Proxy War: Rice Boys Nominate New EQT Board, Keep Brother Dan

A full-blown war is on for the future of EQT. Yesterday Toby and Derek Rice released a proposed slate of EQT board members they want elected at the next annual meeting on July 10th. They propose replacing all existing board members–except for their brother Dan. The Rice boys say it’s necessary to have a board who is “with it” (our words) and will back up Toby and Derek as they take control of the company. On the other hand, current EQT board chairman Jim Rohr and board member/CEO Rob McNally are pushing back. It’s a fight to the “death” (figuratively speaking).
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Ascent Resources Issues Brief 2018 Update, 2019 Guidance

Yesterday Ascent Resources, a company founded by Aubrey McClendon after he left Chesapeake Energy, issued a (very) brief recap of what happened in 2018, and a look ahead (“guidance”) at what the company expects to accomplish in 2019. The update is brief–cherry-picking highlights to share–because it can be. Ascent’s stock is not publicly traded, so they don’t have to provide full financial updates (except to their investors). Ascent is a big and important driller in the Utica, so *any* information they share is useful and of interest.
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PA DEP Hearing for Shale Well at U.S. Steel Plant Near Pittsburgh

Next Wednesday the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing on plans to drill a shale well(s) on the property of U.S. Steel Corporation’s Edgar Thomson Plant in a Pittsburgh suburb. What’s so unusual about the well(s) is that U.S. Steel itself will be “the sole consumer of the natural gas extracted.” That is, U.S. Steel will use the gas to power/feed the steel plant.
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Denbury/Penn Virginia Merger Aborted – PV Shareholder Resistance

Penn Virginia, an oil and gas driller headquartered in Radnor, PA (near Philadelphia) announced last October it had found someone to buy the company–Denbury Resources (see Penn Virginia Finally Sells Itself, Denbury Buys for $1.7 Billion). As of a few weeks ago both companies filed proxy statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission to announce a final merger vote set for April 17. That’s now off–because some Penn Virginia shareholders got cold feet.
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EQT Accuses Fired Employees of Colluding with Rice Boys

We’re not quite sure what to make of this. In February, EQT filed lawsuits in both Pennsylvania and federal courts against two former employees it had fired, claiming the employees, before they were fired, had systematically copied confidential information from company computers and took it with them when they left (see EQT Claims 2 Fired Workers Stole Confidential Information). Now EQT is alleging the employees “stole” the information to help Toby and Derek Rice in their bid to take over EQT via a proxy war (see Proxy War: Rice Brothers Say Top EQT Mgmt, Board Must Go). That’s a serious charge.
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Range Resources Considers Drilling Under Washington, PA Airport

Washington County, PA Airport (click for larger version)

In 2013 CONSOL Energy (now CNX Resources) signed a deal with the Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County to lease 9,000 acres surrounding the airport for natural gas drilling (see $50M Check in the Mail: Pittsburgh Airport Lease a Done Deal). The program was/is a huge success. Range Resources is now sniffing around, investigating doing something similar at the Washington County, PA airport.
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Man Killed in Accident at Hilcorp Well Pad in Lawrence County, PA

An Indiana County, PA man was working at a Hilcorp drill pad in North Beaver Township (Lawrence County), PA, helping to load “large sections of steel pipeline and drilling equipment” onto a truck when the load became unstable and a large pipe fell from the truck and struck/killed the man. Leonard Clair Long, Jr., 60 years old, died at the scene. He worked for Hilcorp subcontractor Ziegenfuss Drilling.
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Former Range Exec Who Went to H&H is Now at Encino

Last October MDN told you that the man largely responsible for the huge success of Range Resources in drilling in the Marcellus Shale, Range’s former senior vice president in charge of the Marcellus, John Applegath, left retirement to head on over to Huntley & Huntley, to helm the drilling program there (see Retired Range VP of Marcellus Heads to Huntley & Huntley as COO). He didn’t stay long.
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PA Commonwealth Court Keeps Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit Alive

In December 2017, a Bradford County, PA judge turned down Chesapeake Energy’s attempt to wiggle out of a royalty lawsuit on a technicality (see Bradford County, PA Judge Keeps Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit Alive). However, the judge punted the case to a higher court, Commonwealth Court, to settle what he calls “novel questions of law”–rather than spending more time and money on such issues at the county court level. On Friday Commonwealth Court ruled…
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Shell Plans to be World’s Biggest Electric Producer, Using NatGas

Here’s a mind-blower: Royal Dutch Shell is the world’s second largest oil producer (by market value). Yet a Shell official recently said his company wants to be “the largest electricity power company in the world in the early 2030s.” Within 15 years Shell wants to be THE world’s #1 electricity producer! And they plan to do it by using natural gas as the fuel to create all that electricity.
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WV Supreme Court Ponders Important Case, Surface v Mineral Owners

A West Virginia Circuit Court case in September 2017, Crowder and Wentz v EQT, found in favor of surface landowners ruling that EQT did not have the right to extend underground shale wells to adjacent properties where EQT also owned the mineral rights (see WV Surface Owners Win Important Case Against EQT re Drill Pad). The decision was appealed all the way to the WV Supreme Court, where arguments were heard yesterday. This is a VERY important case.
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DEP and Diversified Gas & Oil Compromise on Plugging Old PA Wells

Diversified Gas & Oil has been on a mission to buy as many non-shale (conventional) oil and gas wells as it can in the Appalachian Basin. It owns over millions of acres and tens of thousands of wells–many of them located in Pennsylvania. Last fall the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) told Diversified it wants 1,000 of its nonproducing wells plugged in the next five years. Diversified countered it would like to plug 2,000 wells, but over the next 20 years. They ended up compromising.
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Antis Ask Westmoreland Co. to Stop CNX Drilling Near Reservoir

Anti-fossil fuelers are once again riding their high horse “demanding” that the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County block any more shale drilling on county-owned property located near Beaver Run Reservoir. Even though CNX’s shale drilling has been going on there since 2011 with zero impacts on the reservoir and its water supply.
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Encino Says They’ll Do it Better in the Utica than Chesapeake Did

Last Friday MDN reported that Encino Energy CEO Hardy Murchison and COO Ray Walker (formerly of Range Resources) spoke at the Ohio Oil & Gas Association (OOGA) 72nd Annual Meeting in Columbus (see Encino Belle of the Ball at OOGA’s 72nd Annual Meeting). We have two more reports on their talk that mentions things not covered in the first report.
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Questerre Energy Picks Up Another 753K Utica Acres in Quebec

Utica shale in Quebec – click for larger version

Last year the Canadian province of Quebec decided to ban pretty much all oil and gas drilling (see Quebec to Ban Utica Shale Drilling, Most Other Drilling Too). The ban hits Questerre Energy, a Canadian driller who has patiently waited for years to begin drilling on their extensive Utica acreage in the St. Lawrence Lowlands of Quebec, the hardest. Yet even with the ban Questerre continues to buy more Utica acreage.
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EQT Hires New COO for $1.1M – Tells Him to Cut Costs (Giggle)

EQT yesterday announced they’ve hired a new Chief Operating Officer–Gary E. Gould, hired away from Harold Hamm at Continental Resources where he oversaw production and resource development (essentially the same position). Gould is being paid $550,000 a year with a $500,000 signing bonus ($1.1 million total), for his first year. His salary goes up from there. Gould’s charter from EQT CEO Rob McNally? Cut costs. Which made us giggle.
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