COVID Loan/Grant Money for Small & Medium-Size Biz, Including M-U

Attention all small- and medium-sized businesses (those with fewer than 500 employees): Beginning tomorrow (Friday) you can sign up for the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program, part of the COVID-19 relief package recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. This is important! The program, administered by local banks (won’t charge you any fees) will allow you to borrow money to cover payroll (and benefits), mortgage interest, rent and utilities for up to 8 weeks. Here’s the kicker: Those loans, provided they meet certain guidelines, will be FULLY FORGIVEN. In other words, this is a grant to help you get through the COVID crisis. And it applies to Marcellus/Utica companies and those who service them (as well as other kinds of businesses).
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PTT Cracker Project Reaches Tax Agreement with Belmont County, OH

Even amid the coronavirus pandemonium and economic destruction happening everywhere, important oil and gas (and petrochemical) projects continue to make progress. In particular, the PTT Global Chemical plan to build an ethane cracker plant in Belmont County, OH still shows signs of life. In February PTT’s CEO signaled that a final investment decision on whether (or not) to build a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker in Belmont County, OH is coming by “mid-year 2020” (see PTT CEO Sends Loud & Clear Signal of Positive FID on OH Cracker). While work to prep the site and get it ready is now paused, work behind the scenes continues. Last week Belmont County commissioners, Mead Township trustees and the Shadyside Board of Education approved a new deal on tax payments should the project get built. This is a major milestone.
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PA Gov Wolf Vetoes Jobs-Creating Petchem Bill – Blames COVID-19

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf was less than honest when he vetoed House Bill (HB) 1100–a bill that would generate thousands of new jobs and cause money to pour into the PA economy by granting tax breaks (for a limited time) to companies willing to build *brand new* petrochemical plants ($450 million minimum investment) that use natural gas as the feedstock. In vetoing the bill on Friday, Wolf more or less blamed the coronavirus–even though he had promised to veto this bill in February, a month before the pandemic began in U.S. (see Gov Wolf to Veto Bill Attracting Cracker-Type Investment to NEPA)!
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Biggest Rig Count Drop in 4 Years – Who’s Still Drilling?

Some 47 drilling rigs were idled last week according to data provided by Enverus Drillinginfo. That’s the biggest single-week drop since the final week of December 2015–more than four years ago. The rig count stands at 766. Of the rigs idled last week, 40 of the 47 were oil drilling rigs. Of the 40 oil rigs idled, half (20) were idled in the Permian Basin. The good news is that the Marcellus Shale and the Utica Shale remain unchanged at 38 and 10 rigs, respectively. Rig counts in each basin have held steady for four weeks running.
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Investors Return to ‘Safety’ by Investing in M-U Gas Companies

What a change just a few weeks (and a pandemic and oil price crash) can bring! One month ago MDN brought you the sobering news that the stock prices for most Marcellus/Utica companies had sunk to new lows (see Marcellus/Utica Drillers’ Stock Prices Near/At Historic Lows). The prospects for M-U companies, as far as investors were concerned, were bleak. Oil drillers in other plays like the Permian and Bakken were pumping like crazy producing a lot of associated gas along with oil from those wells, flooding the market with an excess of gas. One month later and the picture has completely changed. M-U company stocks (some of them anyway) are rising again. EQT’s share price is up 50% in the last 30 days!
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New Study Says Petchem Tax Credit Bill Would “Transform” PA

Pennsylvania House Bill (HB) 1100, aimed at attracting new petrochemical investment to the state, was passed by the PA House and Senate earlier this year. The bill provides a tax incentive for companies to build NEW plants in the state that use Marcellus methane gas. HB 1100 was finally delivered to the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf last week (see PA Petchem Bill Delivered to Gov. Wolf – Will He Sign It?). Wolf previously stated (for whatever strange reason) he would veto the bill. Republicans, Democrats, businesses, and labor unions have all pressured Wolf to reconsider and sign the measure into law. Now comes a bit more pressure.
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PA’s Conventional Oil Industry Goes from Bad to Worse

The double shock of less demand for oil because the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis has shut pretty much everything down (worldwide) AND the Saudis and Russians pumping oil to the outer limits, continues to cause the price of oil to remain at historically low prices. The Russians are trying to bankrupt American shale oil drillers by driving prices into the basement. The Saudis are trying to bankrupt Russia for leaving the OPEC+ fold (and the Saudis certainly don’t mind if American shale oil drillers are put out of business in the process). The low price resulting from the double shock is affecting not only big American shale oil drillers but also mom and pop conventional oil drillers too. Particularly small conventional drillers in western Pennsylvania.
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Shale Slows Down This Year & Next; the 5 Stages of Shale Grief

It certainly doesn’t feel as though we’ve hit the bottom yet when it comes to the effect of the coronavirus and Saudi-Russia oil price war on American shale companies. We still have a way (down) to go, unfortunately. But all is not lost. There is hope on the horizon. That’s the message we take from comments by an Enverus analyst. According to RBN Energy, we’ve seen this movie before. Maybe this movie has a different storyline, but the plot is the same. Can we predict how it will play out this time based on previous downturns? RBN offers up the five stages a shale play goes through.
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PA Petchem Bill Delivered to Gov. Wolf – Will He Sign It?

Pennsylvania House Bill (HB) 1100, aimed at attracting new petrochemical investment to the state, was passed by the PA Senate in early February (see PA Senate Tweaks, Passes Bill Attracting Cracker-Type Investment). HB 1100 provides a tax incentive for companies to build NEW plants in the state that use Marcellus methane gas. Inexplicably PA Gov. Wolf said he would veto the bill when it hits his desk (see Gov Wolf to Veto Bill Attracting Cracker-Type Investment to NEPA). The Republican-controlled legislature held back from sending the bill to Wolf and for the past six weeks Republicans, Democrats, business and labor groups have conducted a high-pressure campaign to either force Wolf to sign it, or force Democrats in the legislature who voted for the bill the first time to vote for a veto override.
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Shell Shuts Down SWPA Cracker Plant Construction re COVID-19

Yesterday MDN told you that Shell had not (yet) closed down construction of the mighty ethane cracker plant they are building in Beaver County, PA (see COVID-19: Shell Keeps SWPA Cracker Construction Site Open). After a confirmed case of COVID-19 coronavirus in the county, the Board of Commissioners asked Shell yesterday to shut down the site for now. Within a few hours Shell did just that, sending home some 8,000 workers. The work stoppage will last from a few days to a few weeks.
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COVID-19: Important Energy Lessons Learned re Coronavirus Scare

As we have often pointed out, if we could have anyone else’s brain in the shale business, it would be our friend Tom Shepstone’s brain. Tom, who writes at Natural Gas Now, has given some thought to the COVID-19 coronavirus and the lessons we have learned so far from this public health crisis. As Tom points out in the following post, many of the lessons learned relate to the energy industry.
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Ode to ME2: SWPA Resident Loves Sounds of Pipeline Progress

Drilling, whirring, humming, thumping, grinding, engines running, hammering, back-up warning beeps, banging, clanging. Those are the sounds of progress happening in Chester County, PA. Contrary to the griping and moaning mainstream media reports about those who live near Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline construction, the sounds of ME2 construction are music for at least one local resident because he knows about the economic prosperity this project will bring to the region.
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List of 10 Large Gas-Fired Power Plants Built or Coming in Ohio

One of our favorite Energy in Depth writers, Nicole Jacobs, has just published a great post that outlines the huge impact new natural gas-fired (mostly Utica Shale gas) power plants have had and will have in Ohio. She includes a list of 10 projects either already built and running, under construction, or on the books to get built. When you add up the total capacity for all 10 plants, they will generate an amazing 9,215 megawatts of electricity, enough to power upward of 9 million homes! The companies building those 10 plants are investing $15.9 billion. This is huge for Ohio’s economy.
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Shale Oil Drillers Ask OFS Providers to Slash Prices at Least 25%

If you operate a company that sells a product (particularly a commodity product) you only have two ways of making a profit: Sell the product for more money or cut expenses (or both). For oil drillers, the price of the product sold is pretty much fixed. Some drillers have “hedged” their production, pre-selling future production at a specific price. But many don’t hedge. And hedging contracts typically don’t extend beyond a year. In the case of oil, the world market sets the price, and the price this week is about half of what it was last week. That means most shale oil drillers won’t make a profit–unless they can trim costs. One of the ways drillers are attempting to cut costs is by asking the companies that do the actual drilling and perform services for them (oilfield services companies, or OFS) to cut the rate they charge.
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Fed Bailout or No Bailout for Shale Companies? Depends Who You Ask

According to super-secret sources, The White House is “strongly considering” a federal aid package for oil and gas companies affected by the Saudi-Russia oil price war and lingering effects from COVID-19 coronavirus panic. The proposed federal aid is called by some a “bailout.” But the Trumpsters and the O&G industry reject that label. Reportedly under consideration is a program of low-interest government loans. Regardless of what you call it (bailout or help), the U.S. has a vested interest in ensuring our domestic O&G industry does not get wiped out, plunging us back into dependence on despotic foreigners for our energy.
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PA Petchem Bill has Veto-Proof Majority – Wolf, Antis in Trouble

On Monday there were dueling rallies at the Capitol in Harrisburg, PA, for and against a new petrochemical bill, House Bill (HB) 1100, that promises to bring thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars of investment to the Keystone State (see PA Dem Shouts Union Members are “Losers” at Rally for Petchem Bill). HB 1100 provides a tax incentive for companies to build NEW plants in the state that use Marcellus methane gas. HB 1100 passed both the state House and Senate with large majorities of both Republicans and Democrats. Yet PA Gov. Tom Wolf has promised to veto the bill. Sensing they have enough votes to override a veto, both Republicans and Democrats continue to pressure Wolf to sign. Yesterday another rally was held, this one in Wilkes-Barre, to support the bill and further put the political screws to Wolf.
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