Weekly Shale Drilling Permits for PA, OH, WV: Oct. 5-9

Only Pennsylvania issued permits to drill new shale wells last week in the Appalachian region. Neither Ohio nor West Virginia issued any new drilling permits from Oct. 5-9. In PA, some 20 permits were issued in both the northeast and southwest parts of the state.
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Weekly Shale Drilling Permits for PA, OH, WV: Sep 28 – Oct 2

Somebody lit a fire under drillers in Pennsylvania last week! Or maybe we should say a fire was lit under the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). PA issued 35 new permits last week spread pretty much across the entire state–in the northeast, central, and southwest portions of the state. Ohio, once again, issued no new Utica permits last week. West Virginia issued a single new permit last week.
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Has the Shale Drilling Boom in Northcentral PA Gone Bust?

By any measure, it’s obvious to see that shale *drilling* activity in northcentral Pennsylvania counties–including Bradford, Clinton, Lycoming, Potter, Sullivan, and Tioga–is on the “bust” side over the past five-plus years. 2016 was the low point. However, is there any hope of seeing another boom in shale drilling in the region?
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Alta Resources Uses Software to Make Marcellus Wells Produce More

We don’t often see news about a Marcellus producer called Alta Resources. Alta was one of the first drillers we wrote about just after launching the MDN website back in 2009 (see Texas Billionaire George Mitchell is Betting on the Marcellus in PA). George Mitchell, widely recognized as the father of shale energy, was a partner in Alta and had glowing things to say about the Marcellus. Mitchell died in 2013. His legacy lives on. Alta is in the news again. The company recently began using a software program from Ambyint to increase production across the 900 or so Marcellus wells it owns in northeastern PA.
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Enerplus 2018 – Still Owns 36K Marcellus Acres in NEPA

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in on Canadian energy company Enerplus Corp, which currently owns some 36,000 acres of Marcellus Shale leases in northeastern Pennsylvania. The company doesn’t drilling any wells in the region but does participate by funding the drilling programs of others. On Friday Enerplus issued their 2018 and 4Q18 update, which shows the company’s Marcellus production averaged 208 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d).
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PA Sen. Gene Yaw, in Heart of Marcellus, Supports Severance Tax

PA State Sen. Gene Yaw

How the voters of northeast Pennsylvania who support shale energy continue to reelect Gene Yaw as their State Senator is beyond us. He’s proven in the past that he will fold like a cheap suit on the issue of a severance tax. He did so once again yesterday, implying he supports Democrat Gov. Wolf’s latest effort to tax the shale industry into oblivion.
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Positive Signs that Shale Drilling is Coming Back in Central PA

As MDN has noted over the past several months, the signs have been positive that Marcellus/Utica drilling is picking up once again. But that doesn’t mean it’s picking up in every location. Or does it? One of the hotbeds of drilling activity “back in the day” was in several northeastern/central Pennsylvania counties, including Tioga, Bradford, Lycoming and Sullivan. But then the bottom fell out of the industry (with super low prices) and drilling all but dried up in those counties. The good news is that there are signs of life, once again, in the central counties of PA. Between Nov. 1 and Mar. 6, 30 drilling permits were issued in Tioga County, 12 permits in Lycoming County, and (somewhat surprising), 8 permits issued in Sullivan County. Shale is coming back!…
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Northeastern PA Counties Explore Alliance to Pass Royalty Reform

One of the issues that isn’t going away is the demand by landowners in some Pennsylvania counties, like Bradford, for lawmakers in the state to pass a bill that guarantees them what they believe they are already guaranteed–a 12.5% minimum royalty, based on a 1979 law that states they should get such a royalty. We’ve extensively covered what we call a civil war between two parties who are otherwise friendly toward each other–landowners and shale drillers. Last year the issue came to a head with House Bill (HB) 1391 (see our list of stories here). In a nutshell, landowners say Chesapeake Energy and some other drillers are taking post-production deductions out of landowners’ royalty checks, resulting in royalty payments far below 12.5%. In some cases landowners are receiving bills for money owed to the driller–after the driller pulled the gas out of the ground! Who in their right minds leases land for drilling so they can PAY the driller! It is an outrage and landowners want it stopped. Drillers, on the other hand, say you can’t just change contracts after they’ve been signed, punishing the entire industry for the bad actions of a few. Drillers say the proper response is for landowners to sue the bad apples. Frankly, it’s all a mess. The new news is that landowners from Bradford and several other northeastern PA counties, tired of being outmaneuvered by drillers, are actively talking about forming an alliance to try and garner enough support in Harrisburg to get a bill like HB 1391 passed this year…
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PA Game Commission Cuts $15.5M in Deals to Lease State Land for Drilling

PA Game CommissionThis is something you don’t see often these days: The Pennsylvania Game Commission is getting $15.5 million of revenue from new Marcellus leases with Chief Oil & Gas and EQT. The bulk of the money will come from a deal with Chief to lease 5,870 acres in Bradford and Sullivan counties. Terms of the lease? Chief is paying $2,500 per acre as a signing bonus and 20.55% in royalties when/if they drill and the gas and oil begin to flow. It just about floored us to see this deal! We though all deals were done until the price of gas goes up again. We’d not heard of any new deals being cut. As for EQT, they are paying the Game Commission $917,000 for the right to drill under a 306-acre parcel in Washington County, PA. Details on the per acre bonus and royalty for the EQT deal below…
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‘Minimum Royalty’ Language was Part of Wolf’s Poisonous Budget

sugarIf you stick a cube of sugar in a batch of poison, the poison will still kill you, although it will taste better. Part of PA Gov. Tom Wolf’s poisonous budget that went down in flames last week (see PA Gov Wolf’s High Tax Budget Goes Down to Defeat – 9 Dems Against) included some sugar to make it taste better–something landowners have very much wanted for the past couple of years. Wolf included language in his poisonous budget bill found in House Bill (HB) 1391, a bill that guarantees landowners will receive a minimum 12.5% in royalty payments (see New Bill HB 1391 Will Guarantee PA Landowners 12.5% Royalties). Republican legislators from Marcellus drilling counties (like Bradford) have been pushing for such a bill to correct abuses by Chesapeake Energy in shorting landowners in royalty payments. Wolf’s budget was wrong on many levels and needed to be voted down. But the inclusion of HB1391’s language gives hope to Republicans that the royalty issue will be part of a final budget, whenever that happens, or that Wolf will be favorable to signing HB1391 when and if the legislature votes on it…
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PA Gov. Wolf Talks to Shell About Beaver County Cracker Plant

PA Gov. Tom Wolf is bullish on the possibility of an ethane cracker coming to Beaver County, PA. He thinks a cracker is “inevitable.” In what can only be described as a faux pas for Wolf, he spoke about his love of a cracker yesterday, on Earth Day (oops). Earth Day is all about Democrats professing love of Mother Earth and hatred of fossil fuels. Must be Wolf didn’t get the memo. Wolf says he’s spoken to Shell muckety-mucks to let them know PA still wants a cracker. He said the Shell muckety-mucks say the project is “still on track” although there’s no timetable for a decision–which we take to mean no decision will be made for the foreseeable future…
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Southwestern’s 5th Anniversary in Marcellus, Joins 1 Bcf/d Club

While researching another story for today about DTE Energy expanding their pipeline system for Southwestern Energy, we noticed a bit of news from Southwestern that had (until now) slipped by us. Southwestern is one of the oldest and top exploration & production companies in northeast Pennsylvania. On September 30, the company marked their fifth year of drilling in NEPA. So far the company has, according to their records, produced 348 billion cubic feet of natural gas in NEPA. The big news: Southwestern figures by the end of this year they will have spent $700 million on, and will be producing an average 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in, the Marcellus. Welcome to the 1 Bcf/d Club!…
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Save the Loyalsock Coalition Attempts a New Spin Job Against DCNR

Another anti-drilling spin job by the partisan, biased “reporters” at PBS’ StateImpact Pennsyvlania. The reliably anti-drilling Marie Cusick–who (going by her previous articles) hasn’t encountered a fossil fuel she likes–is once again trying to stir the anti-drilling pot against legitimate, legal and ethical drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest in central Pennsylvania. Anadarko Petroleum owns mineral rights for 25,000 acres of the Forest. Anadarko presented a plan in March 2012 (!) to drill there, a plan that STILL has not been approved by the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (see PA DCNR Blocks Drilling in Loyalsock State Forest – For Now). Finally, there have been some baby steps toward granting Anadarko access to what they legally have a right to do…
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Chief O&G Buys 210K Acres/Operations in NE PA from Chesapeake

Chief Oil & Gas announced yesterday that they’ve purchased 210,000 Marcellus Shale acres from Chesapeake Energy in northeast Pennsylvania. Along with the acreage comes 130,000 million cubic feet per day of natural gas production and 40 wells waiting to be completed and/or connected to a pipeline. This doubles the amount of Marcellus acreage for Chief.

The big question is, does this mean Chesapeake has now completely exited the Marcellus in northeast PA? It may well (we’re not sure). Here’s the statement by Chief about their deal with Chesapeake:
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Southwestern Energy’s Board Changes, Marcellus Plans for 2014

Some fairly big news from one of the Marcellus Shale’s largest drillers–Southwestern Energy. In a flurry of announcements issued yesterday, we learn that Southwestern’s President & CEO, Steve Mueller, will take over as Chairman of the Board next May when current Chairman Harold Korell retires. Mueller plans to keep the title of CEO but apparently he will shed the title of President, so that begs the question, who will become Southwestern’s new president next year? Interestingly (perhaps related?) Southwestern also announced yesterday the promotion of Jeffrey Sherrick to the position of Executive Vice President for Corporate Development. Hmmm.

In addition to personnel announcements, Southwestern issued a guidance statement about their plans for capital spending in 2014. The statement indicates Marcellus production will increase by a whopping 60% next year. Southwestern’s estimated Marcellus production for 2013 is 148-149 billion cubic feet (Bcf). Next year they expect it will be 244-249 Bcf based on superb well performance in Bradford, Lycoming and Susquehanna counties. Southwestern boasts that one of their Susquehanna County wells achieved an initial production of 32 million cubic feet per day! In 2014 Southwestern plans to begin drilling in three additional northeastern PA counties…
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