Antis Try to Pick Open Old Scab of Settled (and Sealed) Range Case

Three families who live near a former drill site and frack wastewater impoundment at the Yeager Marcellus Shale site in Washington County, PA sued Range Resources in May 2012 claiming the air they breathe and the water they drink had been contaminated by Range’s operations at the site (see EPA Investigating Range Drill Site in Western PA). The case was eventually settled and sealed in September 2018.
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Range SWPA Production Takes Hit After MarkWest Plant Explosion

Range Resources issued an updated 2018 (not 2019) capital spending and operational update yesterday to say (a) they spent about $20 million less last year than originally forecast and (b) the company took a hit on production because of an outage at the MarkWest Houston/Harmon Creek processing facilities.
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Sad Postscript: Man Dies of Injuries from MarkWest SWPA Explosion

As we previously reported, an explosion and fire last week at the MarkWest Energy natural gas processing plant in Chartiers (Washington County), PA sent four people to the hospital–carried there by helicopter (see MarkWest Plant Explosion in Washington Co. Injures 4; 1 Critical). We are profoundly sad to report that the man who was in critical condition has died. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office reported that Jeffery Fisher, 61, of Salem, WV died at 3:38 p.m. Tuesday at UPMC Mercy hospital. Below is an update on the situation, with additional new details.
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MarkWest Plant Explosion in Washington Co. Injures 4; 1 Critical

An explosion and fire last night around 6 pm at the MarkWest Energy natural gas processing plant in Chartiers (Washington County), PA sent four people to the hospital–carried there by helicopter. All of them remain hospitalized, and one of them is, sadly, in critical condition. The explosion happened near “two temporary tanks that were onsite for routine maintenance,” according to a MarkWest statement. The tanks hold, “liquid ethylene glycol plus hydrocarbons”–used to clean incoming raw natural gas. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection is on location today to determine what happened and why–and to ensure there have been no negative impacts to the environment.
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CNX Midstream Sues Contractor for Walking Away from Pipe Project

On Monday, CNX Midstream sued West Virginia contractor Ronald Lane Inc. claiming the contractor “without warning or justification ceased work on the Project and abandoned the Project,” the Project being a package of water and gas pipelines in Greene and Washington counties in PA. And that, “Lane informed [CNX] that Lane intended to redirect all of its forces and efforts to other projects that Lane considered to be more profitable than the Project. Lane made it clear to [CNX] that Lane had no intention to perform any more work on the Project.” Lane was the winning bidder for the Project in late 2017 at a total cost of $7.1 million. According to the lawsuit, CNX claims Lane began construction in March and abandoned the Project in June.
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Range Resources Helps Save Pretty Butterflies in SWPA

Can fracking save butterflies? According to California University of Pennsylvania’s Supervisor of the Fish & Wildlife, you betcha. You heard how important “pollinators” are, right? We immediately think bees when we hear the word pollinator. But monarch butterflies, a species whose population has dropped 90% since 1990, is also a important pollinator. In places across southwestern PA habitats for the monarch have disappeared, long before shale drilling showed up. Range Resources is helping replant vegetation that monarchs love. And it’s having a big impact. Range’s efforts are not just “throw a few seeds here and there” for publicity. Range is working hard and “willing to do it right.”
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Range Gets $300M for 1% Royalty on Washington County Production

Yesterday Range Resources, the very first company to sink a Marcellus Shale well back in 2004, announced it has cut a deal to “sell a proportionately reduced 1% overriding royalty in its Washington County, Pennsylvania leases for gross proceeds of $300 million.” Yeah. What, exactly, does that mean? More high finance stuff. The deal, as we try to understand it, reminds us of “factoring” that we learned about in our college business classes. You know, selling the money you will receive in the future from accounts receivable for a lump sum today? We think of this deal as kind of like that. Not exactly, but kind of.
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Range Resources Sued by PA Landowner re Post-Production Deductions

In the absence of a guaranteed minimum royalty in Pennsylvania–an issue which continues to divide landowners and drillers–individual landowners are left to litigate in order to get what they are fairly due. Such litigation is time consuming and expensive, and without a certain outcome, which is why most landowners don’t do it. In Washington County, PA a couple who signed a lease with Range Resources have just filed a lawsuit against Range in county court alleging Range violated the terms of the lease by deducting post-production expenses.
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PA Natural Gas Production Hits Another All-Time High in 2Q18

Last Thursday the PA Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released their latest quarterly Natural Gas Production Report for Apr-Jun 2018 (full copy below). It shows natgas production rose 9.9% compared to the same period last year–same as the increase in 1Q18 (see PA Natural Gas Production Hits New All-Time High in 1Q18). The report also shows the number of producing wells is up 10.4% from last year. Total natural gas production volume was 1,455.8 billion cubic feet (Bcf), and the number of producing wells in 2Q18 was 8,672 (of which 8,194 were shale wells). The biggest news is that once again 2Q18 saw the highest quarterly production of natural gas in the state–ever. This is the seventh quarter in a row there has been an increase in production. Two-thirds of the state’s natural gas production consistently comes from four counties: Susquehanna, Washington, Bradford and Greene. The #1 county for natgas production in 2Q18 was, as it was in each quarter of 2017 and in 1Q18, Susquehanna County, in the northeastern corner of the state. The #1 producing driller in Susquehanna County is Cabot Oil & Gas. Here’s the full 2Q18 natural gas production report from the IFO…
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Peters Twp Votes to Allow Fracking Under Town Property, Again

Peters Township, the most populous township in Washington County, PA, is one of the seven selfish towns that sued the state in 2012 over the zoning provisions in the then-new Act 13 law, eventually winning at the PA Supreme Court level (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). The Act 13 victory gave townships like Peters the right to pass local zoning ordinances that restrict, but don’t outright ban, Marcellus/Utica drilling. In September 2016, Peters decided to officially screw Marcellus drillers. Town council passed a drilling ordinance that says drilling is ONLY allowed in areas zoned for industrial uses, which rules out areas zoned for agricultural uses, where most drilling happens (see Peters Twp Gives the Middle Finger to Drillers One Final Time). Even the theoretical drilling that would happen in industrial areas, a grand total of 138 acres in the township, would have to be a “conditional use” with loads of permits and reviews. In other words–don’t bother drilling in Peters. So we found it quite ironic that in May 2017 Peters Township Council threw their lordly “principles” right out the window by signing a five-year lease with EQT allowing drilling under (not on) some of the township’s own land, something they’ve denied every other landowner in the township (see Peters Township Votes to Allow Fracking Under Town Property). They’ve just done it again. Peters Township Council voted Monday to approve a lease with Range Resources for the very same terms as they agreed to with EQT. This time the land is located under Peters Lake Park. That’s right, drilling and fracking under a lake, in Peters Township, where the town can get away with it, but not private citizens. How much will Peters get this time? Keep reading for the answer, available only on MDN…
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FERC Finally Approves 2 Key Rover Pipeline Laterals, Sept 1 Start

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) game of hardball with Energy Transfer over the Rover Pipeline has finally paid off. For months FERC has refused to allow four Rover laterals–feeder pipelines to shuttle gas from where it’s produced into the main Rover pipeline–to start up (see FERC Plays Hardball with Rover – Refuses to Certify 4 Laterals). The reason? ET has not, according to FERC, lived up to its word on restoration work. Things like smoothing over the dirt and replanting grass and other vegetation over top of the buried pipeline. Earlier this month ET assured FERC it would have the majority of restoration work done on two key laterals–the Burgettstown Lateral in southwestern PA, and the Majorsville Lateral in the northern panhandle of WV–by the end of this month (see FERC Continues to Block Rover Laterals Until Restoration Work Done). With recent evidence that ET is indeed living up to its word, last Thursday FERC gave ET permission to start up both the Burgettstown and Majorsville Laterals on Sept. 1. The majority of the restoration work will be done by this Friday, Aug. 31. However, there will still be some odds and ends after that (addressing “ground movement areas) that will go on through December. That leaves two final laterals–the CGT (Columbia Gas Transmission) and Sherwood Laterals, still not online. This is a prime example of FERC playing hardball, contrary to the “rubber stamp” antis claim FERC is for pipeline companies…
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EQT Searches for Indians Before Building Freshwater Pond in SWPA

EQT signed a lease with a landowner in Washington County, PA back in 2007 that allows the company to drill and/or develop surface property–building things like a freshwater (NOT wastewater) pond that can be used for nearby drilling. The landowner’s daughter, who either doesn’t understand drilling (or more likely does understand but doesn’t like it) claims there is an unmarked, single grave somewhere on the property (presumed to be an Indian), using that claim to stop EQT’s work on building the water pond. EQT is patiently playing along, waiting for–even paying for and assisting with–an archaeological dig to see if the grave and other Indian remains can be located. So far, nothing has been unearthed–except for a lot of hot air…
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100+ PA Landowners Sue EQT re Gas Storage Field Payments

According to Washington County, PA landowner Joe Raposky, EQT has been storing natural gas under his property in Finleyville without permission and without compensation since at least 2007. Last year Raposky asked EQT to compensate him and they refused. So Mr. Raposky has organized over 100 of his neighbors along with landowners who sit over top of other similar underground storage fields in the region, and on July 30 they filed a lawsuit against EQT. PA has some 60 gas storage fields spread across 26 counties in the state. The fields are used to temporarily store and then retrieve natural gas. Storage, which is not something we write about very much, is in fact a big deal when it comes to the natural gas market. Not all gas is used as soon as its extracted and sold along a pipeline. There are two main “seasons” in the natural gas industry–injection season, from April 1 through October 31, when a surplus is stored underground, and withdrawal season, from November 1 through March 31, when more gas is used than is produced. Storage fields like the one in Finleyville are an important part of the natgas puzzle. In some cases, landowners are only now becoming aware of the existing fields under their feet and they (rightly) want to be compensated for the use of their property. Is storage the next big bone of contention between landowners and drillers?…
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PA DEP Notifies Shell of “Technical Deficiencies” with Ethane Pipe

Shell delivered some good news at last week’s Northeast U.S. Petrochemical conference in Pittsburgh: The Falcon ethane pipeline will get built next year (see Shell Says Falcon Ethane Pipeline to Get Built in 2019). The pipeline won’t actually flow ethane to the Shell cracker in Monaca until 2020 at the earliest, because the cracker plant itself won’t go online until 2020 at the earliest. The 97-mile consists of “two legs,” with about half of the pipeline located in PA, the other half in OH. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted three public hearings on the project earlier this year, in preparation for issuing permits. Antis came out in force and behaved badly, as they typically do (see More of the Same at Final DEP Hearing for Shell Ethane Pipeline). No matter. The pipeline will get built. But not without jumping some hurdles first. On June 1, the DEP issued three letters identifying what it calls “serious technical deficiencies” in Shell’s pipeline plan, for townships in three different counties along the pipeline’s PA route. Shell maintains this type of notification is “common” in the permitting process, and is committed to working with the DEP to address any issues of concern…
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EQT Pays PA DCNR $874,200 to Lease Under Ten Mile Creek

This is a story that continues to bug us. The state of Pennsylvania, specifically the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), is grabbing money that we think belongs to private landowners. The DCNR has been, for years, claimed that under a centuries-old law that the state of PA “owns” the property under “navigable” waterways–including rivers and streams (see PA DCNR Publishes Lease Agreements for Deals Under Rivers/Creeks). We understand the state claiming the Delaware River, and maybe the Susquehanna River, is a “navigable” body of water. The DCNR uses the “navigable waterway” excuse to sign leases with drillers under much smaller waterways than the Delaware and Susquehanna–siphoning money that would have gone to landowners. A landowner might own the land on both sides of, say, Ten Mile Creek, as we’re sure happens. However, the land under Ten Mile Creek does not technically belong to them. In fact, certain long portions of the land under Ten Mile Creek are now leased to EQT, and EQT paid handsomely for it. The company leased 218.55 acres under Ten Mile Creek in Greene and Washington counties (southwestern PA) for $874,200, which works out to be exactly $4,000 per acre! Not to mention a whopping 20% royalty! That’s money that (in our opinion) should go to the landowners who own the land along the creek, not to the state. Until landowners sue or the legislature acts, the state will continue to pick the pockets of landowners who own land along PA’s waterways…
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