Equitrans Buys 2 Pipeline Systems in Marcellus/Utica for $1B

Equitrans Midstream, which used to be called EQT Midstream, yesterday announced they have cut their first big deal since separating from EQT last year. Equitrans is buying a 60% stake in Eureka Midstream, a 190-mile pipeline system in Ohio and West Virginia serving both the Marcellus and Utica, and a 100% stake in the tiny 15-mile Hornet Midstream, a gathering system in WV that connects to Eureka.
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WV Pipeline Co. Clipped for $3.7M for Overtime Violations

Witch hunts take a loooong time when it’s the U.S. government doing the hunting. We told you back in 2015 that the U.S. Dept. of Labor was unfairly targeting the Marcellus industry, looking at every time slip, to see if they could bag companies violating federal overtime regulations–not paying their workers overtime (see Labor Dept. Unfairly Targets Marcellus Industry in SWPA & WV).
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WV Supreme Court Ponders Important Case, Surface v Mineral Owners

A West Virginia Circuit Court case in September 2017, Crowder and Wentz v EQT, found in favor of surface landowners ruling that EQT did not have the right to extend underground shale wells to adjacent properties where EQT also owned the mineral rights (see WV Surface Owners Win Important Case Against EQT re Drill Pad). The decision was appealed all the way to the WV Supreme Court, where arguments were heard yesterday. This is a VERY important case.
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WV Legislative Session Closes w/Several Pro-Drilling Bills Passed

West Virginia has the right idea. Their legislature meets for 60 days total at the beginning of each new year, and then they’re pretty much done for the year. Go to Charleston, work hard, then leave and go back to your day job. Part-time legislators. Love it! The 2019 session is now done and dusted. In the closing days of the session, two bills to help the oil and gas industry got passed and now wait for Gov. Jim Justice to sign them. However, one very important bill for the industry did not pass.
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List of 16 Marcellus/Utica Gas Processing Plants

Our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, published a post yesterday on the topic of “U.S. natural gas processing plant capacity and throughput have increased in recent years.” In that post EIA links to a handy dandy online tool that lists all of the active natural gas processing plants operating in the U.S. We used the tool to download all of the plants in PA, OH and WV, and further trimmed out the low volume (conventional only) processing plants, leaving a list of sweet 16 Marcellus/Utica processing plants–where they are located and how much they process.
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Fed Court Says WV Driller Doesn’t Have to Produce Gas to Keep Lease

We spotted a write-up on a recent court decision coming from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in which a West Virginia landowner had a signed Marcellus lease requiring PetroEdge (later Statoil) to drill three wells on or under their property. And yet the courts have sided with the driller, essentially allowing the driller to wiggle out of the terms of the lease.
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Antis Give Up Trying to Pass Setbacks in This Yr’s WV Legislature

Thank God anti fossil fuelers are throwing in the towel in West Virginia–at least for this year–in their never-ending campaign to stop shale drilling in the state. A recent article appearing in the biased ProPublica and Charleston Gazette-Mail highlights antis’ frustration in not getting their bills to advance in this year’s legislative session–a session that is rapidly coming to a close.
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WV Orphan Well Bills Quickly Advance in Legislature

Yesterday we told you that the West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization (SORO) is pushing a couple of bills to address the issue of abandoned and orphan wells (see WV Surface Rights Group Wants State to Enforce Plugging Old Wells). While the bills SORO is promoting have not advanced, several other bills in the WV legislature addressing the same issue have advanced. Rapidly.
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WV Surface Rights Group Wants State to Enforce Plugging Old Wells

The West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization (SORO) says WV has a serious problem. Drillers are not plugging old/non-producing wells (most of them conventional). In fact, SORO says there are some 4,500 wells that have been unplugged for so long, they are considered “orphaned”–the original driller is long gone, out of business, and there’s nobody around to do the plugging. Something’s got to change.
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FERC Says More of Mountaineer XPress Pipeline OK to Start Up

In January the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave permission to TransCanada’s Columbia Pipeline group to start up a portion of the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline in West Virginia (see FERC OK’s Mountaineer XPress Pipe to Start Up in WV). Yesterday FERC gave Columbia permission to start up a wee bit more of the project.
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EQT Settles WV Class Action Royalty Lawsuit for $53.5M

In 2013 some 10,000 West Virginia landowners/rights owners filed a class action lawsuit against EQT over their practice of post-production deductions from royalty checks. The lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial last November, but at the last minute, it didn’t. Word leaked that EQT had settled out of court (see EQT Avoids Trial, Settles WV Class Action re Royalty Deductions). Since that time we haven’t heard a peep–until this morning when EQT announced the terms of a “tentative” settlement.
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New “Report” Attacks WV Shale, Advocates 10% Severance Tax

A partisan left-wing group calling itself the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy along with another partisan left-wing group called the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) released a report last week that claims WV’s shale industry has “fallen short” in delivering on economic promises, and the way to fix it is to boost the severance tax from 5% to 10%! Yeah, they’re out of their collectivist minds.
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WV Sen. Manchin Supports Marcellus/Utica, Rejects “Green New Deal”

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin

Let’s be honest. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (Democrat) is a swamp dweller–an establishment guy who, when it really counts, votes with his own sleazy party against the best wishes of the United States (he’s done it multiple times). However, Manchin is one of the better Democrats in Congress when it comes to energy issues.
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WV Bill Would Let Utilities Pay Producers to Drill New Gas Wells

The West Virginia House Energy Committee passed a bill yesterday that appears to be picking up steam and possibly headed for approval by both the House and Senate. It’s an interesting bill that allows local natural gas utilities to pay drillers to drill new gas wells in areas where there is not a reliably sufficient supply of gas.
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Plugging Orphan O&G Wells May Economically Hurt WV Counties

MDN previously reported on efforts in both Ohio and Pennsylvania to plug orphaned and abandoned oil and gas wells (all of them conventional/vertical wells), which present a health and safety issue. It’s all too easy to hit one of these old wells when drilling a new horizontal shale well. In WV, a new effort to plug old wells is causing concern for some–that the effort to plug old wells may inflict economic damage on WV counties. Huh?!
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