Pin Oak Energy Buys 70K Utica Acres in OH & PA + Pipeline Assets

Pin Oak Energy Partners has just more than doubled the leased acreage it owns in the Marcellus/Utica, adding 70,000 Utica acres in both Ohio and Pennsylvania to its portfolio. MDN previously ran several stories about this relatively new entrant to our region (see our Pin Oak Energy stories here). While Pin Oak is a “new” company, the people running it have been around. CEO Chris Halvorson says Pin Oak is comprised of folks who were formerly with AB Resources. You may recall that AB Resources built a position in the southwestern “core” of the Marcellus and sold out to Chevron several years ago. Pin Oak is “what’s next” for for the former AB folks. Their target: the Appalachian basin. They buy both conventional and unconventional wells and acreage. Pin Oak announced yesterday that in a series of transactions with various sellers (all unnamed, amounts not disclosed), the company picked up a total of 70,000 acres in Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio, and Mercer County in Pennsylvania. They also bought gas processing facilities and “multiple taps” into interstate gas pipelines, including two taps into the mighty Tennessee Gas Pipeline. Here’s the details on the purchase, which includes 33 conventional wells that target the Knox formation in southern OH…
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NG Advantage Loses Zoning Vote for Virtual Pipe Near Binghamton

MDN reported on a heated meeting several weeks ago near our home base. The Town of Fenton Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) met to hear arguments against a zoning decision that would allow a proposed virtual pipeline/compressor station from NG Advantage to be zoned as a trucking/freight facility (see NG Advantage Virtual Pipe Hearing in Fenton an Eye-Opener for MDN). We won’t rehash the entire history of this facility and its quest to get built (see our NG Advantage stories here). In brief, after a local court forced NG to reapply for a permit to build the plant, as part of the process NG sought to be recognized as a trucking/freight facility, which is an allowed use for the piece of real estate where they want to build the plant. Local residents, including a local school district which is adamantly opposed to the project, appeared before the ZBA several weeks ago to argue the facility is more than a simple truck/freight facility. It’s also a compressor station that does not conform to the existing ordinance. The ZBA voted Tuesday night and agreed with those opposing the project. In a close 3-2 vote, the ZBA said the facility does not qualify under current land use regulations. So what happens now? NG can do one of three things: (1) appeal the ZBA decision in court, (2) ask the Fenton Town Board to reclassify the land where they want to build–essentially override the local zoning ordinance, or (3) look someplace else. Which option will NG choose?…
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CNX Adds 31 Marcellus/22 Utica Wells, Boosts Reserves 21% in 2017

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CNX Resources (formerly CONSOL Energy) released a 2017 recap yesterday–a high level overview of the company’s accomplishments last year. The main point of the announcement was to point out that proved reserves–the gas and oil and other hydrocarbons the company can extract at today’s prices using today’s technology–went up a healthy 21% in 2017 over 2016. CNX figures they own 7.6 trillion cubic feet equivalent (Tcfe) of natural gas, oil, condensate and NGLs–sitting in the ground under CNX leased acreage. As you dig further into the announcement you find that CNX turned-in-line (TIL) 31 Marcellus wells and 22 Utica wells last year. Laterals (the horizontal part of the well) in the Marcellus averaged 8,400 feet long, and Utica laterals averaged 8,800 feet long. Here’s the 2017 roundup and proved reserve report from CNX…
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CNX Sells WV Gathering System to Former CONE Midstream for $265M

CNX Resources, in addition to issuing an announcement about proved reserves yesterday (see today’s companion story), also issued an announcement about CNX the drilling company selling its Shirley-Pennsboro gathering system in West Virginia to CNX the pipeline company (CNX Midstream) for $265 million. Yes, in a sense it is moving assets around on paper. However, this seemingly innocuous announcement is interesting to MDN for a couple of reasons. First, there is a trend of splitting companies apart–to spin out the pipeline/midstream stuff into its own standalone company, separate from the drilling part of the company. EQT, a major CNX competitor, is going through the process of evaluating whether or not to spin off their pipeline subsidiary into its own company (see EQT Begins Process of Separating Midstream…into New Company?). When we see moves like this from CNX, we wonder if they too are also preparing for such a split. We have no evidence that such a move is in the cards–just idle speculation on our part. However, the fact that CNX is moving pipeline assets into the midstream subsidiary certainly sets up the possibility that the pipeline subsidiary may (one day) become a standalone company. Second, the pipeline subsidiary is called CNX Midstream. That’s a new name. As of early January you would have known it as CONE Midstream. CNX bought out its joint venture partner in CONE (Noble Energy) late last year and now owns all of CONE. CNX renamed CONE as CNX Midstream in early January (see CONE Midstream Gets a New Name: CNX Midstream Partners). We’ve not seen anyone else point out the fact that the former CONE is the buyer of this asset. For those two reasons–the trend of splitting drilling and pipelines into different companies, and the fact that CONE was the buyer–our interest was piqued in CNX’s seemingly innocuous announcement yesterday…
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SWPA Antis Twist State Laws in Bid to Declare Shale Drilling Illegal

In November 2015 MDN reported on a seemingly obscure zoning court case in Westmoreland County, PA (see 3 Western PA Antis Weigh Appeal of Court Ruling in Zoning Case). Three ladies brought a lawsuit against Allegheny Township because the town approved a permit for CNX Gas–to drill a well on a farm owned by John and Anne Slike. Since the farm is about 1,200 feet from where the ladies live, they objected. We thought the case was long over with. But it’s not. As we recently pointed out, the ladies and their radical fractivist lawyer appealed using a novel legal argument (see SWPA Antis Breathe New Life into Old Zoning Lawsuit). Based on recent PA Supreme Court cases that uphold so-called environmental rights for all PA citizens, the ladies and their lawyer claim that allowing Marcellus drilling violates their environmental rights and they will experience mythical harms. The problem with the case is that if they win, it’s not much of a stretch for antis everywhere to claim the same thing–promptly ending the miracle of Marcellus drilling in the Keystone State…
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NEPA Republican Lawmaker Intros Marcellus Health Registry Bill

In 2011, then-Gov. Tom Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission filed a final report with 96 recommendations (see PA Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission Final Report with 96 Recommendations). One of those recommendations is to establish a population-based health registry. The aim would be to collect and evaluate clinical data from health care providers and monitor citizens living near drilling sites. Sounded good to us then, still sounds good now. One of the early attempts at this came from the private sector. Geisinger Health Systems proposed to use data already in the files to begin tracking potential issues related to shale drilling (see PA Marcellus Health Study by Geisinger Turns into Data Warehouse). But as we later learned, Geisinger was in it for the money (can’t blame them). They wanted $24 million and didn’t get it, so that effort flopped. A Republican State legislator from Scranton, PA, Rep. Karen Boback, is attempting to reignite interest in the health registry issue. On Monday, Rep. Boback introduced House Bill (HB) 2055 (full copy below) that would establish a health registry to collect health-related data from those living near shale drilling. The PA Dept. of Health would be the agency tasked with the data collection. Rep. Boback figures it will take $1 million per year to fund the initiative, far less than what Geisinger wanted…
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PennEast Files Eminent Domain Against 44 Landowners, Wants Marshals

As we told you last week, Monday (Feb. 5) was the final day for landowners who live along the path of the PennEast Pipeline to accept an offer from PennEast to lease their land for the pipeline (see PennEast Pipe Gives Holdout Landowners Feb 5 Deadline to Sign). The landowners have had nearly three years to deal in good faith negotiations with PennEast, and their time has now run out. On Tuesday PennEast regrettably was forced to file eminent domain lawsuits against 44 holdout landowners. PennEast also asked the court to approve the use of federal marshals to protect workers due to threats the company has received from landowners and radical antis who say they will hassle workers and block construction. A prudent request given the sometimes violent nature of the Big Green movement (e.g. Dakota Access Pipeline violence). Here’s the latest on PennEast, as they get ready to begin construction…
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Construction Co. Files Lawsuit Against MarkWest, Claims $40M Owed

A construction company based in North Dakota, Bilfinger Westcon, has filed several lawsuits against MarkWest Energy (now owned by Marathon Petroleum) claiming MarkWest has failed to pay more than $40 million for work done on a number of projects. Bilfinger Westcon says MarkWest used a “time & materials cap” scheme to cap the amount of money they paid for various projects, but then slipped in last-minute change orders. Essentially, it was a way of getting more work for free–that’s the charge being made. Bilfinger says MarkWest was getting ready to sell itself to Marathon and wanted to rush to complete several projects and using time & materials cap was how they did it without breaking the bank. We have to say this is the first time we’ve heard or read anything negative about MarkWest’s business practices. We suspect there’s another side to this story, but MarkWest says they won’t comment on pending litigation. Here’s the Bilfinger Westcon side of the story…
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New Federal Sand Dust Rules Affect NatGas Drillers This Year

One of the primary ingredients in fracking is sand–a special kind of very fine sand called silica. When silica gets airborne and into a person’s lungs, it’s not good news. Silica behaves like asbestos, with the potential to cause lung cancer. The shale industry is keenly aware of it and takes steps to ensure workers are not exposed. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed a new rule for respirable silica (tiny tiny sand) that will go into effect for the shale industry in June of this year. We have the details below…
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Other Energy Stories of Interest: Thu, Feb 8, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Six OH fractivists trash economic development; industry group touts assets in energy-rich OH; Clinton, PA commissioners look to future of natgas; Shale Support opens new Louisiana rail terminal for shale industry; Permian Basin is ‘Saudi Texas’; Chesapeake stock plunges after flat production outlook; U.S. electric mix depends on the price of natgas; big talk at City Hall can’t replace fossil fuels; energy stocks hit hard; oil world turns upside down as U.S. exports oil to Middle East; and more!
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