EmberClear to Pay $31M in Lieu of Taxes for Cadiz, OH Power Plant

Ever hear of a PILOT? No, not the airplane kind. A PILOT is a “payment in lieu of taxes”–a common arrangement for electric generating plants. If such plants paid property taxes at full market value, the taxes would be so insanely high the plants would be uneconomical and therefore wouldn’t get built. So PILOTs are used instead. Such an agreement was recently reached between EmberClear and Harrison County, OH. In September 2016, MDN reported that EmberClear planned to fund and build a new $900 million electric generating plant in Harrison County (see $900M Utica Gas-Fired Electric Plant Coming to Harrison County, OH). The Harrison Hills Power Plant will be fed by Utica Shale gas. EmberClear received approval for the project in June from the Ohio Power Siting Board (see Ohio Approves $900M Harrison County Power Plant in Cadiz, OH). Although construction has not yet begun, another piece of the puzzle has fallen into place. EmberClear agreed to pay $31 million in PILOT payments (i.e. taxes) over 15 years, which will help fund the Harrison Hills City School District as well as Harrison County and its municipalities. With a PILOT now in place, the plant will get built, beaucoup payments will get made, and everybody will be happy…
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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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Ohio Approves $900M Harrison County Power Plant in Cadiz, OH

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In September 2016, MDN reported that EmberClear planned to fund and build a new $900 million, 1,000-megawatt electric generating plant in Harrison County, OH (see $900M Utica Gas-Fired Electric Plant Coming to Harrison County, OH). The new plant will be fed by Utica Shale gas. EmberClear was, until July 2016, a Canadian-based company. But it went bankrupt and after emerging from bankruptcy it changed its name to Ember Partners, now based in Houston, TX. Since 2016 we haven’t heard anything about the project. But things were/are happening. Last week the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) authorized construction of the 1,050 megawatt (MW) natural gas-fired, combined-cycle electric generation facility in Cadiz–called the Harrison Power Plant. Which is good news indeed. The plant will generate 500 temporary construction jobs and 30 permanent jobs and use a huge amount of natural gas to power it (good for Utica drillers!). Construction on the plant is due to begin in October of this year and the plant will be done and online in June 2021. Here’s the details…
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Federal Court Upholds Ohio Forced Pooling Law in Chesapeake Case

In 2015, landowners in Harrison County, OH who own 127 acres (the Kerns) filed a lawsuit alleging their property rights were about to be violated because Chesapeake Energy had filed a pooling request with the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) to pool (combine) the Kerns property with surrounding properties for shale drilling. The Kerns had not signed and do not want drilling under their land. Their neighbors do. Ohio has a law on the books that allows for “forced pooling” in cases when a majority of the surrounding land is leased but landowners with small positions refuse to sign. The Kerns resisted and fought the case all the way to Ohio Supreme Court, which rejected their claims. Chesapeake drilled and fracked three wells (on a neighboring property), which included drilling under the Kerns’ property. So the Kerns filed a new lawsuit in 2016, in federal court, claiming a “taking” of their property had occurred. The federal court has just ruled–against the Kerns. This was the first time a court case dealt directly with the constitutionality of Ohio’s unitization (forced pooling) law. The upshot: Ohio’s forced pooling law remains intact and in force…
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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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MarkWest Building New Fractionation Plant in Harrison County, OH

Hopedale Fractionation Facility (click for larger version)

MarkWest Energy, now a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum (MPLX unit) is THE premier shale gas processor in the Marcellus/Utica region. When natural gas comes out of the ground, a bunch of other hydrocarbons come out of the ground with it–namely NGLs (natural gas liquids). NGLs include compounds like ethane (C2H6), propane (C3H8), butane (C4H10), isobutane (also C4H10), and pentane (C5H12). MarkWest’s cryogenic processing plants separate out the methane from NGLs. A different process, called fractionation, further separates the NGLs into their component parts. MarkWest handles an estimated 60% of all fractionation in the M-U. MarkWest has standalone plants set up to separate out ethane–called C2 fractionation because ethane has two carbon atoms. Ethane fractionation plants are their own separate beast–removing ethane from the NGL stream. Finally, there are C3 fractionation plants, which tackle separating the other NGLs–propane, butane, isobutane and pentane (referred to as C3+ fractionation because each of those compounds has three or more carbon atoms). In the Hopedale fractionation operation (Jewett, Ohio), MarkWest already has three C3+ fractionation plants up and running–Hopedale I, II, and III. Each one processes 60,000 barrels of NGLs a day, for a cumulative 180,000 bbl/d capacity. Honeywell issued a press release yesterday to say they have been tapped to build a fourth Hopedale C3+ fractionation plant, expanding MarkWest’s capacity by another 60,000 bbl/d. Honeywell says it takes just 40 weeks from start to finish and they will have the Hopedale IV plant up and running, by the end of this year…
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OH Landowner Loses Lawsuit to Stop Eclipse Drilling New Wells

A Harrison County, OH landowner signed a lease back in 2006 granting a driller “broad rights” to extract oil and gas on and beyond his property. The lease was signed for $1 plus royalty payments. Obviously the landowner (frankly, nobody) at the time had any idea the Utica Shale miracle would happen just a few years later. The lease signed by the landowner was, in retrospect, a bad one. But that doesn’t excuse the landowner from living up to the obligations under that lease, which the landowner has learned the hard way. The lease was sold to Eclipse Resources and Eclipse wanted to, under the terms of the lease, drill new wells which would not only drain that landowner’s property (136 acres), but also drill under neighboring properties where Eclipse also owned the lease rights. That is, the well would be located on the landowner’s property but access gas under other properties–yielding royalties to others but not the landowner. The landowner objected to new wells on his property without a new lease (can’t blame him). However, first a district court and now the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided for Eclipse against the landowner. Below is a summary of Eclipse Res. Ohio, LLC v. Madzia, followed by a copy of the full decision from the Sixth Circuit…
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More of Rover in Eastern Ohio Coming Online in Time for Star Wars

The mighty Rover Pipeline project marches on toward 100% completion, even though the Ohio EPA is doing its best to stop it (see Rover Ignores Shrill Ohio EPA, Asks FERC to Continue HDD Drilling). Because of previous issues with underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) first put the brakes on Rover, then later eased off the brakes, but still keeps Rover on a tight leash, preventing Rover from moving at the faster pace they’d like move at. Especially with respect to work in eastern Ohio. Rover is a $3.7 billion, 711-mile natural gas pipeline that (will eventually) run from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and on to Canada. A large portion of the pipeline, designated Phase 1A, began flowing natural gas on Sept. 1st (see Big Portion of Rover Pipeline Now Up & Running – Thru Most of Ohio). However, Phase 1B work in eastern OH and WV, which will feed more Marcellus/Utica gas to the main part of the pipeline, has been stymied by slow HDD work. At least some of 1B is now ready to begin. Yesterday Rover asked FERC for permission to begin service on three lateral pipelines totaling nearly 62 miles, and to start up three compressor stations and seven metering stations–in Ohio’s Noble, Monroe and Harrison counties. Rover is asking FERC to hurry it up so they can begin service by next week, in time for the Star Wars: The Last Jedi premier on Dec. 14…
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OH Couple Illegally Blocks Rover Pipeline Workers from Their Land

A somewhat misguided couple who own land in Harrison County, OH and object to Rover putting a pipeline through their land have decided to break the law. Contractors working for Energy Transfer to clear trees and dig a trench to lay pipeline across their land have been working on their land, on an off, for the past three weeks. Sheila Bittinger and her husband Stanley say they’ve had enough and the couple parked several vehicles across the entrance to their property to prevent any more work on the pipeline. It sounds as if they want to get arrested and that they know this particular bit of “civil disobedience” will result in absolutely nothing. But they’re doing it all the same. If you watch the video (below) you get the impression these are honest, country folks who feel like they’ve gotten a raw deal. We wonder if these landowners have been manipulated by slick lawyers who see a big payday coming from a lawsuit against Rover Pipeline…
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$900M Utica Gas-Fired Electric Plant Coming to Harrison County, OH

emberclearSeveral news sources are reporting that EmberClear has committed to fund and build a new $900 million, 1,000-megawatt electric generating plant in Harrison County, OH. The new plant will be fed by Utica Shale gas. Officials in the county have been working on a deal to lure the plant to the county since December of last year and stress it is a “long-term project” and “not a slam-dunk” because of extensive regulatory hurdles. If the project happens, it will generate 500 temporary construction jobs and 30 permanent jobs and use a huge amount of natural gas to power it (good for drillers!). MDN did some checking and found one potential cloud over the deal. EmberClear was, until July, a Canadian-based company. But it went bankrupt and after emerging from bankruptcy it changed its name to Ember Partners, now based in Houston, TX. Apparently the bankruptcy hasn’t slowed them down–but it does raise a question about the financial stability of the company and its ability to fund a big-money project like the Harrison Power Project. However, these projects are typically funded by one or several investors and not by the company that builds and operates the facility…
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M3 Donates New Building to Township in Harrison County, OH

m3 midstreamWe’ve written plenty of stories about midstream (pipeline) companies “giving back” to the communities where they either currently, or plan in the future, to operate. Typically midstream companies donate a few thousand dollars to various nonprofit groups. It adds up. Recently PennEast Pipeline donated $85,000 to 17 different groups (see PennEast Pipeline Spreads Some More Coin in PA/NJ Communities). The Constitution Pipeline just handed out another $50,000 and has now handed out over $2 million in grants to nonprofits (see Constitution Pipeline Doles Out Another $50K in Grants, Despite NY). But this is the first time we’ve heard of a midstream company giving a new building away! M3 Midstream (Momentum) has donated a brand new 5-bay building for North Township in Scio, OH–where they operate a natural gas processing plant. And that’s not the only thing M3 has done for the town. Needless to say, local town leaders are happy as clams…
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OH Manufacturers Support Eminent Domain in Mariner East 2 Lawsuit

courtgavel.jpgLast week the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA), along with several other trade associations, filed a “friend of the court” brief (called an amicus brief, full copy below) in a case pending before the Ohio Seventh District Court of Appeals (in Youngstown). The OMA wants the Court of Appeals to uphold the ruling of a Harrison County trial court in the eminent domain case of Sunoco Pipeline v. Carol A. Teter, Trustee. OMA says eminent domain should be used in rare circumstances, but when no other choices remain, its use is legitimate and necessary. In particular, OMA is supporting Sunoco’s right to use eminent domain for the Mariner East 2 project–a project that will employ a lot of OMA businesses and their employees…
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Cornerstone Pipeline Slightly Delayed, Construction Begins in May

In the middle of March MDN brought you the news that Marathon Petroleum was saying they would begin construction on the Cornerstone Pipeline “in the next several weeks”–meaning by the beginning of April (see Cornerstone Liquids Pipeline Set to Begin Construction in E Ohio). The timeline has been moved back a month. Marathon officials are now saying construction won’t begin until May. Cornerstone is a $250 million, 50-mile liquids pipeline being built by Marathon from the MarkWest cryogenic processing plant in Cadiz (Harrison County, now owned by Marathon), northwest connecting to M3’s fractionator plant in Scio (also in Harrison County) and M3’s cryogenic processing plant in Leesville (Carroll County) before terminating and connecting to Marathon’s refinery in Canton, OH (see Marathon Petroleum’s Newly Announced “Cornerstone” Utica Pipeline). The pipeline will carry, at various times, crude oil, condensate and natural gasoline. No reason was given for the delay…
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Cornerstone Liquids Pipeline Set to Begin Construction in E Ohio

The Cornerstone Pipeline, announced at the end of 2013, is a 50-mile liquids pipeline being built by Marathon Petroleum from the MarkWest cryogenic processing plant in Cadiz (Harrison County), OH northwest connecting to M3’s fractionator plant in Scio (also in Harrison County) and M3’s cryogenic processing plant in Leesville (Carroll County) before terminating and connecting to Marathon’s refinery in Canton, OH (see Marathon Petroleum’s Newly Announced “Cornerstone” Utica Pipeline). The pipeline will carry, at various times, crude oil, condensate and natural gasoline. Last fall Price Gregory, the company hired to build the Cornerstone, advertised for 400 workers (see Price Gregory Hiring 400 People in OH to Build Cornerstone Pipeline). Seems like it’s taken a long time, but construction of the pipeline is set to begin “in the next several weeks”…
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Antis Not Happy with Results of OH Fracking Study They Funded

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati have been studying fracking and its potential affects on water wells in five Ohio counties for the past three years. The lead researcher, Dr. Amy Townsend-Small, shared the results at a recent meeting of the anti-drilling Carroll Concerned Citizens. She said, “The good news is that our study did not document that fracking was directly linked to water contamination.” Oh oh. That’s NOT good news for antis–and frankly, they didn’t like her telling them the truth of what her study found. Townsend-Small also said this, “I’m really sad to say this but some of our funders, the groups that had given us funding in the past, were a little disappointed in our results.” You can be sure that any future funding for studies Townsend-Small wants to make, at least from radical environmentalists, will be nonexistent. She had the temerity to tell the truth–to the people who hired her to not tell the truth. That takes courage…
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Utica/Marcellus Condensate Now Being Exported via Ship from NJ

bon voyageDon’t look now but Utica/Marcellus condensate being produced at a MarkWest Energy processing plant in Cadiz, OH is being exported out of the country via a ship docked on the Hudson River at Perth Amboy, New Jersey–just across the river from Manhattan! The condensate is transported to NJ via railroad in specially designed rail cars. A second ship is being loaded up and will leave with Utica/Marcellus condensate from MarkWest, according to the Reuters story below. The first ship loaded with condensate left Perth Amboy one month ago heading to the Netherlands. No word yet on where the second load is heading, but sources say exporting condensate from Perth Amboy is now set up to become a routine thing, which is fantastic news for drillers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia that produce condensate…
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