EQT Stops Fracking After Worker Gets COVID-19; Suspends Dividends

The Pittsburgh Business Times is reporting that a contractor working in EQT’s hydraulic fracturing (“completions”) operation who last worked at a site in Belmont County, OH has tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus. Because that worker has been in contact with a number of other workers in EQT’s completions unit, the company has temporarily shut down all completions (fracking) operations. In a separate and unrelated announcement, EQT told investors they are (for now) suspending quarterly dividend payments and will use the money instead to pay down near-term debt.
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Shell Ethane Pipe Construction in SWPA Allowed to Restart

Here’s a rum’un (Brit speak meaning “strange” or “odd”) if ever we’ve heard of one. Shell shut down construction activity a week ago at its mighty ethane cracker plant site in Beaver County, PA, sending nearly 8,000 people home (see Shell Shuts Down SWPA Cracker Plant Construction re COVID-19). There are still several hundred people on location to secure things and ensure no mischief is made while the other workers are away. However, work on Shell’s Falcon pipeline project, the pipeline that will feed ethane to the (now quarantined) plant, is allowed to continue as “life-sustaining” work under PA Gov. Tom Wolf’s order closing some businesses but keeping others open.
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Flurry of WV O&G Bills Signed into Law Incl. Petchem Tax Credits

MDN previously told you about two (of a number) of bills working their way through West Virginia’s annual 60-day legislative session that will create new tax credits aimed at luring petrochemical plants to the state (see WV Advances Bills to Attract NGL Hub, Cracker Plant, Downstream). One bill, House Bill (HB) 4421, is meant to attract a natural gas storage hub and an ethane cracker plant to the state. The other, HB 4019, is meant to attract downstream natural gas manufacturing facilities. We’re delighted to tell you that both bills are now law in the Mountain State, part of a package of 13 bills related to oil and gas that Gov. Justice signed into law on Wednesday.
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FERC Denies Rehearing on Mountaineer XPress 2 Yrs After Approval

The final bits of Columbia Gas Transmission’s Mountaineer XPress pipeline project (most of it located in West Virginia) went online just over one year ago (see FERC Says Rest of Mountaineer XPress Pipeline OK to Start Up). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project more than two years ago. At the time FERC approved the project, anti-fossil fuelers challenged the approval, as they do every single square inch of every single new oil or gas pipeline. We have to chuckle because FERC finally responded to antis’ request for a “rehearing”…on Wednesday. FERC turned them down more than two years after their objection was lodged.
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Marcellus Shale Coalition Comes Out Against Oil Tariffs

We’ve brought you several stories about the Saudi-Russian oil price war underway in which both Saudi Arabia and the Russians are pumping oil like crazy and lowering the price they charge for their oil–all in a bid to bankrupt American shale oil companies. A number of ideas have been floated to “encourage” the Saudis to scale back on production, which would raise prices again (the Russians are a lost cause and not worth the effort). We’ve talked about an embargo on foreign oil coming into the country (see U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer Asks Trump to Embargo Saudi/Russian Oil), and our preferred response, a tariff on foreign oil (see It’s Time for a $40/Barrel Tariff on Saudi Oil Coming into U.S.). Not everyone thinks an embargo or tariff is a good idea, including the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC).
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Biggest Rig Count Drop in 4 Years – Who’s Still Drilling?

Some 47 drilling rigs were idled last week according to data provided by Enverus Drillinginfo. That’s the biggest single-week drop since the final week of December 2015–more than four years ago. The rig count stands at 766. Of the rigs idled last week, 40 of the 47 were oil drilling rigs. Of the 40 oil rigs idled, half (20) were idled in the Permian Basin. The good news is that the Marcellus Shale and the Utica Shale remain unchanged at 38 and 10 rigs, respectively. Rig counts in each basin have held steady for four weeks running.
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LNG Cargoes All Dressed Up with Nowhere to Go

It seems no market has been left untouched by the COVID-19 coronavirus. Not even the LNG (liquefied natural gas) market. Force majeures–cancelations of LNG contracts due to circumstances “beyond our control”–are now an almost daily occurrence. Big tankers full of LNG often leave a port without a final destination, receiving instructions along the way on where the ship will unload the LNG. A cascading number of force majeures has some of those ships sailing around, “all dressed up but nowhere to go.”
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Shale Energy Stories of Interest: Fri, Mar 27, 2020

MARCELLUS/UTICA REGION: NY State Fairgrounds are the subject of major grandstanding by Cuomo; OTHER U.S. REGIONS: Oil, gas prospects in Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico ‘extremely pessimistic,’ says Dallas Fed; US oil, gas sector sees historic declines, but executives expect a price rebound: Dallas Fed; Murphy Oil CEO steps aside as coronavirus hits close to home; Gov. Baker prohibits reusable shopping bags during coronavirus emergency; NATIONAL: Coronavirus potentially ‘brutal’ for natural gas; storage report doesn’t lift bulls’ spirits; FERC issues guidance and regulatory relief in connection with coronavirus response; Coronavirus economic fallout may boost NGVs as alternative transportation; 2 reasons why midstream companies are not safe; API issues standards to improve safety of natural gas gathering pipelines; Have we seen the 2020 lows for natural gas?; INTERNATIONAL: Higher oil supplies will never make it to the market, global production shut-in is coming; Tanker firm predicts 100M barrels of oil stored on ships; China to resume U.S. LPG imports as Beijing waives trade-war tariff.
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