PA “Rule of Capture” Case has Power to Limit Marcellus Drilling

As we indicated in our post yesterday, the Pennsylvania Superior Court has handed down a decision that has the power to greatly restrict, even stop, Marcellus drilling in PA (see PA Superior Court Overturns “Rule of Capture” for Marcellus Well). This is a legal issue–and MDN is not written by a lawyer. Hence our earlier misreading of the importance and facts in the Superior Court decision. The issue, in brief, is that Monday’s court decision disallows using an age-old principle called the rule of capture, which we previously described. The rule of capture works for conventional drilling where underground deposits of oil and gas are in pools and the pool may exist underneath multiple surface property owners. Whoever gets there first and sucks the oil/gas out, wins. That’s the rule of capture in a nutshell. And it makes sense. You can’t be held responsible for oil and gas moving from one place to another as it’s extracted. And who knows how much of the pool is located under your property, or your neighbor’s property? The Superior Court justices ruled that the rule of capture doesn’t work for hydraulic fracturing because gas (and oil) trapped in shale rock does not freely move from one place to another as it does in a pool. The judges say the gas would “stay forever” where it is without fracking. In the case of Briggs v. Southwestern Energy, the Briggs family (in Susquehanna County, PA) alleges that when Southwestern drilled and fracked on the Briggs’ neighbor, the fracking was done close enough to their property that some of the gas located under their property (unleased) was released and extracted through the Southwestern well–a “trepass.” Southwestern countered that IF such a “trespass” took place, it falls under the rule of capture. The ultimate issue boils down to this: How far do fractures extend from a lateral well? An expert energy attorney told MDN off the record that Monday’s decision “could change the entire Pennsylvania shale industry” in two important ways…
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Shell Ethane Pipeline Hearing Draws Few Supporters, Many Antis

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Last night the first of three public hearings held by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection for the planned Shell Falcon Ethane Pipeline project was held in Monaca (Beaver County), PA. About 100 people turned up for the hearing, which lasted an hour and a half. No signs allowed. The only people who could speak had to register first. Of the 23 who did speak, 16 of them (including out-of-town movement antis) spoke against the project, while 7 people spoke in favor. The 97-mile Falcon Ethane Pipeline system has two “legs” that will feed Shell’s mighty ethane cracker plant. Shell is not using eminent domain for any of its leases for the pipeline. Every lease is negotiated and signed with individual landowners. Antis, in large part being organized and agitated by radical groups like FracTracker Alliance, are making a concerted effort to block the pipeline, hoping they can in turn stop the multi-billion dollar cracker plant currently under construction by blocking the pipeline that feeds it…
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Atlantic Coast Pipe Wants 150 NC Workers, $25/Hr + Free Training

Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the $6.5 billion Dominion Energy/Duke Energy pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina has had a few setbacks, but that isn’t stopping construction on the pipeline–in all three states where it runs. On Monday we reported on the latest setback–news that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is refusing to extend tree cutting season for the pipeline (see FERC Won’t Extend Atlantic Coast Pipeline Tree Cutting Deadline). According to Dominion, FERC’s decision will not delay the late 2019 start date for the project. In the meantime, there’s work to be done! One of the places where work needs to get done is North Carolina. We spotted a story from NC that says Dominion and Duke are offering to train “more than 150 people” at Nash Community College, and then put them to work building the pipeline, for $19/hour plus $45/day, which we calculate to be a total compensation package of $24.63 per hour. Details below on how to apply for the jobs and get in on the free college training…
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VA Tree Sitting Continues in Failed Attempt to Stop MV Pipeline

Here’s the latest update in the ongoing story of “protesters” who are trying to stop progress in cutting trees for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), which will run from West Virginia into Virginia. We previously reported on illegal tree-sitters that judges and law enforcement refuse to remove (see WV Judge Refuses to Eject Tree Sitters Blocking Pipeline Work). The latest to join the tree sitting movement is a 61 year-old woman who calls herself “Red” and claims her family has owned land in the area for seven generations. When MVP workers began removing a ladder on the tree where Grandma Red planned to sit, she began screaming like a petulant three year-old child. Her histrionics got them to stop. She subsequently climbed the ladder and is still perched up a tree. The bald truth of the matter is this: Regardless of this nonsensical display by (a) misguided locals like Grandma Red, and (b) movement anti fossil-fuel radicals, MVP is in the process of getting built and will be completed. Tree sitting protesters are not going to stop it. So let’s grab some popcorn and enjoy the show in the meantime!…
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Meaningless Poll Questions Yield Meaningless Results re PA Fracking

This is how it works in biased, fake news land: You make up unspecific, wide-open questions that nobody really understands, and then biased, liberal media outlets interpret the “data” the way they want–to fit the predetermined media narrative. That’s what has just happened with meaningless poll questions from Franklin & Marshall College with respect to natural gas drilling in PA. We read through the questions they asked and thought, “What do some of these questions even mean?” The average citizen being asked these questions will assume and “read into” the questions what they *think* (but aren’t sure) is being asked, and answer the questions accordingly. In the end, it’s nonsensical. Meaningless. Fake. Then the lib machine kicks in to “report” that PA citizens, while still supporting drilling by a razor thin margin, actually think Marcellus drilling is bad for the environment. The latest media narrative is born: PA citizens are turning against gas drilling…
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WV Royalty Transparency Law Sheds New Light Beginning June

Back in January MDN told you about West Virginia House Bill (HB) 4270, a bill that provides more transparency for landowners on their royalty statements (see WV Co-Tenancy, Royalty Transparency Bills Make Progress). The good news is that the bill passed and was signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice on March 27th. For far too long royalty statements have been loosey-goosey. Landowners (technically royalty owners) get no specifics on how much gas (or other hydrocarbons) were produced, what deductions were made, and why those deductions were made. HB 4270, which goes into effect on June 8, will fix all that. Here’s more details on what is being called the “Check Stub Bill”…
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WV DEP Launches Information Website for Major Pipeline Projects

You’ve got questions about major pipeline projects planned or under construction in West Virginia? The WV Dept. of Environmental Protection has answers. WVDEP has just launched a website to help residents learn more about five major interstate natural gas pipeline projects: Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Mountain Valley Pipeline, Mountaineer Gas Eastern Panhandle Expansion Project, Mountaineer Xpress Pipeline, and Rover Pipeline. The website includes maps of pipeline routes, a searchable database for information such as inspection and enforcement actions and permit modifications, public hearing transcripts, and news releases. It’s all in there! Head on over to this page to get your questions answered…
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Other Energy Stories of Interest: Wed, Apr 4, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Six permits awarded in Ohio Utica last week; study verifies Appalachia’s petechem advantage; Freeport, PA voting on XTO wells this month; merger forms largest Permian shale driller; western natgas markets whacked by other regions; American concerns over energy near record lows; Baker Hughes considers selling gas metering biz; big US money behind Canadian pipeline protests; Cuadrilla completes drilling UK’s first shale well; and more!
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