Equinor (Statoil) Stops All U.S. Shale Drilling, Incl. Marcellus

Oil and gas drilling giant Equinor (formerly called Statoil) is owned by the Norwegian government. Equinor/Statoil has drilled in the Marcellus/Utica for years. As recently as last June the company reported drilling 9-14 Utica wells per year (see Equinor (Statoil) Drilling Long Utica Laterals, Production Up 5X). The company also drills oil wells in the U.S., primarily in the North Dakota Bakken. All of that–both Utica and Bakken drilling–has come to a screeching halt. Yesterday the company announced it is reducing its drilling budget worldwide by $400 million and is “halting” all U.S. onshore (i.e. shale) drilling and completion activities.
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Montage Resources Trims Another $45M Off 2020 Capex Budget

In February Montage Resources said in 2020 it will increase production approximately 6% over 2019 while slicing its capital expenditure budget by 44%, to $190-$210 million for the year (see Montage Resources 2020 Sneak Preview: More OH Marcellus Drilling). That was BC, before coronavirus. It’s now AD, after (oil price) disaster, and the company has just announced it will decrease capex spending by another $45 million. To be fair, the company does not specifically blame either the coronavirus or the oil price shock for its actions. In a statement, the company says it continues to “monitor market conditions” and adjust accordingly. However, there is a big change in drilling strategy coming…
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PA DEP Caves to Radicals, Revokes PGE Injection Well Permit

This is truly disappointing. A few weeks ago we told you that Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled a long-running lawsuit involving Grant Township (Indiana County, PA) will continue on through the court system (see Grant Lawsuit Using ERA Threatens PA Injection Wells & Fracking). Grant, a town that passed an ordinance cooked up by the extreme radical Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to try and block a state-approved injection well, is attempting to use the state’s so-called Environmental Rights Act to justify its illegal ordinance. The court gave its blessing to that effort. And because the court is sending the signal it’s OK to invoke the ERA to justify just about anything, the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is now going along by revoking a permit issued to Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE) to build an injection well in Grant.
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Diversified Agrees to Plug an Extra 2 Wells per Year in Ohio

Diversified Gas & Oil owns close to 8 million acres of leases with some 60,000 (mostly) conventional oil and gas wells. Their focus has been to acquire quality production and cash flow–regardless of the well or commodity type (gas or oil)–in the Appalachian Basin. They currently have over 400 Marcellus/Utica shale wells in their portfolio too. When a gas or oil well quits producing, it needs to be plugged. We were aware of deals Diversified has cut with both Pennsylvania and West Virginia to plug old, non-producing wells (see DEP and Diversified Gas & Oil Compromise on Plugging Old PA Wells and Diversified Deal in WV to Plug 730 Abandoned Wells Over 15 Years). It turns out Diversified also has a deal in place with Ohio to plug old wells, a deal that was recently modified.
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Some, Not All M-U Pipeline Projects, Affected by COVID-19 Virus

We’ve been following the story of whether or not work on the Mariner East 2 pipeline project in Pennsylvania can continue during the current lockdown and order issued by Gov. Tom Wolf to cease all “non-life-sustaining” activity, including construction work on pipelines not yet in service (see Some Mariner East 2 Construction Resumes During Lockdown). Is you is or is you ain’t still building it? It seems *some* ME2 work continues–work to tidy up existing construction sites. However, there are other new pipeline construction projects that serve the Marcellus/Utica being built–both in PA and elsewhere. What about those projects? Are they all shut down? As it turns out, the answer is NO. Some pipeline project work continues even during the coronavirus crisis. Here’s a rundown…
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Investors Return to ‘Safety’ by Investing in M-U Gas Companies

What a change just a few weeks (and a pandemic and oil price crash) can bring! One month ago MDN brought you the sobering news that the stock prices for most Marcellus/Utica companies had sunk to new lows (see Marcellus/Utica Drillers’ Stock Prices Near/At Historic Lows). The prospects for M-U companies, as far as investors were concerned, were bleak. Oil drillers in other plays like the Permian and Bakken were pumping like crazy producing a lot of associated gas along with oil from those wells, flooding the market with an excess of gas. One month later and the picture has completely changed. M-U company stocks (some of them anyway) are rising again. EQT’s share price is up 50% in the last 30 days!
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Shale Energy Stories of Interest: Thu, Mar 26, 2020

MARCELLUS/UTICA REGION: Chevron – which is leaving the region – donates $260K to food banks, first responders; Shell’s workforce, construction drastically cut at Beaver County site; Dominion Energy will hold virtual annual meeting in 2020; NATIONAL: Democratic National Committee embraces green new deal; When and how will oil prices recover?; Economic crisis is no reason to push bad policy on the oil sector; INTERNATIONAL: Oil below $20 will wipe over 10% off many exporting countries’ GDP.
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