New IFO Report: PA Shale Drillers Paid $1.5B in Royalties in 2017

Just coming to light for us now is a report issued by the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) that estimates the amount of gas production royalties paid by drillers to landowners for calendar year 2017 (the most recent year available). It’s a fascinating report that breaks down royalty payments by the eight top gas-producing counties in the state. You may be surprised to learn the county producing the most natural gas in the state (Susquehanna County) does NOT, in fact, pay out the most in landowner royalties.
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Platts: Nat Gas Production in M-U Declined 1 Bcf/d Last 30 Days

Three weeks ago MDN told readers the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts a slight reduction in Marcellus/Utica production will happen this month–that M-U will produce an estimated 74 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) less in January than we did in December (see EIA Dec ’19 Drilling Report: M-U Production Drops 1st Time in Yrs). However, Platts Analytics says over the past 30 days the M-U has produced roughly 1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) less than it did over the average in 4Q19.
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New Research Promises More Accuracy in Marc. Reserve Estimates

We spotted a newly published study (published just yesterday) in Scientific Reports, an online open access scientific mega journal published by Nature, that looks at a new and better way to evaluate shale oil and gas reserves–the amount of stuff in the ground. What’s special about this report, written by researchers at the University of Utah, is that it specifically used the Marcellus Shale as its test subject.
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New Study Finds Using Natural Gas Saved 26K Lives Over 11 Years

A new study conducted by the University of California San Diego and published this week in the journal Nature Sustainability says 26,610 U.S. lives were saved from 2005-2016 as a result of increasing reliance on natural gas in electric power generation. That’s right–a liberal university published a study in a liberal journal that says natural gas SAVES LIVES. You may have to pinch yourself to see if it’s a dream!
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DOE Awards $25M to Improve Natural Gas Ops, $4.5M Going to WV

Last week the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) announced it has selected 16 projects to receive nearly $25 million in federal funding for cost-shared projects to advance natural gas infrastructure technology development. DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy will provide federal funding for these projects. Two of the 16 are located in West Virginia and will receive a cumulative $4.5 million of the $25 million (18% of the total).
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Marcellus/Utica Rig Counts 2019 – The Trend was Not Our Friend

If you use the number of active rigs operating in a given shale play/state as the measure for “success,” 2019 wasn’t such a good year for the Marcellus/Utica. In January, Pennsylvania entered 2019 with 48 active rigs. In December that number was cut nearly in half, to 25 active rigs. It was a similar story for Ohio, which entered 2019 with 17 active rigs and exited with 12 rigs. West Virginia, on the other hand, entered 2019 with 15 rigs and exited the year with the same number. But at one point during the year WV had 21 active rigs. We have the monthly rig stats below for all three states.
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Carnegie Mellon Feels the Heat re Study Bashing Marcellus Shale

Carnegie Mellon University is clearly feeling the heat over their overtly political, unscientific “study” that says Marcellus Shale extraction and the use of that gas is polluting the air and causing man-made global warming–and therefore killing people (see Carnegie Mellon Junk Science Says Shale Kills via Air Pollution). The university is feeling the heat so much (big donations in jeopardy?) that the “president emeritus” (former president) of the school felt it necessary to pen a letter-to-the editor in the anti-shale Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to protest the way the study is (accurately) being reported as anti-shale. To borrow a phrase from Billy Shakespeare, “The president emeritus doth protest too much, methinks.”
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Big M-U Drillers Slash 2020 Spending a Collective 25%

For months MDN has brought you bits and pieces of news from individual drillers, detailing plans to cut back on spending for new drilling in the Marcellus/Utica in 2020. It’s not just happening in the M-U–it’s happening across the country. The experts at RBN Energy have a terrific new post that pulls information about major drillers scaling back into one place. They analyze spending by three different groups of drillers: oil-focused, diversified, and gas-focused drillers. In the third category, all but one of the gas-focused drillers have major operations in the M-U. The stats are sobering. As a collective group, M-U gas drillers have pledged to cut their 2020 budgets 25% from the already-lower spending that happened this year. Ouch.
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EIA Dec ’19 Drilling Report: M-U Production Drops 1st Time in Yrs

Last month MDN warned readers that we were likely at a peak, the point when the Marcellus/Utica would, after many years, begin to produce less natural gas each month than it had the month before (see EIA Nov ’19 Drilling Report: Permian Gas Grows More than M-U). Our prediction/caution has come true. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and their monthly Drilling Productivity Report (DPR), the M-U region will produce 74 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) less in the coming month of January than it will have produced this month.
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Ohio Utica 3Q19 O&G Production New Record: Oil Up 30%, Gas Up 11%

The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) issued third quarter 2019 numbers for Utica shale oil and gas production last Friday. Drum roll please! The numbers show new state record highs for quarterly oil AND natural gas production, the most ever since quarterly reporting began in 2013. Through the roof! Utica oil production was up 29.8% over 3Q18, and Utica natural gas production was up 11.3% over 3Q18.
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S&P Global Platts Releases 2020 Energy Outlook

MDN editor Jim Willis had the pleasure of attending yesterday’s S&P Global Platts “Global Energy Outlook Forum” yesterday in New York City. Each year Platts hosts this event, assembling some of the best thinkers and industry participants from across all energy sectors to discuss what happened during the previous year, and what’s on the way next year and down the road with respect to energy. All kinds of energy.
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NY Budget Commission Says More NatGas, Nukes Needed to Lower GHG

In a new report titled “Getting Greener: Cost-Effective Options for Achieving New York State’s Greenhouse Gas Goals,” the Citizens Budget Commission (of New York) attributes the 13% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions drop New York State saw between 1990 and 2016 to an increased usage of natural gas and nuclear power. According to the nonpartisan Commission, New York is “already green” and if it wants to stay that way, it needs MORE natural gas, not less!
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Marcellus/Utica Active Drilling Rig Count Crashes to 24

The rig count in the Marcellus/Utica region is crashing–down to its lowest level for a December since the M-U became a “thing.” It’s now lower than the levels reached in 2014, which was the advent of the first “crash” in rig counts. BUT (and this is a big BUT), lower rig counts do not necessarily mean less drilling or less production. How can that be?
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Carnegie Mellon Junk Science Says Shale Kills via Air Pollution

Once upon a time Carnegie Mellon University used to conduct real research and publish real scientific studies with respect to the PA Marcellus Shale (see Carnegie Mellon Study: Radon in Marcellus Gas Doesn’t Kill People). That was then, this is now. Nowadays the “researchers” at CMU are “researching” and issuing “studies” on theoreticals and mythology, rather than real, measurable science.
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