Ascent Resources Spends $1.5 Billion to Buy OH Utica Acreage, Wells

Last Thursday, Ascent Resources, a company founded by Aubrey McClendon after he left Chesapeake Energy, announced it is buying 113,400 Utica Shale acres along with 93 operating wells located in eastern Ohio for $1.5 billion. The new acreage tips Ascent over the 300,000 Utica acre line and catapults the company into one of the largest privately owned drillers (exploration and production) in the U.S. The companies doing the selling are CNX Resources and Hess (selling a joint venture they co-owned, each selling their share for $400 million each, for a total of $800 million), Utica Minerals Development (a subsidiary of First Reserve, a private equity firm headquartered in Greenwich, CT, and EMG), and a fourth, unnamed mystery seller. The CNX/Hess acreage (78,000 net acres of the 113,400 acres) is located in the wet gas window of Belmont, Guernsey, Harrison and Noble counties. We’re not sure about the location of the other acreage. The CNX/Hess jv sale marks Hess’ total exit from the Utica Shale. So how will Ascent pay for all of their new shiny new assets? After all, they only just emerged from bankruptcy in April (see Ascent Resources Marcellus Exits Chapter 11 Bankruptcy). [Correction: Ascent Resources Marcellus was the part of the Ascent business that filed for bankruptcy and is not related to Ascent Resources Utica and this new transaction.] Ascent will pay for it by issuing $965 million in new shares of equity (private stock), and borrowing $535 million under their existing line of credit…
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FERC Plays Hardball with Rover – Refuses to Certify 4 Laterals

Rover Pipeline has violated one of the sacrosanct rules of life (and of pipeline construction): “Say what you’ll do, then do what you say.” Rover told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission it would restore areas previously dug up to lay the pipeline by certain dates (primarily June 30th). In return, based on those promises from Rover, FERC allowed the company to begin service on certain sections of the $3.7 billion, 711-mile natural gas pipeline that runs from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and on to Canada via the Vector Pipeline. Rover has been pressuring FERC to allow two of the laterals–the Burgettstown and Majorsville laterals, that reach into western Pennsylvania–to begin service (see Rover Pressuring FERC to Approve Final 2 Laterals ASAP). We previously assumed (incorrectly) that the other six laterals were all online. That is not the case. Two more laterals are not yet online, in addition to the Burgettstown and Majorsville laterals. We’re not sure which ones. Laterals are offshoot pipelines that connect sources of gas to the main Rover pipeline–a critical component because you need the supply or you’ll have a partially empty mainline. In a letter dated last Thursday, FERC told Rover they haven’t lived up to their promises to restore areas they promised to restore by June 30th. The FERC letter (full copy below) says (1) Rover must provide a detailed list, chapter and verse, of why it has not lived up to its promises, and (2) informs Rover that until it does live up to its promises, they won’t be authorizing any more laterals to go online. FERC is playing hardball–far from the “industry rubber stamp” that antis attempt to portray FERC as…
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Mountain Valley Pipe Voluntarily Shuts Down Construction in Va.

MDN told you last week that Sierra Club lawyers are attempting to bamboozle a court into halting construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in Virginia, as they were able to do in West Virginia (see Enviro Radicals Target MVP in Va. Following WV Court “Win”). Turns out the enviro-nuts don’t have to worry–at least for now. Mother Nature has done it for them, has halted all construction of MVP in the Old Dominion. Following heavy rains that have resulted in erosion and runoff from the pathway along which the pipeline will be laid, MVP has voluntarily decided to, for the time being, halt all construction in Virginia. When will construction resume? According to an MVP spokesman: “There is no specific timeline for the suspension, however, as soon as upgrades are completed and approved by DEQ, construction can resume.” Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later…
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EQT Confirms Sale of Huron Shale to Diversified for $575M

MDN exclusively brought you the news, on June 19, that Diversified Gas & Oil had purchased EQT’s Huron Shale assets in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia for $575 million (see Diversified Gas & Oil Adds to Conventional Assets in KY, VA, WV). At that time, Diversified did not disclose who it had purchased the assets from. MDN provided a guess, but that guess proved wrong. Within an hour of posting about the sale, an MDN tipster confirmed for us the seller was EQT, which we subsequently updated, providing the MDN audience with the inside skinny. On Friday, June 29, EQT issued a press release (below) confirming that yes, it was they who had sold the acreage/assets, including nearly 12,000 wells with 200 million cubic feet per day of natural gas production, to Diversified. The deal also includes 2.5 million acres of leases and some 6,400 miles of gathering pipelines. What we didn’t know about the deal (until now) is that it includes 8 field offices and 250 employees. Here’s the EQT announcement with full details of the deal…
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60-Mile Pipeline from NW PA to NE OH Gets Favorable FERC Review

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Last October MDN brought you details about the proposed $86 million Risberg Line pipeline project (see New 60-Mile Pipeline Proposed from NW Pa. to NE Ohio). The project will use approximately 32 miles of existing pipeline in an established Right of Way originating in the Meadville, PA area. Approximately 16 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Pennsylvania and approximately 12 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Ohio–meaning 28 miles of brand new “greenfield” pipeline needs to get built. Both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission are “cooperating agencies” and part of the environmental assessment (EA) review process, along with the lead agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Good news: FERC issued the EA on Friday (full copy below), and the project passes with flying colors. While this is not a final stamp of approval (which is due by Sept. 27th), when FERC issues a favorable EA, it’s almost certain they will approve the project…
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Another ME2 Mud Spill at Snitz Creek, Another Hysterical Reaction

Sunoco Logistics Partners was drilling horizontally underneath Snitz Creek in Lebanon County, PA for its Mariner East 2 Pipeline project when it experienced yet another “inadvertent return”–nontoxic drilling mud leaking out of a place where it shouldn’t. Sunoco spilled five gallons of nontoxic drilling mud. This is the third time it’s happened in June, and the sixth time it’s happened at the Snitz Creek location in total. Predictably, antis were hysterical. Hysterical, not as in funny, but hysterical as an insane, out-of-control overreaction. Theatrics. Drama. That kind of hysterical. The reaction from antis is organized by “green” groups–in particular by one person from a local green group calling itself Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County. Five gallons of nontoxic drilling mud (the same stuff used to make kitty litter and lipstick) is, quite literally, NOTHING. We’ve seen 5 gallon spills of very toxic gasoline at the local gas station that went unnoticed. Gasoline is far more “toxic” to the environment than what’s happening at Snitz Creek. Why do drilling mud spills keep happening at the Snitz Creek location? Obviously the ground in that area is porous. Every time Sunoco drills under the creek another few feet, drilling mud pops out and drilling activity gets shut down, yet again. This is a recurring situation. We don’t know what the solution is, but not building the pipeline (which is 99% done) is not one of the options. Hopefully Sunoco can find a solution quickly so we can put this ongoing, manufactured, and tiresome drama queen theatrics behind us…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Mon, Jul 2, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Natural gas impact fee numbers prove it is superior to a severance tax; antis are scared of PA bill paying landowners for “takings” by DRBC; Sierra Club turns Va. landowners into pipeline snitches; keep it in the ground…by blocking pipelines; the biggest risk for natgas markets; global natgas prices rise for first time in 2 years; the Texas well that started the fracking revolution; NRDC’s connection to China; we need more programmers in the oil/gas sector; whatever happened to peak oil?; devastating rebuttal to global warming at Euro debate; Taiwan to get U.S. LNG; China needs more U.S. LNG; and more!
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