OH Supreme Court Rules Independent Landmen Need Real Estate License

Sometimes the law, and justice, is mysterious to us. Last November we told you about an Ohio Supreme Court case with profound implications for both landmen and for the drillers who employ and use them (see OH Supreme Crt Considers Whether Landmen Need Real Estate License). The case, Dundics v. Eric Petroleum Corp., was appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court by Dundics who was not happy with the outcome in lower courts that ruled landmen must have a real estate license in order to get paid for their valuable services. Even more to the point, if you don’t have a real estate licence, the company hiring you (like Eric Petroleum) can decide to not pay you–and it’s OK! The Supremes ruled at the end of August to uphold that principle. That is, if a landman is compensated via a commission and/or royalties for the deals he or she brokers, that person needs to have a real estate license. And if they don’t have such a license, they are considered (under the law) to be committing fraud. (It is our understanding that if the landman is paid a “day rate,” that is, paid a flat rate by the day, or if the landman is an employee of the drilling company, someone whose compensation is not directly tied to the number and value of deals, that landman does not need a real estate license. Please verify that!) The Ohio Supremes decided, in essence, that when you accept a commission or are paid a percentage of each deal, you must have a real estate license. In the case of Dundics v. Eric Petroleum, Mr. Dundics was repeatedly assured (according to the court documents we read) by Eric Petroleum that he (Dundics) would be compensated according to an agreed-on formula. But Dundics didn’t have a real estate license, so Eric Petroleum abrogated the agreement–with the court’s blessing…
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Mystery Seller of Ohio Utica Acreage to Ascent Finally Identified

At the end of 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). 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 selling their Utica assets 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. Now that all of the deals have closed, the mystery seller has been revealed…
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Out with the Old (Coal), in with the New (Natgas) @ Shamokin Dam

The former coal-fired power generation plant at left along the Susquehanna River in Shamokin Dam. At right is the new Panda gas-fired Hummel Station. (Credit: Sunbury Generation)

In July, MDN told you that Panda Power’s Marcellus gas-fired Hummel Station Power Plant, located at the Shamokin Dam along the Susquehanna River, is now “complete” and online (see Marcellus-Fired Panda Hummel PA Power Plant Now “Complete”). Hummel Station is a whopping 1,124-megawatt gas-fired electric plant built on the site of a retired coal-fired plant. The old coal plant is still there, sitting next door to the new gas-fired plant, closed down in 2014. The coal plant is set to be demolished–a process that will take up to two years due to asbestos throughout the plant. In a story about the old coal plant’s demolition, we were struck by the comparison between the coal plant and the gas plant. The old coal plant produced 400 megawatts of electricity, the new gas plant 1,124 MW. The new gas plant produces more than twice the power, but uses 97% less water than the coal plant. The new gas plant produces 90% less sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions than the old coal plant. On and on. The differences are striking! No wonder gas is replacing coal…
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Hubbard Twp, OH Still Trying to Block Injection Well

Two weeks ago MDN told you that liberal Democrat State Rep. Glenn Holmes (from Girard, Trumbull County, OH) is attempting to use a hammer to kill a fly (see Ohio Democrats Float Bill to Cap Injection Wells at 23 per County). Holmes is sponsoring House Bill 723 to cap the number of injection wells at 23 per county, in an attempt to block a single new injection well from getting built in Hubbard Township. Currently Trumbull County has 17 live and functioning wastewater injection wells. Five more are currently under construction. If the bill passes, it would prevent a newly-proposed well in Hubbard from getting built. Holmes has some company in his opposition. Hubbard township officials are “bitterly opposed” to the injection well and raising their own fuss to try and stop it. The preferred solution for Hubbard officials is for the state to allow local towns to write their own oil and gas zoning laws–a prescription for NIMBY disaster. No town would allow it, which is why the review and authorization of injection wells is a joint process between the federal EPA and the state. But that well-thought-out solution of federal/state review doesn’t stop the locals from kicking up a fuss…
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Acting EPA Admin. Wheeler to Keynote Shale Insight in Pittsburgh

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler

Here’s some exciting news! The keynote speaker at this year’s Shale Insight 2018 event in Pittsburgh will be Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. MDN editor Jim Willis has attended every annual Shale Insight except for the very first one, going back years. Unfortunately he won’t be attending this year’s event to hear Wheeler in person. However, many MDN readers live in western PA and eastern OH, and if you do, and if you can make it, we encourage you to attend! This year’s event is pushed back a bit from the usual September into October–Oct. 23-25. Wheeler is speaking on the 24th in the morning. Here’s the details…
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Proposed Rhode Island Gas-Fired Plant on Life Support

MDN previously told you about a new natural gas-fired plant planned for the socialist paradise of Rhode Island, home to old money and people who oppose change of any kind (see New NatGas Powered Electric Plant Coming to…Rhode Island?!). The plant would lower RI residents’ electric bills by a collective $280 million and replace aging coal and oil power plants–cleaning the air in the process. With the jobs created, the investment in the facility, and lower electric rates, it’s calculated this single plant will have a $1.3 billion impact on the economy of RI. And yet so-called environmentalists still oppose it. The plan was to begin construction in summer 2016 and have the plant up and running by 2019. What’s happened since the initial announcement? A lot of bureaucratic bull. The project has been under review and a final decision by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission was slated for January 2019. But that’s all now in doubt. Because of delays in building the plant, the Independent System Operator (ISO) New England filed an application last week with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to cancel the plant’s capacity supply obligation, or CSO. CSO’s are contracts awarded years in advance to supply electricity. ISO says there’s no way this plant will be producing electricity on time, and so they want out of the contract, to find someone else to produce the electricity. Yesterday RI state regulators put their review of the project on hold until FERC makes a decision about canceling the CSO contract. At this point we’d have to say the project is on life support, and RI is reaching their withered, old hand over to the outlet to pull the plug…
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Chesapeake, Ascent Resources Float New Round of IOUs

Although the two companies and their actions are unrelated, we found it interesting that both Ascent Resources and Chesapeake Energy (big Marcellus/Utica drillers) floated plans yesterday to raise more money by issuing new IOUs (called “notes”). In the case of Ascent (founded by Aubrey McClendon), they’re issuing $600 million of new notes (due payable in 2026) in order to pay off $525 million worth of notes due in 2022. In the case of Chesapeake Energy (co-founded by Aubrey McClendon), they’re issuing $1.25 billion in new notes (due payable in 2024 & 2026) to repay a loan due in 2021. Keep kickin’ that debt can down the road…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Thu, Sep 27, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Williams completes mechanical construction on pipeline; Pittsburgh airport expects to break ground on World Trade Center site this year; Massachusetts to hire independent firm to evaluate statewide natural gas system; Resistance campaign airs concerns over Columbia Gas pipeline project; Trump attacks OPEC, Europe gas dependence at UN General Assembly; Natural gas responsible for 61 percent of U.S. electricity generation CO2 reductions since 2005; Natural gas price prediction – prices tumble and form outside reversal day; Policy changes would help U.S. natural gas industry; Report: India’s Petronet LNG seeks to buy 9 cargoes; The gas revolution in Central and Eastern Europe; In Mexico’s shale patch, cartel violence scares off drillers; Anti-fracking activists jailed for ‘causing a public nuisance’ during four-day protest.
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