Ohio EPA to Hold Air Permit Hearing for PTT Cracker Nov. 27

PTT Global Chemical announced in April 2015 they want to build a $6 billion ethane cracker plant complex in Belmont County, OH (see It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site). Since that time, PTT has purchased land, paid $100 million to get the cracker facility designed, and repeatedly said a final investment decision (FID) is imminent. It’s been imminent for more than two years now. Belmont County officials recently said the decision is coming “by the end of this year” (see Belmont, OH Leaders Say PTT Cracker Decision Coming This Year). But we’ve read comments by others who say the decision won’t happen until sometime next year (see Rumblings that PTT Will Once Again Delay OH Cracker Decision). We finally have some signs of life that a decision is, indeed, coming soon.
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3 Drillers Pay $50K to Fund Mobile Emergency Unit for Belmont, OH

New mobile emergency response trailer (Credit: WTOV)

A feel-good story for your Friday. Three Utica Shale drillers operating in Belmont County, OH–EQT Corp., Ascent Resources and Antero Resources–between them donated $50,000 to the Belmont County Emergency Management Agency to purchase a mobile command unit trailer that can be hauled to sites where’s there is an ongoing emergency/crisis and used on location. Neighboring Monroe County will get to use it too. Taxpayers didn’t have to pay a dime. Everyone is tickled pink. Yes, there is some self interest in the donation, since better emergency response can theoretically aide their own workers in case of an emergency. But such incidents (in the shale industry) are rare. Chances are the trailer will be used for other types of emergencies. Which is just fine with the shale industry.
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EnCap Looks to Sell Royalty Stake in “Core” of Ohio Utica

EnCap Investments is a venture capital investor that funds independent companies in the U.S. oil and gas industry. EnCap has its fingers in a number of pies in the Marcellus/Utica. EnCap is the major investor behind Eclipse Resources and was instrumental in Eclipse selling itself to and merging with Blue Ridge Mountain Resources (see Eclipse Resources Merging with Former Magnum Hunter). EnCap is also a major investor in (i.e. owner of) PennEnergy Resources, which recently cut a deal to buy Rex Energy (see Rex Energy Sells Itself to PennEnergy Resources for $600M). Another way EnCap invests in our region is by funding drilling programs in return for royalty payments (or more properly, for a thin slice of the royalties). EnCap has put their royalty interests in several “core” Utica Shale counties up for sale.
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CELDF Now an 8-Time Loser re Youngstown Frack Ban Ballot Vote

Virulent anti-drillers in Youngstown, OH have now tried eight times to pass a so-called Community Bill of Rights ballot measure–and have failed all eight times, most recently on Tuesday. The local yokels from Youngstown working on the initiative are pawns, useful idiots, for an ultra-radical group from Pennsylvania called the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). The CELDF is behind dozens of such efforts, none of which has been successful. The Youngstown ballot measure sought to ban fracking and ban any company related to the extraction of fossil fuels from operating in the city. The CELDF is also behind a number of bizarre lawsuits–like the one claiming that an ecosystem is a “person” with rights (see CELDF Loses Case to Represent Ecosystem – Turtles Disappointed). Truly nuts.
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Encino Takes Over from Chesapeake in Ohio Utica; Big Plans

The deal is done. On Monday, Encino Acquisition Partners completed its purchase of all of Chesapeake Energy’s Ohio Utica Shale assets for $2 billion, originally announced in July (see Stop Press: Chesapeake Sells ALL of its Ohio Utica Assets for $2B). The deal includes all of Chesapeake’s 933,000 Ohio acres (with 320,000 net Utica acres) and 920 operated and non-operated Ohio Utica wells. With the deal now done, Encino is signaling good things are ahead. The company will keep its Utica regional headquarters in Louisville, OH–right where Chesapeake had it. Encino has and will continue to operate two active drilling rigs in the Utica this year, and add a third rig next year. Encino CEO Hardy Murchison recently spoke about the company’s Utica plans moving forward. It has folks in Ohio excited!
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60% of Free Pipeline Course Grads Get Jobs in 1st Month

A number of times we’ve highlighted a cool training program offered by the The Gas Technology Institute (GTI). The four-week program, offered in Freeport, PA and St. Clairsville, OH is free and trains students how to build pipelines. Each location is limited to 20 students. GTI has run the program a number of times (three times so far just this year, next week begins the fourth time). According to organizers, somewhere around 60% of those who take the course and graduate get jobs within 30 days with salaries beginning in the $40,000-$50,000 range. The program is paid for by grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission (costs $3,500 per person). What are YOU waiting for? This free (to you) training can help you find a very good-paying job. Check it out.
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Universities Float Plan for Utica-Powered Microgrid in Cleveland

Cleveland State University and Case Western Reserve University have floated a bold plan to build a $100 million microgrid to power the city of Cleveland, OH’s central business district in downtown, a 2-3 square mile area. At the heart of the microgrid would be a Utica gas-fired combined heat and power system (CHP). The CHP plant would produce up to 48 megawatts of electricity and act as a backup and/or alternative to the grid. The cost per kilowatt-hour would higher than electricity from the regular grid, but hey, it would mean virtually 100% up-time, providing electricity when grid demand is extreme (hot summers, cold winters). It’s all about reliability.
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More of NEXUS Pipe Goes Online, FERC Approves Compressors

In early October NEXUS Pipeline, a $2.6 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline that runs from Ohio into Michigan, received permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to begin partial operation (see Yes! NEXUS Pipeline OK’d by FERC to Begin Service). NEXUS is flowing close to 1 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day out of an eventual 1.5 Bcf/d capacity. Last week NEXUS asked FERC for an OK to start up service at two more compressor stations–one in Medina County, the other Sandusky County. On Friday, FERC said OK.
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Williams Withholds Payment Forcing Pipeline Builder into Bankruptcy

On Monday Welded Construction, a pipeline construction contractor headquartered in Perrysburg, OH, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection because, they say, Williams is refusing to pay them $23.5 million for work completed, and that refusal/dispute leaked out into the marketplace and created a “liquidity crisis” (crisis of confidence) with other Welded customers and their projects. By filing for bankruptcy protection, Welded hopes to create “breathing room” and settle folks down and reassure them their projects are OK.
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NEXUS Seeks FERC OK to Start Up 2 More Compressor Stations

Less than two weeks ago NEXUS Pipeline, a $2.6 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline that runs from Ohio into Michigan, received permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to begin operation (see Yes! NEXUS Pipeline OK’d by FERC to Begin Service). NEXUS has begun to flow close to 1 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day out of its eventual 1.5 Bcf/d capacity. NEXUS’ recent startup was a partial startup. NEXUS is now taking the next step. They asked FERC yesterday for an OK to start up service at two more compressor stations–one in Medina County, the other Sandusky County.
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ODNR Says Trumbull Injection Well Can Reopen with “Acceptable” Plan

American Water Management Services (AWMS) owns a wastewater injection well in Trumbull County that supposedly caused a low-level earthquake (that nobody could feel) in 2014. Two wells located at the site, both operated by AWMS, were “temporarily” shut down by the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources following the quake (see ODNR Temporarily Shuts Down Injection Wells After Low-Level Quake). AWMS appealed the closure of the wells all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court. ODNR is still trying to block one of the two wells from opening by saying AWMS *could* open the well–if they submit an acceptable (comprehensive) plan.
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Gulfport 3Q18 Operations Update: 11 New Utica Wells

Gulfport Energy, an independent oil and gas driller with significant acreage positions in the Utica Shale of eastern Ohio and the SCOOP Woodford and SCOOP Springer plays in Oklahoma, issued its third quarter operational (not financial) update yesterday. Gulfport is one of those companies that delivers its operational news first, and a few weeks later issues its financial news. Gulfport reports production continued to climb to new highs, averaging 1,427.5 million cubic feet equivalent (MMcfe) per day, a 7% increase over 2Q18 and 19% increase over 3Q17. Said another way, 1.43 Bcf/d.
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Belmont, OH Leaders Say PTT Cracker Decision Coming This Year

Last Friday three county commissioners from Belmont County, OH took a field trip to visit Beaver County, PA, touring the Shell ethane cracker site and talking with Beaver County officials about how the project has impacted that area. Tuesday night, a member of the Potter Township (PA) Board of Supervisors came to a meeting of local leaders in Belmont County, to talk about the Shell cracker project and what such a project in Belmont could do for the Ohio Valley. PTT Global Chemical is supposedly close to making a final investment decision on building a cracker in Belmont. The interesting comment coming from Tuesday’s meeting was about the timing of a decision to build the PTT cracker: “It [the decision] will be revealed by the end of the year.” So says Belmont officials.
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Who’s the Biggest NatGas Producer in the Ohio Utica?

The Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) and St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored an update on the Utica Shale and its impacts in southeastern Ohio at a one-day event held yesterday at Belmont College. The upshot of the day seemed to be this: The Utica is still creating thousands of jobs, and still attracting millions of dollars in investment. Among the speakers were reps from both EQT and Ascent, who had some interesting comments about their respective operations. Question: Who do you think is the largest natural gas producer in Ohio today? One of the speakers made the surprise claim that her company is now the top producer in Ohio.
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Yes! NEXUS Pipeline OK’d by FERC to Begin Service

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NEXUS, a $2 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline that will run from Ohio through Michigan and eventually to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada, was the first major pipeline project to gain Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval shortly after a quorum of voting members was reestablished in summer 2017 (see New FERC Quorum Votes Final Approval for NEXUS Pipeline). It didn’t take long for NEXUS partners DTE Energy and Enbridge to get it built. The pipeline has essentially been done since mid-September (about a year to construct), when they asked for permission to start up (see NEXUS Pipeline Asks FERC for Sept 28 Startup to Flow 967 MMcf/d). Yesterday FERC granted that permission.
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FERC Stuck in Slow Mo – Late Approving PA to OH Risberg Project

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Seems to us like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) continues to drag its feet on Marcellus/Utica pipeline projects. Yes, our projects get approved, eventually–but not on the schedule FERC itself establishes. Case in point: RH energytrans’ Risberg Line–a 60-mile, $86 million pipeline from Crawford County, PA through Erie County and into Ashtabula County, OH. According to FERC’s own schedule, an OK for the project was due no later than Sept. 27 (see 60-Mile Pipeline from NW PA to NE OH Gets Favorable FERC Review). Didn’t happen. RH energytrans is being diplomatic, saying, “It may take a little longer than we might hope.”
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