Eclipse Resources Board Considering Either Merger or Acquisition

Eclipse Resources, a Marcellus/Utica pure play driller headquartered in State College, PA, has just done it again. The company has drilled another massively long onshore lateral–19,335 feet long–in the Ohio Utica. It’s not the longest onshore lateral in the world (currently the Eclipse Outlaw well, at 19,600 feet), but this one comes close. Although drilling a new super lateral is big news, there was other news that (for us) is even bigger: Eclipse issued a statement yesterday that says, in part, the company “has initiated a process to evaluate and consider a full range of potential strategic, operational and financial alternatives to maximize shareholder value.” Eclipse hired investment firm Jefferies LLC and international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright to help with the process. Both firms specialize in mergers and acquisitions (M&A). The statement also says, “There is no assurance that the review by the Board will result in a transaction or other strategic alternative,” which we interpret to mean Eclipse is looking either to buy another company (like EQT did with Rice Energy), or sell itself to another company (like Rice Energy did to EQT). That’s our take on this seemingly innocuous announcement. Big news indeed!…
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PA Appeals Court Rules ME2 Pipe NOT Under Local Zoning

The entire panel of judges sitting on Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court, an appeals court in PA, ruled yesterday that zoning regulations in a local municipality–in this case Middletown (Delaware County)–do NOT supersede the state Public Utility Commission when it comes to regulating Sunoco Logistics Partners Mariner East 2 (ME2) NGL pipeline. In May 2017, six anti-pipeline residents living near where the ME2 pipeline will pass asked the Middletown town council to reject the path of the pipeline near their property because it would, supposedly, pass closer than town code allows. The town council told the residents they’re out of luck–the town will not pursue any action to block Mariner East 2. Period. The residents, amped-up, agitated and funded by Big Green groups filed a lawsuit against ME2, to force it to conform with Middletown’s ordinance (see 6 Middletown Antis Sue Sunoco LP to Stop Mariner East 2 Pipe). The lawsuit was filed in the the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. The judge dismissed the case in June, so the antis, again funded by Big Green groups, appealed the case to the next higher court, Commonwealth Court. An “en banc” panel (meaning all of the judges) heard the case, indicating its high importance. The en banc panel ruled yesterday, against the Middletown residents…
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Coudersport Council Votes to Oppose Frack Wastewater Facility

In January MDN told you that a new shale wastewater treatment facility that works in tandem with a local sewage treatment plant is on the way in Coudersport (Potter County), PA (see Shale Wastewater Treatment Plant Planned for Potter County, PA). Epiphany Water Solutions, via a subsidiary company called Epiphany Allegheny, plans to build a centralized water treatment facility in Coudersport to process brine coming from shale wells drilled by JKLM. That has brought out the antis who make all sorts of wild accusations. The main accusation is that brine contains radioactivity and that even processed water will contain some radioactivity and will, over time, affect the stream or river where it is released (in this case the Allegheny River). A Seneca Indian tribe that lives 65 miles downstream opposes the project claiming radioactivity will pollute them. Epiphany has pushed back against false claims of radioactivity in their processed water (see Spirited Defense of Proposed Potter County Shale Wastewater Plant). However, real science and facts have fallen on deaf ears. Coudersport Borough Council, which has NO jurisdiction over the facility nor over the Coudersport Area Municipal Authority’s sewage treatment plant that plans to dispose of the processed wastewater, voted last week to go on record opposing Epiphany’s plan. Epiphany says the vote is meaningless and the plant will get built, with or without Coudersport Council’s so-called approval…
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W Pike Run Antis Want 1000′ Setback to Zone Out EQT Drilling

A debate is playing out in West Pike Run Township in Washington County, PA (near Pittsburgh) that we find interesting. A quick PA history lesson: Back in 2012 PA passed the Act 13 law to update oil and gas regulations to account for shale drilling. One of the updates was a uniform set of zoning requirements to protect residents and the environment. Unfortunately, seven selfish townships sued and eventually won (at the PA Supreme Court) challenging those regulations. So PA towns won the right to impose restrictions on drilling activities. In West Pike Run, the debate is over “setbacks”–how far does a well have to be from nearby structures, like homes and barns and businesses. State law imposes a minimum of 500 feet from the wellhead to an “occupied” structure–and 300 feet from the well to a body of water. In West Pike Run, antis want to up that number to 1,000 feet, which would effectively prevent any more drilling by EQT, the primary driller in the township. The town recently held a hearing on the proposed 1,000 foot setback, a hearing which has been continued to a future meeting on April 16…
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Monroeville Back from Edge of Insanity, Allows Some Fracking

Common sense has broken out in Monroeville. Either that, or fear of litigation. Either way, Monroeville (Allegheny County, PA) has rolled back an overly-restrictive zoning ordinance meant to hassle Huntley & Huntley’s plans to drill wells in the township–the very same township where H&H has its headquarters. Last October, Monroeville Council passed a temporary ban on oil and gas well drilling everywhere except for those areas marked M-2 industrial zoning–a big change (see Monroeville, PA Hostile to Shale, Bans Drilling in Most Places). Previously, drilling permits were “conditional use” in Monroeville, meaning each permit was evaluated on its own merits, regardless of which zoning district it was located in. By limiting drilling to M-2, Council severely limited drilling in the municipality–but at least drilling was still allowed. Then in January, Monroeville Council advertised their new zoning ordinance to FURTHER RESTRICT any kind of oil and gas activity–not just drilling, but pipelines, compressor plants, etc.–to a 150-acre parcel located next to the city dump (see Monroeville Pushes Ban on NatGas Activity, Incl. Drilling & Plants). It would be, in essence, a total ban on shale drilling activity throughout the township. Two weeks ago Monroeville Council voted (unanimously) to withdraw the proposed new ordinance, which means the zoning ordinance from last October limiting drilling to M-2 remains the law. Still not good, but better than a total ban…
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Fed Court Dismisses Anti Lawsuit to Stop Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Earlier this month MDN reported that the Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, on behalf of a mishmash of second tier radical groups, filed a “hail Mary” request with the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to stop construction of Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline until a lawsuit sitting before the Fourth Circuit questioning the validity of the permits granted for the project is played out (see Big Green Makes Desperate Attempt to Stop Atlantic Coast Pipe). Last week the Fourth Circuit responded by denying the request to stop ACP. Why? Because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has not yet decided on whether or not to rehear their decision on ACP, which Big Green previously requested. FERC has used a “tolling order” to give themselves more time to consider whether or not they were wrong in approving the ACP project. The Fourth Circuit doesn’t have jurisdiction until FERC makes a decision on rehearing. In the meantime, construction on ACP continues…
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Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement Pipe Gets Favorable DEIS

In March 2017 (one year ago), Williams filed a full, official application for the Northeast Supply Enhancement project (see Williams Files with FERC to Expand Transco Pipeline to NYC, NE). The project is meant to increase pipeline capacity and flows heading into northeastern markets. In particular, Transco wants to provide more Marcellus natural gas to utility giant National Grid beginning with the 2019-2020 heating season. National Grid operates in New York City, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. There are a number of components to the project, but the key component, the heart of the project, is a new 23-mile pipeline from the shore of New Jersey into (on the bottom of) the Raritan Bay–running parallel to the existing Transco pipeline–before connecting to the Transco offshore. While the project is sure to encounter issues with the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (much of the Raritan Bay pipeline is located in New York territorial waters), the good news is that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has just issued a favorable draft environment impact statement (DEIS). A favorable DEIS almost always means the project will receive a final approval from FERC…
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Other Energy Stories of Interest: Tue, Mar 27, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: FERC denies stay of Mountaineer Xpress, Gulf Xpress; rural OH schools benefit from pipeline tax revenue; Range Resources’ CFO retiring in May; comment period of DRBC frack ban rules ends Friday; LNG in Jacksonville; Chevron’s climate court case kind of like Big Tobacco; gas is the new oil; climate change lawsuit avalanche is coming; Trump to name Energy Dept. official as top aide; Russian LNG heads to India; and more!
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