Energy Corp of America Fined $1.7M for Drilling Violations in PA

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has just collected a whopping $1.7 million fine from Energy Corporation of America (ECA) for violations at 17 well sites in Cumberland, Jefferson, and Whiteley Townships in Greene County, and Goshen Township in Clearfield County. ECA’s violations? “Failure to properly contains fluids in onsite pits, unauthorized discharge of industrial waste into groundwater, unauthorized disposal of residual waste, failure to restore the pits and well sites, and operating solid waste storage, treatment, and transfer facilities without permits.” Pretty serious stuff. Essentially, ECA (according to DEP) was sloppy in how they handled flowback and brine, using open pits to store it long after their use was outlawed under new Chapter 78a regulations were adopted. Spills from those pits contaminated a water well of one nearby resident. It’s interesting to MDN that as you read the consent order (full copy below), not only is ECA listed, but also “Greylock Production.” You may recall our news from late last year that ECA reorganized itself under a new name–Greylock Energy–shafting existing shareholders in favor of a new investor, ArcLight Capital (see ECA Sells Marcellus/Utica Assets to ArcLight Capital – Shareholders Shafted). The fine was assessed against and paid by ECA and Greylock jointly, confirming our conclusion that ECA had simply changed the nameplate on the door to Greylock…
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ECA Sells Marcellus/Utica Assets to ArcLight Capital – Shareholders Shafted

Greylock Energy CEO Kyle Mork

Big news concerning Energy Corporation of America (ECA), a privately owned company founded in 1963 with corporate headquarters in Denver, CO. The company owns (or rather owned) and operated approximately 4,600 (mostly vertical) wells, 5,000 miles of pipeline, and leases more than 1 million acres in North America–most of it in Appalachia. We spotted a press release yesterday that says ArcLight Capital has acquired substantially all of ECA’s natural gas production and pipeline assets. But here’s where it gets interesting. ArcLight has set up a subsidiary called Greylock Energy, which will own the assets–all of the ECA natgas/pipeline assets will go to Greylock. The former CEO of ECA, Kyle Mork, will become the CEO of Greylock. Many (most?) of top management from ECA will become part of Greylock. The existing ECA palatial headquarters building we told you about back in 2014 (see ECA’s New Regional HQ in Charleston: More WV Drilling on the Way?) will become the new HQ for Greylock. In other words, it’s all still ECA, but there’s a new nameplate on the door. So what really happened? What happened, according to an MDN source, is that ECA did something akin to what we’ve seen a number of times before: they converted debt into equity (ownership) and shafted existing shareholders out of millions of dollars. Except in this case we’re not sure ECA actually had large debts. There’s no way to know since it’s a private company. But the pattern is the same. ECA gave the keys to new owners, leaving the previous owners (i.e. shareholders) standing on the curb…
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Top 10 Drillers in SWPA, by Number of Permits Issued

Every now and again it’s fun to take a look at a “Top 10” list. Here’s one for you. How about a Top 10 List for drillers in southwestern PA, in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Clarion, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. This Top 10 list ranks drillers by how many shale well permits they’ve been granted. The list is extracted from a Top 40 list prepared by the (must read) Pittsburgh Business Times. Can you guess which 10 drillers are in the Top 10? How about the Top 1? It may come as no surprise that Range Resources, the very first company to drill a Marcellus Shale well (in 2004), has received the most permits to drill in SWPA. Here’s the full Top 10 list, with some interesting extra details…
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Top 20 Marcellus Drillers in Southwest Pennsylvania

The sharp folks over at the Pittsburgh Business Times have been looking through data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and have compiled a list of 20 drillers who have at least a dozen shale wells in the southwest PA region. And they ranked them from lowest to highest. We’ve grabbed the list below. The interesting thing for MDN is that there is one name in the list not familiar to us, and we’ve been watching this space since 2009. Always fun to learn something new. Here’s the list of southwest PA’s “Top 20” Marcellus drillers…
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PA Landowners Win $1.1M Lawsuit Against ECA re Royalty Deductions

lawsuitOn Monday, October 24, 2016, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (in Western Pennsylvania) ruled that Marcellus driller ECA (Energy Corporation of America) did not prove a need for a new trial in the case it previously lost. Pennsylvania landowners sued ECA in federal court beginning in 2010, saying their royalty checks were shorted because ECA was improperly deducting post-production costs. Sound familiar? In February 2013 a federal judge upheld a split decision that said most of what ECA was deducting was OK, but the one thing they can’t deduct from royalty checks are charges for interstate pipeline transmission (for the full story, read our post Federal Judge Upholds Split Decision in PA Royalty Case). More legal wrangling ensued after that decision and a jury trial convened in March 2015. The trial was to determine whether or not the landowners were shorted royalty payments because ECA was deducting charges for transportation and marketing. The jury found for the landowners and against ECA, awarding the landowners a $1.1 million judgment. ECA asked for a new trial and they have now been denied…
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Heartbreak: Weatherford, ECA Lay Off Combined 175 Jobs in WV

cutting jobsA pair of companies operating in the Marcellus Shale announced late last week that they are laying off a collective 175 jobs in West Virginia between them . Energy Corporation of America (ECA), which ranked 20th for most production in the Marcellus Shale in 2015 according to NGI’s 2016 Shale & Resource Plays Factbook, announced last Thursday they will lay off 51 positions (28 of them in WV). Oilfield services company Weatherford International has a branch office in Buckhannon, WV. Weatherford announced last week that it will lay of 147 positions in the Buckhannon office by the end of August. The announcement hit the local community hard…
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Top 10 Marcellus/Utica Drillers in SWPA – Ranked by Production

top-10.jpgEverybody loves a list. We do too! We spotted a ranking in a recent issue of the Pittsburgh Business Times that lists the top 37 shale gas producers in southwestern Pennsylvania, based on the amount of gas they produced in 2015. We pulled the names of the top 10, listed in order from most to least…
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Top 20 Marcellus Drillers – Ranked by Environmental Impact

top 20Last Friday MDN brought you the news about a professor who devised a clever formula for evaluating the overall environmental impact of 20 Marcellus drillers (see Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Best Driller of Them All?). At the time we only knew who the top and bottom companies are in the list. CONSOL Energy took top honors, while ExxonMobil was last or “least” environmentally friendly as compared with the others. We now have the entire list (below). Where does your favorite driller fall in the list?…
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Virginia Rejects Deal for DC-based Utility to Buy Marcellus Wells

A Washington, DC-based natural gas utility company, Washington Gas (WGL Holdings), announced in May they had cut a $126 million deal with Energy Corp. of America to purchase a 96% interest in 22 Marcellus Shale gas wells in Greene County, PA and another 3 shale wells in Clearfield County, PA. The gas flowing from those wells would go to WGL’s customers in the State of Virginia, requiring state approval of the deal. The Virginia State Corporation Commission (VSCC) turned them down and nixed the deal. Why? VSCC said WGL’s assumptions about how much the wells will produce, and about the price of gas over the next 20 years, were not solid. Furthermore, the VSCC didn’t like that WGL is essentially shifting the risk of well production/prices onto the backs of rate payers. More deals like this are rumored to be coming down the pike. Will they get nixed too?…
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Washington Gas $126M Deal to Bring Marcellus Gas to DC Suburbs

Washington Gas, a natural gas utility serving customers in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia, announced a deal last week to purchase Marcellus Shale natural gas directly from 22 producing wells in Pennsylvania to be used to sell to Washington Gas’ customers in Virginia. Yes, some of that cheap, abundant and wholesomely fracked Marcellus Shale gas will be going to the Washington, DC suburbs. The deal is with Energy Corporation of America (ECA) for $126 million and runs for 20 years. It is the first such deal under a new 2014 Virginia law that allows such investments. Here’s the details…
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ECA’s New Regional HQ in Charleston: More WV Drilling on the Way?

Energy Corporation of America (ECA) is a privately owned company founded in 1963 with corporate headquarters in Denver, CO. The company owns and operates approximately 4,600 (mostly vertical) wells, 5,000 miles of pipeline, and leases more than 1 million acres in North America alone. Most of ECA’s leased acreage is in the northeast, so it came as no surprise when they announced last year that they would build a new regional HQ that will house more than one-third of their employees (see ECA Breaks Ground on WV Regional HQ, Donates $600K to Clay Center). The brand spanking new regional HQ building in Charleston, WV is done (cost $10 million to build) and some 115 employees are now moved into a 60,000 square foot building with room for up to 200 employees. But MDN has discovered a head-scratcher…
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China Comes to the Marcellus – to Learn and to Profit

In the dead of the holiday season, on Friday, Dec. 27, Energy Corporation of America (ECA) issued a press release that largely went unnoticed. In the release, ECA announced it has formed a 50/50 joint venture partnership with the world’s second largest (and China’s largest) coal company, China Shenhua Energy Company (100% Chinese government owned), to drill 25 Marcellus wells in Greene County, PA. Shenhua will invest $90 million in the venture and in the process learn how drill in shale–knowledge currently lacking in China. It’s not much of a stretch to predict this is not the final involvement of Chinese money that will flow to the Marcellus and Utica Shale.

Here is the brief statement issued by ECA, followed by a story about the jv from China Daily:
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ECA Breaks Ground on WV Regional HQ, Donates $600K to Clay Center

Last week Energy Corporation of America (ECA), an oil and gas driller with more than a million acres of leases in the Marcellus and Utica Shale region and operating 4,600 (mostly conventional) wells, broke ground on a new 60,000 square foot company eastern regional headquarters in Charleston, WV. They also made a $600,000 donation to the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences.

From the company press release:
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ECA Moving/Expanding NE Headquarters to Charleston, WV

Energy Corporation of America (ECA) will unveil plans today to move its eastern regional headquarters from “over the river” in Kanawha City, WV into Charleston, WV proper—at the Northgate Business Park. The new 60,000 square-foot facility is a good sign that ECA will continue to expand its presence in the Marcellus Shale. Headquartered in Denver, CO, ECA owns over 1 million acres of leases from New York to Tennessee, and operates over 4,600 wells (mostly conventional) and over 5,000 miles of pipeline. Most of their northeast operations are in West Virginia.

More on the new office building:

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Federal Judge Upholds Split Decision in PA Royalty Case

A group of landowners who signed leases in western Pennsylvania with Energy Corporation of America (ECA) filed a lawsuit in June 2012 (Pollock, et al v Energy Corporation of America) alleging ECA improperly deducted certain expenses, and didn’t include certain revenues, when calculating and paying royalties. At the time, ECA counter-sued asking for summary judgment that the way they calculate royalties and revenues is OK according to accepted practice and previous court rulings.

Last fall Magistrate Judge Robert Mitchell “partially granted and partially denied” the summary judgment request from ECA. It was mostly a victory for ECA because it dismissed all but one of the charges by the landowners. The case was appealed by both sides to federal court and on Jan. 24, Judge Joy Flowers Conti of the Western District of Pennsylvania said Judge Mitchell’s interpretation of the case is correct. She upheld his decision. This is an instructive case for both landowners and drillers, and a caution to be sure the lease you sign spells out in minute detail how royalties will be calculated…

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