An excellent article in Sunday’s The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register takes a look at production numbers for a sampling of natural gas and oil wells in the northern panhandle of West Virginia. Chock full of numbers, some of the gems include:
Brooke County Schools in West Virginia are eager to have Chesapeake Energy drill under school-owned property. But Ohio County Schools, also in WV, don’t want Chesapeake drilling near their schools. What’s the difference? One is getting a boatload of money in lease (and eventually royalty) payments. The other isn’t.
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) Secretary Randy Huffman says it’s taking about four months on average to process a Marcellus Shale gas well permit in WV—which is about three months longer than it should be taking, according to Huffman. Why the delay? Four reasons:
Some high paying jobs are on the way to Marshall County, WV courtesy of a new natural gas processing plant being built by Dominion and opening in December. What’s good paying? How does $30 per hour sound?
Twenty inspectors with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have filed grievances alleging that the DEP is creating a two-tiered (and unfair) system for pay, job qualifications and job requirements in the DEP’s push to hire new inspectors for Marcellus Shale drilling. The inspectors are members of the West Virginia Public Workers Union. The union is lobbying to correct the situation.
Drilling rig counts are closely watched as an indicator of where, and how much, drilling is happening in a given geography. Last Friday, Baker Hughes reported that rig counts for Pennsylvania continue to decline from a year ago, while the numbers for West Virginia are going up. But that doesn’t quite tell the whole story.
Gastar Exploration released first quarter operating results and financials yesterday. Among the news for Gastar: although they had a net loss of $6.3 million for the first quarter, their production of natural gas, oil and natural gas liquids was up 32 percent from the first quarter of last year. Why the huge increase in production?
Driller Magnum Hunter Resources has struck it “Magnum rich” in Tyler County, WV. A well recently drilled and fracked by Magnum yielded more than 7 million cubic feet of gas in a single day earlier this year. Not only that, it also yielded 651 barrels per day of natural gas liquids.
MarkWest has been in the news a lot lately, signing a raft of new agreements and even buying out a competitor. Last Friday, MarkWest announced they had signed an agreement (terms not disclosed) to expand MarkWest’s processing capacity in the Marcellus Shale to handle more Chesapeake production. The areas covered by the agreement include northern West Virginia (Brooke, Ohio and Marshall counties), and Washington County in Pennsylvania.
The Associated Press (AP) did an analysis of how much natural gas was produced in Pennsylvania and West Virginia during 2011 and have run some basic calculations based on an assumed average price (last year) of $3.50 per thousand BTUs (or mBtus). The results of those calculations should put to bed any claims that shale gas drilling does not have a profound economic impact that touches every resident in a shale gas producing state.
According to the AP analysis:
MarkWest announced today two major new agreements to provide expanded natural gas processing and pipeline capacity for Chesapeake Energy and Antero Resouces in the Marcellus Shale. The deal with Chesapeake covers Brooke, Ohio and Marshall counties in WV, and Washington County, PA. The deal with Antero covers Doddridge and Harrison counties in WV. The new agreements, which include processing natural gas liquids, mean MarkWest will build new gathering pipelines and add compressor stations to their existing operations.
From the MarkWest press release:
A month and a half ago it seemed imminent that Aither Chemicals would announce they would build a new ethane cracker plant at the Bayer CropScience plant site at Institute Industrial Park, located in Kanawha County, near Charleston, WV (see this MDN story). Bayer CropScience, owner of the site, and MarkWest Energy, a huge pipeline company, were named as potential partners in the deal. But the expected announcement never came, and all has been silent since.
An article in the Charleston Daily Mail caught MDN’s eye, an article that says the local city of Nitro, WV have filed a petition with Kanawha County to annex 44 properties surrounding the Bayer CropScience plant. The properties in that area of the county are unincorporated—no official town or city municipal government control—and if Nitro annexes the property surrounding the plant, it prevents any other communities from trying to annex the plant itself at some future date.
The Brooke County, WV Board of Education on Monday approved a lease deal with Chesapeake Energy that will allow natural gas drilling beneath school-owned property. The deal allows Chesapeake to drill under any of the school’s collective 189 acres, which is scattered throughout the county at different locations. The signing bonus is $3,500 per acre for each acre drilled, plus 18 percent royalties.
Dominion Transmission is investing nearly $1.2 billion in Marshall County, WV. Almost half of that—$500 million—will be spent on a new gas processing facility near Natrium (see this MDN story). Earlier this week, Dominion officials updated Marshall County commissioners on the progress of the new facility and other projects underway.
One of the companies that has been sniffing around the concept of building an ethane cracker plant in the Marcellus/Utica region is Aither Chemicals. MDN wrote about Aither’s interest in building a cracker plant in West Virginia back in January (see this MDN story). Aither retained a Pittsburgh investment firm to help them secure funding for the project.
It appears Aither has found a couple of partners and will make an announcement on Wednesday about their plan to build an ethane cracker plant in Institute Industrial Park, located near Charleston, WV. One of the partners is the current owner of the site: Bayer CropScience. The other partner is pipeline giant MarkWest Energy.
Williams announced yesterday that it will buy Caiman Energy subsidiary Caiman Eastern Midstream for $2.5 billion. Caiman Midstream has a major presence in the wet gas area of the Marcellus and Utica Shale play. The acquisition will give Williams a major pipeline gathering network in northern West Virginia, southwestern Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, along with two processing facilities and a fractionator. Williams says by 2020 the Caiman system will be gathering more than 2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas along with 300,000 barrels per day of natural gas liquids and condensate.
In addition to the acquisition, the Caiman Energy parent company will partner with Williams in a new joint venture to further develop new midstream infrastructure in the Utica Shale. From the Williams press release: