Latest OH Wayne Natl Forest Auction a Bust – Leases Go for $3/Acre

The fifth auction by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of federally-owned acreage in Wayne National Forest (WNF) to allow shale drilling was, in a word, a bust. The first four auctions offered up a total of 2,396 acres in total, and sold for over $8 million (average of $3,354 signing bonus per acre). The fifth auction of two smaller parcels–39.6 acres in Monroe County, and 305.8 acres in Noble County–sold for a piddly $2 and $3 signing bonuses per acre, respectively. What in the world happened? MDN reader and friend Charles Winslow, owner of The Wells Inn in Sistersville, WV, writes the INNformer publication. Charles recently published an excellent article about the recent auction and its lackluster results in the INNformer. He offered MDN the opportunity to reprint it (below). Charles finds there are a number of factors for the low auction price–but primarily the blame can be laid at the foot of regulatory uncertainty…
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Top 3 Most-Drilled Counties in Ohio Utica for 2017

If you look at the number of Utica wells drilled in 2017, Belmont, Monroe and Jefferson counties were the top 3 counties in the state for new Utica wells drilled. However, if you dig a little further, you’ll find that two of those three counties saw more wells drilled in 2017 than in 2016, while one of them saw a 45% drop in new wells drilled in 2017–indicating that county has “fallen out of favor,” at least to some extent. Which is which? For that, you have click to continue reading…
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Final State Permits Expected Soon for OH Mountaineer NGL Storage

Some new details have emerged with respect to the Mountaineer NGL Storage facility proposed for Monroe County, OH, located just across the river (and border) from West Virginia. What did we know about the proposed project? The Colorado company behind the project plans to spend up to $500 million to build it; some 20 drillers have expressed interest in contracting with the facility to store ethane; and the nearby PTT Global cracker plant project (if it gets built) and the under-construction Shell cracker plant are both interested in connections to the facility. Last November, we learned there is a construction delay until mid-this year (see Yet Another Update on Stalled Mountaineer NGL Storage Proj in OH). Why the delay? Because of regulators in Ohio. At the “Emerging Opportunities Ohio Valley Conference” held yesterday in WV, Mountaineer NGL president David Hooker provided an update and some new-to-us details about the project. He said his company will file paperwork for “final state permits” in March. While “not a lot has changed” with Ohio regulators dragging their feet, here’s something that has changed. In order to pump out the NGLs from the underground storage cavern, brine (salty water) will be pumped down the bore hole, to force the NGLs back up to the surface. Original plans called for a single brine pond to store the liquid when it’s at the surface, waiting to be used. New plans call for two brine ponds. So far Mountaineer has spent $20 million on the project. If everything gets approved and demand develops as expected, the plan is to spend up to $130 million, which will build enough infrastructure to store 3 million barrels of NGLs. However, there is also a stretch goal of investing up to $500 million to store 10 million barrels. Here’s an update from our friends at Kallanish Energy, who attended yesterday’s event…
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Former Ormet Site in SE OH Changes Hands, Gas-Fired Plant Coming

Rendering of the 485 MW power plant at the Long Ridge Energy Terminal

Back in 2014 MDN told you that the former Ormet aluminum plant in Hannibal (Monroe County), OH had been purchased out of bankruptcy by Niagara Worldwide and turned into the Center Port Transload Facility, with an emphasis on providing services for the Marcellus/Utica industry (see Center Port Transload Facility Already Up & Running in OH). In April 2017, we brought you news about plans to build a 485-megawatt Utica gas-fired electric plant at the Center Port location (see More on Gas-Fired Elec Plant Coming to Center Port Terminal). A lot has happened since that time. Most of the facility (not all) changed hands again, selling to Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure for $30 million last June. Since that time, what was called Center Port Terminal has been renamed–to Long Ridge Energy Terminal. The new owners are moving forward, quickly, with plans to build the gas-fired power plant, which is now called the Hannibal Port Power Project. According to the Long Ridge website, the Hannibal Port Power gas plant will be operational by 2020–meaning construction will begin this year…
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Mountaineer NGL Wants to be THE Appalachian Storage Hub

When the topic of NGL (natural gas liquids) storage comes up with respect to the Marcellus/Utica region, there are two separate and distinct projects mentioned: A massive, $10 billion ethane/NGL storage hub with no specific location identified as yet (but West Virginia often named), and the much smaller Mountaineer NGL storage hub proposed for Monroe County, OH. Recently none other than the U.S. Dept. of Energy issued an NGL primer to call attention to the need for a large NGL storage hub (see DOE Publishes NGL Primer for Marcellus/Utica, Pushes NGL Storage). The Mountaineer project was mentioned in the DOE report. We’ve written plenty about Mountaineer NGL, located just across the river (and border) from West Virginia (see our Mountaineer NGL Storage stories here). What do we know about the proposed Mountaineer NGL Storage project? The Colorado company behind the project plans to spend up to $500 million to build it; some 20 drillers have expressed interest in contracting with the facility to store ethane; and both the nearby PTT Global cracker plant project (if it gets built) and the under-construction Shell cracker plant are both interested in connections to the facility. In November, we learned there is a construction delay until mid-this year (see Yet Another Update on Stalled Mountaineer NGL Storage Proj in OH). We are on record having previously said this: “Could the Mountaineer NGL Storage project end up being THE main NGL project for the entire region, being touted by so many? No. But it is an important project–one of the key pieces of the NGL storage puzzle that will serve our region.” It appears Mountaineer may not agree with our take. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Business Times, Mountaineer makes it clear they want to be THE NGL storage hub for the Marcellus/Utica region. Instead of building a huge $10B project from the start, Mountaineer’s strategy is to grow slow but steady–responding to market conditions along the way. Mountaineer says that’s how it was done in Texas, and that’s how they believe it can (and should) be done in our region…
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BLM Raises $944K from 4th Ohio Wayne Natl Forest Auction

Another 350 acres of mineral rights were just auctioned off yesterday by the Bureau of Land Management in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest (WNF)–for a total of $944,000 raised. What’s that? You haven’t heard or read that news in ANY local or national news outlet? Welcome to the Big Government/Media complex where something isn’t “news” unless Big Lib media says it’s news. And yet, this most recent auction is, for landowners who have mineral rights in WNF and drillers who drill there, really big news. WNF is a “patchwork” of public land scattered among private land. Some 60% of the mineral rights below WNF are privately owned. Those mineral rights owners were denied the use of their property rights for more than a decade–until the BLM finally began auctions of government mineral rights in BLM last year (see BLM Launches Auction to Lease Wayne National Forest for Fracking). The government portions of the patchwork are needed to combine with the private portions in order to form drilling units large enough to drill on/under. All of yesterday’s auctioned rights, similar to previous auctions, is located in Monroe County, OH–one of the sweetest of the sweet spots for drilling in the Utica Shale. Antis continue to oppose these auctions, launching lawsuits, showing up at various public events, etc. Whatever. The good news, news you don’t read in mainstream outlets, is that WNF lease auctions continue…
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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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Yet Another Update on Stalled Mountaineer NGL Storage Proj in OH

Over the past six months we’ve run a steady string of stories about Mountaineer NGL Storage and its proposed underground NGL (mostly ethane) storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see our Mountaineer NGL Storage stories here). We’ve learned that the Colorado company behind the project plans to spend up to $500 million to build it, that 20 drillers have expressed interest in contracting with the facility to store ethane, and that both the nearby potential PTT Global cracker plant and the under-construction Shell cracker plant are both interested in connections to the facility. We’ve also learned there is a holdup with some of the necessary permits for the project before construction can begin–a situation that has delayed construction until mid-next year. This morning we ran across yet another update. This one goes into more detail about the permit situation, explaining where the holdup is happening (with the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources’ chief Rick Simmers). The update also introduces us to a new spokesman for the project, a local who will be the project’s feet on the street, meaning we’ll likely hear a lot more about the project in the coming weeks and months…
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Mountaineer NGL Storage Spending Up to $500M on Ethane Facility

Mountaineer NGL Storage wants to build a new underground NGL storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see New Company Announces Open Season for NGL Storage in Ohio Utica). The project, which will store primarily ethane but also propane and butane, still needs to build a 3.25 million barrel brine pond, used to pump out stored NGLs. Mountaineer is waiting for a clearance from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources to build the pond. At a recent industry event, Mountaineer CEO David Hooker said 20 drillers are interested in storing ethane at the facility, when it gets built (see Mountaineer NGL Says 20 Drillers Interested in Ethane Storage). Hooker keeps the NGL storage project front and center in the news. Yesterday he announced plans to spend an initial $150 million, and potentially as much as $500 million, to build the facility. To the best of our recollection that’s the first time numbers have been offered for how much money it will take to fund the project. Hooker also gave a new timeline for the project, saying he expects all permits to be in hand “within the first six months of 2018,” and after that, construction will begin…
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Mountaineer NGL Says 20 Drillers Interested in Ethane Storage

For some time we’ve had our eye on a project to store ethane in underground caverns in Ohio. Mountaineer NGL Storage wants to build a new underground NGL storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see New Company Announces Open Season for NGL Storage in Ohio Utica). As we reported in April, the company need customers to sign up to use the facility–a minimum of 1 million barrels of storage would get it going (see More Clarity on Status of Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH). Mountaineer still needs to build a 3.25 million barrel brine pond, used to pump out the stored NGLs. Mountaineer is waiting for a clearance from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources to build the pond, which (in June) we said would likely to take “a few more months.” Strike that. The CEO of the project recently said he now does not expect to get those permits until “first or second quarter of next year” (see Mountaineer NGL Storage Project Delayed Until 2018). Mountaineer CEO David Hooker recently spoke at the Utica Summit V in North Canton. Here’s the latest he shared about this important project…
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Mountaineer NGL Storage Project Delayed Until 2018

Mountaineer NGL Storage wants to build a new underground NGL storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see New Company Announces Open Season for NGL Storage in Ohio Utica). As we reported in April, the company need customers to sign up to use the facility–a minimum of 1 million barrels of storage would get it going (see More Clarity on Status of Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH). Mountaineer still needs to build a 3.25 million barrel brine pond, used to pump out the stored NGLs. Mountaineer is waiting for a clearance from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources to build the pond, which (in June) we said would likely to take “a few more months.” Strike that. The CEO of the project recently said he now does not expect to get those permits until “first or second quarter of next year.” He hastens to add that’s no problem, because his two biggest potential customers–the Shell ethane cracker in Beaver County, PA and the closer-by PTT Global Chemical cracker in Belmont County, OH, won’t be ready to start using ethane until 2020 at the earliest…
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Mountaineer NGL Storage Connecting w/3 Pipelines Under Ohio River

The president of the company looking to build the Mountaineer NGL Storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River says operating the facility close to the Ohio River is safe and “is not rocket science.” Last week West Virginia University researchers released a report that the Marcellus/Utica region needs an ethane storage hub (see today’s companion story, WVU Appalachia Ethane Storage Hub Final Report – We Need it Bad). Most of the talk has been about a massive, $10 billion ethane storage facility to help feed cracker plants and other petrochemical facilities that will locate in our region. At the meeting last week, David Hooker, president of Energy Storage Ventures which wants to build the Mountaineer NGL Storage facility, made the point that his company is already working on what will likely be multiple NGL storage facilities. MDN has been following the Mountaineer NGL project. At least check in June, Mountaineer still needs customers to sign up, and they need more regulatory approvals from Ohio (see More Clarity on Status of Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH). We got an update last week from Hooker, including details new for us: the storage facility will connect with three pipelines running beneath the Ohio River…
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CONSOL Energy 2Q17 – Utica Well Problems, Production Decline

CONSOL Energy released its second quarter 2017 update yesterday, along with a conference call to discuss results in 2Q17 and what’s ahead for the rest of 2017 and even a hint of what’s coming in 2018. Perhaps the biggest news coming from yesterday is that CONSOL had problems with two well pads in the Ohio Utica during last quarter–problems which slowed them down and resulted in a rare decrease in natural gas production year over year. CONSOL production was down 7% due to problems with drilling out frack plugs at two well pads in Monroe County, OH. According to CONSOL COO Tim Dugan, they were “one-time” events and unusual. Dugan said, more or less, CONSOL is experimenting and hey, sometimes the experiments go wrong. But the “operational improvements” the company has made by experimenting have far outweighed any temporary problems like those in Monroe County. CONSOL will spend more and drill more in 2017 than previously forecast–spending $620-$645 million to drill 34 wells this year (which works out to close to $19 million/well on the high end). In 2018, CONSOL will add a third drilling rig, although they’re not yet saying where it will get deployed (PA Marcellus or OH Utica). Here’s the latest from a company that will soon split in two (coal and gas) and rename itself…
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Calif. Microturbine Company Sells First Unit in Utica Shale

MDN has highlighted Capstone Turbine Corporation, a California company that manufactures small electric-generating plants that run on natural gas, several times in the past. Our most recent story (in February) shared the news that Capstone had sold three more of their “microturbines” to midstreamers in the Marcellus Shale play (see Calif. Microturbine Company Sells More Units in the Marcellus). Capstone is back with another announcement. This time they’ve sold one of their newest model microturbines to an exploration & production company (i.e. driller) in the Utica Shale–to someone operating in Monroe County, OH. It is, according to Capstone, their first sale to someone in the Utica region…
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Monroe County, OH Leads the Way Out of Industry Downturn

Last week the Monroe County, OH Chamber of Commerce and other organizations held an information forum to highlight what’s coming down the pike in the way of drilling and pipeline work for the county. Monroe is one of the leading Utica Shale counties in Ohio. According to Mike Chadsey, director of public relations for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA), “Monroe County has been at the heart of the industry coming out of the downturn.” He also had an interesting perspective on the issue of “boom and bust” in the oil and gas business. We’ve written a number of times about the cycles experienced in the o&g industry. Drillers expand like crazing, creating a “boom,” and when too much of oil or gas floods the market and prices crash, a “bust” follows. Chadsey has different terminology. He thinks it is more accurate to call those cycles “ebb and flow” rather than “boom and bust.” We like it! A number of people addressed the forum, including drillers Rice Energy and EdgeMarc. Here’s how Monroe is leading the way out of the downturn…
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More Clarity on Status of Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH

In May, MDN conveyed the news that it appears Mountaineer NGL Storage, which wants to build a new underground NGL storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio, near Clarington, along the Ohio River (see New Company Announces Open Season for NGL Storage in Ohio Utica), had, according to the story we read, begun construction (see Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH Under Construction). Based on a later article, we stated that our older story was in error (see Mountaineer NGL Storage Facility in OH Not (Yet) Under Construction). In October 2016, Mountaineer drilled and completed a test well in the salt formation. But in April of this year, Mountaineer said construction had not yet begun due to problems with red tape (see Mountaineer NGL Storage in Monroe County, OH Caught in Red Tape). An interview with a company official said nobody has (as yet) signed on the dotted line to use the facility, and that is the holdup now. Which has been, more or less, confirmed at the recent Appalachian Storage Hub conference, held last week in Canonsburg, PA. After reading an account of Mountaineer’s comments at the event, we now believe we have a fuller, even more accurate picture. The situation is this: Yes, they need customers to sign up to use the facility (minimum of 1 million barrels of storage would get it going). In addition, Mountaineer still needs to build a 3.25 million barrel brine pond, used to pump out the stored NGLs. Mountaineer is still waiting for a clearance from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources to build the pond, likely to take a few more months. So they need customers, and they need more regulatory approvals…
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