Pin Oak Energy Snaps Up 4,300 Acres, 16 Wells from Seneca in NWPA

In August MDN introduced you to a new-to-us driller based in Akron, Ohio–Pin Oak Energy Partners (see New Marcellus/Utica Driller Snaps Up Assets in OH, PA). Pin Oak is owns both conventional and unconventional (shale) oil and natural gas wells, along with associated assets (like pipelines). At the time, Pin Oak currently operated 363 wells producing nearly 5.7 MMcfe/d (32% liquids) across more than 32,000 acres in the Marcellus/Utica region. You can now add another 16 wells (14 Marcellus, 2 Utica) and 4,300 acres to those totals. Yesterday Pin Oak announced they have purchased wells and acreage from Seneca Resources–in Forest, Elk, McKean and Cameron counties in Pennsylvania. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. We can also tell you that last week Pin Oak got an increase in their line of credit with the bank–now able to borrow up to $150 million. Here’s the latest on the newest (rapidly growing) entrant to the Marcellus/Utica…
Continue reading

Seneca Resources Fined $375K by PA DEP for “Multiple Violations”

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection has just fined driller Seneca Resources $325,000 for a series of violations that occurred between 2013 and 2015. It seems in moving dirt around when building drill pads, Seneca caused erosion to occur. They also spilled ~100 barrels of crude oil in one location, and ~500 barrels of wastewater at another location. The violations happened in Forest, McKean, and Elk Counties. Here’s the notice issued by the PA DEP…
Continue reading

SWEPI Auctioning 189K PA/NY Conventional Acres, 1,500 Active Wells

SWEPI, formerly known as Shell Western E&P Inc., is the North American land-based drilling arm of giant Royal Dutch Shell. SWEPI has an active drilling program in the Marcellus/Utica region. Some of that active program has traditionally been in shallow, or conventional (not shale) drilling. Using a broker, SWEPI has put up a mammoth 189,000 acres of its conventional/shallow leases and wells for sale by auction. The leases and some 1,500 active oil and gas wells are located in Forest, Elk, McKean, and Warren counties in Pennsylvania, and Cattaraugus County in New York. The sale includes shallow rights (not shale rights) only. SWEPI claims there are another 10,000 potential well locations. Here’s the details…
Continue reading

PA DCNR Publishes Lease Agreements for Deals Under Rivers/Creeks

who owns itIn February 2015, MDN did a deep dive into the issue of Pennsylvania leasing underneath rivers and streams to allow Marcellus/Utica Shale drilling (see PA DCNR Program Leases Under Rivers/Creeks for Marcellus Drilling). PA maintains the state owns the land underneath any river or creek that is “navigable” and therefore has the right to lease it for drilling, denying the landowners who own the land along the banks of that stream signing bonuses and royalties. It is a thorny issue. Does the state actually “own” the land under rivers and creeks? It’s an issue that (seems to us) should be litigated and decided. In that story in February MDN brought you a list of river and creek deals signed, as of early January, with an indication of who signed and how much the signing bonus was for. At the bottom of that list (we’ve included the list below for your convenience) are six deals with Shell’s SWEPI–five of the deals for tracks of river/creeks in Tioga County, PA, and one in Forest County, PA. Interestingly, the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the state agency doing the leasing on behalf of the state, has just published notification for those six SWEPI deals in the May 2 Pennsylvania Bulletin which include the full details for each deal…
Continue reading

Seneca Resources Reports Production Up 35% Thanks to Marcellus

Seneca Resources, the drilling arm of National Fuel Gas Company, issued their fiscal 4th quarter (everyone else’s calendar 3rd quarter) operations update yesterday. Seneca is one of the major drillers in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. They report production for 4Q was up a very healthy 35% over the same period last year. They credit their Marcellus drilling program in Lycoming County, PA for that success.

Because of their success, Seneca has revised up their guidance (best guess) for how much natural gas they’ll produce this fiscal year–to 145-165 billion cubic feet (Bcf). The full report from Seneca, including initial production rates from some of their recently drilled wells…
Continue reading

Final Appeal? Court Says Drilling in Allegheny Natl Forest Legal

When the federal government digs in its heels and is intent on obstructing justice, it can take a long time to remedy via the courts. But (sometimes) justice does prevail in the end. We now have–hopefully–a final resolution in the ongoing series of cases known as Minard Run Oil v. United States Forest Service. We wrote about this case back in 2011, but it goes back much further, to 2009 (see Drillers Sue US Govt over Allegheny National Forest Delays). As a brief background, the federal government purchased a number of parcels of land in 1923 that became the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) in northwestern Pennsylvania. However, the government did not purchase the mineral rights under most of the land–seems that back in 1923 the government didn’t just print the money it wanted (“quantitative easing” anyone?).

Even though they don’t own the mineral rights, in 2009 the U.S. Forest Service (federal agency managing the ANF) entered into what was an illegal out of court settlement with environmentalist groups stipulating that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) will govern all oil and gas drilling in the ANF. It effectively shut down any new drilling in the forest, denying private citizens the ability to benefit from their private property (mineral) rights. The drilling industry sued and the case has now gone through three appeals. The most recent appeal was heard by the federal U.S. Court of Appeals Third Circuit. The court ruled, once again, in favor of private property rights…
Continue reading

Seneca Resources Production Up 67%, Now 1/3 Bcf/d in Marcellus

Seneca Resources, the Marcellus Shale drilling subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Company, released their fiscal third quarter (everyone else’s second quarter) operating results today. And boy of boy, were they good results! Seneca reports their Marcellus Shale production was up 67% from the same quarter last year, due to newly drilled wells in Lycoming County, PA going online. Seneca’s total Marcellus production was 374 million cubic feet per day average–or one-third of a billion cubic feet per day. Cabot Oil & Gas and now EQT have both hit 1 Bcfe/d of production in the Marcellus (see EQT 2Q13: Welcome to the Marcellus “1 Bcf/d Club”). Seems like Seneca is well on its way to the 1 Bcfe/d milestone too.

Here’s the full report, including details for some of the newest wells they’ve drilled in Elk, Cameron and Forest counties, and details about their use of a drilling technique called reduced cluster spacing (“RCS”) design:
Continue reading

Second Seneca 100% LNG-Powered Drilling Rig Goes Online

MDN recently told you about Seneca Resources, the first Marcellus driller to convert a drilling rig to run on a 100% liquefied natural gas (LNG) engine, a rig they now use for drilling in Lycoming County, PA (see this MDN story). Seneca has just completed the conversion of a second 100% LNG-powered rig and uses it for drilling in Forest, Elk, Jefferson and McKean counties in PA.

Stands to reason the company that makes the engine would want to crow about it, and sure enough they now have. General Electric is the manufacturer of the Jenbacher J320 turbocharged natural gas engine, and they issued this press release yesterday about their innovative new engine being used by Seneca:

Continue reading

Seneca Resources Targets Utica Shale – in Western PA

You mostly hear about about drillers targeting the Utica Shale formation in eastern Ohio. But the Utica is much larger than just portions of Ohio—it underlies much of New York and Pennsylvania as well. Yesterday Seneca Resources (the drilling division of National Fuel Gas Company) issued an update that details how they are testing the Utica in western Pennsylvania, which lies beneath most of their leased Marcellus acreage.

Here’s what Seneca reported on initial results from a well drilled in Forest County, PA:

Continue reading

Federal Judge Upholds Water Ban in Allegheny National Forest

In a lawsuit to allow active drilling in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) in Pennsylvania, a federal judge ruled last Friday that the U.S. Forest Service does not have to end a ban they imposed on drillers who want to use surface water from the ANF for hydraulic fracturing. Drillers have argued that the Forest Service’s actions in banning water withdrawals from the ANF, and in delaying signoff on new drilling permits, have in essence stopped drilling in the ANF—a de facto ban. For a background on the long-running dispute, see this MDN story from last November.

Continue reading

Drillers Sue US Govt over Allegheny National Forest Delays

According to a lawsuit filed on Monday, the U.S. government is obstructing legitimate and legal gas drilling in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) in northwestern PA. A court in Eire, PA has been asked to find them in contempt and force them to allow drilling to proceed on a timely basis.

A brief background on the ANF and why the lawsuit was filed:

Continue reading

Feds Deny Private Landowers the Right to Drill in PA

Kangaroo News Service (Nov 2):
Local Citizens, Civic and Business Leaders Launch Petition to Resume Oil and Gas Development in the Allegheny National Forest

This one should make every landowner shudder–with anger and fear. The Obama Administration has illegally shut down drilling on private land in Pennsylvania. Landowners who own land in the Allegheny National Forest are now denied access to drill and sell the natural gas under their own land by fiat from the U.S. Forest Service, part of the executive branch of the federal government (i.e., Obama). This naked and forceful grab of individuals’ rights by the federal government cannot go unanswered. Make your voices heard!!

We have to go all the way to an Australian news service for this one folks:

In a petition distributed by the Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Association (POGAM) and Allegheny Forest Alliance (AFA), nearly 2,000 citizens, and civic and business leaders from Elk, Forest, Warren and McKean counties have called for President Obama and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to lift a ban on oil and gas development by the U.S. Forest Service, which effectively has halted drilling on privately owned mineral lands underlying the Allegheny National Forest. The petition was also mailed to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to encourage a greater effort by the Commonwealth to support a critical element of northwestern Pennsylvania’s economy.

In a historically unprecedented action, local and regional managers of the Allegheny National Forest have banned oil and natural gas exploration and barred mineral owners from accessing their property throughout the forest, effectively seizing the development rights to privately owned oil, gas and mineral resources. The ban has shut down oil and natural gas exploration and stymied production in the forest, where the industry has operated for decades in cooperation with the U.S. government. The petition maintains that the ban illegally violates Pennsylvania’s grant of consent to the United States in 1921 to acquire the forest and also violates the protection of private property rights in the federal law, the Weeks Act of 1911, under which it was acquired.

“The behavior by the Forest Service is most irresponsible, and it amounts to the unlawful taking of private property,” said Stephen W. Rhoads, POGAM president. “State records show that fewer than 50 wells, all of them permitted prior to the drilling ban imposed on January 1, have been drilled in the Allegheny National Forest during 2009. The Forest Service has prevented the drilling of between 200-300 wells that would have otherwise occurred. These undrilled wells translate into private investment of nearly $100 million and jeopardize hundreds of good-paying jobs in the region. The action of the Forest Service amounts to a full-scale assault on the economic health of the families and communities living in and around the Allegheny National Forest.”

Private oil and gas development within the Allegheny National Forest accounts for at least 20 percent of Pennsylvania’s oil production and as much as 10 percent of Pennsylvania’s natural gas production. It contributes tens of millions of dollars annually into the regional economy of northwest Pennsylvania and western New York.

For decades, the U.S. Forest Service and the oil and natural gas industry have worked cooperatively to manage oil and gas development. The petition represents a strong consensus among citizens and local community leaders about the importance of this industry and the condemnation of the Forest Services’ current management practices to immobilize the region’s economic recovery and progress.