PA DEP Orders CNX, XTO & Diversified to Plug 1,058 Abandoned Wells

Yesterday the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued administrative orders requiring three oil and gas companies–Alliance Petroleum Corporation (a subsidiary of Diversified Gas & Oil), XTO Energy, and CNX Resources–to plug 1,058 abandoned oil and gas wells across Pennsylvania. Alliance has 638 wells, CNX has 327, and XTO has 93. In a quick scan of the list of wells to be plugged, we didn’t spot a single shale well. All 1,058 wells are conventional/vertical wells. So why is this news for MDN? Because all three drillers (but in particular CNX and XTO) drill shale wells, and plugging old conventional wells takes time and money–time and money that could be spent on drilling shale wells. It takes anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 to plug an abandoned conventional oil/gas well. Most of the wells are located in the southwestern part of the state. CNX responded that in reviewing the list, some 190 of the wells in their list (out of 327) were part of a recent asset sale. Here’s the details on where, and how long these companies have, to plug old/abandoned oil and gas wells…
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Fed Court Tosses Lancaster Nuns’ Lawsuit re Atlantic Sunrise Pipe

It’s the end of the road for a highly hypocritical order of nuns in Lancaster, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, who use natural gas to heat an old folks home they operate, yet are trying to block the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline from traversing that very same property. The nuns appear to be radical environmentalists. We don’t know how they justify using natural gas yet actively try to block a pipeline that delivers it. Only in the mind of a leftist. The nuns, with the help of local anti group Lancaster Against Pipelines, stuck a garden trellis and a few wooden park benches in the middle of a corn field they own (leased to a local farmer), declaring it a “chapel”–hence our attempt at humor, calling them “Sisters of the Corn.” The sisters then sued to block the pipeline based on religious grounds (see Lancaster Nuns Demand “Religious Freedom” Trial re Pipeline). It was a sham lawsuit from the beginning and the courts saw through it. The case was thrown out by a lower court, and appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third District. Yesterday that court tossed the case too. The nuns now say they are “exploring their options” for what to do next. We’d say they’ve run out of options. Upon hearing of the court’s ruling, the radicals at Lancaster Against Pipelines encouraged fellow wackos to continue breaking the law (i.e. “civil” disobedience) in order to protest the pipeline…
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FERC Greenlights Atlantic Coast Pipeline Construction in NC

Despite intense opposition from nutty so-called environmentalists (i.e. fossil fuel haters), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued permission on Tuesday to Dominion Energy to commence construction of the 600-mile, $6 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline as it passes through North Carolina. Antis like those from the Southern Environmental Law Center are up in arms. Their strategy to stop the project is to attack it in small, specific areas. There is a pending lawsuit against the project using the Endangered Species Act, potentially blocking construction in certain geographies. If that lawsuit goes against the pipeline, it only affects construction in a small area and for a limited time. Yet Southern Environmental Law Center claims that if a pipeline project is stopped at any point along its route, that should trigger stopping the entire project at all points along the route. FERC isn’t buying into the legal bull and has cleared Dominion to start up the bulldozers. This pipeline will get built, despite the best efforts of antis. In fact, Dominion says it will be built and online by late 2019…
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DCNR Report: Less Shale Drilling in PA State Forests Due to Ban

It’s probably self-evident to most people that if you slap a ban on new leasing of state land for shale drilling, as was first done by liberal Democrat Ed Rendell, and later solidified by liberal Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf, it will result in (tada!) less drilling on state land. That’s the conclusion of an updated report just issued by the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). The “Shale Gas Monitoring Report” (full copy below) was first published in 2014. An updated second edition of the report was just issued by DCNR. It shows: gas development on state forest lands has “slowed considerably” since 2014; even though roads to interior parts of forests have been improved (paid for by shale drillers), some folks would rather have “pristine” dirt roads full of potholes instead; there has been a growth of “invasive” plants, perhaps carried into forests by hitching a ride on drilling equipment; drilling hasn’t affected the quality of nearby creeks and rivers. Here’s an overview of the report, followed by a copy of the full 202-page report…
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Ascent’s $1.5B OH Utica Deal Yields $1.4M in Fees for 2 Counties

In late June 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 (see Ascent Resources Spends $1.5 Billion to Buy OH Utica Acreage, Wells). It’s a big deal, making Ascent one of the largest privately owned exploration and production companies in the U.S. It’s also a big deal for the counties where the land is changing hands. A large part of the acreage is located in Jefferson County, with sizable chunks in Belmont, Noble and Harrison counties. Why is it a big deal for the counties? It takes time (and consequently fees) to transfer all those thousands of leases from one owner to another. Counties stand to make a big windfall. For example, in Jefferson County, some $305 million worth of transfers will take place between CNX and Ascent, netting the Jefferson clerk’s office $1.2 million in fee revenue! It is the single largest ownership transfer in Jefferson County history. In neighboring Belmont County (to the south of Jefferson), $58 million worth of transfers are taking place, netting the county $173,000 in transfer fees. No word yet on how much money Noble and Harrison stand to make…
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Energy & Business Groups Urge Trump to Fill Vacant FERC Seat ASAP

Yesterday MDN posted a story about our growing grumpiness that Federal Energy Regulatory (FERC) Commissioner Rob Powelson is about to leave FERC to further his own career, jeopardizing a number of important pipeline projects (see FERC Gridlock Coming Thx to Rob Powelson (Selfishly) Leaving). With Powelson gone in mid-August, the Commission will be split 2-2 on approving new pipeline projects. It’s an unfortunate given that the two Democrats on the Commission will vote against all new pipeline projects, claiming mythical man-made global warming as the excuse. Predictable and maddening. But there you go. What is, is. It seems MDN is not the only outpost concerned about the impending gridlock at FERC. A number of energy and business trade groups, led by the Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA), drafted and sent a letter to President Trump last week urging the President to nominate a candidate to replace Powelson “at your earliest opportunity.” They point out in the letter there is a serious risk of deadlock with Powelson out of the mix, jeopardizing critical natural gas pipelines, export facilities, and other critical bits of infrastructure. The letter hits all the right notes–jobs, investment, manufacturing…
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Forced Rolling Blackouts Come to California – Lack of NatGas

Although this story concerns California, it is a preview of what’s coming to New England. Because of ongoing record-high heat in Cali, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) is telling residents to either “voluntarily” stop using electricity, or DWP is going to cut electricity to different communities on a rolling blackout basis. The cancer of anti-fossil fuel hatred has more fully metastasized in Cali than elsewhere in the country, and therefore Cali is an instructive case study. California, if it were it’s own country (now there’s a thought!), would be the fifth-largest economy in the world–larger than the United Kingdom, India and Brazil. Cali is the third largest consumer of gasoline and diesel on the planet, behind only China and the United States. And yet Cali persists in blocking new gas-fired electric plants, blocking pipelines, and shutting down existing oil and gas drilling. They are, in a word, insane. And now their insanity is on display for the world to see. Because of the heat wave and lack of natural gas supplies, natgas prices in Cali have zoomed to nearly $40/Mcf (thousand cubic feet). Residents now face either “voluntary” reduction in electric use–or forced blackouts. We take no pleasure (well, maybe a little pleasure) in saying Cali is reaping what it has sown…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Thu, Jul 26, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Shell opening another parking lot for 1,000 cracker workers; CSX fined $2.2M for 2015 WV crude by rail spill; Bloom Energy IPO vs Tesla’s IPO – natgas the key; new pipelines lead to 5 Bcf/d of natgas exports to Mexico for first time; update on MLPs; the Love Boat orders two LNG cruise ships; India amends definition of hydrocarbon to include shale; European Union says it will import more US shale; and more!
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