HUGE NEWS: PA Supreme Court Keeps ‘Rule of Capture’ for Fracking

There is one court case in Pennsylvania that we’ve been concerned about since April 2018. The Briggs v Southwestern Energy case had the power to block most new Marcellus Shale drilling in the state. The case, revolving around the oil and gas “rule of capture” principle, was appealed by Southwestern all the way to the PA Supreme Court. We are elated to report that yesterday the Supremes ruled supreme and found in favor of Southwestern–retaining the rule of capture in the Keystone State. This is seriously good news for both drillers and leased landowners. Below we explain what the rule of capture is, the background of the case, and what the Supremes said in yesterday’s important ruling.
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EPA Fines Gulfport $1.7M for Clean Air Violations in Ohio Utica

Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it has reached a settlement with Gulfport Energy over alleged air emissions violations found at 17 well pad locations Gulfport operates in the Ohio Utica. The violations happened in 2015. The settlement includes Gulfport paying $1.7 million in fines and spending another $2 million in “improvements” to cut down on volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions at the 17 well pads.
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Say It Ain’t So! PA House Speaker Mike Turzai is Retiring

PA House Speaker Mike Turzai

Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai has been a true champion for the Marcellus industry in the Keystone State. He’s also a great conservative, a counterweight to leftist Governor Tom Wolf. Mike Turzai is the reason Wolf’s odious (and really dumb) severance tax has not passed. Turzai has been our firewall. MDN editor Jim Willis spoke to Speaker Turzai this past June at an event in northeastern PA where he told us he would run for governor in 2022 (see Spreading Marcellus Love Throughout PA with Expanded PIPE Program). Is that all out the window? Yes.
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Rover Pipe Wants to Flow Extra 175 MMcf/d – No Extra Cost/Equipment

The $4.2 billion, 713-mile Rover Pipeline system that flows Marcellus/Utica natural gas from western PA and eastern OH all the way to Canada, placed the final two pieces of the system online in November 2018 (see FERC OKs Final 2 Rover Pipeline Laterals – Now 100% Online). The mainline Rover pipeline flows 3.25 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). Rover wants to expand that capacity without any new equipment and without any additional cost. How do they plan to pull that rabbit out of their hat?
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PA AG Josh Shapiro Bashes Marcellus with Anti-Pipe Lawsuit Support

PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is no friend of the Marcellus industry, and frankly, he’s no friend to PA landowners either. At every turn, Shapiro investigates and attempts to block the Marcellus industry in the state. The latest evidence: Shapiro has used the full weight of the entire state in signing on to an amicus (friend of the court) brief in a federal court case that challenges the approval of Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline–a Williams PA pipeline that’s been in the ground and operating since 2018.
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Philadelphia Energy Solutions Oil Refinery Permanently Closed

We are sad to report that over 1,000 dedicated workers who used to work at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) oil refinery in Philly will permanently remain out of the jobs they once held at the facility. The owner of PES has decided to sell the now-closed refinery to a real estate developer from Chicago who intends to convert the property from a refinery (the nation’s oldest and largest refinery along the East Coast) into…warehouses. Yeah, warehouses. Complete with an increase in truck traffic, diesel fumes, and all sorts of headaches that come from a massive warehouse complex located in an urban area. It’s sad.
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WV Gov Signals Support for 2 Bills: Orphan Wells, Faster Permits

WV Gov. Jim Justice addresses IOGAWV

At yesterday’s annual Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia (IOGAWV) Winter Meeting, WV Gov. Jim Justice stressed he “can’t be any more sympathetic” to the oil and gas industry in the state. Justice also said he has his pen ready to sign two bills the industry is pushing this year–one to fund and plug orphan wells (HB 4090), and the other to speed up new well permits (HB 4091).
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Shale Energy Stories of Interest: Thu, Jan 23, 2020

MARCELLUS/UTICA REGION: Restricting natural gas access in Westchester is a bad play; EQT wants out of stock-drop suit over Rice Energy merger; NATIONAL: McDermott expects natural gas, oil projects to ‘seamlessly’ continue through Chapter 11 process; Kinder Morgan and Baker Hughes find profits amid shale slump; U.S. shale has already peaked for major service companies; Democrats’ war on fracking will cost them in battleground states; Industrials call for extra US FERC oversight of gas pipe capacity reliability.
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