CIG Logistics Buys Sand Transload Terminal in WV from US Silica

CIG Logistics is a company in the business of moving sand used in fracking from point A to point B. CIG owns and operates a series of transloading terminals, along with trucks to deliver sand to well sites. A transloading terminal is a place where sand arrives via one form of transportation, say on a rail car, and leaves via another form of transportation, like a truck. U.S. Silica is the country’s largest sand producer. U.S. Silica also owns some of its own transloading terminals. CIG announced yesterday it has cut a deal to buy three U.S. Silica transloading facilities–two in Texas and one in the Marcellus, in Marshall County, West Virginia. CIG claims that with this deal they have become the “preferred transload provider to U.S. Silica” in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford in Texas, and the Marcellus Shale via the facility in WV. Terms of the deal were not disclosed…
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WV’s Northern Panhandle Sits in the Shale Catbird Seat

The Northern Panhandle of West Virginia is doubly blessed. The Panhandle is four counties: Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and Marshall. Some add a fifth–Wetzel County. The first four counties in the list sit in a slice of real estate located between Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Panhandle currently produces 38% of WV’s natural gas production, and nearly 70% of its oil production. That’s the first blessing–good rock sits under those counties. The second blessing is the panhandle’s location between PA and OH. On one side, sitting just a few minutes away, is the mighty Shell ethane cracker plant, currently under construction in Monaca (Beaver County, PA). On the other side, also just a few minutes away, sits the proposed PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker site in Dilles Bottom (Belmont County, OH). The second blessing is this: many petrochemical and manufacturing companies will build, even relocate, their operations to take advantage of the raw materials that will come from both cracker plants. And guess where many of them will choose to locate? Yep–right smack in the middle, which is where the Northern Panhandle happens to be–sitting in the catbird seat…
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Fire at EQT Well Pad in Marshall County, WV

Yesterday, gas processing equipment at a Trans Energy well pad (now owned by EQT) in Marshall County, WV caught fire. The important things to know: (1) The fire was quickly extinguished, (2) nobody was injured, (3) this was not a well fire and was not related to drilling or fracking. There is a single operating Marcellus well at that location–drilled back in 2011. The well has been producing natural gas and other hydrocarbons since that time. As is common, some of the hydrocarbons (like condensate) are separated right at the well location, by equipment located near the pad. The fire began in that processing equipment. No residents were evacuated and the fire was out within a few hours. However, workers at the nearby Williams Fort Beeler natural gas processing plant were evacuated for a brief time, out of “an abundance of caution”…
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FERC Allows Rover to Use HDD in 4 More Locations, Incl Ohio River

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last Thursday granted Rover Pipeline permission to resume horizontal directional drilling (HDD) at four more locations where it had been stopped. One of those locations is drilling under the Ohio River in the Majorsville area. Rover is a $3.7 billion, 711-mile natural gas pipeline that (will eventually) run from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and on to Canada. A large portion of the pipeline began flowing natural gas on Sept. 1st (see Big Portion of Rover Pipeline Now Up & Running – Thru Most of Ohio). Since then, Phase 1A of the pipeline has steadily increased its throughput and now flows over 1.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of Utica/Marcellus Shale gas to Defiance, OH (see Rover Pipe Nearly Doubles Flow with Addition of Carroll, OH Compressor). However, it could flow more, if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would allow Rover to finish Phase 1B pipeline work in OH/WV to feed more gas to the main part of the pipeline. The problem is that Rover had early missteps, the most serious of which spilled 2 million gallons of non-toxic drilling mud in a swamp (i.e. “wetland”) near the Tuscarawas River back in April (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). Following that and several other mishaps, FERC shut down all Rover HDD work–for months. Gradually FERC has allowed Rover to resume HDD work, and with this latest round of four more HDD locations, it appears to us that only two HDD locations remain on the “do not drill yet” list, one of them being the Tuscarawas River location…
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Tiny Houses: Answer to Affordable Housing in Active M-U Area?

We have to confess this story is purely for amusement purposes–ours and yours. In our daily trawl of the news related to “Marcellus Shale” we spotted this headline: “Group hopes to add tiny houses to Wheeling Island.” We thought, What in the world do tiny houses on Wheeling Island (Wheeling, WV) have to do with the Marcellus? So we read the article to find out. Anyone watching HGTV has, at one point or another, watched a program about “tiny houses.” There’s even an HGTV show called Tiny House Hunters. “Tiny houses” are actual stick-built homes that are under 500 square feet of living space. Think really-small efficiency apartment. Except it’s a real house–sort of. The average American home is 1,780 square feet of living space. (If you’re not familiar with the tiny house movement, read this Wikipedia entry.) So what do tiny houses in Wheeling, WV have to do with the Marcellus? A group in Wheeling believes tiny houses on Wheeling Island is a viable solution for affordable housing. You see, the Marcellus/Utica has successfully employed a lot of people in the region–and a lot of new people have moved in, sopping up available apartments, homes, and trailers. There’s a bit of a housing shortage due to an abundance of Marcellus workers. The group in Wheeling thinks they have the solution: sell a bunch of tiny houses on Wheeling Island…
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Southwestern Energy Offers $5/Acre for Seismic Testing in WV

In 2014, Southwestern Energy cut a massive deal to buy 413,000 Marcellus/Utica acres from Chesapeake Energy, most of it in northern West Virginia, for $5.375 billion (see Chesapeake Sells Close to 25% of Marcellus/Utica Operation). Southwestern has done some drilling on that acreage since, but all the signs are now visible that the company intends to really ramp up their WV drilling program. In August, Southwestern nailed down some missing acreage in the Wheeling area by leasing 66 acres from the Wheeling Park School District for $231,000 (see Wheeling Park HS Signs Lease with Southwestern for $3500/Acre). Just last week we reported that midstream giant Williams has cut a deal with Southwestern to provide gathering and processing for over 200,000 acres in Marshall and Wetzel counties (see Williams Launches Major WV Expansion to Serve Southwestern Energy). And now, further evidence: A contractor working for Southwestern plans to begin seismic testing covering 260 square miles–stretching from Donegal (Westmoreland County), PA through northern WV all the way to Shadyside (Belmont County), OH–next year. The contractor, in speaking with members of the Bethlehem Village Council (Wheeling, WV area), said Southwestern is offering the “standard” price of $5 per acre for seismic testing…
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Williams Launches Major WV Expansion to Serve Southwestern Energy

Yesterday Williams announced a new, major deal with Southwestern Energy to expand its network of gathering pipelines and processing facilities in West Virginia, to serve Southwestern’s increasingly aggressive drilling program in the state. Williams will expand its its Oak Grove processing plant to handle extra wet gas that will flow into it from Southwestern’s 135,000-acre wet gas (i.e. NGL) drilling program in Marshall and Wetzel counties. Southwestern targets wet gas in the Marcellus and Upper Devonian in those two counties. The expansion will give the Oak Grove plant the capability to process an additional 1.8 billion cubic feet per day of wet gas. But wet gas isn’t the only focus. Williams is also expanding its pipeline network to an additional 71,500 dry gas acres, again in Marshall and Wetzel counties, targeting Southwestern’s dry gas Utica program. In the same announcement, almost as an afterthought (but for us is a really big deal), Williams announced it will connect its system to Columbia Pipeline’s (now TransCanada) Leach XPress and Mountaineer XPress pipelines, “to boost market access and diversify gas pricing opportunities.” Leach XPress, which is part of a project including Rayne XPress, will send gas all the way to the Gulf Coast (see Columbia Gas: $1.75B for 2 Projects to Send Marcellus Gas to Gulf). Leach XPress began construction earlier this year. Mountaineer XPress will send gas to Leach, Kentucky (as will Leach Xpress), and from there on to a variety of other markets in the Midwest and South–as well as the Gulf Coast (see Details on Columbia Pipeline Mountaineer XPress Pipeline Project). Mountaineer Xpress received a favorable final environmental impact state from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in July of this year, but is still waiting on other permits before it begins construction. Here’s the news about Williams expanding in the Mountain State…
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WV Northern Panhandle Sees Econ Revival with Nearby Cracker Proj

It seems the northern panhandle area of West Virginia is sitting in the catbird seat. The geography of Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and Marshall counties sits in between Shell’s ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, PA on one side, and the proposed PTT Global Chemical cracker plant in Belmont County, OH on the other side. The PTT plant is not yet official, but is certainly looking that way. The next “gold rush” for states including PA, OH and WV are manufacturing plants that use the output from the cracker plants. And the northern panhandle, being between both locations, is getting a lot of interest and attention…
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XcL Midstream Building New Dry & Wet Gas Gathering Pipes in WV

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and again we read about driller or (in this case) pipeline company operating in the Marcellus/Utica we had never heard of before. Such is the case today. A new (to us) midstream company, XcL Midstream, has formed and is already building a dry gas gathering pipeline system in West Virginia, with plans to build a wet gas gathering system in WV too. According to its website, XcL “operates in the premier region of the Appalachia basin in Marshall and Wetzel Counties, West Virginia. XcL Midstream’s Appalachia Connector Pipeline is strategically located at the intersection of every major long-haul interstate pipeline system in Southwest Appalachia and provides shippers with market price optionality.” XcL plans to gather and process dry gas, wet gas (i.e. natural gas liquids), and transport water for its customers. XcL has its headquarters in Canonsburg, PA, near Pittsburgh. The reason that the company popped up on our radar is because Platts ran an article announcing that XcL has signed a customer–THQ Appalachia I, an affiliate of Tug Hill–to use 600 million cubic feet per day (Mmcf/d) on the dry gas pipeline, 200 Mmcf/d on the wet gas pipeline system, and to use a forthcoming water pipeline to boot. Here’s the thing: both XcL and THQ/Tug Hill are backed by private equity company Quantum Energy Partners. So apparently this is one of Quantum’s portfolio companies doing business with another of Quantum’s portfolio companies. In essence, one cousin helping out the other cousin. Perhaps we can call them kissin’ cousins?…
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WV Rights/Pooling Case May have Big Impact on Shale Industry

A court case from Marshall County, WV decided in April 2016 is heading to the WV Supreme Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court). The stakes in Contraguerro v Gastar Exploration could not be higher for the Marcellus industry in the Mountain State. In brief, 70 years ago a 106-acre track of property was sold. The sellers retained a one-quarter “non-participating interest” in the oil and gas rights. That means the buyer got to decide when/if to lease the property for drilling, and if so, has the right to negotiate the price, etc. The remaining one-quarter non-participating interest holders would get royalties, but nothing else. Fast forward several generations and the heirs of the original sellers didn’t even know they owned an interest in the land until contacted by Gastar, which needed a signature in order to send them checks for royalties. The heirs decided to sue to stop the deal, either in a bid to negotiate a better deal or perhaps because they don’t like fossil fuels. Who knows? The case went to the Circuit Court of Marshall County and a judge there found in favor of the heirs–giving them, and by extension any minority rights owner, the power to stop lease deals. An unmitigated mess that threatens many lease deals because divided rights ownership is common in WV. Perhaps this case was part of the motivation to pass a new law this year addressing “co-tenancy” (see Analysis of New WV Bill SB 576 re Co-Tenancy & Joint Development). The co-tenancy law, if passed, means if there are multiple owners for the mineral rights under a property, you would only need a simple majority of those owners to approve a drilling lease. Currently, if one person with a teeny tiny share objects, it stops the process. In the Contraguerro case, although the heirs are owners, they are “non-participating”–so they should not have had a say anyway. However, a lower court judge found otherwise. So the case was appealed and is now before to the WV Supreme Court…Continue reading

MarkWest Spending $300M+ This Year in WV Expansion Projects

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MarkWest Energy, formerly a standalone company but bought out by MPLX (i.e. Marathon Petroleum) in December 2015, continues its aggressive expansion in the Marcellus/Utica. Particularly in West Virginia. MarkWest owns a number of processing plants in the Mountain State. This year, the company will spend $200 million to expand and upgrade its facilities in Doddridge County (Sherwood facility) to process natural gas and separate out ethane, and $110 million to expand and upgrade facilities in Marshall County (Majorsville facility) to process ethane. Folks, that’s nearly one-third of a BILLION dollars–in just two counties. Talk about economic stimulus! Last year MarkWest spent $120 million on upgrades in Wetzel County. MarkWest’s WV customers include: Antero, EQT, Southwestern, CNX, Chevron, Range Resources, and Eureka Hunter. Here’s more details on what to expect from the mighty MarkWest in WV this year…
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Statoil WV Tax Overpayment Court Case – Money “Already Gone”

Statoil, based in Norway, is a big player in the West Virginia Marcellus Shale. Statoil paid property taxes to Brooke, Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties (all in WV) in 2015 and later found, during an audit/review, that they had overpaid those counties. They overpaid Brooke by $1.8 million, Ohio by $2.9 million, Wetzel by $1.6 million and Marshall by $342,000 (see Statoil Wants Millions in Refunds from Tax Overpayments in WV). The WV Tax Department argued that Statoil “acted negligently” and exercised “poor judgment” in not finding the mistake sooner. All four counties voted to deny Statoil’s request, so Statoil took them to court, asking the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to hear the case. However, the Appeals court ruled that the cases are not “complex” and don’t require “special treatment,” so back to county court the cases went (see Statoil’s Tax Overpayment Cases Bounced Back to WV County Courts). A hearing was held last Friday in the case. There’s not much in the way of new news to report, other than Statoil wants the cases combined and the counties would prefer to keep the cases separate. The other bit of information is that the overpayments were spent about as quickly as they were received, and the counties are expressing angst over where they will find the money to issue a refund check, should the court case(s) go against them…
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WV Hare Krishnas Settle with Rover Pipeline, Crossing Commune

Here’s an interesting story. A religious commune of Hare Krishnas in Marshall County, WV steadfastly refused to sign an easement with Rover Pipeline to allow the pipeline across ~3,000 feet of commune-owned property. Rover had offered the Krishnas $7,000 for the easement, but no dice. You may recall that the Krishnas have no problem accepting oil and gas money, and have done so by leasing their land for shale drilling–even though the official view of the Krishnas is that “gas drilling is exploitative, that it is unsustainable and ‘contributes to the culture of death and toxicity’” (see WV Hare Krishnas “Purify” Gas Money to Benefit Commune). Apparently when there’s enough money involved, official Krishna doctrine changes. Back to Rover. On Tuesday, the Krishnas filed a lawsuit in federal court to block Rover from using eminent domain to enter the property to cut trees–a lawsuit based on religious grounds. A hearing was held on Thursday in federal court in Wheeling. The Krishnas loaded a bunch of followers into a fossil fuel-belching van to cart them to the court house to protest and make a scene. Lots of publicity. The judge granted a brief recess to allow the two sides to talk, and following the recess the Krishnas and Rover announced they had signed a deal. The official line is that Rover is changing the route of the pipeline to avoid certain holy places on Krishna property. The pipeline will now traverse MORE Krishna property–nearly twice as much more (5,300 feet). So much for objecting to the pipeline based on “religious” grounds, right? What is not mentioned, conspicuously so, is how much more money the Krishnas were able to get out of Rover, so Rover could make the bad publicity go away…
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WV Social Worker Claims Marcellus Drilling Causes Homelessness

Lisa Badia, executive director of the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless “can’t be certain how many homeless people dwell in Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties,” but she is certain that part (much?) of the homeless problem is caused by Marcellus/Utica Shale drilling. Yep, sinking a hole in the ground causes homelessness. How? According to Badia, when drilling came to town 4-5 years ago, a bunch of out-of-staters showed up to work on drilling rigs (and for pipeline companies, etc.). Those out-of-staters began paying sky-high rental rates for apartments and trailers, driving up the price of rental housing throughout the region. And when that happened, folks on welfare could no longer afford to pay the rent (with our taxpayer money). If it’s a decision between booze and cigs or rent, you know what goes! So those po’ folk ended up sleeping on heating grates–because of that nasty, awful fossil fuel drilling…
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Statoil’s Tax Overpayment Cases Bounced Back to WV County Courts

StatoilStatoil, based in Norway, is a big player in the West Virginia Marcellus Shale. Statoil paid property taxes to Brooke, Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties (all in WV) in 2015 and later found, during an audit/review, that they had overpaid those counties. They overpaid Brooke by $1.8 million, Ohio by $2.9 million, Wetzel by $1.6 million and Marshall by $342,000. The WV Tax Department argues that Statoil “acted negligently” and exercised “poor judgment” in not finding the mistake sooner. All four counties voted to deny Statoil’s request, so Statoil took them to court, asking the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to hear the case. However, the Appeals court has just ruled that the cases are not “complex” and don’t require “special treatment,” so back to county court the cases will go…
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FERC Tells Dominion to Flip Switch on Clarington Expansion Project

dominionIn June 2014 Dominion filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to construct and operate new compression facilities at existing compressor stations in Marshall County, WV and Monroe County, OH, and certain other facilities, collectively called the Clarington Project (see Dominion Asks FERC for New Compressors in Upstate NY, WV). The Clarington project, costing a modest $76.5 million, will allow Dominion to provide 250,000 dekatherms (Dth) per day of firm transportation service for CNX Gas, otherwise known as CONSOL Energy. Last August, FERC approved Dominion’s request (see FERC Approves Dominion WV/OH Compressor Project, Rips Anti Group). FERC gave Dominion a year to complete the project, but Dominion filed a request in July requesting more time. FERC agreed and has extended the project completion date an extra year (see FERC Grants Dominion Clarington Project a 1-Year Extension). Looks like Dominion didn’t need the extra time after all. Yesterday FERC granted Dominion permission to begin service for the expansion project…
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