Statoil Gets a New Name Starting Today – Equinor

Can you imagine an oil company being ashamed of the word “oil”? Sounds like a European thing–and indeed it is. Statoil, Norway’s largest oil company (in fact, the single largest company in Norway period) with operations in 36 countries around the world and over 20,000 employees–is ashamed of its own name. And so, as of today, Statoil is changing its name to Equinor. “Equi” stands for equal, equality, or equilibrium (take your pick), and “nor” stands for Norway. Whatever. We mention this bit of tomfoolery because Statoil (now Equinor) still has meaningful leases and assets in the Ohio Utica. According to MDN’s forthcoming Marcellus & Utica Shale Upstream Almanac 2018 (on sale June 1st), in 2017 Statoil had 42 spud wells in the Ohio Utica, with 18 of them producing. Not huge, but also not nothin’. Here’s the tale of the oil company that doesn’t want to be called an oil company any more–even though they still are…
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NatGas, Oil Industry Partnership to Accelerate Methane Reductions

Yesterday America’s natural gas and oil industry announced “a landmark partnership”–called the Environmental Partnership–to “accelerate improvements to environmental performance in operations across the country.” How will they do that? The first area of focus will be to reduce methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. The Environmental Partnership includes 26 natural gas and oil producers, including several major Marcellus/Utica drillers (Chesapeake Energy, Cabot Oil & Gas, Chevron and Southwestern Energy). The list of 26 produce a “significant portion” of American energy resources–we’d peg it at around 80% of all production. The participating companies (full list below) will begin implementing the voluntary program starting January 1, 2018. Did you get that? It’s VOLUNTARY. Yet they will do it and they will voluntarily hold themselves and each other accountable–because they are good corporate citizens and (gasp) actually care about the environment. They don’t need the jackboot of government to force them to do it. Here’s how profoundly biased mainstream media reports it: Oil Firms Pledge to Plug Methane Leaks in Bid to Burnish Image (Bloomberg News). Yep, according to the anti-everything people, these companies are only doing it to “burnish” their image. They don’t really care about the environment. They’re evil, nasty fossil fuel companies (icky). MDN readers know differently. These companies are respectable, providing jobs and investment in local communities AND protecting the environment in those same communities–where they live. The other side? Groups like the Sierra Club destroy jobs in the name of “protecting” Mom Earth…
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NEPA Landowners Fight to Sue Chesapeake’s Partners

We’re going to take a stab at this, and we are not confident we will get it 100% right. With that as a warning, we recently reported that a case brought by landowners in northeastern PA against Chesapeake Energy over unwarranted royalty deductions suffered a bit of a setback (see Chesapeake Scores Court Victory to Prevent PA Royalty Class Action). Essentially, the landowners (in this case Scout Energy) argued that since the leases signed say royalty disputes must go to arbitration, we want mass arbitration. A class action, in other words. In May, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann of the Middle District of Pennsylvania (overseeing the case) issued an opinion that said Chesapeake is right in demanding each case get arbitrated individually–not as part of a class action. The landowners in four cases (all of which seem to be joined, or at least moving along together) filed briefs last week to make a new argument. And here’s where we are not 100% sure, but we think the argument is this: OK, we have to go to arbitration and now it has to be individually. However, there are other defendants named in the case (Anadarko, Williams, Statoil, Mitsui E&P). Since the lease language says the lease is between the landowner and the driller (i.e. Chesapeake), that means the other defendants are NOT covered by the arbitration clause and we (the landowners) can still sue them as a class action. Why? Because (allegedly) those companies colluded together with Chesapeake to “reduce, restrain or eliminate competition for gas and mineral rights, operations rights and gathering serves in multiple counties in Northern Pennsylvania.” Oy vey! It keeps getting more complicated as the days go by…
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Statoil WV Tax Overpayment Court Case – Money “Already Gone”

Statoil, based in Norway, is a big player in the West Virginia Marcellus Shale. Statoil paid property taxes to Brooke, Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties (all in WV) in 2015 and later found, during an audit/review, that they had overpaid those counties. They overpaid Brooke by $1.8 million, Ohio by $2.9 million, Wetzel by $1.6 million and Marshall by $342,000 (see Statoil Wants Millions in Refunds from Tax Overpayments in WV). The WV Tax Department argued that Statoil “acted negligently” and exercised “poor judgment” in not finding the mistake sooner. All four counties voted to deny Statoil’s request, so Statoil took them to court, asking the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to hear the case. However, the Appeals court ruled that the cases are not “complex” and don’t require “special treatment,” so back to county court the cases went (see Statoil’s Tax Overpayment Cases Bounced Back to WV County Courts). A hearing was held last Friday in the case. There’s not much in the way of new news to report, other than Statoil wants the cases combined and the counties would prefer to keep the cases separate. The other bit of information is that the overpayments were spent about as quickly as they were received, and the counties are expressing angst over where they will find the money to issue a refund check, should the court case(s) go against them…
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Statoil’s Tax Overpayment Cases Bounced Back to WV County Courts

StatoilStatoil, based in Norway, is a big player in the West Virginia Marcellus Shale. Statoil paid property taxes to Brooke, Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties (all in WV) in 2015 and later found, during an audit/review, that they had overpaid those counties. They overpaid Brooke by $1.8 million, Ohio by $2.9 million, Wetzel by $1.6 million and Marshall by $342,000. The WV Tax Department argues that Statoil “acted negligently” and exercised “poor judgment” in not finding the mistake sooner. All four counties voted to deny Statoil’s request, so Statoil took them to court, asking the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to hear the case. However, the Appeals court has just ruled that the cases are not “complex” and don’t require “special treatment,” so back to county court the cases will go…
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FERC Approves Another KM Pipeline Project in the PA Marcellus

approvedIn April 2015 Kinder Morgan’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) subsidiary filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build 8.2 miles of new looping pipeline in Tioga County, PA and beef up two compressor stations in Bradford County, PA. The $142 million project is called the Susquehanna West Project. The project will increase capacity along a section of the TGP, bumping it up by 145 million cubic feet per day (Mmcf/d). All of the extra capacity is spoken for by Statoil and the wells they’ve drilled in NEPA. Good news: On Tuesday FERC issued their approval for the project, which means construction will begin in January 2017…
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4 WV Counties Refuse to Grant Statoil $6.6 Million in Tax Refunds

lawsuitBrooke County, WV makes it four for four in denying Statoil’s request to refund tax overpayments made by the company. Statoil, based in Norway, is a big player in the West Virginia Marcellus Shale. Statoil paid property taxes to Brooke, Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties (all in WV) in 2015 and later found, during an audit/review, that they had overpaid those counties. They overpaid Brooke by $1.8 million, Ohio by $2.9 million, Wetzel by $1.6 million and Marshall by $342,000. We previously reported on Marshall’s refusal to refund the money (see Statoil Wants Millions in Refunds from Tax Overpayments in WV). The WV Tax Department argues that Statoil “acted negligently” and exercised “poor judgment” in not finding the mistake sooner. With Brooke’s refusal, all four counties have now voted to deny Statoil’s request. Statoil is (so far) taking Marshall and Ohio counties to court, suing them for refunds. They are “assessing…options” with respect to suing Wetzel and Brooke. You can bet your bottom dollar they will…
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World’s Top 10 Natural Gas Producers

top-10.jpgWe sometimes run Top 10 lists for the Marcellus/Utica, or even the U.S., but what about a Top 10 list of natural gas producers in the entire world? We spotted an article on the Forbes magazine website that lists the Top 10 natgas producers for the entire world. By our count, eight of the ten have major or minor operations in the Marcellus/Utica. Cool! Here’s the list…
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Statoil Sells Another 11.5K WV Marcellus Acres to Antero for $96M

StatoilNorwegian oil giant Statoil, which is 67% owned by the country of Norway, was an early and big mover in leasing Marcellus and Utica Shale acreage, amassing a huge 665,000 acres. Over the past few years Statoil has been equally aggressive in divesting itself of its non-operated acreage (Statoil doesn’t do the drilling) in the northeast–in particular in West Virginia. This is about to get complicated, but we’ll try to make it understandable. A lot of Statoil’s acreage is in joint venture deals. In December 2014, Statoil sold some of its “working interest” in the Marcellus acreage it owns in WV and PA to Southwestern Energy for $394 million (see Statoil Reduces Marcellus Holdings in $394M Deal with Southwestern). The deal reduced Statoil’s ownership in its WV acreage from 32.5% down to 23%. In June of this year, Antero Resources purchased some of that WV acreage from Southwestern (see Antero Takes Southwestern to Cleaners in Deal for 55K Marc. Acres). Antero snapped up even more in the same geography in July (see Antero Resources Picks Up Another 13K Marcellus Acres for $108M). Yesterday Statoil announced it is selling more (the rest of?) its ownership in non-operated WV Marcellus acreage to Antero–some 11,500 net acres–for $96 million in cash. That is, Antero continues to consolidate and take full ownership over Marcellus acreage in WV–primarily in Wetzel, Tyler and Doddridge counties…
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Statoil Completes Sale of WV Marcellus Assets to EQT

StatoilIn May MDN told you that EQT, a major Marcellus (and Utica) driller based in Pittsburgh, had cut a deal to purchase all of Norwegian Statoil’s Marcellus assets in West Virginia (see EQT Buying 62.5K “Core” WV Marcellus Acres from Statoil for $407M). The deal gives EQT another 62,500 net acres and 50 million cubic feet per day (50 Mcf/d) of natgas production for $407 million. The acreage is located in Wetzel, Tyler and Harrison counties in WV. The deal includes 31 Marcellus wells and ~500 drilling locations. It bumps up EQT’s available drilling locations by a big 29% and shows the company’s continued commitment to the mighty Marcellus Shale. Statoil reports the deal closed last Friday…
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Statoil Wants Millions in Refunds from Tax Overpayments in WV

StatoilStatoil, based in Norway, is a big player in the West Virginia Marcellus Shale. Statoil paid property taxes to Marshall County, WV in 2015 and later found, during an audit/review, that they had overpaid the county by some $300,000. Ouch. So Statoil politely asked for their money back. Marshall County has said “nei.” The WV Tax Department argues that Statoil “acted negligently” and exercised “poor judgment” in not finding the mistake sooner. At least that’s how we read it. So Marshall and WV intend to keep the overpayment. Apparently Marshall isn’t the only county where Statoil says it overpaid on taxes. The company is also seeking refunds in Wetzel, Ohio and Brooke counties as well…
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EQT, Rice Energy Deals Show Price per Acre for Leases Still High

money-bag.jpgYesterday MDN brought you the news that EQT has cut a deal to buy all of Norwegian Statoil’s operated Marcellus assets in West Virginia for $407 million (see EQT Buying 62.5K “Core” WV Marcellus Acres from Statoil for $407M). One of MDN’s favorite energy analysts, Richard Zeits, writing on the Seeking Alpha website, does a close examination of the deal. We have a portion of this thoughts below. As part of Zeits’ deep dive on this deal, he takes a side road and compares how much EQT is paying per acre in this deal with the recently announced Rice Energy deal to purchase the Marcellus assets of bankrupt coal company Alpha Natural Resources (see Rice Energy Offers Bankrupt ANR $200M for Marcellus/Utica Assets). Zeits finds the per-acre price being paid by EQT is less than the Rice deal. But the real eye-opener is that the prices each are paying is still quite high–perhaps an indication that once unleased or expired lease acreage heats up again, prices will remain high…
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EQT Buying 62.5K “Core” WV Marcellus Acres from Statoil for $407M

EQT logoEQT, a major Marcellus (and Utica) driller based in Pittsburgh, announced yesterday it has cut a deal to purchase all of Norwegian Statoil’s Marcellus assets in West Virginia. The deal will give EQT another 62,500 net acres and 50 million cubic feet per day (50 Mcf/d) of natgas production for $407 million. The acreage is located in Wetzel, Tyler and Harrison counties in WV. The deal includes 31 Marcellus wells and ~500 drilling locations. It bumps up EQT’s available drilling locations by a big 29% and shows the company’s continued commitment to the mighty Marcellus Shale. How will they finance it? EQT released another announcement yesterday that says they are floating 10.5 million shares of new stock, hoping to get $67 per share for a total of $700 million for this deal and for “other potential acquisitions and for general corporate purposes.” Statoil is retaining ownership of its shale assets in Ohio and (for now) it’s non-operated Marcellus assets–i.e. joint venture deals where Statoil owns a portion of the lease but doesn’t do the drilling…
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Statoil Accident Gift that Keeps Giving, $100K for OH Firefighters

StatoilPlease bow your head in a moment of silence for the 70,000 fallen. Who? More like what. In June 2014 crews were working to frack a Utica Shale well at a Statoil drill pad in Monroe County, OH when hydraulic tubing (not to be confused with fracking) from some of the equipment caught fire. The fire quickly spread to 20 trucks lined up at the pad, burning the trucks (some of them exploding) and creating thick, black smoke that billowed for hours (see Statoil Frack Trucks Catch Fire in Monroe County, OH). Unfortunately fluids from the well pad escaped containment and made their way to a local creek and killed some fish, crayfish, frogs and other aquatic critters. Hence the moment of silence for the fallen. Statoil paid for the accident, to the tune of $223,000 (see Statoil Fined $223K for 2014 Monroe County, OH Well Pad Fire). The Ohio EPA fined Statoil $41,000 for the roughly 70,000 fish and other critters that died after chemicals ran off the well pad and into a nearby creek, and about $132,000 for contaminating the water. Except that wasn’t the end. Now comes word that Statoil has agreed to give Monroe County Firefighters Association $100,000 to compensate emergency responders for their work during the event. This is the accident that just keeps on giving–giving Statoil’s money to other people…
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4 People Win GE/Statoil Contest to Reduce Water Used in Shale

GE and Norwegian oil giant Statoil today announced four winners of their Open Innovation Challenge, a contest designed to use crowd sourcing to find solutions that reduce fresh water use in shale oil and gas production. There of the winners are in the United States, and one is from Australia. Each winner gets a cash prize of $25,000 with the promise of future funding for their technology. Here’s the cool new technologies that won this year’s contest…
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10 Sell-Out Big Oil Companies Support Paris Global Warming Treaty

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Eight CEOs from the Gang of 10

In a repugnant and self-serving public relations stunt, the CEOs for 10 of the world’s largest oil and gas companies are pushing for “an effective climate change agreement to be reached at next month’s 21st session of the United Nations (UN) Conference of Parties to the UN Framework on Climate Change (COP21)” at the meeting being held in Paris in early December. That is, they’re pretending they believe in the total hoax that mankind is causing global warming and therefore all of the nations of the earth, including the United States, should give up their sovereignty to achieve something they have no control over–whether or not global average temps go up more than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. Conveniently, most of us won’t be alive to see whether or not that ever happens. Fortunately none of the big oil companies signing this asinine statement are U.S.-based companies, although they all have serious (and large) operations in the U.S. Who are the Gang of 10?…
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