Rumor: EnCap Working on Plan to Merge Eclipse & Penn Energy

Eclipse Resources, a Marcellus/Utica pure play driller headquartered in State College, PA, announced in March the company is looking for another company to buy, or (more likely) for another company to buy them (see Eclipse Resources Board Considering Either Merger or Acquisition). We have some new news to report, about a potential sale of Eclipse. Or more properly, a potential merger. EnCap Investments is a private equity/investment firm headquartered in Houston. EnCap owns a majority of Eclipse’s common stock. Put another way, Eclipse is considered a “portfolio company” of EnCap–because he who owns the most stock controls the company. EnCap has a number of portfolio companies–other energy companies in which they invest. One of them is PennEnergy Resources, an active driller in the southwest PA Marcellus (see Top 10 Drillers in SWPA, by Number of Permits Issued). According to sources who have spoken to the Pittsburgh Business Times, EnCap is actively pursuing a combination/merger between Eclipse and Penn Energy…
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PA Supreme Court Rules on Gorsline Zoning Case – Mixed Decision

Not long after the Pennsylvania legislature passed the Act 13 Marcellus Shale drilling law in 2012, signed into law by then-Gov. Tom Corbett, seven selfish towns sued, claiming they should have the right (via zoning laws) to determine just where an oil and gas well can be located within their borders. The challenge was brought by rabid anti-drillers and appealed all the way to the PA Supreme Court, where unfortunately the antis won (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). What the antis didn’t think about was the fact some towns may decide to exercise their newly-won rights to allow wells, instead of prohibit them. Whoops. Guess they didn’t see that one coming. A town in Lycoming County decided to allow a shale well on property zoned residential/agricultural (i.e. farming country) by using a “conditional use” permit. Anti-drilling Big Green groups, including PennFuture, THE (arrogant) Delaware Riverkeeper, and the Peters Township gang (none of which are from mid-PA where the town is located) sued to deny the town the right to exercise its Act 13 authority to allow a shale well. The case, Brian Gorsline v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfield Township (Gorsline is an avowed anti-driller), was appealed to the PA Supreme Court and in March 2017 (over a year ago!) the Supremes heard oral arguments (see Gorsline Zoning Case Argued Before PA Supreme Court Justices). Last Friday the Supremes came down from Mt. Olympus to issue their ruling–and they ruled (4-3) against the town and for the antis. However, before you jump to any conclusions and before you believe headlines from Big Green supporters trumpeting their “victory,” you need to know this: the decision potentially makes it harder (not easier) for antis to stop drilling in the future. We’ll explain…
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PA Supreme Court Upholds Block on DEP Chapter 78a Drilling Regs

In October 2016, after five years in the making, Pennsylvania adopted new shale drilling regulations (see PA’s New Chapter 78a Drilling Regs Go into Effect Oct 8). Although the regs were ready at the end of the Gov. Tom Corbett Administration, Corbett fumbled the ball and the regs didn’t get adopted, which left them vulnerable to the incoming left-leaning Tom Wolf Administration. Wolf’s people mangled the regulations under the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) Dictator/Secretary John Quigley, who got fired over unethical collusion with Big Green groups. Some of the good stuff remained, but onerous new elements were introduced. The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), which represents PA’s biggest shale drillers, filed an appeal in Commonwealth Court to block the most onerous aspects of the new regulations (see Marc. Shale Coalition Files Lawsuit to Block PA Chapter 78a Regs). The judge agreed to “temporarily” block some of the items in the MSC list (see PA Judge Temporarily Blocks Some DEP Chapter 78a Drilling Regs). In December 2016, the DEP escalated the case by asking the PA Supreme Court to undo the block on those regulations imposed by the lower Commonwealth Court (see PA DEP Asks Supreme Court to Overturn Stay on New Regs). Last October the Supremes heard oral arguments in the case (see PA Supreme Court Hears Arguments on DEP Request to Unblock Regs), and on Friday the Supremes ruled to not undo the block on DEP’s onerous regs–but instead bumped the case back down to Commonwealth Court to let the matter play out there…
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PA Senator Intros Bill Declaring DRBC Frack Ban ‘Taking’ of Property

PA State Sen. Lisa Baker

Three cheers for PA Senator Lisa Baker (Republican from Luzerne County). Rather than wait around for the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to move forward with adopting a threatened ban on fracking within their jurisdiction–a patently illegal move–Baker isn’t waiting. She’s taking a different approach to defeating the DRBC ban. Her approach is to bankrupt the DRBC if they decide to move forward with it. How? By introducing a bill which, if it becomes law, would make a DRBC ban officially a government “taking” under eminent domain. If the government “takes” (or seizes) a citizen’s property, that citizen is, under law, owed money from the government entity seizing the property. There is no way on God’s green earth the DRBC would/could have enough money to pay all of the landowners it’s shafting with a frack ban. Affected landowners live primarily in Wayne and Pike counties in northeastern PA. This is a brilliant move on Baker’s part–IF she can get the bill passed and signed into law by the feckless Tom Wolf…
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PA Dems & RINOs Intro Bill Creating Commission to Stop New Pipes

On Friday, a small group of anti-drilling Democrats and RINOs introduced a “bi-partisan” resolution that would create yet another black hole to dump taxpayer money into–a so-called Commission to Study Pipeline Construction and Operations that would “recommend improvements for the safe transport of oil, natural gas and other hazardous liquids through pipelines.” The “bi-partisan” (meaning TOTALLY partisan and anti-pipeline) members include Republicans in Name Only from the Philadelphia area coupled with virulent antis from the Democrat party. They do their best, with the help of sycophantic supporters in the media, to make it sound like an unbiased, impartial look at how to make pipelines safer and better. It’s nothing of the sort. It’s a commission aimed at shutting down any more pipeline development in the Keystone State. The good news, if there can be said to be good news, is that resolutions and in this case the commission it would create have zero ability to impose laws or regulations. It is an exercise in bloviating, giving a bunch of windbags a forum from which to bash fossil fuels and the methods used to extract and transport them. We predict this resolution is going nowhere fast…
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SWPA Farmer Claims Shale Damaged Cattle Health, Reproduction

A farmer who raises Angus beef cattle in East Millsboro (Fayette County), PA, in the southwestern corner of the state, claims that a shale well drilled on his property in 2010 by Atlas Energy (now owned by Chevron) created a “seep” that is affecting the health of his cattle. A seep is a place where water/liquids leak out of the ground. Soon after the well was drilled the farmer began to have trouble with his yearling heifers not getting pregnant. For those grazing near the well, only half got pregnant. The farmer then kept his herd from grazing near the well and noticed the pregnancy rate went from half to 100%–except for those who had previously grazed near the well. They continue to struggle with no pregnancies and miscarriages. All of which sounds like conclusive evidence that there is a problem with the well leaking something into the environment. However, both Chevron and the state Dept. of Environmental Protection have investigated and have not found any evidence that the well is impacting the health of the farmer’s herd. What do you do in a case like that?…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Mon, Jun 4, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: EQT buys tree seedlings with $25K grant for SWPA schools; anti-fracking Congressman Kucinich begs for money after humiliating loss in Ohio gov race; Pitt snowflakes pressure Pittsburgh mayor to oppose Shell cracker; BHP process to sell off 838K shale acres taking longer than planned; the rise of U.S. associated natgas; U.S. oil drillers try to get breakeven price down to $30; how a handful of wealthy foundations fund fractivist groups; and more!
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