WV Supreme Court Tweaks Shale Well Property Tax Calculation

Last Wednesday the West Virginia Supreme Court issued a consolidated opinion lumping together seven similar lawsuits filed by Antero Resources and CNX Resources against the WV state tax commissioner and the Doddridge County Commission. The lawsuits take issue with the way gas well valuations are calculated for property taxes.
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DTE Midstream Buys Another 30% of WV Gathering System

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In 2016, DTE Energy, a BIG utility and midstream company based in Detroit, MI, purchased 100% of M3 Midstream’s Appalachia Gathering System (AGS), located in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and 40% of M3’s Stonewall Gas Gathering (SGG), located in West Virginia (see DTE Energy Buys Marcellus/Utica Pipelines for $1.3B). The reason? To feed natgas-fired electric plants the utility wants to build (see DTE’s Reason for Buying M-U Pipes: NatGas-Fired Electric Plants). DTE has just cut a deal to buy another 30% of the Stonewall system in WV.
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Antero’s WV Frack Wastewater Plant “Best Project Like it in World”

Clearwater Facility

Antero Resources’ innovative wastewater recycling facility in Doddridge County, WV began operation in November 2017 (see Antero’s $275M WV Wastewater Recycling Facility Ready to Launch). Since that time, the Clearwater Facility has continued to expand. Today it operates at about 70% of its full capacity.
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Nation’s Biggest NatGas Processing Plant (in WV) Getting Bigger

MarkWest Sherwood Complex

MarkWest Energy, now part of MPLX (Marathon Petroleum) operates the nation’s largest cryogenic gas processing plant operation in the country–in West Virginia. The Sherwood Complex in Doddridge County, WV has the capacity to process up to 2.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natgas, along with fractionation (separating out ethane) of up to 60,000 barrels per day (bpd). This year the facility will expand.
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The Real Story of Antero’s $11M Clean Water Act Violations

Yesterday MDN began our lead story about a big fine for Antero Resources by saying, “This has to be a record-high amount for a fine plus remediation work, at least in the Marcellus/Utica.” We humbly admit we were wrong. In checking our records, we found that in a similar case from 2014, Trans Energy paid even more, quite a bit more. We researched what this whole business is about, why Antero and others were fined, interviewing a top Antero official, and we now have a far better understanding of what happened and why.
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Antero to Pay $11M in Fines/Restoration for Clean Water Violations

This has to be a record-high amount for a fine plus remediation work, at least in the Marcellus/Utica. Antero Resources has cut a deal with three government entities–the U.S. Dept. of Justice, federal Environmental Protection Agency, and West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection–to pay a $3.15 million fine and spend another $8 million to mitigate and restore 32 sites in West Virginia.

NOTE: MDN posted an important followup to this story after speaking with Antero, providing more context and background, here: The Real Story of Antero’s $11M Clean Water Act Violations.
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Doddridge County #1 in WV Natural Gas Production

According to Anne Blakenship, executive director of the WV Oil & Natural Gas Association (WVONGA), Doddridge County leads WV’s 55 counties in “oil and natural gas production.” She said Doddridge will “remain at the epicenter” of the state’s oil and gas industry “for years to come.” While Doddridge is indeed the #1 natural gas producing county, replete with a number of gas processing plants (and pipelines), Doddridge is not the #1 oil producing county.
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Columbia Sues WV Landowners for Delaying Mountaineer XPress Work

It’s one thing for a landowner (or Big Green supporter, sometimes one and the same) to oppose a pipeline project by protesting, asking politicians to get involved, writing to regulatory agencies, etc. We have a great American tradition of free speech. Go for it. But it’s quite another thing to “harass, intimidate and interfere” with work crews in an area by screaming at them and shooting your “large caliber gun” near where they’re working. Columbia Gas Transmission is currently building the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline, a $2 billion, 170-mile pipeline that will flow 2.7 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day of natural gas from existing and future points of receipt along or near the Columbia pipeline system–most of it located in West Virginia (see Details on Columbia Pipeline Mountaineer XPress Pipeline Project). At 2.7 Bcf/d, Mountaineer XPress is the second largest (by volume) new pipeline project for the Marcellus/Utica region–second only to Rover’s 3.25 Bcf/d pipeline. It is a big and important project. And yet, a single couple whose land the pipeline does NOT cross can delay the entire project with threats and intimidation and interference. That’s the charge Columbia has made in court. On April 30, Columbia sued a couple in Doddridge County who live near an active construction site for Mountaineer XPress, claiming their hostile actions toward workers have caused a delay for the entire project–and that’s costing Columbia big bucks. Columbia wants to ask a jury to extract some of that lost revenue from the hostile couple as compensation. Lesson: Your (hostile, threatening) actions have consequences, and may cost you money…
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More MarkWest Construction Under Way in Doddridge County, WV

MarkWest Energy – Sherwood Complex

MarkWest Energy’s Sherwood Complex in Doddridge County, WV has been in operation since 2012. Since that time, MarkWest has built and currently operates nine processing plants at the complex, capable of separating methane from NGLs. The plant continues to grow. MarkWest is currently building another two processing plants at the Sherwood Complex, to be done and in operation this year. And if that isn’t enough, MarkWest says there is potential to build another six (!) processing plants at Sherwood. As we previously noted, Sherwood is right now the fourth largest gas processing plant in the U.S., and by the end of this year, it will be number one (see MarkWest Building 6 New Processing Plants, 3 Fractionators in 2018). One of the primary reasons for the rapid expansion at Sherwood is Antero Resources, which uses the Sherwood operation to service its vast WV drilling program. Needless to say, the ever-expanding Sherwood facility is a huge blessing, economically, to Doddridge County. Here’s a deep dive into future plans for Sherwood, and how the plant benefits the local community…
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Mountain Valley Pipe Gets FERC Approval to Begin WV Construction

MVP Map – click for larger version

Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP)–a $3.5 billion, 301-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA, has just received permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to begin tree clearing and construction of access roads and construction yards in five West Virginia counties–Wetzel, Harrison, Doddridge, Lewis and Braxton counties. The work will be allowed only where MVP has already obtained leases from landowners. This is the first actual construction to be authorized for the project, a milestone! MVP was approved last October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). However, five national anti-fossil fuel groups filed a lawsuit two weeks ago to try and stop the project (see 5 Radical Green Groups Sue to Stop Mountain Valley Pipeline). Let ’em try! Here’s the great news that even as you read this, it’s quite likely the chainsaws are up and running…
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Antero Agrees to Add Monitoring Near New Frack Waste Landfill

By our reckoning, Antero Resources’ $275 million wastewater recycling facility in Doddridge County, WV is now operational (see Antero’s $275M WV Wastewater Recycling Facility Ready to Launch). In 2015 Antero hired Veolia Water Technologies Inc. to build a new shale wastewater recycling facility in Doddridge County (see Antero Building New 60K Bbl Wastewater Recycling Facility in WV). The facility, called the Clearwater Facility, can process up to 60,000 barrels of wastewater per day, separating water, salt and radioactive particles. The salt can be sold to municipalities for use as road salt–but frankly there’s not enough of a market to sell it all. And not all of it will be of sufficient quality to be sold that way. So Antero also spent $20 million to build a landfill next to the plant for the salt (see Update on Antero’s $275M Wastewater Facility in WV). In a move we were previously unaware of, a pair of Big Green groups–West Virginia Rivers Coalition and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy–made a fuss about the landfill. They filed an appeal with the West Virginia Environmental Quality Board back in May challenging the permit allowing the landfill to get built. Antero has just settled the matter by signing an agreement to conduct additional surface water monitoring at and near the landfill site…
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Antero’s $275M WV Wastewater Recycling Facility Ready to Launch

By our reckoning, Antero Resources’ $275 million wastewater recycling facility in Doddridge County, WV is either already operational, or will be within the next few days (sometime this week). In 2015 Antero hired Veolia Water Technologies Inc. to build a new shale wastewater recycling facility in Doddridge County (see Antero Building New 60K Bbl Wastewater Recycling Facility in WV). The facility, called the Clearwater Facility, will process 60,000 barrels of wastewater per day, separating water, salt and radioactive particles. The salt can be sold to municipalities for use as road salt–but frankly there’s not enough of a market to sell it all. And not all of it will be of sufficient quality to be sold that way. So Antero also spent $20 million to build a landfill next to the plant for the salt (see Update on Antero’s $275M Wastewater Facility in WV). According to the Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram, an Antero official recently said the Clearwater Facility is set to open in “the first part of November.” If you consider the first 15 days of the month the first part of the month, that leaves two days for the facility to be up and running. Hence our speculation it either already is open, or will be this week…
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Doddridge, WV Drilling & Processing is Marcellus-Central

Doddridge County, WV

There’s no question that Doddridge County is one of the most active counties in West Virginia, with respect to the Marcellus/Utica industry. Doddridge is home to MarkWest’s Sherwood complex, the single largest gas-processing complex in the Northeast with eight cryogenic processing facilities. Antero Resources, an active (really big) driller in Doddridge, is building a huge wastewater recycling facility in the county. As we reported in September, the tax base in the county has tripled over the past seven years (see Doddridge County, WV Tax Base Triples in 7 Yrs Thx to M-U Shale). Dominion Energy also has a large presence in the county with hundreds of miles of gathering and interstate pipelines. Yes, Doddridge is a happenin’ place when it comes to the Marcellus. We’d call it “Marcellus-Central” in WV…
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Antero Taps Veolia to Handle TENORM Waste at WV Water Facility

In 2015 Antero Resources hired Veolia Water Technologies Inc. (subsidiary of France-based Veolia) to build a new shale wastewater recycling facility in Doddridge County, West Virginia (see Antero Building New 60K Bbl Wastewater Recycling Facility in WV). The new facility, which is slated to take two years to build and cost Antero $275 million, will process 60,000 barrels of wastewater per day. The facility is still under construction. The plant will separate water, salt and radioactive particles. The salt can be sold to municipalities for use as road salt–but frankly there’s not enough of a market to sell it all. And not all of it will be of sufficient quality to be sold that way. So Antero is also spending $20 million to build a landfill next to the plant (see Update on Antero’s $275M Wastewater Facility in WV). This week we also learned that Antero will spend another $70 million with Veolia–in addition to the $275M they’re paying Veolia to build the plant–paying Veolia $70M over 10 years to handle the “loading, packaging, transporting and proper disposal of water treatment sludge” the plant will produce. The sludge contains TENORM–technologically enhanced, naturally occurring radioactive materials. Veolia will ensure the TENORM sludge is carefully handled and properly disposed…
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WV Surface Owners Win Important Case Against EQT re Drill Pad

A West Virginia Circuit Court case decided last week (by jury) found in favor of surface owners against a well pad constructed by EQT. The decision has far-reaching implications for not only surface owners and drillers, but mineral rights owners too. From the first time we read about so-called “joint development” legislation being promoted by the drilling industry in WV (back in February), we’ve not been fans (see More on WV’s Push for “Joint Development” Instead of Forced Pooling). In brief, there are a number of existing old leases in WV, signed before shale drilling began, that prevents drillers from drilling a horizontal well across an individual property boundary line–until a new lease is signed. Joint development says if the driller already owns the leases on all adjoining properties they want to combine into a drilling unit, they can do so without signing a new lease. The proposed joint development law seemed to us to be a way for drillers to avoid negotiating and paying more for new leases–which they should be willing to do! However, the case of Crowder and Wentz v EQT puts joint development in a new light for us. The case appears (to us) to be an abuse of power by surface owners against both drillers and mineral rights owners–by using the current prohibition against joint development. We certainly understand why surface rights owners would resist having a drill pad on their property, however, that’s life. They bought land (or inherited it, etc.) that doesn’t have mineral rights attached. Under existing WV law, a well pad can be drilled, taking 10-15 acres of the surface land (against the surface landowner’s wishes, but with compensation), in order to access the minerals under that specific piece of property. However, the court ruled last week in Crowder and Wentz v EQT that a driller cannot then use that same already-constructed well pad to further drill wells that access minerals under other, adjacent properties. Which in our book makes a strong case for a joint development law, to avoid this kind of misuse by surface landowners…
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Doddridge County, WV Tax Base Triples in 7 Yrs Thx to M-U Shale

Yet another anti-shale argument falls. You read and hear plenty about a community’s tax base (i.e. property values) going down when/if shale drilling and associated infrastructure, like processing plants, come to town. That’s fake news. Here’s real news: In Doddridge County, WV, prior to the shale revolution visiting the county, the total assessed value for all properties in the county added up to $457.5 million. Seven years later, in 2017, with multiple wells drilled and massive new MarkWest natural gas processing plants built, total assessed value for all properties in Doddridge is now $1.4 BILLION. That’s a three-fold increase in seven years! Most of the increase comes from the oil and gas industry. Quite frankly, there’s no end in sight. Values will continue to rise in Doddridge…
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