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Ohio Utica Shale

Ohio's severance tax bringing in tens of millions of dollars

By Bob Downing Published: January 31, 2016

Ohio’s severance tax rate on natural gas and oil is among the lowest in the United States, but it is suddenly generating tens of millions of dollars for state coffers.
That’s because lots of horizontal wells have been drilled in eastern Ohio and are starting to produce large volumes of natural gas and, to a lesser degree, oil from the Utica Shale.
Income from the tax has jumped from $2.5 million in fiscal year 2010 to nearly $21.3 million in fiscal year 2015, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. That’s an increase of 752 percent since drillers went after the Utica Shale. The biggest jump was a 261 percent increase from fiscal year 2014 ($5.9 million) to 2015.
Most of that tax money is derived from a tax on natural gas.
The tax total for fiscal year 2016 that began July 1 and runs through June 30, 2016, is already at $16.6 million through Dec. 31 and could top $30 million.
“That’s just shocking,” said Teresa Mills of Columbus, a spokeswoman for the Virginia-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice and a drilling watchdog in Ohio.
“Wow! That’s pretty amazing,” she said. “I know there are more wells on line and producing more, but that severance tax total is still shocking. … It’s not disturbing but it is just really surprising.”
Such a level of severance tax income means that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources should be fully staffed to handle any and all drilling problems in the state, she said.
“There’s no excuse for ODNR,” she said. “With funding like that, there’s no excuse for the state. ODNR must put up or shut up.”
The jump in Ohio’s severance tax income is not a surprise, said Andrew Thomas, executive in residence at the Energy Policy Center at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University and an expert on the Utica Shale.
“Production has increased significantly. Production has gone up a lot. And that’s producing more severance tax income. … It’s been a big jump,” he said.
“It is a significant amount of money,” said Shawn Bennett, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a statewide trade group.
What is unknown is how long that financial windfall will continue for Ohio as Utica drilling is slowing down — like shale drilling in other states — due to low commodity prices. That will likely reduce Ohio’s severance tax income at some future time, although production from already-drilled wells will continue for a time.
Only 15 wells were drilled in Ohio from July through September as the industry retrenched, Bennett said.
That number of wells drilled in Ohio has declined from 144 in third quarter 2014 to 133, to 102 to 63 to 15 in subsequent quarters, he said.
The number of drilling rigs at work in Ohio has dropped from 59 rigs 13 months ago to 14 rigs today.
That decline has already had big impacts as severance taxes have plummeted in most shale-drilling states. Six states that rely heavily on severance taxes are now looking at those taxes. Those states includes Texas, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Alaska.
Pennsylvania does not impose a severance tax, although that has been proposed. The state does impose fees that raise $856 million a year.
Ohio is one of 36 states that imposes severance taxes on natural-resource extraction.
Ohio’s  tax is 3 cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas and 20 cents per barrel of oil through three assessments. There is no tax on natural gas liquids including ethane, butane and propane.
The tax is also levied on older, smaller, vertical-only wells across Ohio. The $2.5 million collected on 2010 reflects largely the tax on such wells.
To date, Ohio has approved 2,118 Utica Shale permits. Of that total, 1,670 Utica wells have been drilled and 1,125 Utica wells are producing.
Under state law, the severance tax money must go to two divisions with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources: the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management that oversees drilling and the Division of Geological Survey.
In 2015, Oil and Gas Resources Management got $19.7 million and Geological Survey got $1.6 million. The totals are likely to grow this fiscal year.
The 2016 fiscal budget for the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management is about $22.5 million and the budget for the Division of Geological Survey is about $2.9 million. Both divisions have other incomes, too.
Last year, Ohio hired additional inspectors, bringing that number to more than 50. It has also hired eight new staffers for a new Emergency Response Team. That team will handle any and all drilling incidents in eastern Ohio. Four staffers will be stationed in local counties and four will be stationed in Columbus.
The severance tax not only pays for budgets but also for vehicles and Ohio’s orphan well program that seals up old abandoned wells, said ODNR spokesman Eric Heis.
It’s unclear how the state might use the severance tax money in the coming years, although it could help the state through a rough patch should that tax income decline, he said.
There has been heated debate for several years between Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Legislature over raising Ohio’s severance tax. Seven proposals have been introduced in the General Assembly but none have been passed.
Kasich proposed to increase the severance tax to 6.5 percent of the commodities’ value and to funnel some of that money to local communities impacted by drilling. He also wanted to use the severance tax income to fund a state income tax refund.
At $50 per barrel of oil, the 6.5 percent rate would amount to a tax of about $3.25 per barrel of oil and about 15 cents on each thousand cubic feet of natural gas. Such a tax on oil would be 16 times greater than what drillers pay now in Ohio, critics said.
That would result in Ohio’s severance tax being higher than West Virginia’s rate of 5 percent, but lower than the 7.5 percent rate that Texas collects.
Oil is currently under $30 per barrel.
The industry has opposed such a hike, saying the timing was bad because commodity prices were dropping and a tax hike would drive drillers out of Ohio.
It appears highly unlikely that Ohio will hike the tax in 2016, said David Hill, president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, in a January posting to his statewide membership.

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Ohio's severance tax income from fiscal year 2010 to 2016

By Bob Downing Published: January 31, 2016

Here's Ohio's annual severance tax income that is paid by drillers. The tax goes to two divisions within the Ohio Department of Natural Resources:

fiscal year 2010: $2,555,151.

2011: $3,664,957.

2012: $4,105,716.

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Pennsylvania board to review drilling rule updates on Feb. 3

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2016

From a Friday press release:

HARRISBURG, PA -- On February 3, 2016, Pennsylvania’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB), an independent board responsible for adopting environmental regulations, will review the Department of Environmental Protection’s updates to the oil and gas regulations. The “Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites” (Chapters 78 and 78a) rulemaking modernizes and strengthens the environmental controls employed by both the conventional and unconventional industries to assure the protection of public health, safety, and the environment.
 
The regulatory language has been formulated with the input of more than 25,000 Pennsylvania residents. The meeting is open to the public and will be held in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson State Office Building, 400 Market St., Harrisburg, PA at 9:00 A.M. It will also be broadcast live online.
 
“These updated regulations have been carefully crafted to both provide improved public health and environmental safeguards to the men, women, and children of Pennsylvania, and provide needed certainty for the industry. The changes are incremental and appropriate, protecting public health while enabling responsible drilling to proceed,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley.
 
In addressing surface activities at well sites, the amendments improve protection of water resources, add public resources considerations, protect public health and safety, address landowner concerns, enhance transparency, and improve data management.
 
To view the EQB meeting live online, please visit http://pacast.com/players/live_dep.asp.
 
“This meeting is an important step towards finalizing these regulations, which have been in the works for more than four years,” said Quigley.
 
The rules will be delivered to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the House and Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committees following adoption by EQB. 
 
WHAT:   
Environmental Quality Board hearing to review Ch. 78/78a revisions

WHEN:    
9:00 A.M. on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

WHERE:  
Room 105
Rachel Carson State Office Building
400 Market St., Harrisburg, PA 17105
 
LIVESTREAM AVAILABLE at http://pacast.com/players/live_dep.asp.

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CONSOL Energy boosting Utica Shale natural gas production

By Bob Downing Published: January 29, 2016

CONSOL Energy Inc. offset tumbling revenue from its coal and gas operations by cutting costs and boosting gas production, especially from new wells tapping the Utica shale, reported the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Friday.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Eagle LNG Partners submits LNG export application to DOE

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

 

Eagle LNG Partners Submits Application with the US Department of Energy

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Companies looking at Harrison County for new alkylate plant

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2016

Merging MarkWest Energy Partners and Marathon Pipeline Partners are looking at building an alkylate plant near Jewett in Ohio's Harrison County.

The plant would take butane from the Utica and Marcellus shales and turn into alkylate to boost octane in gasoline-powered vehicles.

A decision will likely be made in the next 12 months, company officials said on Wednesday at a conference in Pittsburgh.

Click   here  to read more.

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EQT Foundation awarded $5.5 million in 2015

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2016

EQT Foundation in Pittsburgh reported that it awarded $5.5 million to non-profit groups in four states in 2015.

The foundation is the charitable arm of EQT Corp., the Pittsburgh-based drilling company.

Click  here  to read more.

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Marathon Petroleum VP, counsel, secretary set to retire

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2016

From a press release:

FINDLAY, Ohio, Jan. 27, 2016 - J. Michael Wilder, vice president, general counsel and secretary, will retire from Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) effective March 1. Suzanne Gagle, currently an assistant general counsel, will assume the role of vice president and general counsel, and Molly Benson, also an assistant general counsel, will assume the role of vice president, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer.

Wilder joined Ashland Petroleum Co. as a staff attorney in 1978, and held several positions of increasing responsibility at Ashland and its affiliates. In 1998, when Marathon Ashland Petroleum was formed, Wilder was named general counsel and secretary of the joint venture. He was named to his current position with Marathon Petroleum Corp. in 2011.

"Michael's expertise and wisdom have been invaluable to this company, and we are grateful for the critical role he has played in our growth over the years," said Gary R. Heminger, president and chief executive officer. "We thank Michael for nearly 38 years of loyal service and wish him well in retirement."

Gagle began her career with MPC in 1992 and has held several positions within the Law Organization, including senior group counsel for MPC Operations. She assumed her current role as assistant general counsel with MPC's Law Litigation and Human Resources organization in 2011. Gagle graduated from the University of Toledo with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1987 and earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Toledo in 1992. She will report to Heminger.

Benson began her career with MPC in 1998 and has held several positions within the Law Organization, where she supported both MPC Operations and corporate organizations. She was appointed to her current position as assistant general counsel for all corporate and finance activities in 2012. Benson graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor's degree in political science in 1987. She received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Toledo in 1997. She will report to Gagle.

"Sue and Molly bring tremendous expertise to these positions," Heminger said. "Each possesses a comprehensive understanding of the strategic implications of our legal decisions and the ability to manage highly effective legal teams in order to accomplish our goals."

 

###

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Pipelines increase Northeast natural gas takeway capacity

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administartion today:

A number of recently completed and upcoming natural gas infrastructure projects are expected to increase the reach of natural gas produced in the Marcellus and Utica regions of the Northeastern United States (see map). These projects are intended to transport natural gas from production centers to consuming markets or export terminals.

Read More ›

Tags: hydrocarbon gas liquids , LNG (liquefied natural gas) , Marcellus , natural gas , Ohio , Pennsylvania , pipelines , states , Utica , West Virginia

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Antero Resources announces 4% increase in proved reserves

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

DENVER, Jan. 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Antero Resources (NYSE: AR) ("Antero" or the "Company") today announced reserves as of December 31, 2015. 

Announcement Highlights:

Antero's proved reserves at December 31, 2015 were 13.2 Tcfe, a 4% increase compared to proved reserves at December 31, 2014.  Proved, probable and possible ("3P") reserves at year-end 2015 totaled 37.1 Tcfe, which represents a 9% decrease compared to the previous year.  Both proved and 3P reserves as of December 31, 2015 exclude 366 million barrels and 1,237 million barrels of ethane, respectively, that is expected remain in the natural gas stream until such time pricing supports full ethane recovery. 

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Petroleum deliveries rose by 1.1 percent in December

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

WASHINGTON, January 27, 2016 – Total petroleum deliveries, a measure of consumer demand, in December rose by 1.1 percent from December 2014 to average nearly 19.7 million barrels per day, according to API’s Monthly Statistical Report for December 2015. These were the highest December deliveries in five years.

“Low prices have helped drive demand for oil and gasoline over the last year,” said API Chief Economist Erica Bowman. “In fact, demand for gasoline last month was the highest December in eight years.”

In December, total motor gasoline deliveries rose 2.0 percent from December 2014 to average just above 9.1 million barrels per day. Distillate deliveries decreased by 12.7 percent compared with December 2014 to average 3.6 million barrels.

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Ohio Department of Agriculture updates pipeline standards

By Bob Downing Published: January 28, 2016

From a press release today:

 

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (Jan. 28, 2016) - The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Division of Soil and Water Conservation has updated the Ohio Pipeline Standard and Construction Specifications document, which will allow progress while providing guidance to protect the state's resources and top industry. 

As part of its duties ODA has the responsibility to recommend soil and water conservation practices and work with other agencies to protect the agricultural status of rural lands adjacent to pipeline projects. The Ohio Pipeline Standard and Construction Specifications were originally developed in 1998 by the Division of Soil and Water Conservation and the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts to mitigate impacts by a proposed intrastate pipeline. 

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Study: Methane leakage could undercut Clean Power Plan

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2016

From a press release today:

Study: Renewable Energy Best Way to Achieve Climate Targets under Clean Power Plan
Unaddressed Methane Leakage From Natural Gas Sector Could Undercut Emissions Reductions

 

Oakland, California (January 27th, 2016) – New analysis from PSE Healthy Energy and University of California at Berkeley finds that increased deployment of renewable energy is the best way to meet or even surpass Clean Power Plan targets, as recent scientific measurements of methane leaks from natural gas systems have found higher rates of leakage than those recorded in official inventories. States that plan to depend on switching their electricity generation from coal to natural gas under the Clean Power Plan risk failure to achieve meaningful greenhouse gas reductions.

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Colorado finalizing rules to provide locals with limited say

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2016

From the Associated Press earlier this week:

DENVER — Colorado regulators are trying to finalize new rules intended to give local governments a limited say in where large oil and gas facilities are located.

The state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was holding its fourth day of hearings Monday on the proposals. Previous sessions were held last year.

The commission is considering two rules that would allow local governments to consult with energy companies on the location of big facilities in urban areas, generally 1,000 feet from clusters of occupied buildings.

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Grass-roots opposition grow to drilling, infrastructure

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2016

Opposition to shaler drilling and needed infasrructure including pipelines is growing across the United States, especailly in the Northeast, EcoWatch reports.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Citing low prices, Noble Energy reduces quarterly dividend

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2016

From a Tuesday press release from Noble Energy:

Houston, Jan. 26, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Noble Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NBL) today announced a decision by its Board of Directors to adjust the Company's quarterly cash dividend to 10 cents per common share, which represents a reduction of 8 cents and aligns the dividend yield with historical levels. The dividend is payable on February 22, 2016 to the shareholders of record at the close of business on February 8, 2016.

Kenneth M. Fisher, the Company's Executive Vice President and CFO, commented, "The decision to adjust the quarterly dividend, along with a substantially reduced and flexible capital program for 2016, is part of a comprehensive effort to spend within cash flow and manage the Company's balance sheet. We also intend to reduce leverage in this environment. The dividend adjustment and our recent debt refinancing provide approximately $200 million annually in support of these efforts. Paying a dividend remains an important element of our long-term value creation strategy. The Board of Directors will continue to evaluate the appropriate dividend level on a quarterly basis."  

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Pennsylvania sets hearing on Sunoco's Marcus Hook air permit

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

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Gap between Henry Hub, Marcellus natural gas prices narrows

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Natural gas spot prices around the United States are often compared to prices at the Henry Hub in Louisiana. At trading points in and around the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio, natural gas prices consistently trade below the Henry Hub national benchmark price. However, the difference between these pricing points and the Henry Hub has narrowed in recent months as new pipeline projects have come online.

Read More ›

Tags: Marcellus , natural gas , pipelines , prices

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Keane Group acquires U.S. assets of Trican Well Service

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

Keane Group to Acquire the U.S. Assets of Trican Well Service Ltd.

Acquisition Increases Keane's Technological Capabilities and Enhances Services Offerings, Improving Productivity and Efficiency for Customers

HOUSTON, Jan. 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Keane Group, a privately-held U.S. based well completion services company, has agreed to acquire the majority of Canada-based Trican Well Service Ltd.'s (TSX: TCW) U.S. assets for total consideration of U.S. $247 million, comprised of U.S. $200 million in cash plus a minority interest stake in Keane Group. With the acquisition, Keane will triple its frac capacity, acquire access to proprietary technology, add applied engineering capabilities and further expand the Company's service offerings and geographic reach in the U.S.

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No new Utica Shale permits approved last week by ODNR

By Bob Downing Published: January 27, 2016

Ohio approved no new Utica Shale permits last week.

Ohio has approved 2,118 Utica Shale permits, as of Jan. 23, the Ohio Department of Natural resources reported.

That total includes 1,671 drilled Utica Shale wells and 1,136 producing Utica Shale wells.

Ohio has 16 drilling rigs at work, ODNR says.

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Judge blocks West Virginia county's ban on injection wells

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2016

A federal judge has ruled that a West Virginia county cannot enforce its newly approved ban on injection wells for drilling wastes, until after a Feb. 11 court hearing.

The order came from U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. on a request from Pittsburgh-based driller  EQT Corp.

The ban, the first of its kind in West Virginia, had been approved by the Fayette County Commission.

Click  here  to read the full story.,

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Saboteurs are new challenge for Canada oil producers

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2016

A handful of anti-pipeline activists with lock cutters and the will to get arrested have become Canadian oil producers’ newest hurdle to delivering crude to markets, Bloomberg News reported..

Enbridge Inc. said it was forced to shut its Line 9 from Sarnia, Ontario, to Montreal for about four hours after the company’s control center detected that a valve had been tampered with and closed late on Sunday. It was the fourth time in two months that an Enbridge line was shut after a such incident.

Saboteurs represent the latest hassle Western Canada faces in getting its crude to coastal markets as plans to build new pipelines are stymied by environmental and legal challenges. Pipeline development in Canada has been under increasing public scrutiny and has become a political football for local, provincial and federal leaders.

Click here  to read the full story.

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Pennsylvania report on pipelines expected next week

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2016

A report from a state task force charged with improving pipeline development in Pennsylvania is being billed as only the “start of a conversation” about reducing hurdles and conflict around the sweeping infrastructure buildout, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

None of the 184 recommendations in the report will be binding without further government action, said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley, the chair of the task force.

Some of the suggestions from 158 experts anjd stakeholders are unlikely ever to be enforced.

The final report is scheduled to be delivered to Gov. Tom Wolf sometime next week.

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Hess intends to release Utica drilling rig after 1Q 2016

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2016

New York-based Hess Corp. is planning to spend $45 million in Ohio's Utica Shale in 2016.

The company intends to drill five Utica Shale wells and bring 14 wells online, it said in a statement today.

After those wells are done, the rig will likely be released, the company said.

Overall, Hess said it intends to spend $2.4 billion on capital expenses in 2016, a 40 percent reduction from what was actually spent in 2015 and 20 percent below earlier estimates.

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Colorado Petroleum Council unhappy with rule proposals

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Monday:

DENVER, January 25, 2016 ─ The rules proposed today by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) conflict with the Task Force’s original recommendations, said Colorado Petroleum Council (CPC) Executive Director Tracee Bentley.

“Energy is fundamental to our society, and thanks to innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, Colorado stands among the country’s leaders in energy production and environmental improvement. To remain an energy leader, we must balance a healthy, growing economy with rules that do not hinder progress and encourage innovation.

“While it is clear that a significant portion of these rules do go far beyond the scope of the original Task Force recommendations, we recognize and appreciate the collaboration from the COGCC staff and other stakeholders who participated in this process.

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EV Energy Partners reducing cash distribution

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2016

From a Monday press release:

HOUSTON, Jan. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- EV Energy Partners, L.P. (Nasdaq: EVEP) today announced a cash distribution attributable to the fourth quarter of 2015 of $0.075 per unit, or $0.30 on an annualized basis, for all of its outstanding units. The distribution will be payable on February 12, 2016, to unit holders of record at the close of business on February 5, 2016.  This distribution represents a $0.425 per unit reduction from the prior quarterly distribution. 

"Currently, we have liquidity in excess of $375 million, and we anticipate generating free cash flow in the coming year.  However, given current forward oil and natural gas prices and the fact that we have less production hedged at lower prices beginning in 2016 relative to previous years, we are reducing our distribution to preserve liquidity and financial flexibility during this ongoing period of low commodity prices.  We will continue to make future quarterly distribution decisions based on our performance, realized pricing and long-term value creation.  This was a difficult decision, but we believe it was an appropriate one, as we focus on sustaining our business through this industry downturn and position EVEP to generate value for our unitholders as commodity prices rebound," said Michael Mercer, President and Chief Executive Officer.

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Babst Calland opens Washington, D.C., office

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2016

From a press release

Babst Calland Opens Washington, D.C. Office

WASHINGTON and PITTSBURGH, Jan. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The law firm of Babst Calland today announced the opening of a new office in Washington, D.C., and the addition of two experienced energy attorneys, James Curry and Keith Coyle. Attorneys Curry and Coyle represent clients in the energy industry on a variety of matters, particularly in the areas of pipeline safety and the transportation of hazardous materials, and are joining the Firm's Energy and Natural Resources Practice Group as shareholders. Adding to the Firm's energy and environmental capabilities, these new attorneys bring deep experience in compliance, regulatory and legislative affairs, strategic counseling, enforcement, litigation, and audit preparation.

The opening of the Firm's new Washington, D.C. office, its sixth location, marks a significant event in Babst Calland's 30-year history. The new office will be located at The Southern Building at 805 15th Street NW, Suite 601, Washington, DC. Founded in 1986, the Firm has a nationally-recognized environmental practice and is a leading provider of legal services to the energy industry in the Appalachian Basin and beyond.

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DeMarco to speak on Wednesday at Youngstown State

By Bob Downing Published: January 26, 2016

From a press release:

Pathway to a Sustainable Future
 
Dr. Patricia DeMarco
Visiting Researcher and Writer, Carnegie Mellon University, Institute for Green Sciences
Senior Scholar, Chatham University, Elected to Forest Hills Borough Council
                       
Wednesday, January 27th, 2016, 7 p.m.
Cushwa Hall Room B112
Youngstown State University
 
Website: tinyurl.com/YSU-Energy-S16
 
Patricia M. DeMarco is a native of Pittsburgh, PA. with a doctorate in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. She  has spent a thirty -year career in energy and environmental policy  in both private and public sector positions, including Commissioner of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and Demand Side Manager for the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative. She was the Executive Director of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association and Director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University.
 
Her  book, titled �Pathways to Our Sustainable Future�  is funded by the W. Clyde  and Ida Mae Thurman Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation. It will be published by The University of Pittsburgh Press in 2016.
 
She explores the social, cultural and policy barriers to  sustainability in a forum titled �The Green Chemistry Roundtable� hosted at the Institute for Green Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University.
 
She is a regular guest on The Union Edge Radio with a segment on the Charles Showalter Show titled �Just Transitions� appearing on the second Wednesday and fourth Thursday of every month discussing labor, environment and health issues.
 
On November 3, 2015, Patricia DeMarco was elected to the Forest Hills Borough Council as an At Large Member for a four year term commencing on January 4, 2016.
 
 
The lecture is free and open to the public. There is free on-street parking after 5 p.m. at the metered parking spaces along Lincoln Avenue and nearby streets.
 

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Cabell to retire as president of Seneca Resources Corp.

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2016

New York-based National Fuel Gas Co. today announced major changes to its executive management team.

Matthew D. Cabell, president of Seneca Resources Corp., will retire on May 1.

He will be succeeded by company CEO John P. McGinnis.

Click  here  to read about the changes.

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ExxonMobil: Energy demand to grow, carbon intensity to drop

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2016

ExxonMobil says energy demand will grow by 25 percent from 2014 and 2040 driven by population and economic growth and carbon intensity of the global economy will be cut in half due to energy efficiency and a gradula transition to less carbon-intense energy types.

Click  here  to read more.

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Halliburton reports $28 million in 4Q 2015 losses

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2016

Oil field services giant Halliburton reported $28 million in loss in the fourth quarter 2015 with low commodity prices and cutbacks.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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North Dakota approves crude four-state pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2016

From the Associated Press last week:

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota regulators on Wednesday approved the biggest-capacity crude pipeline proposed to date that would move nearly 600,000 barrels daily from the oil patch to Illinois. Some things to know about the $3.8 billion, 1,150-mile project that crosses four states:

WHAT HAPPENED?

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Natural gas for electric production at record highs, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

Since January 1, consumption of natural gas for electric power generation (power burn) has averaged 26.0 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), 24% greater than the five-year average and 3% higher than the five-year maximum. While power consumption is typically highest in summer to meet air-conditioning demand, about 39% of all households in the United States rely on electricity as their primary heating source. In the Southeast, where most of the homes use electricity for space heating, natural gas is a relatively large share of the generation mix. However, the growth in power burn this month has occurred despite electricity-weighted heating degree days that were close-to-average nationally and in the Southeast region.

Low natural gas prices and growth in natural gas power generation infrastructure are the main drivers in the consumption growth. This is a continuation of a trend, with 2015 being a record-high year for power burn, according to preliminary Bentek data. Bentek estimated that power burn averaged 26.4 Bcf/d in 2015, 6.8% greater than the next-highest annual average, in 2012.

Nationwide, natural gas-fired generation has been rising, as coal has declined as a share of total generation. In 2015, coal plant retirements accelerated as the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rules were implemented. Through October 2015, around 11 GW of coal-fired generation was retired, although this generation was likely already running at a reduced capacity factor, meaning that those plants were active for fewer hours a day than before

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Eclipse Resources to record $800 million Ohio impairment

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Eclipse Resources Corporation (NYSE:ECR) (the “Company”) today announced proved reserves at December 31, 2015 were 348.8 Bcfe, a less than 2% decrease compared to proved reserves at December 31, 2014 of 355.8 Bcfe, in each case assuming ethane rejection on operated properties with a 30% contractual recovery. Year-end 2015 proved reserves were approximately 79% operated by the Company, 79% proved developed producing, and 79% natural gas. SEC prices for reserves were calculated as of December 31, 2015 and further calibrated for quality, energy content and market differentials with the average adjusted product price weighted by production over the remaining lives of the properties being $46.73 per Bbl for oil, $2.52 per Mcf for natural gas, $12.88 per Bbl of NGL and $38.20 per Bbl of condensate. Using SEC prices, which are not indicative of current forward prices, the pre-tax present value discounted at 10% of the December 31, 2015 proved reserves (“PV10”) was $212.9 million, an approximate 58% decrease over the year-end 2014 reported value of PV10 of $509.4 million. This decrease in PV10 is primarily the result of the substantially lower commodity prices used in the calculation of 2015 proved reserves as compared to the calculation of 2014 proved reserves. Eclipse Resources’ proved reserves at December 31, 2014 and 2015 were prepared by Netherland, Sewell & Associates, Inc., the Company’s independent petroleum engineers (“Netherland Sewell”).

In addition, the Company expects to record an impairment charge with respect to the fourth quarter of 2015 on certain oil and gas properties located in Ohio, attributable primarily to a significant decline in commodity prices. The Company currently estimates the impairment charge to be between $750 million and $850 million. The amount of this impairment charge has been estimated by the Company based upon presently available information, including the reserve report prepared by Netherland Sewell, and such estimate is unaudited. Accordingly, the estimated impairment charge remains subject to revision based upon further analysis and final review. The Company does not anticipate that the expected impairment will result in a violation of any financial covenants associated with the Company’s senior secured revolving credit facility or senior unsecured bonds.

Fourth Quarter 2015 and Full-Year 2015 Earnings Announcement and Conference Call

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FERC investigating rates of four interstate pipelines

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2016

From the FERC on Thursday:

FERC Initiates Investigations of Four Interstate Pipeline Companies’ Rates

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today announced it will initiate Natural Gas Act section 5 investigations of the rates charged by four interstate natural gas pipelines to determine if the companies may be substantially over-recovering their costs, resulting in unjust and unreasonable rates.

The Commission will investigate the rates of Tuscarora Gas Transmission Company (Docket No. RP16-299-000), Empire Pipeline, Inc. (Docket No. RP16-300-000), Iroquois Gas Transmission System, LP (Docket No. RP16-301-000) and Columbia Gulf Transmission, LLC (Docket No. RP16-302-000).

FERC reviewed the cost and revenue information provided by the companies in their filings of FERC Form No. 2, the Annual Report for Major Natural Gas Companies, and FERC Form No. 2-A, Annual Report for Non-Major Natural Gas Companies, for 2013 and 2014. Based on this review, the Commission became concerned that each pipeline company is collecting revenue substantially in excess of the pipeline’s actual cost of service, including a reasonable return on equity.

FERC directed each pipeline to file a cost and revenue study within 75 days of the issuance date of that pipeline’s order. The Commission also set each case for evidentiary hearings before a FERC administrative law judge.

R-16-10

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API: BLM rules on flaring, venting could stifle energy growth

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Friday:

WASHINGTON, January 22, 2016 – The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) unnecessary proposed rules for venting and flaring could stifle energy development on federal lands with few benefits, according to API. 

“We share the desire to reduce emissions and are leading efforts because capturing more natural gas helps us deliver more affordable energy to consumers,” said API Director of Upstream and Industry Operations Erik Milito. “The incentive is built-in, and existing BLM guidelines already require conservation. Another duplicative rule at a time when methane emissions are falling and on top of an onslaught of other new BLM and EPA regulations could drive more energy production off federal lands.  That means less federal revenue, fewer jobs, higher costs for consumers, and less energy security.

“The goal is to prevent emissions, not impede U.S. energy production. The BLM should focus on fixing permitting, infrastructure and pipeline delays that slow our ability to capture more natural gas and get it to consumers.

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Natural gas prices expected to rise over next two years

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

The average natural gas spot price at the benchmark Henry Hub for December 2015 of $1.93 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) was the lowest monthly average since March 1999. EIA's latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) expects natural gas prices to rise, averaging $2.65/MMBtu in 2016 and $3.22/MMBtu in 2017. Expected price increases reflect consumption growth, mainly from the industrial sector, that outpaces near-term production growth.

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Tags: natural gas , spot prices

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Williams to cut capital spending by $1 billion or 32 percent

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2016

Oklahoma-based Williams and Williams Partners today announced that the 2016 capital budget for Williams Partners will be $2 billoion, down $1 billion or 32 percent from previous plans.

That's due to low commodity prices that are impacting planned projects, the companies said.

Click  here  to read the full statement.

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Rex Energy suspends quarterly preferred dividend

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2016

from a Thursday press release:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., Jan. 21, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rex Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:REXX) today announced that it has suspended payment of its quarterly dividend on shares of its 6.0% Series A convertible perpetual preferred stock.

The company has 16,100 shares of 6.0% convertible perpetual preferred stock outstanding, represented by 1,610,000 depositary shares, and will continue to evaluate the payment or suspension of the dividend on a quarterly basis. The dividend suspension creates an additional $2.4 million of liquidity per quarter and does not constitute an event of default under the company's revolving credit facility or outstanding bond indentures.

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Utica Shale drilling in Ohio drops to 15 in 3Q 2015

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2016

Utica Shale wells drilled in Ohio by quarter:

From the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, based on ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management (as of Sept. 19, 2015)

1Q 2011: 3.

2Q 2011: 4.

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Groundwater methane in Carroll County at Feb. 4 meeting

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2016

From a press release:

UC Shares Utica Shale Groundwater Methane Research

Carrollton, OH: Researchers Amy Townsend-Small, PhD and Claire Botner, MS from the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Geology will share results of their 2012-2015 study of groundwater methane levels in the Utica shale region of Ohio at Carroll Concerned Citizens’ February 4 meeting.
Their research sought to understand links between hydraulic fracturing activities and increased levels of flammable methane gas in private groundwater sources based on samples from Carroll and surrounding counties before, during and in the early stages after Ohio’s shale gas boom began.
According to Paul Feezel, Chair of Carroll Concerned Citizens, “We saw the debate about fracking’s impact on groundwater methane in Pennsylvania and the results of failing to have pre-drilling or baseline data for comparisons. Dr. Townsend-Small’s study provides landowners with that baseline data and helps to differentiate shale sources from non-shale sources of methane.”
The meeting will begin at 7pm and will be held at the Church of Christ – Christian Disciples, 353 Moody Ave. Carrollton, OH. The meeting is free and open to the public.

###
MEDIA CONTACTS
PAUL FEEZEL
PAULFEEZEL@CARROLLCONCERNEDCITIZENS.ORG

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Sanders says he is strongly against fracking, pipelines

By Bob Downing Published: January 25, 2016

From a Thursday press release from 350.action:

Sanders Strongly Against Fracking, Says He Would Shut Down Porter Ranch Well

 

Hooksett, NH -- When asked by Miles Goodrich, a campaigner with 350 Action, at a town hall meeting at Southern New Hampshire University, if he would shut down the Porter Ranch gas well, Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders responded immediately with his support in shutting down the gas storage facility, and continued to express his strong disagreement with those who argue that fracking is safe.

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New Jersey homeowners organize to block PennEast Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

Homeowners Lawyer Up: HALT PennEast Vows to Stop Pipeline

STOCKTON, N.J., Jan. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Homeowners and residents in Mercer and Hunterdon counties that would be directly impacted by the proposed PennEast pipeline have joined forces to create the group – HALT PennEast ("Homeowners Against Land Taking") to step up their efforts to stop construction of the pipeline. To represent its interests, the group has hired Wiley Rein, a leading Washington D.C. law firm known for its expertise in complex, high-stakes regulatory, litigation, constitutional and transactional matters.

"We will use our fast-growing collective resources to stop the PennEast pipeline," said Vincent DiBianca of Delaware Township, one of the homeowners leading the group. "Contrary to PennEast's public relations spin, we intend to prove that there is no valid justification for taking our homes, farms and properties and endangering our livelihoods and families' well-being for a pipeline that is not needed, not wanted and harmful. We're committed to putting the breaks on a proposed pipeline that when you look under the covers would solely benefit the private companies behind it, not the public." PennEast is owned partly by PSE&G, New Jersey Resources and South Jersey Gas.

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New methane rule is 'step in right direction,' UCS says

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2016

From a Friday press release:

BLM Methane Rule a Welcome Step in Reducing Global Warming Pollution

Statement by David Babson, Senior Engineer, Union of Concerned Scientists

Washington (January 22, 2016)—The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has proposed new rules to reduce methane venting and flaring emissions from oil and gas drilling on public and tribal lands. That’s a step in the right direction for the climate, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by David Babson, senior engineer in the Clean Vehicles Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“This new rule is a welcome change and will cut a major source of global warming emissions. When oil and gas producers vent, flare or allow leaks of methane, it comes with a real cost to taxpayers and to the climate.

“We’ll be pushing to make sure that this rule is as strong as possible, because methane is the second-largest contributor to global warming, and oil and gas extraction is the biggest single source of methane emissions. This methane should be captured and used carefully, not burned off into the atmosphere. We have the technologies to reduce these emissions now, so this rule could phase in even more quickly than the 3-year timeframe BLM proposed.

“It’s especially important that this rule will apply to both new and existing operations. Oil and gas producers need to be held accountable for practices that waste resources and contribute to climate change. We’re glad to see the administration paying attention to venting, flaring and leaking methane as part of its effort to reduce emissions.”




###

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe and sustainable future. For more information, go to www.ucsusa.org.

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Chesapeake Energy suspends preferred stock dividends

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2016

From a Friday press release:

OKLAHOMA CITY, Jan. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) announced today that it has suspended payment of dividends on each series of its outstanding convertible preferred stock effective immediately.

Doug Lawler, Chesapeake's Chief Executive Officer, commented, "The board and management believe this decision is in the best long-term interest of all Company stakeholders. Today's decision to suspend our preferred stock dividends will allow the company to retain approximately $170 million of additional cash per year and use these funds to purchase debt at significant discounts in the near term. Given the current commodity price environment for oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids, we believe that redirecting this cash toward debt retirement provides better returns for the Company. We currently have senior debt securities trading at significant discounts, and we will continue to take advantage of that within the coming year."

Suspension of the dividend does not constitute an event of default under the Company's revolving credit facility or outstanding bond indentures.

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Beck Energy wins two lease cases before Ohio Supreme Court

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2016

From a Friday press release:

NEWS RELEASE

The Ohio Supreme Court Finds Oil and Gas Leases Are Not Void As Against Public Policy

 

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Earthjustice calls methane rule "an important step'

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2016

From a press release today:

Earthjustice Statement on Newly Proposed Public Lands Methane Rules

‘Important step towards reining in climate-disrupting pollution from oil and gas industry’

 

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Group calls for no drilling on federal lands to cut methane

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2016

From Environment America today:

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the Obama administration announced a draft rule to limit methane emissions from some 100,000 fracking and drilling wells on public lands. Methane, a climate-warming pollutant many times more potent than carbon dioxide, makes up about a tenth of U.S. global warming pollution.
 
Anna Aurilio, director of Environment America’s Global Warming Solutions program, issued this statement:
 
“This week we learned that 2015 was by far the hottest ever in recorded history, underscoring the need for urgent and bold climate action. Today’s announcement meets the timely test, but misses the mark on ‘bold.'
 
"Limiting air pollution from fossil fuel development on our public lands is important, but it does little to staunch the climate impact of rampant drilling and fracking. Curbing methane is a bandage, not a cure for the climate crisis.
 
"To avoid dangerous global warming, scientists say we must keep most of our fossil fuels safely in the ground. We were delighted to see the president start down this path last week when he announced a moratorium on new coal leases on our public lands. He should continue down this road by stopping new fracking and drilling on our public lands and in our oceans.”


 

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Earthworks pleased with new methane rule, wants more

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2016

From a Friday press release:

\

Earthworks statement on the Interior Department's Methane and Waste Reduction Rule

Statement of Earthworks' Policy Director Lauren Pagel

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Taxpayers will pay for new, costly methane rules, IPAA says

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2016

From a press release today:

IPAA: New, Costly Methane Regulations Are at the Expense of American Taxpayers

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Today, Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Political Affairs Dan Naatz released the following statement in response to the Department of the Interior’s proposed emissions mandate on oil and natural gas producers who operate on federal and Indian lands, in the name of equitable return to the taxpayer and under the pretext of climate change.

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350.org: Federal plan is 'band-aid on a broken system'

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2016

From a Friday press release:

350.org Reacts to New Natural Gas Regulations on Public Lands: “a band-aid on a broken system”

OAKLAND, CA-- In response to the new regulations announced by the Obama Administration to reduce methane pollution from natural gas extraction on public lands, 350.org’s Fracking Campaign Coordinator Linda Capato Jr. said:

“This is a band-aid on a broken system. The end goal of this administration must be to stop all new fossil fuel development on public lands and ban fracking across the board. Cutting down on methane flaring is important, but it won’t stop the damage fracking is causing to communities every day, nor prevent disasters like the huge methane leak at Porter Ranch in California. The President should put a moratorium on fracking on public land just like he put a moratorium on coal leases.”

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Strong support in southern Ohio for Wayne NF drilling

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2016

From a Thusday press release:

Bipartisan Elected Leaders, Community Groups, Business, and Labor Join Landowners in Supporting WNF Drilling

 

SARAHSVILLE, OH – A wave of federal, state, and local bipartisan leaders, community organizations, businesses and labor unions joined hundreds of local landowners blocked from developing their mineral rights in submitting public comment in favor drilling in the Wayne National Forest (WNF) to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) this week.

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Eco-groups say Ohio legislative injection proposal won't work

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

Buckeye Forest Council and Frackfree Mahoning Valley Release a Joint Statement Saying State Representatives Sean O’Brien, Michael O’Brien, and John Patterson’s Injection Well Bill (HB 422) Won’t Work To Protect Public Health And Safety:  Groups Say The Bill Ignores The Seriousness Of The Fracking Waste-related, Man-made Earthquake Issue and Resulting Threats To Drinking Water and Property Values.

 

Youngstown, Ohio, January 21, 2016 - Buckeye Forest Council and Frackfree Mahoning Valley released the following January 21, 2016 statement regarding HB 422:

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Taylor Energy says nothing can be done to stop Gulf oil leak

By Bob Downing Published: January 22, 2016

From a Thusdat press release from the Waterkeeper Alliance:

Public Forum Highlights Serious Risks of Offshore Oil Drilling

Taylor Energy argues that oil leak simply cannot be stopped

 

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Medical professionals seek revision of EPA fracking study

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2016

From a press release today:

WASHINGTON, DC – Citing clear evidence of water contamination linked to fracking, more than 100 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals said today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should revise the conclusion of its landmark study on the controversial drilling technique.

The comments from the health professionals came at the end of a public comment period on the draft review of the EPA study, which has been roundly criticized for its topline conclusion that hydraulic gas fracturing posed “no widespread, systemic risks.”

“As doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, we are deeply concerned with the EPA draft report,” said a letter submitted today by Environment America. “We feel it is appropriate for the EPA to retract its topline conclusion.”

A panel of scientists tasked with reviewing the draft study said two weeks ago that EPA’s main finding was “inconsistent” with the rest of the agency’s analysis. The advisory board is in the process of finalizing its recommendations for revisions to the study.

“Families from Pennsylvania to Colorado have already suffered from dangerous water contamination caused by fracking,” said Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling Program. “The conclusion reached by the EPA that fracking poses no widespread water contamination should be retracted – period.”

The science board will reconvene with public teleconference meetings February 1st to hear comments submitted up until today’s deadline and could make final recommendations to EPA by February 15th.

Reversal of the main finding of the congressionally-mandated study could increase pressure for regulations or limitations on fracking, which remains exempt from most major federal environmental laws and is linked to more than 1,000 cases of water contamination.

“The conclusion that fracking posed no widespread risk was used as fodder by fracking proponents to excuse a practice that increases pollution and puts our communities at risk,” said Richardson. “The fact is, dirty drilling has caused documented, widespread water contamination across the country.”

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Marcellus Shale rigs drop from 76 to 38 in last year

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2016

Interesting Marcellus Shale tidbit from the Pittsburgh Business Times:

There are 38 drilling rigs at work in the Marcellus Shale.

That total is down 50 percent from 76 rigs a year ago.

Ohio has 13 or 14 rigs at work. The two counting agencies don't agree. That is down from 59 rigs 13 months ago.

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West Virginia gearing up for fight over mandatory pooling

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2016

A political fight is brewing in West Virginia over forced or mandatory pooling that enables drillers to include parcels, even though they do not have leases with landowners.

Both sides are gearing up for a big battle in the state legislature.

Click  here to read more from Casey Junkins with The Intelligencer/Wheeling News Register.

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Kinder Morgan to pare back 2016 capital spending

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2016

Houston-based pipeline giant Kinder Morgan will pare back capital spending this year after a $1.2 billion impairment pushed the company into loss in the fourth quarter of 2015, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Company to shut down seven Oklahoma injection wells

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2016

SandRidge Energy has agreed to shut down seven injection wells for drilling wastes in Oklahoma because of concerns about earthquakes.

The company agreed to a request from the state.

The decision affects seven injection wells in the Medford-Cherokee area.

Click  here  to read more from KFOR-TV.

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Pennsylvania to reduce methane leaks from existing wells

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2016

Under Gov. Tom Wolf's new methane reduction plan, Pennsylvania would become the second state after Colorado to go after leaks from existing gas and oil wells.

Click  here  to read more from NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

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Southwestern Energy to lay off 1,100 workers

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2016

Texas-based Southwestern Energy Co. expects to layoff 1,100 workers or 40 percent of its work force because of low commodity prices, Reuters reports.

The company, a major player in the Appalachian Basin of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, has no rigs drilling in early 2016, the report said.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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PDC Energy's 2015 production grows by 65 percent from 2014

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2016

A press release from Colorado-based PDC Energy Inc. and a player in Ohio's Utica Shale:

DENVER, Jan. 20, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- PDC Energy, Inc. ("PDC," the "Company," "we" or "us") (NASDAQ:PDCE) today reported year-end 2015 proved reserves and full-year production.

Year-End 2015 Highlights

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Oman is largest non-OPEC oil producer in Middle East

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Oman is the largest producer of crude oil (including condensate) in the Middle East that is not a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). As a result of both enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques and new discoveries, Oman's oil production has increased each year since 2007 and ranked 7th among Middle East oil producers and 21st in the world, as of 2014 (the most recent full-year data). Production exceeded one million barrels per day in June 2015 for the first time since December 2000.

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Tags: CAB (Country Analysis Brief) , crude oil , international , liquid fuels , OPEC , production

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Seven protesters arrested at Pennsylvania pipeline meeting

By Bob Downing Published: January 21, 2016

Seven protesters were arrested on Wednesday in Harrisburg, Pa., at the final meeting of Gov. Tom Wolf's Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force.

Click  here  to read more from NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

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Royal Dutch Shell, BG Group to lay off 10,000 workers

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2016

Royal Dutch Shell and the BG Group are merging and that will result in 10,000 workers losing their jobs after the $69.7 billion deal closes in 2016.

Click  here  to read more.

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Somerset County, N.J., is site of new gas-fired power plant

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2016

From a press release on what will become New Jersey's fifth natural gas-fired electric power plant:

Amwell Energy Center, a project of Genesis Power, LLC, is a proposed new combined-cycle electric generating facility in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey. The proposed plant, fueled by natural gas, will be constructed on a 423-acre parcel of land between Amwell and Hamilton Roads.

Once constructed, Amwell Energy Center will increase electrical generation capacity in New Jersey by using clean, fuel-efficient, state-of-the-art technology, while preserving the environmental character of the site and surrounding area. The facility will generate electricity to power approximately 700,000 homes in New Jersey on a hot summer day. It will help to meet growing demand for energy while simultaneously increasing the reliability of the electrical grid, reducing out-of-state imports and replacing older, less efficient coal and oil-fired plants.

Equipped with cutting-edge technology, the project will use less fuel and emit fewer air emissions. The project will consist of three combustion turbine generators (CTGs) equipped with dry, low NOx combustors; three heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs) with duct burners (DBs); a single condensing steam turbine generator (STG); an air cooled condenser; a natural gas-fired auxiliary boiler; and associated ancillary equipment necessary for generation of electric energy. There will be zero water discharge from the site.

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WPX Energy reports it has boosted hedges, reduced debt

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2016

Oklahoma-based WPX Energy today reported that it had increased its hedge position and reduced debt heading into 2016.

Click  here  to read the company's statement.

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Mariner East 1 Pipeline to soon begin operations

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2016

Sunoco Logistics is expected to begin moving ethane from shale drilling from the Pittsburgh area to Philadelphia in the near future via the Marine East 1 Pipeline.

The shipments are likely to begin this month with the first tanker shipment from Philadelphia in February.

Click  here  to read more from the Pittsburgh Business Times.

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Hydrogen for refineries provided by industrial suppliers

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Refineries use hydrogen to lower the sulfur content of diesel fuel. Refinery demand for hydrogen has increased as demand for diesel fuel has risen both domestically and internationally, and as sulfur-content regulations have become more stringent. EIA data show that much of the growth in hydrogen use at refineries is being met through hydrogen purchased from merchant suppliers rather than from increased hydrogen production on-site at the refinery. The increased use of purchased hydrogen has implications for the refining industry's use of natural gas as a feedstock.

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Tags: diesel , natural gas , refining

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Pennsylvania governor looks to cut methane from drilling

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2016

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday announced plans to attack methane emsissions from drilling as part of the state's plan to comply with federal clean-air strategies.

Click  here  to read more from NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

 

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OOGA schedules 2016 Winter Meeting on March 16-18

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2016

From the Ohio Oil and Gas Association:

www.oogawintermeeting.com

The Ohio Oil and Gas Association will host its Annual Winter Meeting on March 16th – March 18th at the Hilton Columbus at Easton. The event will bring together the membership and top industry leaders from Ohio and across the nation to provide the most current updates regarding the oil and gas industry. Attendees will hear from state and federal elected officials and nationally accredited speakers. Topics will include production, exploration, legal and legislative updates.

As many of you know the annual meeting has grown in size and scope over the last few years and pre-registration for the meeting is recommended. Hotel accommodations are filling up quick, check the website under “Staying in Columbus” to find partnering hotel.

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Well completions fell by 51 percent in 4Q 2015, API says

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday:

WASHINGTON, January 19, 2016 – Estimated total U.S. oil and natural gas well completions fell by 51 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to year-ago levels, according to API's 2015 Quarterly Well Completion Report, Fourth Quarter.

“Our growth as a global energy superpower has been a game-changer for U.S. energy security while making energy cheaper for American consumers,” said Hazem Arafa, director of API's statistics department. “We can’t expect that growth to continue if our own outdated energy polices stand in the way. Reducing unnecessary regulations and speeding up permitting on federal lands will help U.S. producers to compete effectively in the global market under the low-price environment.” 

Estimated development oil well completions in 2015 fourth quarter fell 55 percent compared to 2014 fourth quarter estimates.  Estimated development gas completions decreased 37 percent over the same period.

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Eagle Partners to add natural gas liquifier in Florida

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2016

From a Tueday press release:

Cosmodyne to Supply LNG Liquefier to Eagle LNG Partners for Marine Ship LNG Fueling

(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.; January 19, 2016) – Eagle LNG Partners (“Eagle LNG”) has decided to install a Cosmodyne, LLC (“Cosmodyne”) natural gas liquefier for a new facility in Jacksonville, Florida. This facility is being constructed to address the growing demand for LNG in the southeast.  The natural gas liquefier features Cosmodyne’s safe, environmentally-friendly, and cost-effective nitrogen refrigeration technology to reliably produce high quality LNG fuel. The plant will deliver great operating flexibility, allowing Eagle LNG to easily increase and decrease production in response to fluctuating market demand while maintaining high energy efficiency. This unique load-following ability to turn down production without an efficiency penalty is ideal for LNG plants deployed in markets where demand volume is developing or variable.

 

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Ohio approves one new Utica Shale permit in Jefferson County

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2016

Ohio approved one new Utica Shale drilling permit last week.

It went to Chesapeake Exploration LLC for a well in Jefferson County, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Through Jan. 16, Ohio has approved 2,118 Utica Shale permits.

Of that total, 1,670 Utica wells have been drilled and 1,125 Utica wells are producing.

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Carroll County is No. 1 with 500 Utica Shale drilling permits

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2016

Carroll County is No. 1 in Ohio for Utica Shale drilling with 500 drilling permits approved by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Second is Harrison County with 377 permits and Belmont County is third with 313 permits.

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Pennsylvania unveils new methane rules on drilling

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2016

From a Tuesday press release from Environment America:

Harrisburg, PA -- Today Governor Tom Wolf, Democrat of Pennsylvania, announced new rules to curb oil and gas emissions of methane in the state, the second largest producer of natural gas in the country. Drilling and fracking operations nationwide are the single largest source of the greenhouse gas pollutant, which is many times more potent than carbon dioxide. 

The new rules address methane leaks and emissions from wells, facilities, compressor stations and pipelines in the state, and, unlike federal rules proposed by the Obama administration, are intended to cover existing as well as new sources.

Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling Program, issued the following statement in response:

“The massive leak at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in California shows how methane poses huge threats both to our climate and our health. The rules Gov. Wolf introduced today are a positive step forward to limit this dangerous pollutant.

“We hope the Obama administration will follow in the footsteps of states like Pennsylvania and Colorado, and extend its proposed methane rule to existing sources.

“While restricting methane emissions is an important bandage, it is not a cure. The best way to protect our children's future from this health-threatening pollution is to limit drilling and fracking, and transition to 100 percent clean energy.”

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Pennsylvania governor targeting methane from drillers

By Bob Downing Published: January 20, 2016

From a press release on Tuesday from four eco-groups:

Pennsylvania action on rules to cut methane pollution will help public health, address climate change

(Washington, D.C. – January 19, 2016)  National environmental advocacy groups today expressed gratitude to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf for acting on climate as he previewed rules that will cut methane pollution from the state's oil and gas sector. Pennsylvania, as the second largest natural gas producing state in the U.S., is a significant contributor of the man-made methane pollution that is warming the planet at an alarming rate as it worsens the state's already-poor air quality.

We thank Gov. Wolf for listening to our members and residents across Pennsylvania who are fed up with the fossil fuel industry and its near-total disregard for our environment and public health,” said Justin Wasser, Pennsylvania campaign representative for the Sierra Club. “So long as fossil fuel extraction continues in Pennsylvania, we must do everything we can to ensure that its impacts are minimized. Similarly, we continue to call on the EPA to extend its recently-announced methane rules to include existing sources of emissions as Gov. Wolf has wisely seen fit to do.”

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EQT files suit against county ban on injection in West Virginia

By Bob Downing Published: January 19, 2016

An injunction filed last Wednesday against West Virginia's Fayette County Commission in federal court claims that a countywide ban on the storage and disposal of oil and gas waste violates the state Oil and Gas Act, as well as property rights outlined in the Fifth Amendment.

The complaint was filed in federal court on behalf of EQT Production Co., a Pittsburgh-based firm with 200 natural and oil wells and an injection disposal well in Fayette County.

The suit states the county's ordinance is overly broad.

Click  here  to read more.

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Expert says U.S. shale drilling industry to rebound in big way

By Bob Downing Published: January 19, 2016

Oil expert Mark Mills of the Manhattan Institute says the U.S. shale drilling industry will rebound in a big way, once prices rise.

He offered his view in Monday's Wall Street Journal.

Click  here  to read the story.

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Wolf to target methane emissions from drilling industry

By Bob Downing Published: January 19, 2016

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is scheduled to make a major address on climate change and to target methane emissions from the drilling industry, NPR's State-Impact Pennsylvania reports.

Click  here  to read more.

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Chevron executive moving from Pittsburgh to Australia

By Bob Downing Published: January 19, 2016

Nigel Hearne who has headed Chevron's shale drilling in Appalachia and Michigan is leaving Pittsburgh, says Jim Willis of the Marcellus Drilling News.

Hearne will move to western Australia to head up Chevron's $54 billion liquified natural gas project.

No word on a successor in the Marcellus and Utica shales.

Click  here  to read more.

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Akron Bar Association hopes to grow oil, gas drilling section

By Bob Downing Published: January 19, 2016

The Akron Bar Association's Real Property and Environmental law section is supporting local growth in oil and natural gas drilling, the Akron Legal News reports.

The section has 46 lawyers.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Gastar adopts net operating loss shareholder agreement

By Bob Downing Published: January 19, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

HOUSTON, Jan. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Gastar Exploration Inc. (NYSE MKT: GST) ("Gastar" or the "Company") today announced that its Board of Directors has adopted a Net Operating Loss (NOL) Shareholder Rights Agreement (the "Rights Plan") designed to preserve its substantial tax assets. As of December 31, 2014, Gastar had cumulative net operating loss carryforwards of approximately $447.0 million, which can be utilized in certain circumstances to offset future U.S. taxable income.  The Company further expects its cumulative net operating loss carryforwards to increase as of December 31, 2015.

The Rights Plan is intended to protect Gastar's tax benefits and to allow all of Gastar's stockholders to realize the long-term value of their investment in Gastar. The Board adopted the Rights Plan after considering, among other matters, the estimated value of the tax benefits, the potential for diminution upon an ownership change, and the risk of an ownership change occurring, including the recently disclosed accumulations of Gastar stock. Gastar's ability to use these tax benefits would be substantially limited if it were to experience an "ownership change" as defined under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code. An ownership change would occur if stockholders that own (or are deemed to own) at least five percent or more of Gastar's outstanding common stock increased their cumulative ownership in the Company by more than 50 percentage points over their lowest ownership percentage within a rolling three-year period. The Rights Plan reduces the likelihood that changes in Gastar's investor base would limit Gastar's future use of its tax benefits, which would significantly impair the value of the benefits to all stockholders. The Company believes that no ownership change as defined in Section 382 has occurred as of the date of this press release.

To implement the Rights Plan, the Gastar Board of Directors declared a non-taxable dividend of one preferred share purchase right for each outstanding share of its common stock. The rights will be exercisable if a person or group acquires 4.9% or more of Gastar common stock. The rights will also be exercisable if a person or group that already owns 4.9% or more of Gastar common stock acquires additional shares (other than as a result of a dividend or a stock split). Gastar's existing stockholders that beneficially own in excess of 4.9% of the common stock will be "grandfathered in" at their current ownership level. If the rights become exercisable, all holders of rights, other than the person or group triggering the rights, will be entitled to purchase Gastar common stock at a 50% discount. Rights held by the person or group triggering the rights will become void and will not be exercisable.

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Foreclosures are increasing in shale-drilling counties

By Bob Downing Published: January 18, 2016

Pennsylvania's Washington County had more foreclosures in 2015 than any other county in the state.

They increased 11 percent.

Foreclosures are climbing in shale areas with drilling as commodity prices remain low and drilling industry makes cuts and reduces drilling.

Click  here  to read more.

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Dealing with injection-triggered quakes in Oklahoma, Kansas

By Bob Downing Published: January 18, 2016

From the Associated Press:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — In Oklahoma, now the country's earthquake capital, people are talking nervously about the big one as man-made quakes get stronger, more frequent and closer to major population centers. Next door in Kansas, they're feeling on firmer ground though no one is ready yet to declare victory.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Williams board says it will complete Energy Transfer deal

By Bob Downing Published: January 18, 2016

The board of directors of Oklahoma-based The Williams Companies on Friday announced that it fully intends to complete the merger with Energy Transfer Equity LP announced last September.

Click  here  to read more.

 

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Ceasing federal coal leases is bad for consumers, API says

By Bob Downing Published: January 18, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Friday:

WASHINGTON, January 15, 2016 – Recent administration policies that abandon a true all-of-the-above energy future will harm American consumers, our economy and our national security, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

“Pausing the public lands leasing program for coal, which supplies nearly 40 percent of U.S. electricity, denies reality,” said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. “We need more supplies of all types of energy if we are to sustain our economy and provide affordable energy to U.S. businesses and consumers. The administration has adopted the view of extremists with a leave-it-in-the-ground agenda, with consumers suffering the consequences.

 “The U.S. is a case study for how we can grow our economy, create jobs, and become the world leader in reducing emissions through market-driven innovation, not government programs. We can produce the energy our country needs while protecting our environment. API supports an all-of-the-above plan that encourages all energy sources to ensure we can meet the energy needs of a growing economy.

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Groups seek Sanders, Warren help to get GAO review of FERC

By Bob Downing Published: January 18, 2016

From a press release from late last week:

DIVERSE COALITION OF ORGANIZATIONS DEMAND GAO INVESTIGATION OF FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION

Over 2000 Individuals and 165 Organizations Sign Submission Urging GAO Review of FERC, Underscoring the
Agency’s Abuse of Power and Bias Toward Gas Industry

Bristol, PA – Today, hundreds of organizations and thousands of concerned community members joined
Delaware Riverkeeper Network in urging Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren to use their
key seats on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to call for a Government Accountability
Office (GAO) investigation of the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC). The submission delivered to
Sanders and Warren details FERC’s ongoing bias toward the pipeline companies it is intended to regulate and
highlights the toll this abuse of power has taken on local communities.
READ THE REQUESTS HERE:
The sign on of 165 organizations: http://bit.ly/FERCGAOInvestigationLetter
The DRN letter laying out the case for GAO Investigation: http://bit.ly/DRN-TheCaseForGAOInvestigation
“We know first-hand that FERC is attempting to bypass our rights to judicial review and fair public
participation in the decision-making process,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, leader of the
Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “FERC has time and again prioritized the advancement of gas infrastructure
projects over the well-being of the communities it should be protecting – misusing legal loopholes and ignoring
court orders while ordinary citizens play by the rules. The GAO must take immediate action to ensure that
FERC’s malfeasance does not go unchecked.”
The request for an investigation notes that FERC is entirely funded by the industry it regulates, resulting in a
demonstrable bias in favor of the energy industry’s agenda over community and environmental concerns. FERC
has approved 100 percent of pipeline project proposals submitted by the industry – the highest approval rate
of any independent federal agency. The revolving door between employment at the regulatory agency and the
industry also contributes to this bias and to the lack of oversight and enforcement for pipeline projects
approved by FERC. Additionally, the submission asserts that FERC greenlights the seizure of land through the
use of eminent domain for projects that benefit private companies rather than the public.

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EPA sets Feb. 16 meeting on Medina County compressor station

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2016

Note: Updated Jan. 18.

 

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is sponsoring a Feb. 16 public hearing on a proposed air permit for a Medina County compressor station for the $2 billion Nexus natural gas pipeline.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at Cloverleaf Elementary School, 8337 Friendsville Road, Westfield Township.
The Wadsworth compressor station is planned off Guilford Road just north of Interstate 76 in Guilford Township.
It is one of five planned compressor stations along the 255-mile pipeline route from Columbiana County in eastern Ohio to Defiance in northwest Ohio and north into Michigan where it would connect with existing pipelines.
The public is invited to offer comment at the meeting that is being billed as an information session and public hearing by the EPA.
The draft air permit would allow the installation and operation of equipment associated with the compressor station that produces air emissions.
If the permit is approved, Nexus’ total maximum air emissions would not be allowed to exceed levels that are designed to protect public health and the environment, the EPA said.
The allowable emissions would be up to 7.81 tons per year of carbon monoxide, 31.2 tons per year of nitrogen oxides, 6.24 tons per year of particulate, 3.24 tons per year of sulfur dioxide and 29.3 tons per year of volatile organic compounds.
Compressor stations are used to provide pressure to keep natural gas flowing through the pipeline.
An Ohio EPA factsheet detailing the agency’s role in issuing air permits and considerations related to natural gas compressor station emissions can be viewed at http://epa.ohio.gov/Portals/47/nr/CompressorStations.pdf.
Interested parties may review the draft permit online at: http://wwwapp.epa.ohio.gov/dapc/permits_issued/1365527.pdf.
Written comments are considered equally with oral testimony presented at the hearing, the EPA said.
They must be received by Akron Regional Air Quality Management District by the close of business on Feb. 22 and should be mailed to the agency at 1867 W. Market St., Akron 4313, or via email at KKanoza@schd.org.
The Nexus Pipeline would be 36 inches in diameter and capable of transporting 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, enough to heat 6 million houses.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must approve the pipeline that is being developed by the Texas-based Nexus Gas Transmission LLC., along with Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. and Texas-based Spectra Energy Partners.
The federal agency is expected to rule in late 2016.
The companies behind the pipeline would like to begin construction in January 2017.
It would run through northern Stark, southern Summit, the northeast corner of Wayne County and across Medina County.
The city of Green and a grass-roots group have proposed that the pipeline be rerouted to the south area from the Akron-Canton area into more rural areas of Stark and Wayne counties. The companies behind the pipeline are not interested in the rerouting.

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Feb. 16 meeting on compressor station in Medina County

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2016

From a Friday press release:

Ohio EPA to Hold Public Meeting, Receive Comments Concerning

Draft Air Permit for Proposed Wadsworth Compressor Station

 

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FracTracker Alliance posts shale videos to YouTube channel

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2016

The FracTracker Alliance with an office in Cleveland Heights is now contributing shale videos to its YouTube Channel.

It includes video clips from Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota.

Here is where you will find it: https://www.youtube.com/user/FracTrackerVideos/videos

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IECA chief testifies on LNG exports before ITC

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2016

From a Friday press release:

IECA TESTIFIES ON LIKELY IMPACTS OF LNG EXPORTS BEFORE U.S. INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION

                                                              

Paul Cicio, President of the Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA) testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today on the “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Likely Impact on the U.S. Economy and on Specific Industry Sectors.”

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Catholic Appalachian group issues new pastoral letter

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2016

The Catholic Committee of Appalachia has released a pastoral letter to help Appalachian residents deal with such issues as fracking, coal mining and mountaintop removal.

Click  here  to read more from the National Catholic Reporter.

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Cheniere Energy: First LNG shipment from Sabine Pass delayed

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2016

Cheniere Energy on Thursday said its first LNG shipment from its Sabine Pass plant/terminal in Louisiana will be delayed until late February or early March.

The initial plan called for the first LNG shipment in early January.

Click  here  to read more.

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McClendon announces partnership plan to drill in Argentina

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2016

The man who led the push to drill in Ohio’s Utica Shale wants to drill in a new venue: Argentina.
Aubrey K. McClendon of Oklahoma-based American Energy Partners LP, a player in Ohio’s Utica Shale, has signed an agreement with YPF, Argentina’s No. 1 oil company. The companies will partner in drilling in the Vaca Muerta Shale in Argentina’s Neuquen Province.
The plans call for drilling on 147,600 acres in the Neuquen Basin in western Argentina in two stages, and the project will get under way later this year. The first drilling is scheduled to be completed in mid-2018. An affiliate of McClendon’s company would earn up to a 50 percent share in the drilling areas. The project calls for the investment of more than $500 million over the next three years. Other partners will also be involved.
YPF said it would rely on the experience gained by McClendon’s company in developing U.S. shale drilling.
McClendon was the founder and former CEO of Chesapeake Energy that came to Ohio in 2010. He formed his new company in April 2013.
“Through our partnership with YPF, we intend to bring US-style shale drilling and operating expertise, completion techniques and cost structure to the Vaca Muerta, which we believe will prove transformative for the play,” said McClendon in a statement.
It is a formation with “tremendous potential,” he said.
Other companies including Dow, Chevron and Petronas are also involved in Vaca Muerta drilling.
YPF is the No. 1 shale developer outside of North America.

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Crude oil-by-rail shipments drop with low commdity prices

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2016

The Financial Times reports that the low commodity prices for oil is removing crude oil-filled tankers cars from American rails.

And that is reducing the risk to people and communities along the routes that had been used to transport Bakken Shale oil from North Dakota and Montana to East Coast refineries.

Many of the crude-filled trains rolled through Ohio.

Today many of the oil tankers are sitting on rail sidings with little demand.

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Penn State doctoral student builds high-pressure testing lab

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2016

A recent Penn State University press release:

Travis Tasker, a doctoral candidate in environmental engineering at Penn State, wanted to study what happens deep underground during oil and gas extraction. The problem was that the department didn’t have the proper equipment for the undertaking. Tasker decided to change that.

“One of the challenges in studying what is happening in the deep subsurface during oil and gas extraction is that the pressures are extremely high (>4,000 psi),” Tasker said. “There is no way to perform experiments at these pressures without having the appropriate equipment.”

As part of his master’s thesis research, Tasker studied reactions between hydraulic fracturing fluids and Marcellus Shale with a high-pressure vessel lent to him by James Adair, professor of materials science and engineering, biomedical engineering and pharmacology.  After completing his master’s work, Tasker and several engineering faculty members at Penn State realized the need for having multiple, corrosion resistant systems that could be used to perform experiments at elevated pressures.

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Dominion Resources recommends rejection of mini-tender

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2016

From a press release on Thursday:

RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion Resources, Inc. (NYSE: D), has received notice of an unsolicited "mini-tender" offer by TRC Capital Corporation (TRC Capital) to purchase up to 2 million shares of Dominion's common stock at a price of $66.50 per share in cash. The offering price is approximately 4.19 percent below the closing price per share of Dominion's common stock on Jan. 11, 2016, the last trading day before the offer was commenced. The offer is for approximately 0.34 percent of the outstanding shares of Dominion's common stock.

Dominion does not endorse TRC Capital's unsolicited mini-tender offer and recommends that shareholders do not tender their shares. Dominion is not associated with TRC Capital, its mini-tender offer or the mini-tender offer documentation.

TRC Capital has made many similar unsolicited mini-tender offers for shares of other public companies.  Mini-tender offers seek less than 5 percent of a company's outstanding shares, and thus are not subject to many of the investor protections afforded to larger tender offers, including the filing of disclosure and other tender offer documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other procedures mandated by U.S. securities laws.

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Warmer weather, lower energy prices reduce heating bills

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Warmer temperatures and lower energy prices have contributed to a reduction in EIA's current forecast average heating expenditures this winter compared with the forecast in the October 2015 Winter Fuels Outlook.

Read More ›

Tags: electricity , heating oil , natural gas , prices , propane , STEO (Short-Term Energy Outlook) , weather

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Kinder Morgan proceeding with Utopia East liquids pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2016

Pipeline giant Kinder Morgan is procceding with plans to develop a 240-mile liquids pipeline across northern Ohio.

The application for the $500 million Utopia East Pipeline will likely be filed in the coming months, company officials said.

The pipeline, 12 inches in diameter, would transport ethane and propane from Cadiz in eastern Ohio to the Ohio-Michigan line where it would connect with existing pipelines. It could transport 75,000 barrels per day from the Utica Shale..

It would cross parts of Stark and Wayne counties locally.

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Utility understated airborne toxic level from California leak

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2016

From the Associated Press today:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The utility whose leaking natural gas well has driven thousands of Los Angeles residents from their homes acknowledged that it understated the number of times airborne levels of the cancer-causing chemical benzene have spiked during the crisis.

Southern California Gas Co. had been saying on its website and in emails to The Associated Press that just two air samples over the past three months showed elevated concentrations of the compound. But after the AP inquired about discrepancies in the data, SoCalGas admitted higher-than-normal readings had been found at least 14 times.

SoCalGas spokeswoman Kristine Lloyd said Thursday that it was “an oversight” that was being corrected. The utility continued to assert that the leak has posed no long-term risk to the public.

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American Energy Partners, YPF sign deal on Argentina shale

By Bob Downing Published: January 15, 2016

From a press release on Thursday:

The CEO of American Energy Partners, LP (AELP), Aubrey K. McClendon, and the President and CEO of YPF, Miguel Galuccio, signed initial agreements for the exploration and development of the Vaca Muerta formation in the Neuquén Basin in the Province of Neuquén in Argentina. The CEOs jointly visited Mr. Juan José Aranguren, Argentina´s Minister of Energy, to present details of the shale oil and gas projects that both companies plan to execute, which entail investments of more than US$500 million over the next three years, and to introduce AELP, which brings its extensive experience with US shale basins.

One project consists of launching a shale oil and gas development pilot in the Bajada de Añelo block, covering approximately 200 km2 (55,500 acres). After this first stage is completed by mid-2018, the project would enter into the full field development phase in “U.S. style shale manufacturing” mode. In addition, YPF and an affiliate of AELP, in partnership with Pluspetrol and Gas y Petróleo de Neuquén, will launch a second project to delineate shale gas resources in the southern portion of the Cerro Arena block, covering approximately 375 km2 (92,600 acres).

Under these agreements, an affiliate of AELP would earn up to 50% participating interest in the blocks. Thus, YPF incorporates a new strategic partner to accelerate the development of the Vaca Muerta shale led by a team with proven top-tier operating capabilities and industry-leading experience in the development of unconventional formations. AELP, an oil and gas asset management platform and operator with a management team that has drilled more than 15,000 horizontal shale wells throughout the US, is led by former Chesapeake Energy Corporation co-founder and CEO McClendon. Under McClendon’s tenure, Chesapeake grew from a start-up in 1989 to the largest gas producer and driller of new wells in the U.S. in less than 20 years, increasing in total enterprise value to over US$30 billion at the time of his departure in 2013.

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Eco-groups urge Obama to halt oil, gas leases on federal lands

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2016

From a press release today:

Call to Obama Administration: Keep Our Oil and Gas in the Ground

Drilling and Fracking on Public Lands a Major Climate Threat,

Groups Call for Restraint and Detailed Study

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Antero Resources is pleased with Utica, Marcellus production

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2016

Natural gas production in the fourth quarter 2015 grew by 18 percent from 2014, but dipped by 1 percent from the previous quarter, Antero Resources reported this week.
That is due largely to the fact that the Colorado-based driller reduced production in Ohio’s Utica Shale by about 45 million cubic feet per day, said the company, one of the most active drillers in Ohio’s Utica Shale.
That was done because of the continuing low prices being paid for natural gas and liquids, company officials said.
The company had said in early 2015 that it would be deferring some well completions because of low prices and needed pipelines.
Its average net daily gas equivalent production was nearly 1.5 billion cubic feet per day. That total was 78 percent natural gas, 22 percent natural gas liquids like ethane, butane and propane and 2 percent oil.
The liquids totaled about 55,000 barrels per day, and the 2015 volume jumped by 110 percent from 2014, Antero said.
The volume of liquids was an 80 percent increase over the fourth quarter 2014 and a 5 percent increase over the third quarter 2015.
It is expecting to ship the ethane to the Philadelphia area via the under-construction Mariner East II pipeline. Much will be shipped to Sweden, starting in 2017.
“We had an outstanding quarter and year operationally,” said chairman and CEO Paul Rady in a statement.
Antero completed and began production on 16 horizontal wells in eastern Ohio in the fourth quarter.
It is operating three drilling rigs and three completion crews in the Utica Shale.
As of Sept. 30,  Antero has drilled or started production on 99 horizontal wells in Ohio, all in Noble and Monroe counties, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources says. The firm has another 83 Ohio wells that are being developed.
Antero also completed its first Utica Shale well in West Virginia.
The Rymer 4HD well in Tyler County is producing about 20 million cubic feet of natural gas per day in initial flows. The well is producing “encouraging initial production results,” Rady said.
It is the most southerly dry gas well drilled in West Virginia and will help drillers define the drilling area, officials said.
Antero also drilled the longest lateral in company history in a Marcellus Shale well: 14,024 feet at the Nova 2H well in West Virginia’s Doddridge County.
Antero completed 14 horizontal wells in the quarter in the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia and western Pennsylvania.
It is running seven rigs and four completion crews in the Marcellus Shale.
In December, the company added the Stonewall gas-gathering pipeline in West Virginia and that has enabled Antero to get higher prices for its natural gas on the Gulf Coast.
Antero will release its fourth quarter 2015 earnings report on Feb. 24.

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Gasoline prices fall below $2 per gallon, first time since 2009

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Based on EIA's weekly survey of gasoline prices, the U.S. average retail price for regular gasoline fell to $1.996 per gallon (gal) on January 11, falling below $2.00/gal for the first time since March 23, 2009. The U.S. average retail regular gasoline price had last approached, but not gone below, the $2.00 mark in early 2015. Falling gasoline prices are a result of falling crude oil prices and the seasonal slowdown in gasoline demand.

Read More ›

Tags: crude oil , gasoline , liquid fuels , retail prices

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Fayette County approves first W. Va. ban on injection wells

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2016

West Virginia's Fayette County on Wednesday became the first to ban the storage, disposal or use of drilling wastes in the county.

It is the first West Virginia county to enact such a measure.

Click  here  to read more.

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Oklahoma orders 27 injection wells to reduce volumes

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2016

From the Associated Press on Wednesday:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Operators of 27 oil and natural gas wastewater disposal wells in northwest Oklahoma must reduce volume due to the swarm of moderate earthquakes in the past week, state regulators said Wednesday.

The implementation of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s plan calls for changes in the operation of wells about 100 miles northwest of Oklahoma City near Fairview. The commission said the total reduction in wastewater injection volume will be 54,859 barrels daily — or about 2.3 million gallons — a drop of about 18 percent.

Last week, a series of earthquakes occurred in the Fairview area, which is about 60 miles from the Kansas state line, but there were no reports of significant damage or injuries. The U.S. Geological Survey said it recorded a magnitude 4.7 earthquake on Jan. 6 about 20 miles from Fairview. Less than a minute later, a magnitude 4.8 quake about a half-mile away. A magnitude 4.0 quake was recorded Jan. 7 with a second one of the same magnitude felt about 12 hours later.

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Antero Resources drills 30 Utica, Marcellus wells in 4Q 2015

By Bob Downing Published: January 14, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

DENVER, Jan. 13, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Antero Resources (NYSE: AR) ("Antero" or the "Company") today announced its fourth quarter 2015 operations update.

Fourth Quarter 2015 Highlights include:

Operating Update

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Industry pleased, eco-groups unhappy with federal bat rules

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2016

A federal agency on Wednesday  released new protections for the northern long-eared bat, a species at risk from a spreading fungal disease.
The new rules, prepared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are designed to protect the bat — once one of the most numerous bats in Ohio — while minimizing impacts on landowners, land managers, developers and government agencies.
Officials said the regulations, which take effect Feb. 16, are necessary to protect crucial habitat, including hibernation caves and trees where the bats raise their young during summer.
The final rules are less restrictive toward timbering, drilling for natural gas and oil, home and road building, clearing land for wind turbines and other activities that might cause some bats deaths but not have a significant effect on the overall population, offficials said. Several eco-groups criticized the federal rules for not offering enough protection to the bats.
The Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a statewide trade group, was pleased by the federal announcement.
Said executive vice president Shawn Bennett: “The Ohio Oil and Gas Association commends the efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to address industry concerns pertaining to new rules on the northern long-eared bat. The revised rule strikes a balance between protecting the bat from its true threat, white nose syndrome, while not putting onerous restrictions on oil and gas activity.”
The new federal rules shape “regulatory protections in a way that makes sense and focuses protections where they will make a difference for the bat,” said Dan Ashe, who heads the federal agency.
The new policy will enable the government to focus its bat conservation efforts primarily on white-nose syndrome, which has killed millions of bats since its discovery in a New York cave in 2006.  The disease or the fungus that causes it have been detected in Ohio and 29 other states. Seven bat species have been affected, and the northern long-eared is among those hardest hit. The disease was confirmed in Summit County in 2012.
The outlook for the northern long-eared bat “will not improve” until a cure is found for the white-nosed syndrome, Ashe said.
While making it illegal to intentionally kill or harass the bats, the new rules keep to a minimum the prohibitions on harm that happens during otherwise legal projects like housing construction.
In areas where white-nose syndrome exists, such incidental harm is illegal at hibernation sites and as a result of removing trees within a quarter-mile of those sites. Also protected are trees where bats give birth and roost — and other trees nearby — during June and July, when pups are in nests and haven’t learned to fly.
The northern long-eared bat is a medium-sized bat 3 to 3.7 inches long with a wing span of 9 to 10 inches. Its fur color is medium to dark brown on the back and tawny to pale brown on the underside. It has big ears.
Bats are valuable to people, eating mosquitoes and other insects that otherwise would cause billions of dollars in crop damage.
The Fish and Wildlife Service decided against listing the northern long-eared bat as endangered, a designation with more sweeping impacts on people. Such a designation could come later, if its numbers continue to drop, officials said.
That bat was previously found in large numbers in the caves at Liberty Park in northern Summit County, but surveys in 2013 and 2014 found no sign of that species.

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Eight eco-groups challenge Shell's Arctic Ocean manuever

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2016

From a press release today:

Groups Challenge Shell’s Latest Attempt to Keep Door Open to Drill in Arctic Ocean

Future drilling attempts could devastate fragile region, lead to dire climate consequences

Anchorage, AK —Earthjustice on behalf of eight conservation groups today filed to intervene in a case before the Interior Board of Land Appeals to defend the Department of Interior’s decision to deny Shell Oil’s request for an extension of the terms of its oil drilling leases in the Arctic Ocean. Without an extension, the leases are due to expire in 2017 and 2020 in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, respectively. Interior denied Shell’s request for an extension of the leases in October 2015, and Shell has now appealed that decision to the Interior Board of Land Appeals. 

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IPAA welcomes 'workable' rules for northern long-eared bat

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2016

From a press release today:

IPAA Welcomes Workable Conservation Measures for the
Northern Long-Eared Bat

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Political Affairs Dan Naatz welcomed a final conservation rule for the northern long-eared bat issued today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The rule recognizes that oil and gas activities do not threaten the bat’s population and should not be subject to incidental take prohibitions.

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Company to expand ethylene capacity at Kentucky plant

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2016

From a recent press release:

Jan 8, 2016

HOUSTON, Jan. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Westlake Chemical Partners LP (NYSE: WLKP), a Westlake company, announced that it has approved plans to expand ethylene capacity at the Calvert City, Kentucky facility owned by its affiliate, Westlake Chemical OpCo LP ("OpCo"). This expansion will add 70 million pounds of stated annual ethylene capacity to the Calvert City facility during the first half of 2017. 

"We are pleased about the ethylene expansion at the Calvert City, Kentucky facility.  This expansion, which combined with incremental capacity increases will total 100 million pounds of annual capacity, is in addition to the 250 million pound ethylene expansion at the Petro 1 facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2016.  The additional production of ethylene at both facilities will be sold under the terms of the long-term, fixed-margin ethylene sales agreement in which 95% of OpCo's production is sold to our sponsor, Westlake Chemical Corporation, at a price designed to generate a margin of ten cents per pound. We believe the incremental earnings from these expansions will allow us to continue to grow our distributions at a low double-digit rate," said Albert Chao, President and Chief Executive Officer.

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Statoil funds grants to aid Monroe County students, teachers

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2016

From a Monday press release:


Fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio Supports Monroe County Citizens

Hannibal, OH – The Statoil Monroe County Energy Fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) is pleased to announce the final recipients of 2015. The Statoil Monroe County Energy Fund awarded two grants to support Monroe County students and citizens.

The Statoil Monroe County Energy Fund focuses on projects that increase quality of life, create access to opportunities, or identify and implement a solution for a community need or issue.

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Gulfport Energy funds second round of grants in eastern Ohio

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2016

From a recent press release:


Fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio Supports Citizens in Belmont, Guernsey, Harrison, and Monroe Counties

Nelsonville, OH – The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) and the Gulfport Energy Fund are pleased to announce the second round of 2015 grant recipients. The Gulfport Energy Fund at FAO supports projects that increase quality of life, create access to opportunities, or identify and implement a solution for a community need in the counties where Gulfport Energy operates. Nonprofit and public organizations in Belmont, Guernsey, Harrison, and Monroe counties were eligible for these grants. Nearly $30,000 was awarded to 14 projects serving citizens in these counties during this grant round.

“Gulfport Energy is committed to giving back to the local communities where we operate,” said Gulfport Energy CEO and President Mike Moore. “Each of these grant recipients have projects that we feel will have long term positive impacts in the lives of the citizens living in these local communities.”

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European Commission to proceed with Phase II review

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

HOUSTON – January 12, 2016 – Halliburton Company (NYSE: HAL) and Baker Hughes Incorporated (NYSE: BHI) today noted the decision by the European Commission (the “Commission”) to initiate a Phase II review of Halliburton’s pending acquisition of Baker Hughes 

This decision is a normal step in the Commission’s review process, and the views expressed by the Commission at this stage are preliminary only. Pursuant to applicable regulations, Phase II generally provides the Commission with 90 working days to review the pending transaction. Halliburton and Baker Hughes will continue to work constructively with the Commission.

Although the Commission was kept informed of the remedies that Halliburton has proposed to the U.S. Department of Justice, Halliburton did not offer remedies during Phase I, as it believes that offering remedies during Phase II will facilitate a more efficient review.  Halliburton expects to offer a substantial remedies package that it believes will address any substantive competition concerns.

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Crude oil prices to remain low through 2016, 2017, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

The Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) released on January 12, which is the first STEO to include projections for 2017, forecasts Brent crude oil prices will average $40 per barrel (b) in 2016 and $50/b in 2017. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices are expected to be $2/b lower than Brent in 2016 and $3/b lower than Brent in 2017.

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Tags: crude oil , Iran , liquid fuels , oil/petroleum , OPEC , STEO (Short-Term Energy Outlook) , WTI (West Texas Intermediate)

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Oklahoma, SandRidge Energy discuss injection wells, quakes

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2016

From the Associated Press:

Oklahoma officials are working to resolve a monthlong dispute with an oil and gas company that has neglected to shut down saltwater disposal wells.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission issued a voluntary directive to a dozen energy companies Dec. 3 after the Medford and Cherokee area felt a swarm of earthquakes, including a 4.7-magnitude quake. Regulators asked the companies to shut down, reduce volumes or be aware of future actions at 140 saltwater disposal wells.

SandRidge Energy Inc. was asked to shut down six disposal wells by Dec. 9.

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Obama suggests higher payments for drilling on federal land

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2016

From the Associated Press today:

President Barack Obama signaled in his final State of the Union address Tuesday night that fossil fuel companies could face higher charges when mining on federal lands.

Obama said that he’s going to push to change the way the federal government manages its oil and coal resources to better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and the planet.

Environmental groups have been telling the Bureau of Land Management during public hearings in recent months that the current royalty rates don’t provide taxpayers with a fair return on the country’s natural resources and encourage global warming.

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API to Obama: Avoid new federal rules that would hike costs

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday:

WASHINGTON, January 12, 2016 – API President and CEO Jack Gerard said America’s energy renaissance has been driven not by federal government programs but by state leadership, private investment and innovation.  He outlined how President Obama can achieve environmental progress without an onslaught of new regulations that could raise costs on consumers.

“The majority of new oil and natural gas production that has done so much to grow our economy and save consumers money has occurred primarily on private and state lands,” Gerard said. “On federal lands controlled by the administration, crude oil production has remained flat and natural gas production has declined. Furthermore, the administration has advanced nearly 100 regulations impacting all aspects of the oil and natural gas industry over the past year, which hinders production. Instead of bombarding our economy with duplicative, job-crushing new regulations, President Obama should embrace policies that recognize America’s energy resurgence, including environmental improvements. 

“The goals of environmental progress and energy production are not mutually exclusive. Industry innovation is driving technological advances and producing clean-burning natural gas that has led carbon emissions to near 20-year lows. Furthermore, our nation’s new status as the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas is saving American families and businesses billions in energy costs.

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EDF report: Drillers underreport investment risk from methane

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2016

From a Monday press release:

(Washington, D.C. – January 11, 2016) Leading oil and gas companies are putting themselves and their investors at financial and reputational risk by failing to adequately disclose meaningful information on emissions of methane, the heat-trapping pollutant that is drawing increased scrutiny from regulators and the public. A new report by Environmental Defense Fund finds that none of the 65 market leaders reviewed in the production and midstream segments disclose targets to reduce methane emissions and less than a third report such emissions via accessible, investor-facing data sources.

Methane – the key component of natural gas and a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide – is responsible for more than a quarter of the warming we are experiencing today and represents a fast-emerging form of carbon risk for investors. The oil and gas industry releases seven million tons of methane annually in the United States alone, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“As a shareholder with a global portfolio, we have a financial stake in the long-term performance of the natural gas industry,” said Jack Ehnes, CEO of CalSTRS, one of California’s largest pension funds, and author of the report’s foreword. “However, for the gas industry to be part of the solution in the needed transition to a low-carbon global economy, methane emissions – which reduce the potential climate benefits of natural gas over other fossil fuels – must be actively managed. Improved methane disclosure is one important piece of the climate change risk management puzzle.”

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Seventy Seven Energy hires outside firm as advisor

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2016

From a press release today:

Oklahoma-based Seventy Seven Energy Inc.announced today that it has retained the services of Lazard Freres & Co. LLC to advise the Company’s management and board of directors on identifying opportunities in its capital structure to improve value and enhance strategic growth opportunities.

Chief Executive Officer Jerry Winchester said, “Our operations continue to perform at a high level delivering much needed efficiency for our customers. Working with Lazard, we believe we can unlock meaningful value by addressing opportunities with respect to our balance sheet by reducing the level of our debt and further enhancing our liquidity. This will put us in a stronger position to take advantage of our operational strengths and grow our business.”

The well services company does not anticipate making additional announcements concerning the process unless and until the company otherwise determines that disclosures are necessary or appropriate.

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Gastar pleased with Oklahoma well in Meramec Shale

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2016

From a press release:

HOUSTON, Jan. 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Gastar Exploration Inc. (NYSE MKT: GST) ("Gastar") today provided updated production data from its Deep River 30-1H well, its first operated test of the STACK formation Meramec Shale play in Kingfisher County, Oklahoma.  The Deep River 30-1H produced at a gross post IP 30-day average sales rate of 956 barrels of oil equivalent ("Boe") per day (68% oil).  The well commenced flow back in late October 2015 and in December 2015, produced a peak 24-hour rate of 1,094 Boe per day (71% oil).  Gastar's independent reservoir engineer has estimated the ultimate recovery ("EUR") for the Deep River 30-1H well to be 705 MBoe as of December 31, 2015, with crude oil comprising 50% on a wet gas basis.  Gastar has a 100% working (80% net revenue) interest in the well.  The Deep River Meramec test well moved the productive outline of the Meramec play further northeast than previously defined.

As a result of the successful Deep River 30-1H well, the Company intends to spud its second Meramec well, the Holiday Road, also located in Kingfisher County, in February 2016. The Holiday Road well will be located in Section 2 18N, 6W approximately four miles north and three miles east of the Deep River 30-1H well.

J. Russell Porter, Gastar's President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We continue to be pleased with the productivity of the Deep River Meramec test well and are very pleased to announce that the EUR estimate is 40% above the high-end of our pre-drill estimates.  We plan to continue to delineate our acreage to de-risk our Meramec position and are confident that this play can generate acceptable returns even with today's commodity prices."

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CONSOL Energy begins testing second Utica Shale well

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2016

Pittsburgh-based CONSOL Energy is now testing its second Utica well in southwest Pensylvania.

The CNX GH-9 well is in Greene County. Flaring is under way.

The company's first Utica well is in Westmoreland County.

Click  here  to read more.

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ODNR making new well logs from state archives available

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2016

From a recent press release:

Continuing its efforts to make oil-and-gas well data available to the public, the Division of Geological Survey has released more than 1,850 newly scanned geophysical logs for oil-and-gas wells throughout the state. These logs are available as raster images (in TIF format) or as paper copies.

Since 1947, the Division of Geological Survey is the permanent archive of all geophysical logs in the state. In 2012, the Division completed a project to digitally scan all the logs in its archives, and additional suites of logs have been released since that time, the last in July 2015. To date, nearly 130,000 geophysical logs have been made available in digital form.

Geophysical logs are generated by instruments that are lowered into oil-and-gas wells and then removed while simultaneously measuring various physical properties of the rock layers. These properties are used to identify the types of rock within the well, to determine how porous the rocks are, and to identify the types of fluids (oil, gas, or water) that fill the pores.

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Dominion Virginia Power to spend $9.5 billion in upgrades

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2016

From a press release today:

Jan 12, 2016

RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion Virginia Power plans to invest nearly $2 billion per year through 2020 to add new, clean generation, including solar energy, and to expand, secure and upgrade the electric grid in Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.

The planned $9.5-billion spend builds on a substantial record of new capital investment by the company in recent years for new electric infrastructure designed to meet growth, enhance reliability and promote cleaner air and water.  The company made $1.8 billion in similar investments in 2015.

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State severance tax revenues decline as prices drop

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Several states that collect significant revenue from severance taxes on fossil fuel extraction are re-evaluating current and upcoming operating budgets and taxation structures to address revenue shortfalls. Severance taxes are often imposed on the extraction of nonrenewable resources such as crude oil, natural gas, and coal. Lower fossil fuel prices, and in some cases, lower production, have led to lower severance tax receipts than were expected when revenue estimates were developed.

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Tags: Alaska , coal , natural gas , oil/petroleum , Oklahoma , states , Texas , West Virginia , Wyoming

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EnLink Midstream makes changes to senior leadership team

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2016

Froma Monday press release:

EnLink Announces Promotions to Its Senior Leadership Team

 

Cynthia Jaggi Promoted to Senior Vice President —Engineering and Operations Services

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Ohio approves three new Utica Shale drilling permits

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2016

Ohio has approved 2,117 Utica Shale permits, as of Jan. 9.

That includes 1,670 drilled Utica wells and 1,121 producing Utica wells, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said.

Fourteen rigs are at work in Ohio.

Three new permits were approved: rwo in Belmont County and one in Guernsey County.

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Denver firm drilled North Dakota oil well at wrong site

By Bob Downing Published: January 12, 2016

From the Associated Press on Monday:

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota regulators ordered a Denver company to forfeit crude oil that was obtained from an area where it did not hold a lease.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission on Monday ordered Gadeco LLC to forfeit the 800 barrels of oil. Proceeds from the sale of the oil will go into the state’s general fund.

State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms says the company drilled into an area in Williams County in error. He says the company spent more than $8 million drilling the well, which is now plugged.

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API calls for increased pipeline flexibility in new rules

By Bob Downing Published: January 11, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Friday:

WASHINGTON, January 8, 2016 – The American Petroleum Institute today submitted comments on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Safety of Hazardous Liquids Pipelines proposed rulemaking. This followed API President and CEO Jack Gerard highlighting earlier this week in his State of American Energy address that investments in U.S. energy infrastructure are crucial not only for the oil and natural gas industry but also for overall economic growth and consumer savings.

“Safety is our industry’s core value,” said API Midstream Group Director Robin Rorick. “America’s more than 199,000 miles of liquid pipelines transport about 16 billion barrels of crude oil and petroleum products per year at a safety rate of 99.999 percent, and we need to make sure that federal regulations help improve this record, not hamper safety.”

Since October 2010 when Congress first asked PHMSA to issue the rule, industry has succeeded in developing guidelines for operators to improve recognized safety practices. In fact, three new recommended practices were issued in 2015, alone.

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Pennsylvania sets Jan. 26 hearing on natural gas-fired plant

By Bob Downing Published: January 11, 2016

From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection:

The Tenaska Pennsylvania Partners, LLC Westmoreland Generating Station is a proposed natural gas fired combined cycle electrical generating plant having an approximate generating capacity of 1000 MW.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an Air Quality Plan Approval PA-65-00990C to the company in April 2015 to construct and initially operate the plant.  However, the company received new emissions data from the manufacturer of the natural gas-fired steam turbine generators to be used at the facility.  That data indicated that the startup and shutdown emissions and the facility-wide potential to emit were reduced from the original emission estimates.

Tenaska’s plan approval application, the DEP’s review memorandum, the proposed plan approval, and other relevant information is available for review by any interested party at the DEP’s Southwest Regional Office, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.  To request a review, please contact Phil Bouse at 412-442-4000.

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Southwestern Energy is extending West Virginia leases

By Bob Downing Published: January 11, 2016

Southwestern Energy is starting to renew leases in West Virginia's Ohio and Marshall counties, according to The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register.

The energy company had acquired 413,00 acres from Chesapeake Energy in October 2014 for $5 billion.

It has an estimated 443,000 acres in West Virginia and southwest Pennsylvania.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Canadian board approves LNG facility in Nova Scotia

By Bob Downing Published: January 11, 2016

A plan by an Indian company to ship natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shales to Nova Scotia for export has won approval from a Canadian board.

The plan by Atlantic Coast LNG Inc., a subsidiary of the Hiranandani Group, was approved recently by the Canadian National Energy Board.

The plan includes a new LNG terminal at Middle Milford, Nova Scotia.

It also calls for adding south-to-northnatural gas  shipments in theexisting Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline.

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Republic Steel to idle 200 workers at Lorain rolling mill

By Bob Downing Published: January 11, 2016

From the Associated Press late last week:

LORAIN, Ohio (AP) -- Republic Steel has announced layoffs of about 200 workers as a result of its decision to temporarily idle its rolling mill operations in northeast Ohio.

A statement from the Canton-based company says it hopes to resume operations at the Lorain site in the near future.

The statement said the plant has struggled over the last year with a decline in the energy market and customer demand.

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Future of ultra-light condensate splitters is unclear

By Bob Downing Published: January 11, 2016

The future on "condensate splitters" or mini-refineries that convert ultra-light U.S. crude into fuels for export is unclear because of changing conditions, says the Business Record.

About $1 billion has been invested in such facilities in the last year and $1.2 billion in additional facilities are planned.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Trumbull County firm files appeal over closed injection well

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2016

An Ohio company fighting to reopen an injection well operation in Trumbull County's Weathersfield Township is taking its case to the 10th District Court of Appeals.

Warren-based American Water Management Services LLC has filed a notice of appeal with the appeals court in Columbus.

It is asking the court to overturn an order the Franklin County Common Pleas Court issued last month. On Dec. 18, the lower court dismissed American Water’s request to keep the injection well open.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Science panel is relooking at EPA's fracking water study

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2016

A landmark study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that concluded fracking causes no widespread harm to drinking water is coming under fire -- this time, from the agency’s own science advisers.

The EPA’s major finding in June’s preliminary report, that there’s no evidence fracking has led to "widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water," was seen as a vindication of hydraulic fracturing. A repudiation of the results could reignite the debate over the need for more regulation.

Members of  the EPA Science Advisory Board which reviews major studies by the agency, said in a report released Thursday the agency’s main conclusion "is ambiguous and requires clarification."

Click  here  to read more.

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Swarm of 70 small earthquakes hit western Oklahoma

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2016

Western Oklahoma has been by a swarm of 70 small earthquakes this week, quakes that are believed linked to injection wells to get rid of drilling wastes.

The largest quake was a magnitude 4.8 quake near Fairview. No major damage or injuries were reported.

Click  here  to read more.

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FERC approves Utica Access Pipeline in West Virginia

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2016

From a press release today:

HOUSTON, Jan. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Columbia Pipeline Group, Inc. ("CPG") (NYSE: CPGX) and Columbia Pipeline Partners LP (NYSE: CPPL) (together, "Columbia") announced today that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") has issued a certificate authorizing Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC ("Columbia Gas") to construct and operate the Utica Access Project in West Virginia.

"We are pleased that the FERC has approved our application to construct the Utica Access Project," said Columbia President Glen Kettering.  "This is another Columbia growth project that connects abundant, but constrained, Appalachian supplies to higher value domestic markets."

The Utica Access Project will be placed in service in the fourth quarter of 2016 and deliver up to 205 million cubic feet per day of Utica supply to the highly liquid Columbia Gas, Appalachia Pool.

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Company plans two horizontal oil wells in Kanawha County

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2016

From a Thursday presxs release:

Cunningham Energy LLC has announced plans today for two new shallow horizontal oil wells to be drilled in Kanawha County, West Virginia. The newly planned horizontal program will be drilled from the “Matterhorn” pad, consisting of two initial wells surveyed with a specified measured depth (“MD”) ranging from 6100’ to 6800’ plus feet and vertical depths (“TVD”) of 2150’ plus feet.

Both “Matterhorn” horizontal wells are targeting oil in the Weir Sand formation. Cunningham Energy also plans to utilize one of the company’s three Speedstar 185 top drive drilling rigs in conjunction with these new wells. Each well bore on the Matterhorn pad has been planned to be completed with multiple frac stages with varying spacing dependent on future wireline data.

“Cunningham Energy is looking forward to developing this promising new shallow horizontal oil & gas play in West Virginia,” said Ryan Cunningham, of Cunningham Energy. “Prior in house drilling data has shown strong oil production potential and experts feel that the potential of these shallow horizons is in the infancy of the game.

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New pipelines boosting prices in Marcellus, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

Basis differential narrows in Marcellus

At the Marcellus-shale area trading points, natural gas prices normally trade well below the Henry Hub national benchmark price because of the area's high gas production and limited pipeline takeaway capacity. The difference between the Marcellus pricing points and the Henry Hub, commonly referred to as the basis differential, has narrowed somewhat in recent months as new pipeline projects have come online and consumption of natural gas for heating has ramped up. While prices in the region are still very low, trading under $1.50 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), since November they have moved somewhat closer to the Henry Hub price. The price at Transco's Leidy Hub, for example, has averaged 89¢ below the Henry Hub since December 1. In July of 2015, on the other hand, the differential was much larger, averaging $1.65/MMBtu for the month.

In recent months, several new pipeline infrastructure projects and expansions have begun operation. For example, Texas Eastern Transmission Company's (Tetco) OPEN project added 550 million cubic feet (MMcf/d) of pipeline takeaway capacity out of Ohio and began full service in early November 2015. Other recent pipeline additions include Columbia Gas Pipeline's East Side Expansion, a 310-MMcf/d project that flows natural gas produced in Pennsylvania to Middle Atlantic markets; and Tennessee Gas Pipeline's Broad Run Flexibility Project, a 590-MMcf/d project originating in West Virginia that moves natural gas to the Gulf Coast states. Transco's Leidy Line project also began service in December, and flows gas from the Marcellus to Transco's main pipeline extending from Texas to New York. Bentek Energy noted that the effect of these new projects was somewhat limited in November, but as heating consumption increased later in 2015, Northeast production (which includes Marcellus) increased as well, setting records in December. Bentek estimated production from the Northeast came close to 22 Bcf/d in December.

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Marathon Petroleum names new senior VP of refining

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

FINDLAY, Ohio, Jan. 7, 2016 - Marathon Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: MPC) today announced the retirement of Richard D. Bedell, senior vice president of Refining, effective March 1. Raymond L. Brooks, currently general manager of MPC's Galveston Bay refinery in Texas City, Texas, will replace Bedell.

Bedell joined Marathon in 1979 and held numerous positions of increasing responsibility in the company, including serving as general manager of MPC's refineries in Garyville, La., Robinson, Ill., and Texas City.

"Rich's leadership has been instrumental in transforming our refineries into the flexible, integrated system they are today," said MPC President and CEO Gary R. Heminger. "His expertise and devotion to safety, environmental performance and operational excellence have helped to make us one of the most respected refining systems in the nation. All of us at MPC thank him for his decades of service and wish him well in his retirement."

Brooks began his career with MPC in 1983, and has held several senior management positions throughout the company, including at MPC's refineries in Catlettsburg, Ky., Robinson and Texas City, as well as senior management positions at MPC's headquarters in Findlay. Brooks has served as the general manager of MPC's refineries in Robinson and St. Paul Park, Minn. (no longer owned by MPC), in addition to his current role at the Galveston Bay refinery. Brooks graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering in 1983. In 1988, he received his master's degree in business administration from the University of New Orleans.

"We are fortunate to have Ray's depth and breadth of experience to take over as head of our Refining organization," said Heminger. "He will make lasting contributions as we continue to optimize and strategically expand our system."

###

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EnLink completes purchase of Tall Oak Midstream assets

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

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 and the General Partner completed its previously announced acquisition of certain subsidiaries of Tall Oak Midstream, LLC for $1.55 billion, subject to certain adjustments.

 

“The acquisition of Tall Oak is consistent with our growth strategy and will provide additional expansion opportunities in one of the best plays in the nation, the liquids-rich STACK play,” said Barry E. Davis, EnLink Midstream President and Chief Executive Officer. “This region offers some of the best drilling economics in North America with low breakeven prices and active producer customers who are committed to growing in the area.

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More studies of fracking chemicals, wastewater needed

By Bob Downing Published: January 8, 2016

From a Yale University press release on Wednesday:

In an analysis of more than 1,000 chemicals in fluids used in and created by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), Yale School of Public Health researchers found that many of the substances have been linked to reproductive and developmental health problems, and the majority had undetermined toxicity due to insufficient information.

Further exposure and epidemiological studies are urgently needed to evaluate potential threats to human health from chemicals found in fracking fluids and wastewater created by fracking, said the research team in their paper, published Jan. 6 in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental and Epidemiology.

The research team evaluated available data on 1,021 chemicals used in fracking, a process that recovers oil and natural gas from deep within the ground by using a mixture of hydraulic-fracturing fluids that can contain hundreds of chemicals. The process creates significant amounts of wastewater and fractures the bedrock, posing a potential threat to both surface water and underground aquifers that supply drinking water, note the researchers.

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West Virginia gets $18 million from leases, zero from royalties

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2016

From the Associated Pres today:

By

 

But as natural gas prices stay low, no companies with the state leases have begun extracting gas, as far as state Department of Commerce officials know. As a result, officials say they have received upfront checks, but no royalties from the unearthing of resources from the deep shale deposits, a process generally known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. 

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U.S. gasoline prices in 2015 were lowest since 2009

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

U.S. regular retail gasoline prices averaged $2.43 per gallon (gal) in 2015, 93 cents/gal (28%) less than in 2014 and the lowest annual average price since 2009. Lower crude oil prices in 2015 were the main cause for lower gasoline prices. In 6 of the 10 cities for which EIA collects weekly retail price data, gasoline prices did not exceed $3.00/gal.

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Tags: crude oil , gasoline , liquid fuels , retail prices , states

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TransCanada begins legal actions after Keystone XL denial

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

TransCanada Commences Legal Actions Following Keystone XL Denial

View PDFCompany expects to record estimated $2.5 to $2.9 billion write-down as result of denial

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Jan. 6, 2016) - TransCanada Corporation (TSX:TRP) (NYSE:TRP) (TransCanada) announced today it has filed a Notice of Intent to initiate a claim under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in response to the U.S. Administration's decision to deny a Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline on the basis that the denial was arbitrary and unjustified.

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Velocys plc appoints David Pummell as CEO

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2016

From a press release from Wednesday from Velocys, the company interested in developing a natural gas-to-liquids plant in Ashtabula County:

6th January 2016

Velocys plc (VLS.L), the company at the forefront of smaller scale gas-to-liquids (GTL), is pleased to announce the appointment of David Pummell as Chief Executive Officer with immediate effect.

With over 30 years of energy and oil industry experience, David joins Velocys from ACAL Energy Ltd, a private equity backed fuel cell technology company developing products for the automotive and stationary power sectors, where he was CEO.

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Pennsylvania DEP sends final oil, gas rules to state board

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2016

From Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection on Wednesday:

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Brown declares emergency over California natural gas leak

By Bob Downing Published: January 7, 2016

From the Associated Press on Wednesday:

LOS ANGELES — California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Wednesday over a massive natural-gas leak that has been spewing fumes into a Los Angeles neighborhood for months.

In a statement, Brown said he acted based on the requests of local residents in the community of Porter Ranch and the “prolonged and continuing” nature of the gas blowout at the underground storage facility.

The well, owned by Southern California Gas Co., has been gushing up to 1,200 tons of methane daily, along with other gases. The leak was first reported in October.

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Homegrown energy helps boost U.S. security, Chamber says

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2016

From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today:

Homegrown Energy Production and Oil Exports Help Reduce Risk

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The 2015 edition of the Annual Index of U.S. Energy Security Risk published by the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy demonstrates that growth in domestic energy production has had material benefits to U.S. energy security.

According to the Index, energy security risk in 2014 fell for the third year in a row, to 82.0. The decline was driven by the oil and gas sector, which saw risk reduced due to decreasing imports and less price volatility. U.S. crude oil production rose 17 percent in 2014. The Index measures 37 different metrics broken into four areas that identify the major risk to U.S. energy security.

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BP agrees to sell Alabama petrochemical complex

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2016

From a press release today:

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Southwestern Energy Co. names Bill Way CEO

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2016

From a press release today:

SOUTHWESTERN ENERGY COMPANY NAMES BILL WAY
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Steve Mueller Retiring, Will Serve as Non-Executive Chairman through
May 2016 Annual Meeting

Houston, Texas—January 6, 2016…Southwestern Energy Company (NYSE: SWN) announced today that Bill Way, previously President and Chief Operating Officer, has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer by the Board of Directors succeeding Steve Mueller. Mr. Way also has been elected to the Board of Directors. Mr. Mueller will continue to serve as a director and as non-executive Chairman of the Board until he retires at the May 2016 annual meeting of stockholders.
“Southwestern Energy has some of the highest quality assets in the industry along with a highly talented staff, and I am excited about the additional value that will be created by this team under Bill’s leadership,” said Mr. Mueller. “Bill has played a key role in developing the assets and organization since he joined the company in 2011, and while I will miss working day-to-day with this talented group, I am confident this is the right time and Bill is the right person to meet the challenges we face. I look forward to continuing working with him and the entire Board through the transition period over the next five months.”
“Bill is the right person to lead the company forward now and in the years to come,” said Cathy Kehr, Presiding Director. “The entire Board is excited to have Bill take the reins as CEO, and we are confident his extensive industry experience and development as an executive at Southwestern Energy have prepared him well. The Board also sincerely wishes to thank Steve for his vision and wisdom in the years he has served as CEO, a period of tremendous growth for the company.”
“I would like to personally thank Steve for his guidance and support over the past several years,” said Mr. Way. “I am deeply honored and committed to lead this company forward in the spirit of Southwestern Energy, which is rooted in our Formula, and delivering greater value to our shareholders in the future. I recognize these are difficult times for our industry and for SWN. We are committed to investing within our cash flow, stabilizing our debt, reducing our cost structure, and addressing our balance sheet as we move forward.
“SWN’s robust competitive positioning in the lowest cost portion of the North American natural gas supply curve will provide the company with an attractive growth profile once commodity prices recover. In the meantime, we are redesigning SWN to win in a more competitive North American natural gas marketplace using our disciplined 1.3 PVI hurdle
as our metric. Our operating excellence, our commitment to win, our enduring values,
our exceptional people and, above all, our culture provide us a unique advantage as we
take on this challenge.”
Mr. Way joined Southwestern Energy in October 2011 as Executive Vice President and
Chief Operating Officer. As part of the company’s succession planning, he was promoted
to President in December 2014. Prior to joining the company, he was Senior Vice
President, Americas of BG Group plc with responsibility for E&P, Midstream and LNG
operations in the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Chile, Bolivia, Canada and
Argentina. Previously, Mr. Way held various senior leadership and technical positions at
ConocoPhillips. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in Industrial
Engineering and has an MBA from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He
currently serves on the International Advisory Board and the Advisory Board of the Mays
Business School MBA Program at Texas A&M and the Cameron School of Business MBA
Program at the University of St. Thomas in Houston and on the board of directors of Boys
and Girls Country.
Southwestern Energy Company is an independent energy company whose wholly owned
subsidiaries are engaged in natural gas and oil exploration, development and production,
natural gas gathering and marketing. Additional information on the company can be found
on the Internet at http://www.swn.com.
 

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Crude oil begins year low, ends year even lower, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Crude oil prices ended 2015 below $40 per barrel (b), the lowest level since early 2009. Spot prices for the international crude oil benchmark Brent averaged $52/b in 2015, 53% below the level in 2014 and 49% below the average price over 2010-14. Spot prices for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil were also down 53% in 2015 compared with 2014, averaging $49/b for the year.

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Tags: Brent , crude oil , liquid fuels , oil prices , oil/petroleum , OPEC , prices , WTI (West Texas Intermediate)

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Oil slump is impacting North Dakota economy, records show

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2016

From the Associated Press today:

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Tax Department records show the state’s economy is slackening due to low crop prices and a sustained oil industry slump.

North Dakota’s taxable sales and purchases are a key indicator of economic activity in the state. Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger reported Wednesday that taxable sales and purchases were $5.7 billion for July, August and September. That’s a drop of nearly 25 percent compared to the third quarter of 2014 and the lowest since 2011.

Records show 10 of 15 industries reported decreases during the third quarter of 2015. Mining and oil extraction had the biggest drop, at nearly 53 percent.

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CONSOL Energy to trim spending, drilling in 2016

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2016

From a press release today:

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) announced today an updated 2016 capital expenditure and operational forecast for the E&P and Coal Divisions.

In 2016, the E&P Division expects capital expenditures of $205-$325 million, which is $185 million lower than the previous guidance of $400-$500 million, based on the midpoint of the guidance. E&P Division capital expenditures are comprised of the following: $110-$210 million for drilling and completion activity, which includes $10-$15 million for coalbed methane (CBM) activity; $40-$50 million for midstream, including approximately $22 million associated with expected CONE Midstream capital contributions; and $55-$65 million for other activities related to land, permitting, and business development.

The further reduction to 2016 E&P capital reflects continued benefits from drilling and completion efficiencies and the deferral of mainly wet gas completions into 2017. CONSOL believes that it has a meaningful lever to pull to partially offset this deferral of activity through potential production benefits related to additional gathering system debottlenecking projects in the second half of 2016. These additional debottlenecking projects could provide upside benefits to 2017 gas production volumes.

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CONSOL Energy to drill Utica Shale well at Pittsburgh airport

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2016

Pittsburgh-based CONSOL Energy intends to drill a deeper Utica Shale well from a pad at the Pittsburgh International Airport.

The company has been tapping the shallower Marcellus Shale from the airport wells, but the Utica well would be the first near the airport.

Click  here  to read more from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review..

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FirstEnergy looking at reopening closed Hatfield's Ferry plant

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2016

FirstEnergy Corp. is reportedly looking at reopening a mothballed coal-fired power plant in southwest Pennsylvania to burn cleaner and cheaper natural gas with coal.

The 1,700-megawatt Hatfield's Ferry plant in Greene County was closed in October 2013.

The new plan is under study and could begin in the summer 2019, at the earliest.

Click  here  to read more from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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Kinder Morgan fined $745,000 for Philadelphia violations

By Bob Downing Published: January 6, 2016

From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection:

 
The first penalty, in the amount of $570,000, addresses violations relating to a release of approximately 8,000 gallons of fuel grade ethanol from an aboveground storage tank at the Liquids Terminal, which reached soil and groundwater through a failed containment structure. Kinder Morgan neglected to investigate a suspected release as quickly as the law requires and was untimely with the notification of the release to downstream water users. DEP is working with Kinder Morgan on improving its procedures for responding to a release and on ensuring the adequacy of all of its containment structures. Kinder Morgan is in the process of cleaning this site.
 
The second penalty, in the amount of $175,000, addresses violations relating to stormwater accumulation in emergency release containment structures throughout the Point Breeze Terminal. Emergency containment structures are designed to prevent contamination from entering the environment, which in this case includes surrounding exceptional value wetlands and the Delaware River, in the event of a catastrophic release from a large aboveground storage tank. When those structures are filled with stormwater, they cannot serve that function and can contribute to corrosion of the tanks that they hold. Because Kinder Morgan never notified DEP of the problem, DEP could not offer assistance in resolving the violation in a timely manner.
 
“Whether it be a product release or the failure to follow regulatory requirements, we take our mission to provide for the health and safety of our citizens very seriously,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley. “Economic opportunities must be pursued responsibly, safeguarding public health and the environment.  We expect that this penalty will result in strengthened safeguards across the board.”
 
Money from the civil penalty goes to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Storage Tank Fund, which is administered by the Department for use in programs designed to ensure proper monitoring, operation, and remediation of releases from aboveground and underground tanks that contain a variety of regulated petroleum and chemical substances.

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API striving to keep 'positive momentum' for U.S. energy

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute today:

API’s Gerard outlines the state of American energy in annual address, releases 2016 report

 

WASHINGTON, January 5, 2016 – API President and CEO Jack Gerard delivered the keynote address at API’s Sixth Annual State of American Energy event on Tuesday, releasing the State of American Energy 2016 report and highlighting the energy issues that will shape America’s economic and political news this year.

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First crude export shipment from Texas bound for Europe

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2016

The first export of crude oil from the United States in recent years occurred Dec. 31 from Corpus Christi, Texas.

Light crude fromt he Eagle Ford shale is bound for Europe aboard a Bahamian tanker.

Click  here  to read more.

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Eclipse Resources to curtail drilling until prices rebound

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2016

Eclipse Resources Corp., one of the key drillers in Ohio's Utica Shale, intends to continue curtailing drilling and completion of wells until prices rebound.

The Pennsylvania-based firm began that policy last November.

Click  here  to read the company's plans and comments.

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Annual natural gas spot price at lowest level since 1999

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Natural gas spot prices in 2015 at the Henry Hub in Louisiana, a national benchmark, averaged $2.61 per million British thermal unit (MMBtu), the lowest annual average level since 1999. Daily prices fell below $2/MMBtu this year for the first time since 2012. Henry Hub spot prices began the year relatively low and fell throughout 2015, as production and storage inventories hit record levels and fourth-quarter temperatures were much warmer than normal.

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Tags: consumption , natural gas , production , spot prices , storage

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Ohio Supreme Court to hear arguments in three oil, gas cases

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2016

The Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today and Wednesday on three oil and gas cases.

Click  here  to read more from the Vorys law firm.

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Appeals court hearing Wednesday in Broadview Heights case

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2016

From a Monday press release from the Ohio Community Rihgts Network:

CLEVELAND: On January 6th, after repeatedly being denied access to the courtroom, Broadview Heights residents will finally have their day in court.
Since November 2012, when the City’s voters overwhelmingly adopted their Community Bill of Rights charter amendment banning fracking, the people of this Cleveland suburb have been fighting to enforce their amendment and protect their rights to clean air, water, and local self-government. In one case between the City of Broadview Heights and the drilling corporations, the people were denied intervention. Then, in the people’s class action lawsuit filed in December 2014, the common pleas judge denied oral arguments.
In the people’s appeal against that decision, residents have succeeded in gaining access to the courtroom to present their arguments. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is representing Mothers Against Drilling in Our Neighborhoods (MADION), the community group that worked with residents to advance and adopt the CELDF-drafted bill of rights charter amendment. To mark this historic event, residents from across the State are coming to Cleveland to show their support. Many are board members and community members involved with the Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN), a statewide coalition of people and local organizations that have advanced community rights in their own communities, and are providing support to other communities working to advance community rights as well. Commencing at 11:30 AM, the group is presenting a street theater dramatization of the events leading up to the actual oral arguments inside the courtroom. They have titled their dramatization “The People vs. The Corporate State.”
Participants will be acting out the events using the story of David vs Goliath. The people represent David,
and the corporations and our own state government represent Goliath.
In fact, while the street theater unfolds, inside the courtroom will be a team of ten attorneys on behalf of
drilling corporations and the state of Ohio, arguing to quash the people’s rights to self-government and to
protect their community from harm – while the people of Broadview Heights have one attorney, arguing
on behalf of the people’s unalienable rights to local self-government and to clean air and water.
“We – the people of Broadview Heights – democratically enacted our law prohibiting further drilling in
our neighborhoods in order to protect our families and our community. How can judges claim that a
corporation’s ‘right’ to profit is more important than that?” stated Jerry Volk, Broadview Heights
resident and plaintiff in the case.
“As a resident of Broadview Heights and as President of OHCRN, I am overwhelmed by the enormous
support we’re receiving from residents across the state,” said Tish O’Dell. “What is happening to
Broadview Heights residents is happening to communities across the state. The fact that people are
traveling from Athens, Meigs, Mahoning, Williams, Wood, Fulton, Lorain, Franklin, Portage, Lorain and
Medina Counties to support the people of Broadview Heights, illustrates the growing recognition that we
are all suffering under a ‘corporate government’ that needs to change.”
OHCRN believes that the people’s right to alter and reform their government is unalienable, and
manifests through the direct adoption of rights-based laws. With no expectation that the courts will
suddenly reverse decades of jurisprudence favoring corporate profits over people’s rights, OHCRN,
CELDF, the people of Broadview Heights and their allies, see this case as an opportunity to continue
challenging our unjust system of law and governance, educating growing numbers of communities, and
building the community rights movement. Only through a people’s movement will we achieve the
communities we envision, where our laws and our government favor the people over corporations.
The Court of Appeals will hear the case at 1:00 PM, January 6 at the Eighth District, 1 W Lakeside
Ave # 202, Cleveland, OH.
***
OHCRN is establishing a network of communities working to advance, secure and protect
the inalienable rights of all Ohioans to democratic, local self-governance, to sustainable food,
energy and economic systems, and the rights of nature to exist and flourish throughout Ohio. For
more information, contact us at ohiocrn@gmail.com.

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Ohio approved zero Utica Shale permits last week

By Bob Downing Published: January 5, 2016

Ohio approved zero Utica Shale drilling permits, in the week that ended Jan. 2.

To date, Ohio has 1,66 drilled Utica wells and 1,121 producing Utica wells, says the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The state agency has approved 2,114 Utica permits.

A total of 15 rigs are at work in Ohio.

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Swift Energy seeks Chapter 11 protection for restructruring

By Bob Downing Published: January 4, 2016

Texas-based Swift Energy Co. is the 40th shale drilling firm to seek federal bankrupycy protection in 2015.

Here is the company's press release:

Swift Energy Company Enters Into Comprehensive Restructuring Support Agreement with Majority of Senior Noteholders and Files Chapter 11 to Effectuate Restructuring

Agreed Plan of Reorganization to Reduce Financial Leverage, Improve Liquidity and Provide for Payment of Unsecured Trade Claims

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WPX Energy to sell San Juan Basin gathering system

By Bob Downing Published: January 4, 2016

WPX Energy announced last week that it signed an agreement to sell its San Juan Basin gathering system for consideration of approximately $309 million to a portfolio company of ISQ Global Infrastructure Fund, a fund managed by I Squared Capital.

WPX is receiving $285 million cash subject to closing adjustments and a commitment estimated at $24 million in capital designated by the purchaser to expand the system to support WPX’s development in the Gallup oil play.

The agreement increases the amount of WPX’s recent divestitures to nearly $575 million. WPX originally targeted $400-$500 million in activity for the latter half of the year

Click  here  to read more.

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First natural gas flows from Shell's Corrib field in Ireland

By Bob Downing Published: January 4, 2016

From a Shell Global press release:

30-Dec-2015

Natural gas has started to flow from Ireland’s Corrib gas field, marking an important milestone for the country and Shell’s upstream operations.

Located 83 kilometres off Ireland’s northwest coast in water depths of almost 350 metres, the Corrib gas field lies approximately 3,000 metres below the seabed. At peak annual production, the Corrib gas field is expected to produce around 260 MMscf/d of gas, which is 45,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

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Company acquires bigger interest in Pony Express Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: January 4, 2016

Kansas-based Tallgrass Energy Partners LP is acquiring an additional 31.3 percent interest in the Tallgrass Pony Express Pipeline LLC for $475 million and 6.5 million common units of TEP.

Click  here  to read more.

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Statoil, Repsol complete two transactions announced Dec. 11

By Bob Downing Published: January 4, 2016

A recent press release:

In addition, the application for Statoil to assume operatorship of the BM-C-33 licence in Brazil’s Campos basin has been submitted to the authorities for approval.

Statoil’s acquisition of a 31% equity share in the UK licence for Alfa Sentral remains pending Repsol partner approval

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Oklahoma has record 857 earthquakes of 3.0 or bigger in 2015

By Bob Downing Published: January 4, 2016

Oklahoma had a record 857 earthquakes in 2015 that were magnitude 3 or greater.

It had 585 quakes in 2014 and 106 in 2013.

Oklahoma had more quakes than 48 other states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). Those 48 other states had 729 quakes combined.

Injection wells for drilling wastes are the likely cause of the Oklahoma quakes, according to experts.

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Prices of oil, natural gas dropped in 2015, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: January 4, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

The energy component of the widely followed S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) fell 41% from the start of 2015, a larger decline than the industrial metals, grains, and precious metals components, which declined 24%, 19%, and 11%, respectively, in 2015. Weakness in global economic growth contributed to the overall decline in commodity markets in 2015, but unique supply-side factors within certain commodity markets also affected prices.

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Tags: diesel , energy , gasoline , liquid fuels , natural gas , oil/petroleum , prices

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OHIO.COM VIDEOS

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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.