More Bids to Drill Under WV State-Owned Land, Incl Ohio River

West Virginia keeps up its aggressive push to lease and allow drilling under state-owned land–both under the Ohio River and under other tracts of state-owned land in prime Marcellus/Utica country. Last Friday the state Dept. of Commerce, responsible for overseeing the leasing program, opened its latest round of bids. Some of them are truly eye-popping. You may recall Antero Resources has paid $12,000 per acre (with 20% royalties) to drill under 518 acres of the Conaway Run Wildlife Management Area (see Record High Bid to Drill Under Bambi’s Home in Tyler County, WV). In the bids opened Friday, Jay Bee bid an even higher price to drill under the Jug Wildlife Management Area, also in Tyler County…
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Statoil Reduces Marcellus Holdings in $394M Deal with Southwestern

follow the bouncing ballTime to follow the bouncing ball–this is a tad complicated, but we’ll do our best to explain it. In 2008, Chesapeake Energy (under then-CEO Aubrey McClendon) took on a “silent” investing partner for 600,000 net acres in the Marcellus of West Virginia and southwest Pennsylvania. The non-operating partner for the acreage was Norwegian company Statoil, with a 32.5% interest in the acreage. Statoil put up buckets of money and Chessy did the drilling. Fast forward to October of this year. Chesapeake cut a deal to sell most of that acreage–some 413,000 acres with 435 drilled wells (see Chesapeake Sells Close to 25% of Marcellus/Utica Operation). The buyer is Southwestern Energy. In order for the deal to close, Statoil has to sign on. Today, Statoil announced they have cut a deal with Southwestern to reduce Statoil’s now 29% interest in the acreage down to a 23% interest, in return for a $394 million check from Southwestern…
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BG Poaches Statoil CEO Helge Lund with Big Bucks

Statoil is a Norwegian oil and gas company that has a number of joint venture deals–along with their own drilling program–in the Marcellus and Utica Shale (see MDN’s list of Statoil stories here). So it was with interest that we noticed a changing of the guard at the top. Statoil CEO Helge Lund was lured away by BG Group. What lured him away? Big money. BG gave Lund a £12m “golden hello” (that’s a roughly $19.4 million signing bonus) and the possibility of annual earnings of £13.5m (or $21.8 million, per year!) if he hits all his targets. BG wanted Lunde bad. We searched and found one reference on MDN to BG–they spent $950 million in 2010 to lock up 654,000 acres of leases here in the U.S., including 186,000 acres in the Marcellus, although they have no active drilling program of their own in the northeast (see Recent Marcellus Shale Joint Venture Deals). What does Lunde’s change from Statoil to BG mean for northeast shale drilling?…
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Details on 4 Bids to Drill Under Ohio River in WV

As MDN recently reported, West Virginia solicited bids from drillers to drill under portions of the Ohio River in areas where the state owns land adjacent to the river and in areas where there is Marcellus and/or Utica Shale present. The state received four bids (see WV Receives 4 Bids to Drill Under the Ohio River). What we now have are the details of those bids…
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OH Rep Hagan Doesn’t Let A Good Frack Accident Go to Waste

Anti-drilling Ohio State Rep. Robert Hagan (Democrat, Youngstown) sent out a press release yesterday that says, essentially, “Na na na na na, told ya so, told ya so.” In just about that childish tone. Hagan has seized on a report that MDN and others highlighted yesterday from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that alleges Halliburton, following the well pad fire in Monroe County on June 28, took five days to provide a list of chemicals at the site to the EPA (see EPA Reports on Enviro Damage from Statoil Well Fire in OH). What Hagan conveniently leaves out of his childish screed is that Halliburton promptly provided that list to the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources and local firefighters, the two agencies stipulated under Ohio law. The EPA is not stipulated to get a fast copy of the chemicals list–they’re not first responders to the accident. The EPA is there to watch, observe, assess and level hefty fines…
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EPA Reports on Enviro Damage from Statoil Well Fire in OH

On June 28 a fire at Statoil’s Eisenbarth eight-well pad in Monroe County, OH quickly spread and engulfed some 20 trucks on the pad site, along with other equipment, chemicals and supplies stored at the site. It was a devastating fire (see Statoil Frack Trucks Catch Fire in Monroe County, OH). Local, state and even federal agencies quickly responded to the incident and fortunately no one was injured. One of the responding agencies was the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA recently released their initial response report covering the period June 28 – July 5–a chronicle of actions taken, the facts known, and the EPA’s initial view on environmental damage caused by liquids escaping from the pad. We have the full EPA report (below), along with an update on the continuing fallout from that accident…
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Statoil Frack Trucks Catch Fire in Monroe County, OH

Statoil Well Pad Fire - Monroe County OHCrews were working to frack a Utica Shale well at a Statoil drill pad in Monroe County, OH around 9 am on Saturday when hydraulic tubing (not to be confused with the process called hydraulic fracturing, or 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. Fortunately no one was injured, although 20-25 families living within a mile of the well were evacuated…
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Marcellus Gas Production for Norwegian Statoil Now 660 Mmcf/d

A semi-retired engineer who dabbles with investing wrote an interesting article appearing yesterday on the Seeking Alpha investor’s website about Statoil, a Norwegian multinational oil and gas company. One of the “short-term catalysts” mentioned in the article is Statoil’s investment and activity in the Marcellus and Utica Shale. We found his quick-take (and charts) on Statoil’s northeast activity an interesting and useful update on what the company is doing here in our neck of the woods. The Marcellus/Utica is growing in size and importance for Statoil.

Here’s a quick update on Statoil’s activity in the northeast:
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WV Landowners Settle with Chesapeake Out of Court

A lawsuit in Marshall County, WV that previously escaped our notice has just been settled. Landowners David and Sharon Hall, owners of 116 acres, sued Chesapeake Energy and Statoil alleging damage to their surface property. The lawsuit also says Chesapeake did sloppy work on the drill pad, destroyed crops and destroyed timber on seven acres of the Hall’s land.

Last Friday the judge dismissed the case because it was settled out of court…
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Statoil Pays $590M for 70K “Wet Gas” Marcellus Acres

In August, MDN told you that Statoil (a Norwegian company) was in the hunt for more U.S. shale acreage (see this MDN story). Statoil previously purchased a 32.5% interest in Chesapeake Energy’s Marcellus Shale acreage in 2008, securing 600,000 net acres for the company (but not as the “operator” for that acreage). They’ve been in the hunt for more, specifically to become an operator, and today they announced they’ve done a deal for an additional 70,000 Marcellus Shale acres—in the wet gas area of the play.

Statoil officially closed on the deal yesterday with Grenadier Energy Partners LLC, Protege Energy II LLC and PetroEdge Resources II LLC, paying $590 million for 70,000 acres in both West Virginia and eastern Ohio. The purchase price works out to be $8,429 per acre.

Here’s the Statoil press release announcing the deal, along with a slide presentation and map of the newly acquired acreage:

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Top 10 Energy Companies & Top 10 Drillers Worldwide

Each year Platts publishes a list  of the top 250 energy companies in the world. They evaluate companies using four metrics: asset value, revenue, profit, and return on invested capital. It probably won’t surprise you to find out that 7 of the top 10 energy companies in the world have a presence in the Marcellus or Utica Shale.

Here’s the Platts list of the top 10 energy companies in the world for 2012:

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Norway’s Statoil Shopping for More Shale Acreage in U.S.

Reuters is reporting that Norwegian energy giant Statoil is on the hunt for more shale acreage in the U.S. Does that mean Statoil is looking to pick up more acreage in the Marcellus or Utica Shale area?

“Way back” in 2008, Statoil purchased a 32.5% interest in Chesapeake Energy’s Marcellus Shale acreage, buying them 600,000 net acres at the time (according to the MDN’s Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook, Vol. 1). But just a few months ago, MDN reported that Statoil was moving away from “dry gas” areas and to “wet gas” and “oily” areas, like the North Dakota’s Bakken Shale (see this MDN story).

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Statoil Shifts it Focus from Marcellus to Bakken

Norwegian company Statoil continues to change its focus away from the Marcellus Shale region and instead concentrate on “oily” shale areas of the country, like the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. Why? Natural gas prices continue to bump around at historically low prices, making it a challenge to be profitable.

Statoil has cut the number of drilling rigs in the Marcellus nearly in half from one year ago and the wells they’re drilling now are simply to hold acreage. That is, they drill on acreage for which leases are about to expire to hold that acreage.

According to Bill Maloney, president of Statoil North America:

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WV Couple Challenges Chesapeake Lease Renewal

A husband and wife in Brooke County, West Virginia are suing to have their 5 year-old lease, which is now expired and up for renewal, nullified so Chesapeake (now the owner of the lease) cannot automatically renew it as they are attempting to do.

Increasingly landowners who signed leases that are now expiring after a customary 5 year period face the same issue—and drillers are trying to lock them in under the terms of lease for a new period of time.

Here’s the story of Ramon and Lois Bowen:

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Judge Orders Arbitration in Chesapeake ‘Force Majeure’ Case

U.S. District Judge David N. Hurd ordered that a lease dispute case between a group of landowners in Broome and Tioga counties (New York) and Chesapeake Energy will go to arbitration for about 150 of the landowners. That’s not-so-good news for those landowners who want to keep the case in federal court. But he also ruled a second case with 32 landowners can go forward in federal court because those leases did not contain an arbitration clause. That’s good news for those landowners, and may end up being good news for those in arbitration. A copy of the judge’s order is embedded below.

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