Cunningham Energy Strikes More Oil in WV

Cunningham Energy is a small oil driller based in West Virginia. In 2015, Cunningham struck oil in the Big Injun sandstone formation in Clay County, WV (see Cunningham Strikes Oil in West Virginia’s Big Injun Territory). In 2016, Cunningham announced they would target another shallow formation, the Weir Sand formation, a few layers below the Big Injun (same group of rocks called the Mississippian system), once again looking for oil (see Cunningham Using Horizontal Drilling to Target Weir Sand in WV). Last week Cunningham provided an update to say they’ve hit a milestone by producing 20,000 barrels of oil production from two new shallow horizontal oil wells located in Clay County, once again targeting the Big Injun. They also said they will soon begin to drill those previously mentioned Weir wells in Kanawha County. Normally we don’t cover news from conventional drillers, but Cunningham is interesting for a few reasons. While the rock layers Cunningham targets are layers typically targeted by conventional oil drillers, the lines are beginning to become blurred between conventional and unconventional. Cunninghamton targets shallow layers using horizontal drilling, and they drill increasingly longer laterals. Yet they don’t frack their wells. What is the definition of conventional vs. unconventional drilling? In brief, unconventional is the marriage of both horizontal drilling AND fracking. If you don’t have both, you don’t have what we consider an unconventional well. Yet conventional wells, like those drilled by Cunningham, increasingly have characteristics of unconventional wells, like long horizontal laterals (used to be vertical-only). Cunningham, in their promotional material, talks about one day drilling shale wells. Looks like they’re getting practiced up and ready…
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WV State Agency Rejects Anti Appeal to Stop US Methanol Plant

Antis in West Virginia who filed an appeal of a permit allowing US Methanol to build a plant in Institute, WV have been rejected by the WV Air Quality Board. Earlier this month US Methanol broke ground in Institute (Kanawha County), WV for its very first methanol production plant (see US Methanol Breaks Ground on First Plant in West Virginia). This is the first of what is rumored to be up to five such methanol plants to be built in the Mountain State by US Methanol. Methanol plants convert natural gas into methanol, used as a chemical feedstock (or raw material) to create other things, like gasoline, antifreeze, plastic bottles–even LED and LCD screens. A number of dignitaries attended the groundbreaking in Institute, including colorful WV Governor Jim Justice. People Concerned, a Big Green group, has painted nightmare scenarios that “if” a 1.2 million gallon methanol holding tank explodes, it’s the end of the world for anyone and everyone in the Institute area. In an unbelievable act of disgust, the attorney for People Concerned “reminded” the Air Quality Board that the location of the US Methanol plant is located next to “a historically black university”–implying there’s something racist about the plant and the so-called safety threats it may hold for black students. Loathsome. Fortunately the Air Quality Board refused the appeal by People Concerned, meaning the plant will continue construction as planned, going online by mid-next year…
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US Methanol Breaks Ground on First Plant in West Virginia

US Methanol broke ground yesterday in Institute (Kanawha County), WV for its very first methanol production plant. In August 2016 MDN was the first to share the news that US Methanol is building at least two, rumored up to five, methanol plants in the Mountain State (see Rumor: US Methanol Building 5 Methanol Plants in WV). MDN shared a rumor (based on a reliable source) that until we disclosed it, was not public knowledge: The first methanol plant US Methanol plans to build will be in Institute, WV, and the second in Belle, WV–both in the Charleston region. Methanol plants convert natural gas into methanol, used as a chemical feedstock (or raw material) to create other things, like gasoline, antifreeze, plastic bottles–even LED and LCD screens. A number of dignitaries attended the groundbreaking in Institute, including colorful WV Governor Jim Justice. A really cool factoid: the plant will be constructed from a deconstructed methanol plant from Brazil. Usually it’s the other way around, plants get shipped from the U.S. to other countries. This time a plant is coming “home” to the U.S. The new plant, called Liberty One, will open in mid-2018–supplied with plenty of cheap and abundant Marcellus/Utica shale gas…
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WV EDA Approves $10M Loan for Methanol Plant in Institute

Last year MDN was the first to share the news that the California-based US Methanol is building at least two, rumored up to five, methanol plants in the Mountain State (see Rumor: US Methanol Building 5 Methanol Plants in WV). MDN shared a rumor (based on a source) that until we disclosed it, was not public knowledge: The first methanol plant they will build will be in Institute, WV, and the second in Belle, WV–both in the Charleston region. We also told MDN readers that both plants were being disassembled in other countries and brought here. Our rumor/news was later verified by several other news sources, including new details that both Brazil and Slovenia were the countries losing plants. The plant in Brazil was/is being disassembled and moved to Institute (see US Methanol Confirms MDN Rumor – 2 (or More) Plants Coming to WV). We have an update. The West Virginia Economic Development Authority has approved a $10 million loan to US Methanol to purchase machinery and equipment for the Institute plant. US Methanol says progress is being made on moving the plant from Brazil to WV, and that the plant should be up and running by late this year/early next year…Continue reading

FERC Denies Anti Request to Stop KM’s Broad Run Expansion Project

request-denied.jpgKinder Morgan’s Broad Run Expansion Project will expand transportation capacity of natural gas on the existing Tennessee Gas Pipeline system. The project includes the construction of two new compressor stations in Kanawha County, WV, one new compressor station in Davidson County, TN, and one new compressor station in Madison County, KY. Tennessee Gas also expects to increase compression capacity by modifying two of its existing compressor stations in Powell and Boyd counties in KY by replacing existing capacity with new, higher-rated horsepower compression units. The project will provide an extra 200,000 dekatherms per day (Dth/d) of transportation capacity along the same capacity path as the Broad Run Flexibility project, which was placed in service on Nov. 1, 2015. All of the additional gas will come from Antero Resources and their Marcellus/Utica program. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Certificate to build the project in September. However, several anti-drillers filed an appeal, asking for a stay claiming a removal of 40 acres of forest for a compressor station would irreparably harm Mom Earth. FERC has just ruled against the stay and told the antis Mom Earth will be just fine. Fire up the backhoes!…
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FERC Tells Columbia to Open Valves on Utica Access Pipeline in WV

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In January 2016 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a plan by Columbia Pipeline to build five miles of new pipeline and an upgrade to a compressor station in Kanawha County, WV (see Columbia Pipeline Gets FERC Approval for WV Utica Access Project). The $45 million “Utica Access” project will transport 205 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of Utica Shale gas for Eclipse Resources Corporation to trading points on the Columbia Gas Transmission interstate pipeline system. Last Thursday FERC gave Columbia (now owned by TransCanada) the green light to open the valves on the new pipeline…
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US Methanol Confirms MDN Rumor – 2 (or More) Plants Coming to WV

confirmedLast week MDN was the first to share the news that the California-based US Methanol is building at least two, rumored up to five, methanol plants in the Mountain State (see Rumor: US Methanol Building 5 Methanol Plants in WV). MDN shared a rumor (based on a source) that until we disclosed it, was not public knowledge: The first methanol plant they will build will be in Institute, WV, and the second in Belle, WV–both in the Charleston region. We now have confirmation of that rumor via several news accounts. We also told you that both plants were being disassembled in other countries and brought here. We now know which countries are losing the plants that will be reassembled in Institute and Belle…
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More People Pile on Antero, Seek to Join Mass “Nuisance” Lawsuit

Last September MDN told you about the troubling news that more than 200 residents in WV (likely those who don’t own the mineral rights under their land) began filing “scores” of “nuisance” lawsuits over the past couple of years against Antero Resources and Hall Drilling, in places like Doddridge County (see Scores of “Nuisance” Lawsuits Against WV Drillers Combined). The lawsuits claim excessive traffic, odors and noise from nearby drilling make it “impossible” for them to enjoy their homes. The troubling development was that all of these lawsuits (dozens? hundreds?) had been rolled up into one mega lawsuit that sits before the WV Mass Litigation Panel. In other words a class action lawsuit. Since then we’d not heard anything, until we read about two more such lawsuits filed in Kanawha County. The lawyers want to add the two to the existing mass litigation case…
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Cunningham Using Horizontal Drilling to Target Weir Sand in WV

cunningham logoThis story is, for us, fascinating. A small driller based in West Virginia, Cunningham Energy, is zagging while everyone else is zigging. We told you in 2013 that Cunningham planned to drill three “shallow” horizontal wells in Clay County, WV (see The Injuns are Coming! Injun Formation Drilling, that is). Cunningham targeted the Big Injun sandstone formation, looking for oil. They struck oil this past year (see Cunningham Strikes Oil in West Virginia’s Big Injun Territory). Once again Cunningham is targeting a shallow formation, this time the Weir Sand formation, a few layers below the Big Injun (same group of rocks called the Mississippian system), once again looking for oil. Cunningham announced last week they are drilling two new horizontal wells, this time in Kanawha County, WV…
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Columbia Pipeline Gets FERC Approval for WV Utica Access Project

Columbia Pipeline Group has just received a green light from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to proceed with their Utica Access Project. The project will cost Columbia $45 million and involves building five miles of new pipeline and upgrading compressor stations in Kanawha County, WV. When complete, the project, begun under NiSource (before Columbia separated into its own company), will transport 200 million cubic feet per day of Utica Shale gas for Eclipse Resources Corporation to liquid trading points on the Columbia Gas Transmission interstate pipeline system…
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WSJ Reporter Russell Gold to Keynote Fracking Forum at WVSU

Russell Gold - Wall Street JournalNext Tuesday, Sept. 29, West Virginia State University (WVSU) will sponsor a forum on fracking and shale at WVSU’s James C. Wilson University Union in Institute, WV. The forum, titled “Fracking: In the Beginning Was the Source Rock” is free and open to the public. Keynoting the event will be award-winning Wall Street Journal energy reporter Russell Gold, who authored the book “The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World.” This is a unique opportunity to hear (and ask questions) of someone with expert insights into the shale revolution in the Marcellus/Utica and beyond–and what he sees on the horizon for the future…
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Columbia Pipeline Worker Risks His Life to Save a Stranger in WV

Countless times we’ve seen the oil and gas industry demonized by people who hold to strange philosophies–like oil and gas are fossil fuels and fossil fuels threaten the climate of Mother Earth and the use of said fossil fuels must be ended. It’s a cockamamie and frankly false philosophy–but it motivates many to demonize not only the industry, but those who work in it (or support it). Sometimes it helps to put a face on people who work in the industry. Like Michael Marques, who works for Columbia Pipeline Group–a major pipeline company headquartered in Houston, TX but with a major presence in the Appalachian (Marcellus/Utica) region. Marques was on his way to a service call in Kanawha County, WV when he noticed a local resident caught in the Pocatalico River during a flash flood. Without hesitating, Marques jumped in, risking his own life, to save the life of a man he didn’t know. That’s the kind of salt-of-the-earth people who work in the oil and gas industry. Here’s the story of Michael Marques–a hero–and his action to save local resident Bobby Lawson…
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ECA’s New Regional HQ in Charleston: More WV Drilling on the Way?

Energy Corporation of America (ECA) is a privately owned company founded in 1963 with corporate headquarters in Denver, CO. The company owns and operates approximately 4,600 (mostly vertical) wells, 5,000 miles of pipeline, and leases more than 1 million acres in North America alone. Most of ECA’s leased acreage is in the northeast, so it came as no surprise when they announced last year that they would build a new regional HQ that will house more than one-third of their employees (see ECA Breaks Ground on WV Regional HQ, Donates $600K to Clay Center). The brand spanking new regional HQ building in Charleston, WV is done (cost $10 million to build) and some 115 employees are now moved into a 60,000 square foot building with room for up to 200 employees. But MDN has discovered a head-scratcher…
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NTSB Faults NiSource/Columbia for WV Pipeline Explosion in 2012

accident waiting to happenOn December 11, 2012, a portion of the Columbia Gas Transmission pipeline (owned by Nisource) exploded near Sissonville, WV, 10 miles north of Charleston. The resulting fire burned for more than an hour and shut down a portion of nearby Interstate 77 for days (see Columbia NatGas Pipeline Explodes Near Charleston, WV). It’s been a long time coming, but on Monday the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), that did a full investigation of the explosion, turned in their final report. It was pretty damning for NiSource/Columbia. The conclusions of the investigators are that a) the pipe had corroded in that section–a long time ago, and b) Columbia hadn’t inspected that section of pipeline since (unbelievably) 1988. In other words, it was an accident waiting to happen.

Below we have the press release from the NTSB with their high level findings, then the full 32-page report released Monday, and finally, the lame response issued by NiSource/Columbia “thanking” the NTSB for just ripping them a new one…
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Marcellus Companies Move Offices from Charleston to SW PA

A few days ago MDN told you that county officials in some West Virginia counties, like Wood and Pleasants counties, believe drilling may be headed in their direction in the not-too-distant future (see Drilling Creeps Southward According to WV County Clerks). However, the reality on the ground right now is that there have been either no, or perhaps one or two, permits issued for horizontal (shale) drilling in Wood and Pleasants counties (stats come from the latest edition of the Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook).

Another county even further south is Kanawha County, home of the state capitol Charleston. Kanawha has also seen a few permits, but little or no shale drilling yet. In the ramp-up of Marcellus and Utica drilling, a number of drilling-related companies established administrative offices in Charleston. But that’s now changing. Why?…
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ECA Breaks Ground on WV Regional HQ, Donates $600K to Clay Center

Last week Energy Corporation of America (ECA), an oil and gas driller with more than a million acres of leases in the Marcellus and Utica Shale region and operating 4,600 (mostly conventional) wells, broke ground on a new 60,000 square foot company eastern regional headquarters in Charleston, WV. They also made a $600,000 donation to the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences.

From the company press release:
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