Flurry of WV O&G Bills Signed into Law Incl. Petchem Tax Credits

MDN previously told you about two (of a number) of bills working their way through West Virginia’s annual 60-day legislative session that will create new tax credits aimed at luring petrochemical plants to the state (see WV Advances Bills to Attract NGL Hub, Cracker Plant, Downstream). One bill, House Bill (HB) 4421, is meant to attract a natural gas storage hub and an ethane cracker plant to the state. The other, HB 4019, is meant to attract downstream natural gas manufacturing facilities. We’re delighted to tell you that both bills are now law in the Mountain State, part of a package of 13 bills related to oil and gas that Gov. Justice signed into law on Wednesday.
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FERC Denies Rehearing on Mountaineer XPress 2 Yrs After Approval

The final bits of Columbia Gas Transmission’s Mountaineer XPress pipeline project (most of it located in West Virginia) went online just over one year ago (see FERC Says Rest of Mountaineer XPress Pipeline OK to Start Up). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project more than two years ago. At the time FERC approved the project, anti-fossil fuelers challenged the approval, as they do every single square inch of every single new oil or gas pipeline. We have to chuckle because FERC finally responded to antis’ request for a “rehearing”…on Wednesday. FERC turned them down more than two years after their objection was lodged.
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WV Advances Bills to Attract NGL Hub, Cracker Plant, Downstream

The West Virginia House of Delegates Finance Committee approved two bills yesterday that would create two new tax credits. The aim is to boost more development in the natural gas industry in the Mountain State. One bill, House Bill (HB) 4421, is meant to attract a natural gas storage hub and an ethane cracker plant to the state. The other, HB 4019, is meant to attract “downstream” natural gas manufacturing facilities. Both bills now go to the full House for a vote.
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Proposed OH, WV Laws Clamp Down on Illegal Pipeline Protests

Bills aimed at clamping down on illegal pipeline protests (which pretending to be free speech but aren’t) have been introduced in both the Ohio and West Virginia legislatures. In WV, House Bill (HB) 4615 passed the House last week and is now under active consideration in the WV Senate. In Ohio, Senate Bill (SB) 133 was passed last May. The bill was recently reported out of a House committee and likely to see a full House vote soon. It’s obvious that regular folks are tired of radicals and their illegal attempts to block pipeline projects.
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“Kill NatGas Later” Plan Floated by WV Republican Congressman

While we’re sure he means well, Congressman David McKinley, a professional engineer (P.E.) from West Virginia (Republican) has thrown his support behind a “bipartisan” effort to create a new federal bureaucracy to oversee the decarbonization of the power generation sector. In other words, an effort that will end the use of natural gas to generate electricity–by 2050. We just can’t support something like that. It’s short-sighted, heavy-handed, and creating a new federal bureaucracy simply goes in the wrong direction. Period.
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3 O&G Bills Advance in WV Senate, Including Lease “Cancellation”

The work is happening fast and furious at the West Virginia state legislature right now. Legislators only have a 60-day session each year in which to pass new laws. More states should limit the time like WV! Yesterday two different Senate committees voted to pass three different bills, including SB 554, also known as the Lease Cancellation Bill.
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WV Drillers Take Issue with Landowners re Lease “Release” Bill

Something of a kerfuffle has kicked up in West Virginia over the issue of drillers issuing lease “release” (some call it “cancelation”) notices–issued after a lease has expired. Senate Bill (SB) 554 dominated debate on Tuesday at a meeting of the WV Senate Energy Industry and Mining Committee. WV landowners (and rights owners) say a lot of older leases don’t have a release provision/notice, something landowners need so they can explore leasing with another driller after an existing lease expires. Drillers say the bill as proposed will create a logistical and administrative nightmare of paperwork.
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WV Legislature Advances Bill Granting Tax Credit for NGL Storage

Two weeks ago MDN told you about two bills important to the oil and gas industry in West Virginia that are quickly advancing through the state’s current 60-day legislative session (see WV House Advances 2 O&G Bills: Orphan Wells & Faster Permits). You may now add a third bill to the list–one previously not on our radar. House Bill (HB) 4421, called the “Natural Gas Liquids Economic Development Act,” is aimed at providing a tax credit to those who would store or transport natural gas liquids (NGLs).
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TC Energy/Columbia Finally Get FERC Approval for Buckeye XPress

Buckeye XPress (click for larger version)

Last May the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) finally, after a months-long delay, issued a favorable environmental assessment (EA) for the Buckeye XPress (BXP) pipeline project (see Buckeye XPress Pipe Project in OH, WV Gets Favorable FERC Review). In October, Columbia (i.e. TC Energy) tried to goose FERC into issuing a final approval to build the project. Last Thursday FERC finally granted that approval–once again after a months-long delay.
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WV House Advances 2 O&G Bills: Orphan Wells & Faster Permits

The annual 60-day legislative session in WV is now under way, beginning Jan. 8. The first bill of consequence introduced that would impact/help the oil and gas industry was House Bill (HB) 4001, designed to kick start a regional NGL hub and reassure China it’s OK to invest some of those promised $84 billion in the Mountain State (see WV Bill Would Establish Fund to Kick-start NGL Hub, Reassure China). Two more bills have now been introduced and appear to be on a fast track to adoption: HB 4090 (orphan wells) and HB 4091 (faster permits).
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WV Bill Would Establish Fund to Kick-start NGL Hub, Reassure China

The West Virginia legislature kicked off its 2020 60-day session yesterday with a bang–at least for the shale energy industry. House Speaker Roger Hanshaw introduced House Bill 4001, aimed at reassuring China it’s OK to begin investing some of that $84 billion they promised to invest in WV’s shale and downstream sector. The bill also would help fund the Appalachian NGL Storage and Trading Hub project and other big petrochemical projects (maybe even a cracker plant!).
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DOE Awards $25M to Improve Natural Gas Ops, $4.5M Going to WV

Last week the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) announced it has selected 16 projects to receive nearly $25 million in federal funding for cost-shared projects to advance natural gas infrastructure technology development. DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy will provide federal funding for these projects. Two of the 16 are located in West Virginia and will receive a cumulative $4.5 million of the $25 million (18% of the total).
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Marcellus/Utica Rig Counts 2019 – The Trend was Not Our Friend

If you use the number of active rigs operating in a given shale play/state as the measure for “success,” 2019 wasn’t such a good year for the Marcellus/Utica. In January, Pennsylvania entered 2019 with 48 active rigs. In December that number was cut nearly in half, to 25 active rigs. It was a similar story for Ohio, which entered 2019 with 17 active rigs and exited with 12 rigs. West Virginia, on the other hand, entered 2019 with 15 rigs and exited the year with the same number. But at one point during the year WV had 21 active rigs. We have the monthly rig stats below for all three states.
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EQT CEO Toby Rice Says WV Co-Tenancy Law May Not be Enough

West Virginia’s co-tenancy law was signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice in March 2018 (see WV Gov. Justice Does 180 – Says He’ll Sign Co-Tenancy Bill). According to speakers at the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA) 2019 Fall Meeting, the new law is working pretty well (see WVONGA Meeting: New Co-Tenancy Law Working, Still a Few Kinks). However, EQT CEO Toby Rice told WV legislators yesterday that co-tenancy may not go far enough for his company.
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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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