EQT Loses $1.2B in 2019; Looks to Trim Debt by $1.5B in 2020

Yesterday the largest natural gas producing company in the United States, EQT, issued its fourth-quarter and full-year 2019 update. As is typical with these updates, EQT’s top brass (CEO Toby Rice) also spoke about the company’s strategy for the coming year. Of particular note is that EQT has struck a new deal with EQM Midstream (Equitrans) to get lower fees for gathering and piping the company’s natgas–a $535 million break in fees (see today’s companion story). Also of note was Toby’s comments about trimming the company’s debt load of $5.3 billion by about 30%, or $1.5 billion, this year. How does he plan to do that?
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Equitrans Merging in EQM Midstream, Lowers Fees for EQT $535M

Both EQT (the driller) and Equitrans (the midstream company) issued their quarterly/full-year 2019 updates yesterday. Equitrans, formerly EQT Midstream, separated from EQT in November 2018. Equitrans, via its EQM Midstream affiliate, gathers, processes, and flows most of EQT’s natural gas production, getting it to market. Last fall EQT began intense negotiations with Equitrans to lower its midstream costs (see EQT Hammers Equitrans to Lower Gathering Price – Deal Close?). The culmination of that effort was announced yesterday. In a complicated deal, EQT got Equitrans/EQM to lower gathering costs $535 million over three years, and chip in $52 million, in return for EQT giving up half of its ownership of EQM, signing a long-term contract, and signing a new $60 million water pipeline deal.
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2 New Gas-to-Liquids Plants Coming to Jefferson County, OH

Future site of Orin petchem complex (click for larger version)

A “locally organized industrial development company”–called Orin Holdings–says it will build two state-of-the-art gas-to-liquids plants on a 500-acre parcel in Saline Township in Jefferson County, OH. Orin says (in so many words) this isn’t your father’s old refining complex. This is something brand new and better. “It will operate more cleanly and efficiently than any plant of its kind, utilizing state-of-the-art instrumentation and controls technology to fully comply with today’s stringent environmental and safety requirements.” The plants will be fed by Marcellus and Utica ethane.
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Judge Rules Against NY DEC to Allow Northern Access Pipe

While the Andrew Cuomo-corrupted New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) can claim a victory in stopping the much-needed Constitution Pipeline (see Sad Day: Williams Declares Constitution Pipeline Project Dead), an equally important pipeline project aimed at flowing PA’s fracked gas into New York State, being built by National Fuel Gas Company (NFG), just won an important court victory over the DEC’s disgusting efforts to block it too. An NY Supreme Court judge has ruled NFG’s Northern Access Pipeline is regulated (given permission to build) by the federal government, NOT by the DEC–and can now go forward.
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PA PUC Fines Mariner East 1 $200K, Orders “Remaining Life” Study

In April 2017 (almost three years ago) the Mariner East 1 pipeline sprung a small leak and spilled 20 barrels (~840 gallons) of ethane and propane in Berks County, near Philadelphia. Sunoco Logistics Partners, builder and maintainer of the pipeline, shut it down and fixed it over the next several days. Yesterday the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission announced a “settlement” with Sunoco, to fine the company $200,000. Sunoco, as part of the settlement, must also conduct a “remaining life” study of the pipeline. After all, it is almost 90 years old.
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Shale Energy Stories of Interest: Fri, Feb 28, 2020

OTHER U.S. REGIONS: Williams seeks to raise $5 billion by selling stake in pipelines – sources; NATIONAL: Top Republican rejects climate denialism, urges expansion of nuclear power and natural gas; ‘Stop the money’ anti-energy project will strap the poor for cash; Michael Bloomberg’s climate money may have gotten his presidential campaign into IRS hot water; Plastic bags help the environment; INTERNATIONAL: RIL’s shale gas dream hangs in balance as gas price falls; Heathrow third runway rejected over incompatibility with Paris climate agreement.
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