WV House Advances 2 O&G Bills: Orphan Wells & Faster Permits

The annual 60-day legislative session in WV is now under way, beginning Jan. 8. The first bill of consequence introduced that would impact/help the oil and gas industry was House Bill (HB) 4001, designed to kick start a regional NGL hub and reassure China it’s OK to invest some of those promised $84 billion in the Mountain State (see WV Bill Would Establish Fund to Kick-start NGL Hub, Reassure China). Two more bills have now been introduced and appear to be on a fast track to adoption: HB 4090 (orphan wells) and HB 4091 (faster permits).
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Big Green Tries to Whip Up Opposition to PTT Ohio Cracker

Big Green is doing its best to stir up opposition to PTT Global Chemical’s proposed ethane cracker plant in Belmont County, Ohio. Big Green is also trying to hide its involvement and pass itself off as organic, local community opposition. Not true. Last week the same so-called community organizer addressed an anti meeting at a local church and organized a “protest” a few days later.
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WV Bill Would Establish Fund to Kick-start NGL Hub, Reassure China

The West Virginia legislature kicked off its 2020 60-day session yesterday with a bang–at least for the shale energy industry. House Speaker Roger Hanshaw introduced House Bill 4001, aimed at reassuring China it’s OK to begin investing some of that $84 billion they promised to invest in WV’s shale and downstream sector. The bill also would help fund the Appalachian NGL Storage and Trading Hub project and other big petrochemical projects (maybe even a cracker plant!).
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DOE Awards $25M to Improve Natural Gas Ops, $4.5M Going to WV

Last week the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) announced it has selected 16 projects to receive nearly $25 million in federal funding for cost-shared projects to advance natural gas infrastructure technology development. DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy will provide federal funding for these projects. Two of the 16 are located in West Virginia and will receive a cumulative $4.5 million of the $25 million (18% of the total).
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Sierra Club Radicals Oppose Clean NatGas Power in Morgantown, WV

In September Longview Power filed an application with the West Virginia Public Service Commission to build and operate a Marcellus gas-fired electric generating facility in Monongalia County, WV, near Maidsville (see 1200 MW Gas-Fired Power Plant Files to Build in Mon County, WV). The Longview Power Clean Energy Center will include a 1,200 megawatt combined cycle power plant AND a 70 megawatt solar farm–both built next to Longview’s existing state-of-the-art 710 megawatt coal-fired power plant. A real “all of the above” type of facility. The nutters at the Sierra Club want to stop it all.
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Marcellus/Utica Rig Counts 2019 – The Trend was Not Our Friend

If you use the number of active rigs operating in a given shale play/state as the measure for “success,” 2019 wasn’t such a good year for the Marcellus/Utica. In January, Pennsylvania entered 2019 with 48 active rigs. In December that number was cut nearly in half, to 25 active rigs. It was a similar story for Ohio, which entered 2019 with 17 active rigs and exited with 12 rigs. West Virginia, on the other hand, entered 2019 with 15 rigs and exited the year with the same number. But at one point during the year WV had 21 active rigs. We have the monthly rig stats below for all three states.
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Williams WV Compressor Station Explodes, Catches Fire

The Battle Run Compressor Station, owned and operated by Williams and located in Valley Grove (Ohio County), West Virginia, exploded and caught fire Saturday night. Fortunately no one was injured and the fire was extinguished within a half hour. Williams has “isolated” the flow of gas to the facility while the incident is investigated.
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EQT CEO Toby Rice Says WV Co-Tenancy Law May Not be Enough

West Virginia’s co-tenancy law was signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice in March 2018 (see WV Gov. Justice Does 180 – Says He’ll Sign Co-Tenancy Bill). According to speakers at the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA) 2019 Fall Meeting, the new law is working pretty well (see WVONGA Meeting: New Co-Tenancy Law Working, Still a Few Kinks). However, EQT CEO Toby Rice told WV legislators yesterday that co-tenancy may not go far enough for his company.
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Marcellus/Utica Active Drilling Rig Count Crashes to 24

The rig count in the Marcellus/Utica region is crashing–down to its lowest level for a December since the M-U became a “thing.” It’s now lower than the levels reached in 2014, which was the advent of the first “crash” in rig counts. BUT (and this is a big BUT), lower rig counts do not necessarily mean less drilling or less production. How can that be?
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Equitrans Cancels Trinity Energy Contract re Mountain Valley Pipe

Last week Equitrans subsidiary EQM Midstream Partners (formerly EQT Midstream) canceled a contract with Texas-based Trinity Energy to build portions of the now-stalled Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project. You may recall that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) stopped all new construction on MVP in October, until a new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit that passes muster with the courts can be issued (see FERC Shuts Down All Mountain Valley Pipeline Construction). We’re not sure what Trinity was doing in the meantime with a shutdown of construction in place, but Trinity reps expressed surprise that their MVP contract has now been canceled.
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10 Colleges in PA-OH-WV Form Program to Train Cracker/Mfg Workers

A group of 10 community colleges scattered throughout southwestern Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia have formed the Tristate Energy and Advanced Manufacturing Consortium, or TEAM, with the aim of training skilled workers for cracker plants and other petrochemical-related manufacturing operations. The cooperative has crafted a “stackable-credentials model” that offers “a career pathway from certifications to post-secondary degrees, up to and including a master’s degree.” Forwarding thinking!
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WV I-68 Energy Corridor Extension Project “Creeping Along Slowly”

The Route 2 | I-68 Authority in West Virginia wants to expand Route 2 to four lanes from Parkersburg, WV to Chester, WV, and to extend Interstate 68 from I-79 near Morgantown, WV westward to WV Route 2 along the Ohio River Valley, some 73 miles (see WV Wants to Extend I-68 Another 73 Miles for Shale Industry). One of the reasons to build the $1 billion project? To handle more shale-related traffic. Here’s the latest…
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WV Commerce Secretary Says His State *Will* Get a Cracker Plant

It seems like MDN has reported on the possibility that an ethane cracker plant would get built somewhere in West Virginia forever–at least back to 2013 when then-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin went to Europe looking for a cracker (see Did Gov Tomblin Find a European Investor for a WV Cracker Plant?). For a while it seemed there was a legit cracker project heading to Wood County, in the Parkersburg area, from Odebrecht/Braskem (see WV Announces Brazilian Company to Build Ethane Cracker Complex). That plan eventually petered out. But WV has not given up hope. In a visit to Jackson County on Wednesday, WV Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch said he believes a cracker plant will come to the Mountain State. When?
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WV State Severance Tax Revenue Whacked by Low NatGas Price

Not long ago we highlighted the problem of falling severance tax revenue in West Virginia (see Falling WV Severance Tax Revenue a Problem for Gov. Justice). The state previously forecast severance tax revenues of $85 million for July, August and September. They got $59 million–or $26 million less. Unfortunately for WV the same downward trend continued in October.
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PA One of Two Finalists for “Massive” Ethane Storage Hub

The Appalachia Development Group (ADG) is leading an effort to build a ~$3.3 billion NGL storage hub in Appalachia. From the start, the thinking has been the storage hub would be located somewhere in West Virginia (see WV’s US Senators Lead the Charge to Build $10B NGL Storage Hub). But what’s this? ADG Chairman and CEO Steven Hedrick, speaking at a conference last week, confirmed potential sites for the project have been narrowed down to two. And one of those sites, according to “sources” (not Hedrick), is located in southwestern Pennsylvania.
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WVONGA Fall Meeting Wraps Up with Talks on Pot, Petchem

Last week the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA) held its two-day 2019 Fall Meeting in Morgantown. We previously reported talk about WV’s new co-tenancy laws dominated the first day (see WVONGA Meeting: New Co-Tenancy Law Working, Still a Few Kinks). One of the key topics for the second day was the state’s medical cannabis program and how those in the oil and gas industry deal with it next year when a new state law goes into effect. The other key topic of the day was downstream (petrochemical) plants.
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