FREE Audio: MDN Top 5 Stories for Week of June 25, 2018

Below is an audio recording (“podcast”) featuring the Top 5 stories most read over the past week on MDN. Just click on the green button to listen. Below the recording is a list of the Top 5 with links to click to read the full stories (available only for subscribers). This list is meant as a way for folks to quickly catch up on the most essential news of the week–“essential” as determined by MDN’s audience of readers. Enjoy!


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Sad News: FERC’s Rob Powelson (from PA) Resigns Effective August

FERC Commissioner Rob Powelson

Robert Powelson, a Republican member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) from the great state of Pennsylvania, appointed by President Trump, announced yesterday he is resigning effective in mid-August. He’s not even been in office a full year. This is devastatingly bad news in our book, for a couple of reasons. Coming from PA and previously serving on the state Public Utility Commission, Powelson has been a champion for natural gas and the pipelines that flow it–especially Marcellus/Utica projects. He’s been a superb FERC commissioner. So why is Powelson leaving? To become president and CEO of the National Association of Water Companies. No offense to that association (which we’d never heard of before), but this is a step down. The speculation whirling around is that Powelson is leaving FERC over differences of opinion with Team Trump and their ill-advised mission to prop up coal and nuclear energy, at the expense of natural gas. Apparently Powelson has had enough and wants out. It’s not only sad he’s leaving, it could be consequential in the near-term. Why? Because the Commission will be split 2-2 Republicans and Democrats, and the Dems have shown they’ve sold out to their radical elements, willing to vote against new pipeline projects in the name of man-made global warming, contrary to policy and stated regulation (see FERC Becomes Political as Seen in Rehearing Vote on NY Project). The politics in the Dem party is toxic and radical, and has now spread to FERC. Powelson’s departure at this time is not good news for our industry. We hope Trump can get a new FERC member appointed to replace Powelson asap–but don’t hold your breath. The swamp resists change at any cost…
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PA IFO Predicts 2018 Impact Tax Will Raise Record High $224 Million

The PA Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) does a pretty good job of guesstimating how much impact fee revenue will get generated in the coming year, based on permit and producing wells activity this year. How good? Last year the IFO predicted that impact fee (equivalent of a severance tax) revenue would be $222 million for 2017 (see IFO Predicts PA Impact Fees for 2017 Will Soar, Near Record High). They weren’t too far off. The state Public Utility Commission, charged with collecting the fee, just disbursed impact fee revenue raised in 2017. The grand total was $210 million (see PA Impact Fee/Tax Hauls in $210M in 2017 – Third Highest Ever). There was $6 million “missing” from that number due to a dispute over what is, and what is not, considered a “stripper well.” If you were to include the $6 million (as the IFO does in their estimates), then 2017 revenue would have been $217 million–not far from IFO’s $222 million estimate. The IFO just released an impact fee update (full copy below) with an outlook for 2018. The IFO predicts next year’s impact fee will generate $224 million in revenue. If that estimate bears out, it would be the highest amount of revenue generated by the fee since its beginning in 2011…
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M-U Production May “Flounder” This Summer from Rover Pipe Delays

Platts is reporting U.S. natural gas production hit a new, all-time high last week, mainly due to a surge in natgas production in the Texas Permian. Although Marcellus/Utica production “pulled back modestly” this past week, if you look at the entire month of June, we hit new all-time highs for production yet again. However, it wasn’t just the good news of new record production that caught our attention in the Platts update, but this statement: “Looking ahead, it’s possible that Northeast production growth could flounder this summer, thanks to continued in-service /delays on Rover Pipeline’s upstream supply laterals.” Rover is desperately trying to get FERC to grant permission to open the Majorsville and Burgettstown laterals, as we pointed out yesterday (see Rover Pressuring FERC to Approve Final 2 Laterals ASAP). So if those laterals were to go into service immediately, wouldn’t that mean production will spike up right away with no “floundering”? Not necessarily. Here’s why…
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Epsilon Energy Becoming “Domesticated” – Moving from Canada to U.S.

domesticated cattle in the ancient world

One definition for the word “domestication” means to tame a wild animal, turning it into a farm animal. Another definition means “to bring into use in one’s own country : to bring into domestic use” (Merriam-Webster). It is that later definition Epsilon Energy had in mind when using the term “domestication” to describe a vote by the company’s shareholders to move Epsilon’s base of operations/HQ from Canada to the United States. From time to time we check in Epsilon, both a driller and midstream/pipeline company. Epsilon, largely focused on the Marcellus, had a shareholder rebellion in 2013 and threw out the sitting board of directors (see Shareholder Rebellion at Epsilon Energy – New Board as of Today). Epsilon CEO Michael Raleigh announced at the time that the company had embarked on a turnaround strategy of focusing on the Marcellus Shale–less than a year after saying they would scale back in the Marcellus (see Epsilon Energy Makes “About-Face” on Marcellus Drilling). Epsilon has been and remains a relatively small player in the Marcellus. Last year they bought leases in the Anadarko Basin in Oklahoma (see Epsilon Energy: “Focused” on Marcellus, Buying Land in Anadarko). In a recent vote, shareholders voted 99.99% in favor of moving the company from Canada to Houston, TX. Epsilon, in their own press release, called the move “domestication”–which we found amusing. The wild beast of Canada will be tamed and domiciled in Texas–in order to drill in the Marcellus and Oklahoma. Too bad Pittsburgh couldn’t tame this wild beast. There’s plenty of empty office space in Southpointe…
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Dominion Bid to Buy SCANA in Trouble Following Passage of SC Bill

In January Dominion Energy announced a deal to buy out and merge in South Carolina-based SCANA Corporation (see Dominion Buys SCANA, Mulls Atlantic Coast Pipe Expansion into SC). SCANA is an energy-based holding company principally engaged, through subsidiaries, in electric and natural gas utility operations and other energy-related businesses. In other words, the local electric and gas company for much of South Carolina. Dominion is a big company with many operations–they are a pipeline company, an electric generating company, and a utility company (like SCANA). The merger makes sense. Dominion gets to grow and add more customers to its utility business. We didn’t think there was any tie-in with the Marcellus/Utica, but turns out there is. We brought you news in early December that Dominion and their partner in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project, Duke Energy, are considering expanding the original ACP to more locations in North Carolina, AND expanding the pipeline into South Carolina (see Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s Future Plans: Expand in NC & SC). Dominion openly says that the SCANA purchase makes it more likely they will push to expand ACP into SC–meaning even more Marcellus/Utica gas could be flowing to Dixie. But now there’s a big, fat wrinkle. SCANA is in trouble because they began to build, and later abandoned, a nuclear plant project–costing ratepayers millions of dollars. SC politicians want to rebate some of the money that was paid for the project back to ratepayers. They passed a bill on Wednesday (now on the governor’s desk) that will slash rates for customers by 15%. Dominion reacted strongly, implying they may pull out of the deal if the bill is signed by the governor…
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Pipeline Cos. to D.C. – We Need Help to Beat Back Green Groups

The World Gas Conference, held every three years in different locations around the globe, was held this week in Washington, D.C.–the first time back in the U.S. in 30 years. We’ve reported various stories from that event. Here’s another such story that caught our interest. Pipeline companies, specifically TransCanada and Enbridge (both based in Canada but with huge pipeline networks in the U.S.) told conference attendees that the pipeline industry needs help from Washington–from either the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or Congress, or both to fight back against the increasing efforts of Big Green groups opposed to fossil fuels. Fight back how? By adopting new regulations (FERC) or new laws (Congress) that favor pipeline infrastructure. Our interpretation of what they said: It’s time to stop allowing a small group of wacko radicals block energy progress in this country…
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Rick Perry Tells Cuomo – You’ll Face “Reckoning” for Blocking NatGas

Yesterday, Dept. of Energy Secretary Rick Perry leveled a warning to Andrew Cuomo and the leaders of other states blocking natural gas pipelines: You will face a “real reckoning” of high energy costs and vulnerabilities (i.e. blackouts) because of your actions. Perry stopped short of saying Washington and the Trump Administration would use Executive Orders to unblock some of the blocked pipeline projects (which is a disappointment). But Perry alluded to that possibility when he said, “We have to have conversation as a country, is that a national security issue that outweighs the political concerns in Albany, N.Y.?” Cuomo should be concerned. We’re holding out hope that Trump will issue an Executive Order for both the Constitution Pipeline and Northern Access Pipeline projects, overruling Cuomo. It’s refreshing to see our side take the fight to the irrational radicals who oppose fossil fuel energy…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Fri, Jun 29, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Report on mineral rights ownership among farm operators across different states; MVP pipeline protester removed from excavator in Va.; update on natgas flaring in North Dakota; the “short cycle” advantage of shale; Rick Perry says American natgas is fueling the world’s future; IGU’s 2018 World LNG report; growing global LNG market needs better pricing system; higher oil prices coming; Europe faces decision re who to buy gas from, Russia or US; and more!
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