Small but Determined Group Wants to Block Ohio Cracker Plant

Last week the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency held an information session (to give out info) along with a public hearing (to accept comments) on the draft air pollution permit for PTT Global Chemical’s proposed ethane cracker plant complex in Belmont County, OH (see Ohio EPA to Hold Air Permit Hearing for PTT Cracker Nov. 27). Some 100 or so people turned up for the hearing, according to media accounts. Perhaps 35 people spoke during the public comment period. There were both supporters and detractors. We suppose we knew there were folks opposed to the project, but this is really the first time we’ve read about an organized effort to stop the project. That effort comes from the usual (irrational) anti-fossil fuel suspects who oppose all drilling, pipelines, and anything else to do with fossil fuels.
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Ohio EPA to Hold Water Permit Hearing for PTT Cracker Dec. 12

Still no sign from PTT Global Chemical that they will announce a final decision to proceed with building a $6 billion ethane cracker in Belmont County, OH, by the end of this year. The project was first announced in April 2015 (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.
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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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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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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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Rumblings that PTT Will Once Again Delay OH Cracker Decision

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, and rumor has it the decision is delayed yet again.
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3 Counties, 5 Drillers Led OH’s 50% Increase in 2Q Gas Production

The Pareto Principle is alive and well in the Buckeye State. You may know it as the 80/20 rule, or in this case, the 75/25 rule. The rule that states roughly 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. Last week MDN brought you the latest update from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources–their second quarter 2018 report showing all production coming from the Ohio Utica Shale (see Top 25 Producing Gas & Oil Wells in Ohio Utica for 2Q18). While MDN provided you with Top 25 lists showing the best-performing wells (both gas and oil) during 2Q, and while we provided you with a better spreadsheet to view the information than that provided by the ODNR itself, our analysis was basic and high level. Utica natgas production was up a big 42% over the same period last year, and Utica oil production was up 11%–a cumulative 50% increase when you convert it all into equivalents. The experts at S&P Global Platts have done a deep dive into the numbers and have found that three counties represent 75% of all production in 2Q18, and five drillers represent 75% of all production in 2Q18. Which counties and which drillers? Read on…
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Free Pipeline Worker Training Program Begins Sept. 24 in OH

The Gas Technology Institute (GTI) continues to offer its popular 100% free training program (worth $3,500) for those interested in a career building pipelines in the Marcellus/Utica region. Starting salaries often exceed $40,000 per year, and a six-figure income is attainable for employees with time and experience. Companies supporting the GTI program have told GTI they anticipate hiring 1,100+ workers over the next two years. There’s no excuse! If you want a high-paying job, get the 4-week training and get yourself to work. Because of ongoing construction programs within the utility and pipeline industry, and because of aging workforce retirements, the M-U pipeline industry has an acute need for reliable gas pipeline workers. The next round of free training, limited to 20 students per section, begins on Sept. 24 at Belmont College in St. Clairsville, OH…
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Local Leaders Get Ready for Belmont County, OH Cracker Plant

It sure feels like PTT Global Chemical, the Thailand-based petrochemical giant that says it wants to build an ethane cracker in Belmont County, OH, is getting close to making a positive final investment decision (FID). On Monday we told you that an Ohio State Representative, Andy Thompson, said such a decision will be forthcoming in “a month or so” (see PTT Decision on Ohio Cracker Announced in Next “Month or So”). We have more evidence of an impending decision. Recently two dozen local county officials, from both sides of the Ohio River, went on a field trip to Beaver County where Shell is building their $6 billion ethane cracker. The officials wanted to see, first-hand, how the project is impacting the local area. They got eyes- and earsful. They came back jazzed. Here’s our point: A horde of local officials doesn’t traipse around the countryside wasting time unless they are convinced the project is going to happen. From the language this group of officials is using, and their overall demeanor, we’d say the PTT Belmont cracker is a happening project…
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FERC Finally Approves 2 Key Rover Pipeline Laterals, Sept 1 Start

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) game of hardball with Energy Transfer over the Rover Pipeline has finally paid off. For months FERC has refused to allow four Rover laterals–feeder pipelines to shuttle gas from where it’s produced into the main Rover pipeline–to start up (see FERC Plays Hardball with Rover – Refuses to Certify 4 Laterals). The reason? ET has not, according to FERC, lived up to its word on restoration work. Things like smoothing over the dirt and replanting grass and other vegetation over top of the buried pipeline. Earlier this month ET assured FERC it would have the majority of restoration work done on two key laterals–the Burgettstown Lateral in southwestern PA, and the Majorsville Lateral in the northern panhandle of WV–by the end of this month (see FERC Continues to Block Rover Laterals Until Restoration Work Done). With recent evidence that ET is indeed living up to its word, last Thursday FERC gave ET permission to start up both the Burgettstown and Majorsville Laterals on Sept. 1. The majority of the restoration work will be done by this Friday, Aug. 31. However, there will still be some odds and ends after that (addressing “ground movement areas) that will go on through December. That leaves two final laterals–the CGT (Columbia Gas Transmission) and Sherwood Laterals, still not online. This is a prime example of FERC playing hardball, contrary to the “rubber stamp” antis claim FERC is for pipeline companies…
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PTT Decision on Ohio Cracker Announced in Next “Month or So”

Sometimes you spot an innocent, off-the-cuff remark that’s not really part of the intended story–but has huge meaning. Such was the case when we spotted a story quoting Ohio House of Representatives member Andy Thompson (Republican, 95th District covering Carroll, Harrison and Noble counties, and portions of Washington and Belmont counties). Thompson, who (to his credit) is not running for reelection after four terms [NOTE: a sharp MDN reader emailed to say Mr. Thompson was term-limited out and could not run again], gave a speech at the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association last week in St. Clairsville. In his remarks, Thompson talked about the work of Shale Crescent USA, an economic development organization formed a few years ago to encourage business growth in the Ohio Valley based on low natural gas prices that allow manufacturers to operate more efficiently–with easy access to half the population of the United States and Canada. Although Thompson’s focus was not on the PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker project potentially planned for Belmont County, he had some VERY interesting remarks about that project and others like it…
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Ascent’s $1.5B OH Utica Deal Yields $1.4M in Fees for 2 Counties

In late June Ascent Resources, a company founded by Aubrey McClendon after he left Chesapeake Energy, announced it is buying 113,400 Utica Shale acres along with 93 operating wells located in eastern Ohio for $1.5 billion (see Ascent Resources Spends $1.5 Billion to Buy OH Utica Acreage, Wells). It’s a big deal, making Ascent one of the largest privately owned exploration and production companies in the U.S. It’s also a big deal for the counties where the land is changing hands. A large part of the acreage is located in Jefferson County, with sizable chunks in Belmont, Noble and Harrison counties. Why is it a big deal for the counties? It takes time (and consequently fees) to transfer all those thousands of leases from one owner to another. Counties stand to make a big windfall. For example, in Jefferson County, some $305 million worth of transfers will take place between CNX and Ascent, netting the Jefferson clerk’s office $1.2 million in fee revenue! It is the single largest ownership transfer in Jefferson County history. In neighboring Belmont County (to the south of Jefferson), $58 million worth of transfers are taking place, netting the county $173,000 in transfer fees. No word yet on how much money Noble and Harrison stand to make…
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Ascent Resources Spends $1.5 Billion to Buy OH Utica Acreage, Wells

Last Thursday, Ascent Resources, a company founded by Aubrey McClendon after he left Chesapeake Energy, announced it is buying 113,400 Utica Shale acres along with 93 operating wells located in eastern Ohio for $1.5 billion. The new acreage tips Ascent over the 300,000 Utica acre line and catapults the company into one of the largest privately owned drillers (exploration and production) in the U.S. The companies doing the selling are CNX Resources and Hess (selling a joint venture they co-owned, each selling their share for $400 million each, for a total of $800 million), Utica Minerals Development (a subsidiary of First Reserve, a private equity firm headquartered in Greenwich, CT, and EMG), and a fourth, unnamed mystery seller. The CNX/Hess acreage (78,000 net acres of the 113,400 acres) is located in the wet gas window of Belmont, Guernsey, Harrison and Noble counties. We’re not sure about the location of the other acreage. The CNX/Hess jv sale marks Hess’ total exit from the Utica Shale. So how will Ascent pay for all of their new shiny new assets? After all, they only just emerged from bankruptcy in April (see Ascent Resources Marcellus Exits Chapter 11 Bankruptcy). [Correction: Ascent Resources Marcellus was the part of the Ascent business that filed for bankruptcy and is not related to Ascent Resources Utica and this new transaction.] Ascent will pay for it by issuing $965 million in new shares of equity (private stock), and borrowing $535 million under their existing line of credit…
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