Big News: FERC Overrules NY DEC to Approve Northern Access Pipe

Finally, a New York pipeline story with a happy ending. On Feb. 3, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a long-delayed project–National Fuel Gas Company’s (NFG) Northern Access 2016 pipeline project (see NFG’s Northern Access Pipe in NY/PA Gets FERC Approval). The $500 million project includes building 97 miles of new pipeline along a power line corridor from northwestern Pennsylvania up to Erie County, NY. The project also calls for 3 miles of new pipeline further up, in Niagara County, along with a new compressor station in the Town of Pendleton. Although FERC granted permission to build it, the State of New York, specifically the state’s Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC), arbitrarily and capriciously tried to block it (see Cuomo’s Corrupt NY DEC Blocks NFG Northern Access Pipeline Permit). We’ve seen this movie before. NFG, in no mood to screw around with the Cuomo-corrupted DEC, filed a motion asking FERC for a “reconsideration and clarification” on the role of the DEC in reviewing the project (see Gutsy: NFG Asks FERC to Cut NY DEC Out of Pipeline Approval). On Monday, FERC ruled on that request, ruling in NFG’s favor and against NY DEC. FERC said the DEC took longer than the one year they have under law to issue their rejection, therefore, FERC itself is issuing the water permits. In other words, FERC just struck a blow against corruption in New York State…
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Cabot O&G Opens Branch Office in OH – Hoping to Find Oil in Knox

Stratigraphy showing Knox Unconformity – click for larger version

Cabot Oil & Gas is drilling test wells in north central Ohio looking for “what’s next” after the Marcellus. Cabot began to push dirt around on its first OH wellpad (in Ashland) in April, and began to drill a hole on that pad in June (see Cabot O&G to Begin Drilling in Ashland County, OH This Week). Cabot has also begun drilling at a second site, and has filed for a permit to drill at a third site, in Vermillion Township in Ashland County (see Cabot Files Permit #3 for Knox Formation Test Well in Ashland, OH). We’ve read comments by Cabot that the type of exploration they’re doing in OH just as often doesn’t pan out as it does–no doubt trying to manage and tamp down expectations. However, actions speak louder than words. On Monday Cabot held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new (albeit small) branch office located in Jeromesville (Ashland County). Sure looks to us like things are getting serious! You don’t just sign a lease for office space if things don’t look promising. In the past Cabot has been cagey about which rock layer they’re targeting in Ohio. We know it’s not the Utica. Devon Energy previously tried drilling the Utica in Ashland and it didn’t work. While both the Knox and the Rome layers have been mentioned in Cabot’s permits, it appears it is the Knox layer that Cabot is targeting. Although Cabot doesn’t admit what they hope to find (oil, gas, NGLs), it’s clear they’re hoping to find oil. Below we have more details on the new office space, and more on the Knox and Cabot’s approach to drilling in it…
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Frack Sand Operation in SWPA is Leaking Sand into Nearby Community

frack sand

We spotted a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that concerns us. There is a transloading terminal in Stowe Township (Allegheny County, Pittsburgh area) that handles, among other things, frack sand. The facility has been there since 1969, so the neighbors can’t complain about stuff coming in by barge (or rail) and going back out by never-ending truck trips. You move to that area, you know what you’re getting. However, one thing the neighbors didn’t bargain for is sand–along roads, bridges, even inside on the furniture. Frack sand is super fine–very small–and acts like asbestos when it gets in your lungs. Not a good thing. OSHA has all sorts of rules for how to handle frack sand. And yet the sand in Stowe is leaking out of rail cars and trucks and ending up scattered throughout the nearby community of Stowe and McKees Rocks. The following story is written by Post-Gazette “reporter” Don Hopey–who is an anti-drilling propagandist. He spins whatever minor foible he can find in the shale industry into a major offense, a crime against the environment and humanity. However, in this case, the concerns Hopey writes about are warranted and should be addressed immediately…
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Eclipse 2Q18: Drilled More Long Wells, Progress on Sale/Merger

Eclipse Resources, a Marcellus/Utica pure play driller headquartered in State College, PA, is one of the smaller but (in our opinion) more important drillers in our region. Eclipse has drilled the reigning record-holders for longest on-shore lateral wells drilled…in the world (almost 20,000 feet long!). Last week Eclipse issued their second quarter update. Among the items discussed: The company lost $19 million vs. making $11.5 million in 2Q17. They produced an average of 305.5 million cubic feet equivalent per day (MMcfe/d), up a tad from 2Q17’s 287.8 MMcfe/d. Production was 72% natural gas and 28% liquids. They drilled 6 wells with an average lateral length of approximately 15,900 feet. So far the company has drilled 17 “super lateral” wells with an average lateral length of over 18,300 feet–which is why they are an important driller. The company, as we previously reported, is going through a “strategic review process” in which they are looking to combine with, or sell out to, another company (see Eclipse Resources Board Considering Either Merger or Acquisition). Ben Hulburt, CEO, had this to say about progress with the buyout/merger process: “As you all know, we announced that our Board of Directors has initiated a process to evaluate and consider a full range of strategic, operational and financial alternatives to maximize shareholder value. And while we’re pleased to say that substantial progress continues to be made, as we’ve previously stated, there is no definitive timetable for completion of this evaluation nor can there be any assurances that any initiatives will be announced or completed in the future.” In other words, there’s something coming, but we can’t talk about it, so stay tuned…
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Southwestern Energy 2Q18: Marcellus Production Booming

Last week Southwestern Energy, one of the biggest drillers in the Marcellus (4th largest natgas producer in the country), issued its second quarter 2018 update. Southwestern drills in two plays: The Marcellus (i.e. Appalachia), and the Fayetteville (in Arkansas). Production in the Marcellus/Utica was 1.8 billion cubic feet equivalent per day (Bcfe/d) of natural gas in 2Q18, up from 1.4 Bcfe/d in 2Q17. Largely because of the increase in production in the Marcellus region, Southwestern is raising its full-year production “guidance” (best guess) to 955-970 Bcfe, up from the previous range of 930-965 Bcfe. During 2Q Southwestern drilled 37 new wells, completed 55 wells, and brought 43 wells online–all in the Marcellus region. No mention was made of the Briggs “rule of capture” lawsuit Southwestern appealed to the PA Supreme Court in July. Here’s the full 2Q18 update…
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Crude Oil Truck Drivers Needed in Ohio Utica

While the Marcellus Shale play is mostly about natural gas, with some natural gas liquids in the southwestern part of the play, the Utica play in Ohio is a different story. Yes, a lot of natgas and NGLs get produced in the Utica, but the Utica also has a lot of oil coming out of the ground. Crude oil. Straight from the Utica/Point Pleasant rock layer. Something that hadn’t dawned on us (until now) is this question: How do Utica drillers get their crude to refineries? With natgas and even NGLs, it’s done mostly via pipelines. When’s the last time you heard about a “gathering pipeline” running to a well pad for crude oil? Yeah, never. So how do drillers get all that oil to refineries? They truck it. Another interesting factoid: those Pilot Flying J truck stops don’t only sell refined petroleum (diesel) to truckers, some of those operations also truck raw crude to refineries. The Pilot Flying J in Canton, OH is one such operation–and they currently have a shortage of truck drivers to haul Utica crude. It’s a “trucker’s market” right now. If you have a Class A commercial driver’s license with Hazmat (hazardous materials) and tanker endorsements, Flying J wants to talk to you, stat…
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Cool New Video Debunks/Explains PA Severance Tax Issue

Mark Mathis – Clear Energy Alliance

A killer video on the topic of a severance tax in Pennsylvania has just been published (on Youtube) by the Clear Energy Alliance. The severance tax issue is one that we’ve tracked and written about for years–since Ed “fast Eddie” Rendell was governor. MDN caught up with Mark Mathis, founder of CEA, to talk about his latest video. Mark is an author and documentary film maker, and before that, a television reporter and anchor for ten years. Mark said he’s “a big language guy.” He began tracking issues in the energy industry some 15 years ago. Mark maintains the language we use to talk about energy is wrong–that the public doesn’t really understand. The PA severance tax issue is a perfect example. According to Mark (and the 4 1/2 minute video) PA Gov. Tom Wolf is being disingenuous when he says PA is “the only state without a severance tax.” While technically that’s true, what Wolf and other Harrisburg politicians don’t say is that PA has an “impact fee”–the equivalent of a severance tax. Plus PA has the second highest corporate income tax in the country, while other severance tax states (like Texas) have no corporate income tax. It’s virtually impossible to run an apples to apples comparison when it comes to how much a given company pays in taxes in a specific state. But according to Mark, slapping an additional tax on natural gas production in PA would be a disaster. The short video (which you MUST watch) explains it all in just a few minutes…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Wed, Aug 8, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Chevron Appalachia president says to seize the day now, or lose out; PA teachers union invests $211M in Williams; S&B Engineers moves to larger office in Canonsburg; Enbridge says NEXUS Pipeline will go online by end of 3Q; gov candidate Wagner backpedals (a little) on climate change hoax; EIA natgas price forecast “sags” this year and next; WSJ article says to quit blaming “climate change” for every weather event; and more!
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