Tioga County, PA Excited About Shell Asset Sale to NFG

In early May Shell and National Fuel Gas Company (NFG) announced a deal for Shell to sell all of its remaining Appalachian assets, which includes 450,000 acres and some 350 producing M-U shale wells along with pipeline assets, to NFG for $541 million (see Fire Sale: Shell Sells All Remaining PA M-U Assets for $541M). The deal is expected to close by the end of July. Most of the assets are located in Tioga County, PA. Folks in Tioga County are excited that NFG (via its drilling subsidiary Seneca Resources) will soon ramp up drilling on the Shell acreage. The county is rolling out the red carpet.
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EQT Provides More Details on DGO Asset Sale, 1.4 Bcf/d Curtailment

EQT announced yesterday it has closed on a deal to sell “certain non-strategic assets” to Diversified Gas & Oil (DGO) for $125 million, plus another potential $20 million later on. MDN first told you about this deal on May 13 (see Diversified Buys 900 EQT Wells (67 Shale Wells) for $125M). This is the first time EQT has commented publicly on the DGO deal. EQT’s statement differs from previous news accounts about the deal.
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Fire Sale: Shell Sells All Remaining PA M-U Assets for $541M

A major announcement yesterday from both Shell and National Fuel Gas Company (NFG) says Shell has cut a deal to sell all of its remaining Appalachian assets, which includes 450,000 acres and some 350 producing M-U shale wells along with pipeline assets, to NFG for $541 million. The deal is expected to close by the end of July.
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Seneca Resources “Cracks the Code” on PA Utica; Cuts Coming in ’20

Late last week National Fuel Gas Company (NFG), the parent company of Marcellus/Utica driller Seneca Resources, issued its first quarter (everyone else’s fourth quarter) financial and operational update. NFG CEO and President Dave Bauer proclaimed, “Our team has done a great job cracking the code on our Utica development program” in Tioga County, PA. However, because of the ongoing pricemageddon with natgas prices in the basement, Seneca President John McGinnis said the company will drop to running a single rig for the balance of 2020.
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EDGE Expands Op to Convert Stranded Marcellus Gas to LNG in NEPA

Last June MDN brought you the news that Edge Gathering Virtual Pipelines 2 LLC (EDGE) had successfully deployed a special LNG unit to a remote Marcellus well in PA, converting gas from the well into LNG, selling that gas to a utility in New England (see Stranded PA Marcellus Gas Converted to LNG, Trucked to New England). EDGE’s “virtual pipeline” solution aims to solve the problem of flaring, lack of pipelines, and (frankly) lack of good local markets into which to sell the gas. Great news! EDGE is expanding its service in the Marcellus, converting gas into LNG from a “large producer” located in Tioga County, PA.
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NFG Asks FERC to Begin Construction on Empire North Pipe Project

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In March the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a request by National Fuel Gas Company subsidiary Empire Pipeline to build two new compressor stations along the Empire Pipeline–one in Tioga County, PA, the other in Ontario County, NY–to flow an extra 205 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of yummy fracked PA gas into the Empire State (see FERC Approves Empire Pipe Request for 2 New Compressors in PA, NY). Empire is ready to begin construction and has asked FERC for approval to start.
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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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FERC Approves Empire Pipe Request for 2 New Compressors in PA, NY

click for larger version

Well well well–this news is sure to ruin the day of irrational fossil fuel haters in New York and Pennsylvania. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week approved a request by National Fuel Gas Company subsidiary Empire Pipeline to build two new compressor stations along the Empire Pipeline–one in Tioga County, PA, the other in Ontario County, NY, to flow an extra 205 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of yummy fracked PA gas into the Empire State (don’t tell Cuomo).
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Family of Worker Killed at Tioga County, PA Well Pad Sues Shell

On the morning of October 27, Marc Jones, an employee of Deep Well Services, was working at a Shell well pad 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” (see Accident Kills Rig Worker on Shell Well Pad in Tioga County, PA). The blunt force trauma, hitting him in the head, killed him.
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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.
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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.
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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, Marc 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:
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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