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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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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WVONGA Meeting: New Co-Tenancy Law Working, Still a Few Kinks

West Virginia’s new co-tenancy law is working, according to speakers at the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA) 2019 Fall Meeting held yesterday and today. Several speakers from major WV drillers, including Antero Resources and CNX Resources, sang the praises of the new co-tenancy law. WVONGA executive director Anne Blankenship also sang its praises, but said there’s still a few things to work out before the new law is “fully understood.”
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91% WV Gas Customers Get Lower Bills This Winter Thx to Marcellus

We often spot stories in the press about the price of natural gas for end-user customers going down. A utility here and a utility there will announce a rate reduction. Most of the time we don’t bring you those kinds of stories because they’re pretty common. However, we spotted a story that’s different. The Public Service Commission in West Virginia says natural gas utility companies that serve 91% of the gas customers in the state have filed requests to LOWER the rates they charge for their gas–thanks to abundant supplies of Marcellus Shale gas being extracted in the state.
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WVONGA Goes on Record: We Believe in Global Warming

We spotted an interesting op-ed column written by Anne Blakenship, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA). The column is titled “WVONGA committed to fighting climate change.” In it, Anne not only reiterates our industry’s long-running stance of being good environmental stewards, she also stats flatly that “climate change is a real, substantial challenge,” by which she means man-caused global warming. Houston, we may have a problem.
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Falling WV Severance Tax Revenue a Problem for Gov. Justice

We have, for years, brought you arguments about the superiority of an impact fee over a severance tax (see Allegheny Institute: PA Impact Fee is Better than a Severance Tax and Showdown: Comparing PA Impact Fee to WV Severance Tax). One of the problems with a severance tax is that when the price of gas is high, the tax revenues flow, but when the price of gas goes low, severance taxes on that gas dry up. That’s what’s happening in West Virginia right now–where they have a 5% severance tax on natural gas production.
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I-68 Extension Key to Future WV Shale Development

In April MDN told you about efforts by the Route 2 | I-68 Authority in West Virginia 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). The reason for the $1 billion project? To handle more shale-related traffic. We have some new information about the project.
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List of WV Bills Supported and Opposed by Oil & Gas Industry

Each year the West Virginia legislature meets for 60 calendar days. Those days are jam-packed with activity when they happen. As the WV oil and gas industry looks ahead to the next session, due to begin in January, there’s already a list of proposed bills the oil and gas industry supports, and some bills it definitely does not support. According to Anne Blankenship, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Gas Association (WVONGA), West Virginia has “for years” been behind both Pennsylvania and Ohio when it comes to promoting the shale industry. It’s time, says Blankenship, to become “more competitive” with those states. Will this be the year?
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New Report: As WV Shale Drilling Goes Up, Air Emissions Go Down

Yesterday the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) released its West Virginia Emissions Brief (full copy below) which shows significant emissions reductions and environmental improvements made across the state. This brief further demonstrates that states can reap the rewards of energy production while practicing sound environmental stewardship simultaneously. Although West Virginia is now the seventh-largest natural gas producer in the country and one of the largest consumers of energy per capita, statewide carbon dioxide emissions have fallen 64% since 1990. And Sulfur dioxide emissions are down 94%!
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WVU Engineer Gets $2.5M Grant to Study NatGas Power Plant Boilers

Debangsu Bhattacharyya, WVU

Quick question: What is the “heart” of an electric power generating plant? The turbines that spin and make the electricity, right? Actually, no! The “heart” of a powergen plant is, according to West Virginia University engineering professor Debangsu Bhattacharyya…the boiler. Say what?! That’s right. The boiler produces the steam to turn the turbine and if you can improve the efficiency of the boiler (prevent it from breaking down), you increase the efficiency of the whole plant. Dr. Bhattacharyya has just received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy to study the use of AI (artificial intelligence) to monitor and improve the performance of boilers in natgas (and coal) power plants.
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Antero Resources Works Hard to Improve West Virginia’s Roads

The shale industry often gets a bad reputation for poor conditions along roadways where they operate–especially in West Virginia. In April, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, who is pro-coal (because much of his personal fortune comes from coal), took a swipe at shale drillers claiming shale is responsible for the poor condition of roadways in the Mountain State (see WV Gov. Justice Blames Shale for Bad Roads, Wants Higher Taxes). However, the fact is the oil and gas industry has spent $110 million on secondary road repairs and improvements in just last five years (see Oil & Gas Industry has Already Spent $110M Fixing WV’s Bad Roads).
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