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Analysts offer comment on CONSOL Energy 4Q 2014 reports

By Bob Downing Published: January 30, 2015

From New York analysts Michael Dudas and Satyadeep Jain of SterneAgee:

CONSOL ENERGY (NYSE: CNX) Flash Note
RATING: BUY
Price: $29.26
Price Target: $48.00

4Q Beat on Strong Cost Performance; Maintains 2015-16 Gas Production Growth Targets - Reaffirm Buy

Our Call
During 4Q, Consol delivered lower operating costs in gas, de-risked coal and gas margins and cash flow through contracting, and added value through liquids and Utica output. Management maintained 30% annual gas production growth targets through 2016, and continues to expect thermal coal MLP in mid-2015 and met coal IPO in 4Q15. CNX remains on track to deliver asset value while continuing to selectively monetize non-core assets.

• 4Q'14 Results – Consol reported 4Q'14 adjusted earnings of $0.25/share vs. our $0.11 and Street's $0.20 estimate. Adjusted EBITDA of $262M beat our $250M estimate. Average gas realization of $3.90/mcfe came right in line with our $3.90/mcfe estimate. However, total gas came in at $3.19/mcfe, below our $3.56/mcfe estimate. Buchanan all-in costs costs dropped even further to an impressive $54/ton. Earnings beat our expectations on better-than-expected gas division cost performance, lower income taxes and other below the line items.

• 2015-16 Guidance – Consol maintained 2015-16 annual gas production growth targets of 30%. Management is targeting 1Q15 gas production of 70-74 Bcfe. During the past three months, we estimate Consol hedged 38.6 Bcfe of additional gas volumes for 2015 at $4.05 and 19.4 bcfe for 2016 at $3.88. We estimate the company priced nearly 3.1 of additional coal for 2015 during 4Q at $55/ton. Consol expects to spend $1.0B on capital in 2015 on its gas division vs $1.1B budget for 2014, and $220M on coal division.

• Gas Business - 4Q Marcellus gas production increased 88% y/y to 36.5 Bcfe. All in, Marcellus costs dropped to $2.83/mcfe and all-in cash costs to $1.71/mcfe. 4Q Utica production volumes were 7.1 Bcfe vs 6.8 Bcfe in 3Q14. Utica Shale costs were an impressive $2.24/mcfe. Consol remains long firm transportation and has structured its capacity contracts to allow for 30% growth targets through 2016. Marcellus and Utica together would constitute almost 80% of total 2016E gas output for CNX.

• Balance Sheet and Liquidity – Consol ended 4Q14 with total liquidity of $2.0B. We believe Consol controls many liquidity levers to fund its gas growth that others in the basin do not profile. During 4Q, Consol received $252M in cash proceeds from sale of non-core assets. For 2014, Consol received $459M in cash proceeds from asset sales, with current pace ahead of its $1.0B asset sale target by 2019. Consol continues to expect thermal coal MLP in mid-2015 and met coal IPO in 4Q15. During 2014, Consol received $285 in carry proceeds from JV partners; we are not modeling any JV contribution in 2015-16 given sub $4 gas price expectation. With our 2015 price deck, we would expect Consol to generate $800M in operating cash flow, which together with thermal coal MLP, met coal spinoff and other asset sales, should position Consol to meet capital targets.

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Royal Dutch Shell to cut $15 billion of investment over 3 years

By Bob Downing Published: January 30, 2015

Royal Dutch Shell Plc will cut $15 billion of investment over the next three years as the crash in oil prices saw fourth-quarter profit miss forecasts, the company said earlier this week.

Shell, the first of the world’s largest oil companies to report earnings following the slump in crude to a five-year low, will defer or cancel about 40 projects worldwide, Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said today. Exploration will also be curtailed.

Some are speculating if the proposed ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, Pa., could be on the company's unannounced hit list.

Click  here  to read the latest Bloomberg story.

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West Virginia pipeline rupture burned 24,000 barrels of ethane

By Bob Downing Published: January 30, 2015

The rupture of the Appalachia-to-Texas Express Pipeline on Monday in northern West Virginia burned 24,000 barrels of ethane and burned five acres of woodland before burning itself out, federal officials said.

The pipeline rupture in Brooke County appears to have occurred near where the 20-inch pipeline was welded together, officials said.

Click  here  to read Wheeling  reporter Casey Junkins report.

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Petersburg processing plant in Mahoning County shelved

By Bob Downing Published: January 30, 2015

Blue Racer Midstream LLC has shelved the proposed Petersburg gas-processing plant in Mahoning County, according to the Youngstown-based Business Journal.

A top company official said as much on Thursday at a shale conference in Pittsburgh, the Business Journal reported.

The plant had been planned for Springfield Township southeast of Youngstown near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

The $70 million facility would have been capable of processing 200 million cubic feet per day of natural gas/. It was projected to open in mid-2016.

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Scotland has imposed moratorium on fracking

By Bob Downing Published: January 30, 2015

Scotland has imposed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing or fracking, pending a public consultation.

It is the latest blow to drilling plans in the United Kingdom.\

Click  here  to read the latest Bloomberg story.

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API hails Senate Keystone XL vote, urges Obama to sign

By Bob Downing Published: January 30, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute on Thursday:

WASHINGTON, January 29, 2015 ─ API President and CEO Jack Gerard said the Senate’s strong bipartisan passage of legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline shows Congress can find common ground and follow the will of the American people. Now, it’s the president’s turn to show he’s ready to lead on energy issues.

“Republicans and Democrats alike on Capitol Hill are speaking in one clear voice saying it’s time to build KXL,” said Gerard. “This is one of the most bipartisan bills we have seen in recent history. We hope the president will seize this opportunity to work collaboratively with Congress to advance sound energy policy while creating thousands of jobs.

“We cannot afford to veto 42,000 good paying American jobs because of politics as usual. We urge the president to make the right decision and approve KXL because it is in this nation’s best interest.

“We agree with the president that our sights should be higher than a single pipeline. But if we can’t make a decision on a single pipeline, how can we expect to ever convince the market we can accomplish comprehensive infrastructure improvement? Indecision has consequences. The fact is that if all other infrastructure projects are delayed like Keystone XL, we are years away from approving anything that could create jobs and enhance our energy security.”

API thanked leaders from both sides of the aisle in both chambers of Congress. Since the delays began more than six years ago, lawmakers who relentlessly put jobs and energy security first have continued to recognize Keystone XL and its benefits to the U.S.

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 625 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 25 million Americans.

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Eco-group supports Obama veto of Keystone XL Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: January 30, 2015

From Environment America on Thursday:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After three weeks of debate, the U.S. Senate passed a bill this afternoon to force approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The measure passed 62 to 36, failing to garner enough votes to override a promised veto from President Obama. According to the State Department, building Keystone XL would add 26 million metric tons of carbon pollution to our atmosphere each year, the equivalent of putting another 5.7 million cars on the road. Environment America’s Anna Aurilio issued the following statement:

“We owe it to the next generation to put the brakes on global warming, but Keystone XL would hit the accelerator. By pushing forward this dangerous pipeline, the Senate is listening to the project’s oil industry backers, not the scientists who say there’s a limit to how much carbon we can dump into the air before climate change spirals out of control.

“We’re delighted that President Obama has pledged to veto this pro-polluter, pro-global warming bill. The president is continuing to lead on climate, and we're thankful to all the senators who voted with him today to reject this dirty, dangerous pipeline legislation.”

 

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Renewable energy, not Keystone XL, is needed, group says

By Bob Downing Published: January 30, 2015

From the American Sustainable Business Council on Thursday:

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, in response to the U.S. Senate’s vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), which represents more than 200,000 businesses, released a statement saying that instead, Congress should focus on the jobs and other economic benefits of renewable energy.

"Congress should stop wasting time on this giveaway to the fossil fuel industry. Many more permanent jobs – and much better jobs – come from investments in renewable energy,” said Richard Eidlin, Vice President of Public Policy for the American Sustainable Business Council, which with its member organizations represents more than 200,000 businesses across the nation. "Those are proven job creators. The Keystone XL pipeline simply isn't. All it would do is put more local businesses and communities at risk from more devastating oil spills.”

 

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LIUNA salutes Senate approval of Keystone XL Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: January 30, 2015

From the Laborers International Union of North America on Thursday:

Quote from LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan on Senate Approval of Keystone XL Pipeline:

“We applaud the Senate vote – it’s a vote they should not have been forced to take. We hope the President stops the politics when a bill reaches his desk and unlocks the good jobs and energy the pipeline will support.”

#

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CLNG hails Senate committee hearing on LNG exporting

By Bob Downing Published: January 30, 2015

From the Center for Liquified Natural Gas on Thursday:

Washington, D.C.: In response to today’s Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on S. 33, the “LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act,” Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG) President Bill Cooper issued the following statement:

 

“Today’s hearing emphasizes the wide consensus among energy experts, economists and policymakers: Liquefied natural gas exports will be an economic boon to the U.S., creating jobs and investment while enhancing our trading partnerships. Thanks to our abundance of natural gas supplies, the U.S. is uniquely positioned to both meet domestic demand and still bring real wealth back into this country by selling a small percentage of our surplus natural gas to our friends and allies abroad. CLNG applauds today’s hearing participants for urging strong bipartisan legislative action to move these projects forward so that all Americans can experience the clear benefits provided by LNG exports.”

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CONSOL 2014 income cut by midstream safety concerns in Ohio

By Bob Downing Published: January 30, 2015

From CONSOL Energy Inc. today including the admission that a fatal accident in eastern Ohio late last year trimmed earnings in the quarter from pads that were closed down over midstream safety concerns that have since been resolved:

  CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) reported net income of $74 million for the quarter, or $0.32 per diluted share. This is compared to net income of $738 million , or $3.20 per diluted share from the year-earlier quarter, which included income from discontinued operations of $591 million . On a non-GAAP basis, the company had adjusted net income1 in the 2014 fourth quarter of $58 million , or $0.25 per share, after adjusting for certain one-time items, which are listed in the EBITDA reconciliation table. Adjusted EBITDA1 from continuing operations was $262 million for the 2014 fourth quarter, compared to $179 million in the year-earlier quarter. Cash flow from operations in the just-ended quarter was $87 million , as compared to $70 million in the year-earlier quarter.

CONSOL's E&P Division had another outstanding quarter by achieving record production of 70.5 Bcfe, or an increase of 45% from the 48.5 Bcfe produced in the year-earlier quarter. CONSOL's annual 2014 production was 235.7 Bcfe, which exceeded its goal of 30% production growth over 2013. CONSOL Energy's annual gas production guidance remains 30% growth for 2015 and 2016.

During the quarter, a midstream company that handles and processes some of CONSOL's gas and liquids had a fatality on one of their sites, during their operations. This tragedy unearthed operational standards that led CONSOL to question the safety procedures of the company. As a result, over the course of the quarter CONSOL elected to shut-in pads serviced by this midstream provider while safety processes and procedures were evaluated and validated by CONSOL. As a result of this process, CONSOL estimated that the shut-in pads accounted for 2.7 Bcfe worth of lost production in the quarter. Operations are ramping-up in this area and should be back to normal levels by the end of January.

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Falling oil prices underline OPEC's declining influence

By Bob Downing Published: January 30, 2015

From GlobalData on Thursday:

 

LONDON, UK (GlobalData), 29 January 2015 - With oil prices having fallen more than 50% in less than six months, the OPEC group’s reluctance to cut production in order to stabilize prices reflects the threat being posed by production rises from non-OPEC countries, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.

Matthew Jurecky, GlobalData’s Head of Oil & Gas Research and Consulting, states that over 70% of the 12.7 million barrels of oil per day (mmbd) incremental production between 2008 and 2013 came from non-OPEC countries, led by the US, Russia and China.

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Russia's oil and gas tax policies looking to the East

By Bob Downing Published: January 30, 2015

From GlobalData on Thursday:

 

LONDON, UK (GlobalData), 29 January 2015 - The recent changes in the taxation of Russia’s oil and gas sector reflect both the country’s pivot eastward and the special treatment afforded to its state-controlled energy companies, says an analyst with research and consulting firm GlobalData.

According to Will Scargill, GlobalData’s Upstream Fiscal Analyst, the so-called ‘tax maneuver’ shifts the tax burden from export duty on oil and petroleum products to Mineral Extraction Tax (MET) on oil production. It will gradually reduce Russia’s marginal rate of export duty to 30% in 2017, while increasing the base rate of MET to RUB919/tonne.

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Northern Ohio gets from 17 to 49 Bakken oil trains per week

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

Between 17 and 49 trains a week filled with highly volatile Bakken crude oil are passing through northern Ohio, according to railroad information newly released by the state of Ohio.

Last summer, the Beacon Journal looked at Bakken oil shipments by rail through Ohio and estimated that 50 trains a week filled with crude oil from North Dakota and Montana passed through Ohio.

The crude oil is being shipped by rail to refineries on the East Coast.

Last May, the federal government ordered railroads to notify state officials when they haul more than 1 million gallons of Bakken oil. First responders such as police and fire are notified along the routes.

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Rover Pipeline will not tolerate bullying of Ohio landowners

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

Here's the response I got from Vicki Granado, a spokeswoman for the Rover Pipeline, on allegations filed by five Ohio grass-roots groups with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that pipeline representatives have bullied landowners in Ohio to sign easements and threatened them with claiming land by eminent domain:

"I can’t speak for other companies, but I can tell you that we expect our employees and contractors to conduct themselves with the utmost professionalism at all times, and to treat all landowners fairly and respectfully. If we find that is not happening, we will take care of it immediately. It is our intention to be a good neighbor and a valued member of all the communities throughout Ohio in which we are working."

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U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan supports Liquified Natural Gas act

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

From U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, on Wednesday:

Congressman Tim Ryan issued the following statement in support of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act (HR 351) :

“This bill codifies the policy change that the Department of Energy voluntarily made last year, to expedite the approval process of LNG export facilities that have favorably completed the required Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews. I was proud to vote in favor of this important legislation. The longer we delay the approval of expanded exports, the more we risk losing our competitive and technological advantage over other natural gas-producing countries.

“I want to thank Congressman Bill Johnson for his work in introducing and promoting this bill. The potential for the United States in selling LNG to foreign nations can have an enormous effect, not only on the economy of northeast Ohio, but all around the country. While I realize the concerns regarding the price of natural gas for American consumers, I am confident that increased production will maintain competitive prices for the American market.

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Boom or bust for eastern Ohio's Utica Shale?

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

WKSU-FM's Tim Rudell took a look at what's happening in Ohio's Utica Shale as the price paid for oil and natural gas has fallen.

Click  here  to read/hear Tim's report.

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Halliburton fracking loophole survives vote in U.S. Senate

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

The U.S. Senate knocked down more than a dozen amendments on energy and the environment Wednesday, as Republicans worked to finish a nearly four-week debate over Keystone XL.

The casualties included proposals involving liquefied natural gas exports, endangered species protections for the lesser prairie-chicken and hydraulic fracturing and the so-called Halliburton loophole.

Click   here  to read the full story.

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Enterprise Products reports that net income dips in 4Q 2014

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

Texas-based Enterprise Products Partners LP, the company behind the Appalachian-to-Texas Express Pipeline, said its net income fell slightly in fourth quarter 2014 from a year earlier.

Click   here  to read the Houston Chronicle's FuelFix blog story.

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Schlumberger Ltd. to lay off 9,000 workers due to oil, gas prices

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

Schlumberger Ltd., the world's largest well-service company, intends to lay off 9,000 workers or 7.1 percent of its work office.

The company, with offices in Paris and Houston, cited uneasiness over dropping oil and natural gas prices.

Click  here   to read the Bloomberg story.

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Pennsylvania governor bans new drilling on state-owned lands

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has signed an executive order than bans new drilling on state-owned lands.

The action by the Democratic governor fulfills a campaign pledge.

Click  here  to read the full story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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Ohio gets up to 137 million gallons a week on Bakken oil trains

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

Trains carrying tens of millions of gallons of volatile Bakken shale oil pass through Ohio en route to East Coast refineries.

Ohio officials this week confirmed that between 45 million gallons and 137 million gallons a week of Bakken rail shipments pass through Ohio.

Ohio had refused to release that number previously, although other states had done so.

Click  here  to read the full story from Columbus Dispatch today.

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Natural gas liquids spur petrochemical industry growth

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administartion today:

 

As this article was being published, Sasol announced they were delaying their project in Louisiana because of low oil prices. The text and graphics have been left in their original form and do not reflect Sasol's announcement.

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PDC Energy announces 2014 year-end proved reserves

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

From Colorado-based PDC XXX XXX:

 

2014 Proved Reserves ("1P")

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GASFRAC offers bankruptcy update, interim CEO departure

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

From Alberta-based GASFRAC Energy on Wednesday:

 

 

 

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Antero Resources boosts proved reserves by 66 percent to 12.7 Tcfe

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

From Antero Resources on Wednesday:

 

DENVER , Jan. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --

 

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API opening new Colorado office, executive director hired

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute today:

WASHINGTON, January 29, 2015 – The American Petroleum Institute today announced the establishment of a Colorado Petroleum Council that will focus on energy priorities in the state, including hydraulic fracturing and energy infrastructure, as the state seeks to create jobs, generate more revenue to the government, and produce more domestic energy. In making this announcement, API also has hired Tracee Bentley, a former Colorado state official, to lead API’s new office as executive director.

“Colorado is at the forefront of American’s energy renaissance,” said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. “The right energy policies are essential to maintain strong economic growth, which energy development is generating across the state. Bipartisan cooperation among state government officials and business and consumer groups to address critical energy development issues will ensure Colorado remains a leader in creating energy jobs. Tracee Bentley is ideally positioned to lead our industry’s efforts, now and into the future.”

A Colorado native, Bentley most recently served in the office of Governor John Hickenlooper as legislative director and as a senior advisor on energy and agricultural issues. Previously, Bentley served in the Colorado Energy Office as deputy director of policy and legislative affairs. She also served as Director of National Affairs with the Colorado Farm Bureau. Bentley earned her Bachelor of Arts and her Master of Arts from Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

“I’m thrilled to work with the dynamic API team on the exciting energy opportunities in Colorado that are transforming our state into a leader in domestic energy production,” Bentley said. “With smart, pro-energy policies, we can create thousands of good-paying jobs, send more revenue to the government to help support our schools, and make Colorado and America more energy secure.”

API represents all segments of America’s oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 625 members produce, process, and distribute most of the nation’s energy. The industry also supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy.
 

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Rex Energy tabs Thomas Rajan to be new chief financial officer

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

From Rex Energy in Wednesday:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. , Jan. 28, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rex Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:REXX) today announced that Thomas Rajan has been appointed Chief Financial Officer of the company effective February 1, 2015 .

Mr. Rajan brings almost 30 years of business and finance experience to his role at Rex Energy , with 20 years in oil and gas finance, credit, and capital markets roles. He has a deep background in financing and capital raising transactions, strategic planning, and mergers and acquisitions. Most recently, Mr. Rajan has been serving as the managing partner of High View Energy LLC , a Fort Worth, TX -based company focused on domestic exploration and production. He was previously Managing Director of KeyBanc Capital Markets in Dallas , where he spent eight years in investment and corporate banking roles, ultimately leading the Oil & Gas Investment Banking and Corporate Banking practices. While at KeyBanc, Mr. Rajan was instrumental in assisting Rex Energy through the company's IPO and subsequent equity raising transactions, and he has advised Rex's management on a number of strategic acquisition and divestiture projects since 2006. Prior to his time at KeyBanc, Mr. Rajan spent several years in corporate finance roles with Comerica Bank , Cross Timbers Oil Company and JP Morgan Chase.

"I am very pleased to welcome Thomas as our new Chief Financial Officer," commented Tom Stabley , Rex Energy's Chief Executive Officer. "Thomas has been a trusted advisor to Rex for more than eight years. His extensive experience and expertise in strategic

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API says new EPA ozone rules will be costly, let current rules work

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2015

From PRNewswire on Wednesday:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- EPA's new proposal to tighten regulations on ozone would be very costly and would fall on top of current standards that are already improving air quality, API Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs Howard Feldman told reporters in a preview of testimony API will deliver in public hearings on the proposal.

"The facts are clear: the current standards protect our environment without stifling jobs or harming our economy," Feldman said. "We urge the administration to allow the current standards to continue working.

"When looking at the science, it is clear that the current standards are protecting public health. The nation's air is getting cleaner, and air quality will continue to improve as we implement the existing standards."

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Sasol postpones $14 billion gas-to-liquids plant in Louisiana

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

South Africa-based Sasol Ltd. is postponing building a $14 billion gas-to-liquids plant in Louisiana.

Here is the company's statement that came out today:

 

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Hess Corp. completes 10 Utica Shale wells in 4Q 2014

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

New York-based Hess Corp. completed 10 Utica Shale wells in the fourth quarter 2014.

Those wells averaged 13,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day, the company said.

Click  here  to read the company's 4Q 2014 report.

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Columbia Pipeline Partners LP launches IPO

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

From Columbia Pipeline Partners on Monday:

 

HOUSTON , Jan. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Columbia Pipeline Partners LP (the "Partnership"), a NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) company, today announced the commencement of its initial public offering of 40,000,000 common units representing limited partner interests in the Partnership, at an anticipated initial public offering price between $19.00 and $21.00 per common unit, pursuant to a registration statement on Form S-1 previously filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the " SEC "). The Partnership also expects to grant the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 6,000,000 common units. The Partnership has been approved to list its common units on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol "CPPL."

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Rex Energy proved reserves grow by 57 percent

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

From Rex Energy on Tuesday:

 

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. , Jan. 27, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rex Energy Corporation ("Rex Energy") (Nasdaq:REXX) today announced its total estimated proved oil, NGL and natural gas reserves as of December 31, 2014 .

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CLNG applauds passage of H.R. 351 to boost LNG exports

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

From the Center for Liquified Natural Gas today:

CLNG Applauds Passage of H.R. 351

 

Washington, D.C.: The Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG) praises today’s 277 to 133 passage of H.R. 351, the “LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act.” The bill, introduced by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), brings regulatory certainty to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) permitting process for liquefied natural gas exports by requiring that the department issue a final decision on any application to export LNG no later than 30 days after the conclusion of a project’s National Environmental Policy Actreview.

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EPA seeks input on new emission standards for drilling

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

From the U.S. EPA today:

EPA Seeks Input on Emission Standards for New and Modified Sources in the Oil and Natural Gas Sector

 

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting small businesses, governments, and not-for-profit organizations to participate as Small Entity Representatives (SERs) for a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel. The panel is part of a standard federal government process and will focus on the agency’s development of a rule that proposes to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, including methane, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) under its New Source Performance Standards for the oil and natural gas industry. EPA will build on the cost-effective standards, issued in 2012, that are currently in place for several sources in the oil and natural gas industry. The agency intends to add equipment and processes to those sources currently covered by the standards. Equipment and processes the agency is considering adding include hydraulically fractured oil wells, pneumatic pumps, and leaks from new and modified well sites and compressor stations.

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Ohio pipeline opponents warn FERC of land dealings

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

From the FreshWater Accountability Project today:

OHIO PIPELINE OPPONENTS WARN FERC

ABOUT ILLEGAL LAND CONDEMNATION

 

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Two USGS publications look at historical fracking trends, data

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

From the U.S. Geological Survey today:

 

 

 

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Company looking into West Virginia pipeline rupture, fire

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

From the Associated Press:

(AP) — The operator of a pipeline that exploded in Brooke County is seeking the cause of the blast.

Monday's explosion sent flames shooting several hundred feet into the air. No injuries were reported.

Enterprise Products operates the ATEX Express pipeline. Enterprise spokesman Rick Rainey tells The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register (http://bit.ly/15I7Jtl ) that the 20-inch diameter pipeline collects ethane from four natural gas processing plants in the area.

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Drilling plan shows lack of commitment to energy growth, API says

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday:

WASHINGTON, January 27, 2015 – The proposed offshore oil and natural gas leasing program released by the Department of the Interior today, along with other recent actions to restrict energy development, show a disappointing lack of commitment to ensuring America’s position as a world leader in energy, said API Director of Upstream Erik Milito.

“The administration is compromising our ability to compete globally by restricting so much of the nation’s oil and natural gas resources,” said Milito. “The draft offshore leasing program proposed today completely ignores areas where oil and natural gas development could create more than half a million new American jobs and generate hundreds of billions of dollars for the government.

“While considering the Atlantic for potential development is a good step, the administration’s proposal represents the bare minimum for potentially opening that area by including only a single lease sale six years from now.”

In her news conference, Secretary Jewell noted the lease sales were a minimum that could be “narrowed or taken out entirely in the future."

“New restrictions offshore Alaska and a rejection of billions of barrels of oil from the coastal plain of ANWR, duplicative new regulations on industry operations, and the government’s refusal to even consider leasing in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific are tying America’s hands against a future of affordable and reliable energy,” said Milito.

“Staying competitive and reducing our dependence on oil from abroad depends on planning and decisions made today. What the administration has in fact proposed represents delayed economic opportunity and could cost us a lot of jobs and revenue to the government and threaten our energy security.

“This is our energy moment, and we need smart, forward-thinking policies to realize this opportunity.”

API represents all segments of America’s oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 625 members produce, process, and distribute most of the nation’s energy. The industry also supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy.

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Obama offshore drilling plan threatens Atlantic coast, beaches

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

From Environment America on Tuesday:

Washington, D.C. -- Today the Obama administration proposed opening up huge swaths of the Atlantic Ocean to offshore drilling, putting large stretches of the nation’s coastline, including some of its most beloved beaches from Virginia to Georgia, at risk of a devastating spill.

Nearly five years ago, the BP Deepwater Horizon spill dumped 200 million gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico and harmed 16,000 miles of coastline, making it the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. The Obama administration proposal opens the door to similar tragedies for the Atlantic.

“From the Chesapeake Bay, to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, to Georgia’s barrier islands, our coasts are simply too precious to drill,” said Margie Alt, Environment America’s executive director. “We’re sorely disappointed to see the president put so many beaches and coastal communities in jeopardy.”

In 2010, only days before the BP disaster, the administration proposed a similar expansion of drilling in the Atlantic. In the months following the catastrophe, the administration quietly withdrew its plan.

“I have to say I’m dismayed by the president's short memory,” said Alt. “Less than five years ago, staring down the largest environmental disaster in our nation’s history, he thought better of dramatically expanding drilling and the dangers that come with it.”

While the administration proposed opening up vast new areas to drilling today, it also recommended putting portions of the Arctic Ocean off limits, a follow-up to its proposal to create 1.5 million acres of wilderness in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Environment America lauded the new protections for Alaska, while noting that the Atlantic Coast and all of the Arctic deserve protections, as well.

“Alaska’s Arctic refuge is like no other place on earth, and we congratulate the administration on safeguarding it for future generations,” said Alt. “The polar bear and the caribou don't deserve an oil disaster, but neither do the Atlantic sea turtles, the right whales, or the tens of millions of people who visit the Southeast's prized beaches every year.”

Environment America also pointed out that expanding fossil fuel production runs counter to the president’s goal of reducing global warming pollution.

To fulfill his commitment to climate action, the president should double down on clean energy sources like wind and solar, not open up more of our beaches to a legacy of oil slicks and dead seabirds,” concluded Alt.

 

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Chemistry council unhappy with Obama's offshore drilling plans

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

From the American Chemistry Council on Tuesday:

WASHINGTON (January 27, 2015) – The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued the following statement in response to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)’s Draft Proposed Program (DPP), the second stage in a five-step process to develop the 2017-2022 Oil and Gas Leasing Program for the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

"BOEM’s draft plan continues a clear strategy to limit oil and natural gas production on federal lands, where it has been declining for a decade. Along with restrictions for the Arctic coastal plain proposed earlier this week, current government policies are putting more resources off-limits.

"Today’s plan concentrates nearly all oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. It takes potential resources in the South Atlantic off the table by banning any exploration and production within 50 miles of shore. It does not authorize a lease sale in the Atlantic near Canadian waters, even though our neighbor to the north is developing its own oil and gas resources there.

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Higher recovery rates can boost tight oil production, report says

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

From Lux Research today:

Higher Recovery Rates in Tight Oil Can Unlock 8 Billion Barrels in the U.S.

A sharp plunge in oil prices has shifted the focus from drilling new tight oil wells to optimizing dismal recovery rates of less than 10%, says Lux Research

 

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Marcellus Shale Coalition responds to Pennsylvania drilling report

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

From the Marcellus Shale Coalition on Tuesday, concerning report critical of Pennsylvania and drilling problems:

Pennsylvania has a world-class regulatory framework and enforcement programs that are enabling the safe development of clean-burning natural gas. It’s unfortunate that some fringe groups, who cannot accept these clear facts, have once again manipulated data in attempt to advance an out of the mainstream agenda. But Pennsylvania voters continue demonstrate overwhelmingly strong, bipartisan support for responsible American natural gas development, which is creating good-paying jobs -- especially for our region’s labor unions as well as our manufacturing sector -- all while dramatically enhancing our environment and boosting air quality. Facts, of course, are awfully stubborn things.” – Marcellus Shale Coalition.

 

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EID responds to activist charges on ODNR, drilling chemicals

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

Energy in Depth-Ohio on Tuesday responds to statements made by Ohio activists questioning Ohio Department of Natural Resources and its oversight of drilling chemicals:

by Jackie Stewart jackie@energyindepth.org
, Canfield, Ohio

This week, a group of known activists and paid staffers led by Teresa Mills, from Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) and Melissa English, from Ohio Citizen Action announced a coordinated effort to question the U.S. EPA once again on the Emergency Planning Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

EID has reported on this issue several times – and the continued misinformation drags on with activists’ latest attempt to distort the truth.

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Natural gas prices drop after strong production growth

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

 

Following a short-lived price increase in November, natural gas prices have dropped to their lowest levels since September 2012, reflecting strong domestic production and inventory builds.

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New report looks at fracking violators in Pennsylvania

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2015

A press release today from Environment America:

Boston, MA- From Fortune 500 companies like Cabot Oil, to fly-by-night operators, to firms like Chevron who tout their clean records -- virtually all types of fracking outfits are prone to breaking rules intended to protect the environment and public health, a new report says. The analysis of Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry over a four-year period found that the top offenders, representing a diversity of companies, averaged more than an environmental violation every day.

“Fracking is an inherently risky, dirty, dangerous practice, and regulations can’t change that,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney with Environment America. “But this report shows that a range of oil and gas companies struggle to meet even modest protections for our environment and public health.”

The analysis from Environment America Research & Policy Center, Fracking Failures: Oil and Gas Industry Environmental Violations in Pennsylvania and What They Mean for the U.S, tracks lapses such as allowing toxic chemicals to leach into the air and water, endangering drinking water through improper well construction, and dumping industrial waste into waterways.

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API wants five-year U.S. plan for offshore oil leases to grow

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute:

WASHINGTON, January 27, 2015 – The Obama administration’s first draft of the next five-year program for offshore oil and natural gas leasing should include all areas where significant discoveries are possible, API Director of Upstream and Industry Operations Erik Milito told reporters today. Leasing is currently prohibited in 87 percent of federal waters offshore.

“Keeping our role as the world leader in energy will require a commitment from the president to opening new areas to offshore oil and natural gas development,” said Milito. “At this early stage, it would be premature and irresponsible to leave out of the draft program any area that holds the potential for significant discoveries of oil and natural gas.

“This will be a real test of the administration’s commitment to America being the world leader in energy.

“By keeping so much locked away, the U.S. government is saying ‘No thanks’ to 840,000 new American jobs, 3.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, and more than $200 billion in government revenue.

“Offshore oil and natural gas development is a long-term investment. The energy America produces offshore today is only possible because of decisions made over several decades by both regulators and the private sector. For the same reason, how much energy we produce offshore fifteen and twenty years from now depends on the decisions being made today.

“There is no question about the world's need for this energy. Independent experts expect global demand for oil and natural gas to continue growing for decades. The only question is whether the federal government will allow the U.S. to remain an energy superpower in the years to come.”

API represents all segments of America’s oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 625 members produce, process, and distribute most of the nation’s energy. The industry also supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy.

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Ohio has 1,324 drilled Utica wells, 726 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2015

Ohio has approved 1,781 Utica Shale permits, as of Jan. 24.\

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says that total includes 1,324 drilled Utica wells and 726 producing Utica wells.

Ohio has 48 rigs at work.

Eight new permits were approved: three in Jefferson County and five in Monroe County.

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Sierra Club concerned by Obama's off-shore drilling plans

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2015

From the Sierra Club today:

Obama Administration Releases New 5-Year Offshore Drilling Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C.-- The Obama administration today released its proposed 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The proposal keeps dirty fuel development off-limits along the Pacific and Northern Atlantic coasts, as well as in some areas of the Arctic Ocean, while opening up new areas off the Atlantic and Alaskan coasts to drilling.

In response Athan Manuel, Director of Lands Protection for the Our Wild America Campaign issued the following statement.

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Carrizo to cut spending by 35 percent, results from new Utica well

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2015

A press release today from Texas-based Carrizo Oil and Gas:

HOUSTON , Jan. 27, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Carrizo Oil & Gas, Inc.'s (Nasdaq:CRZO) senior management is hosting an analyst conference today to provide an update on the company's current operations and future plans. The presentation includes the following key highlights:

S.P. "Chip" Johnson, IV , Carrizo's President and CEO, commented, "2014 was a record year for Carrizo as we delivered crude oil production growth of approximately 63%. While 2015 looks to be a more challenging year given the sell-off in commodity prices, our combination of high-return assets, operational flexibility, and solid balance sheet have us well positioned to manage the downturn and be able to take advantage of opportunities that may arise. For 2015, we're trimming our drilling and completion capital expenditure plan by ~35%, but still expect to keep oil production roughly flat with the fourth quarter of 2014. This should maintain our strong balance sheet and also allow us to quickly resume rapid oil production growth once prices recover."

"Given the decline in commodity prices, we have been working diligently to reduce our service costs. As an example, we have achieved cost savings of ~12% from late 2014 levels in the Eagle Ford Shale , and expect this to increase to ~20% by year-end. If commodity prices stay at depressed levels, we would expect service costs to decline further."

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Hess to reduce 2015 capital spending in Ohio's Utica Shale

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2015

New York-based Hess Corp. intends to cut its capital spending in Ohio's Utica Shale in 2015.

The company announced on Monday that it intends to reduce Utica spending from $500 million to $290 million.

Working with partner CONSOL Energy, Hess said it expects to operate two rigs in the Utica and drill 25 to 30 new wells in 2015,

Last year, the firms operated four rigs in the Utica and drilled 39 new wells.

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ATEX Pipeline ruptures in northern West Virginia

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2015

An ethane pipeline ruptured and produced a fireball on Monday morning in northern West Virginia.

The 20-inch-in-diameter ATEX pipeline erupted in Brooke County, W. Va.

The problem occurred about 10:40 a.m. and was under control by mid-afternoon.

No injuries were reported.

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Chesapeake to pay $119 million to resolve royalty disputes

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2015

A unit of Chesapeake Energy Corp. will pay $119 million to royalty owners under a preliminary settlement that will go before an Oklahoma county judge in April.

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EnergyPoint Research releases results from 2014 oilfield survey

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2015

From EnergyPoint Research:

Reduction in Commodity Prices and Shifting Landscape May Lead to Buyer’s Market, Presenting Both Opportunities & Risks for Oilfield Customers and Suppliers

 


HOUSTON (January 27, 2015) – As a steep decline in oil prices resulted in one of the more surprising years in recent memory for the oil and gas industry, oilfield suppliers struggled to build on past gains in customer satisfaction, according to results from EnergyPoint Research’s 2014 Oilfield Products & Services Customer Satisfaction Survey.

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Summit County Council OKs resolution against Nexus Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2015

From the Akron Beacon Journal and co-worker Marilyn Miller today:

By Marilyn Miller

Beacon Journal staff writer

Summit and Medina County residents applauded Monday afternoon when Summit County Council adopted a resolution opposing the construction of the proposed Nexus high-pressure natural gas pipeline that would affect several local communities.

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Oil shock extends to business development companies, SNL says

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2015

From SNL Energy on Monday:

Consumer-facing financial technology companies may benefit from lower prices at the pump, while certain business development companies have come under pressure as the energy sector suffers.

Crude oil's slump has had ramifications extending well beyond the price at the pump.

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Laborers' union is supporting Spectra pipeline projects in N.Y.

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2015

From Laborers' International Union of North America on Monday:

Washington, DC. (January 26, 2015) – In just the past week, more than 200 LIUNA members turned out to voice support for energy projects that build good, family-supporting construction careers, part of an ongoing effort by the union to make sure public officials hear about the benefits of the projects from local workers.

On Wednesday and Thursday, LIUNA members testified before the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s two hearings in support of Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market pipeline project. More than 400 members had previously submitted comments in support of the project to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and dozens of members have lobbied their local community leaders.

In Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and other states across the U.S., LIUNA members have provided thousands of letters of support for natural gas pipelines and submitted hundreds of hours of comment and testimony in support of projects for Spectra and other energy companies. Members have been delivering a consistent message about valuable construction careers, high-quality and safe pipeline work, and the need for affordable energy.

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Wyoming to strengthen fracking chemical disclosure rules

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

A Wyoming press release today from five eco-groups:

 

 

CASPER, WYO.— Under a settlement agreement approved today, the Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission must adopt more rigorous policies for scrutinizing industry requests to keep the identities of fracking chemicals secret.

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Spectra Energy buys the BIG Pipeline for natural gas in Texas

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

From S[pectra Energy last week:

HOUSTON – Spectra Energy Corp (NYSE: SE) and Spectra Energy Partners (NYSE: SEP) today announced that, through their affiliate, Spectra Energy Transmission II, LLC (SET), they have entered into a purchase and sale agreement to acquire from ConocoPhillips Company (NYSE: COP) 100 percent of the equity interests in Brazoria Interconnector Gas Pipeline, LLC (BIG), which owns the BIG Pipeline.

The BIG Pipeline is a 42-inch natural gas pipeline in Brazoria County, Texas, with a capacity of approximately 1.8 billion cubic feet per day. It extends 30.5 miles between Stratton Ridge on its south end to a point near Iowa Colony in northern Brazoria County.

The newly acquired BIG Pipeline will be a component of the Stratton Ridge Project, an expansion project of the Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline system to deliver up to 400,000 dekatherms per day of natural gas to Stratton Ridge, Texas. The Stratton Ridge Project, including the BIG Pipeline acquisition, has an expected capital expenditure of approximately $200 million and is anticipated to be in service the first quarter of 2019.

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Oil production outlook stable despite dropping rig counts

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

 

The sharp decline in oil prices over the last quarter of 2014, which has continued in January, is already having a significant effect on drilling activity in the United States, as shown by the 16% decline in the number of active onshore drilling rigs in the Lower 48 states between the weeks ending on October 31, 2014 and January 23, 2015, according to data from Baker-Hughes.

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Energy Transfer to merge with Regency Energy in $18 billion deal

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners L.P. announced todayt hat it is merging with its sister company, Regency Energy Partners L.P. in an $18 billion deal with involvement in nearly every shale drilling area.

Click  here  to read the press release.

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American Energy Partners names CFO for two affiliates

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

From American Energy Partners today:

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, JANUARY 26, 2015: American Energy Partners, LP (AELP) today announced that it has hired Jennifer M. Grigsby as the Chief Financial Officer of its affiliates American Energy – Woodford, LLC (AEW) and American Energy – Minerals Holdings, LLC (AEMN). Grigsby, 45, previously worked for Chesapeake Energy Corporation for 19 years in increasing roles of importance, including serving as Vice President, Assistant Treasurer and Corporate Secretary from 2006 to 2007; Senior Vice President, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary from 2007 to 2013; and Senior Vice President, Corporate and Strategic Planning from 2013 to 2014.

Prior to Chesapeake, Grigsby worked for Commander Aircraft Company and Deloitte & Touche, LLP in various accounting and supervisory roles in Oklahoma City. She earned her MBA with an emphasis in Finance from Oklahoma City University in 1999 and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Oklahoma State University in 1991. Grigsby is a certified public accountant and chartered global management accountant.

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Groups challenge ODNR authority to manage fracking chemical reporting

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

From 40 Ohio eco-groups today:

COLUMBUS - - Today 40 Ohio community and environmental groups fires off a challenge to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) authority to manage chemical reporting and emergency response for the state’s oil and gas industry. The challenge, carried in a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, is based on the fact that Ohio law appears to contradict federal law with respect to what agency should receive hazardous chemical information and also respond to chemical accidents and emergencies. The letter to US EPA seeks clarification of these federal requirements in order to forestall an oil and gas industry agenda in Ohio’s legislature to shift custody of the industry’s chemical use data from front-line emergency responders to the industry’s accommodating but unqualified supporters at ODNR.

The federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) states that authority to accept hazardous chemical information and respond to chemical accidents resides with the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), as well as local emergency planning committees and fire departments. Indeed, every other chemical-intensive industry in the state reports to SERC and SERC coordinates and plans emergency response for them. Ohio law, however, carves out an exception for the oil and gas industry, diverting its hazardous chemical information and emergency response authority to ODNR.

The groups point out sections of existing Ohio law (ORC 1509.231) and proposed legislation (2014’s HB 490) that it says allows ODNR to, “…adopt a new and separate program tailored exclusively for its patrons in the oil and gas industry.” The group alleges that ODNR is “captured” by the industry it regulates and “…routinely ignores and ridicules the concerns of sensible citizens regarding fracking while reflexively repeating the industry’s public relations talking points on this important subject...”.

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Polar vortex triggered major spike in 2014 power, gas prices

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

From SNL Energy recently:

As the polar vortex froze much of the U.S. at the beginning 2014, the period of intense cold created demand, supply and transportations factors that led to the highest prices for power and spot gas seen over the past five years. After the spike in both power and gas prices, moderate conditions followed throughout the rest of the year and prices dropped accordingly.

Monthly average ISO Day-Ahead Market peak hours prices for December 2014 decreased in the eastern U.S. compared to the previous year. The ISO New England Inc., NEPOOL-Mass hub saw the largest decrease over that time with the price dropping nearly 55% to $50.55/MWh. The New York ISO Zone J, also experienced a large drop, falling 41% to $42.91MWh. NEPOOL-Mass and Zone J hubs encompass the Boston and New York City metropolitan areas, respectively, which were most affected by pressure on power and gas supplies and transportation systems due to the strong demand that the weather created last winter.

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Ohio is again revising state rules on well pad construction

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Friday completed its revision of rules for well pad construction.

The rules were last revised last September.

The new rules must still be reviewed by the Ohio Common Sense Initiative and by the Joint Committee on Agency Rules Review.

To learn more, go the Energy and Environment Law blog of Vorys Sater Seymour and Pease LLP.

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$800 million, gas-fired power plant taking shape in Lordstown

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

Progress is being made in locating an $800 million power plant to burn natural gas to produce electricity in Lordstown in Trumbull County.

A ground breaking is planned for September 2015. The plant by Clean Energy Future is slated to begin operations in late 2018.

The plant announced last spring has been moved from Salt Springs Road to the Lordstown Industrial Park on Henn Parkway.

Click  here  to read a recent post by Jim Willis of the Marcellus Drilling News.

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Pa. energy adviser Henderson joins Marcellus Shale Coalition

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

A former top Pennsylvania energy adviser has a new job with the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a pro-drilling industry group.

Patrick Henderson was the top energy adviser to former Gov.  Tom Corbett.

Henderson will be the director of regulatory affairs for the shale group

Click here  to read the full story from NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

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December U.S. crude production is highest since 1972, API says

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute on Friday:

File Type: pdf | File Size: 117821

File Type: pdf | File Size: 89043

File Type: pdf | File Size: 19472

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Former CEO of drilling company sentenced for embezzlement

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

From the Associated Press last week:

The former chief operating officer of an Indiana County drilling company was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for embezzling $9 million to feed his casino gambling habit, which included playing $100 slot machines.

Larry Dean Winckler, 54, was ordered to pay $9 million in restitution to Falcon Drilling LLC, of Rayne Township, which he co-founded with the company's former owner. He must also pay the Internal Revenue Service $1.2 million in past-due income tax on the money he stole, plus interest and penalties.

U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry in Pittsburgh refused the defense attorney's request to let Winckler report to prison in a few weeks. Instead, Winckler had to take off his tie and belt so he could be handcuffed and led from the courtroom as several family members burst into tears. They declined comment afterward.

McVerry told Winckler he found it "somewhat mystifying and un-understandable" that Winckler stole the money while being paid $260,000 a year, plus a $1.2 million bonus one year when the company changed hands.

Defense attorney Martin Dietz didn't comment after the sentencing, but he had argued in a memo to the court that Winckler's life derailed when his son was diagnosed with severe autism as a 2-year-old in 2004.

"I thought I could handle this all on my own, and I was completely wrong," Winckler said, his voice breaking as he wept.

But U.S. Attorney Gregory Melucci likened Winckler to an "uncontrollable train of embezzlement that left a trail of disaster behind it."

"It knew no limitation in the pace with which it moved," Melucci added, noting Winckler stole the money from 2004 until the scheme was uncovered in 2012.

McVerry suggested he didn't buy Winckler's motives, noting the defendant didn't use any of the money he stole "to pursue special medical treatment for your son" but instead bought expensive jewelry and a hunting camp, when he wasn't blowing the money at casinos.

Winckler is forfeiting three Rolex watches, diamond-encrusted Mickey Mouse and Hello Kitty jewelry, the hunting camp and a bank account containing $481,000.

Winckler told the judge his actions were "completely my fault and I certainly understand what I did wrong." He apologized for hurting the business, his family and two others he enlisted in the scheme.

The first was Cheryl Diane Brooks, of Clymer, who pleaded guilty in January 2013 to her role in helping Winckler steal more than $5.4 million from the company, including $557,000 she kept for herself. Brooks joined the firm as a secretary in 2001 and despite lacking an accounting background became its controller by 2004.

Brooks has cooperated with the government, sold personal assets to repay her debt and surrendered a vested pension. She's scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 20.

The third person charged is former auto repair shop owner Daniel Pikel, who's serving 27 months in prison for helping Winckler launder about $3 million. Pikel pleaded guilty to cashing hundreds of checks for fake invoices, then returning the money to Winckler.

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Pennsylvania settles lawsuit with anti-gas drilling group

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

From the Associated Press last week:

The state of Pennsylvania has agreed to pay about $40,000 to an anti-gas drilling group that was erroneously characterized in security bulletins as a potential terror threat.

The settlement terms between the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition were released Friday. The Associated Press obtained the document through an open-records request.

The coalition’s lawsuit said the bulletins characterized the group as a possible threat to infrastructure without evidence. A private contractor, the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, produced the reports under a one-year, $103,000 contract.

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Are energy companies prepared to deal with drilling layoffs?

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

The BakerHostetler law firm's North American Shale blog questions whether drilling companies are prepared to deal with possible layoffs as the prices paid for natural gas and oil continue to drop.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Texas Legislature gets two bills on municipal fracking bans

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2015

The new Texas Legislature has two bills pending that would restrict local communities that want to impose bans on hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Click  here  to read more from the Baker Hostetler law firm's North American Shale blog.

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Chevron to lay off 162 staffers in western Pennsylvania

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2015

Energy giant Chevron Corp. announced on Wednesday that it was laying off 162 staffers at its offices outside of Pittsburgh.

The cuts are due to slowdowns in the Marcellus and Utica shales.

That represents 23 percent of Chevron's work force in western Pennsylvania.

Click  here  to read the full story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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Magnum Hunter Resources cutting 2015 capital spending

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2015

Texas-based oil and natural gas producer Magnum Hunter Resources Corp said on a conference call on Friday it has cut all capital spending amidst plunging commodity prices, expecting prices to remain low for at least the next year.

The small company focused on natural gas production in the Marcellus and Utica shales had scheduled the call with investors with one day's notice to assuage concerns about its future as its shares have plunged 81 percent in the past year amid sinking natural gas prices.

"Rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated," Chief Executive Gary Evans told investors.

Its governing board is set to meet on Monday, Jan. 26.

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Opponents rally in Richmond against Dominion pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2015

Opponents of Virginia-based Dominion Resources' $5 billion 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline that would carry natural gas from Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania to Virginia rallied on Friday in Richmond, Va.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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North Dakota brine pipeline spill reaches Missouri River

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2015

From the Associated Press on Friday:

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s environmental chief says water testing has shown that saltwater contamination from a massive pipeline spill reached the Missouri River. But he says officials don’t expect harm to wildlife or drinking water supplies.

Dave Glatt said Friday that given the size of the river and volume of water, the contaminants quickly diluted.

Many communities draw drinking water from the river.

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Hess named to global list of Top 100 sustainable companies

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2015

For the second year, New York-based Hess Corp. has been named one of the 100 most sustainable corporations in the 2015 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations by Toronto-based media and research firm Corporate Knights.

Hess  was ranked 65th.

Hess was the only U.S. oil and gas company on the list.

Click  here  to read the company's press release.

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Currency depreciation affects oil importers, exporters differently

By Bob Downing Published: January 23, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Widely traded futures contracts for North Sea Brent crude oil in global financial markets are typically priced in U.S. dollars (USD). The appreciation, or increase in value, of USD against most other currencies since last summer can either mitigate or exacerbate the effects of the recent sharp decline in USD-denominated crude oil prices, depending on whether a particular country is a net importer or a net exporter of crude oil.

Read More ›

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U.S. land rig count could drop 30 percent in 2015, report says

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2015

A new report says the U.S. on-land rig count could drop 30 percent this year, the Hosuton Chronicle reported.

The report was released on Thursday by Wood McKenzie.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Pennsylvania Senate panel OKs royalty protection bills

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2015

A Pennsylvania state senate committee has approved a pair of bills that would provide more protections for people who receive royalty money from oil and gas drilling.

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee unanimously approved SB 147 and SB 148 at a meeting Wednesday.

SB 147 would require drillers to disclose more information on royalty check stubs. It would also grant landowners the right to inspect companies’ records to ensure proper payment.

SB 148 would bar oil and gas companies from retaliating against people who raise questions about their royalty payments.

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Kinder Morgan buys North Dakota midstream firm for $3 billion

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2015

Kinder Morgan Inc. has agreed to pay about $3 billion, including debt, to buy a pipeline network from oil billionaire Harold Hamm that will give the company a foothold in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota.

The world’s largest pipeline company by market value will buy Hiland Partners from Hamm, the chief executive officer of Bakken producer Continental Resources Inc., and certain Hamm family Trusts, according to a Kinder statement Wednesday.

The deal is billionaire Richard Kinder’s latest move to dominate shipping of North American oil and natural gas everywhere from the Mexican border to Canada’s Pacific Coast. Kinder in November united his empire into a $89 billion company that controls 80,000 miles (129,000 kilometers) of conduits and 180 terminals, transporting about a third of U.S. gas.

Click  here  to read the full Bloomberg story.

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Obama threatens to veto bill to expedite new pipeline approvals

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2015

A bill that would set a strict deadline for approving new pipeline project applications was voted out of a House committee on Tuesday but President Obama says he will veto it if it reaches his desk, reported NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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SNL Energy cap shows Northeast pipeline utilization

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2015

From SNL Energy today:

 

Each week this winter, SNL Energy is taking a look at Northeast pipeline utilization and natural gas prices.

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Mexico's bidding round will be competitive, analyst says

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2015

From GlobalData:

Mexico’s Bidding Round Will Remain Competitive Despite Delays and Uncertainties, says GlobalData

LONDON, UK (GlobalData), 22 January 2015 - With Mexican oil open to private investment for the first time, the country’s initial bidding round is expected to remain competitive despite low oil prices, delays and a number of uncertainties, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.

The company’s latest report* states that the first bid round, which began on 11 December 2014 by offering 14 shallow-water exploration blocks, is currently scheduled to offer additional areas, including unconventional and deepwater opportunities, in the first half of 2015.

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Pipeline brine spill of 3 million gallons is North Dakota's biggest

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2015

From the Associated Press:

Nearly 3 million gallons of saltwater generated by oil drilling have leaked from a North Dakota pipeline, an official said Wednesday, the largest such spill since the state’s current oil boom began and nearly three times worse than any previous spill. Two creeks have been affected, but the full environmental effect might not be clear for months.

Operator Summit Midstream Partners LLC detected the pipeline spill on Jan. 6, about 15 miles north of Williston and told health officials then. Officials say they weren’t given a full account of the size until Tuesday.

Cleanup has begun and inspectors have been monitoring the area, but it will be difficult to measure the effects on the environment and wildlife until the ice melts, said Dave Glatt, chief of the North Dakota Department of Health’s environmental health section. Some previous saltwater spills have taken years to clean up.

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Magnum Hunter Resources reports 25 percent jump in reserves

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2015

From Magnum Hunter Resources:

$163.5 Million to $909.3 Million From Year-End 2013

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwired - Jan 21, 2015) - Magnum Hunter Resources Corporation ( NYSE : MHR ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRC ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRD ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRE ) ("Magnum Hunter" or the "Company") announced today an increase of 16.5 MMBoe or a 25% improvement in the quantity of the Company's estimated total proved oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids reserves at December 31, 2014, compared with total proved reserves at December 31, 2013. The present value of estimated future net cash flows, before income taxes, of the Company's estimated total proved reserves as of year-end 2014, discounted at 10% ("PV-10"), increased 22% or $163.5 million to $909.3 million, compared with the PV-10 of such reserves at year-end 2013 (information herein regarding the Company's proved reserves and associated PV-10 at year-end 2013 has been adjusted for previously reported divestitures) (see "Non-GAAP Financial Measures and Reconciliations" below).

Magnum Hunter's estimated total proved reserves increased to 83.8 MMBoe (70% natural gas; 66% proved developed producing) at December 31, 2014, compared with 67.3 MMBoe (60% natural gas; 53% proved developed producing) at December 31, 2013. Reserve increases were primarily due to the continued execution and delineation of the Company's existing leasehold acreage position in the Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale plays in West Virginia and Ohio (~80,000 net Marcellus and ~125,000 net Utica acres). The Company's reserve life (R/P ratio) of its proved reserves at year-end 2014 based on current production is approximately 8.5 years. Magnum Hunter successfully replaced approximately 266% of its 2014 production with reserve additions through the drill bit.

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Stone Energy to suspend Marcellus Shale drilling in 2015

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2015

From Louisiana-based Stone Energy Corp.:

LAFAYETTE, La., Jan. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- STONE ENERGY CORPORATION (NYSE: SGY) today announced estimated year-end proved reserves and production volumes for 2014, and provided its capital expenditure budget, initial production and cost guidance for 2015 and operational updates. Some of the highlights include:

Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer David Welch stated, "In 2014, we achieved a number of important milestones for Stone Energy . We drilled two deep water wells at Cardona and initiated production before year-end. We drilled a successful deep water exploration well at Amethyst and sanctioned a development plan. In Appalachia, we drilled another 38 wells in the Marcellus shale and averaged over 100 Mmcfe per day for the year, while our successful Utica test well confirmed the play on our acreage position for future development. We shed non-core assets to raise funds and focused on the deep water and Appalachia, while significantly lowering our operating cost and reducing P&A exposure. We maintained our liquidity position with over $250 million in cash and an undrawn $500 million bank facility at year-end to help navigate through the current challenging markets. Finally, we have reacted quickly to the commodity price collapse by significantly reducing capital expenditures, operating costs and overhead, and simplifying the organization."

Year-End 2014 Estimated Proved Reserves

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Could India's ONGC be interested in Chesapeake Energy?

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2015

From Seeking Alpha on Tuesday:

 

Chesapeake Energy bumps up after M&A chatter

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Ohio coal companies sign drilling leases with Gulfport Energy

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2015

Two Ohio coal-mining companies owned by coal magnate Bob Murray have signed leases with Oklahoma-based Gulfport Energy to drill for natural gas and liquids, said Jim Willis of the Marcellus Drilling News.

The leases for 5,925 acres in Belmont County were signed by American Energy Corp. and the Ohio Valley Coal Co.

Click  here  to read more from the Shale Play Ohio Valley blog.

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Increase in Kansas earthquakes may be linked to injection wells

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2015

From the Associated Press on Monday:

The disposal of waste saltwater from hydraulic fracturing could be to blame for a sharp increase in earthquakes in south-central Kansas, according to a geophysicist with the Kansas Geological Survey.

Rick Miller’s comments are the first by a state official to clearly suggest a link between hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, and the earthquakes that have rattled the area in the last two years, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

The state recorded more than 120 earthquakes last year, up from none in 2012.

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Federal judge overturns New Mexico county's drilling ban

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2015

From the Associated Press on Tuesday:

A federal judge has overturned a New Mexico county’s ban on oil and natural gas drilling that was the first of its kind when it was enacted nearly two years ago.

In a sprawling, nearly 200-page decision that touched on several constitutional elements, U.S. District Judge James O. Browning ruled that the ordinance clashes with federal law.

“Historically, a county cannot enact or supersede federal law,” Browning wrote. “The ordinance thus goes beyond Mora County’s historical lawmaking just to deprive a corporation of their rights.”

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Ohio has 1,312 drilled Utica wells, 723 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2015

Ohio has approved 1,778 Utica Shale wells, as of Jan. 17.

That total includes 1,312 Utica wells that have been drilled and 723 Utica wells that are producing, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said.

Ohio has 43 rigs at work.

Nine new permits were approved: three in Belmont County, four in Carroll County and two in Guernsey County.

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Utica Shale drilling reduces Ohio's unemployment rates, EID says

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2015

From Energy in Depth-Ohio on Tuesday:

By Jackie Stewart

Over the past several years, we’ve seen a staggering level of job creation in Ohio counties where shale production is occurring. To find out just how much of an impact shale development has had, we took a look at nine counties that have formed the core of the Utica production region over the past four years: Carroll, Columbiana, Harrison, Belmont, Guernsey, Noble, Jefferson, Mahoning, and Trumbull.

Looking at these counties, starting in January of 2010, the average unemployment rate was 14.8 percent. As of November 2014 that rate fell to five percent. That means that the unemployment rate in the “shale counties” counties fell by 9.8 percentage points, which represents a 66 percent decline in total unemployment since 2010. The shale county that has undoubtedly been the most active in Utica exploration is Carroll County, which has seen its unemployment rate fall from 16.1 percent in 2010 to 4.5 percent today – an astounding drop of 72 percent.

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Antero Resources cuts 2015 capital budget by 41 percent

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2015

Colorado-based Antero Rersources, one of the biggest players in Ohio's Utica Shale, is scaling back its operations in 2015.

The company will shrink its capital budget by 41 percent from 2014. It will drop from $3.05 billion to $1.8 billion.

It will reduce the number of rigs in the Utica and Marcellus shales from 21 in 2014 to 14 in 2015.

It will drill 130 Utica and Marcellus wells in 2015, down from 179 in 2014.

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API responds to President Obama's State of the Union talk

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday:

WASHINGTON, January 20, 2015 – President Obama’s remarks about oil and natural gas in his 2015 State of the Union address fell short of acknowledging the true impact of our energy renaissance on the U.S. economy, said the American Petroleum Institute’s President and CEO Jack Gerard today.

“America’s energy renaissance has profoundly strengthened our economy and is helping the president fulfill many of his policy goals,” said Gerard. “But his speech did not even begin to tell the whole story.

“America is now a global energy superpower thanks to our oil and natural gas renaissance, but most of this development has occurred in spite of the federal government. Development on the federal lands under control of the administration has actually gone down consistently, and revenues from leasing also fell by over $1 billion in the last year.

“America's oil and natural gas companies are largely owned by retirees and workers saving for retirement. In a tough economy, our energy renaissance has been a lifeline for the middle class.

“The president can reduce income inequality by committing to America’s oil and natural gas renaissance for the long-term. Our increased production in recent years has created millions of jobs and saved the average U.S. household $1,200 in 2012, and we pay an average salary seven times higher than the minimum wage.

“The private sector could invest more than $1 trillion in oil and gas infrastructure here in the U.S. by 2025. But, as we’ve seen with the political delays over the Keystone XL pipeline, our government is often the biggest obstacle to private investment in our economy. The government is standing in the way of jobs, economic growth, and America’s competitiveness.

“Oil and natural gas companies are leading the way to cut emissions without new and costly regulations that could actually complicate existing regulations. U.S. carbon emissions are close to 20-year lows thanks largely to natural gas, and methane emissions from hydraulic fracturing have fallen by 73 percent since 2011, according to the government’s own data. These reductions are expected to continue.”

API represents all segments of America’s oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 625 members produce, process, and distribute most of the nation’s energy. The industry also supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy.

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API launches new ad campaign on shale drilling benefits

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday:

WASHINGTON, January 20, 2014 – API has launched a new series of Energy from Shale ads highlighting the experiences of local communities that have benefited from the development of oil and natural gas and educating viewers on the hydraulic fracturing process.

“For over 65 years, hydraulic fracturing has helped American communities to create jobs, power economic growth, and generate revenue for everything from education to public safety,” said API Director of Upstream and Industry Operations Erik Milito. “Our experience proves that a balanced approach to energy development will create a brighter future, where jobs are more abundant and the American people enjoy far greater energy security.”

The new television, radio, and online campaign will begin this week in select states. The ads feature real people discussing real experiences, including a geologist in Colorado and a diner operator in Pennsylvania. The Energy from Shale campaign is a key component of API’s broader energy literacy efforts, which also include a new national ad, announced last week, emphasizing America’s
emergence as an energy superpower.

“America’s shale revolution has created millions of jobs, helped to cut our nation’s carbon emissions to near 20-year lows, and saved the average U.S. household $1,200 in 2012,” said Milito. “With the support of policymakers and local communities across the country, we can continue to secure America’s future as an energy superpower.”

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 625 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 25 million Americans.

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Frac Tracker's Auch to speak Feb. 5 on Ohio's shale land use

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2015

From Carroll Concerned Citizens:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 20, 2015

Land-Use in Ohio’s Utica Shale Industry…Now and in the Future

Carrollton, Ohio: As Ohio’s shale gas boom continues, landowers and elected officials are beginning to see many rural landscapes change as drill pads, pipelines, compressor stations and processing plants are built. This “land-use” change toward more industrialized rather than agricultural activities can impact communities in many ways.

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Columbus is next stop on Ohio's Energy Future Tour on Feb. 10

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2015

From Ohio's Energy Future Tour on Tuesday:

Columbus, OH – Today, Ohio’s Energy Future Tour announced the second stop on its tour for Columbus on Tuesday, February 10 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Athletic Club of Columbus.

 

“We’re building on a successful first forum in Cleveland that included a robust dialogue on trends in the energy industry, and ways to lower costs, expand economic development, and create new opportunities for Ohio,” commented Jane Harf, Spokesperson for the Tour. “We’re very pleased to host our second forum in Columbus—to interact with local community and business leaders, policymakers, and residents to learn more about the regional strengths in Central Ohio.

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Baker Hughes will lay off 7,000 workers in coming months

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2015

Baker Hughes, a major well service company based in Houston, says it will lay off 7,000 workers in the coming months, as the U.S. oil crisis deepens, says the Houston Chronicle.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Rex Energy offers updates on operations, production, hedging

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2015

From Rex Energy today:

 

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. , Jan. 20, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rex Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:REXX) provided an operational update on the company's Appalachian Basin operations and announced fourth quarter 2014 and full year 2014 production volumes and price realizations.

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Shell's proposed cracker plant would be major pollution source

By Bob Downing Published: January 19, 2015

From the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council earlier this month:

The Council’s Health Impact Assessment provides detailed information on how the Monaca, PA Petrochemical Facility will impact surrounding communities and outlines several recommendations.

 

Philadelphia PA -- Today the Clean Air Council releases a report examining environmental and health impacts of the proposed Shell Petrochemical Facility in Monaca, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. The facility, if constructed, would process ethane from Marcellus Shale natural gas to produce polyethylene for plastic products. The Council’s report serves as an impartial method for assessing community needs, and educating the community about the facility. The Council recommends that Shell engage the community; continue to be transparent during permitting, construction and operation; and provide health and educational resources to the surrounding area.

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Anti-pipeline groups to meet Jan. 21 in northwest Ohio

By Bob Downing Published: January 19, 2015

A press release from two groups:

:

Two new 42” high-pressure pipelines are planned to run through Northwest Ohio to carry gas from the Marcellus and Utica shalefields to export markets via the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada. Concerned citizens and property owners in Ohio and Michigan are organizing to oppose the plans that would build two, and perhaps three, huge pipelines along with massive compressor station installations to transport shale gas produced by horizontal hydrofracking to mostly overseas markets. A small percentage of the gas that is not for export will go to industrial customers. Some people are disappointed that the pipeline gas is not for home heating use, but there is even greater concern about the radioactivity in the gas and the radon it would carry.

 

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Congress is drafting new legislation to expedite LNG exports

By Bob Downing Published: January 19, 2015

Congress is looking at new legislation to expedite the export of liquified natural gas.

The bills in the Senate and the House are called the LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act.

Click  here  to read more from the Baker Hostetler law firm.

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ODNR investigation into Monroe County well blowout continues

By Bob Downing Published: January 19, 2015

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is continuing its investigation into the cause of the Magnum Hunter Resources' well blowout on Dec. 13 in Monroe County.

Click  here  to read reporter Casey Junkins story from Sunday.

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Creekmur named new president of Columbia Gas of Ohio

By Bob Downing Published: January 19, 2015

From Columbia Gas of Ohio on Friday:

Friday, January 16, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Dan Creekmur has been named president of Columbia Gas of Ohio. Columbia is the state's largest natural gas utility, serving approximately 1.4 million customers in 61 Ohio counties.

Creekmur (CREEK-muhr) assumes his new role as Jack Partridge, president since 2003, transitions to the role of Chief Policy Officer for NiSource, Columbia's parent company, reporting to NiSource Gas Distribution CEO Joe Hamrock. In his new role, Partridge will provide support across the NiSource service territory for proactive engagement and advocacy with policy leaders at the state and federal levels.

Creekmur, whose new responsibilities take effect on February 1, has served in a variety of leadership positions with Columbia Gas, most recently as vice president and general manager of Columbia’s Ohio operations. In this role, he was responsible for all field operations activities and for the safe, reliable and efficient operation and maintenance of distribution pipelines and other facilities providing natural gas service to customers. Dan began his career with Columbia Gas and NiSource in 2007 as an attorney, and has previously served in executive roles leading Columbia’s regulatory initiatives and strategy and the company’s economic development, local government policy and strategic initiatives functions, as well as its energy assistance and energy efficiency programs.

“I look forward to the opportunity to serve our customers and communities in this new capacity while continuing our commitment to economic development, corporate citizenship, and providing our employees with a great place to work,” said Creekmur.

Added Partridge, “As I focus more on deepening our external relationships, our commitment to our communities and customers remains as strong as ever. With Dan’s leadership, we will build on our strong history of meeting the energy needs of our Ohio customers.”

A native of Beavercreek, Ohio, Creekmur earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information Systems from Miami University and a Law Degree from Capital University. Creekmur serves on the Board of Trustees of Capital University and the Board of Directors of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Creekmur, his wife Amy and three children live in Powell.

Columbia Gas of Ohio safely delivers clean and efficient natural gas to approximately 1.4 million customers in 61 of Ohio's 88 counties. With headquarters in Columbus, it is one of the seven energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) and is the largest natural gas utility in the state. NiSource companies deliver energy to approximately 3.8 million customers located within the high-demand energy corridor stretching from the Gulf Coast through the Midwest to New England.


 

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David Shiels named CEO of American Energy-Midstream LLC

By Bob Downing Published: January 19, 2015

From American Energy Partners today:

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, JANUARY 19, 2015: American Energy Partners, LP (AELP) today announced that it has hired David C. Shiels as the Chief Executive Officer of its affiliate American Energy – Midstream, LLC (AE-MidCo). Shiels, 49, previously worked for Access Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE:ACMP) and Chesapeake Midstream Partners (CHKM) for five years as Chief Financial Officer. During his tenure at ACMP and CHKM, the business grew to be one of the premiere gathering and processing MLP’s in the industry and has recently been acquired by the Williams Companies, Inc.

Prior to ACMP and CHKM, Shiels worked for the General Electric Company (GE) for 13 years where he held multiple regional chief financial officer roles with subsidiaries of GE. Mr. Shiels most recently served as Chief Financial Officer of GE Security Americas. Prior to GE, he spent nine years with Conoco, Inc. in various finance and operational roles. Mr. Shiels graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in banking and finance in 1988.

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Two North Daokta town fight increasing crude oil rail shipments

By Bob Downing Published: January 16, 2015

Two North Dakota towns concerned about increased crude oil shipments by rail are fighting back.

The towns, Enderlin and Berthold, are worried about the risk such shipments pose when the trains haul Bakken Shale oil.

Click  here  to read more from the Baker Hostetler law firm.

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Grasfrac Energy files for Canadian protection from creditors

By Bob Downing Published: January 16, 2015

From Gasfrac Energy Services -- it is involved in fracking a wellfor oil in Ohio's Tuscarawas County --  on Thursday::

Calgary, Alberta January 15, 2015 - GASFRAC Energy Services Inc. (“GASFRAC or the “Corporation”) announces today that the Corporation has commenced proceedings and obtained court protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (“CCAA”) pursuant to an initial order granted by the Court of Queen’s Bench, in the Province of Alberta, on January 15, 2015 (“Initial Order”).

Pursuant to the Initial Order the Corporation and all of its operating subsidiaries have obtained protection from its creditors under CCAA, other than in respect of the Corporation’s primary secured lender, PNC Bank Canada Branch (“PNC”), for a period expiring February 9, 2015, as the Corporation attempts to restructure and reorganize its assets, business and financial affairs, subject to possible extension from time to time pursuant to further court order.

The application for the Initial Order was not opposed by PNC and the Corporation is currently attempting to negotiate a forbearance agreement with PNC related to its secured indebtedness, although there is no assurance such an agreement will be reached or what the terms thereof will include.

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Range Resources reports 26 percent jump in year-end reserves

By Bob Downing Published: January 16, 2015

Texas-based Range Resources said its year-end proven reserves grew by 26 percent to 10.3 trillion cubic feet of equivalents.;

Click  here  to see the company's statement.

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Range Resources trims 2015 budget, Mariner East is operational

By Bob Downing Published: January 16, 2015

Texas-based Range Resources has trimmed its 2015 capital budget by 33 percent to $870 million, most of which will be spent in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale.

It also announced that the Mariner East Pipeline is in operations. It will carry ethane and propane from western Pennsylvania ultimately to Philadelphia. But it is not yet complete.

Click  here  to read the company's statement.

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Federal agency delays release of new rules for older rail tank cars

By Bob Downing Published: January 16, 2015

The U.S. Department of Transportation is delaying the release of new rules for older tank cars carrying crude oil.

The new rules are not expected to released in May.

Click  here  to read the full story from NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

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Schlumberger to layoff 9,000 workers due to low oil prices

By Bob Downing Published: January 16, 2015

Schlumberger Ltd., the world's largest oil field service company, intends to layoff 9,000 workers or 7.1 percent of its worldwide work force.

The reason is the recent drop in oil prices.

To read the full Bloomberg story, click  here.

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New study: Radioactive waste from drilling not big problem

By Bob Downing Published: January 16, 2015

From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday:

“The study report is the culmination of a multi-year effort and represents what we believe to be the most comprehensive radiological study of the oil and gas industry ever conducted,” Vince Brisini, DEP Deputy Secretary for Waste, Air, Radiation and Remediation said. “While the recommendations for future actions contained in the report call for additional studies and efforts, we now have data to inform the management of natural gas resources and resultant wastes for environmental and health protection.”

In January 2013, at the direction of Gov. Tom Corbett, DEP began studying radioactivity levels in flowback waters, treatment solids and drill cuttings, as well as transportation, storage and disposal of drilling wastes. This included a study of radon levels in natural gas to ensure that public health and the environment continue to be protected.

In summary, the peer-reviewed study concluded that:
• There is little potential for additional radon exposure to the public due to the use of natural gas extracted from geologic formations located in Pennsylvania.

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Range Resources fined $1.75 million for water-withdrawal violations

By Bob Downing Published: January 16, 2015

From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection:

Under the state’s Oil and Gas Act, Range was required to have the approved Water Management Plan (WMP) covering the company’s withdrawal of water from state waterways for use in natural gas drilling. DEP approved Range’s WMP in July 2009.

The company did not adhere to their plan. From July 2009 to February 2014, Range did not record daily maximum water withdrawal and instantaneous maximum withdrawal rates, as required.

Under their WMP, Range was also required to report water withdrawal rates electronically to the Department’s Water Use Database System (WUDS). The information provided by the company was often different than or not supported by existing records.

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Ten meetings in Ohio, Michigan scheduled on Nexus Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: January 16, 2015

 

NEXUS GAS TRANSMISSION, LLC 5400 Westheimer Ct. Houston, TX 77056 43215

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Groups question ties between oil lobbyists, federal agencies

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2015

A press release today from four groups:

Groups Question Industry Influence on Delayed Oil Train Safety Rules: Freedom of Information Requests Target Five Federal Agencies, Nearly 100 Lobbyists

[Bellingham, WA] Today four public interest groups requested records exchanged between five US government agencies and nearly 100 oil and rail industry representatives on new oil train safety standards. The Department of Transportation announced yesterday that the agency would miss the January 15 deadline set by Congress and issue final rules by May 12, 2015.

“New oil train safety standards are decades late: the National Transportation Safety Board first called antiquated DOT-111 tank cars unsafe for hauling crude oil in 1991,” says Ross Hammond, ForestEthics US campaigns director. “But the administration seems to have trouble asking the oil and rail industry for common sense safety standards like speed limits, sharing information with firefighters, and a ban of the most dangerous cars.”

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Utica, Marcellus well counts jump in 4Q 2014, Baker Hughes says

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2015

From Baker Hughes last week:

HOUSTON , Jan. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Baker Hughes Incorporated (NYSE:BHI) announced today that the U.S. onshore well count for the fourth quarter 2014 was 9,544 wells, relatively unchanged compared to the third quarter 2014. Compared to the fourth quarter 2013, the well count was up 461 wells or 5%.

Compared to the third quarter 2014, the well count increased most notably in the Cana Woodford (up 22 wells or 27%), Utica (up 12 wells or 12%), and Marcellus (up 11 wells or 2%) basins. These increases were offset by decreases in the Granite Wash (down 30 wells or 16%), Barnett (down 21 wells or 8%) and Haynesville (down 12 wells or 10%) basins.

The average U.S. onshore rig count for the fourth quarter 2014 was 1,856 rigs, up 14 rigs or 1% from the third quarter 2014, and up 159 rigs or 9% from the fourth quarter 2013. On average, the U.S. onshore drilling efficiencies dropped slightly to 5.14 wells per rig, due primarily to slower drilling rates in the Eagle Ford, Marcellus and Haynesville basins for the quarter.

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East Coast cold triggers record Transco natural gas shipments

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2015

From Williams today:

 

Williams (NYSE: WMB) announced today that it delivered a record amount of natural gas on its Transco interstate gas pipeline to meet demand driven by recent cold weather in markets on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. Two recently completed expansions of Transco, totaling 315,000 dekatherms per day (dth/d) of natural gas transportation capacity, contributed to the volume record in early January.

The nation's largest-volume natural gas transmission system, Transco delivered a record-breaking 12.6 million dekatherms (MMdt) on Jan. 7 for its Zones 4-6 market area stretching from Mississippi to New York City. The new peak-day mark surpasses the previous high of 11.9 MMdt set on Jan. 7, 2014. Transco also set a three-day market area delivery record Jan. 7-9, averaging 11.9 MMdt. The Jan. 7, 2015 record volume represents enough gas to heat about 50 million U.S. homes.

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Regional refineries change to handle more crude oil production

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

 

Recent rapid growth in U.S. production of light tight oil has raised interest in understanding how U.S. refineries, many of which are configured to process heavier crude oil, might accommodate increased volumes of domestic light crude. The U.S. refinery fleet, which is distributed across Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts (PADDs), varies both within and across regions in capacity, quality of crude oil inputs, utilization rates, and sources of crude supply.

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Antero Resources announces 2014 operational highlights

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2015

From Antero Resources on Wednesday:

DENVER , Jan. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Antero Resources (NYSE: AR) ("Antero" or the "Company") announced today fourth quarter 2014 operational highlights and an update on its commodity hedge position.

Operating Update

All operational figures are as of the date of this release unless otherwise noted.

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Open season extended for Ohio River Valley condensate pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2015

From EnLink Midstream today:

ENLINK MIDSTREAM EXTENDS OPEN SEASON FOR OHIO RIVER VALLEY CONDENSATE PIPELINE SYSTEM PROJECT

 

DALLAS,January 15, 2015 — Ohio River Valley Pipeline, LLC, an affiliate of the EnLink Midstream companies, EnLink Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE:ENLK) (the Partnership) and EnLink Midstream, LLC(NYSE:ENLC) (the General Partner), today announced an extension of the binding open season to solicit volume commitments for interstate common carrier transportation service on a new condensate pipeline system (the “ORV Condensate Pipeline”). The open season, which was originally scheduled to end on January 15, 2015, has been extended to February 27, 2015, at 5:00 p.m. Central Time.

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Interstate pipeline deliveries show shifting production, demand

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2015

From SNL Energy today:

 

Record-setting shale gas production and a regulatory environment favoring gas-fired power generation placed gas pipeline infrastructure at the center of attention in 2014, and several major projects were announced to serve projected demand growth.

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Russia looking to Asia to meet energy needs, analyst says

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2015

From GlobalData on Wednesday:

 

LONDON, UK (GlobalData), 14 January 2015 - External pressures on Russia’s oil and gas industry have compelled the country to seek partnerships with Asia-based companies to help with the production and marketing of its vast hydrocarbon resources, says an analyst with research and consulting firm GlobalData.

According to Anna Belova, GlobalData’s Upstream Analyst covering the Former Soviet Union, Russia’s oil and gas industry has been hit hard by expanded US and EU sanctions within its financial and energy sectors, announced on 12 September last year. The industry now faces limited access to financing, as well as limitations on technology transfers for unconventional and offshore developments.

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New contaminants found in oil, gas wastewater, research says

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2015

A press release released today from Duke University on research:

 

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University scientists have discovered high levels of two potentially hazardous contaminants, ammonium and iodide, in wastewater being discharged or spilled into streams and rivers from oil and gas operations in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Levels of contamination were just as high in wastewater coming from conventional oil and gas wells as from hydraulically fractured shale gas wells.

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EDF applauds White House methane reduction plans

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2015

From the Environmental Defense Fund today:

 

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EIA releases January 2015 Drilling Productivity Report

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

Release Date: January 12, 2015 | Next Release: February 9, 2015 | full report

 

Contents

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Food & Water Watch not impressed by Obama's methane plan

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2015

From Food & Water Warch today:

EPA’s Plan to Regulate Methane Offers Yet Another False Solution

Statement from Food & Water Watch Executive Director

‪Washington, DC – Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, issued the following statement in response to the release of the Obama Administration’s regulations to directly regulate methane leaks from the oil and gas industry:

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API says federal methane cuts unneeded and would be costly

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute today:

WASHINGTON, January 14, 2015 – Methane emissions from oil and natural gas production are falling, and new regulations on methane proposed by the Obama administration could disrupt America’s energy renaissance, according to Jack Gerard, API president and CEO.

“As oil and natural gas production has risen dramatically, methane emissions have fallen thanks to industry leadership and investment in new technologies,” Gerard said. “And even with that knowledge, the White House has singled out oil and natural gas for regulation, where methane emissions represent only two percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.

“Emissions will continue to fall as operators innovate and find new ways to capture and deliver more methane to consumers, and existing EPA and state regulations are working. Another layer of burdensome requirements could actually slow down industry progress to reduce methane emissions.”

A 2014 University of Texas study found that methane emissions are 10 percent lower than what the same research team found in a study released in September 2013, and EPA recently observed that methane emissions from hydraulic fracturing have fallen by 73 percent since 2011.

“Onerous new regulations could threaten the shale energy revolution, America’s role as a global energy superpower, and the dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions made possible by an abundant and affordable domestic supply of clean-burning natural gas,” Gerard said. “We need our government to implement sound policies, but this plan seems to be based on politics. We hope EPA will work with industry during the regulatory process to ensure that any regulations are based on science and technology and do not impair the industry’s ability to supply America with energy.”

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 625 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 25 million Americans.
 

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New rules welcome but don't cover existing pollution, group says

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2015

From Earthworks today:

Omission of existing operations means fracking impacted families get no relief

Jan 14, Washington, D.C. - Today, the Obama administration announced plans to regulate methane pollution from oil and gas production for the first time.

The proposed rules would cover new and modified oil and gas production sources, and natural gas processing and transmission sources, but omit hundreds of thousands of existing oil and gas wells and other operations. The Clean Air Act allows for the regulation of existing sources by the EPA, and it is estimated that almost 90% of projected 2018 emissions will come from oil production and existing natural gas infrastructure.

“Although these new rules are a welcome step in the right direction, they only govern new sources of methane pollution,” said Earthworks Executive Director Jennifer Krill. She continued, “Recent studies show the worst methane polluters include aging or even abandoned facilities. Global warming doesn’t care if a greenhouse gas source is new or old, and neither should these rules. Meaningful reductions in methane pollution from existing sources cannot be tackled by voluntary measures.”

Directly regulating methane emissions from oil and gas production can also help those living with air pollution from wells, compressor stations, and other oil and gas facilities. Capturing methane could cut VOC (volatile organic compounds, including carcinogens like benzene) pollution by an estimated 570,000 to 830,000 metric tons per year or more -- but only if existing sources of pollution are required to comply.

“Right now, my family’s health literally changes with the wind. We had to evacuate from our home last year due to oil and gas air pollution,” said Eric Ewing, an eastern Colorado resident who lives within one mile of more than 40 oil and gas operations. He continued, “the President can protect families like mine that live near oil and gas. But only if he’s willing to stop all methane polluters, not just new ones.”

The latest spate of news that renewables are cost competitive with fossil fuels recently preceded the Obama administration's methane announcement.

“Regulating air pollution from fracking-related development is necessary to protect the health of those living near it,” said Krill. She continued, “But the best protection for communities and the climate is to move away from fossil fuels towards clean energy. The time for ‘all of the above’ is over. Those in power need to choose clean energy now.”

--END--

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Additional fact sheets on new federal anti-methane plans

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2015

Additional federal fact sheets released today:

FACT SHEET: EPA’S STRATEGY FOR REDUCING METHANE AND OZONE-FORMING POLLUTION FROM THE OIL AND NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY

 

January 14, 2015 -- As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to addressing climate change, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has outlined a series of steps it plans to take to address methane and smog-forming VOC emissions from the oil and gas industry, in order to ensure continued, safe and responsible growth in U.S. oil and natural gas production. The agency’s commonsense strategy will reduce methane pollution from new sources in this rapidly growing industry, reduce ozone-forming pollutants from existing sources in areas that do not meet federal ozone health standards, and build on work that states and industry are doing to address emissions from existing sources elsewhere.

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Fact sheet on Obama's plan to reduce methane emissions

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2015

From the White House today:

 

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

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NRDC responds to Obama's plan to cut methane emissions

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2015

From the NRDC today:



 

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Sierra Club responds to Obama plan to reduce methane

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2015

From the Sierra Club today:

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune issued the following statement:

”Reducing methane in the atmosphere is necessary to address the unchecked climate pollution caused by the dramatic growth of oil and gas production in the United States. This expansion is driven by dangerous techniques, including fracking, which the Sierra Club opposes because they pollute our air and water and hold us back from clean energy prosperity. We cannot afford to wait: regulating methane directly is a critical step, but EPA and BLM must act quickly to reduce methane emissions from all new and existing sources of methane pollution in the oil and gas sector, including the transmission and distribution of natural gas.

"Controlling methane, however, is not an end in itself and it will not make fracked oil and gas climate friendly. Continued reliance on dirty fossil fuels is a dangerous course for our communities and our climate. Numerous scientific articles now point to the need to keep more than two-thirds of our fossil fuels in the ground in order to avoid climate chaos. We must move swiftly to truly clean energy like wind, solar, and energy efficiency while establishing policies that keep fossil fuels in the ground."

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Obama to cut methane from drilling by 40 to 45 percent by 2025

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2015

From the Associated Press today:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration says it will issue new regulations to cut down on methane emissions from oil and gas production and processing.

The White House says the goal is to cut methane emissions by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2025, compared to 2012 levels. The Environmental Protection Agency will issue a proposal this summer, and then finalize it in 2016 — the last year of President Barack Obama's presidency.

The Interior Department will also update its standards for drilling to reduce leakage from wells on public lands.

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EnLink Midstream companies acquire Permian Basin company

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2015

From EnLink Midstream companies on Monday:

DALLAS,January 12, 2015 — The EnLink Midstream companies, EnLink Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE:ENLK) (the Partnership) and EnLink Midstream, LLC (NYSE:ENLC) (the General Partner) (together “EnLink”), today announced that a subsidiary of the Partnership has signed a definitive agreement to acquire LPC Crude Oil Marketing LLC (“LPC”), which has crude oil gathering, transportation and marketing operations in the Permian Basin, for approximately $100 million, subject to certain adjustments.

 

LPC currently purchases, transports and sells approximately 60,000 barrels per day of crude oil, serving as a critical link between Permian producers and end markets. The acquisition expands EnLink’s service offerings in the Permian Basin, adding crude oil first purchasing and logistics capabilities to EnLink’s existing natural gas gathering and processing services.

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EIA issues January 2015 short-term energy outlook

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administartion today:

U.S. Energy Information Administration Administrator Adam Sieminski issued the following comments on EIA’s January 2015 Short-Term Energy Outlook, which was released on Tuesday, January 13:

The full STEO can be downloaded at: http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/

Crude Oil:

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Ohio has drilled 1,300 Utica wells, 712 Utica wells are producing

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2015

Ohio has approved 1,766 Utica Shale permits, as of Jan. 10, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

That includes 1,300 Utica wells that have been drilled and 712 Utica wells that are in production.

Ohio has 51 rigs at work.

There are 24 new permits: 12 in Columbiana County, six in Guernsey County and six in Noble County.

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Oil falls below $45 a barrel, U.S. stockpiles may grow, add to glut

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2015

Oil fell below $45 a barrel amid speculation that U.S. stockpiles will increase, exacerbating a global supply glut that’s driven prices to the lowest in more than 5 1/2 years, Bloomberg reported today.

Click  here  to read the latest story.

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Husky Energy shuts Ohio refinery after explosion, fire

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2015

From the Associated Press on Monday:

LIMA, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio oil refinery explosion that shook homes at least 10 miles away will keep the facility closed for about a week, but the shutdown will not affect supplies to customers, the plant’s operator said Monday.

Husky Energy Inc. said the refinery could still operate with the damage to one of its processing units but the company wants to temporarily shut down as a precautionary move. Husky spokesman Mel Duvall said the company has enough inventory to continue to serve customers.

No one was hurt in the blast that triggered a fire and burned for about 14 hours Saturday at the Husky Lima Refinery, which is about 70 miles south of Toledo.

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Natural gas spot prices higher in 2014 due to cold start

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

 

Driven by higher prices during the first three months of 2014, average wholesale (spot) prices for natural gas increased by 20% or more at most trading locations in the United States in 2014 compared to 2013. The average price of natural gas at Henry Hub in Erath, Louisiana, the primary benchmark location for natural gas pricing in the United States, rose 17% to $4.37 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) from the 2013 average price of $3.73/MMBtu. In calculating the annual average, those early high prices overwhelmed current prices that are in the $3/MMBtu range.

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API creates new oil-gas transportation department

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute today:

WASHINGTON, January 13, 2015 – The American Petroleum Institute today announced the creation of a Midstream Department that will focus on issues related to energy infrastructure and the transportation of oil and natural gas. Harry Pefanis, president and COO of Plains All American, will chair the committee made up of API member company representatives that will oversee the work of the Midstream Department.

“In order for America’s oil and natural gas renaissance to continue, we need a world class infrastructure system to deliver that energy to consumers,” said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. “Creating a division within our organization focused on midstream issues will enable the industry to address the critical issues around energy infrastructure.”

The Midstream Department will encompass API’s policy work on the transportation of oil and natural gas by pipelines, rail, ship and other methods. These areas were previously split between API’s Upstream and Downstream departments. Robin Rorick, who has nearly 20 years of experience in the oil and natural gas industry, will lead the department as Group Director of Midstream and Industry Operations.

“American families and businesses rely on oil and natural gas every day, and it takes a strong and diverse supply chain to meet America’s needs,” said Rorick. “Every method of transportation that we use has an important role to play in the safe, reliable and efficient movement of oil and natural gas from the wellhead to consumers.”

Rorick joined API in 1996 and for the last five years has worked as API’s Director of Marine and Security, with responsibility for maritime transportation issues and emergency response. A graduate of the College of William and Mary and then later Johns Hopkins University, Rorick lives with his family in Fairfax, Virginia.

API represents all segments of America’s oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 625 members produce, process, and distribute most of the nation’s energy. The industry also supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy.
 

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Fisher named CEO of American Energy Appalachian Holdings

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2015

From American Energy Partners today:

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, JANUARY 13, 2015: American Energy Partners, LP (AELP) today announced that Jeffrey A. Fisher has been named Chief Executive Officer of American Energy Appalachia Holdings, LLC (AEA). Aubrey K. McClendon will continue as Chairman of the Board of AEA.

Recently created through the combination of the holding companies of AELP affiliates American Energy – Utica, LLC (AEU) and American Energy – Marcellus, LLC (AEM), AEA has become one the largest pure-play Appalachian E&P companies with over 300,000 net acres in the prolific Utica and Marcellus shale plays located in eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia. AEA had estimated proved reserves of 1.5 trillion cubic feet equivalent (77% gas) and estimated daily production of approximately 167 million cubic feet equivalent (79% gas) for the quarter ended September 30, 2014. AEA is currently operating seven drilling rigs and expects its drilling activity over the next few years will significantly grow its production, reserves and cash flow.

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Access Midstream set Jan. 30, 2015, as record date for unit split

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2015

Oklahoma-based Access Midstream set Jan. 30, 2015, as the record date for its pre-merger unit split.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Jan. 22 hearing set on Ashtabula Energy discharge to Lake Erie

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2015

From the Ohio EPA today:

Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing in Ashtabula on Thurs., Jan. 22, 2015, regarding an application from Ashtabula Energy to discharge treated wastewater to Lake Erie.The public hearing is at 6 p.m. at Kent State University – Ashtabula Campus, Blue-Gold Room, 3300 Lake Road West, Ashtabula.

Ashtabula Energy, State Route 531 in Ashtabula, seeks to build a new industrial processing plant to convert natural gas to diesel fuel. If approved, the wastewater discharge permit would allow 1.625 million gallons of wastewater per day to be discharged into Lake Erie. The discharge water would consist of non-contact cooling water, water treatment plant residuals, sanitary wastewater and process waste streams. The process wastewaters would be sent through a treatment process prior to being discharged.

The discharge is expected to have minimal impact on the water quality of the lake. The project will discharge less than 10 percent of what Lake Erie can safely accept. The approved discharge may result in a change from the current water quality condition of Lake Erie, but cannot violate Ohio’s water quality standards.

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New York fracking ban will have little impact on drilling

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2015

From the Associated Press:

By MARY ESCH

ALBANY, N.Y.— New York’s recent decision to ban fracking is hardly seen as a big loss for the nation’s production of natural gas.

That’s because scientists say New York’s available reserves of natural gas in the sprawling Marcellus Shale are minuscule compared to what can be extracted in other states such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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Fracking opponents fighting East Coast natural gas terminal

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2015

From the Associated Press:

By WAYNE PARRY
EATONTOWN, N.J. — All that would peek above the ocean waves off New York and New Jersey would be two small buoys tethered to underwater pipes. But they’re already casting a large shadow, with potential effects on the economy of the New York metropolitan area, the marine environment, and even America’s future as a net importer or exporter of energy.

Liberty Natural Gas wants to build a deep-water port in federal waters 19 miles off Jones Beach, New York, and 29 miles off Long Branch, New Jersey. Its stated purpose is to bring additional natural gas into the New York area during times of peak demand, thereby lowering home-heating prices.

Business and labor groups support the plan, which was first proposed in 2008 and is projected to generate 800 construction jobs. But environmentalists, fishing groups and some elected officials say it is a dangerous, unnecessary project, given that America is awash in large supplies of domestically produced natural gas, much of which is produced in the Marcellus Shale formation just west of New York.

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Kleese Development is a big player in Ohio's injection wells

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2015

Kleese Development of Warren in Trumbull County is a big player in injecting brine into underground rock formations in eastern Ohio, according to the Youngstown Vindicator.

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Laurel Mountain Energy to develop shale in western Pennsylvania

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2015

Texas-based TPH Partnes is working with Clark and David Nickles to form Laurel Mountain Energy LLC.

The new company, based in Pittsburgh, will focus on shale development in Western Pennsylvania.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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ODNR appeals drilling permit revocation in North Royalton

By Bob Downing Published: January 11, 2015

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has appealed December's decision to revoke an oil-and-gas-drilling permit in North Royalton.

The notice of appeal was filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas by Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine. His office is representing the ODNR in this case.

The Ohio Oil and Gas Commission in December revoked an ODNR drilling permit for Cutter Oil Co., a West Salem firm. The permit would have allowed Cutter to use parts of two North Royalton streets to drill a new well.

Click  here  to read the story from the Cleveland Plain Dealer..

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Number of U.S. drilling rigs drops by 61, Ohio rigs increase by one

By Bob Downing Published: January 9, 2015

From the Associated Press today:

HOUSTON (AP) — Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. plummeted by 61 this week to 1,750.

The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report 1,421 rigs were exploring for oil and 329 for gas. A year ago 1,754 rigs were active.

Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Alaska and Arkansas each gained two rigs and Ohio gained one.

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Pre-file paperwork filed with the FERC for Nexus Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: January 9, 2015

Initial paperwork for a new $2 billion Utica Shale natural gas pipeline that would run through Summit, Stark, Medina and Wayne counties has been filed with a federal agency.

The request for the Nexus Pipeline was filed on Dec. 30 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that must approve the new interstate pipeline.

The request was filed by Houston-based Nexus Gas Transmission LLC in collaboration with Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. and Texas-based Spectra Energy Partners.

The companies had said earlier that they intended to submit what’s called a pre-file before Jan. 1 with the federal agency.

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AE-Permian Basin offers operational, financial updates

By Bob Downing Published: January 9, 2015

From CEO Aubrey McClendon's American Energy Partners:

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, JANUARY 8, 2015: American Energy – Permian Basin, LLC (AEPB), an affiliate of American Energy Partners, LP, today provided an operational and financial update outlining substantial production growth, adjustments to its planned drilling activity levels in response to a lower oil price environment and evidence of its strong liquidity and hedging position entering 2015.

Production, Drilling Activity and Well Cost Reduction Update

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Halcon Resources plans to scale back 2015 drilling operations

By Bob Downing Published: January 9, 2015

From Texas-based Halcon Resources on Thursday:

Halcon Resources Corp. today announced additional reductions to its 2015 drilling and completion budget.

Halcón's drilling and completions budget for 2015 is $375 - 425 million. Capital will be directed towards locations in the Fort Berthold area of the Williston Basin and El Halcón in East Texas . In addition, the Company expects to spend approximately $20 million on leasehold, infrastructure, seismic and other in 2015.

Halcón is planning to operate an average of two rigs in the Fort Berthold area and one rig in El Halcón in 2015. The Company does not anticipate any meaningful lease expirations despite this reduced rig count.

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Presalt oil, natural gas provide boost to Brazil production

By Bob Downing Published: January 9, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

 

In 2013, Brazil produced 2.0 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of crude oil and nearly one trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gross natural gas. Within these figures, the share of production from presalt resources found under thick layers of salt thousands of feet below the ocean's surface remains small but continues to increase. Crude oil production from the presalt layer was 15% of total production in 2013, a significant increase from 0.4% of total production in 2008 when oil from the presalt was first produced. Similarly, Brazil's presalt natural gas production represents 14% of total production, up from 0.5% of total production in 2008.

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Obama administration sued over Gulf of Mexico fracking records

By Bob Downing Published: January 9, 2015

From the Associated Press:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — An environmental advocacy group is suing the Obama administration in federal court for refusing to release documents detailing the extent of fracking in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed the lawsuit Thursday in U.S District Court in Washington, saying the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has refused to comply with the group’s federal public records request.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a process of injecting chemicals into rock formations to free oil or natural gas trapped inside.

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Protests against shale drilling spread in energy-rich Algeria

By Bob Downing Published: January 9, 2015

From the Associated Press earlier this week:

By AOMAR OUALI

Associated Press

Protests in Algeria’s remote and sparsely populated south over efforts to exploit the country’s vast shale gas reserves spread to the regional capital Tuesday, the state news agency reported.

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Bakken producers flare off more than 25 percent of natural gas

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2015

From SNL Energy today:

Producers struggle to get production to market as the Bakken Shale contributes more than 40% of all flared gas in the U.S.

SNL ENERGY: BURNED OFF: MORE THAN 25% OF GAS PRODUCTION FLARED IN NORTH DAKOTA'S BAKKEN

Over the past five years in North Dakota, hydraulic fracturing has brought about an explosion of oil production in the Bakken shale. According to the North Dakota Industrial Commission, almost 99.3 million barrels of crude oil was produced in the third quarter of 2014, a major jump from the roughly 23.7 million barrels produced in the third quarter of 2010. During that time, oil well counts in the region jumped considerably, as well. From January 2010 to September 2014, the number of producing wells increased by 7,140, lifting daily oil production by 571%, to more than 1.1 million barrels per day.

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Court rules Pennsylvania agency has final say on drilling leases

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2015

Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court ruled on Wednesday that the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has the final say in leasing state lands for drilling, not the governor's office.\

Click  here  to read the full story from NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

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Commerce Department opens door for condensate exports

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2015

 

The publication of guidelines on Dec. 30 on the website of the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security is the first public explanation of steps companies can take to avoid violating export laws, and may lead to more U.S.-produced oil being sent overseas.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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North Dakota lawmakers to get updated on falling oil prices

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2015

From the Associated Press today:

BISMARCK, N.D. — Lawmakers fretting about the falling price of oil are slated to hear firsthand from regulators and members of the petroleum industry.

The presentation to the House Appropriation Committee is slated for Thursday morning at the state Capitol in Bismarck.

Lawmakers are faced with massive demands during the 2015 Legislature for spending on roads, schools, public works and housing in response to western North Dakota’s oil activity.

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U.S. needs more energy, Gerard says in kicking off new campaign

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute:

WASHINGTON, January 6, 2015 – API President and CEO Jack Gerard delivered the keynote address at API’s Fifth Annual State of American Energy event on Tuesday, announcing a new advertising campaign, releasing the State of American Energy 2015 report, and highlighting the energy issues that will shape America’s economic and political news this year in a press conference for reporters.

Excerpts below:

“America’s emergence as a global energy leader has fundamentally reordered the world’s energy markets, by elevating the importance of North American energy production and reducing what had been the dominant roles of OPEC and Russia.

“And if we get our energy policy right, this unique American moment could support millions of well-paying jobs and expand the participation of traditionally underrepresented groups, which will be critical to fulfilling our nation’s bright energy future. . .

“The women and men who work in America’s oil and natural gas industry share with their colleagues in the solar, hydropower, coal, wind, renewables, nuclear energy and energy efficiency industries the goal of meeting the energy needs of our nation and the world.

“Ultimately, we need an American consensus on energy policy that encourages leaders to act with a sense of urgency. We need to foster better understanding and be willing to set aside partisan ideology to advance smart energy policies. We will contrast our vision of economic growth, expanded economic opportunity for millions and long-term American global energy leadership against the contrarian view, which would result in a lower standard of living, shrinking economy and, ultimately, American energy dependence.

“Our fundamental message is equally simple: Energy is central to our way of life and we will need more of it for many years to come.

“Together we call on the president, this new Congress and elected leaders in every state legislature to work with us to ensure that 21st century America and future generations only know their nation as a global energy leader.

“We will continue to work with anyone interested in transforming this American moment of energy abundance and global energy leadership into a decades-long energy reality that creates jobs and sustained economic growth for all Americans.”

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 625 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 25 million Americans.
 

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Dozen earthquakes hit Irving, Texas, earlier this week

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2015

A dozen earthquakes were recorded on Tuesday and Wednesday in Irving, Texas, near Dallas.

That brings the total number of quakes int hat area to 20 since last fall.\

The area reportedly had only one earthquake prior to 2008.

Drilling and injection wells may be contributing to the rash of quakes, experts say.

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Fracking ban introduced by state legislators in Florida

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2015

There is no fracking taking place in the state of Florida, but Florida legislators this week introduced legislation to ban the practice.

Click  here  to read the fulls tory from EcoWatch.

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BLM approves 3,769 shale permits in fiscal year 2014

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2015

The federal Bureau of Land Managtement handled about 3,769 shale drilling permits in fiscal year 2014, according to NGI Shale Daily.

That total is comparable to the number of shale permits issued for federal lands, mostly in the West, in fiscal year 2013.

The typical permit was approved in about 90 days.

There are about 100,000 wells on public lands that cover about 245 million acres.

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Nine groups sue U.S. EPA to require reporting of drilling chemicals

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2015

A press release today from the Environmental Integrity Project and eight other groups:

NINE GROUPS SUE EPA TO REQUIRE PUBLIC REPORTING OF TOXIC CHEMICALS RELEASED DURING FRACKING AND OTHER OIL & GAS OPERATIONS

 

Lawsuit seeks to end loophole for oil and gas industry and require it to report pollution to the federal Toxics Release Inventory like other major industries

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U.S. Steel to layoff 614 workers at Lorain steel plant

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2015

U.S. Steel announced on Tuesday that it will be laying off 614 workers at its Lorain plant that makes steel piping.

Lower oil and natural gas prices were among the reasons cited for the upcominmg layoffs, likely to begin in March.

Click  here  to read more from Kent-based WKSU-FM.

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$800 million Lordstown gas-fired power plant is back on track

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2015

Ckean Energy Future Lordstown LLC wants to build an $800 million gas-fired power plant in Lordstown in Trumbull County.

The plant could be operational by mid-2018 and could produce 800 megawatts.

It would provide 30 permanent jobs plus 550 construction jobs.

Click  here  to read more from The Business Journal.

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Pennsylvania sets hearing on gas-fired Westmoreland power plant

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2015

From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection today:

In the air quality plan approval application, Tenaska requests permission to construct and temporarily operate the gas-fired facility. The company’s NPDES application requests to discharge water used to cool the power generation equipment into the Youghiogheny River. DEP has issued draft approvals for both requests which include conditions specifying how these air emissions and waste-water discharges must be controlled.

An open house and environmental justice listening session has been scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 21 at the Turkeytown South Huntington Volunteer Fire Department hall (Huntington Place), located at 90 Supervisor Drive, West Newton, to get public input on these draft approvals. The open house begins at 6:00 p.m. Representatives from Tenaska and DEP will make brief informational presentations. Attendees will be able to ask questions and discuss the proposed project with company representatives.

On Wednesday, Feb. 11, a formal public hearing will be held at the same location. The hearing will begin at 6:00 p.m. Members of the public will be able to provide testimony on the draft approvals at the hearing. Those wishing to make comments should register with Community Relations Coordinator John Poister either by email or phone at jpoister@pa.gov or 412-442-4203. There will also be an opportunity to register on-site on the evening of the hearing.

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U.S. gasoline prices end 2014 at lowest since May 2009, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administartion today:

 

Across the country, retail prices for regular grade gasoline reached the lowest levels in four years primarily as a result of falling crude prices in the second half of 2014. As of December 12, the weekly retail price for regular gasoline in each city for which EIA collects data was below $3.00 per gallon (gal) for the first time since February 2010. Each city recorded its lowest 2014 gasoline price on the last Monday of the year.

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Eureka Hunter announces record pipeline throughput in 2014

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2015

From Magnum Hunter Resources today:

 

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwired - Jan 7, 2015) - Eureka Hunter Pipeline, LLC ("Eureka Hunter"), a subsidiary of Magnum Hunter Resources Corporation ( NYSE : MHR ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRC ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRD ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRE ) ("Magnum Hunter" or the "Company"), announced today that throughput volumes on Eureka Hunter's gas gathering pipeline system located in West Virginia and Ohio, have now exceeded the anticipated throughput exit rate for 2014 of 400,000 MMBtu per day.

Magnum Hunter Management Comments

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API hails quick U.S. Senate action on Keystone XL pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday:

WASHINGTON, January 6, 2015 ─ API President and CEO Jack Gerard said today’s bipartisan Senate filing of a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline shows Congress is following the will of the American people.

“Middle class jobs matter and lawmakers are acknowledging that in a big way by kicking off 2015 with KXL,” said Gerard. “Forty-two thousand good paying American jobs are at stake and our nation needs to build critical energy infrastructure now for the energy demands of the future.

“We are confident a Keystone XL bill will be sent to the president’s desk and we urge him to finally say yes to this job creating project.”

API thanked the bipartisan leaders in both chambers of Congress for their steadfast leadership in advancing this legislation.

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 625 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 25 million Americans.

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Belmont County family fight pipeline's use of eminent domain

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2015

From the Ohio-based 1851 Center for Constitutional Law on Tuesday:

 

Columbus, OH - The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today moved to counter the aggressive legal actions taken by Texas Eastern Transmission, a private Texas pipeline corporation, against Ohioans Roger and Lana Barack of Belmont County, alongside hundreds of other Ohio landowners.

 

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Natural gas fuels most of new electric-generating capacity in 2014

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2015

From SNL Energy today:

More than 15,000 MW of new generating capacity was added to the U.S. fleet in 2014, with more than half coming from gas-fired resources, followed by wind and then solar.

New generating capacity added to the aging U.S. fleet in 2014, at 15,450 MW, was slightly more than the 15,028 MW added the year before.

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Antero Resources to lay off 250 contract land brokers

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2015

From the Associated Press:

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Antero Resources plans to lay off more than 250 contract land brokers and focus on drilling.

Regional vice president Al Schopp told the Exponent Telegram that the layoffs won’t affect Antero’s employees.

He says prices for natural gas liquids have been affected by a drop in crude oil prices. The price decline prompted Antero to reevaluate how much capital it commits to land acquisition.

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Ohio has 1,290 drilled Utica wells, 713 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2015

Ohio has approved 1,743 Utica Shale permits, as of Jan. 3.

That includes 1,290 drilled Utica wells and 713 producing Utica wells, says the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Ohio has 49 drilling rigs at work.

Nine new permits were approved: two in Belmont County, one in Carroll County, four in Harrison County and two in Monroe County.

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Study finds 77 small quakes at Mahoning County fracking sites

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2015

Hydraulic fracturing at two well pads in Mahoning County caused 77 small earthquakes last March along a previously unknown geologic fault, according to a new scientific study.

That included one rare quake that was a magnitude of 3 and strong enough to be felt by neighbors, according to a study by three researchers from Ohio’s Miami University.

At that time, only five small quakes were reported, ranging from 2.1 to 3.

The new research was published online Tuesday in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America and released late Monday. It will be published in the February-March issue of the bulletin.

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Crude oil prices drop sharply in fourth quarter 2014, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administartion today:

 

Crude oil prices fell sharply in the fourth quarter of 2014 as robust global production exceeded demand. After reaching monthly peaks of $112 per barrel (bbl) and $105/bbl in June, crude oil benchmarks Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell to $62/bbl and $59/bbl in December, respectively.

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EID-Ohio reacts to Mahoning County earthquake analysis

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2015

From Energy in Depth-Ohio on Monday:

 

The Seismological Society of America released a report today, which linked hydraulic fracturing to earthquakes in Poland Township, Ohio, in March 2014. Thankfully, that incident produced no structural damage or injuries, as the seismic events were too small.

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UK oil tax changes fail to improve investment climate, analyst says

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2015

From GlobalData today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

UK Oil Tax Changes Fail to Significantly Improve Investment Climate, says GlobalData Analyst

LONDON, UK (GlobalData), 6 January 2015 - While positive measures have been taken to attract investment in the UK’s exploration and production (E&P) sector, low oil prices and the country’s high tax burden mean that more significant changes are required to make new developments commercially viable, says an analyst with research and consulting firm GlobalData.

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Industrial users ask Obama to adopt LNG export safeguards

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2015

From the Industrial Energy Consumers of America:

INDUSTRIAL CONSUMERS URGE PRESIDENT OBAMA TO PUT IN PLACE CONSUMER LNG EXPORT SAFEGUARDS

 

The Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA), representing large industrial consumers of natural gas and electricity, and with over one trillion in annual revenues and 1.4 million employees, released a letter today to President Barack Obama urging him to take concrete action in three areas related to the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries with whom the U.S. has no Free Trade Agreement (non-FTA countries). The request is timely given that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has already either approved or conditionally approved LNG exports equal to the largest LNG exporter in the world, Qatar. Exporting large amounts of LNG puts millions of manufacturing jobs at risk long-term.

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Company begins soil remediation at Texas compressor stations

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2015

A press release on Monday from Reterro Inc.:

 

Reterro Begins Inaugural Project in Texas

Major Independent Oil Services Company Selects Green

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California residents claim victory in fracking ballot language

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2015

From Earthjustice on Monday:

Court Rejects Inaccurate & Misleading Language in La Habra Heights Fracking Ballot Initiative

Victory: Residents seek to ban new oil and gas wells

 

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Report says aquifers at risk from drilling, seeks federal action

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2015

From Clean Water Action on Monday:

Washington, DC – Provisions of the federal law originally intended to protect drinking water are instead being used to allow oil, gas and uranium mining industry activities that would otherwise be illegal, according a report released today by Clean Water Action. This first-ever analysis of a critical Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) program found widespread sacrifice of underground water resources (aquifers) that could otherwise be used for drinking water in the future.

“In light of concerns about water quality and ongoing drought, which have only been exacerbated over the last three decades, the Aquifer Exemption Program should involve the highest level of scrutiny and transparency. But that is not what our research has found - and water resources have been put at risk,” said John Noël, Clean Water Action National Oil and Gas Campaigns Coordinator.

The Aquifer Exemption Program is part of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Underground Injection Control Program (UIC), authorized by Congress when SDWA first passed in 1974. Clean Water Action’s research found a record of industry influence over the entire UIC program and a lack of EPA oversight over the Aquifer Exemption program. “The criteria for granting exemptions are woefully unclear and clearly outdated,” Noël said.

In Aquifer Exemptions: A First-Ever Look at the Regulatory Program That Writes Off Drinking Water Resources in Favor of Oil and Gas Profits, Clean Water Action calls on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to correct deficiencies in oversight and management of the program, to increase transparency, and to identify aspects of the Aquifer Exemption program which are out of date in light of rapid increase in oil and gas development and water stresses caused by climate change.

Clean Water Action also released Regulating Oil and Gas to Protect Drinking Water: the Safe Drinking Water Act’s Underground Injection Control Program – Overview and Concerns. This background paper provides an overview of the UIC program regulation of oil and gas activities and calls on EPA to investigate several aspects of the program and ensure that the statutory mission of preventing endangerment of underground sources of drinking water is being met.

The SDWA language authorizing the UIC program directs EPA to prevent endangerment of underground sources of drinking water, but in a way that does not “interfere with or impede” oil and gas activities. “The UIC Program, meant to protect drinking water, is constrained by this contradictory language and by historic underfunding,” said Lynn Thorp, Clean Water Action National Campaigns Director. “We need to get serious about protecting precious water resources, and that includes taking a hard look at the UIC program and Aquifer Exemptions.”
 

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Three companies sign pacts for new Florida LNG facility

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2015

A press release today:

JACKSONVILLEJan. 6, 2015 – Pivotal LNG, Inc. (Pivotal LNG), a wholly owned subsidiary of AGL Resources Inc. (NYSE: GAS), and WesPac Midstream LLC (WesPac) today announced they have signed a long-term agreement with TOTE, Inc. (TOTE) to provide liquefied natural gas (LNG) to fuel TOTE’s two new state-of-the-art containerships. Pivotal LNG and WesPac are addressing the growing demand for LNG in the southeast by constructing a new natural gas liquefaction facility in Jacksonville, Fla.

The land has been purchased, the engineering and permitting process is advancing, and the new Jacksonville LNG facility is expected to be operational in mid-2016. The Jacksonville site provides the capability to add additional natural gas liquefaction and LNG storage capacity in the future in order to supply other customers in Jacksonville and regional markets.

“This announcement marks the beginning of long-term, sustainable relationships that support the growth of LNG as a clean alternate fuel in and around the Jacksonville area,” said Steve Cittadine, president of Pivotal LNG. “The combination of this new LNG facility in Jacksonville and our existing portfolio of LNG assets positions us well to serve the fueling needs of our current and future customers in the southeast, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and potentially the broader Caribbean market.”

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Fracking confirmed as source of rare Ohio 'felt' earthquake

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2015

From the Seismological Society of America on late Monday:

Fracking Confirmed as Cause of Rare “Felt” Earthquake in Ohio

SAN FRANCISCO – A new study links the March 2014 earthquakes in Poland

Township, Ohio to hydraulic fracturing that activated a previously unknown fault. The

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Oklahoma has 564 earthquakes in 2014, more than any other state

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2015

Oklahoma had 564 earthquakes that were magnitude 3 or greater in 2014, EneryWire reports.

That is more than any other state in the country.

The state had 100 such quakes in 2013.

Many believe the increase is tied to injecting drilling wastes below ground.

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Local, state fracking bans are wrong step, federal official says

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2015

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell says in  radio interview in California that state and local fracking bans are the wrong way to proceed and that fracking is misunderstood.

Read more about her comments at NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania by clicking here.

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Ohio, West Virginia officials to visit Minot, N.D., on Jan. 25-28

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2015

From the Associated Press on Sunday:

EVAN BEVINS | Associated Press

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — A dozen local officials are heading north this winter to learn how a North Dakota city at ground zero of the shale boom dealt with a rapidly growing population.

The mayors of Parkersburg, Vienna, Belpre, Ohio, and Marietta, Ohio, hope to apply lessons from Minot, North Dakota, to what the Mid-Ohio Valley’s experience will be if and when an anticipated ethane cracker plant is built in Wood County.

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West Virginia legal challenge ends for Gastar Exploration Inc.

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2015

From Gastar Exploration today:

HOUSTON , Jan. 5, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Gastar Exploration Inc. ("Gastar") (NYSE MKT: GST) is pleased to announce the resolution of a legal challenge to its West Virginia operations and results of recent Marcellus well completions.

A West Virginia state judge has rejected the second of a pair of lawsuits launched by a unit of Axiall Corp. aimed at stopping Gastar Exploration Inc.'s hydraulic fracturing operations in the Marcellus Shale .

In a December 24, 2014 order, Circuit Judge David W. Hummel dismissed Gastar from a lawsuit filed by Eagle Natrium LLC in Marshall County, West Virginia , requesting a temporary injunction. In doing so, Judge Hummel agreed with Gastar's position that Eagle was legally precluded from retrying its claims in West Virginia after losing a nearly identical lawsuit in Pennsylvania earlier this year.

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Summit Midstream Partners relocates from Dallas to Houston

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2015

A press release today from Summit Midstream Partners:

The Woodlands, Texas (January 5, 2015) – Summit Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE: SMLP) announced today that it has relocated its corporate headquarters from Dallas, TX to The Woodlands, TX. The decision to move the Company’s headquarters was made in order to centralize many of its corporate functions, including its engineering, business development, enterprise technology, HSE, and operational control teams. In addition, management expects to use this location to further capitalize on the deep pool of talented energy professionals that live and work in The Woodlands and the greater Houston area. The greater access to talent will be critical as SMLP and Summit Investments execute on a multi-billion dollar build-out of energy infrastructure in the Northeast and the Rockies.

SMLP’s new headquarters are located at 1790 Hughes Landing Boulevard, Suite 500, The Woodlands, TX 77380.

About Summit Midstream Partners, LP

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Energy had larger price drops than other commidities in 2014

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

 

The first eight months of 2014 were much like 2013, as energy commodities remained in a relatively stable price range. During the last four months of 2014, however, crude oil and petroleum product prices fell dramatically, and ended the year with the largest price drops of all major commodities in the S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI). Prices for nickel, zinc, and aluminum were among the few commodities that increased in 2014, while the prices of crude oil, petroleum products, natural gas, grains, and other metals declined.

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McClendon merging Utica, Marcellus operations in new company

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2015

From American Energy Partners today:

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, JANUARY 5, 2015: Creating one of the largest pure-play Appalachian E&P companies in the U.S., American Energy Partners, LP (AELP) affiliates American Energy – Utica, LLC (AEU) and American Energy – Marcellus, LLC (AEM) announced today that they will combine in an all-stock transaction. Upon completion of the transaction, current AEU and AEM shareholders will own all of the common equity of newly formed American Energy Appalachia Holdings, LLC (AEA). AEU and AEM will remain wholly-owned subsidiaries of AEA and their existing debt and convertible debt securities remain unaffected.

As a result of the transaction, AEA will operate a strong position of over 300,000 net acres in the prolific Utica and Marcellus shale plays located in eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia. AEU and AEM’s attractive positions in each of these respective plays and their complementary nature will allow AEA to maximize returns by realizing administrative and operational efficiencies and combining downstream marketing efforts and opportunities.

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Analysts weigh in on Gulfport Energy, raise 2014-2016 estimates

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2015

From New York financial analysts Sterne Agee today:

GULFPORT ENERGY CORP. (NASDAQ: GPOR) RATING: BUY
Price: $42.98
Price Target: $58.00

Analysts: Tim Rezvan/ Truman Hobbs
Execution Continues: GPOR Pre-Announces Strong 4Q14 Production and Year-End Exit Rate. Raise '14-'16 Estimates.

Our Call
By pre-announcing 4Q production of 59.8 mboe/d and exit rate production of 68 mboe/d, Gulfport has executed toward previously announced '14 guidance many believed was unattainable. The productivity of the company's gassy Utica Shale acreage, combined with strong execution from the new management team, are evident in this morning's release. With uncertainty on the company's 2015 rig count and drilling focus in the wet gas or dry gas windows of the play, we modestly increase '15 production/earnings estimates along with 4Q14 adjustments, while acknowledging they appear increasingly attainable based on 4Q execution. 2016 estimates increase due to new natural gas hedges.

• Details. The company pre-announced 4Q14 production of 59.8 mboe/d, above both our estimate of 54.8 mboe/d and consensus of 58.4 mboe/d. The company did not provide an oil/NGL breakdown. Gulfport brought 22 wells on-line in the quarter, above our forecast of 20. 4Q exit rate production of 68 mboe/d was 5% above our previous forecast of 1Q15 production (64.8 mboe/d).

• No '15 Details Yet; Only Six Rigs Running Now. The company will provide formal 2015 guidance on/before 4Q earnings on February 25. While we believe the company's recently enhanced liquidity position ($478 million of capital raises through tack-on debt issuance and sales of Diamondback Energy (FANG, $59.93, Buy) this summer) can support an 8+ rig program in the Utica Shale, initial guidance may prove to be more conservative as the company attempts to align spending more closely with Discretionary CF in the current environment. The company mentioned in this morning's release it is currently running only six rigs. We increase 2015 production to 80 mboe/d (104% y/y growth) and maintain 2016 production at 109 mboe/d (36% y/y growth).

• Hedge Update - More '15 and '16 Gas Swaps Layered In. The company increased 2015 natural gas swaps to 210 mmcf/d at $4.06/mcf (60% of 2015E natural gas production), up from 189 mmcf/d at $4.07/mcf. In 2016, the company increased its swap exposure to 118 mmcf/d at $3.98/mcf (24% of 2016E natural gas production), up from 62 mmcf/d at $4.03/mcf.

• Increase '14/'15 Estimates; No Change to '16 For Now. We increase 2014/2015/2016 EBITDA estimates to $109/$360/$492/$707 million from $355/$478/$702 million. EPS increases to $0.37/$0.18/$0.58 from $0.32/$0.16/$0.54. All of the 2016 earnings revisions and part of the 2015 earnings revisions are due to the new natural gas hedges, which we expect to improve 2015/2016 realizations from our $3.40/$3.70 per mcf price deck.

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Gulfport Energy offers 2014 exit rate, operational update

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2015

From Gulfport Energy today:

OKLAHOMA CITY , Jan. 5, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Gulfport Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:GPOR) ("Gulfport") today announces the Company's 2014 exit rate and provides an operational update.

Production

On December 31, 2014 , Gulfport recorded daily net production of approximately 68,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day ("BOEPD"), consisting of approximately 73% natural gas and 27% oil and natural gas liquids. During the month of December 2014 , Gulfport estimates that net production averaged approximately 66,000 BOEPD. For the fourth quarter 2014, Gulfport currently estimates that net production was approximately 5.5 million barrels of oil equivalent.

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Decline curve revealed by growing Utica shale production data

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2015

By Bob Downing

and Doug Livingston

Beacon Journal staff writers

In the world of shale gas in Ohio, the top-producing wells aren’t king of the hill for long.

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Travis Peak Resources poised to drill in Pa.'s Tioga County

By Bob Downing Published: January 4, 2015

Texas-based Travis Peak Resources is preparing to start drilling a Utica Shale well in Pennsylvania's Tioga County, said the Marcellus Drilling News and editor Jim Willis.

The company was founded in Austin in late 2013. It has the financial backing of EnCap Investments.

It has acquired leases in Tioga and Potter counties.

Click  here  to read more.

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Harrison County's Cadiz to get new 80-room Days Inn/Suites

By Bob Downing Published: January 2, 2015

New York-based Drill Capital LLC wants to build a new 80-room Days Inn and Suites in Cadiz in Ohio's Harrison County.

It would be the second new hotel/motel in Cadiz.

Click  here  to read the full story from Columbus Business First.

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Groups ask FERC to reconsider approval of New York pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: January 2, 2015

From Earthjustice on Tuesday:

Environmental Groups Challenge Federal Approval of N.Y. Natural Gas Pipeline

FERC violated federal law in issuing permits for the project earlier this month

WASHINGTON, DC – Environmental groups today called on the federal government to reconsider its approval of a 124-mile natural gas pipeline and gas transmission system project that would run from northeastern Pennsylvania through five counties in upstate New York.

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Group remembers Dec. 31, 2011, Youngstown earthquake

By Bob Downing Published: January 2, 2015

From a Youngstown-based activist group on New Year's Eve:

“Remembering the Earthquakes”: Frackfree Mahoning Valley Will Commemorate The Third Anniversary of the Now-Famous “New Year’s Eve” Youngstown, Ohio 4.0 Magnitude Fracking Waste Injection Well-Related Earthquake that Occurred on December 31, 2011:

Concerned Citizens Will Gather on Public Property at Three Sites, Including Downtown Youngstown, Near Two Weathersfield Injection Wells and Near a Poland Township Fracking Operation, Where New Earthquakes Took Place in 2014.

 

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U.S. crude oil expected to grow in 2015, despite lower prices

By Bob Downing Published: January 2, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

 

For the next two weeks (Dec. 22 - Jan. 2), Today in Energy will feature a selection of our favorite articles from 2014. Today's article was originally published on December 12.

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Penn State team tracking methane in Pennsylvania, New York

By Bob Downing Published: January 2, 2015

From Penn State University recently:

McHenry Township, Lycoming County. Equipped with a gray box, a map and an SUV, Thomas Lauvaux and a team from Pennj State's Department of Meteorology has been at it for hours, taking measurements and racking up the miles.

It's one in a series of road trips across northcentral and northeastern Pennsylvania, and neighboring southern New York, aimed at figuring out how much methane is in the air and how much of it is coming from the booming natural gas industry.

"Isotopes of methane will tell us how much comes from natural gas and how much comes from other methane sources, such as cows, landfills, wetlands and natural seeps," Lauvaux explains.

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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.