WPX Pays $1.2M Fine to Settle 2012 Case of Leaky PA Impoundment

In July 2014, MDN told you the water wells for two of three families living near a WPX recycled frack wastewater impoundment (i.e. “pond”), near Ligonier (Westmoreland County), PA, were determined to have been contaminated by that impoundment. That is, the Kalp impoundment leaked into the ground, according to the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), and that caused a long-term problem with those wells (see WPX Wastewater Impoundment Source of Water Contamination in W PA?, and our follow-up story, Important Update on WPX Energy Leaking Impoundment in SWPA). A month later the DEP later made a final determination that the third family’s well, the elderly Ken and Mildred Geary, was also affected and that WPX will need to find a permanent water replacement solution for them too (see DEP Says WPX Needs to Replace 3rd Water Supply in SW PA). From the beginning, WPX owned up to the problem and worked hard to make it right by installing water treatment systems–for five (total) affected water wells. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) continues to monitor the water for the affected wells. However, the DEP is now ready to close the door on this now three year-old case, by assessing WPX with a $1.2 million fine and a requirement that they complete a remediation of soil in the area that may still be affected…
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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 District Court Rules in Favor of Driller in NEPA Lease Dispute

lease agreementA decision by the Middle District Court of Pennsylvania is worth noting–for both drillers AND landowners. A landowner in Susquehanna County, PA sold some land already under lease to a new landowner/rights owner. Neither the new landowner nor the previous landowner informed the driller of the change in ownership. The time came to renew the lease and under the terms of the contract the driller sent payment–but didn’t know about the change in ownership–so the driller sent the payment to the previous owner. The new landowner used that faux pas as a legal excuse to sue the driller to break the contract. The new landowner claimed the paperwork filed (not the full lease but an abstract) didn’t contain mention of informing the driller. In other words, the landowner used the “we didn’t know” excuse. The judge disagreed and said, a) the lease itself clearly outlines the responsibilities of the old/new landowners to inform the driller, b) there is a reasonable expectation for the new landowner to perform due diligence in seeking out a copy of the original lease to know that. Therefore the new landowner is still under lease. Here’s an outline of the case, with names…
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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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WPX Completes $200M Sale to Still-Unnamed Buyer in NE Marcellus

Earlier this month MDN told you that WPX Energy had sold contracts and contracted capacity to buy and sell natural gas on on Transco’s Northeast Supply Link pipeline for $200 million to an undisclosed buyer (see Mystery Buyer to Pay WPX Energy $200M for NE Marcellus Assets). We told you our best guess for who the buyer likely is: Southwestern Energy, the same company that just completed purchasing WPX’s leases and wells in Susquehanna County in February for $300 million (see WPX Finalizes Sale of NEPA Marcellus Leases/Wells to Southwestern). Yesterday WPX issued a press release to say the deal is now done and the money in the bank–but they still don’t/won’t name who the buyer was…
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Mystery Buyer to Pay WPX Energy $200M for NE Marcellus Assets

mysteryWPX Energy announced yesterday that they’ve sold more of (the rest of?) their northeast Marcellus Shale assets. This time it’s not leases and wells, but instead “various long-term natural gas purchase and sales agreements, along with 135 million Btu per day of firm transportation capacity on Transco’s Northeast Supply Link project.” That is, WPX was on the hook to either buy or sell natural gas along pipelines at certain locations in the northeast region, and those deals to buy and sell gas were sold, along with WPX’s contract to flow up to 135 million Btus (which equates to just 135 thousand cubic feet, or 135 Mcf) of natural gas on Transco’s Northeast Supply Link pipeline system. The combined sale was to an unnamed buyer for approximately $200 million. MDN has a guess about who the mystery buyer is…
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WPX Energy Axes 8% of Its Workforce, Consolidates Offices in Tulsa

axedAs we’ve previously mentioned, WPX Energy is now largely out of the Marcellus and Utica region. They sold off their most developed leased acreage–46,700 acres and 63 operational wells–to Southwestern Energy earlier this year (see WPX Finalizes Sale of NEPA Marcellus Leases/Wells to Southwestern). WPX still has some acreage in southwest PA they’re looking to unload–but they’ve mostly exited stage left. We’ve also previously mentioned the company has rotten luck–they decided they didn’t like the low price of natural gas in the northeast and so they retooled the company to drill for oil instead–just in time for the price of oil to tank (see WPX CEO Riffs on Company Strategy Change from Gas to Oil Drilling). WPX’s CEO, Rick Muncrief, was installed by a corporate raider. You know what that means. When times get tough, the little guys get axed from the payroll. And that’s just what’s happened. Yesterday WPX announced they’re “trimming” (that’s what firing is called these days) 8% of the workforce…
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Lights Out for Marcellus Drilling in Lackawanna/Luzerne Counties

It’s lights out for Marcellus drilling in both Lackawanna and Luzerne counties in northeastern Pennsylvania. Lackawanna and Luzerne are otherwise known and Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, respectively. But it’s not because of the two large cities located in those counties that Marcellus drilling will not be done (there are plenty of rural locations in each). It’s because there’s no gas in the shale layer to be had in those counties–at least not in quantities that are commercially profitable. Over the past five years seven different wells have been drilled in both counties (or very close by in neighboring Columbia County). The seventh and final well, drilled by WPX Energy, has just been plugged and abandoned…
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WPX CEO Riffs on Company Strategy Change from Gas to Oil Drilling

bad timingSome people, and some companies, just have plain old bad luck and rotten timing. Like WPX Energy. WPX didn’t like the business it was in–drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania, so they’ve sold off 46,700 acres and 63 operational wells in northeastern PA to Southwestern Energy for $300 million (see WPX Finalizes Sale of NEPA Marcellus Leases/Wells to Southwestern). They still have some acreage in southwest PA they’re trying to dump. What has WPX’s attention these days? What’s the all-fire hurry to get out of the northeast? They’re trying to convert the company from gas to oil drilling–just in time for oil prices to go as low as they’ve been in a generation. Talk about bad timing!…
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WPX Finalizes Sale of NEPA Marcellus Leases/Wells to Southwestern

WPX Energy announced yesterday they have completed the sale and transfer of some 46,700 acres of leases and 63 operational Marcellus Shale wells in northeastern Pennsylvania to Southwestern Energy. MDN first told you about the $300 million deal in early December (for details and a map, see: First Shoe Drops: WPX Sells 1/2 Marcellus Assets to Southwestern). As we said at the time, that was the first shoe. We’re still waiting for the other shoe. WPX owns acreage and/or wells in Centre, Clearfield and Westmoreland counties, in southwestern PA. According to WPX spokesperson Susan Oliver-Stough, the company is actively shopping those assets too. When sold, WPX’s presence in northeast shale drilling will be done…
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First Shoe Drops: WPX Sells 1/2 Marcellus Assets to Southwestern

shoe droppingAs we’ve been saying for some time, WPX Energy, the spun off but totally independent exploration & production company that was once part of midstream giant Williams, has been looking to exit the Marcellus stage left (see Flip Flop: All of WPX’s Marcellus Wells on the Auction Block). The first shoe has now dropped: WPX announced yesterday they’ve sold all of their Susquehanna County, PA leases and wells to Southwestern Energy for $300 million. We have all of the facts of the deal–how many acres, how many wells–along with answers to questions that landowners still signed with WPX in other PA geographies want to know–primarily, “Are we next?” We also have Southwestern’s take on the deal and (interestingly) what they seem to most value about the deal. It may surprise you…
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Flip Flop: All of WPX’s Marcellus Wells on the Auction Block

A bit of news we find troubling. MDN has told you, since February of this year, that WPX would not be drilling any new wells in the Marcellus and in fact would be selling their undrilled leases (see WPX Marcellus Assets Being Shopped in “Controlled Auction”). However, we were contacted by WPX spokesperson Susan Oliver to assure us that they were not selling their already-drilled 100+ wells (see WPX Gives MDN an Update on Their 2014 Marcellus Plans). We figured some of those wells may be sold if there was, say, one or two wells on a pad adjacent to undrilled acreage with the opportunity to drill more wells. But for those wells already drilled and fully developed? Those wells, we were told, would remain in the WPX portfolio. However, an article appearing in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Wednesday contradicts that previous assertion…
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Scranton Newspaper Discovers WPX is Leaving PA–9 Months Later

Better nine months late than never, we suppose. Back in February, MDN told you that WPX Energy is leaving the Marcellus (see WPX Energy Abandoning the Marcellus? Sure Looks That Way). We got clarification from WPX spokesperson Susan Oliver that although they would not drill any new wells, they will continue to operate at least some of the 100+ wells already drilled (see WPX Gives MDN an Update on Their 2014 Marcellus Plans). Over a month ago we told you that WPX is actively shopping their remaining undrilled acreage (see WPX Marcellus Assets Being Shopped in “Controlled Auction”). The Scranton Times-Tribune finally woke up (nine months later) and, shazam! They discovered that WPX is (can you believe it?) leaving PA…
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WPX Marcellus Assets Being Shopped in “Controlled Auction”

As MDN has pointed out for some time now, Elvis, er um, WPX has left the building. Meaning WPX, although finishing up wells already permitted and started in the Marcellus–will not drill any new wells in the Marcellus. Does that mean landowners should be concerned that WPX will sell their already-drilled (and producing) wells in the Marcellus? In February, WPX spokeswoman Susan Oliver told MDN the company is definitely not selling their already drilled wells–100 of them or so (see WPX Gives MDN an Update on Their 2014 Marcellus Plans). However, an analysis by a trusted energy analyst has us wondering…
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DEP Says WPX Needs to Replace 3rd Water Supply in SW PA

In July, MDN told you the water wells for two of three families living near a WPX recycled frack wastewater impoundment (i.e. “pond”), near Ligonier (Westmoreland County), PA, were determined to have been contaminated by that impoundment. That is, the Kalp impoundment leaked into the ground, according to the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), and that has caused a long-term problem with those wells (see WPX Wastewater Impoundment Source of Water Contamination in W PA? and our follow-up story Important Update on WPX Energy Leaking Impoundment in SWPA). The DEP has made a final determination that the third family’s well, the elderly Ken and Mildred Geary, was also affected and that WPX will need to find a permanent water replacement solution for them too…
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