Price of NatGas Doubles in NEPA – Thanks to Atlantic Sunrise Pipe

The evidence continues to pour in that the addition of Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, a 200-mile greenfield pipeline from northeastern to southeastern PA where it joins the Transco Pipeline, is having a dramatic and ongoing effect on natural gas prices in northeastern PA. As in, the price drillers get for their gas has doubled. Atlantic Sunrise went online in early October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Sunrise for Startup! Pipe Opens Sat. Oct. 6). The main shipper on Atlantic Sunrise is Cabot Oil & Gas. But Cabot isn’t the only shipper, and not the only beneficiary, of higher prices. Seneca Resources and Range Resources are also shipping gas on Atlantic Sunrise, and reaping the price benefits.
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Game On: NFG Accepts US EPA “Methane Challenge”

We’re not much of a fan of the federal Environmental Protection Agency–especially the agency under the jackboots of the Obamadroids. The Obama years saw egregious abuses and wild new regulations that tried to stamp out the fossil fuel industry. In March 2016, we told you about a new “voluntary” program set up by the Obama EPA called the Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program (see Dominion & NiSource Bow Down to Lord Obama, Worship the EPA). The program is aimed at trying to reduce the amount of so-called fugitive methane escaping into the atmosphere from oil and gas sources (never mind far more methane escapes into the atmosphere from the agriculture industry than oil and gas, such facts just get in the way of partisan politics). We’re still not sure we like the program, but it has (at least for now) remained voluntary. NFG, National Fuel Gas Company, with all five of its subsidiary companies, has just signed on to the program–to prove their dedication as good stewards of environmental resources.
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NFG 4Q18: Production Higher, Northern Access Pipe Slips to 2022

Last week National Fuel Gas Company (NFG), which operates drilling subsidiary Seneca Resources and pipeline subsidiary Empire Pipeline, issued its fourth quarter 2018 (everyone else’s 3Q18) update. Via Seneca Resources, NFG drills wells in northcentral and northwestern PA. Via Empire Pipeline, they build and maintain hundreds of miles of pipelines in PA and New York, where the company is headquartered. NFG operates a utility (gas and electric) company in addition to Seneca and Empire. A lot of spinning plates to watch. But they do a great job. Much of the focus of the update was on the upstream–on Seneca Resources. According to CEO Ron Tanski, in 2019 more than half of the company’s capital expenditures will go for Seneca’s drilling program. Seneca has and will continue to operate three drilling rigs, with plans to expand production by 24%.
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By the Numbers – Revenue & Profitability for M-U Drillers

The expert analysts at RBN Energy have just published their “fourth and final” in a series of posts looking in detail at E&Ps (exploration & production companies, or “drillers”). One of the groups of E&Ps they examine are “gas-weighted” E&Ps–or drillers who mostly extract natural gas. In looking through the list, you immediately realize every one of them has operations in the Marcellus and/or Utica Shale region. Yes, a few also have operations in other plays, but they all have at least some operations here. The real value in the article is an accompanying spreadsheet comparing various financial metrics (apples to apples)–things like total revenue, lifting costs, production costs, and “pre-tax income,” meaning profitability. How do our drillers compare with each other?
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Cabot, Seneca Resources Grab 100% of New Transco Leidy Expansion

Williams is expanding its mighty, 10,500-mile Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co (Transco), again. Sometime this month Williams will prefile a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the Leidy South expansion project. The new project will bump up “compression” (either build new compressors or refit existing compressors) and build new “looping” pipeline in Pennsylvania, in order to increase capacity of Transco in the northeast Marcellus region by another 580 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d).
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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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Financial Checkup for Marcellus/Utica Drillers

RBN Energy, headed by founder Rusty Braziel (co-founder of Bentek Energy), is, in our opinion, the premier oil and gas analytics firm out there. Smart people working at RBN. And they offer up some amazing content on their blog site–for free! At least it’s free for a while, then it goes behind a paywall. A few days ago RBN published a blog post on the financial health for the 44 major publicly-traded U.S. exploration and production companies (drillers). RBN groups them into three categories: Oil-Weighted, Diversified, and Gas-Weighted. We found the Gas-Weighted list of 10 companies and the information revealed about them to be fascinating and worth studying. Each of the companies has major operations in the Marcellus/Utica–some of them totally focused on our region. Among the data points shared: revenue, production costs, lifting costs and more. We think of the following as a handy financial health scorecard/checkup for 10 of the biggest drillers in the M-U, including Antero Resources, Cabot Oil & Gas, Chesapeake Energy, CNX Resources, EQT, Gulfport Energy, National Fuel Gas (Seneca Resources), Range Resources, Southwestern Energy, and Ultra Petroleum…
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NFG/Seneca: Pursuing Plan B for Blocked NY Pipeline Project

Last Friday National Fuel Gas Company (NFG), headquartered in Western New York State which operates drilling subsidiary Seneca Resources and pipeline subsidiary Empire Pipeline, issued its second quarter 2018 (everyone else’s first quarter) update. Via Seneca Resources, NFG drills wells in northcentral and northwestern PA. Via Empire Pipeline, they build and maintain hundreds of miles of pipelines. NFG wants to add to their pipeline portfolio by building the Northern Access Pipeline–a $455 million project with 97 miles of new pipeline along a power line corridor from northwestern PA up to Erie County, NY. Northern Access would allow Seneca to drill new wells in an area currently pipeline “constrained.” However, Northern Access construction has been blocked by the corrupt NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (see Cuomo’s Corrupt NY DEC Blocks NFG Northern Access Pipeline Permit). During a conference call with analysts on Friday, NFG CEO Ron Tanski outlined what we call Plan B for the Northern Access. Yes, NFG still wants to build Northern Access, but they now have an alternative. NFG recently signed an agreement with Williams’ Transco Pipeline to flow 300 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of Seneca natural gas to Transco Zone 6 markets. Transco is talking with other shippers before it files to expand the existing pipeline–a project that would not be online until late 2021. If by some miracle NFG could get the corrupt DEC to change its mind and authorize Northern Access, that project would be online in 2020. Other interesting bits of news coming from last week’s update: Seneca plans to drill Utica wells on some of its existing Marcellus well pads. Seneca added a second drilling rig in 2017, and plans to add a third rig any time now…
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Seneca Resources Wastewater Recycling Plant Largest in PA

A few years ago Seneca Resources (wholly-owned drilling subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Company) purchased a wastewater treatment facility at the McKean County Landfill and began using it to recycle Seneca’s brine (wastewater). The operation was renamed Highland Field Services and now handles all of the “sourcing, handling and recycling of fluids associated with the Seneca’s Appalachian development program.” Because of the facility, last year Seneca was able to recycle 100% of it’s brine/wastewater, and because of that, some 75% of all the fluids Seneca used in their 2017 drilling activities came from the Highland facility. Put another way, Seneca had to acquire and use fresh water sources for only 25% of all the water they needed to drill and frack–far less fresh water was needed in Seneca’s operations last year than in previous years. Not only did the Highland facility handle 100% of Seneca’s wastewater, it also handled wastewater for other drillers too–a total of 7.9 million barrels between Seneca and other drillers, making Highland the largest oil and gas wastewater recycling facility in PA…
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Trumbull Co. Residents Rally to Oppose 3 New Injection Wells

Town of Brookfield – Trumbull County, OH

Last December MDN told you about three proposed new injection wells planned for the Town of Brookfield, in Trumbull County, OH (see 3 More Injection Wells Coming to Trumbull County, OH). Highland Field Services (subsidiary of Seneca Resources/National Fuel Gas Company) brought two new injection wells online in Brookfield last year. Shortly after the two wells went online, Highland then floated a plan to build three more wells in close proximity to the existing two, a plan opposed by many in the town. Even though Brookfield Township trustees issued a “no more injection wells” letter to Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR), the ODNR ignored the letter and two weeks ago issued the necessary permits to build the three additional new wells (see ODNR Grants Permits for 3 New Injection Wells in Trumbull County). Last Thursday a group of town residents staged a rally against the three new injection wells. Do they have valid concerns?…
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ODNR Grants Permits for 3 New Injection Wells in Trumbull County

Town of Brookfield, Trumbull County, OH

Last December MDN told you about three proposed new injection wells planned for the Town of Brookfield, in Trumbull County, OH (see 3 More Injection Wells Coming to Trumbull County, OH). Highland Field Services (subsidiary of Seneca Resources) brought two new injection wells online in Brookfield last year (see ODNR Approves Plans for 2 New Trumbull County Injection Wells). Shortly after the two wells went online, Highland then floated a plan to build three more wells in close proximity to the existing two, a plan opposed by many in the town (see Trumbull Residents Want Extra 60 Days to Fight 3 Injection Wells). Even though Brookfield Township trustees issued a “no more injection wells” letter to Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR), the ODNR ignored the letter and last week issued the necessary permits to build the three additional new wells…
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NFG Quarterly Update: Seneca Could Drill More, if Pipeline Gets Built

Last week National Fuel Gas Company (NFG), headquartered in Western New York State which operates drilling subsidiary Seneca Resources and pipeline subsidiary Empire Pipeline, issued its first quarter 2018 (everyone else’s fourth quarter 2017) update. Via Seneca Resources, NFG drills wells in northcentral and northwestern PA. Via Empire Pipeline, they build and maintain hundreds of miles of pipelines. NFG wants to add to their pipeline portfolio by building the Northern Access Pipeline–a $455 million project with 97 miles of new pipeline along a power line corridor from northwestern PA up to Erie County, NY. Northern Access would allow Seneca to drill new wells in an area currently pipeline “constrained.” However, Northern Access construction has been blocked by the corrupt NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (see Cuomo’s Corrupt NY DEC Blocks NFG Northern Access Pipeline Permit). NFG CEO Ronald Tanski gave an update for the Northern Access project on an analyst call. Tanski indicated the company engaged in a two-pronged strategy: one is a pending court case, NFG sued the DEC; the other strategy involves a request with FERC to overturn the DEC’s decision. No definitive word on when either/both will happen. In the meantime, Seneca Resources must “focus on drilling and completing wells where we have adequate take away capacity or the ability to lock in firm sales.” Which means Seneca could be drilling a lot more were it not for Cuomo blocking the Northern Access pipeline. Seneca continues to operate 2 drilling rigs. Below are portions of the analyst phone call and the complete quarterly update for NFG…
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Seneca Resources 100% PA Utica Focused by ‘End of Fiscal Year’

While Buffalo “Marcellus” Bills owner Terry Pegula’s JKLM Energy has been “steadily increasing activity” in Potter County, PA (northcentral PA) grabbing headlines, another company, National Fuel Gas (NFG) subsidiary Seneca Resources, is also active in Potter and several neighboring northcentral PA counties (Cameron, McKean, Elk, and Lycoming). We spotted a pair of stories in a local newspaper recounting Seneca’s activity to date, and outlining plans for the future. One statement in particular stood out for us: Seneca will be “shifting to 100-percent Utica development by the end of this fiscal year.” At first blush, you might think “end of fiscal year” means by Dec. 31, 2017. However, NFG and subsidiary Seneca operate on a strange fiscal year. Fourth quarter 2017 (Oct-Dec) is NFG/Seneca’s first quarter 2018 fiscal period. Since the quote about focusing 100% on PA Utica drilling came at the end of November, we interpret the quote to mean “Seneca will be 100% focused on the PA Utica by September 2018.” At any rate, let’s not get caught up in semantics and timing. The takeaways from the pair of articles below, which appeared about a week apart at end of November/beginning of December, are: (1) Seneca is shifting to 100% Utica drilling; (2) Seneca spent 60% more on drilling in 2017 than 2016; (3) Seneca is currently running either 1 or 2 rigs, depending on which quote from which story you read; and (4) between royalty payments, impact tax payments and money spent with local PA businesses, Seneca has now spent nearly $1 billion on shale drilling–all of it in northcentral PA…
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NFG 3Q17: Delayed Northern Access Pipe No Closer to Resolution

Last week National Fuel Gas Company, headquartered in Western New York State with drilling subsidiary Seneca Resources and pipeline subsidiary Empire Pipeline, issued its fourth quarter (everyone else’s third quarter) 2017 update. In the accompanying analyst phone call, CEO Ronald Tanski blamed the delay of the Northern Access Pipeline project (delayed by the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation) for lower earnings than the company would have otherwise realized. Thanks, business UNfriendly NY! You may recall in July NFG filed a lawsuit against the DEC for arbitrarily rejecting the project (see Northern Access Pipeline Court Case Further Threatens NY DEC). On the analyst call, Tanski said the case, filed in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (in NY), will hold oral arguments on Nov. 16th. Tanski also said it’s “anyone’s guess” when NFG will get an answer about the project–either from the lawsuit or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). On the drilling front, Seneca Resources produced 40.4 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe) last quarter, up a tiny 1% from the same quarter a year ago. After hedging, Seneca got $2.91 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) for their gas–not too shabby. Below is the full update for NFG for last quarter (remember they also have a huge utility business, in addition to drilling and pipelines), along with excerpts from the analyst call and the latest slide deck…
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Pin Oak Energy Snaps Up 4,300 Acres, 16 Wells from Seneca in NWPA

In August MDN introduced you to a new-to-us driller based in Akron, Ohio–Pin Oak Energy Partners (see New Marcellus/Utica Driller Snaps Up Assets in OH, PA). Pin Oak is owns both conventional and unconventional (shale) oil and natural gas wells, along with associated assets (like pipelines). At the time, Pin Oak currently operated 363 wells producing nearly 5.7 MMcfe/d (32% liquids) across more than 32,000 acres in the Marcellus/Utica region. You can now add another 16 wells (14 Marcellus, 2 Utica) and 4,300 acres to those totals. Yesterday Pin Oak announced they have purchased wells and acreage from Seneca Resources–in Forest, Elk, McKean and Cameron counties in Pennsylvania. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. We can also tell you that last week Pin Oak got an increase in their line of credit with the bank–now able to borrow up to $150 million. Here’s the latest on the newest (rapidly growing) entrant to the Marcellus/Utica…
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Fed Judge Rules for Seneca Resources in PA Injection Well Fight

An update in the ongoing case of a proposed injection well in Highland Township (Elk County), PA. In 2013 the radical leftist group Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) convinced ignoramuses in Highland Township to pass a so-called Community Bill of Rights. Seneca Resources, a driller with leases and an active drilling program in Elk, had planned to drill an injection well on their own property to dispose of their own flowback and produced water. The CELDF-inspired ordinance in Highland prevented it, and Seneca threatened to sue the town (see Seneca Resources Threatens to Sue PA Town over Injection Well). Seneca made good and filed to sue, but the town and CELDF tried to block the lawsuit. Didn’t work. The lawsuit advanced. New supervisors were elected and promptly voted to overturn the so-called Community Bill of Rights (see Elk County Town Wises Up, Abandons Effort to Block Injection Well), enraging the nutters. However, last November enough locals remained fleeced to pass a so-called home rule charter which contained language making injection wells illegal. The charter was/is essentially the Community Bill of Rights under a different name and different legal structure. In an effort to extract itself from a legal hellhole of its own making, the new Highland supervisors asked a federal judge to rule in favor of Seneca Resources, but to not make Highland pay legal fees and penalties for delaying the injection well (see PA DEP Issues 2 Wastewater Injection Well Permits, Sues 2 Towns). Last Friday the judge did rule in favor of Seneca, gutting provisions in the home rule charter that attempt to regulate oil and gas (and its waste). It is a legal victory for Seneca Resources and their plan to drill an injection well in Elk County…
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