PA Supremes Hear Oral Arguments in Can of Worms Royalty Lawsuit

On Wednesday the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case challenging whether or not the state Attorney General’s office has the right to use a consumer protection law to prosecute companies like Chesapeake Energy and Anadarko over royalty payment shenanigans. The law the AG’s office wants to use has never been used that way before. According to legal experts, drillers are very concerned if the AG’s office wins this one, as we reported last November (see Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit at PA Supreme Court – Can of Worms?).
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So-Called “Study” Links PA Fracking to Birth Defect in Horses

A new so-called “study” published in the journal Science of The Total Environment claims it has uncovered a link between fracking chemicals in farm water and a rare birth defect in horses. The researchers say this study “could” serve as a warning about fracking and human infant health. Is this it? Were we wrong for the past 11 years about the safety of fracking? Is this THE END?
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PA House Passes Bill Separating Conventional from Shale Regs

Yesterday the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 790, a bill that restores sanity to regulations for conventional oil and gas drillers in the Keystone State. For years PA’s small, independent conventional oil and gas drillers have objected to the one-size-fits-all regulations concocted by the Gov. Tom Wolf Administration that applies the same regulations to them as to big shale drillers. The two types of drilling are apples and oranges. To make small conventional drillers jump through the same hoops as big shale drillers will bankrupt many of the smaller companies. SB 790 helps correct the situation.
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PA State Sen. Gene Yaw Blasts NY, NJ for Rejecting NESE Pipeline

PA State Sen. Gene Yaw

Pennsylvania State Senator Gene Yaw, a Republican whose district covers portions of central and northeast PA, has his praiseworthy moments. This is one of them. Last week New York’s uber-corrupt Governor, Andrew Cuomo, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, once again pandered to their radical Democrat base by rejecting a critically needed natural gas pipeline (see Cuomo Rejects NESE Pipe Again, Williams Walks Away). The Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline would have flowed PA Marcellus shale gas to New York City and Long Island. Yaw blasted NY and NJ for their rejection using strong language.
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PA DEP to Push Onerous New Methane Regulations at Public Hearings

Last December the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Environmental Quality Board (EQB) approved onerous new regulations that supposedly will capture every last molecule of stray methane that leaks from shale drilling operations (see PA DEP Goes WAY Too Far in Approving New Methane Regulations). The new regs are unnecessary and will shut down even more shale drilling operations in the state. As part of the EQB’s final steps to ratify the onerous new regs they will conduct three virtual public hearings in June.
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More Frack Crews Now Active in the Marcellus than the Permian!

This has to be a first in the modern shale era. There are now more active fracking crews working in the Marcellus Shale than in any other shale play, including the oily Permian. There are 450 fracking fleets available in the U.S., but only 70 of them are active right now. The Marcellus is using 31% of those active fleets, while the Permian is using 30%. We never thought we’d live to see the day!
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PA Marcellus Gas Production Declines First Time in 3+ Years

It had to happen sooner or later. Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released its latest quarterly Natural Gas Production Report for January through March 2020 (full copy below). It shows natgas production in PA rose 6.8% compared to the same period last year. However, overall production fell compared to 4Q19’s record high, breaking a streak that went back 3.5 years.
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Judge OKs Class Action Royalty Lawsuit Against 3 NEPA Drillers

On October 3, 2016, landowner James Slamon filed a lawsuit against Carrizo and Reliance Industries in the Susquehanna County (PA) Court of Common Pleas. Slamon alleged Carrizo and Reliance underpaid royalties on oil and gas leases to him and a class of other landowners “exceeding one hundred members.” The drillers got the case moved to federal court on October 31, 2016. Fast forward to this past Monday and a judge in the federal court case has certified (in part) the class-action request. The lawsuit will now move forward.
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PA Gov. Wolf’s Own DEP Doesn’t Want RGGI Carbon Tax

Big time opposition continues to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to force the state to participate in the so-called Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a tax on carbon aimed at coal and natural gas-fired electric power plants, with an eye to driving them out of business (see our RGGI stories here). Even Wolf’s own state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), an executive agency under his thumb, doesn’t want the state to join RGGI.
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Massive Hike in PA Shale Permit Fees Coming at June 3 Meeting

In Ohio, it costs drillers $5,500 to file for and receive a permit to drill a new shale well. In West Virginia, the cost is $10,150. In Pennsylvania, it currently costs drillers $5,000 for a new shale well permit. Following an upcoming meeting by the state Independent Regulatory Review Commission on June 3, PA’s permit fee will zoom to the top of the M-U list: $12,500 (2 1/2 times the previous fee).
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PA Awards $3.3M in PIPE Grants to Extend NatGas Serv in 6 Locales

Last week MDN brought you the news of another Pennsylvania Pipeline Investment Program (PIPE) grant being issued–this one in Luzerne County, near Wilkes-Barre (see New PIPE Grant to Fund Gas for Homes, Biz Near Scranton Airport). We jumped the gun. That Luzerne PIPE grant, for $1.5 million, was part of six such new grants issued by PA to fund pipeline projects in five counties.
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US Land Rig Count Falls to 369 – Marcellus Loses Another 2 Rigs

The crash in the drilling rig count continued last week for the ninth straight week, although the decline slowed for a third week in a row. U.S. oil and gas rigs for land-based operations fell another 29 last week, to a total of 369 active rigs. Most of the decrease comes from oil-focused rigs. However, we’ve noticed a disturbing trend in the Marcellus rig count.
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Pennsylvania New Shale Permits Down 46% Y/Y in April

For the past two weeks, MDN has brought you a new shale drilling permits issued report on Wednesdays. We fully intended to do so again today–except the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) website is down with no estimates for when it will be back online. We have PA and WV numbers, but are holding the report back until we can get OH numbers too. In lieu of the report today, we have an article we spotted comparing PA’s permits issued in April of this year compared to last year–noting new permits have decreased by 46% year over year.
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PA Trade Unions Break with Democrats Over Power Plant Carbon Tax

It becomes more obvious every day that the rank and file (even the leaders) of trade unions are breaking with their Democrat Party bosses over issues like insane taxes on natural gas. The divide is particularly acute in blue states like Pennsylvania, which voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and likely will again in 2020 because the Dems keep shooting themselves in the head with stupid taxes and regulations that kill jobs. The PA AFL-CIO issued a statement yesterday thanking the PA Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee, part of the Dept. of Environmental Protection, for listening to the union’s concerns about Gov. Wolf’s proposed carbon tax at a recent hearing.
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