Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Court Case to Block Martian Drilling

It seems the door *does* swing both ways when it comes to Pennsylvania municipalities and the Act 13 lawsuit decision that allows municipalities to have a say in zoning in, or zoning out, shale drilling. In 2013 seven selfish PA towns won the right, from the PA Supreme Court, to impose their own zoning rules on oil and gas drilling (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). Since that time, Big Green groups have asked the court to rule the door only swings one way–that zoning can keep shale drilling out, but never allow *more* of it. That notion has now been put to rest. The door swings both ways.
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Pipeline Outage Causing Headache for PennEnergy in W PA

We caught a helpful update on PennEnergy Resources from a report on last week’s Hart Energy DUG East Conference in Pittsburgh. PennEnergy CEO Richard Weber told the DUG audience that his company is currently producing an average half a billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, with plans to increase that by 10% this year. One thing holding the company back is the ongoing outage of Energy Transfer’s Revolution Pipeline gathering system.
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EdgeMarc Energy Files for Bankruptcy, Blames Revolution Pipe

EdgeMarc Energy, headquartered in Canonsburg, PA (with 45,000 acres of Marcellus/Utica leases), is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, looking to sell all of the company’s assets. The reason? They can’t move their production to market because their main pipeline partner, Energy Transfer’s Revolution Pipeline, exploded last September and ET has not been able to get the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection to allow them to restart it.
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PA DEP Claims Energy Transfer Illegally Damaged Streams, Wetlands

Speaking of the exploded Revolution Pipeline located in southwestern Pennsylvania that’s led to a driller declaring bankruptcy (see EdgeMarc Energy Files for Bankruptcy, Blames Revolution Pipe Outage), yesterday the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an order to Energy Transfer, builder of Revolution, to “identify and restore or mitigate all streams and wetlands that it illegally eliminated or altered during the construction” of the pipeline. DEP claims ET “illegally” eliminated at least 23 streams and changed the length of another 120 streams.
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PA Chamber Files Brief in Martian School Court Case

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry (PA Chamber) recently filed a brief in Commonwealth Court opposing THE Delaware Riverkeeper in a case that still has us angry and baffled. The case brought by Riverkeeper is clear across the state, hundreds of miles from the Delaware River Basin where Riverkeeper supposedly operates, and attempts to force a local municipality to adopt zoning ordinances it doesn’t want to adopt. And it involves Martians.
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PA Supremes Order Rehearing for Rex Permits Near Martian School

The Martians and their allies have attacked once again. Run for the hills! This is a long-running story that’s just taken another (unfortunate) twist. A handful of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (“Martians”) in Butler County, PA, backed by money and legal help from Philadelphia Big Green groups THE Delaware Riverkeeper and the Clean Air Council, have filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit (see Martians Use Riverkeeper to Continue Court Battle Against Rex). The effort is aimed at denying landowners in Middlesex Township revenue from legally permitted drilling. The actions by these radicalized parents have cost the taxpayers of Middlesex Township over $100,000 in legal fees (we hope the taxpayers enjoying paying for this folly). Eventually most of the lawsuits were won by the good guys and at least two wells got drilled. However, in 2016 the Martians appealed a town ordinance that allows the wells to be drilled about 3/4 of a mile from the school. A panel of three western PA judges in Commonwealth Court heard arguments in the case, and in June 2017 the judges ruled against Riverkeeper and the Martians (see Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Martian Case to Stop Rex Energy Drilling). Riverkeeper, using funding from the William Penn Foundation and Heinz Endowments (among other Big Green funders) pressed on, all the way to the PA Supreme Court. Last Friday the Supremes proved they aren’t so supreme after all. In a ruling, the Supremes told Commonwealth Court to do it over again, this time considering PA’s so-called Environmental Rights Amendment as part of their thinking. In other words, do it over, and rule another way this time–that’s what the Supremes are telling the lower court to do…
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Rex Energy Settled Butler County Water Lawsuits for $159K

Beginning in 2012, MDN reported on the story of a community in western Pennsylvania (in Butler County) whose residents said that nearby drilling by Rex Energy led to contamination of their water wells (see PA Residents Weary of Fight with Rex over Water Contamination and Rex Energy Water Contamination Case Shifts Focus to Water Pipeline). Several of the families sued Rex. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection, after an extensive investigation, said that Rex’s drilling did not cause the situation. Apparently water quality in the area was never the greatest to begin with. Rex had built a water line in the area to supply water for fracking and had expected to turn over control/ownership of that line in 2013. That water line could be used to supply fresh water to the affected homes. The debate has been: Who will pay to hook up the homes and to maintain the pipes and infrastructure required? Since Rex, according to the DEP, is not to blame for the poor water quality in the area, the company understandably doesn’t want to pay big bucks to connect and maintain the line to residences in the area. As far as we can tell, the water line never got hooked up. However, there has been a resolution of the situation, of sorts. What had been sealed court documents (unsealed because of Rex’s bankruptcy proceedings) show that in April of this year Rex settled with the suing families, paying them between $16,250 and $27,125 each–a cumulative $159,000. Rex maintains the settlement is not an indication of guilt…
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Dela. Riverkeeper Suffers Major Defeat in Martian Well Case

Nearly a year ago MDN reported that Big Green group THE Delaware Riverkeeper (aka Maya van Rossum) and the odious Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council (CAC) had suffered a crushing legal defeat in their attempt to interfere with shale drilling on the opposite side of the state from where the Delaware River and Philly is located (see Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Martian Case to Stop Rex Energy Drilling). A small group of anti-drilling parents from the Mars School District (whom we affectionately call “Martians”) in Butler County, PA, backed by money and legal help from Riverkeeper and CAC, filed frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit aimed at denying landowners in Middlesex Township revenue from legally permitted drilling. Even amid the back and forth lawsuits, at least two of the wells were permitted and drilled by Rex Energy, despite the bleatings of the Martians (see Martian Victory! 2 Wells Near Mars School Nearly Done Drilling). Following last year’s final word by PA Commonwealth Court, we thought that was the end of it. However, Riverkeeper and CAC tried one last, desperate attempt–by filing an appeal with the Environmental Hearing Board. The EHB is a special court set up to hear appeals of decisions made by the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Riverkeeper and CAC argued that the DEP abrogated their responsibilities under the PA Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA) to protect PA’s environment by issuing permits for Rex’s Martian wells. Last Friday the EHB ruled that DEP was well within its rights and did not, in fact, violate the ERA by allowing the Rex wells…
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PA Class Action Royalty Lawsuit Against XTO Settles for $11M

A journey which began for Pennsylvania landowners in Butler County, PA in July 2015 is nearing an end. Two Butler County, PA landowners with a combined 245.7 acres of land leased to XTO Energy sued XTO in 2015 claiming that XTO is breaking the lease agreement by paying royalties below 1/8 of what XTO receives in revenue for the gas (see PA Landowners Sue XTO Energy for Shorting Them on Royalties). The case, known as Marburger et al V. XTO Energy Inc., asserted the lease signed with landowners did not include language that would allow XTO to deduct post-production charges (that they had been deducting). The two landowning families that launched the lawsuit, the Marburgers and the Thieles, sought to turn the lawsuit into a class action, involving potentially hundreds or thousands of others. It didn’t take long for XTO to oppose the lawsuit and its certification as a class action (see XTO Files Motion to Dismiss Royalty Lawsuit in Butler County, PA). Since that time we’ve not heard much of anything about the lawsuit. And then out the blue comes word that via arbitration, XTO has agreed to settle the lawsuit. The settlement includes turning it into a class action, and paying out a total of $11,010,000. As part of the settlement, XTO admits to nothing. That is, they do not concede the plantiffs have a valid case against them. It’s simply cheaper to settle it and move on rather than to keep fighting. Below we have the relevant court documents with the details of the settlement…
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Rex Energy 3Q17: $47M Loss, 10 More Utica Wells on the Way

Rex Energy, a driller focused mainly on the Marcellus/Utica (headquartered in State College, PA), issued their third quarter 2017 update earlier this week. The company continues to bleed money, losing $47 million in 3Q17, versus losing $55 million in 3Q16. An improvement, but showing a profit would be a whole lot better than a loss at this point. Highlights for 3Q17: Rex placed the four-well Wilson pad into sales (Butler County, PA) with initial 24-hour average sales rate per well of ~10.9 million cubic feet equivalent per day (MMcfe/d). Total production averaged 182 MMcfe/d–with 38% of that liquids production. Rex drills in both western PA and eastern OH. Rex officials said they are currently working on 10 new wells in Carroll County, OH that will go online in 2018. So far Rex has drilled 30 wells in the Buckeye State. Below is the full 3Q17 update, along with excerpts from the analyst phone call and the latest Rex slide deck…
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“Health Experts” Meet in Pitt. to Demonize Shale, Shell Cracker

A group of so-called “health experts” pontificated at an event yesterday hosted by the League of [Liberal Democrat] Women Voters in Pittsburgh. They were supposedly there to discuss shale and public health. One of the gripe sessions took aim against Shell’s now-under construction ethane cracker facility. Speakers tried hard not to come right out and curse shale and the cracker–but they couldn’t help themselves. In the end they made untrue statements that imply the cracker will poison the community and make it unlivable. One speaker’s solution? “Don’t build it.” Typical. All you need to know about yesterday’s meeting is that one of the panelists is the staff attorney for the radical enviro organization Earthjustice. Truth was the main casualty at yesterday’s meeting…
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Rex Energy Improves Production for New Wells in Butler, PA

Ahead of providing its third quarter 2017 update, yesterday Rex Energy, a driller focused mainly on the Marcellus/Utica (headquartered in State College, PA) has issued an update on two wells recently connected to sales. The two wells are located in Rex’s Butler County, PA “Moraine East” area. What’s unique is that both wells were completed with a newly revamped/tweaked completion design. Completions is that part of drilling a well when you frack it and hook it up to production. Rex doesn’t comment on how they tweaked their completion design. Typically, changing up completions may involve how long each frack stage is, the type (and quantity) of sand or other proppant used, the kind of slick water used, etc. Rex worked with an engineering firm to review their completions process and made some changes–and they are happy with the results. Initial daily production for the two wells averaged 9.4 million cubic feet equivalent per day (MMcfe/d). Rex reports the methane (natural gas) portion was 4 MMcf/d, NGLs of 820 barrels per day, and condensate averaged 70 barrels per day. Looks like Rex has a couple of winners, with more on the way using the new completion design…
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Rex Energy Update – Brings 10 New Wells Online in Butler Co. PA

Rex Energy, a driller focused mainly on the Marcellus/Utica (headquartered in State College, PA), is a plucky company. Although it has faced its share of financial challenges, it continues to drill in the Marcellus/Utica–bringing new wells online. Rex released an announcement yesterday to tout two new wells pads with a cumulative 10 new wells between them that the company has now brought online into production. Rex always refers to their drilling program in three areas: “Bulter Legacy” and “Moraine East” are drilled on Rex’s leases in Butler County, PA; “Warrior North” refers to Rex’s drilling program on land in Carroll County, OH. The latest two pads were both drilled in Rex’s Moraine East area of Butler County. One of the pads, the “Shields” pad with six wells, produced an initial cumulative rate of 9.2 million cubic feet equivalent per day (MMcfe/d), dropping to 7.9 MMcfe/d after 30 days. The “Mackrell” pad with four wells produced an initial cumulative rate of 8.4 MMcfe/d. No 30-day rate (yet) for the Mackrell pad. Here’s the particulars of our “little driller that could”…
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Rex Energy 2Q17: Sells Waterline, Deal with BP to Market NGLs

Earlier this week Rex Energy issued its second quarter 2017 update. During 2Q17 Rex drilled 2, completed 6 and put online into sales 4 wells in their Butler County, PA acreage. They also began drilling a new 4-well pad in Butler. In the company’s Carroll County, OH acreage, Rex drilled a 3 wells on a single pad. The big news from the update was a deal with BP to market Rex’s natural gas liquids (or C3+) production, and the sale of a water pipeline owned by Rex in Salineville, OH for $8 million. Rex’s finances didn’t do so well. In 2Q17 the company lost $10 million versus making a $16 million profit in 2Q16. Production picked up a bit, from 173.4 million cubic feet equivalent per day (MMcfe/d) in 1Q17 to 177.1 MMcfe/d in 2Q17. The official statement said 2Q17 production was “constrained” during the quarter “due to unplanned maintenance downtime in the company’s midstream services.” Which means they had hoped it would have been higher than 177.1 MMcfe/d. Looking forward to 3Q17 Rex says they plan to bring 12 new wells in Butler County online…
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