SWPA County Political Leaders Voice Support for Petchem, Shale

In a speech delivered October 31 to the P4 Climate Action Summit in downtown Pittsburgh, Mayor Bill Peduto declared his hatred for the petrochemical industry. He doesn’t want any more Shell crackers junking up his regional backyard. The highly negative reaction to Peduto’s idiotic (and pandering) remarks was swift. What petchem company wants to build in a region where the mayor of its largest city is trash talking the industry? In a bid to counter Peduto’s economically damaging remarks, some 20 county officials from Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer, Washington and Westmoreland counties issued a joint statement on Wednesday to show their support for the petrochemical and shale industries in the region.
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Shell Sells NWPA Assets, Possibly Tioga County Assets Too

MDN recently received a hot tip from a reader that says Shell (i.e. SWEPI) may have recently sold its Tioga County, PA assets in northcentral PA. Yesterday, Pin Oak Energy issued a press release to say they have cut a deal to buy Shell’s northwestern PA assets, some 43,000 acres in the Utica. Which all feeds into the rumor we shared with you last November that Shell is pulling out of PA drilling (see Is Shell Pulling Out of Pennsylvania Marcellus?).

4/9/19: See important update below provided by Shell
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Shell to Remediate PA Swamp in Return for Falcon Pipe Permit

Shell is proposing to remediate a swamp in Mercer County as a way to “offset” the “impacts” of building an ethane pipeline to feed it’s mighty cracker plant under construction in Beaver County. Oops. Sorry. Instead of calling it a swamp, the PC term is “wetland.” Shell will make a swampy portion of Neshannock Creek in Mercer County swampier, in return for permission to build the Falcon ethane pipeline elsewhere. Apparently it’s not the first time Shell has proposed such a swap. Shell is in the middle of remediating a swamp in Washington County in return for “local impacts” (i.e. “damage” to the environment) they’re causing by building the cracker plant itself. This is not an uncommon practice–across the country. We happen to think it’s silly. Either a project is worthwhile–worth “damaging” some of our precious environment, because of the greater good it will bring–or not. Playing this game of “I’ll spoil this area here, so I’ll un-spoil that area over there” is senseless, in our humble opinion. But hey, if that’s the game we must play to get it built…
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Pin Oak Zigs to North Utica as Everyone Else Zags to South Utica

Pin Oak Energy Partners is an interesting company. As we reported in early February, the company recently closed on several deals to acquire 70,000 Utica acres in both Ohio and Pennsylvania, adding to its portfolio (see Pin Oak Energy Buys 70K Utica Acres in OH & PA + Pipeline Assets). The new acreage (and producing well assets) is located in Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio, and Mercer County in Pennsylvania. The amount of the transaction was not disclosed. Neither were the names of the sellers. However, we now have a pretty good idea of who did the selling: Halcon Resources and BP. We have some new insights into the thinking and strategy of Pin Oak by zigging (concentrating on the northern Utica) when it seems everyone else is zagging–abandoning the northern tier for the better-yielding southern Utica…
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Pin Oak Energy Buys 70K Utica Acres in OH & PA + Pipeline Assets

Pin Oak Energy Partners has just more than doubled the leased acreage it owns in the Marcellus/Utica, adding 70,000 Utica acres in both Ohio and Pennsylvania to its portfolio. MDN previously ran several stories about this relatively new entrant to our region (see our Pin Oak Energy stories here). While Pin Oak is a “new” company, the people running it have been around. CEO Chris Halvorson says Pin Oak is comprised of folks who were formerly with AB Resources. You may recall that AB Resources built a position in the southwestern “core” of the Marcellus and sold out to Chevron several years ago. Pin Oak is “what’s next” for for the former AB folks. Their target: the Appalachian basin. They buy both conventional and unconventional wells and acreage. Pin Oak announced yesterday that in a series of transactions with various sellers (all unnamed, amounts not disclosed), the company picked up a total of 70,000 acres in Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio, and Mercer County in Pennsylvania. They also bought gas processing facilities and “multiple taps” into interstate gas pipelines, including two taps into the mighty Tennessee Gas Pipeline. Here’s the details on the purchase, which includes 33 conventional wells that target the Knox formation in southern OH…
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Mercer County, PA Gears Up to Benefit from Shell Cracker

“One word: Plastics” (The Graduate) – Mercer County, which is two counties and 50 miles north of Beaver County (located along the border with Ohio) is making plans now for how their county to grab some of the “low hanging fruit” that will appear when the Shell ethane cracker in Beaver County goes online in the early 2020s. You read that right. NOW is the time for counties in the region to make plans and set those plans in motion to attract some of the numerous businesses that will set up shop to be close to the cracker plant. Mercer County officials recently attended a forum where the topic was ancillary development that will happen because of the cracker plant. What is the low hanging fruit that will magically appear with the cracker? Manufacturing–and the jobs that go with it. In particular, manufacturing and jobs in the plastics industry. A regional trade organization–Penn-Northwest Development Corp.–is planning to hit the plastics industry trade shows this year. Penn-Northwest is working with counties like Mercer to help them market themselves to plastics manufacturers…
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New Marcellus/Utica Driller Snaps Up Assets in OH, PA

It’s not often these days we get to announce a new driller in the Marcellus/Utica. Today is one of those days. Actually, this company has been around since early 2015, but we’re only now becoming aware of them. Pin Oak Energy Partners, headquartered in Akron, OH, is an exploration and production company engaged in both conventional and unconventional oil and natural gas wells and the operation of associated assets (like pipelines). Pin Oak currently operates 363 wells producing nearly 5.7 MMcfe/d (32% liquids) across more than 32,000 acres in the Marcellus/Utica region. The company is also involved in midstream, field services and operations through its affiliate companies. Pin Oak is on an aggressive acquisition binge of shale AND midstream assets, as well as leasing new acreage. Who is Pin Oak? According to CEO Chris Halvorson, Pin Oak is comprised of folks who were formerly with AB Resources. You may recall that AB Resources built a position in the southwestern “core” of the Marcellus and sold out to Chevron several years ago. Pin Oak is “what’s next” for for the former AB folks. Their target: the Appalachian basin. In July, Pin Oak bought 9,300 acres of leases and 8 Utica wells from EQT in Guernsey, Muskingum, and Columbiana counties (Ohio). Earlier this week Pin Oak announced they’ve purchased another 7,700 acres of leases and 10 Utica wells from an undisclosed seller in Trumbull, Tuscarawas and Mahoning counties (in Ohio) and Mercer, Crawford and Venango counties (in Pennsylvania). Below are two recent announcements. Pin Oak can be summed up in one word: aggressive. Keep a close eye on this company in the coming months and years…
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Utica Gas Production in PA’s Northern Tier “Inches” Up

Western PA counties
Western PA counties – click for larger version

The Utica Shale in Pennsylvania continues to grow in both drilling and production. The Youngstown Business Journal took a look at Utica production numbers for PA’s northern tier, Lawrence and Mercer counties. They found that even with the slow down in drilling, production in those two counties for 1Q16 increased over 1Q15. Here’s who’s busy drilling in PA’s northern tier Utica, and how much gas is flowing from that region…
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Western PA Pipeline Upgrade Almost Done; Benefits Range & Seneca

upgradeA pipeline upgrade project in western Pennsylvania is making excellent progress. In February 2014 National Fuel Gas Company (NFG) filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the Line N West Side Expansion and Modernization Project in Washington, Allegheny, Beaver, Venango and Mercer Counties, PA. The project calls for building some 23 miles of new pipeline next to an existing NFG pipeline in Washington and Beaver counties, along with compressor station and other upgrades along other portions of the existing Line N pipeline. NFG previously signed Range Resources and NFG’s own subsidiary, Seneca Resources, as customers for an increase in capacity to flow an additional 175,000 decatherms per day, Dth/d (175 million cubic feet per day, MMcf/d). The extra capacity allows Range and Seneca to move of the Marcellus Shale gas they produce in western PA to market. Although construction is still underway, NFG has asked FERC to begin partial service now, two months ahead of schedule…
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Hilcorp to Build New Gathering Pipeline in NWPA

Hilcorp remains very active in northwestern PA. The company has filed paperwork and plans to build several new pipelines in Lawrence and Mercer counties. They will build a buried gathering line (what they call the Weiser-Varano pipeline), a buried “fluids pipeline” and an above-ground temporary water pipeline. The details as we know them…
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Full Speed Ahead for Hilcorp in the Northern Utica in 2015

In 2014 Hilcorp spent some $400 million on drilling in the *northern* Utica Shale play–an area that virtually everyone else has abandoned for the more alluring wet gas to be found in the southeaster portion of the play. According to Hilcorp, they are enjoying success in the northern Utica and that’s where they will continue to focus their efforts…
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PA Republican Senator Hands Out $2M+ in Impact Fee Money

Being President Pro Tempore of the Pennsylvania State Senate has its privileges–like handing out $2,086,132 in grants for six energy, trail and water and sewer projects in your district–just two weeks before the election. Senator Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) announced awards yesterday to fund projects including $150K for a recreation trail in Elk County, nearly half a mil for a flood mitigation project in Senator’s home county of Jefferson, and $546K to buy some sort of biogas contraption for a pig farm in Tioga County (something that turns pig crap into electricity). All of these projects are funded by PA shale drillers through the Act 13 law and the impact fee collected…
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Hilcorp has 2 Accidents (in 3 Weeks) in Mercer County, PA

bad luckHilcorp is having some bad luck in Mercer County, PA. Three weeks ago two storage tanks at a Hilcorp well pad caught fire and exploded–no one injured. Then, this past Saturday (three weeks later), a separator caught fire at a well pad. No big explosions this time–at least none that were heard. However, up to 20 homes had to be evacuated while the fire was extinguished. Once again, no injuries…
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‘Noise Solutions’ for Drilling/Compressor Plants Locates in NWPA

Here’s a feel good supply chain story. A privately held Canadian company that in 1997 innovated a way to make industrial operations–like noisy compressor plants–quieter, wanted to build a manufacturing plant here in the U.S.–near the oil and gas industry that will use their innovative products. So where did Scott MacDonald, president and CEO of Noise Solutions, look? The northeast of course–Marcellus and Utica territory. He considered New York, but the taxes are way too high and the shale drilling non-existent. He also considered West Virginia and Ohio, which were good choices. But MacDonald settled on Sharon (Mercer County), PA as the new home for a plant that already employs 35 people and is on it’s way to employing 125 or more.

MacDonald and Noise Solutions will spend $5 million to renovate the former Winner International warehouse where the company chose to set up shop. That investment along with the ripple effect of full-time employees paying local and state taxes (and spending much of their paychecks in the local community) gives Sharon a big “economic stimulus” courtesy of this Canadian company. Here’s more about Noise Solutions and their new operation in Sharon, PA…
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Quieter Drilling, Compressor Plants on the Way in the Northeast

Noise Solutions Inc., headquartered in Alberta, Canada, makes buildings, walls and enclosures that keep the noise down. They like to say they make communities quieter, and they’ve been doing it since 1997. One of the primary markets for Noise Solutions is the oil and gas industry. They recently announced an expansion into the Marcellus and Utica Shale region, setting up a new facility in Sharon (Mercer County), PA. Noise Solutions has already hired 30 employees at the new facility with plans to have 125-200 employees hired in the next three years. This is great news for the Marcellus/Utica drilling industry and for Mercer County.

Noise Solutions’ recent announcement:
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