Update on Hess’ Activity in the Ohio Utica: Completing 5 Wells

It’s been a while–quite a while–since we’ve heard anything about Hess’ Utica drilling program. The last article we ran on Hess drilling in the Utica was in April 2016 when Hess management said that while they have “good rock” in the Utica, they would mothball their Utica operations until more pipelines are built. Looks like the pipelines are built. We spotted a story that gives new information about Hess’ plans in the Utica. They currently have 59 wells producing in the Ohio Utica. They’re working to complete another 5 previously drilled (in 2015?) wells, which will give them 64 producing wells “in the next month or so.” As for new drilling, the company will hopefully restart their program to drill new wells “hopefully in mid-2019.” Here’s what Hess’ “Utica operations area lead” guy had to say at a Kiwanis Club meeting last week in Steubenville about how much, and where, they’re drilling in the Utica…
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Short Pipeline from NW Pa. to NE Ohio May Not Get Done This Year

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Last October MDN brought you details about the proposed $86 million Risberg Line pipeline project (see New 60-Mile Pipeline Proposed from NW Pa. to NE Ohio). The project will use approximately 32 miles of existing pipeline in an established Right of Way originating in the Meadville, PA area. Approximately 16 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Pennsylvania and approximately 12 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Ohio–meaning 28 miles of brand new “greenfield” pipeline needs to get built. In early May, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said it will issue an environmental assessment (EA) for the project on or by June 29th (see FERC Review of Risberg Pipeline in NE OH/NW PA Coming June 29). Both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the PA Fish and Boat Commission are “cooperating agencies” and part of the EA review process. Following the EA, the clock will begin ticking and FERC will have until Sept. 27th to make a final decision about the project. The original timeline for the project, from the beginning, has been to have it all built and operating by the end of this year. The builder, RH energytrans, is now cautioning that may not happen. Why? Because one never knows with regulatory agencies like FERC and the Army Corps and the Boat Commission. Deadlines come and go and get extended. FERC says the dates they given are targets and not carved in stone. If everything happened as FERC laid out, RH says it would be a challenge, but they can probably get the job done this year. But if the deadline slips, all bets are off…
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Ohio EPA Continues to Hound 99% Done Rover Pipe re River Drilling

Rover Pipeline–a $3.7 billion, 711-mile natural gas pipeline that runs from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and on to Canada via the Vector Pipeline–is about 99% done and as of last week, most of it is now up and running (see FERC Allows Rover Pipeline Startup in Michigan, Close to 100% Done). There are still a few spots being worked on, but very few. Even though the project is on the home stretch and will be 100% done by the end of June, Ohio EPA’s Craig Butler continues to hunt Rover like Captain Ahab hunted Moby-Dick. He can’t leave it alone. Obsessed. In February Captain Butler filed a letter with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) claiming that testing done by OEPA found the presence of very low levels of the toxic chemical tetrachloroethene (PCE) at Rover’s underground drilling site at the Tuscarawas River in southern Stark County (see Ohio EPA Continues to Target Rover Pipe in New FERC Letter). OEPA admits they can’t prove the very low levels of the compound actually came from Rover’s drilling activity–but hey, what’s proof got to do with it? Energy Transfer Partners, the company building Rover, responded by saying the PCE comes from sediment at the bottom of the long-polluted Tuscarawas River itself. On Tuesday OEPA filed another letter with FERC (full copy below) disagreeing with ET’s assessment, once again requesting FERC impose all sorts of requirements and conditions on the project–putting OEPA in charge of some of it (which is patently unconstitutional)…
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Ohio Antis Suffer Big Election Defeats in Youngstown, Statewide

On Tuesday the voters in Ohio once again roared their disapproval of anti-fracking candidates, and anti-fracking ballot measures. For the seventh time in a row, a radical anti-fossil fuel ballot measure was voted down in Youngstown, OH–by an overwhelming majority (56%). Even so, the hardened radicals behind the ballot measure promise to keep bringing it back until Hades freezes over. These radicals have already cost the taxpayers of Youngstown $188,000 to run the ballot measure. And yet they keep coming back. They fit Einstein’s definition of insanity. Statewide voters shot down the candidacy of anti-fossil fueler Dennis Kucinich, the man who pledged that if elected governor he would institute a total ban on fracking statewide (see Ohio Democrat Candidate for Governor Says He’ll Ban Utica Drilling). Ohioans saw right through that nonsense. Only 23% of Ohio’s Democrats voted for Kucinich in Tuesday’s primary–a total humiliation…
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Univ of Cincinnati Utica Groundwater Study Finally Published!

From January 2012 to February 2015, researchers from the University of Cincinnati collected 180 groundwater samples in Eastern Ohio, from water wells located close to Utica Shale drilling activity. In early 2016, the lead researcher shared some high level results from the study. The preliminary results showed that fracking in areas where there are water wells doesn’t affect those wells (see Antis Not Happy with Results of OH Fracking Study They Funded). Two anti-drilling groups were the primary funders of the study–Deer Creek Foundation in St. Louis and the Alice Weston foundation from Cincinnati. The two groups immediately cut their funding when they heard results they believe they didn’t pay for (see Anti Groups Abruptly Cut Funding for OH Fracking Study). Since that time, no more of the study’s results have been released, for over two years! That is, until now. The full peer-reviewed study, titled “Monitoring concentration and isotopic composition of methane in groundwater in the Utica Shale hydraulic fracturing region of Ohio,” was published last week in the scientific journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. Summing up the results of the full study in the words of the researchers themselves: “We found no relationship between CH4 [methane] concentration or source in groundwater and proximity to active gas well sites.” And, “…our data do not indicate any intrusion of high conductivity fracking fluids as the number of fracking wells increased in the region.” Finally! An honest study using Big Green money, that Big Green tried to cover up and silence, is now available for the whole world to see…
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PTT Buys Another 300+ Acres for Belmont County, OH Cracker

In yet another very good sign that the proposed PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker plant in Belmont County, OH is headed for a positive final investment decision (FID), PTT has just purchased another 300+ acres to go along with the previous acreage they purchased as the site for the future cracker/petrochemical project. Last July MDN reported PTT had spent $13.8 million to buy 168 acres at the proposed site for a second Appalachia ethane cracker, in Belmont County, OH (see PTT Global Buys Land for Belmont, OH Ethane Cracker Plant). That site, the former R.E. Burger power plant property (owned by FirstEnergy Corp.), is the primary location for the proposed cracker. However, more land is needed. A deed filed earlier this week shows that PTT has purchased another 300+ acres for $17.5 million from the Ohio-West Virginia Excavating company. Together, both parcels are roughly 500 acres, which is more than enough land for the facility. Until now numbers like $6.5 billion have been thrown around as the total project cost. The number has now gone up–to as much as $10 billion! Here’s the latest good news that it’s looking better and better for a second ethane cracker in Appalachia…
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FERC Review of Risberg Pipeline in NE OH/NW PA Coming June 29

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Last October MDN brought you details about the proposed $86 million Risberg Line pipeline project (see New 60-Mile Pipeline Proposed from NW Pa. to NE Ohio). The project will use approximately 32 miles of existing pipeline in an established Right of Way originating in the Meadville, PA area. Approximately 16 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Pennsylvania and approximately 12 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Ohio–meaning 28 miles of brand new “greenfield” pipeline needs to get built. Two school districts in Ohio where the pipeline will traverse agreed to reduce the amount of property tax the pipeline would need to pay by 75% over a 15-year period, a huge vote of confidence (see Update on Proposed 60-Mile Pipeline from NW Pa. to NE Ohio). We have an update on the project. On Tuesday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said it will issue an environmental assessment (EA) for the project on or by June 29th. Both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission are “cooperating agencies” and part of the EA review process. Following the EA, the clock will begin ticking and FERC will have until Sept. 27th to make a final decision about the project…
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FERC Allows Rover Pipeline Startup in Michigan, Close to 100% Done

An order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued yesterday allows Energy Transfer (ET) to begin full operations along the North Market Segment of the Rover Pipeline–a $3.7 billion, 711-mile natural gas pipeline that runs from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and on to Canada via the Vector Pipeline. On April 13 ET asked FERC for permission to start up service along another major chunk of it’s massive Rover Pipeline (see Rover Pipe Asks FERC for OK to Open New Segments in OH, MI). ET eagerly wants to begin service along a 100-mile segment of Rover in northwest Ohio on into Michigan. FERC has been approving ET’s April 13th request in dribs and drabs. With yesterday’s approval, the entire length of the Rover pipeline is now substantially operational. There are still a few places not yet in service, but ET says they are on track to have the project 100% operational by the end of June. When fully operational, Rover will flow 3.25 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of Marcellus/Utica gas, some it going all the way to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada. Currently Rover is capable of flowing 1.7 Bcf/d. With this new addition, we expect that number will jump considerably…
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Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) Wants Feds to Regulate Fracking

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, Democrat from Ohio

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, Democrat from the 13th District in Ohio, signed up last week to co-sponsor a new bill called the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals, or FRAC, Act. In fact, all 61 co-sponsors of the bill were Democrat–no Republicans–which is a big, fat, red flag. A totally partisan bill. Democrats have been trying this trick since 2009. It’s nothing new. Supposedly the FRAC Act will require “transparency,” forcing frackers to disclose which chemicals are used in hydraulic fracturing. The thing is, drillers already disclose that information! What the FRAC Act is REALLY all about is federal regulation of the oil and gas industry by doing something that has never been done before: subjecting oil and gas drilling to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. We’re tired of revisiting this topic, but feel compelled to set the record straight because of this renewed attack on the industry. Fact: There is no “exemption” from the Safe Drinking Water Act for drillers–they never were under the Act to begin with! The U.S. Constitution vests the power to regulate oil and gas activity with the individual states–NOT with the federal government. What Ryan and his fellow libs are trying to do in forcing oil and gas under federal regulation is a bastardization of the Constitution–an erosion of states’ rights. Which is why Ryan needs to be voted out of office. Shame on him. He’s from one of the biggest stars in the shale firmament–the Ohio Utica. And yet he’s pushing to kill it. There’s nothing “common sense” about the FRAC Act, as Ryan claims. It’s all “nonsense.” Here’s the latest attack by Dems at the federal level, a group that wants to kill the shale miracle in this country…
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2 Horiz. Clinton Sandstone Wells Drilled in Ashtabula County, OH

Ashtabula County, OH

Once upon a time the Clinton Sandstone layer was the most drilled rock layer in Ohio. Then the Utica/Point Pleasant came along and it seemed as if everybody forgot about the Clinton. Previously the Clinton was drilled vertically, or conventional-only. But what if you drilled the Clinton horizontally, like you do in the Utica? You might get a “Utica-lite” well, as we commented back in 2015 (see Ohio Clinton Sandstone Horiz Wells on the Increase – Utica-Lite?). EnverVest, among others, has experimented with horizontal drilling in the Clinton Sandstone (see EnerVest Likes Clinton Sandstone “Utica-lite” Oil Wells in OH). According to drillers who have experimented in the Clinton, drilling a horizontal Clinton well is anywhere from 3-10 times more expensive than a conventional well, but it produces anywhere from 7 to 20 times more oil, which is typically the hydrocarbon companies drill for in the Clinton. Today we spotted a story about a driller we had not previously heard of (which is rare), currently drilling two horizontal Clinton wells in Ashtabula County, OH. Here’s an update on drilling in the Clinton Sandstone in Ohio…
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BLM Blocks Eclipse from Completing Utica Well in Wayne Natl Forest

Melissa Hamsher, Eclipse Resources

Something pretty cool took place yesterday in Washington, D.C. MDN friend Melissa Hamsher, vice president for Health, Safety, Environmental and Regulatory with Eclipse Resources (headquartered in State College, PA), testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Resources Committee. Melissa has been a speaker on several panels MDN editor Jim Willis has moderated over the years at the annual Oil & Gas Awards Industry Summit in Pittsburgh. The uncool thing is what Melissa was in D.C. to testify about, which is that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), after auctioning off parcels in the Wayne National Forest (WNF), is now stopping Eclipse from drilling under those parcels. Eclipse had already bundled some of the BLM parcels they won at auction with neighboring private land, setting up a drill pad on private (not public) land when the BLM stepped in and stopped Eclipse’s first under-construction Utica well in WNF, claiming the BLM needs to conduct a “new environmental analysis” before drilling can continue. At every turn BLM, while pretending to act in good faith by conducting auctions of WNF land, has acted in bad faith to block Eclipse’s progress after winning those auctions. Melissa shined a bright light on the sleazy tactics used by BLM at a Congressional hearing exploring the “unfair weaponization of the National Environmental Policy Act”…
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OH Supremes Blow It, Allow Youngstown Frack Ban on May Ballot

Although Youngstown, OH voters have voted down various versions of a proposed frack ban law six previous times, on Tuesday the Ohio Supreme Court voted 5-2 to allow a seventh such ballot measure to appear before Youngstown voters on May 8. The kicker: This seventh ballot measure is even worse–far more radical–than the previous frack ban measures voted down. The new ballot measure makes the illegal, legal (see Youngstown Antis Seek to Legalize Anarchy with 7th CELDF Petition). In addition to the usual no fracking, no pipelines pablum, this latest ballot measure has language that makes it legal to break the law. If the ballot measure passes, and if an anti got it into her head to sit in front of a bulldozer that was about to clear ground for a wellpad, or dig a trench for a pipeline, the police would not be able to arrest and remove the law-breaking anti. It would be within her rights to sit there and block legal, legitimate activity–all in the name of saving the planet. That’s the insanity the Supremes, in their “wisdom,” are allowing to go before voters in two weeks. It would be institutionalized anarchy. Of course the ballot measure doesn’t stand a chance of passing, which is good. But it does cause angst, and it causes the adults who live in Youngstown to once again have to spend time and money to defeat it. We wonder, will we be writing about the 25th ballot measure to come before voters after 24 of them have been voted down–say in five years from now? When will Ohioans say “enough” to the CELDF and their radical agitation and send them packing?…
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XTO Selling 9,400 OH Utica Acres in Monroe & Washington Counties

XTO Energy, the shale drilling arm of Exxon Mobil, wants to sell ~9,400 Ohio Utica Shale acres in Monroe and Washington counties. Have no fear, XTO isn’t going anywhere. According to XTO’s website, the company currently owns 82,000 acres of Utica Shale leases in Belmont and Monroe counties. The tiny 9,400-acre sale appears to us to be selling off acreage in areas that don’t fit with XTO’s future drilling plans. XTO maintains a regional office in Belmont County. According to the sale announcement appearing on Oil & Gas Asset Clearinghouse, there are potentially 40 drilling locations on the 9,400 acres. The acreage has dry gas potential. The sale is not exactly an auction, but it is timed and uses bids. XTO is accepting sealed bids on the property through May 17. Here’s a copy of the listing, along with a flyer…
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Still No Deal on Property Next to PTT OH Ethane Cracker Site

Homeowners who live near the location of a possible ethane cracker plant in Belmont County, OH are running out of time to negotiate a deal to sell their properties. Living next door to a cracker plant is not anyone’s idea of paradise. There will be noise, and smells and (yes) some air pollution coming from the plant. Best to sell now before the plant begins construction. However, representatives for PTT Global Chemical which will build the plant (IF it gets built), say they already have all the land they need for the facility (see PTT Global Buys Land for Belmont, OH Ethane Cracker Plant). Not needing the land puts PTT in a good negotiating position. There are 10 homes in the general vicinity of the proposed cracker plant whose owners want to sell. PTT says they’ve offered the homeowners 125% of fair market value for their homes. The lawyer representing the homeowners says the valuations are not accurate. However, it’s far from being a stand-off. There is no malice or vitriol. It sounds to us like both sides think a deal will get done. It just boils down to finalizing numbers. Here’s the latest on real estate for the proposed Belmont cracker plant…
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MarkWest Energy Settles EPA Air Pollution Case for $5.6 Million

NOTE: A previous version of this post reported a total price of $3.2 million, now changed to account for the addition of an extra $2.4M for required SEPs. See below.

Two MarkWest Energy subsidiaries, MarkWest Liberty Midstream Resources and Ohio Gathering Co., have been forced into signing a settlement of claims brought by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection over charges of releasing too much air pollution from facilities they operate throughout eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania in the Utica and Marcellus shale. The agreement signed yesterday by MarkWest calls for the company to spend $2.6 million to install and operate new technologies to minimize VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions at their facilities–19 major, standalone facilities and 273 smaller facilities. The company will also implement three supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) for an additional $2.4 million. In addition, MarkWest will pay the government a $610,000 fine (i.e. shakedown). Total cost to get the government of out their hair: over $5.6 million. The government claimed MarkWest had not applied for nor complied with necessary permits. But the real disaster, the thing that sent government bureaucrats into fits, is that MarkWest failed to file proper paperwork required under the Clean Air Act. However, the settlement didn’t all go the government’s way. In agreeing to the settlement, MarkWest “expressly denies and does not admit any liability to the United States or PADEP arising out of the conduct, transactions or occurrences alleged in the complaint,” which means antis can’t file frivolous lawsuits against MarkWest over air pollution…
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New Cabot Drilling Program Kicks Off This Week in Ashland, OH

As we have reported since last December, Cabot Oil & Gas, long-known for the incredible amount of Marcellus natural gas they produce out of a single northeastern Pennsylvania county (Susquehanna), is eyeing north central Ohio as a potential spot for “what’s next” after the Marcellus (see Cabot O&G Considers Drilling in Ashland County, OH). Cabot locked up leases and is planning to drill a number of test wells in not only Ashland, but also Holmes, Knox, Richland and Wayne counties in the Buckeye State (see New Details Emerge on Cabot’s Shale Plans in Central Ohio). The company doesn’t know exactly what it will find–gas, NGLs or perhaps even oil (see Just What is Cabot Looking for in Ohio – NatGas, Oil or NGLs?). Cabot is about to find out. Beginning tomorrow (Tuesday), Cabot says they will start to push dirt around and build their very first well pad in Ashland County. If all goes according to plan, Cabot will spud (begin to drill) the well itself in about three weeks. Plans for a second well, also located in Ashland County, are already in the works and will come along after the first well is drilled…
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