An open season–a time when customers can sign multi-year contracts with a pipeline company–begins today…but not for a pipeline. This open season connects to pipelines but is for storage of natural gas in the Marcellus/Utica region. Chestnut Ridge Storage, LLC is a proposed underground storage facility that will be built in the West Summit Field located under portions of Fayette County, PA and Monongalia and Preston counties in WV. The new facility will be able to store an initial 15 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas, and eventually 25 Bcf. The facility, if it gets approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), will not be fully operational for another three years–in 2Q18. The open season is “non-binding” meaning customers don’t yet have to sign on the dotted line. We don’t often talk about it, but a key part of the natural gas infrastructure that delivers gas to customers is storage. Not all gas can be used as soon as it’s extracted and flowed through a pipeline. There are a series of (mostly) underground storage facilities that act as a temporary rest stop along the journey to market. A very necessary and important rest stop. The interesting thing to MDN about this particular open season announcement, aside from the fact that it’s meant to store Marcellus and Utica Shale gas, is who is building it: eCORP International…
ecorpStim has poked their heads up again to try and catch a bit of attention for their innovative waterless fracking solution. A press release issued yesterday by the company (full copy below) touts a new short video about their technology and promises that their “non-flammable propane stimulation” solution, developed in “2013,” will roll out in field demonstrations by “the end of this year.” We gave the video a watch a liked it (see it below).
MDN has had our eye on eCORP, ecorpStim’s parent company, since 2012 when they attempted but ultimately failed to cut a deal with landowners in Tioga County, NY to lease a large swath of land and potentially use a waterless fracking technology (from Canadian GASFRAC) to avoid New York’s ongoing moratorium (see Tioga County, NY Lease Deal with eCORP Falls Apart). It was after the wheels came off that deal that ecorpStim changed gears to develop their own waterless fracking solution.
In April, MDN told you about progress with a new waterless method of fracking that uses 100% nonflammable propane fracking fluid. The technique was developed by eCORP Stimulation Technologies, a subsidiary of eCORP International (see Non-Flammable Liquid Propane Used for 100% Waterless Fracking). ecorpStim, as they call themselves, doesn’t seem to have had much luck in finding drillers in the U.S. to use their technology–no doubt because it’s so cheap to use water for fracking.
Sensing there may be an opportunity, ecorpStim recently went on a field trip–to France–to present their technological “break through” to members of the French Parliament. You may recall the French Supreme Court recently upheld a countrywide ban on hydraulic fracturing–at least fracking that uses water (see France’s Fracking Ban ‘Absolute’ After Court Upholds Law). Since water fracking isn’t an option in France, ecorpStim is hoping the French will consider a slightly more expensive, non-water option for fracking…
An interesting press release from eCORP Stimulation Technologies was issued last week about a new patented innovation that allows the company to manufacture a 100% nonflammable propane fracking fluid. Propane fracking has advantages because it goes down as a liquid, does it’s work in breaking apart the rock, then evaporates to a gas and comes back out the hole and is recovered.
You may recall last year eCORP had a deal with GASFRAC (another waterless fracking solution) to potentially drill and frack wells in Tioga County, NY. That deal, however, fell through (see Tioga County, NY Lease Deal with eCORP Falls Apart). After the deal fell apart, eCORP worked on developing its own waterless fracking solution. We reported in January that eCORP was testing the new technology on their first well in the U.S. (see eCORP Tests New Waterless LPG Fracking Method on First Shale Well). Apparently the tests have gone well. Here’s the latest from eCORP:
Last year MDN told you about a deal in Tioga County, NY between landowners with 135,000 acres and drilling company eCORP to use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG, or propane) fracking as an alternative to water-based fracking. The deal, which had a complicated structure with the landowners as part-owners of the venture, fell apart (see Tioga County, NY Lease Deal with eCORP Falls Apart). One of the interesting aspects of that story is that by using a non-water-based fracking method, eCORP may have been able to proceed with drilling ahead of New York’s much-delayed new fracking regulations. However, that theory never came to a test.
Here’s the new news: eCORP was going to use GASFRAC’s LPG fracking technology in Tioga County. Since that time, a newly formed subsidiary of eCORP called eCORP Stimulation Technologies has developed its own LPG fracking technology that uses 100% propane and zero chemicals or additives of any kind. eCORP fracked the very first shale well with the new technology in December…
It looks like it’s time to put away the champagne bottle and glasses that New Yorkers had brought out to toast a deal in Tioga County, NY that would use LPG (waterless) fracking and perhaps herald an early end to more than four years of a horizontal drilling moratorium.
In March, MDN reported on a deal announced between eCORP International and the Tioga County (NY) Landowners Group, also known as Southern Tier Energy Partners (STEP), to lease 135,000 acres in Tioga County with an eye to using LPG waterless fracking (see this MDN story). After the initial announcement, eCORP released another press statement outlining the deal that both sides had supposedly worked out, a somewhat complicated arrangement in which the approximately 2,000 landowners would be split into 13 independent operating companies and would become part-owners in those companies (see this MDN story).
eCORP International and the Tioga County (NY) Landowners Group, also known as Southern Tier Energy Partners (STEP), released details of their new deal to lease 135,000 acres in Tioga County, NY with an eye to using LPG waterless fracking (press release below). It is an interesting deal—not at all typical of the usual leases between drillers and landowners. Perhaps it’s the way of the future in a low commodity gas price environment?
Here’s the low down: eCORP and STEP crafted a deal that makes landowners majority owners of shell companies that control the land. That is, the landowners will become “drillers,” or rather silent partners with the main driller, eCORP—but partners nonetheless, and they collectively will be majority partners, with eCORP a minority partner. eCORP and STEP are tying the knot and getting married—for this deal.