Repsol Adds New PA Rig, Will Increase Marcellus Prod. 50% by 2020

Yesterday MDN editor Jim Willis attended the 12th Annual Platts Global Energy Outlook Forum in New York City. Christmastime is a great time to visit NYC. The conference opened with a talk given by Paul Ferneyhough, Repsol’s executive director for North America. The big news from Ferneyhough’s talk and subsequent remarks later in the day is that Repsol plans to ramp up production on their Marcellus acreage located in northeastern Pennsylvania by another 50% by 2020. Ferneyhough said the company, just last week, added a second drilling rig in the Marcellus. That one extra rig will allow them to quickly ramp up production. Several other news outlets, including Reuters, published news of the 50% increase. What they don’t tell you is how Repsol will manage to get that increased production to market, and what they can’t tell you is the added information Ferneyhough told Jim in a private conversation following his presentation.
Continue reading

Is Shell Pulling Out of Pennsylvania Marcellus?

Is Shell (or SWEPI, formerly known as Shell Western E&P Inc.) leaving its Pennsylvania Marcellus drilling program behind? You may recall we posted a story in June quoting Tonya Williams, general manager for Appalachia with Shell, as stating (during her talk at the DUG East event in Pittsburgh) that Shell plans to spend $150 million to drill wells on four pads in 2018, all of it in Tioga County (see Shell Focused on Single PA County, No New Drilling in Other Areas). Although Shell has wells and acreage in 10 Pennsylvania counties, Tioga is the focus for this year. Barley two months later, in early August, MDN received a note from a trusted reader saying that Shell is pulling out, ending its Marcellus program and sending their personnel to Texas. Frankly, we were skeptical.
Continue reading

Accident Kills Rig Worker on Shell Well Pad in Tioga County, PA

Middlebury Township, Tioga County

This news is a couple of weeks old, but we’ve only just happened across it while researching another story. On the morning of October 27, Mark Jones, an employee of Deep Well Services, was working at a Shell rig site in Tioga County, PA when “a large piece of equipment fell on him, pinning him to the platform 65 feet in the air where he was standing.” The blunt force trauma, hitting him in the head, killed him. We are always saddened to read of such accidents. Here is the one and only story we could locate describing what happened:
Continue reading

PA Court Upholds $1.1M Fine on EQT re Wastewater Impoundment

Yesterday Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court upheld a PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) fine levied on EQT for $1.1 million related to a leaky wastewater impoundment in 2012. The case dates back to 2014 when the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) slapped EQT with a $4.53 million fine for a leaky wastewater impoundment in Tioga County, something that happened two years earlier (see PA DEP Levies Biggest Fine Ever, $4.5M Against EQT). EQT never said there wasn’t a problem with leaks at the site, but they did say the way the DEP calculated the fine was unreasonable and arbitrary. EQT appealed the fine and the case all the way to the PA Supreme Court, and in April of this year, the Supremes ruled in favor of EQT, saying that the DEP’s levied fine was excessive and that the DEP misinterpreted language in the 1937 Clean Streams Law (see PA Supreme Court Axes DEP $4.5M Fine in EQT Tioga Wastewater Leak). We thought that was the end of the case. But it wasn’t. The Supremes ruled on “water to water” contamination in the case, but not on “ground to water” contamination. PA law allows for companies to be on the hook for each day a contaminant enters the water table. In May the court heard oral arguments over how to prove whether contaminants in the soil have moved into groundwater (see EQT Continues to Fight PA DEP Fine re Wastewater Impoundment). What lawyers argued was whether or not, and how, the DEP can prove contaminants in the ground, there because of EQT’s leak, can be proven to have leached into the water on any given day. DEP claimed to have a formula and calculated a revised $1.1 million fine based on assumptions about how many days the contaminants leaked out of the ground. Yesterday, Commonwealth Court agreed with DEP and upheld the fine…
Continue reading

Shell Focused on Single PA County, No New Drilling in Other Areas

Some big news about Shell’s plans for drilling and fracking in the Marcellus/Utica region came from this week’s DUG East conference in Pittsburgh. The Shell head of unconventional drilling in PA told conference goers that Shell’s shale drilling is currently focused on one county: Tioga County, PA. Shell has leases on 250,000 acres in Tioga and plans to spend $150 million to drill wells on four pads in 2018. That’s the focus for this year. According to MDN’s recently published Marcellus & Utica Shale Upstream Almanac, Shell also has assets (producing wells) in Bradford, Butler, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, and Potter counties–all in PA. The Shell rep said the company also owns leases in eastern Ohio, in the Utica, but there’s no current plans to drill in Ohio. Instead, they remain laser focused on PA–specifically Tioga County…
Continue reading

EQT Continues to Fight PA DEP Fine re Wastewater Impoundment

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court (an appeals court) heard oral arguments over how to prove whether contaminants in the soil have moved into groundwater. The case dates back to 2014 when the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) slapped EQT with a $4.53 million fine for a leaky wastewater impoundment in Tioga County (see PA DEP Levies Biggest Fine Ever, $4.5M Against EQT). EQT did not say there wasn’t a problem with leaks at the site, but they did say the way the DEP calculated the fine was unreasonable and arbitrary. EQT appealed the fine and the case all the way to the PA Supreme Court, and in early April the Supremes ruled in favor of EQT, saying that the DEP’s levied fine was excessive and that the DEP misinterpreted language in the 1937 Clean Streams Law (see PA Supreme Court Axes DEP $4.5M Fine in EQT Tioga Wastewater Leak). We thought (mistakenly) that was the end of the case. But it’s not. The Supremes ruled on “water to water” contamination in the case, but not on ground to water contamination. PA law allows for companies to be on the hook for each day a contaminant enters the water table. What lawyers argued this week was whether or not, and how, the DEP can prove contaminants in the ground, there because of EQT’s leak, can be proven to have leached into the water on any given day. DEP is calculating a revised $1.1 million fine based on assumptions about how many days the contaminants leaked out of the ground. EQT is forcing DEP to use more than just spitball estimates in calculating the fine…
Continue reading

PA Supreme Court Axes DEP $4.5M Fine in EQT Tioga Wastewater Leak

EQT had to take their case all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but in the end, the company was victorious over a wildly overinflated $4.53 million fine levied by the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a leaky wastewater impoundment in Tioga County dating back to 2014 (see PA DEP Levies Biggest Fine Ever, $4.5M Against EQT). While EQT did not say there wasn’t a problem with leaks at the site, they did say the way the DEP calculated the fine was unreasonable and arbitrary. In fact, EQT says the DEP levied the fine and took EQT to court because a few weeks prior EQT had sued the DEP over a different, unrelated matter (i.e., sour grapes on the part of the DEP). EQT appealed the fine and the case all the way to the PA Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments last November (see PA Supreme Court Hears Arguments in EQT Wastewater Leak Case). Last Wednesday the PA Supremes ruled (5-2) in favor of EQT, saying that the DEP’s levied fine was excessive and that the DEP misinterpreted language in the 1937 Clean Streams Law…
Continue reading

Empire Pipe Plans 2 Compressors in PA & NY to Move Marcellus Gas

Click image for larger version

Empire Pipeline, the midstream (pipeline) subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Company (based in Buffalo, NY), earlier this month filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build two new compressor stations along the Empire Pipeline–one in Tioga County, PA, the other in Ontario County, NY. Without building any new pipeline, the addition of these two compressor stations will allow an extra 205,000 dekatherms per day (or 205 million cubic feet/day) of PA Marcellus gas to flow through the Empire Pipeline system. The project, called Empire North Project, will provide much-needed natural gas for Upstate NY and Canada. It will also connect to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, so who knows? Maybe some Marcellus molecules will find their way into New England too. The gajillion dollar questions is, will the Andrew Cuomo-corrupted NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation try to stop this project as they have just about all other Marcellus-to-NY projects?…
Continue reading

Eclipse Buys 44.5K “Core” Utica Acres for $93.7M…in Central PA!

Eclipse Resources, a Marcellus/Utica pure play driller headquartered in State College, PA, drills almost exclusively in the Ohio Utica. That is, until now! Yesterday Eclipse announced it has purchased 44,500 acres of oil and gas leases and producing wells in Tioga and Potter counties in north central Pennsylvania for $93.7 million–which works out to be ~$1,900/acre (very low cost). The aim of the purchase is to drill in the Pennsylvania Utica Shale. For the past few years MDN has heard about/highlighted stories of drillers going after the Utica Shale in PA–particularly in Tioga County (see Another Impressive Utica Well Pops Up…in Pennsylvania!). Eclipse cut a deal to buy the land and wells from Travis Peak Resources. We wrote about Travis Peak in December 2015 (see The 411 on New Driller Firing Up Rig in Tioga County, PA). Travis Peak, based in Austin, TX, was founded in November 2013 by a group of experienced guys who previously worked for companies like Amoco, Exxon, Pioneer Natural Resources and Newfield Exploration. A small company consisting of industry pros with financial backing from EnCap Investments. The best part of this deal for Eclipse? No money changed hands. Eclipse issued shares of stock in the company in return for picking up the acreage/wells. Also part of yesterday’s announcement by Eclipse is that they have picked up “outstanding equity interests” in small Marcellus/Utica pipeline company Cardinal Holdings–paying $18.3 million in cash. We have the full announcement below, a copy of the Eclipse presentation with lots of pretty maps and charts, and commentary about the Eclipse purchase…
Continue reading

PA Supreme Court Hears Arguments in EQT Wastewater Leak Case

Buckle up while we explain the background for this story. In October 2014, the DEP fined EQT a whopping $4.53 million for a leaky wastewater impoundment in Tioga County, PA (see PA DEP Levies Biggest Fine Ever, $4.5M Against EQT). While EQT did not say there wasn’t a problem with leaks at the site, they did say the way the DEP calculated the fine is unreasonable and arbitrary. In fact, EQT says the DEP levied the fine and took EQT to court because a few weeks prior EQT had sued the DEP over a different matter–that is, sour grapes. EQT appealed the fine and the case all the way to the PA Supreme Court. In December 2015, the high court handed EQT a “procedural victory” by saying EQT has a point about the manner in which the DEP is calculating the fine (see PA Supreme Court Gives EQT “Procedural Victory” in $4.5M Fine Case). The Supreme Court sent the case back to a lower court, PA Commonwealth Court, for follow up work, and in January 2017, a three-judge panel ruled that the method the DEP currently uses to assess fines–by how many days pollution lingers, instead of by how many days the initial release of pollution lasted–is not legal nor common sense (see EQT Wins Court Case Against PA DEP re $4.5M Wastewater Leak Fine). The judges said such a method in fining, “would result in potentially limitless continuing violations.” Under the old way of calculating fines, the DEP was considering upping the fine on EQT to an insane $157 million. Calculating it under the new way will mean a fine of around $120,000. Not long after that ruling, the Environmental Hearing Board, a special “court” set up to hear appeals of DEP decisions, decided to reduce the original $4.5 million fine down to $1.1 million (see PA Hearing Board Reduces EQT Fine from $4.5M to $1.1M). We thought that would be the end of it. But no! Both the DEP and EQT appealed the matter back up to the PA Supreme Court and yesterday the Supremes heard the case once again…
Continue reading

New Gas-Fired Power Plant Announced for Tioga County, PA

Energy Solutions Consortium, based in Buffalo, NY, has been trying to build a number of gas-fired electric plant projects in West Virginia for years (see Big News: 3 More Marcellus-Powered Electric Plants Coming to WV and WV Builder Tells PSC Power Plant Can Burn Methane AND Ethane). However, the regulatory environment in WV creeps along, like molasses, and none of the projects are even under construction–yet. WV’s own Secretary of Commerce, Woody Thrasher, recently said WV is downright unfriendly to electric plant projects (see WV Sec Commerce Says State Unfriendly to Gas-Fired Power Plants). Meanwhile, Pennsylvania is building new Marcellus-fired electric plants left and right. Perhaps noticing the difference in regulatory climates, Energy Solutions has decided to try a project in PA–in Tioga County (about 2.5 hours from Buffalo). The $500 million project will be called Tioga County Power–a 680 megawatt plant capable of powering 430,000 homes, fed by yummy Marcellus Shale gas produced in PA…
Continue reading

UGI Buys NatGas Pipeline Gathering System in NE PA

UGI is a major utility company in Pennsylvania, providing natural gas and electric service to 700,000 Pennsylvania residents across the state. UGI, via its Energy Services subsidiary, operates natural gas storage facilities, compressor stations, LNG plants and local pipeline gathering systems. UGI operates several gathering systems in northeastern PA. Yesterday the company announced is has purchased an existing gathering system from Rockdale Marcellus for an undisclosed sum. The Rockdale gathering system consists of 60 miles of gathering lines–along with dehydration and compression facilities–located in Tioga, Lycoming and Bradford counties in northeast PA. The system was purchased, on paper, by UGI subsidiary Texas Creek, so the gathering system has been rebranded UGI Texas Creek. MDN has a map of the new system below…
Continue reading

TGP’s Susquehanna West Project Gets Green Light to Begin Service

In April 2015 Kinder Morgan’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) subsidiary filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build 8.2 miles of new looping pipeline in Tioga County, PA and beef up two compressor stations in Bradford County, PA. The $142 million project is called the Susquehanna West Project. It will increase capacity along the 300 Line section of TGP, bumping it up by 145 million cubic feet per day (Mmcf/d). All of the extra capacity is spoken for by Statoil and the wells they’ve drilled in NEPA. Last September, FERC approved the project (see FERC Approves Another KM Pipeline Project in the PA Marcellus). The project was forecast to be done and dusted, going online, by Nov. 1. Usually we bring you news about such projects being delayed. In a happy reversal of that trend, last week FERC granted Kinder Morgan permission to bring the project online, NOW, a full two months ahead of schedule. Christmas came early this year…
Continue reading

Cardinal Midstream Forms New Co. Targeting Utica, Other Plays

6/2/17 Update: A previous version of this post was incorrect. MDN confused Cardinal Midstream with Cardinal Gas, which led us to create a confusing post. We apologize to both companies–and regret the mistake! Below is a corrected introduction.

Cardinal Midstream II operates a pipeline gather/processing system in Tioga County, PA. The Tioga system gathers and processes gas from Utica Shale wells in the county (not Marcellus wells, at least not yet). Earlier this week Cardinal announced a new spin-off called Cardinal III, backed with money from EnCap Flatrock Midstream–the same company that has backed Cardinal’s other ventures. The new Cardinal III is getting a $250 million infusion from EnCap to “pursue midstream acquisitions and development opportunities in both conventional and unconventional resource plays across North America.” That means possibly more work in the Marcellus/Utica, but any/all other major plays are also up for grabs. Here’s the announcement…Continue reading

PA Hearing Board Reduces EQT Fine from $4.5M to $1.1M

In October 2014, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) fined Marcellus driller EQT a whopping $4.53 million for a leaky wastewater impoundment in Tioga County, PA (see PA DEP Levies Biggest Fine Ever, $4.5M Against EQT). While EQT did not say there wasn’t a problem with leaks at the site, they did say the way the DEP calculated the fine is unreasonable and arbitrary. EQT appealed the fine and the case all the way to the PA Supreme Court. In December 2015, the high court handed EQT a “procedural victory” by saying EQT has a point about the manner in which the DEP is calculating the fine (see PA Supreme Court Gives EQT “Procedural Victory” in $4.5M Fine Case). The Supreme Court sent the case back to a lower court, PA Commonwealth Court, for follow up work, and in January 2017, a three-judge panel ruled that the method the DEP currently uses to assess fines–by how many days pollution lingers, instead of by how many days the initial release of pollution lasted–is not legal nor common sense (see EQT Wins Court Case Against PA DEP re $4.5M Wastewater Leak Fine). The judges said such a method in fining, “would result in potentially limitless continuing violations.” Under the old way of calculating fines, the DEP was considering upping the fine on EQT to an insane $157 million. Calculating it under the new way will mean a fine of around $120,000. We thought with that ruling it was all done and dusted. Not so. The soap opera continued when the DEP appealed the Commonwealth Court panel’s ruling back up to the PA Supreme Court where the Supremes will consider it all over again (see DEP Appeals $4.5M Wastewater Leak Fine Against EQT to Supremes). Into this mess, let’s now throw in another wrinkle. While the courts have been grappling with issues of procedure and whether or not the DEP can assess fines the way it claims it can (that is, Constitutional issues), at the same time the matter was brought up before the PA Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), a sort of quasi-court set up to hear appeals of decisions made by DEP. The EHB has decided to adjust the fine down significantly–from the DEP’s initial levy of $4.53 million down to $1.1 million. Here was their reasoning…Continue reading

DEP Appeals $4.5M Wastewater Leak Fine Against EQT to Supremes

There’s a reason hospitals and court rooms are frequently the settings for soap operas on TV–there’s always so much drama surrounding medicine and the law–the latter of which is our focus today. In January MDN reported what seemed like the final chapter in a long, drawn-out case between Marcellus driller EQT and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). In October 2014, the DEP fined EQT a whopping $4.53 million for a leaky wastewater impoundment in Tioga County, PA (see PA DEP Levies Biggest Fine Ever, $4.5M Against EQT). While EQT did not say there wasn’t a problem with leaks at the site, they did say the way the DEP calculated the fine is unreasonable and arbitrary. In fact, EQT says the DEP levied the fine and took EQT to court because a few weeks prior EQT had sued the DEP over a different matter–that is, sour grapes. EQT appealed the fine and the case all the way to the PA Supreme Court. In December 2015, the high court handed EQT a “procedural victory” by saying EQT has a point about the manner in which the DEP is calculating the fine (see PA Supreme Court Gives EQT “Procedural Victory” in $4.5M Fine Case). The Supreme Court sent the case back to a lower court, PA Commonwealth Court, for follow up work, and in January 2017, a three-judge panel ruled that the method the DEP currently uses to assess fines–by how many days pollution lingers, instead of by how many days the initial release of pollution lasted–is not legal nor common sense (see EQT Wins Court Case Against PA DEP re $4.5M Wastewater Leak Fine). The judges said such a method in fining, “would result in potentially limitless continuing violations.” Under the old way of calculating fines, the DEP was considering upping the fine on EQT to an insane $157 million. Calculating it under the new way will mean a fine of around $120,000. We thought with that ruling it was all done and dusted. Not so. The soap opera continued when the DEP appealed the Commonwealth Court panel’s ruling back up to the PA Supreme Court where the Supremes will consider it all over again. When you read the “friend of the court” brief just filed by those supporting the DEP in their case, it’s a Who’s Who of Big Green organizations and virulent anti-drillers–which tells you all you need to know about which side is in the right in the case of EQT v DEP…Continue reading