economics of propane, and why Philadelphia desperately needs the ME2 pipeline–without delay…
Continue reading

CNX’s Pipelines to be Used for “Partners” – Not Just CNX Res.

Yesterday we brought you the news that CONE Midstream has been renamed to CNX Midstream, and that CNX Resources is now the sole owner of the entire gathering pipeline system (see CONE Midstream Gets a New Name: CNX Midstream Partners). CONE was originally a joint venture between CONSOL Energy (the “CO” part of the name) and Noble Energy (the “NE” part of the name). CONSOL and Noble had a joint venture on hundreds of thousands of Marcellus/Utica Shale acres. Some of the wells drilled were “owned” by CONSOL, some by Noble. CONSOL and Noble decided to divide up the JV, each taking a piece, in late 2016 (see Divorce: CONSOL & Noble Dissolve M-U Joint Venture). Then in May 2017, Noble up and sold all of their Marcellus leases and wells, to HG Energy (see Noble Energy Sells Remaining M-U Assets for $1.2B – Who Bought?). Not long after, Noble announced they also want to sell their share of CONE. Long story short, CNX (formerly CONSOL) bought Noble’s CONE share, and now owns it lock, stock and barrel. Does that mean CNX will no longer flow gas from HG Energy (formerly Noble) wells served by their 100%-owned pipelines? Not on your life! CNX will continue to service HG Energy’s wells, and may even run gathering lines to other competitors’ wells (i.e. “partners”) in the areas where CNX Midstream operates. So said CNX CEO Nick DeIuliis on a conference call yesterday with analysts. DeIuliis is jazzed that his company now owns 100% of the pipeline gathering system because it will allow them to “move quickly” to seize opportunities…
Continue reading

As MVP Gears Up for Feb 1 Construction, WV Landowners Try to Block

A relatively small number of landowners in West Virginia is using a novel legal argument to try and stop Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) from beginning construction. 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 in October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). In order to keep the project on track for completion by the end of 2018, they need to begin tree clearing no later than Feb. 1st. Problem is, there are landowners in WV (and VA) who won’t negotiate with MVP on leases–so MVP has sued them using eminent domain. Here’s what typically happens in an eminent domain case (knowledge we gained at a session at last year’s Shale Insight event): Since this is a federally regulated project, MVP has the right (under FERC authority) to use eminent domain to “condemn” properties where the landowners won’t play ball. The cases are typically filed in U.S. District Court–in this case for the Southern District of West Virginia. MVP filed that paperwork back in October. What usually happens next is that the judge/court will grant an order allowing the pipeline company to enter the property and do the work–but the details about how much money the landowner gets is not decided, sometimes for a year or more. That’s a separate issue. First the company is allowed in and does the work, later on the court will decide how much money to award the landowner for the work. However, the WV landowners filed a response and motion for partial summary judgment in late December that makes the argument that how much each landowner gets should come first, before MVP is allowed on their property. Frankly, it just doesn’t work that way. Question is, what will the justices do in this case?…
Continue reading

SRBC Facts Expose DRBC Lies with Respect to Fracking

The difference between the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) and Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) with respect to the issue of shale drilling is striking. The SRBC wisely knows it is not charged with regulating oil and gas drilling within their borders. They are charged with (and do a great job of) managing the water resources within the basin. On the other hand, the DRBC is populated with ultra-liberals who disregard Constitutional law and have taken it on themselves to simply ban shale drilling within their basin. A court case is now playing out that will slap the DRBC back into its proper role. The DRBC claims the water that flows through the basin provides drinking water for 15 million people, including New York City. The SRBC provides drinking water for 4.1 million people. If fracking really does “harm” the environment–specifically water resources–you would think with thousands of Marcellus wells drilled in the SRBC area something would have shown up long ago. But it has not–which exposes the lies being used to try and stop fracking in the DRBC area. In December Penn State University’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research entered the lion’s den–by giving a presentation and answering questions at a meeting of the Upper Delaware Council, held in Narrowsburg, NY. David Yoxtheimer from MCOR compared the SRBC to the DRBC and used science to debunk many of the wild claims heard in DRBC’s efforts to ban fracking. While Yoxtheimer’s presentation was by-the-book and based on science (he’s not a combative guy), there’s no missing the fact that he obliterated the anti-fracking arguments put forth by the DRBC…
Continue reading

FERC’s Vital Role as Referee in Building NatGas Pipelines

The current cold snap and resulting high prices for natural gas in New York City and Boston are happening for one simple reason: lack of pipelines. In particular, as we pointed out yesterday, much of the blame can be laid at the feet of New York’s corrupt governor, Andrew Cuomo (see New England Can “Thank” NY Gov. Cuomo for Sky High NatGas Prices). Cuomo, using his lackeys at the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation, has blocked numerous important pipeline projects from entering NY from PA. Those pipelines can/would provide more natural gas for New Yorkers, AND provide more gas to other states, the New England states. Instead of paying $10-$15/thousand cubic feet (Mcf) for natural gas, New York and Boston are paying up to $175/Mcf and $105/Mcf respectively. It’s insane! The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was created to oversee authorization and construction of pipelines that cross state lines–specifically to prevent a single state (like NY) from blocking a pipeline that will benefit other states (like the New England states). We often read the flat-out lie that FERC is a rubber stamp for pipeline companies because in all of its history it’s only reject two pipeline projects. That’s just not true. Pipeline projects are submitted and FERC will tell the builder “make this change or that change, or you don’t get a permit”–and the changes get made. Or the pipeline company simply withdraws the project from consideration. A proper understanding of FERC and its role is crucial to the ongoing debate about whether states like NY can/should be allowed to destroy opportunities for other states. Writing in the Houston Chronicle, the president of the Iroquois Pipeline, Jeff Bruner, gives us a proper understanding of FERC and its vital role…
Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Jan 5, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye over the break that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Natgas prices falling for some Ohioans despite arctic weather; Appalachian E&Ps work hard to fend off cold, keep the gas flowing; natgas hits record highs as cold bomb targets northeast; 8 more Utica permits in Ohio; New Mexico becomes nation’s #3 oil producer thx to shale; U.S. is on the cusp of becoming an “energy superpower”; bitcoins to BTUs, cryptocurrency’s impact on natgas; China set to top Japan as world’s biggest natgas importer; and more!
Continue reading