EQT Pulls Trigger to Split Company in Two: Drilling & Pipelines

After EQT announced its plan to buy/merge in Rice Energy last year, the company got pushback from a couple of so-called activist investors (i.e. corporate raiders). One raider, Jana Partners, tried its best to stop the EQT/Rice deal outright (see Proxy Fight: Jana Partners, Atlas Tries to Stop EQT/Rice Deal). Jana slithered away after the merger happened (see Corp Raider Slinks Away After Losing EQT Fight; Selling Stock). However, a second raider, D.E. Shaw, supported the merger but lobbied hard that once the merger is complete, the company should split itself into two companies: upstream (drilling) and midstream (pipelines). Shaw’s pressure made EQT tap dance to their tune (see Under Pressure, EQT Moves Up Timeline to Explore Splitting Co.). True to their word, once Rice was merged in, EQT then added a couple of new board members and set about exploring how to separate the company into two companies. The theory is that by separating, each company can focus on what it does best (drilling or pipelines), meaning each separately will have a higher valuation/stock price than the two combined. That is, “the sum of the parts” is worth more than the whole. The review process is now done, and EQT’s Board of Directors voted to proceed with a plan to divide the company in two…
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XTO Exploded Belmont Well Still Not Capped, Neighbors Stay Away

Last Thursday XTO Energy was drilling a Utica Shale well on the Schnegg well pad near Captina Creek (York Township, Belmont County, OH) when they “lost control” of the well and it exploded and caught fire (see XTO Energy Utica Well Explosion in Belmont County – 100 Evacuated). As we reported yesterday, most evacuees were allowed to return home, with just a few still not able to access their homes (see Most Evacuees Return Home After XTO Well Explosion in Ohio). However, we’ve since that time, we’ve learned that although evacuees were allowed to return home (and some did, to check on things/grab items), none of them stayed overnight in their own homes. Why? The well is still not capped. And as long as it’s not capped and continues to “spew” methane into the air, residents don’t feel safe. Can’t say that we blame them. We wouldn’t want to be in the vicinity either. The latest news is this: Power was restored to the area yesterday, but since the power has been out since last Thursday, you can imagine the condition of refrigerators and freezers in those homes where power was off. XTO has pledged to replace all fridges and freezers, and compensate residents for the cost of food lost, from having the power turned off. There’s still no estimate on when the well will be capped (a damaged crane has to be removed first)…
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Rover Starts Up 2nd Mainline Compressor, Volume Grows to 2 Bcf/d

Yesterday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted Rover Pipeline permission to start operations at its Mainline Compressor Station 2 in Wayne County, OH. Rover is a “monster” pipeline, a $3.7 billion, 711-mile natural gas pipeline that runs from western PA, northern WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and eventually to Canada. Rover is the largest of all Marcellus/Utica pipeline projects that will (within the next month or so) begin to flow 3.25 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). With the startup of this second mainline compressor, volume along the portions of the completed pipeline will flow 2 Bcf/d. The company maintains it is on track to have the pipeline fully operational by the end of March. It is an engineering marvel, although not without some bumps along the way (see yesterday’s post, Ohio EPA Continues to Target Rover Pipe in New FERC Letter). Here’s the stellar news that the Wayne compressor is, likely as you read this, up and running…
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New WV Facility Ships First Compressors for M-U Pipe Customers

Bidell Gas Compression facility in Weirton, WV (click for larger version)

In March 2017, Bidell Gas Compression, a subsidiary of Canadian company Total Energy Services, announced it would establish its U.S. manufacturing headquarters in Weirton (Hancock County), WV–in the northern panhandle of WV (see Biddel Gas Compression Selects WV Northern Panhandle for US HQ). Biddel manufactures and sells pipeline compressors. The site they chose in Weirton includes a 100,000 square-foot building, part of the old ArcelorMittal machine shop operation. On Monday, Biddel shipped out from the new Weirton facility, their very first truckload of newly manufactured compressors. The news article we spotted says delivery of the compressors will happen today. We’re assuming delivery is to a Marcellus/Utica pipeline project, somewhere in our region, given the short time between shipment and delivery. This is a feel-good story. It is one more evidence that our industry, which used to import everything from workers to equipment, has matured. We now make what we use right here at home! Here’s the deets on Biddel’s first compressor shipment…
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Weatherford Intl – On the Road to Recovery…or to Bankruptcy?

Schlumberger is the world’s largest oilfield services (OFS) company. Weatherford International is the world’s fourth largest OFS company. They both have operations in the Marcellus/Utica region. We’ve posted a number of stories about Weatherford’s financial troubles–and seemingly inevitable march toward bankruptcy (see our stories here). In order to stay in business, in March 2017 Weatherford formed a joint venture with Schlumberger to service fracking markets in the U.S. and Canada (see Schlumberger Throws Weatherford a Lifeline, Challenges Halliburton). Nine months later, Weatherford sold their portion of the jv to Schlumberger, liquidating their fracking business here in the U.S. (see Weatherford Sells U.S. Fracking Business to Schlumberger for $430M). Financially it’s been a wild ride for Weatherford. But perhaps the company has now turned a corner. At least, that’s what some (certainly not all) analysts are saying. Yesterday Weatherford announced a “multi-step debt financing plan” to help take the pressure off, financially. The plan is to float $600 million of new IOUs (called notes). The notes will be “senior” notes–but unsecured. Meaning if the company does go belly up, good luck with cashing in your notes. The purpose of floating the notes is to pay off older notes. Floating new debt to pay off old debt. You can’t do that forever. But apparently you can do it for at least a few years…
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Time to Go on Offense and Sue PA Big Green Groups

Yesterday MDN brought you the news that THE Delaware Riverkeeper and several residents from West Goshen, PA (in Chester County, near Philadelphia) had lost a court appeal that would have stopped Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline in the town due to a violation of a local zoning ordinance (see PA Town Loses Appeal to Block ME2 Pipe with Local Zoning Ordinance). Our coverage of that story was from the perspective that local town ordinances do not trump state oil and gas regulations. Which is true. However, MDN friend Tom Shepstone, writing on his always-excellent Natural Gas Now website, had a slightly different take on the importance of the lawsuit. There is a deeper, more insidious strategy at play by Riverkeeper that Tom picked up on in this lawsuit. He does a masterful job of exposing that strategy (using the PA Environmental Rights Amendment) in his post, which we reproduce below. Which is interesting, and everyone needs to be aware of what’s happening. However, it was Tom’s final solution/admonition that had us standing up and cheering. Tom concludes (as MDN has been advocating for years) that it’s time to take the fight to the opposition. Their strategy of endless, frivolous lawsuits is having a negative effect on our industry. It’s time we litigate them in return–and expose their fraudulent use of our tax system to shield their overt political activities. It’s time to sue them…
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Shell Gives “Transformational” $1M Gift to Pa. Community College

Shell Chemicals this week announced the donation of a $1 million gift to the Community College of Beaver County (CCBC). The gift will benefit the school’s process technology program and will be used to construct a new Shell Center for Process Technology Education building. CCBC President Chris Reber called it a “transformational gift” and an “extraordinary investment.” The gift will ultimately help train students to work for Shell and other companies that will benefit from Shell’s ethane cracker plant (being built in Beaver County). This isn’t the first huge gift for the process technology program at CCBC. In December, the Allegheny Foundation donated $1 million toward the first phase of the program’s expansion. Shell’s donation will fund the second phase. Aside from the big $1M announcement, Shell also awarded $2,500 (each) scholarships to 13 students in the CCBC process technology program. Shell has really stepped up to the plate in SWPA. They are investing in local talent and local institutions…
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Keep It…Sell It…GE Now Back to Keeping Baker Hughes

Industrial giant GE (General Electric) wooed and won the hand of Baker Hughes (BH)–the third largest oilfield services company in the world–buying/merging in Baker Hughes with GE’s Oil and Gas division in July 2017 (see Baker Hughes and GE Complete Merger, World’s 1st Fullstream Co.). But four months later, GE’s new CEO, John Flannery, said he wants out of the marriage (see 4 Months After Buying Baker Hughes, GE Wants to Sell It). Flannery said he was looking to sell all of, or part of, GE’s majority stake in what is now called “Baker Hughes, a GE Company.” Then yesterday, Flannery changed his mind again. Can anyone say, “Flaky Flannery” three times really fast? Yesterday GE said the Baker Hughes unit is now off the table and will not be sold as part of a plan to divest the company from $20 billion worth of businesses it owns. GE now “likes the combination [with Baker Hughes] a lot.” Go figure. Here’s the latest…
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US LNG Exports Report 2016 to 2017 – Where is Our Gas Going?

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy has just released an interesting report that shows the number and volume of LNG (liquefied natural gas) exports from Feb. 2016 (when U.S. LNG exports began) to Dec. 2017. It’s really quite fascinating. For example, which country do you think we have (so far) shipped more LNG to than any other country? Someplace in Europe? Maybe Japan or China? Nope. The #1 one trading partner that received our LNG for 2016-2017 was…Mexico! That’s right, Mexico. Even though we have all sorts of natural gas pipelines crossing the border into Mexico. Apparently those pipelines don’t connect with large parts of the country, so LNG tankers meet the need instead. Number two on the list of countries receiving our LNG exports: South Korea. Followed by China (#3), Japan (#4) and Chile (#5). The report also breaks down deliveries by other criteria. For example, even though Mexico was #1 on the list for our exports, if you break our exports down regionally, Asia/Pacific received most of our exports, while Latin America (including Mexico) was the #2 region. Or how about this: Free Trade Agreement (FTA) countries vs. non-FTA countries. Would it surprise you to learn that non-FTA countries got more of our exported LNG (52.7%) than FTA countries (43.3%)? The reason MDN readers should be interested in LNG exports is because exports are a huge future market for Marcellus/Utica gas. Be sure to spend some time with this important report…
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Other Energy Stories of Interest: Thu, Feb 22, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Shell VP says cracker plant “starting to come out of the ground”; FirstEnergy powergen unit headed for bankruptcy; Ted Cruz visits Philly to support refinery; Sierra Club wants NC coal plant to keep burning coal instead of natgas; will natgas prices go up in the spring; Saudi Arabia’s gift to American shale producers; oil & gas continue to be 50%+ of world energy mix in 2040; and more!
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