Fire Sale: Rex Energy Selling Everything to Pay Back Lenders

Some even sadder news to share about Rex Energy. On Friday we told you that Rex had filed for Chapter 11 “voluntary” bankruptcy protection (see Clock Runs Out – Rex Energy Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy). After our story, Rex released a press release to announce not only are they seeking Chapter 11 protection, they are, as of now, putting all of their Marcellus/Utica assets (wells, leases, etc.) up for sale–in both Pennsylvania and Ohio. The stated reason is to “maximize their long-term value and prospects.” To find good homes for those assets with another driller, because Rex obviously doesn’t think after exiting bankruptcy the company will be doing much in the way of drilling. And they need the cash from those asset sales to pay back lenders. In the end, our “little engine that could,” could not. Notice that Rex filed for Chapter 11 (reorganization), not Chapter 7 (liquidation). The company says “drilling and production programs are operating as usual, and the Company is maintaining the necessary staffing and resources to meet its commitments to gathering and processing partners.” So, limited business as usual–until everything is sold–and then there won’t be any business. Looks to us like it’s still a liquidation–except on Rex’s terms, instead of a forced auction of assets…
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Rice Brothers Act II – $200M Marcellus/Utica Investment Firm

Good news! The four Rice brothers, all of whom formerly worked in the family business, Rice Energy, have launched a new venture. You will recall last November EQT consummated a deal to buy and merge in Rice Energy, paying $8.2 billion to do so (see Out with the Old: Rice Energy Sign Comes Down Day of EQT Merger). Not all of that money went into the pockets of Dan, Toby, Derek and Ryan Rice–but you can be sure a good chunk of it did. We’ve been wondering where the Rice boys would land since they have a non-compete clause with EQT. Would they leave the Pittsburgh region and restart somewhere else? Fortunately, no! The four boys plus a fifth partner, a former VP at Rice, have pooled their money and expertise and have just launched Rice Investment Group (RIG), a (so far) $200 million “multi-strategy fund investing in all verticals of the oil and gas sector with a focus on partnering where our operational, technical, and strategic experience add value.” We love everything about the Rice boys. They’re young, irreverent, know how to have a good time, and smart. They come from good stock. Their dad, Dan Rice III, was once the most successful mutual fund manager in the United States, for over a decade, until the company he worked for (BlackRock) booted him for their own bungling and lack of communication with investors (see BlackRock’s Screw-up with Dan Rice & Rice Energy). The boys learned from the best and now they’ve launched an investment firm of their own. When you look at their website homepage, it is classic Rice boys–an animated video of an 800-pound gorilla on the homepage, signalling their intention to be THE big player in funding Marcellus/Utica ventures…
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School Near Pittsburgh Considers EQT Deal: $2,500/Ac, 15% Royalty

Last week MDN told you about the ongoing vendetta by a few anti parents in the Mars School District (half hour from Pittsburgh, in Butler County) and their Big Green accomplices. They suffered a major court defeat (see Dela. Riverkeeper Suffers Major Defeat in Martian Well Case). Rex Energy has drilled two wells about 3/4 of a mile from one of the Mars schools, and wants to drill another four. The Martians bleat and blat that faraway drilling activity will somehow hurt “the children.” Compare that attitude with the parents (and school district officials) in the Kiski Area School District in Westmoreland County (about 40 minutes from Pittsburgh). The Kiski Area School will vote tonight on a lease deal with EQT to allow shale drilling UNDER SCHOOL PROPERTY! The district will get $2,500 per acre in a signing bonus, and 15% royalties on any gas produced. If signed, the school’s bonus check could be as high as $310,300–for “the children.” The difference in attitude (and aptitude) between the parents in Mars and the parents in Kiski could not be more striking…
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TransCanada Pipe Construction Crew Helps Locate Missing WV Boy

Little boy who went missing in WV

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Last Monday afternoon a three year-old boy wandered into the woods near his home in Jackson County, WV and got lost. The parents could not find him. WV State Police and several local fire departments aided in a search effort, canvasing the woods. TransCanada is building the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline project several miles from where the toddler went missing. Upon hearing of the missing boy, the people in charge of the project flew into action, delivering supplies and port-a-potties to the searchers. They also provided maps of the area made by TransCanada–maps which ended up being instrumental in finding the boy. Some 15 hours after he went missing, on Tuesday morning, he was found–safe and sound. Authorities credit TransCanada as being instrumental in the process. TransCanada’s people didn’t do it for accolades. They did it because it was the right thing to do–even though it delayed the project and cost the company money. This episode paints a far different picture of pipeline companies than you typically hear about, does it not? Pipeline companies are not the heartless, “damn the environment and everyone who lives in the path of the pipeline” meme antis feed to sycophantic “reporters” in mainstream media. Quite the opposite. These are people who care about the work they do, and how it impacts the people where they do it. They care about the communities in which they work–and live…
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Trout Unlimited Launches Spy/Snitch Program for PennEast Pipeline

Let’s be right up front about how we feel about the innocent-sounding Trout Unlimited (TU). Four years ago the organization was outed as a radical, far-left environmentalist group–hellbent on opposing fossil fuels (see Trout Unlimited, Other Groups Outted as Radical Green Groups). We have zero respect for the organization. Yes, there are some well-meaning (hoodwinked, misguided) people who belong to it. Good people. But tricked into supporting an anti-American, anti-fossil fuel agenda. (You need to get out!) TU has just announced a new spy/snitch training program to keep an eye on the PennEast Pipeline–when it actually starts to get built. TU will soon begin training for a so-called “water monitoring” program in PA counties where PennEast will run–Luzerne, Carbon, Northampton and Bucks counties. To which we say, knock yourselves out. PennEast has nothing to hide. The pipeline won’t negatively impact waterways–not in any meaningful, long-term way. So if you want to spy and snitch, go right ahead. There won’t be anything to snitch about…
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EIA: Another 6.3 Bcf/d of New Pipes Coming Online in M-U in 2018

The Marcellus/Utica region needs pipelines and we need them bad. That was one of the themes MDN editor Jim Willis heard at last week’s Upstream PA event, held in State College, PA. Marcellus Shale Coalition President Dave Spigelmyer, one of the presenters, showed a slide stating there are 24 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) active pipeline infrastructure projects in PA-OH-WV. In PA alone, pipeline projects worth $12.9 billion are either planned or under construction! Jim was one of the presenters too (great to see many MDN subscribers at the event). He presented “7 Trends/Issues that will Impact PA Drilling” in the next year or two. Jim’s #2 most important trend/issue? The pipeline wars. The efforts under way to limit and stop new pipeline projects. So it was with great interest we spotted a post by our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, providing an update on northeast pipelines. According to the experts at EIA, if all planned and under construction pipelines in our region go online this year (as committed), we will have 23 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of “takeaway” pipeline capacity flowing out of our region. That’s up from 16.7 Bcf/d of takeaway capacity at the end of 2017–a 6.3 Bcf/d increase (up 38%), a much-needed increase to get our gas to new markets…
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Other Energy Stories of Interest: Mon, May 21, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Trillium opens third CNG station in New Castle, PA; Energy Transfer’s growth projects; M-U Shale Crescent offers big advantages for investors; Trump tax cuts flow through to PA utility customers; energy speakers say pipelines key to natgas boom; the bitter world of fractivism; thank goodness for U.S. natgas exports; California and Texas may see power shortages this summer; Russian pipeline to Europe a bargaining chip; and more!
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Clock Runs Out – Rex Energy Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

In early April, Rex Energy, a driller focused solely on the Marcellus/Utica driller, defaulted on payments it owes to debtholders (see Rex Energy Defaults on IOUs, Can’t File Annual Report on Time). Rex told the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) the company could not make a semi-annual interest payment due on senior notes on April 2. Rex said in the filing that the noteholders to whom payment is due signed a temporary “forbearance” agreement that gives Rex a little breathing room, until April 16. The April 16 payment didn’t happen. Rex and the noteholders signed a second forebearance agreement giving Rex another extension, then another, then another. At least four, maybe five such extensions were granted. But in the end, Rex could not work out favorable terms. And lack of progress caused the banks that lend Rex money to call in the loans. With no money to pay those loans, Rex has no choice but to file for Chapter 11. Rex reported in an SEC 10-Q filing on Tuesday that: “An acceleration notice from the lenders of our senior term loan has been received and we lack the liquidity to pay these obligations. Given these circumstances, the Company is currently in the process of preparing to file for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code which is expected to occur imminently following the filing of this Form 10-Q.” Rather ominously, the next sentence reads: “There can be no assurances that the Company will be able to reorganize its capital structure on terms acceptable to the Company, its creditors, or at all.” What does this mean for Rex’s Marcellus/Utica drilling program?…
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U.S. Fourth Circuit Court Vacates Key Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipe

Disgusting and frustrating. That’s our reaction to a decision by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that invalidates (vacates) a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that allows Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to accidentally kill a few bats and bumble bees (classified as endangered) as it builds the massive $6.5 billion, 600-mile project from West Virginia to North Carolina. The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and Virginia Wilderness Committee (all radical left organizations) previously sued in federal court asking the court to stop work on ACP until the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission makes a decision on whether or not to “rehear” their decision to approve the project in the first place. In March, the court declined to stop work on ACP (see Fed Court Dismisses Anti Lawsuit to Stop Atlantic Coast Pipeline). However, as part of the effort to stop ACP, Sierra Club, et al also asked the court to invalidate a key permit by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which the court did do on Tuesday. Sierra Club is now demanding that the court revisit its decision about whether to stop all work on the pipeline. In the meantime, work does continue. Dominion says while it’s disappointed in the decision and will have to get a new, more specific permit from Fish and Wildlife, in the meantime they’ll continue construction in those (many) places not under the now-invalid permit. That is, most construction will continue. This does not really hamper the project. Not yet anyway. As long as the Fourth Circuit doesn’t shut it all down…
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Fed Court Forces FERC to Decide on MVP Rehearing, No More Delays

It was a big week for Sierra Clubbers. The radical environmental organization (that irrationally hates all fossil fuels, even fossil fuels they used to love, like natural gas) previously filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Appeals for D.C. asking the court to consider whether or not the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) should have issued an approval for Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). MVP is a $3.5 billion, 301-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA–to move Marcellus/Utica gas south. No, the court did not rule FERC was out of order in its decision. Not yet, anyway. This gets in the weeds just a bit, so bear with us. The first step in the process of challenging a pipeline is to ask FERC to rehear their decision. If FERC refuses to rehear (reconsider) the decision, then whoever asked for the rehearing is free to file a lawsuit in the court system to challenge FERC’s decision to approve a project. FERC has 30 days to make a rehearing decision–unless they pull out the “tolling order” card and play it. A tolling order allows FERC more time to decide on rehearing–months, even a year. FERC played the tolling order card here and told the court, “We haven’t decided on rehearing yet, so you need to toss out the radical Sierra Club lawsuit challenging our decision to approve MVP” (MDN condensed version). This week the court said a very loud “NO” to FERC’s request. The court further told FERC to get off its duff and make the rehearing decision within 30 days. In the meantime, the Sierra Club of course wants MVP construction “paused indefinitely” while they continue to tie it up in legal knots. Don’t look for that to happen…
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FERC Tax Decision Forces Williams to Restructure – No More MLP

It appears a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) earlier this year that strips away the main advantages of the tax-advantaged master limited partnerships (MLP) structure is causing the MLP to go the way of the dodo bird. Because of the Trump tax cut, in March FERC reversed a previous policy and will no longer allowed MLP interstate oil and gas pipelines to include an income tax allowance in their cost-of-service rates (see FERC Takes Aim at Adjusting Pipe Rates in Light of Trump Tax Cut). Not long after, Tallgrass Energy, owner of the Rockies Express Pipeline, announced they would phase out their MLP structure (see Tallgrass Energy Eliminating MLP – First “Casualty” of Tax Cut?). As we predicted, it was the first of many to do so. Williams is now the latest midstream company to dump its MLP. Williams is essentially two companies–Williams (the corporation) and Williams Partners (the MLP). The MLP owns most of the assets. Williams Partners will be no more and instead, all of the assets will now live under the Williams (corporation) umbrella. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Once upon a time Williams had plans to merge the two together–but that all got mothballed when they ended up first fighting against, then trying to merge with Energy Transfer Equity (see Energy Transfer Makes “Indecent Proposal” to Buy Williams for $48B). FERC’s action in March provided the motivation for Williams to move forward with phasing out the Williams Partners MLP, which will cost Williams (the corporation) $10.5 billion to do…
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Williams Refiles Application with NY DEC for Transco NESE Project

In April MDN told you that the New York Dept. of Environment Conservation (DEC) had rejected a modest pipeline expansion proposal by Williams’ Transco Pipeline subsidiary (see Cuomo-Corrupted DEC Denies Permit for Williams NESE Pipe Project). The project, which we’ve previously written about and are actively promoting, is called the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project (see Time to Support Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhancement Project). NESE is meant to increase pipeline capacity and flows heading into northeastern markets. Transco wants to provide more Marcellus natural gas to utility giant National Grid beginning with the 2019-2020 heating season. National Grid operates in New York City, Long Island, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. There are a number of components to the project, but the key component, the heart of the project, is a new 23-mile pipeline from the shore of New Jersey into (on the bottom of) the Raritan Bay–running parallel to the existing Transco pipeline–before connecting to the Transco offshore. The DEC warned Williams that they would reject the application as incomplete unless/until FERC itself provides an environmental assessment of the project. That happened in March, but the DEC said it didn’t have enough time to review it and requested Williams refile (we’ve heard that one before). Given Cuomo is refusing to approve any new natural gas pipeline projects (see him say it point blank in this video), we’re not optimistic that the DEC will actually approve it this time either…
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Atlantic Coast Pipeline Nearly Done in Lancaster County – July

Good news. The main part of the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project–where it runs through Lancaster County, PA–is almost finished. Atlantic Sunrise is a $3 billion, 198-mile pipeline project running through 10 Pennsylvania counties to connect Marcellus Shale natural gas from northeastern PA with the Williams’ Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County. The most opposition to the pipeline has happened in Lancaster County. Right now 90% of the pipeline has been welded in Lancaster County and sits above ground. By the end of July, all of it will be done and buried in the ground. It won’t be long after that that the entire 198 miles will begin to flow northeast PA Marcellus gas…
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Liberal Groups Force Range, Anadarko to Consider Global Warming

We get tired of saying it, but perhaps we should never get tired of saying that according to the most reliable methods of tracking temperatures on earth (by satellite), THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. The only way global warming alarmists get away with claiming the earth is heating up is by using doctored computer algorithms. The actual testing and measurement of temps doesn’t show we’re heating up! And yet the manipulators who persist in using scare tactics that mankind is somehow causing the earth to heat up catastrophically by burning fossil fuels and leaking methane into the atmosphere, have just claimed a couple of more scalps in their efforts to shut down the fossil fuel industry. A so-called church, the Unitarian Universalist Association (people who believe in everything, consequently they believe in nothing) bought $2,000 worth of Range Resources stock and proposed a resolution to all shareholders at the annual meeting that forces Range to publish a report on how evil the company is for causing global warming (i.e. produce a report on Range’s efforts to scale back methane emissions). The measure passed by 50.25%. A group called As You Sow bought Anadarko stock and floated a resolution instructing the company to produce a report on how mythical man-made global warming will affect the company financially as it will no doubt have to scale back its exploration and production. That resolution passed by 53%. These groups, with innocent-sounding names, are NOT innocent. They are far left, liberal groups that have snookered shareholders into voting against their own best interests by harming the very companies they invest in, forcing those companies, ultimately, to stop drilling. All in the name of “climate change” (i.e. global warming)…
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Other Energy Stories of Interest: Fri, May 18, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: PA Sen. Scott Wagner (friend of gas) wins PA primary to challenge Tom Wolf for governor; industry invests $63.9B in Ohio Utica; UGI lowering natgas rates starting June 1; PA EQB taking public comment on raising shale permit fees 250%; could Utah see the country’s largest shale oil operation?; the great Bakken rebound; CFTC issues report on LNG markets; Gulf Coast ports limiting crude oil exports; Trump Justice Dept. tells court climate lawsuits violate Constitution; US o&g companies have invested $108B (!) in greenhouse gas reduction since 2000; and more!
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