Cabot, Seneca, Chief Ramp Up Production for Atlantic Sunrise

According to a report from BTU Analytics, the top three shippers who will soon flow natural gas along Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline (ASP)–Cabot Oil & Gas, Seneca Resources and Chief Oil & Gas–have “nearly doubled” their rig counts over the past few months leading up to the imminent startup of ASP. The pipeline is due to go online any day now–by the end of August (see Genscape Confirms Atlantic Sunrise Pipe Ready to Flow in August). Cabot has reserved 1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of the 1.7 Bcf/d capacity of the new ASP. One third of Cabot’s 1 Bcf/d (350 million cubic feet per day, MMcf/d) will flow to Dominion’s Cove Point LNG export plant in Maryland–heading for Japan. Another 500 MMcf/d of Cabot’s gas will go to Washington Gas via ASP–meaning northeast PA Marcellus molecules will help heat, cool and power D.C. swamp dwellers. Joy. Here’s the great news that a single pipeline is stirring up a lot more drilling in northeastern PA…
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Well Pad Fire @ Chief O&G Site in Wyoming County, PA

Chief well pad fire – click for larger version

There was a fire at a natural gas well pad operated by Chief Oil & Gas in Wyoming County, PA over the weekend. We only have a few details from one news source (which seems odd). A call came in just after 4 am Saturday morning for a well pad in Lemon Township near Tunkhannock, PA. The cause of the fire is unknown. Nobody was hurt. And that’s about all we know. Perhaps an MDN reader in that area can shed more light? Here’s the very brief news item we spotted…
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Righteous Royalty Anger: PA Town Votes to Block Gas Production

angerResidents in Wilmot Township (Bradford County), PA are mad as hell over shorted royalty checks–and they aren’t taking it anymore. Yesterday Wilmot Township’s three supervisors passed a resolution demanding, “production be discontinued from wells where landowners are having their royalty checks diminished to nothing or nearly nothing.” That is, they want to block natural gas production from existing shale wells drilled in a town smack in the middle of one of the most-drilled places in Pennsylvania. We’ve long chronicled the fight between landowners and some (certainly not all) drillers who are screwing them out of royalty payments by claiming inflated post-production costs. The issue first came to prominence with claims by landowners signed with Chesapeake Energy, who claimed Chessy had cut a sweetheart deal with its former midstream company (Access Midstream) whereby Access bumped up its charges for piping gas which Chesapeake claimed as an expense and deducted from royalty checks, and then Access turned around and invested big money into the old mothership company (see Chesapeake Shafting Landowners out of Royalties Mess Gets Messier). A group of Bradford County landowners were among the first to sue Chesapeake over the scheme (see Bradford County, PA Landowners Sue Chesapeake over Royalties). Several bills have been offered over the past few years to correct the situation by legislating that landowners get a minimum 12.5% royalty for any gas produced, regardless of post-production costs. The most recent effort, which has come the closest to passing, is House Bill (HB) 1391. However, the Marcellus industry has steadfastly lobbied against it (see PA Landowners, Drillers Fight over HB 1391 Minimum Royalty Bill). Exasperated landowners in Wilmot have had enough and have taken the symbolic (but likely unenforceable) step of telling drillers to turn off their spigots until they’re ready to conform to a 1979 PA law that guarantees landowners a 12.5% minimum royalty for oil and gas production…
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Gastar Leaving Marcellus/Utica, Sells Assets to Tug Hill for $80M

Gastar Exploration is throwing in the towel in the Marcellus/Utica. Gastar is selling its Marcellus/Utica assets–mainly located in Marshall and Wetzel counties in West Virginia, to Tug Hill for $80 million. Gastar has seen the light and that light is in becoming a “pure play” company focused solely on the Oklahoma STACK Play. Why sell what they admit are “high-quality”? Because they can’t get enough money for their gas in the northeast–and they can’t get enough money because there aren’t enough pipelines to move the gas to other markets. So they’re throwing in the towel and calling it quits. In addition to the sad news that they’re leaving the Marcellus, Gastar also delivered the bad news that their proved reserves went down 45% in 2015 due to lower commodity prices…
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PA Game Commission Cuts $15.5M in Deals to Lease State Land for Drilling

PA Game CommissionThis is something you don’t see often these days: The Pennsylvania Game Commission is getting $15.5 million of revenue from new Marcellus leases with Chief Oil & Gas and EQT. The bulk of the money will come from a deal with Chief to lease 5,870 acres in Bradford and Sullivan counties. Terms of the lease? Chief is paying $2,500 per acre as a signing bonus and 20.55% in royalties when/if they drill and the gas and oil begin to flow. It just about floored us to see this deal! We though all deals were done until the price of gas goes up again. We’d not heard of any new deals being cut. As for EQT, they are paying the Game Commission $917,000 for the right to drill under a 306-acre parcel in Washington County, PA. Details on the per acre bonus and royalty for the EQT deal below…
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Chief O&G Founder “Licking His Chops” to Buy Distressed Assets

Forbes magazine has a fascinating article on the founder and chairman of Chief Oil & Gas, Trevor Rees-Jones. Chief did have a fairly big presence in the Marcellus Shale, but last September they closed their Wexford (i.e. Pittsburgh) office, a story that MDN broke (see Chief O&G Confirms MDN Story re Closing of Pittsburgh Office). Chief still owns about 200,000 acres of leases in the Marcellus. Trevor Rees-Jones has the misfortune of sharing the same name with the body guard present when Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car crash–so don’t be confused. The Forbes article focuses on Rees-Jones’ uncanny timing. He snapped up leases and drilled wells when the shale revolution was just getting under way, and he sold many of those assets just prior to the bottom dropping out of the price for oil and gas. His deft timing earned him on the order of $7 billion. Now, with the industry reeling and companies teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, Rees-Jones, a bankruptcy attorney by training, says “I’m licking my chops.” He can’t wait to be there to pick up the pieces by buying at the bottom to make his next fortune…
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Chief O&G President Fires 3 VPs and All Geologists (Save One)

rumor millOur intrepid tipster is back with another juicy rumor about Chief Oil & Gas. You may recall that MDN broke the story Chief is closing its main Appalachian office near Pittsburgh, a tip later confirmed by Chief (see Chief O&G Confirms MDN Story re Closing of Pittsburgh Office). The same tipster is back to say that Chief’s president, Russell Parker, has just fired three vice presidents and all of their on-staff geologists, save one…
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Chief O&G Confirms MDN Story re Closing of Pittsburgh Office

confirmedWe have an update on the story we broke yesterday–that Chief Oil & Gas is closing its Wexford (Pittsburgh) office (see Rumor: Chief Oil & Gas has Closed it’s Marcellus Office Near Pittsburgh). A few hours after posting our story, a spokesperson for Chief sent us a statement (below) confirming our story. The statement makes the point that although they are closing the Wexford office, Chief remains fully committed to the Marcellus. In addition to the Chief Statement, we also have some more inside details from our tipster about what went down at the Wexford office on Tuesday…
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Rumor: Chief Oil & Gas has Closed it’s Marcellus Office Near Pittsburgh

rumor millThis is breaking news. MDN has received a tip that Chief Oil & Gas, a sizable and active driller in the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale, has just closed its Appalachian regional office in Wexford, PA (near Pittsburgh). Unfortunately we don’t have any further details at this time. We don’t know what it means for the future of Chief’s Marcellus drilling program. We don’t know what has happened to Chief’s workers. Stay tuned and we’ll bring you more when we hear more. Below is a chart from the 2015 Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook (Vol. 1) showing the number of permits for Marcellus wells by Chief going back to the beginning of 2013…
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Lease Terms Revealed for Land Deal in Marshall County, WV

In November, MDN brought you the news that Tug Hill Operating, a privately-owned exploration and production company, did a deal with the Marshall and Ohio County Landgroup in West Virginia for a $100 million signing bonus for about 500 families (see Panhandle WV Landowners Broker $100M Deal with Tug Hill Operating). We later learned that Tug Hill’s CEO was at one time concurrently the COO of Chief Oil & Gas, meaning the two companies are “tight” and perhaps share a drilling program (see More Details on Tug Hill $100M Lease in WV Panhandle). In November we had precious few details, beyond the $100 million signing bonus and a claim that royalties may end up being another $400-$500 million. Can you imagine a half BILLION dollars rushing into the economy of those two panhandle counties? Astonishing. Behold the miracle of fracking! At any rate, we now have an inkling of what the terms may have been. The Marshall County Commission is considering signing a lease with Tug Hill for 72 acres behind the animal shelter. The deal isn’t done yet, but the we know the proposed terms, both for the signing bonus and the royalty…
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More Details on Tug Hill $100M Lease in WV Panhandle

Just One More Thing - ColumboWe have some more details about that lease deal for $100 million by Tug Hill Operating to lease land in Marshall and Ohio counties in the northern panhandle of West Virginia that we wrote about yesterday (see Panhandle WV Landowners Broker $100M Deal with Tug Hill Operating). We know a bit more about Tug Hill and the person behind it, and we now know that the $100M deal is with about 500 families (average of $200,000 signing bonus per family), and that it’s not too late for others to get in on the deal…
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Tug Hill’s Wandering Eye – JV with Quantum Targets Non-Marcellus

Tug Hill, Inc., an investment firm owns an oil and gas drilling subsidiary called Tug Hill Operating. Tug Hill, to date, has been bosom buddies with Chief Oil & Gas in the Marcellus Shale region (see these MDN articles). Together Tug Hill and Chief have established a lease position of a massive 600,000 Marcellus Shale acres. But what’s this? Tug Hill has a new dance partner. While Tug Hill is not abandoning Chief and their current joint drilling program in the Marcellus, they went looking and found some big money backing from Quantum Energy Partners, a Houston, TX-based private investment firm. Quantum and Tug Hill together (mostly Quantum) is pumping $450 million into a brand new joint venture between the companies to drill in other shale (and perhaps non-shale) plays across the U.S….
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Chief O&G Adds Field Office/Jobs in Bradford County, PA

Chief Oil & Gas is expanding–in Wyalusing, PA. Where the heck is Wyalusing (population 564)? Smack in the middle of Bradford County, not far from Towanda, PA. Bradford is one of (perhaps the most) drilled Marcellus Shale counties in the state. It certainly makes sense for Chief to set up shop there–especially since Chief owns 210,000 acres of leases and operates 100 wells in the area!

The new field office in Wylausing consists of three trailers and 12 employees–at least for now…
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Chief O&G Buys 210K Acres/Operations in NE PA from Chesapeake

Chief Oil & Gas announced yesterday that they’ve purchased 210,000 Marcellus Shale acres from Chesapeake Energy in northeast Pennsylvania. Along with the acreage comes 130,000 million cubic feet per day of natural gas production and 40 wells waiting to be completed and/or connected to a pipeline. This doubles the amount of Marcellus acreage for Chief.

The big question is, does this mean Chesapeake has now completely exited the Marcellus in northeast PA? It may well (we’re not sure). Here’s the statement by Chief about their deal with Chesapeake:
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4 Electric Plants Coming to NE PA, Powered by Marcellus Gas

In August MDN told you the news that Chief Oil & Gas has struck up a deal with IMG Midstream (sort of misnamed, IMG is not a pipeline company) to provide IMG with Marcellus Shale gas to power several small regional, super efficient and low-polluting electric generation plants they plan to build in northeastern Pennsylvania (see Chief Strikes Deal to Provide Marcellus Gas for Electric Plants). We have good news: projects to build those plants are moving forward with all due speed.

We now know that there are four plants planned for Pennsylvania and one for West Virginia. We also know where those plants will be built…
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