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Ohio Utica Shale

New study says property values not impacted by pipelines

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

From a press release today:

Property values unaffected by presence of pipelines, new report finds

 

WASHINGTON—The presence of an underground natural gas transmission pipeline does not affect the sales prices or value of residential properties, according to a new study, Pipeline Impact to Property Value and Property Insurability,conducted by Integra Realty Resources on behalf of The INGAA Foundation Inc.

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DEP cites Range Resources for lack of cleanup at 44 Pa. wells

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection has cited Range Resources, one of the biggest drillers in the Marcellus Shale, for failure to properly cleanup drilling sites with the required nine months.

A total of 44 violations were listed: 40 in Washington County and four in Allegheny County.

Click  here  to read more.

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New website established for Belmont County cracker project

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

The company investigating building an ethane cracker plant on the Ohio River in Belmont County has established a web site for the project.

The site is: http://pttgcbelmontcountyoh.com.

A Thai company, PTT Global Chemical, is looking at building a $5.7 billion cracker plant to turn ethane into ethylene, a key ingredient in plastics.

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Kentucky county worried about radioactive drilling wastes

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

From the Associated Press:

Estill County officials are furious after not being told by Kentucky officials that low-level radioactive waste from drilling operations in other states was dumped illegally in their county last year.
State officials knew about the waste for a couple of weeks, but the county just found out about it Thursday, Judge-Executive Wallace Taylor told news outlets Friday.
Taylor said he and other county leaders will fight to determine how the waste ended up in the landfill and to ensure there is no public health risk.
“We don’t want people to think that we are trying to cover something up,” Tayor said. “We don’t want to think the landfill is trying to cover something up. We want to get to the bottom of this.”
The Division of Waste Management discovered radioactive material sealed in 47 boxes that were each about the size of a large dumpster. Officials have confirmed the waste came from operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The landfill has a liner and the material has been buried, state officials said.
Taylor said the county will do its own testing water levels at the landfill and nearby schools rather than relying completely upon the word of the state and landfill operator.
“We cannot change that this happened, but we can make sure that our community is safe and that your voices are heard,” the Estill County Emergency Management Agency said in a statement.

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U.S. is No. 1 contributor to global liquids growth in 2015

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Iraq was the second-leading contributor to the growth in global oil supply in 2015, behind only the United States. Crude oil production in Iraq, including fields in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq, averaged 4.0 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2015, almost 700,000 b/d above the 2014 level. Iraq is the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and accounted for about 75% of total OPEC production growth in 2015. Iraq's oil consumption decreased slightly in 2015, and as a result, all of the crude oil production increase was exported to international markets.

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Tags: exports , international , Iraq , oil/petroleum , OPEC , production

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EV Energy Partners has no Utica drilling plans in 2016

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

Texas-based EV Energy Partners LP has no plans to drill any new wells in Ohio’s Utica Shale or elsewhere in 2016.
The company has trimmed its 2016 capital spending by 75 percent to between $10 million and $18 million and top management has taken a pay cut of 10 percent to avoid layoffs, company officials said on Monday  in an earnings call with analysts and the media.
Most of the 2016 capital budget will be spent on completing 10 drilled wells in the Barnett Shale in Texas, officials said.
The company lost $71.3 million in the fourth quarter but made a profit of $21.3 million in 2015. That was largely due to the sale of its share of the Utica East Ohio pipeline and its natural gas-processing plants in Carroll and Columbiana counties and a liquids-processing plant in Harrison County.
The company’s 21 percent share in those plants and pipelines was sold last spring to Utica Gas Services LLC, a subsidiary of Oklahoma-based Williams Partners LP and M3 Ohio Gathering LLC.
The sale generated a $246.7 million profit for EV Energy Partners, a publicly traded company that is part of privately held EnerVest Ltd.
It reported that production of natural gas and liquids grew by 23 percent in the fourth quarter from fourth quarter 2014 and by 36 percent over third quarter 2015.
Most of that growth came from the company’s purchase of Belden & Blake Corp. and two other deals in Texas and New Mexico last October.  That included Belden & Blake’s Ohio drilling rights in the shallow Clinton Sandstone where several horizontal wells have been drilled in Stark County.
EV Energy Partners has operated Belden & Blake, formerly based in Canton, for 10 years.
Production for 2015 was basically flat from 2014 with production of 178.4 million cubic feet of equivalents per day, the company said.
The outlook for drilling companies in 2016 remains “dreadful,” said company chairman John Walker.
He called the current drilling downturn the worst of seven that he has seen but said he is optomistic that the industry will rebound. His company is not looking to sell of its assets at this time, he said.
EnerVest companies are among Ohio’s largest oil and gas operations with 8,700 vertical wells. They were the state’s largest producer from traditional gas and oil wells and generated 25 percent of Ohio’s natural gas prior to the recent Utica Shale boom in which they are a player. They control about 900,000 acres in Ohio. They are the largest well operator in the United States with 29,000 wells in 15 states.

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Florida may vote on Tuesday on fracking legislation

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

From a press release from Environment America on Friday:

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Yesterday a bipartisan group of state senators beat back a measure to advance fracking in the state of Florida, voting down Senate Bill 318 10 to 9 in the Appropriations Committee. Florida Senate rules allow the bill to be reconsidered, however, and the bill could be voted on again as soon as next Tuesday.
 
“SB 318 would pave the way for dangerous fracking in our state, putting the drinking water for 90 percent of Floridians and the Everglades in jeopardy,” said Jennifer Rubiello, Environment Florida director. "Yesterday Floridians spoke up for their water, and a bipartisan coalition of senators listened. We hope they’ll continue to stand up against dirty drilling in Florida.”
 
The bill would pave the way for hydraulic fracturing as well as “matrix acidizing," the type of fracking mostly likely to occur in Florida, in which acid is pumped into wells to dissolve limestone to stimulate the flow of oil and gas. Both methods of fracking pose inherent risks to water quality and public health.

SB 318 also preempts local governments and nullifies existing ordinances banning fracking.
 
"This is just the latest attempt by the oil and gas industry to strip communities of their ability to protect their water and their safety," said Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America's Stop Drilling Program. “And we were glad to see it stalled by a bipartisan group of senators in Florida.”
 
The measure has drawn widespread opposition from citizens, more than 80 counties and cities, environmental groups, labor groups, and even a class of fifth graders who testified yesterday in committee.
 
The bill's counterpart, HB 191, already passed out of the Florida House. If SB 318 manages to clear the Senate without changes in the remaining two weeks of the legislative session, Gov. Rick Scott is sure to sign it into law.
 
“Fracking has been a rolling environmental disaster across the country. It needs to be banned altogether, and it has no place in the state of Florida,” said Rubiello. “We’ll continue to work with our allies to defeat this reckless bill until the session’s bitter end.”

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Could Lordstown land second natural gas-fired power plant?

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

Rumors are circulating in Northeast Ohio that Lordstown will become home to a second natural gas-fired power plant to generate electricity, according the Youngstown-based The Business Journal.

Massachusetts-based Clean Energy Future has developed plans for an $850 million plant to be powered by natural gas from Ohio's Utica Shale. Those plans have been approved.

Construction on that plant is set to begin in April.

Now some are discussing a second duplicate plant at the same site, although the company has not confirmed.

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Range Resources down to three drilling rigs in Marcellus Shale

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

Texas-based Range Resources Corp. is down to three drilling rigs in the Marcellus Shale, all in southwest Pennsylvani, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times.

The company, one of the biggest drillers in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, had 15 rigs at work in Pennsylvania in early 2015.

The company has reduced its 2016 capital budget for drilling by 45 percent: from $796 million to $465 million due to the downturn with low commodity prices.

Click  here  to read more.

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Energy Transfer Equity questions Williams acquisition

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

Pipeline giant Energy Transfer Equity is having second thoughts about acquiring rival Williams in a $38 billion deal announced five months, the New York Times reported last week.

The deal would create the No. 1 pipeline operator.

Both companies have been their value drop due to low commodity prices and concerns about the complicated merger.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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West Virginia DEP opposes relaxing drilling permit rules

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman said last week that his agency is against passage of an industry-backed bill that would allow natural gas companies to build access roads, well pads and other drilling-site infrastructure without first getting a well permit from the DE, reported the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

“I am opposed to it,” Huffman said in an interview. “I just don’t find it necessary.”

Click   here  to read Ken Ward Jr.'s story.

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Southwestern, Chesapeake renegotiate pipeline contracts

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

Southwestern Energy Co. and Chesapeake Energy Corp. have both negotiated new deals with pipeline company Williams, Reuters reported last week.

Southwestern said the new deal will save it $35 million in 2016.

In exchange, Williams, the Oklahoma-based pipeline company, will get new business from Southwestern in the Utica and Marcellus shales.

Southwestern acknowledged the deal in 2015-2016 reports recently released.

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Southwestern Energy: No new wells drilled in 2016

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

Texas-based Southwestern Energy won't be doing any new drilling in 2016 but will be completing driled but uncompleted well it said in a seven-page look at 2016 plans.

That's due to low commodity prices.

The company is a major player in the marcellus Shale in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. It has drilled its first Utica weell in northern West Virginia.

Click  here  to read more.

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Southwestern reports production up, loss of $4.6 billion

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

Texas-based Southwestern Energy Co. reported that production grew by 27 percent in 2015, but the company with major holdings in northeast Pennsylvania and West Virginia lost $4.6 billion due to low commodity prices.

The company drilled 576 wells in 2015, of which 430 were put into production. It said it had another 203 wells in process on Dec. 31.

The company has 318 horizontal wells and 676 vertical wells in West Virginia, with another 42 horizontal wells in process. It has leased 425,000 acres.

It drilled its first Utica well in late 2015 in Marshall County, W. Va., and the initial results are promising, the company said.

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Stone Energy halts Marcellus Shale drilling in 2016

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

Louisiana-baeed Stone Energy Corp. lost $1.1 billion in 2015 and is now in maintenance-only mode in the Marcellus Shale.

Last year, the company had shut-in part of its Marcellus production in Wetzel County, W. Va., because of low commodity prices.

Here the company's press release from last week:

LAFAYETTE, La., Feb. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Stone Energy Corporation (NYSE: SGY) today announced financial and operational results for the fourth quarter and year-end of 2015. Some of the highlights include:

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Energy firms among U.S. companies that lost billions in 2015

By Bob Downing Published: February 29, 2016

Energy companies were featured prominently in a Friday article on U.S. companies that lost billions of dollars in 2015 in USA Today.

Heading the list was Apache, an energy company that lost $23 billion.

Also on the list was Utica Shale driller Chesapeake Energy with a 2015 loss of $14 billion.

Also on the list were Devon Energy, Occidental Petroleum, Anadarko Oil and ConocoPhillips.

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Four Antero Resources wells idled after Doddridge County fire

By Bob Downing Published: February 27, 2016

From the Associated Press:

State regulators say four Antero Resources natural gas wells in Doddridge County will remain idle while investigators examine a recent fire.

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Kelly Gillenwater tells The Exponent Telegram that there were no injuries from the early Thursday fire, and no material appears to have spilled outside the containment area at the site near West Union.

Antero said in a news release that the cause of the fire is still unknown.

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Range Resources trims spending, after losing $713 million

By Bob Downing Published: February 26, 2016

Texas-based Range Resources Corp. lost $713.7 million in 2015. That loss included a deficit of $321;8 million in the fourth quarter 2015.

The company, one of the largest drillers in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, will cut its capital spending in 2016 by 45 percent to about $495 million.

Click  here  to read more.

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Firm announces drop down on Summit Investments assets

By Bob Downing Published: February 26, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

Summit Midstream Partners, LP Announces Drop Down of All Operating Assets from
Summit Investments and Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2015 Financial Results

 SMLP announces estimated $1.2 billion drop down of all operating assets from Summit Investments
 Consideration for Drop Down Assets includes a $360.0 million Initial Payment and a Deferred Payment
of $800.0 million to $900.0 million which will be funded in 2020
 Transformational drop down enhances SMLP’s growth profile with over 80% to 90% of the adjusted
EBITDA contribution coming from the high growth Utica
 Transaction is immediately accretive to distributable cash flow per unit
 Transaction structure demonstrates substantial and continuing Sponsor support and will eliminate
the need for any public market financing
 SMLP has received commitments to upsize its revolving credit facility from $700.0 million to $1.25
billion and will use the facility to make the $360.0 million Initial Payment
 SMLP reports 2015 adjusted EBITDA of $210.4 million and adjusted DCF of $154.3 million, including
fourth quarter 2015 adjusted EBITDA of $53.3 million and adjusted DCF of $38.3 million
 SMLP provides 2016 adjusted EBITDA guidance of $260.0 million to $290.0 million with expected
distribution coverage ratio of 1.10x to 1.20x

The Woodlands, Texas (February 25, 2016) – Summit Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE: SMLP) announced today
that it has entered into an agreement with a wholly owned subsidiary of Summit Midstream Partners, LLC (“Summit
Investments”), to acquire all of the issued and outstanding membership interests of Summit Utica, Meadowlark
Midstream, and Tioga Midstream. In addition, SMLP will acquire Summit Investments’ 40.0% equity interest in each
of Ohio Gathering and Ohio Condensate. The total transaction is estimated at $1.2 billion with consideration
structured as a $360.0 million Initial Payment and a Deferred Payment estimated at approximately $800.0 million
to $900.0 million due in 2020. The Deferred Payment will be based on a 6.5x multiple of the average of 2018 and
2019 adjusted EBITDA from the Drop Down Assets, adjusted for the Initial Payment, and the capital expenditures
and adjusted EBITDA from the Drop Down Assets incurred during the deferral period.
In conjunction with the drop down, SMLP has increased its revolving credit facility from $700.0 million to $1.25
billion. Given the deferral structure and the increased capacity available under its credit facility, SMLP will not need
to access the capital markets to meet its currently planned capital expenditure program. The Deferred Payment
due in 2020 may be made in cash or SMLP units, at the discretion of SMLP, further eliminating the potential need
for the capital markets. The transaction, which SMLP expects to be immediately accretive to distributable cash flow
on a per unit basis, is expected to close in March 2016.
Steve Newby, President and CEO of SMLP commented, “With this transaction, SMLP is being transformed from a
drop down story into an organic growth story with more than 20% of SMLP’s expected 2016 adjusted EBITDA
originating from our fee-based gathering services in the Utica. Summit Utica and Ohio Gathering provide SMLP
with an expansive gathering footprint in the Utica, and we expect that cash flows from this play will represent more
than 40% of SMLP’s total adjusted EBITDA by 2019 as volumes on our systems continue to grow. This drop down
transaction also diversifies our customer base and enhances relationships with, or adds, several strong and well
capitalized counterparties into SMLP’s customer portfolio, including Gulfport, XTO, EOG and Hess. Together, these
customers represent over 70% of the volumes associated with the Drop Down Assets.
The accelerated drop down of all of the operating assets from Summit Investments, the deferred payment structure,
and the attractive all-in drop down multiple work together in this challenging commodity and capital markets
environment to demonstrate the substantial and ongoing support of Energy Capital Partners, the ultimate owner of
our general partner. This support allows us to move high growth Utica assets to SMLP without the need to access
the public debt or equity capital markets and enables the transaction to be immediately accretive to distributable
2
cash flow per unit. We expect our distribution coverage ratio to average 1.15x for 2016 with 2016 distributable cash flow increasing 30% over our fourth quarter of 2015 run rate. The distribution coverage ratio is expected to continue to grow through the deferral period. Given the current uncertainty and volatility in the market, we plan on evaluating distribution per unit growth on a quarter to quarter basis throughout 2016.
I would also like to thank our bank group for their continued support and confidence in the SMLP business. We increased our revolving credit facility by $550.0 million to $1.25 billion in conjunction with this transaction, providing us with the pro forma liquidity we need to continue to execute our growth plans without any further capital markets needs.”
2016 Financial Guidance
Pro forma for the 2016 Drop Down, SMLP is providing financial guidance for 2016 with adjusted EBITDA expected to range from $260.0 million to $290.0 million, including approximately $75.0 million to $85.0 million attributable to the Drop Down Assets. The 2016 financial guidance is based on an assumed Henry Hub average natural gas price of $2.30 per MMBtu and West Texas Intermediate average crude oil price of $41.00 per barrel.
Given the challenging commodity price environment, coupled with the current volatility of the capital markets, SMLP will take a measured approach regarding the pace of its distribution per unit growth rate in 2016. In the near-term, SMLP intends to focus on building distribution coverage and strengthening its balance sheet. We expect SMLP’s distribution coverage ratio for 2016 to range from 1.10x to 1.20x.
Overview of Drop Down Assets
Summit Midstream Utica, LLC (“Summit Utica”) is a natural gas gathering system located in the Appalachian Basin in southeastern Ohio serving producers targeting the Utica and Point Pleasant shale formations. The system is currently in service and under development with fourth quarter of 2015 volume throughput of 75 million cubic feet per day (“MMcf/d”). Upon full development, Summit Utica will be composed of 60 miles of low-pressure and high-pressure gathering pipelines and three compressor and dehydration stations with total throughput capacity of 450 MMcf/d. The Summit Utica system gathers and delivers natural gas, primarily under long-term, fee-based contracts which include acreage dedications. XTO Energy Inc. serves as the anchor customer on the system. The system interconnects with Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.’s Utica Ohio River Pipeline.
Ohio Gathering Company, L.L.C. (“Ohio Gathering”) is a natural gas gathering system located in the core of the Utica Shale in southeastern Ohio which is currently in service and under development. The gathering system, which is currently in service and under development, spans the condensate, rich-gas, and dry-gas windows of the Utica Shale for multiple producers that are targeting natural gas, condensate and NGL production from the Utica and Point Pleasant formations across Harrison, Guernsey, Belmont, Noble, and Monroe counties in Ohio. Currently, the system is composed of more than 250 miles of low-pressure and high-pressure gathering pipeline and offers throughput capacity in excess of 1.9 Bcf/d. Condensate and rich gas production is gathered, compressed, dehydrated and delivered to the Cadiz and Seneca processing complexes, which are owned by a joint venture owned between MPLX LP (“MPLX”) and The Energy and Minerals Group (“EMG”). Dry gas production is gathered, compressed, dehydrated and delivered to a downstream interconnect with TETCO and another third party pipeline. All gathering services on the Ohio Gathering system are provided pursuant to long-term, fee-based gathering agreements. Gulfport Energy Corporation (“Gulfport”) serves as the anchor customer for Ohio Gathering. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Ohio Gathering gathered an average of 813 MMcf/d of natural gas. SMLP is acquiring a 40.0% equity interest in Ohio Gathering; MPLX and EMG own the remaining 60.0%.
Ohio Condensate Company, L.L.C. (“Ohio Condensate”) is a 23 thousand barrel per day (“Mbbl/d”) condensate stabilization facility located in the core of the Utica Shale in southeastern Ohio. The facility commenced operations in February 2015 and is underpinned by a long-term, fee-based agreement with Gulfport. Condensate stabilization allows for producers to capture the NGLs that would otherwise flash from condensate in atmospheric conditions. Ohio Condensate is the largest stabilization facility in the Utica Shale and will ultimately serve as the origination point for MPLX’s Cornerstone Pipeline which will deliver condensate to Marathon Petroleum’s refinery in Canton, Ohio. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Ohio Condensate handled an average of 18 Mbbl/d of condensate. SMLP is acquiring a 40.0% equity interest in Ohio Condensate; MPLX owns the remaining 60.0%.
 

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European distillate oversupply triggers route around Africa

By Bob Downing Published: February 26, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

In Europe, the combination of low winter heating demand, high refinery runs, and increased imports have kept distillate fuel oil inventories in the Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Antwerp (ARA) area far above normal. Higher inventories have lowered distillate futures prices in the ARA area to a point where inventories are being held in floating storage and imported cargos are being diverted to longer voyages.

Read More ›

Tags: distillate fuel , Europe , international , liquid fuels , oil/petroleum , prices

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West Virginia town lifts water advisory after oil spill

By Bob Downing Published: February 26, 2016

From the Associated Press on Wednesday:

 

Officials in Pine Grove say the northern West Virginia community has lifted a water advisory three days after an oil spill in a creek.

Town recorder Rhonda Spencer says tests showed the town's tap water was safe for consumption and that officials decided at a meeting Tuesday to lift an advisory for residents to use the water only for flushing toilets.

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Sempra Energy says California gas leak will cost $330 million

By Bob Downing Published: February 26, 2016

Sempra Energy raised its cost estimate to $330 million for a historic natural gas leak in Southern California that sickened residents, forced thousands to relocate and sparked multiple investigations, Bloomberg reports.

Insurance will probably cover about $325 million of that expense, CEO Debra Reed said Friday on a conference call with investors.

The estimate includes costs to plug the leak, lost gas and temporary relocation of residents. It excludes potential damage awards, fines, penalties and legal costs that also should be covered by insurance, she said.

Click  here  to read more.

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Interesting stuff from Antero Resources' earnings call

By Bob Downing Published: February 26, 2016

Tidbits from the Antero Resources earnings call on Thursday:

1. The company has reduced the drilling time of a Utica Shale well from 34 days to 30 days and of a Marcellus Shale well from 29 to 24 days. That has helped cut costs.

2. The Rymer 4HD well in West Virginia's Tyler County is the company's first Utica well in West Virginia. It is 11,409 feet deep with a 6m620-foot lateral. It went into production in December. It is averageing 20 million cubic feet of natural gas oper day under a controlled release. The company called the results "very encouraging."

3. The company expects to have 70 drilled but not completed wells in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania by Dec. 31, 2016. That will definitely boost 2017 production, officials said. It had 50 unfinished wells on Dec. 31, 2015.

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Interesting stuff from Rice Energy's earnings call

By Bob Downing Published: February 26, 2016

Interesting tidbits from the Rice Energy Inc. earnings call on Thursday:

1. The company has cut well costs in the Utica Shale by 15 percent and by 9 percent in the Marcellus Shale.

2. Its typical well costs $8 million.

3. Laterals in the Marcellus Shale average 7,700 feet. They are longer in the Utica Shale: from 8,200 to 9,300 feet.

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Federal regulators fail to seek prosecution of rail accidents

By Bob Downing Published: February 26, 2016

From the Associated Press:

The Federal Railroad Administration routinely applies moderate penalties no more how serious the safety violation in order to avoid litigation, said the report by the Department of Transportation’s inspector general. A random sample of safety violations over five years found 17 cases that agency should have referred for criminal investigation, the report said.

The agency also doesn’t have a complete understanding of the risks of rail shipments of hazardous cargo, including more than 400,000 tank cars of oil shipped across the country annually, the watchdog found. That’s because agency only looks narrowly at operations in specific regions, not the nation as a whole, the report said.
The regional evaluations also don’t include an assessment of the risks of transporting highly volatile and hazardous materials like crude oil near cities and major population centers, the report said.

There has been a series of fiery oil train explosions in the U.S. and Canada in recent years, including one just across the border in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, that killed 47 people.

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Antero Resources reports 2015 profit of $941 million

By Bob Downing Published: February 25, 2016

Colorado-based Antero Resources Corp. made a profit of $941 million on revenues of nearly $4 billion in 2015.
That is an increase from the profit of $674 million made in 2014 by the company, one of the biggest players in Ohio’s Utica Shale.
The company outlined its 2015 finances in an earnings call on Thursday  with analysts and the media.
The company reported a fourth quarter 2015 profit of $158 million on revenues of $905 million or 57 cents per share. That compares to $607 million or $2.32 per share in 2014.
The company is pleased with initial 60-day results from its first Utica Shale well in West Virginia, officials said. The well in Tyler County that is 11,409 feet deep is producing about 20 million cubic feet of natural gas per day in a controlled release.
The company had reported earlier on 2015 production and 2016 drilling plans in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

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Eco-groups: Coast Guard should stop fracking barge shipments

By Bob Downing Published: February 25, 2016

From a press release:

FRONT LINE GROUPS REACT TO COAST GUARD
DECISION TO DEREGULATE FRACKING WASTE
SHIPMENTS ON NATION’S WATERWAYS

On February 22, front line community groups throughout the Ohio River valley received notification that the U.S. Coast Guard has determined that no new rules are needed to barge shipments of toxic, radioactive hydraulic fracturing waste. The Coast Guard instead decided to proceed using 40-year-old regulations that fail to address unconventional oil field waste from hydraulic fracturing. Fracking wastes contain such toxic chemicals as benzene and are laced with radioactive materials like water soluble radium-226, which is linked to leukemia and bone cancers. The Coast Guard will instead allow shipment of waste fluids from hydraulic fracturing to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
The proposal being considered by the Coast Guard would have required new rules and guidelines to transport highly flammable, explosive hazardous waste on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to currently undisclosed locations.
Members of frontline organizations living along the Ohio River in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois have been voicing opposition concerns for several years about the Coast Guard allowing barges carrying 5 million gallons of liquid fracking wastes each to sail without procedures in place to address the hazards.
“We cannot allow the shipment of toxic, radioactive fracking waste fluid on our nation’s drinking waste sources. The risk to public health and safety is too high,” said Teresa Mills of the Buckeye Forest Council, based in Athens, Ohio. “It is not safe even on a case-by-case basis as is now being propose by the Coast Guard. This is not the waste stream from your 60 year old mom and pop wells. The industry will not tell us what is in this waste, and that is just plain wrong.” Organizer Leatra Harper from Fresh Water Accountability Project of Grand Rapids, Ohio expressed “dismay and disbelief that the coast Guard would enable the unnecessary risk of floating toxic and radioactive frack waste on the Ohio River. This is
purely to enhance corporate profits and is another way the fracking industry has found to cut
costs at public risk.” She continued, “Even more suspect and reprehensible is that any test
results obtained by the Coast Guard for hazardous chemicals and water-soluble radium in
these shipments will not be shared with the public. Once again with fracking and its waste,
the public is not allowed to know to what toxins and in what amounts they are being
exposed.”
“As a resident of the lower Ohio River Valley, and as a staff member for the Ohio Valley
Environmental Coalition, I am appalled that the Coast Guard would disregard nearly 70,000
comments from citizens and experts who opposed the plan to bring potential catastrophe
associated with the barging of toxic and radioactive frack waste on our river,” observed
Robin Blakeman. “The city of Huntington, of which I am a resident, is entirely dependent for
its tap water from the Ohio River. Our water company is not prepared for such pollutants as
may come from frack waste barges. There are numerous water systems along the river's
course that are similarly at risk if major leaks, explosions, or spills occur in the process of
loading, unloading and shipping these barges. This is definitely not the same kind of waste
as has been shipped for 4 decades from more conventional gas drilling operations. It seems
the Coast Guard has abdicated their responsibility for regulation and oversight of highly
toxic substances with this decision.”
“Some groups have voiced concern about the lack of expertise and current federal
loopholes pertaining to the hydraulic fracturing industry which eliminate the ‘Right to Know’
and chemical disclosure and fail to protect workers and citizens downstream.” commented
Tabitha Tripp, Chair of Heartwood from Indiana. “The lack of oversight and regulation of
shipments containing radioactive hydraulic fracturing waste should be a concern to all those
living downstream of barge operations who will be handling this industrial waste.”
Terry Lodge, a Toledo attorney for the Fresh Water Accountability Project, was blunt, “This
is disastrous. The Coast Guard proposes to regulate shipment by shipment, and they will do
no such thing. They have very limited scientific staff, the lab testing of cargoes will not
become Coast Guard records (if they do testing at all), and the information will remain the
proprietary property of the shipper. The Coast Guard backed down and accepted an
alternate means of classifying the shipments based on an oil and gas waste cargo definition
that was implemented decades before horizontal hydraulic fracking was invented.”
“The public fought the Coast Guard’s proposed blanket approval of the barging of toxic and radioactive frack waste on the nation’s rivers, resulting in a withdrawal of the policy. But the struggle to keep this hazardous waste out of our water and off our waterways is far from over because the Coast Guard will now consider individual applications, making it very difficult to stop and essential that the fight continues,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
The groups urge citizens to contact their State and Federal elected representatives to demand that our rivers and drinking water are protected from being exposed to hazardous and toxic waste from hydraulic fracturing

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Western Gas Equity Partners buys pipeline from Anadarko

By Bob Downing Published: February 25, 2016

From a press release:

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Whiting Petroleum to halt Bakken fracking in North Dakota

By Bob Downing Published: February 25, 2016

Denver-based Whiting Petroleum Corp. will dramatically cut its 2016 capital budget due to low commodity prices.

The company will cut the budget by 80 percent and will halt all Bakken Shale well completions in the second quarter.

The Bakken Shale is is North Dakota and Montana.

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Shale oil still looms big in Royal Dutch Shell's future plans

By Bob Downing Published: February 25, 2016

Shale oil still plays a major role in Royal Dutch Shell's future plans, despite the upcoming retirement of executive Marvin Odum, says the Houston Chronicle's FuelFix blog.

Click  here  to read more.

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Marvin Odum to retire from Royal Dutch Shell in March

By Bob Downing Published: February 25, 2016

From a Royal Dutch Shell press release:

Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) today announced that after a 34-year career with the company, Unconventional Resources Director and U.S. Country Chair, Marvin Odum, will leave Shell at the end of March, 2016.  

Concurrent with Marvin’s departure, and in a move that will simplify Shell’s structure, the Athabasca Oil Sands Project and the Scotford Upgrader in Canada will join the global Downstream organisation under Downstream Director, John Abbott; and the Shale Resources business will join the global Upstream organisation under Upstream Director, Andy Brown.  As a result of these changes, The Unconventional Resources Directorate will cease to exist.

Since joining Shell as an engineer in 1982, Marvin has held a number of commercial and technical leadership roles of increasing responsibility.  He has held the position of U.S. Country Chair and President of Shell Oil Company since 2008, and joined Royal Dutch Shell’s Executive Committee as Upstream Americas Director in July 2009.

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Mariner East 2 Pipeline to be delayed, Sunoco Logistics says

By Bob Downing Published: February 25, 2016

Permitting problems will delay construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline to carry natural gas liquids from the Utica and Marcellus shales across Pennsylvania.

The pipeline will not begin service until 2017, not in late 2016 as had been planned, Sunoco Logistics said on Thursday.

The line will carry NGLs to Marcus Hook outside Philadelphia for export.

The line will expand pipeline capacity from 70,000 to 345,000 barrels per day.

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First U.S. LNG export sails from Sabine Pass on Gulf Coast

By Bob Downing Published: February 25, 2016

The first cargo of U.S. liquefied natural exported from the lower 48 United States left late Wednesday for Brazil from Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass plant in Louisiana.

The shipment signals that the unconventional gas revolution that upended U.S. natural gas markets has now arrived on the global markets.

The fuel will be carried to Brazil on the LNG tanker Asia Vision LNG and is expected to be received by Petroleo Brasileiro SA, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Click  here  to read more.

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Heminger named to head Marathon Petroleum Corp. board

By Bob Downing Published: February 25, 2016

From a press release:

FINDLAY, OHIO, Feb. 24, 2016 - Thomas J. Usher, chairman of the board of Marathon Petroleum Corporation (NYSE: MPC) announced today that he will retire following the company's Annual Meeting of Shareholders on April 27, 2016. MPC's Board of Directors has elected Gary R. Heminger, the company's president and chief executive officer, to succeed Usher as chairman in addition to his current duties when the meeting ends.

"Tom has been an invaluable contributor to our company's success, providing outstanding leadership and keen vision at pivotal times in our company's long history that have helped put us on a path for long-term success," Heminger said. "We remain ever grateful for his guidance and commitment."

Usher, 73, joined United States Steel Corporation (NYSE: X) in 1965, and held various positions in industrial engineering and a number of management capacities. He was elected president of U. S. Steel and to the USX board of directors in 1991, named president and chief operating officer of USX in 1994, and elected chairman and chief executive officer of USX in 1995. From 1986 to late 2001, USX Corporation was the parent company of U. S. Steel and Marathon Oil Company. Usher was the architect of the separation of Marathon Oil and U. S. Steel at the end of 2001, and in 2011, coordinated MPC's spinoff from Marathon Oil Corp., a move designed to enhance both companies' flexibility to pursue tailored strategies and drive additional long-term value for shareholders and customers. He has been a member of the board of directors of MPC and its former affiliates since 1991 and has served as chairman for more than 10 years.

Commenting on Heminger's election, Usher said, "Marathon Petroleum could not be in better hands. Our board of directors has a profound respect for Gary's business acumen, integrity and leadership ability. He has a dynamic vision for the future of our company and our industry, and the board has decided that the time is right for Gary to assume the additional role as chairman."

Heminger, 62, joined Marathon in 1975. Throughout four decades with the company he has worked in a variety of groups and functions, including auditing, marketing and commercial roles, and in Marathon's pipeline subsidiary. He held several executive positions in Marathon's downstream business, and was appointed president of Marathon Petroleum Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Marathon, in 2001. In addition, he served as an executive vice president of Marathon Oil and as a member of Marathon Oil's executive committee.  He was named to his current position on July 1, 2011. Heminger is also chairman of the board and chief executive officer of MPLX GP LLC (NYSE: MPLX).

In another move, the board announced that David A. Daberko has been elected to the new position of lead director. As lead director, Daberko will chair meetings of the non-management directors, approve board meeting agendas and serve as a liaison. These transitions are a part of the board's comprehensive succession planning process.

Daberko, 70, who served as chairman and chief executive officer of National City Corporation for 12 years, joined the MPC board in 2011. He also serves as an MPLX director.

"We are fortunate to have Dave as lead director," Usher said. "With his experience on the board, he is the right person to serve in a lead capacity to coordinate the activities of the other non-management directors."

 

 

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Rice Energy trims 2016 capital spending in Utica, Marcellus

By Bob Downing Published: February 25, 2016

Pennsylvania-based Rice Energy Inc. intends to trim its capital spending in 2016.
The firm, one of the most active drillers in Ohio’s Utica Shale with swome of Ohio's biggest wells, will cut spending on drilling and land acquisition by 14 percent to $640 million due to low commodity prices.
The firm will spend $275 million in the Utica Shale and $285 million in the Marcellus Shale in western Pennsylvania on well drilling and completion, it said in an earnings call on Thursday  with analysts and the media.
Another $80 million will be spent on land acquisition in Ohio’s Belmont County and two Pennsylvania counties.
In 2016, Rice intends to drill 12 new Utica wells and to begin production from 13 additional wells in Ohio’s Belmont County.
It will, with partner Gulfport Energy Corp., drill an additional five Utica wells and complete 14 other wells, all in Belmont County.
It also plans to drill 25 wells in the Marcellus Shale and to complete 27 wells there in 2016.
At present, Rice has 44 wells in Ohio and 52 in Pennsylvania in various stages of development.
It will maintain one drilling rig in the Utica and one rig in the Marcellus.
The company will spend an additional $305 million on product transportation and processing through Rice Midstream Holdings LLC and Rice Midstream Partners LP. That includes money for gas-gathering system in Belmont County and  freshwater-for-fracking systems in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The company is projecting production to grow by 27 to 34 percent in 2016 to 700 to 740 million cubic feet of equivalents per day.
Production in the fourth quarter 2015 grew to 624 million cubic feet of equivalents per day, 57 percent higher, than fourth quarter 2014, the firm said. Average 2015 production of 552 million cubic feet of equivalents per day was 101 percent higher than 2014 production, Rice said.
Its Utica production averaged 174 million cubic feet of equivalents per day, a 196 percent increase from fourth quarter 2014, Rice reported.
The company lost $274 million, or $2.06 per share, during the fourth quarter 2015. That’s down from a net income of $104 million, or 76 cents per share, during the fourth quarter of 2014.
Its full year income loss in 2015 was $268 million, or $2.14 per share. In 2014, Rice reported a profit of $219 million, or $1.70 per share. CEO Daniel Rice called 2015 "another banner year" for the company.

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Money-strapped Chesapeake halts Utica, Marcellus drilling

By Bob Downing Published: February 25, 2016

Financially strapped Chesapeake Energy Corp. is halting new drilling in Ohio’s Utica Shale.
The company, Ohio’s No. 1 Utica driller, announced on Wednesday  that it does not intend to drill new wells in eastern Ohio in 2016 because of financial constraints.
That could change if the prices paid for natural gas and liquids increase significantly, the company said.
It has released the two drilling rigs that had been at work in Ohio in the fourth quarter 2015 in Carroll and Harrison counties.
Chesapeake also said it is halting drilling in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale where one rig had been at work in late 2015. It is the No. 1 driller in Pennsylvania. Rigs also have been released by Chesapeake in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and will be dropped in the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas by June.  
The Oklahoma-based company said it expects to place 45 to 55 Utica wells previously drilled in Ohio and 20 in Pennsylvania into production in 2016.
The firm placed 43 Utica wells into production in the fourth quarter 2015. That compares to 51 wells that began production in the fourth quarter 2014.
Chesapeake has 813 Utica Shale drilling permits in Ohio, far more than any other company. The state has issued 2,134 Utica permits. The company swept into eastern Ohio in 2010 and leased millions of acres. It has 578 Utica wells in production in Ohio; 106 have been drilled; eight are being drilled; and 121 are permitted.
Said Shawn Bennett, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil & Gas Association, a statewide trade group, “While the association does not comment on specific companies’ business plans, recent decisions by a number of companies operating in the state to scale back drilling operations for 2016 are unfortunately not unique in the current price environment.”
Continuing low commodity prices and difficulties getting product out of Ohio to high-paying markets because of pipeline delays have hurt Ohio drillers, experts said.
Chesapeake’s announcement comes as no surprise but does raise red flags, said Paul Feezel of the Carroll Concerned Citizens. If the drillers lack money to operate, it may be that they won’t have the funds to correct problems when they occur and that is troubling, he said.
He said he was surprised how quickly the boom-and-bust cycle of drilling went bust on Chesapeake
The company’s action “may not be that big of a deal… and its impacts on Ohio may not be that great,” said Jeffrey Dick, professor and chair of the department of geological and environmental sciences at Youngstown State University and a Utica Shale expert.
The company drilled most of its wells from 2011 to mid-2015 and has not been an overly active player in Ohio in recent months, he said.
Ohio still has 15 drilling rigs at work for Gulfport Energy, Antero Resources, Rice Energy and other companies in counties like Belmont, Monroe and Guernsey where Chesapeake has few holdings, he said.
The halt to drilling in the Utica is tied to Chesapeake reducing its 2016 capital budget by 57 percent to between $1.3 billion and $1.8 billion. It spent $3.6 billion in 2015. It plans to drill 330 to 370 new wells in 2016. But 70 percent of the money will be spent on completing wells, not drilling new ones, the company said.
It is also projecting a decline of up to 5 percent in 2016 production.
Chesapeake’s Utica net production averaged 140 million barrels of oil equivalents per day in the fourth quarter 2015. That is a 33 percent increase over the previous quarter, the company said. The increase is due to Chesapeake bringing curtailed volumes to market as new transportation with better pricing became available to the company, officials said.
The company had cut Utica production since last May  but that has changed with the completion of a new pipeline in eastern Ohio. Wells that had been curtailed are now producing fully, said spokesman Chris Doyle. The Utica cash results are good but not fantastic, he said.
Overall, Chesapeake 2015 daily production averaged 679,200 barrels of oil equivalent, an 8 percent increase from 2014, the company said. Its oil and natural gas production increased by 8 percent and natural gas liquids including ethane and butane jumped by 14 percent from 2014.
Chesapeake has $700 million in pending asset sales in Texas and Oklahoma that are expected to close by June 30 and could have an added $1 billion in additional sales by Dec. 31,  said CEO Doug Lawler in an earnings call with analysts and the media. The company has been actively seeking buyers for its assets in the Utica Shale.
For 2015, Chesapeake reported a loss of $14.9 billion. It lost $2.2 billion in the fourth quarter.
The company says it has hedged half of its natural gas and oil sales in 2016 to boost its finances and reduce its debt.

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Chesapeake's average well in Utica Shale costs $7.2 million

By Bob Downing Published: February 25, 2016

Chesapeake Energy Corp. reported that its average Utica Shale well cost the company $7.2 million.

The average lateral is 7,800 feet and was fracked in 40 stages.

In 2014, the average lateral was only 6,200 feet in length and was fracked in 29 stages. The average well price tag was also $7.2 million.

So the company's laterals in the Utica are getting longer in 2015.

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H.E. Khalid A. Al-Falih wins 2016 Energy Intelligence award

By Bob Downing Published: February 25, 2016

From a press release today:

H.E. Khalid A.  Al-Falih of Saudi Aramco is the 2016 “Energy Intelligence Petroleum Executive of the Year”



New York – February 24, 2016 – Energy Intelligence announced today that H.E. Khalid A. Al-Falih, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco), has been named 2016 Energy Intelligence Petroleum Executive of the Year. He was chosen by a selection committee made up of top global oil industry executives, and is the 20th winner of this highly regarded, peer-selected honor. The award will be presented to Al-Falih on October 18, during the 37th Annual Oil & Money Conference in London.

“The selection of H.E. Khalid A. Al-Falih by his peers is a reflection of his strong leadership of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, during a period of dynamic growth and unprecedented challenges to the international petroleum industry,” said Thomas Wallin, Editor-in-Chief of Energy Intelligence.

Al-Falih was appointed Chairman of the Board of Saudi Aramco in April 2015. He joined the company in 1979 and has held a number of positions of increasing responsibility, including Executive Vice President of Operations, and President and Chief Executive Officer from January 2009 until April 2015.

Al-Falih led the expansion of Saudi Aramco’s oil production capacity through a number of upstream projects and also significantly increased its refining and petrochemical capabilities through a series of new world-class facilities. In addition, the company has continued to reliably supply international petroleum markets as the world’s largest exporter of crude oil, with direct sales to all main world markets, as well as supplying its own international refining and marketing partnerships.

Under his leadership, the company became a major natural gas producer as part of a strategy to reduce domestic use of liquid fuel for power generation and to drive economic growth and diversification. Al-Falih was also instrumental in Saudi Aramco’s emergence as a leading innovator and creator of advanced technology through the establishment of a network of research centers, both in the kingdom and internationally, in partnership with world-renowned academic and industry research institutions.

In the months leading up to the UN International Conference on Climate Change -- COP21 Paris -- Al-Falih played a leading role in the World Economic Forum-sponsored Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), an industry-driven initiative that sought to catalyze practical, meaningful and technology-enabled actions to address climate change. In September 2014, Al-Falih spoke on behalf of the industry at the UN-sponsored Climate Summit in New York, where he called for collaboration and the sharing of best practices and technical solutions to address climate change and sustainable energy.

Al-Falih holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University and an MBA from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM). He was chair of the World Economic Forum Oil & Gas Community and served on many boards, including KFUPM International Advisory Board; J.P. Morgan International Council; Asia Business Council; International Business Council of the World Economic Forum; MIT Presidential CEO Advisory Board; Royal Academy of Engineering (Fellow); and Prince Mohammad bin Fahd University Board of Trustees. He is currently serving on the board of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (founding member) and on the American University of Sharjah Board of Trustees.

The selection process for the Energy Intelligence Petroleum Executive of the Year is administered by Energy Intelligence, which gathers nominations for the award from the heads of the 100 largest oil companies, as determined by the annual company rankings by Energy Intelligence, in the Energy Intelligence Top 100: Global NOC & IOC Rankings. Nominations are then voted on by a special selection committee made up of previous award winners and other senior oil executives.

Previous winners include Rex W. Tillerson of ExxonMobil (2015), Emilio Lozoya Austin of Pemex (2014), Peter Voser of Royal Dutch Shell (2013), Fu Chengyu of Sinopec (2012), José Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo of Petrobras (2011), and Andrew Gould of Schlumberger (2010).

About Energy Intelligence (www.energyintel.com)
Energy Intelligence has provided over six decades of widely recognized energy and geopolitical information, analysis, data and research to energy executives worldwide. It has set the industry standard for excellence with an integral team of analysts that use their deep expertise to generate indispensable products and services for the international energy industry. The company’s Research and Advisory team also manages international projects for individual clients, compiling incisive reports and data analytics. Our reputation is built on the quality and depth of our knowledge, which is also exemplified by our high-profile annual conference, Oil & Money.

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FourPoint Energy acquires Chesapeake Energy assets

By Bob Downing Published: February 24, 2016

From a press release today:

DENVER, Feb. 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- FourPoint Energy, LLC announced today the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire all of Chesapeake Energy's remaining Western Anadarko Basin oil and gas assets for a purchase price of $385 million. The assets to be acquired include an interest in nearly 3,500 producing wells primarily in the Granite Wash, Missourian Wash, Upper and Lower Cleveland and Tonkawa formations. The production mix is approximately 67 percent natural gas and 33 percent oil and natural gas liquids. The assets cover approximately 473,000 net acres, within 15 counties in Western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle and are 98 percent held by production. The closing of the acquisition, which is expected to occur on April 29, 2016, is subject to customary conditions to closing. FourPoint will assume full operations of the assets at closing.  

George Solich, President and CEO of FourPoint said, "This acquisition will significantly increase our position in the Western Anadarko Basin and will give us greater operatorship and capital control.  The properties to be acquired create visibility into decades of development growth and closely overlap FourPoint's current acreage footprint. By optimizing our position we enhance optionality in drilling inventory allowing us to target the best upside locations that achieve the most economic rates of return."

Tad Herz, Executive Vice President and CFO said, "As the markets continue to remain volatile, acquiring an attractive producing asset that will significantly increase our current asset base while providing a stable cash flow profile should give FourPoint the financial flexibility to modify and adapt our development plan."

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FTC OKs antitrust approval of Dominion, Questar combination

By Bob Downing Published: February 24, 2016

From a press release:

Feb 23, 2016

RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion Resources, Inc. (NYSE: D) and Questar Corporation (NYSE: STR) announced today that their proposed combination has cleared a key condition needed for completion.

The Federal Trade Commission has granted early termination of the 30-day waiting period under the federal Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act with regard to the combination.

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Chesapeake Energy halts Utica, Marcellus drilling in 2016

By Bob Downing Published: February 24, 2016

Chesapeake Energy Corp. is halting its drilling in the Utica and Marcellus shales.

The financially strapped company announced on Wednesday that it had released its Utica and Marcellus drilling rigs.

That will mean no new drilling, at least temporarily, in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The company had two rigs in Ohio's Utica Shale and one rig in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale in the fourth quarter 2015.

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Group pleased with Coast Guard decision on fracking wastes

By Bob Downing Published: February 24, 2016

From a Tuesday press release from Environment America:

WASHINGTON, DC – In a win for clean water and public health, today the U.S. Coast Guard quietly dropped its proposal to allow barges on the nation’s rivers and inter coastal waterways to transport toxic fracking wastewater.
 
“Shipping thousands of barrels of toxic wastewater down the rivers we drink from was a recipe for disaster,” said Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling program. “For the sake of our drinking water and our safety, we’re glad to see this bad idea put to rest.”
 
Fracking -- the controversial drilling technique by which large volumes of water, sand and chemicals are injected underground -- creates vast quantities of toxic wastewater often laced with cancer causing chemicals and even radioactive material.
 
An Environment America Research & Policy Center report found that fracking operations produced 280 billion gallons of such wastewater in a single year—enough to cover D.C. in a 22-feet deep cesspool.
 
Despite its often dangerous contents, fracking wastewater is not considered hazardous by the federal government, and its transport, treatment, and disposal is governed by a patchwork of inadequate federal and state regulations. 
 
The October 2013 Coast Guard proposal came in response to a specific request by a tank barge, and was immediately met with widespread criticism. More than 98 percent of the 70,000 public comments submitted on the plan -- including over 29,000 collected from Environment America -- were opposed.
 
“Until we ban fracking altogether, we need to limit Americans’ exposure to its harmful pollution every way we can,” said Richardson. “That’s why today marks a small but important win for clean water and public health.”

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Coast Guard scuttles fracking barge shipments on Ohio River

By Bob Downing Published: February 24, 2016

The Coast Guard won’t adopt a policy clearing the way for barges to ship large amounts of fracking wastewater on the Ohio River and other waterways, according to WDRB in Louisville.

The agency, which regulates safety rules for vessels that carry hazardous materials, formally withdrew the proposal in the Tuesday edition of the Federal Register, the journal for notices issued by the U.S. government.

One company, GreenHunter Resources, had pushed to win federal approval for such shipments on the Ohio River from a base in southern Ohio.

Click  here  to read more.

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Harrison County organic farmer fighting Utopia pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: February 24, 2016

A press release from a Harrison County organic farmer:


Mick Luber’s organic farm near Cadiz, Ohio has been threatened by the siting of the
Utopia Pipeline across his main production area of his farm. Mick sells organic produce at the
Wheeling Farmer’s Market and markets in Pittsburgh run by City Parks. He has been on his farm
since 1979. The farm is a USDA certified farm, which is certified by the Ohio Ecological Food
and Farm Association.
Kinder-Morgan, the owner of the planned Utopia Pipeline, took Mick to court to force
him to allow surveying of his property in the Court of Common Pleas in Harrison County.
Kinder-Morgan suggested in their filing that they could use the Ohio Revised Code Sections
1723.01 and 163 as a common carrier to get an injunction against Mick. Judge Hervey of the
Court ruled in favor of the company. The litigation is currently in appeal to the Seventh District
Court of Appeals. Mick was forced to let the company on his property to survey.
Kinder-Morgan is planning on using this Utopia Pipeline to haul ethane and propaneethane
mixtures to Ontario, Canada, which will then be used to make plastics for a private, forprofit
company. Mick’s attorneys argued that because what is going to be transported are
natural gas liquids (NGLs), the proposed pipeline does not meet the criteria of the law (slurried
coal, natural gas or petroleum), and therefore, the company does not meet common carrier
status under Ohio Revised Code Sections 1723.01 and 163. Additionally, Mick’s attorneys
argued that the Utopia Pipeline Project at issue is not in the public welfare and is not necessary
for a public use as required by Article 1, section 19 of the Ohio Constitution in order to justify
eminent domain authority, but rather serves a private profit motive.
Mick says that the most productive area of his farm could not be restored to its present
state of soil life and structure no matter how good the reclamation would be. “You can’t work
on soil for 30 plus years, adding compost to make the soil enliven with bacteria, earth worms
and mycelium and watch it be destroyed by bulldozers and track hoes. When I moved to this
farm the field was solid clay. I thought I should be in the pottery business instead of farming
but by adding composted manures in three years the soil improved remarkably with friability
and now after 30 plus years it is exceedingly productive. “
There is presently a pipeline being planned at the south end of the field in question and
Kinder-Morgan could use that same area for its pipeline, and miss Mick’s fields all together.
The pipeline should be moved so Mick doesn’t lose his livelihood and his organic production for
his customers.
Mick needs his customers and the public to write to Kinder-Morgan and the Ohio Siting
Board, suggesting they move this pipeline off his property. He is one of a few organic vegetable
growers left in the area.

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Haymaker Resources pays $128 million for Chesapeake assets

By Bob Downing Published: February 23, 2016

From a press release today:

HOUSTON--()--On January 29, 2016, Houston-based Haymaker Resources closed on the acquisition of mineral and royalty interests from certain affiliates of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corporation. The acquisition includes producing and non-producing mineral and royalty interests associated with over 8,500 wells across 24 states and 324 counties. The majority of production comes from the Mid-Continent, Haynesville, and Appalachia regions. Final closing price is subject to post-closing adjustments.

Haymaker CEO Karl Brensike said, “In the current market environment, operators are focusing on their core assets more than ever before. I think everyone can agree that there is nothing more non-core to an operator than owning non-operated royalty interests. This was a complex transaction, involving numerous business units formed over Chesapeake’s 30 years as a very active acquirer of premier oil and gas assets. I am proud of our team, which is uniquely capable of executing these types of transactions. We are fortunate to have a capital structure that allows us to continue acquiring aggressively throughout the current commodity cycle."

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Eco-group may sue over Great Lakes crude oil pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: February 23, 2016

From the Associated Press:

An environmental group is threatening to sue the federal government over a Great Lakes oil pipeline.

The National Wildlife Federation notified the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on Monday.

The group is targeting Enbridge Energy’s Line 5, which runs from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario. A nearly 5-mile-long section reaches beneath the Straits of Mackinac, the link between Lakes Huron and Michigan.

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American Midstream to extend existing Magnolia Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: February 23, 2016

From a press release on Tuesday:

DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- American Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE: AMID) (“the Partnership”) announced today that American Midstream (Alabama Intrastate), LLC (“Magnolia Intrastate”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Partnership, is commencing a non-binding open season for a proposed 45-mile extension of the Magnolia Intrastate pipeline (“Magnolia Extension”) to transport up to 500,000 dekatherms per day of natural gas for delivery to a major interstate pipeline beginning in 2019. The non-binding open season will commence on February 22, 2016 and terminate at 6:00pm CT on April 11, 2016.

The proposed Magnolia Extension would connect the existing Magnolia Intrastate pipeline to Tennessee Natural Gas Pipeline’s 500 Line, providing transport of natural gas under 20-year, firm transport agreements to Williams’ Transco pipeline through an existing interconnect. The proposed pipeline is intended to offer supply diversity to growing demand areas in the Southeast market, and specifically, address infrastructure constraints associated with the rapid development of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations in the Appalachian Basin. The anticipated in-service date for the Magnolia Extension is 2019.

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EIG invests $375 million into Rice Midstream Holdings

By Bob Downing Published: February 23, 2016

From a press release on Tuesday:

CANONSBURG, Pa., Feb. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Rice Energy Inc. (NYSE: RICE) ("Rice") today announced it has completed a $375 million equity investment by EIG Global Energy Partners ("EIG"), on behalf of EIG managed funds, into Rice Midstream Holdings LLC ("RMH") in exchange for $375 million of Series B Units ("Preferred Equity") in RMH and common units representing an 8.25% limited partner interest in Rice Midstream GP Holdings LP ("GP Holdings"), a newly-formed subsidiary of RMH that holds all of the common units, subordinated units and incentive distribution rights in Rice Midstream Partners LP (NYSE: RMP) previously held by RMH. The Preferred Equity has an 8.0% distribution rate with an option to pay in kind for the first two years. RMH will use approximately $75 million of the proceeds to repay all outstanding borrowings under its revolving credit facility and to pay transaction fees and expenses, and the remaining $300 million will be distributed to Rice Energy to fund a portion of its 2016 development program in the cores of the Marcellus and Utica Shales. In addition, RMH will have an additional $125 million commitment from EIG (subject to designated drawing conditions precedent) for a period of 18 months.  

Transaction Highlights

Commenting on the announcement, Grayson T. Lisenby, Chief Financial Officer, said, "We are pleased to work with EIG, a premier energy investor with an exceptional reputation and extensive track record. By fully funding our 2016 E&P budget without incurring any debt, we expect to exit 2016 with E&P leverage of 3.0x, strong operating cash flow and a healthy backlog of wells in progress that favorably positions Rice Energy for seamless, economic growth in 2017. Along with the immediate benefit to our balance sheet, we believe this transaction highlights the quality of our assets, the strength of our strategy and supports our belief that RMP's continued strong distribution growth will result in a long-term GP Holdings valuation in excess of $1 billion."

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Ohio: 1,684 drilled Utica wells, 1,236 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: February 23, 2016

Ohio has 2,134 Utica Shale permits issued, as of Feb. 20.

That total includes 1,684 drilled Utica wells and 1,236 producing Utica wells the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said.

There are 15 rigs working in Ohio.

Two new Utica permits were approved, both in Jefferson County to Chesapeake Exploration LLC.

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Carrizo has no plans for Appalachian drilling in 2016

By Bob Downing Published: February 23, 2016

Texas-based Carrizo Oil and Gas Co. drilled no new wells in the Utica or Marcellus shales in the fourth quarter 2015.

The company said Tuesday it has no plans to drill or complete any wells in Appalachia in 2016 due to low commodity prices.

Click  here  to read more.

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PDC Energy boosts production, loses $68.3 million in 2015

By Bob Downing Published: February 23, 2016

A Denver-based drilling company boosted production by 65 percent but lost $68.3 million in 2015.

PDC Energy said its had impairments weite-down of $161.6 million due mostly to low commodity prices impacting its Utica Shale drilling in Ohio.

The company reported "steady production" from its Utica wells.

Click  here  to read more.

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Motor gasoline consumption to remain below 2007 peak

By Bob Downing Published: February 23, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Based on estimates in the most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), vehicle travel in the United States in 2015 was almost 4% above its 2007 level, but motor gasoline consumption has not exceeded its previous peak in 2007. Improvements in light-duty vehicle fuel economy are largely responsible for this outcome.

Read More ›

Tags: consumption , gasoline , transportation

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Federal judge sets new rules for pipeline tree clearing

By Bob Downing Published: February 23, 2016

A federal judge on Monday set new rules for tree clearing for a pipeline project in Susquehanna County, Pa., to New York state.

That should allow the tree cutting to resume for the Constitution Pipeline, officials said.

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

 

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Ceramics may replace sand in Pennsylvania's Utica Shale

By Bob Downing Published: February 23, 2016

Sand or ceramic?

That is the $2 million question in southwestern Pennsylvania where drillers are working to tap the deeper, gas-rich Utica Shale.

Because of the added depths, ceramics are being closely analyzed as a better option than sand to keep cracks open in the hydraulic fracturing or fracking process, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported on Sunday.

Click  here  to read  the full story.

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West Virginia investigating petroleum leak in Wetzel County

By Bob Downing Published: February 23, 2016

West Virginia inspecters are investigating the leak of 10,000 gallons of a petroleum product from a natural gas processing plant in Wetzel County.

The leak occurred at the MarkWest Energy Mobley plant and the leak fouled Fishing Creek near Pine Grove.

Click  here  to read more.

 

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Energy, environment is topic of Feb. 24 Youngstown lecture

By Bob Downing Published: February 23, 2016

A press release for a Wednesday Skype lecture in Youngstown:

Dr. Richard Wolff, The New School, N.Y.C., and WBAI Radio, N.Y.C.
Economic Update on Energy and the Environment
                       
Wednesday, February 24th, 2016, 7 p.m.
Cushwa Hall Room B112
Youngstown State University
 
Website: tinyurl.com/YSU-Energy-S16
 
Dr. Richard Wolff is an Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University in New York.  Dr. Wolff hosts the weekly radio program Economic Update on Pacifica Radio’s WBAI, 99.5 FM, New York City. Economic Update is also broadcast on fifty radio stations nationwide. He is well known for his work on Marxian economics, economic methodology, and class analysis. The New York Times called him "America's most prominent Marxist economist.” He is often featured on television discussing capitalism and socialism.
 
Dr. Wolff was born in Youngstown, Ohio in 1942. According to Wikipedia, Dr. Wolff's parents were European nationals, who immigrated to the U.S. during the Holocaust. His father, a French lawyer, got work in Youngstown, Ohio as a steel worker.  His family eventually settled in the New York metropolitan region.  As a renowned economist, Dr. Wolff often thinks of Youngstown, in many ways, as emblematic of the economic history of the country. 
 
Dr. Wolff’s books include: Capitalism Hits the Fan, The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It (2010); Occupy the Economy, Challenging Capitalism, with David Barsamian (2012), Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian, with Stephen Resnick (2012), Democracy at Work (2012) and Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens: Essays on the Global Economic Downturn, 2010-2014.
 
His websites are  www.rdwolff.com and www.democracyatwork.info
 
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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FERC wants environmental impacts reduced on Rover Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: February 22, 2016

A federal agency has released a 450-page draft report assessing the impacts of a natural gas pipeline across northern Ohio, and the pipeline company must do more before getting federal approval for the $4.2 billion Rover Pipeline.
The report was posted Friday  by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that oversees interstate natural gas pipelines.
The commission, in its report, concluded that approving the pipeline “would have some adverse and significant environmental impacts.”
But those impacts can be “reduced to acceptable levels” with mitigation plans advanced by the pipeline companies and with additional measures recommended by the FERC staff.
The agency is requiring “additional mitigation to minimize or avoid” impacts, the report says.
The major issues were linked to water bodies, wetlands, vegetation, wildlife habitat and alternatives, the report says.
The federal agency is accepting public comment on its report through April 11. Public hearings will be scheduled later.
The Rover Pipeline, advanced by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, would be 510 miles in length and extend into Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The main Ohio leg would be 204 miles and run to Defiance in northwest Ohio. It would cross parts of southern Stark and Wayne counties.
The Wayne County commissioners had opposed the project, saying it would damage Ohio farmland. It would also create a safety concern where public safety communication systems in the county are limited, the commissioners said last fall.
The project would require two pipes, both 42 inches in diameter. It would transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. That’s enough to heat 35,000 houses for one year.
The pipeline would extend north into Michigan and connect to existing pipelines and make natural gas from Ohio’s Utica Shale available in the Midwest, Ontario and the Gulf Coast.
Proponents have said that the Rover Pipeline would create up to 6,500 construction jobs in Ohio. It would provide $124 million in Ohio for easements and another $135 million in local taxes.
Rover Pipeline LLC, an Energy Transfer Partners subsidiary, had initially hoped to have construction under way in 2016. but the project has been delayed by the federal review.

The Rover Pipeline draft environmental impact statement is available at www.ferc.gov using the eLibrary link. Docket No. CP15-93-000.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is accepting public comment on the report through April 11. The agency recommends electronic filing of comments and has staff available to help at 202-502-8258 or efiling@ferc.gov.
There are four ways to file comments. That includes using the eComment features at www.ferc.gov. Go to Documents and Filings.



 

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Cabot Oil, Gas reports losing $114 million in 2015

By Bob Downing Published: February 22, 2016

Cabot Oil and Gas is one of the biggest drillers in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale.

The Texas-based company on Friday reported that it lost $114 million in 2015, although production increased by 13 percent.

It drilled 142 wells in 2015.

Click  here  to read more.

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Gastar selling off assets in W. Va.'s Marshall, Wetzel counties

By Bob Downing Published: February 22, 2016

From a press release today:

HOUSTON, Feb. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Gastar Exploration Inc. (NYSE MKT: GST) ("Gastar") today announced that it has entered into a definitive purchase and sale agreement ("PSA") to sell certain Appalachian Basin assets primarily located in Marshall and Wetzel Counties, West Virginia. Gastar also provided a summary of the Company's year-end 2015 reserves, updated fourth quarter 2015 results, preliminary pro forma first quarter 2016 guidance and an update on its Meramec well activity. 

Summary Highlights

J. Russell Porter, Gastar's President and CEO, commented, "The continued decline in already low oil and natural gas prices created challenges in 2015 that persist in 2016.  We will continue to focus on preserving liquidity by limiting and delaying expenditures on capital projects.  The continued strong production rate of our first Meramec well further confirms the viability and value of our Mid-Continent holdings, and we are optimistic about the drilling of our second Meramec well located in Kingfisher County, Oklahoma." 

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Coudersport, Pa., can again use two drinking water wells

By Bob Downing Published: February 22, 2016

A press release today from Pennsylvania DEP:

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Jury selection begins in Pa. fracking contamination lawsuit

By Bob Downing Published: February 22, 2016

Jury selection will begin today in U.S. District Court in Scranton, Pa., in a fracking contamination case that made national headlines, reported NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Four of the 44 original plaintiffs from Dimock, Pa., remain.

The others settled with Cabot Oil and Gas, one of the biggest drillers in the Marcellus Shale.

Click  here  to read more.

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January total petroleum deliveries rose 0.8 percent, API says

By Bob Downing Published: February 22, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute:

File Type: pdf | File Size: 143364

File Type: pdf | File Size: 84568

File Type: pdf | File Size: 10873

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Pipelines, tankers move transportation fuels from Gulf Coast

By Bob Downing Published: February 22, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

In the United States, the East Coast and Gulf Coast are highly dependent on each other to balance supply and consumption of transportation fuels (mainly gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel). East Coast transportation fuels consumption is met through a number of supply sources, but none is more important than supply from the Gulf Coast. Conversely, surplus supply in the Gulf Coast is distributed to a number of domestic and foreign markets, but none is larger than the East Coast.

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Tags: gasoline , liquid fuels , transportation

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Pennsylvania had 6,618 producing wells in 2015

By Bob Downing Published: February 22, 2016

Pennsylvania has 6,618 producing wells at the end of 2015, the Department of Environmental Protection reported..

That total grew by 653 wells from the previous year.

Those wells produced 4.18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2015. That is a 2.7 percent increase from the 4.07 trillion cubic feet produced in 2014.

The top drillers are Chesapeake Energy, Cabot Oil and Gas, Southwestern, Range Resources and EQT.

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U.S. methane emissions jump by 30 percent, study says

By Bob Downing Published: February 22, 2016

U.S.methane emissions grew by 30 percent from 2002 to 2014 and that represents the biggest share of the global growth in methane emissions, according to a Harvard University study.

Click  here  to read more.

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Marathon Oil scaling back, to focus on Eagle Ford Shale

By Bob Downing Published: February 22, 2016

Texas-based Marathon Oil is cutting back on its capital budget and will focus on the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas, The Houston Chonicle's FuelFix blog reported last week.

The company has earmarked $1.4 billion in 2016 on drilling, a reduction of 52 percent from the rprevious year.

Click  here  to read more.

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Williams reports 2015 loss of $1.4 billion

By Bob Downing Published: February 22, 2016

Williams, a major midstream company that transports and processes oil and natural gas, reported last week that it lost $1.4 billion in 2015.

That included a fourth quarter loss of $1.6 billion, the company said.

Click  here  to read more.

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Retirements bring change to Devon Energy management team

By Bob Downing Published: February 22, 2016

Oklahoma-based Devon Energy is changing its management team with two retirements coming up.

The company was an early player in Ohio's Utica Shale although it is not overly active now.

Click  here  to read more.

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Columbia Pipeline Group outlines $3 billion in new projects

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

From a press release:

HOUSTON, Feb. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Columbia Pipeline Group, Inc. (NYSE: CPGX) ("CPG") reported Adjusted EBITDA (non-GAAP) for the 12 months ended December 31, 2015 of $685.5 million, compared with $601.0 million in 2014. Distributable cash flow (non-GAAP) for the year was $401.3 million.  Please refer to Schedules 1 and 2 in the financial tables below for a reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures.

CPG reported net operating earnings from continuing operations - controlling interest (non-GAAP) of $282.9 million for the 12 months ended December 31, 2015, compared with $268.3 million for 2014.

On a GAAP basis, CPG reported income from continuing operations - controlling interest for the 12 months ended December 31, 2015 of $267.6 million, compared with $268.7 million for 2014.

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EPA's science panel repeats its criticism of fracking report

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

A scientific panel that is evaluating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s landmark report on hydraulic fracturing and drinking water issued a second draft of its study on Tuesday, making many changes to language and tone but continuing its earlier criticism of the report’s finding that it found no evidence of a widespread impact on drinking water, NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania reported.

Click  here  to read more.

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Enbridge to delay two pipelines until 2019 to save money

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

Regulatory delays of two of Enbridge Energy Partners pipelines will help the company cut its 2016 capital budget by about 20 percent, executives said Wednesday.

The Houston-based pipeline company, whose parent Enbridge is based in Alberta, said the Sandpiper Pipeline and Line 3 Replacement project will likely be pushed back until 2019 and the company can delay inccurruing costs, the Houston Chronicle reported.

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National Fuel to scale back Appalachian Basin drilling in 2016

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

National Fuel Gas Co., based in Williamsville, N.Y., is scaling back its Marcellus Shale drilling due to low commodity prices.

The company dropped one rig in January and will drop a second rig in March. That will leave one rig at work in the rest of 2016 and 2017, the company said recently.

Click  here  to read more.

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Pipeline survey access case before Virginia Supreme Court

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

Natural gas pipeline opponents asked the Virginia Supreme Court on Tuesday to accept their case to determine whether a state law that allows surveyors onto private property without permission runs afoul of Virginia’s constitution, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The case stems from eight Giles County landowners who declined to allow surveyors on their property for work related to the planned 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline that would run from West Virginia to southern Virginia, the paper said.

But its outcome could affect other proposed natural gas pipelines that would cut through the Virginia mountains, including Dominion Resources’ $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Click  here  to read more.

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Noble Energy to cut capital budget by 50 percent in 2016

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

From Wednesday press release:

Houston, Feb. 17, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Noble Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NBL) today provided full 2016 annual guidance.  As previously indicated, capital expenditures, including capitalized interest, for 2016 are expected to total $1.5 billion, and average sales volumes for the year are projected to be approximately 390 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (MBoe/d). 

David L. Stover, the Company's Chairman, President and CEO, commented, "Starting early last year, we successfully executed on our strategy to align activity levels and underlying costs with the current market outlook, while maintaining strong operating momentum.  These actions enabled us to enter 2016 with line of sight on managing the business within total cash flow.  Protecting our balance sheet is fundamental in this environment.  Our 2016 capital program ensures financial strength and high operating capability, while building long-term value for the shareholders.  Although we are not focused on accelerating near-term production growth into a challenging commodity market, our ability to maintain, and potentially even grow production, with a much reduced capital program than last year, is a testament to both our asset quality and portfolio diversity. We have tremendous optionality in how we allocate capital, and we will continue to optimize activity levels as we proceed throughout the year." 

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NiSource to spend $1.4 billion on infrastructure investments

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

From a press release:

MERRILLVILLE, Ind., Feb. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) today announced net operating earnings (non-GAAP) of $298.8 million, or $0.94 per share, for the twelve months ended Dec. 31, 2015, compared to $256.4 million, or $0.81 per share, in 2014. Operating earnings (non-GAAP) for the twelve months ended Dec. 31, 2015 were $832.1 million, compared to $777.8 million in 2014.

On a GAAP basis, NiSource reported income from continuing operations for the twelve months ended Dec. 31, 2015 of $198.6 million, or $0.63 per share, compared with $256.2 million, or $0.81 per share, in 2014. Operating income was $799.9 million for the twelve months ended Dec. 31, 2015, compared with $789.1 million in 2014. Schedules 1 and 2 of this news release contain a reconciliation of net operating earnings and operating earnings to GAAP net income and operating income, respectively.

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Transportation fuels: Gulf Coast produces, East Coast consumess

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Movement of transportation fuels (motor gasoline, distillates, and jet fuel) between the U.S. Gulf Coast and East Coast regions represents the largest movement of such products in the United States. This relationship is underpinned by supply and demand imbalances in each region. The Gulf Coast is the largest petroleum refining region in the country, making nearly half of total U.S. refined products. The densely populated East Coast is the largest consuming region in the country, accounting for more than one-third of total U.S. consumption of transportation fuels.

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Tags: consumption , distillate fuel , gasoline , Gulf Coast , liquid fuels , oil/petroleum , production , refining , transportation

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Report: Shell leasing office space near proposed cracker site

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

The Pittsburgh Business Times has reported that Royal Dutch Shell has leased 76,000-square-feer of office space plus a parking deck for 100 vehicles near New Brighton, Pa.

The site is close to the site in Monaca, Pa., where Shell is considering building a new $3 billion ethane cracker plant.

Shell has not confirmed the lease for office space.

A final decision on building the plant has not yet been announced.

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Opponents cite economic impacts of Atlantic Coast Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

Virginia-based opponents of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipelinereleased an economic study Tuesday to bolster their argument that the $5 billion project ultimately would cost more than it’s worth to localities in its path in western and central Virginia, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The study, commissioned by five citizen groups in four counties, estimates that construction of the 42-inch, high-pressure natural gas pipeline would do immediate and ongoing damage to property values, as well as ecological resources, tourism and small business development, the paper said.

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Pennsylvania impact fees likely to drop 17 percent in 2016

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

Pennsylvania is projecting that it will collect only $185.5 million in drilling impact fees in 2016. That's is a 17 percent drop from 2015.

The fees go to local municipalities.

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

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Anadarko trains Colorado 'ambassadors' to tell its story

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

Facing growing number of local drilling bans, Anadarko Petroleum has trained 160 of its employees to be brand ambassadors to present its story on drilling to community groups in Colorado, BloombergBusiness reports.

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Standard and Poor's reduces Chesapeake credit rating

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

Standard and Poor's has cut the credit rating of Okalhoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., a key player in Ohio's Utica Shale, due to the company's major debt, BloombergBusiness reported recently.

The company's credit fell to distressed levels due to what was called "unsustainable" debt.

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Saudi Arabia, Russia to freeze oil output at near-record levels

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

Saudi Arabia and Russia have agreed to freeze oil output at near-record levels, according to BloombergBusiness.

It called the agreement “the first coordinated move by the world’s two largest producers to counter a (price) slump that has pummeled economies, markets and companies.”

Click  here  to read the full story.

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California: Natural gas blowout is sealed after four months

By Bob Downing Published: February 19, 2016

From the Associated Press on Thursday:

LOS ANGELES — A blowout at a natural gas well that spewed massive amounts of climate-changing methane for nearly four months and drove thousands of Los Angeles families from their homes has been permanently sealed, state officials declared Thursday.

The announcement certifying that the ruptured well had been plugged with cement brought a point of closure in the long-running drama that has disrupted life in the Porter Ranch community and drawn attention to a massive underground storage facility owned by Southern California Gas Co.

Testing showed the well was no longer leaking, Jason Marshall, chief deputy director of the California Department of Conservation, said at a press conference.

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Pennsylvania pipeline task force releases recommendations

By Bob Downing Published: February 18, 2016

From a press release today:

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Oil production in federal Gulf of Mexico to hit record in 2017

By Bob Downing Published: February 18, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administartion today:

U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GOM) crude oil production is estimated to increase to record high levels in 2017, even as oil prices remain low. EIA projects GOM production will average 1.63 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2016 and 1.79 million b/d in 2017, reaching 1.91 million b/d in December 2017. GOM production is expected to account for 18% and 21% of total forecast U.S. crude oil production in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

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Antero to drill 30 Ohio wells, 80 West Virginia wells in 2016

By Bob Downing Published: February 18, 2016

Colorado-based Antero Resources says it intends to complete 110 horizontal wells in the Utica and Marcellus shales in 2016.
That includes 30 wells in eastern Ohio and 80 wells in northern West Virginia, the company said on Thursday in a new report.
The company, one of the most active drillers in eastern Ohio, said it will operate seven drilling rigs in Ohio and West Virginia in 2016. That is down from the 14 rigs that drilled wells in 2015. Five rigs will be in West Virginia and two rigs will be in Ohio.
The company will have 70 drilled but not-yet-completed wells by Dec. 31,  Antero said. That will include 20 Marcellus wells in northern West Virgina, the company said. It said those wells will then be completed in 2017.
Antero is reducing its capital budget for 2016 by 23 percent due to the continuing low commodity prices.
Its 2016 capital budget will be $1.4 billion, reduced from $1.8 billion in 2015. Its drilling and completion budget of $1.3 billion is reduced by 21 percent and the land budget of $100 million is cut by 38 percent from 2015.
Antero said 75 percent of that budget will be for Marcellus Shale drilling and the remaining 25 percent will be for Utica Shale drilling.
The shift from Ohio drilling to West Virginia drilling is primarily driven by available pipeline capacity. It is awaiting completion of the Rover Pipeline across northern Ohio to help move Ohio natural gas, starting in mid-2017, Antero said.
Production in the Utica and Marcellus shales is projected to grow by 15 percent in 2016 and by 20 percent in 2017, Antero said.
It said 2015 production was 1.493 billion cubic feet of equivalents per day and that total is projected to jump to 1.715 billion cubic feet of equialents per day in 2016.
It said liquids production is projected to grow by 24 percent over 2015 to 60,000 barrels per day. That includes 10,000 barrels per day of ethane and 3,500 barrels per day of condensate or oil.
The company has hedged much of its 2016 and 2017 sales of natural gas and that will provide a major financial boost, said chairman and CEO Paul Rady in a statement.

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Antero Resources to complete 110 wells in Utica, Marcellus

By Bob Downing Published: February 18, 2016

From Antero Resources:

DENVER, Feb. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Antero Resources Corporation (NYSE: AR) ("Antero" or the "Company") today announced its 2016 capital budget and guidance.

2016 Capital Budget and Guidance Highlights:

Commenting on the 2016 capital budget and guidance, Paul Rady, Antero's Chairman and CEO, said, "Given the current commodity price environment, we have reduced our capital program by 23% as compared to last year.  Further, we have structured our 2016 development program to give us significant operational flexibility to react to significant changes in commodity prices, up or down, throughout the year.  For example, we have the ability to reduce our current $1.3 billion development plan as six of our rig contracts expire over the course of the year.  Conversely, to the extent commodity prices improve from current levels, we are well positioned to accelerate activity as a result of our sizable inventory of drilled but uncompleted wells.  Lastly, we are in the unique position of having sold essentially all of our forecasted 2016 and 2017 production forward through hedging at attractive fixed prices.  Combined with our peer leading firm transportation portfolio to favorable markets and large inventory of low cost reserves, we are well positioned to grow and prosper in one of the lowest commodity price cycles in decades."

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Ohio has 1,681 drilled Utica wells, 1,216 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: February 18, 2016

Ohio has approved 2,132 Utica Shale permits, as of Feb. 13.

That total includes 1,681 drilled Utica wells and 1,216 producing Utica wells, says the Ohio Department of Natural Resoruces.

Ohio has 15 drilling rigs at work.

Two new permits were approved. Both were in Monroe County.

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Gulfport Energy loses $1.2 billion in 2015, production to grow

By Bob Downing Published: February 18, 2016

In 2015, Gulfport Energy Corp. drilled 49 gross well and put 55 gross wells in Ohio’s Utica Shale into production.
But the Oklahoma-based company, one of the biggest Utica players, reported a 2015 financial loss of $1.2 billion or $12.27 per share in a year-end report released on Thursday.  
That loss stemming from low commodity prices came on oil and natural gas revenues of $709.5 million.
It also reported a fourth quarter loss of $830.9 million or $7.67 per share on oil and gas revenues of $190.2 million. Its  revenue dropped 30 percent.
Last year was filled with “many challenges for the industry,” said CEO Michael G. Moore in a statement.
“We believe that our high-quality asset base in the Utica will benefit from our solid hedge position in 2016 and allow us to deliver an attractive rate of return, while growing production thoughtfully, not only year-over-year but also exit-to-exit, positioning the company well going into 2017,” he added.
The company said it has added hedges that will provide higher 2016 prices for 75 percent of its natural gas production.
Gulfport’s net production in 2015 averaged 548.2 million cubic feet of equivalents per day.
That production was 78 percent natural gas, 13 percent natural gas liquids including ethane and propane and 9 percent oil.
Overall, Gulfport’s 2016 capital budget has been lowered by 36 percent to 43 percent, the company said.
It is earmarking $335 million to $375 million for its drilling and completion activities, mostly in the Utica Shale.
In 2016, Gulfport plans to drill 29 to 32 gross horizontal wells in the Utica Shale and to begin production on 44 to 48 gross wells.
It will also add two to three Utica horizontal wells in 2016 and begin production on 8 to 9 horizontal wells with partners.
It plans to operate two to three drilling rigs in eastern Ohio.
It expects its 2016 production to be in the range of 695 million to 730 million cubic feet per day, an increase of about 30 percent over its 2015 production.
Production in 2016 is expected to be 87 to 91 percent natural gas, Gulfport said.

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EnLink Midstream files 2015 financial reports

By Bob Downing Published: February 18, 2016

From a press release:

ENLINK MIDSTREAM FILES 2015 ANNUAL REPORTS

DALLAS, February 17, 2016 EnLink Midstream, LLC (NYSE: ENLC) (the General Partner) and EnLink Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE: ENLK) (the Master Limited Partnership) today announced the filing of their respective Annual Reports on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2015, with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A copy of each 10-K may be found on EnLink Midstream’s website at www.EnLink.comby clicking the “Investors” tab, then “View ENLK” or “View ENLC,” and then “Financial Information.” Unitholders may request a hard copy of the complete audited financial statements free of charge by sending a request that specifies the relevant company to: EnLink Midstream, 2501 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, Texas 75201, Attention: Investor Relations.

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Gulfport Energy releases 2015 financials, 2016 plans

By Bob Downing Published: February 18, 2016

From a press release today:

OKLAHOMA CITY, Feb. 17, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Gulfport Energy Corporation (NASDAQ:GPOR) (“Gulfport” or the “Company”) today reported financial and operational results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2015 and provided an update on its 2016 activities.  Key information includes the following:

Michael G. Moore, Chief Executive Officer, commented, “While 2015 was a year that held many challenges for the industry, Gulfport’s achievements in the face of a lower commodity price environment highlight the strength of the Company’s assets.  For 2016, we remain dedicated to capital discipline, conservative leverage and creating long-term value for our stockholders. Our top priority is to mindfully develop our high-quality asset base while keeping the balance sheet strong and preserving financial flexibility. As we contemplated appropriate levels of activity for 2016, we focused on developing a program that is efficient with our available capital while maintaining reasonable leverage metrics. We believe that our high-quality asset base in the Utica will benefit from our solid hedge position in 2016 and allow us to deliver an attractive rate of return, while growing production thoughtfully, not only year-over-year but also exit-to-exit, positioning the Company well going into 2017.”

Financial Results
For the fourth quarter of 2015, Gulfport reported a net loss of $830.9 million, or $7.67 per diluted share, on oil and natural gas revenues of $190.2 million.  For the fourth quarter of 2015, EBITDA (as defined and reconciled below) was $81.0 million and cash flow from operating activities before changes in working capital was $93.1 million.  Gulfport’s GAAP net loss for the fourth quarter of 2015 includes the following items:  

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Noble Energy details 2016 outlook, guidance

By Bob Downing Published: February 17, 2016

From a press release today:

Houston, Feb. 17, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Noble Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NBL) today provided full 2016 annual guidance.  As previously indicated, capital expenditures, including capitalized interest, for 2016 are expected to total $1.5 billion, and average sales volumes for the year are projected to be approximately 390 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (MBoe/d). 

David L. Stover, the Company's Chairman, President and CEO, commented, "Starting early last year, we successfully executed on our strategy to align activity levels and underlying costs with the current market outlook, while maintaining strong operating momentum.  These actions enabled us to enter 2016 with line of sight on managing the business within total cash flow.  Protecting our balance sheet is fundamental in this environment.  Our 2016 capital program ensures financial strength and high operating capability, while building long-term value for the shareholders.  Although we are not focused on accelerating near-term production growth into a challenging commodity market, our ability to maintain, and potentially even grow production, with a much reduced capital program than last year, is a testament to both our asset quality and portfolio diversity. We have tremendous optionality in how we allocate capital, and we will continue to optimize activity levels as we proceed throughout the year." 

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Oklahoma orders 250 wells to reduce injection volumes

By Bob Downing Published: February 17, 2016

From the Associated Press on Tuesday:

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma oil-and-gas regulators on Tuesday issued their most far-reaching directive yet in response to a surge in earthquakes by asking the operators of nearly 250 injection wells to reduce the amount of wastewater they inject underground by 40 percent.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission wants operators over the next two months to reduce injections by more than 500,000 barrels of wastewater daily in an area that covers more than 5,200 square miles of northwest Oklahoma.

The commission’s plan has been in the works since late October and was not influenced by a 5.1-magnitude quake that hit the area Saturday, said commission spokesman Matt Skinner. People reported feeling Saturday’s quake, the third-strongest in state history, in as many as 13 other states, including in Georgia, 900 miles away.

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Devon Energy laying off 1,000 workers due to energy slump

By Bob Downing Published: February 17, 2016

From the Associated Press:

Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy has announced plans to lay off about 1,000 employees — including about 700 in Oklahoma City.

The oil and natural gas company said in a statement Tuesday that the layoffs are due to “the current commodity price environment” and an effort to reduce expenses in order to remain financially flexible and competitive.

The company had said in January that layoffs were planned as oil and natural gas prices remain weak.

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Deloitte: 175 oil, gas companies face 2016 bankruptcy

By Bob Downing Published: February 17, 2016

More than one-third of independent oil and gas producers are at risk of slipping into bankruptcy this year, according to a new study by consulting group Deloitte, said the Fuel Fix blog in Houston.

The crisis of low prices and a combined $150 billion in debt could claim the 175 highest-risk companies across the globe this year, Deloitte analysts said. Another 160 companies have less leverage, but will face an “almost equally alarming” 2016 as their cash flow is eviscerated by sub-$30 crude oil.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Thousand East Coast firms against Atlantic offshore drilling

By Bob Downing Published: February 17, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

WASHINGTON, DC –  Today, leaders of the coastal recreation and tourism industry, along with Environment America and the Surfrider Foundation, presented President Obama's staff with a surfboard and letters signed by more than 1,000 coastal businesses in opposition to offshore drilling plans in the Atlantic Ocean. From Florida to Maryland, businesses including restaurants, retailers, surf shops and hotels are expressing concerns that new oil rigs in the Atlantic would be disastrous for coastal communities.
 
"Our ocean powers a multi-billion dollar ocean tourism and recreation industry that is second to none. We need to advocate for local businesses and the natural resources they depend upon,” says surf industry leader and Vissla CEO Paul Naude. “The East Coast has been protected against offshore drilling for decades, but everything could take a change for the worse in 2017 if the five-year leasing plan goes forward as is. If drilling occurs in the Atlantic, the many businesses that depend on a healthy coastal environment will also be at risk. Despite what pro-drilling advocates say, the threats of new drilling far outweigh the rewards.”
 
Many of the businesses have also asked their governors to make this same request of the Obama Administration. In South Carolina, under the leadership of citizens groups SODA (Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic) and Don’t Drill Lowcountry, nearly 450 businesses submitted a request to Governor Nikki Haley to call for canceling plans for Atlantic drilling.
 
“Coastal recreation and tourism on the East Coast generates billions of dollars in economic activity, which would be put in danger if offshore drilling in the Atlantic becomes a reality,” said Pete Stauffer, Surfrider Environmental Director. “This is a critical misstep by the Obama Administration. From the industrialization of our coastlines to the potential for a major oil spill, this program could be catastrophic to all involved. We firmly believe new offshore drilling is not the answer.”
 
For bait and tackle shops, kayak rental stores, and others whose economic model depends on a clean beach, the business case for opposing drilling is clear. In fact, the National Ocean Economics Program reports that ocean-related tourism and recreation contribute three times the amount of money to the U.S. economy that offshore oil production might. Moreover, industry projections of the benefits of new offshore drilling have been challenged for relying on flawed assumptions, such as the inclusion of oil and gas resources that are not economically recoverable.
 
“Georgia’s tourism season is crucial to the success of my restaurant,” said Jeff Downey, owner of Circa 1875 restaurant in Savannah, one of the more than 360 businesses who endorsed a letter against drilling organized by Environment America. “The delicious food, the variety of businesses, the opportunity to experience what Georgia’s coast has to offer – it all stands to lose if offshore drilling moves forward.”
 
"Our customers love our Atlantic beaches and our business relies on a protected coastline. Although we remain dependent on fossil fuels, opening the Atlantic for drilling for the first time in decades would be a big step in the wrong direction,” said Mark Stevens, Patagonia D.C. assistant store manager. Patagonia was the last business to register its opposition to Atlantic drilling by adding a signature to the surfboard.
 
Last January, the Obama administration’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management proposed allowing drilling leases in the Mid and South Atlantic regions in its 2017 – 2022 Oil and Gas Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program. The latest version of the drilling plan is expected next month, launching another 90-day comment period. Businesses say they’ll continue to press their case to get the administration to withdraw the Atlantic from consideration for drilling.

Opposition to drilling in the Atlantic has become a bipartisan cause, with Republicans and Democrats calling for the administration to reverse its position on new drilling in the Atlantic. Senator Cory Booker (New Jersey), Representative G. K. Butterfield (North Carolina), Representative John Carney (Delaware), Representative Kathy Castor (Florida), Representative Gwen Graham (Florida), Representative David Jolly (Florida), Representative Frank Lobiondo (New Jersey), Senator Jeff Merkley (Oregon), Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (Washington D.C.), Representative Mark Sanford (South Carolina), Representative Chris Smith (New Jersey) and Representative Nydia Velazquez (New York) were among the members of congress to sign the surfboard during a coastal recreation lobby day the previous week.
 
"It is paramount that we take steps to continue protecting our pristine beaches, our fisheries, our marine sanctuaries, our coastal communities, and our quality of life from the impact of drilling and devastating events like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. The bottom line is the economic benefits simply do not outweigh the risks. We can achieve energy independence and national energy security without jeopardizing our natural resources,” stated Congressman David Jolly (Florida).

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Diesel fuel drops below $2 for the first time since 2005

By Bob Downing Published: February 17, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

EIA's weekly survey of diesel prices shows that the U.S. average retail price for on-highway diesel fuel was $1.98 per gallon (gal) on February 15, falling below $2/gal for the first time since February 14, 2005. The U.S. average retail diesel price had last approached, but not gone below, the $2.00 mark in early 2009. Falling diesel prices reflect both decreasing crude oil prices and increasing inventories of crude oil and refined products worldwide.

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Tags: diesel , liquid fuels , oil/petroleum , prices

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Author Williams buys parcels in BLM Utah auction

By Bob Downing Published: February 17, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

As Part of BLM Fossil Fuel Auction Protest, Author Terry Tempest Williams Buys Parcels

Large-Scale Protest and Activism by Prominent Author Ups the Ante on “Keep it in the Ground” Activism

 

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Funders unhappy with test results showing no water problems

By Bob Downing Published: February 17, 2016

From Jackie Stewart of Energy in Depth-Ohio, a pro-drilling industry group:

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

After news broke that an ongoing University of Cincinnati (UC) study, which included baseline samples, has found no water contamination from hydraulic fracturing, the Times Reporter reported that the funders were “disappointed” in the results.

This news comes after environmental groups originally praised the ongoing study, even giving the UC lead researcher Dr. Amy Townsend-Small an award for her work on the project. But as Dr. Townsend-Small said at a recent public meeting hosted by the anti-fracking Carroll County Concerned Citizens (CCCC),

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Sierra Club sues drillers over quakes in Oklahoma, Kansas

By Bob Downing Published: February 17, 2016

The Sierra Club of Oklahoma has filed a lawsuit against three drilling companies for allegedly causing earthquakes in Oklahoma and Kansas by injecting liquid drilling wastes below ground.

Click  here  to read more from Bloomberg Business.

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Two California protestors on ledge at state PUC building

By Bob Downing Published: February 16, 2016

From a California press release today:

BREAKING: As US Energy Secretary Arrives in So Cal, Bay Area Climate Activists Launch Daring Protest Occupation of the California Public Utilities Commission 

Protestors say Aliso Canyon disaster is tip of the iceberg; call on the agency to shut down all California gas storage facilities

SAN FRANCISCO – As US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz arrives in Southern California to tour the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility where a months-long gas leak crisis has caused the evacuation of thousands of people from their homes in the community of Porter Ranch, two Bay Area residents have scaled the entrance to the headquarters of the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and are occupying a ledge to protest the PUC’s failure to protect the Golden State from the climate and health impacts of methane from underground natural gas storage facilities.

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Federal agencies identify health threat to tank workers

By Bob Downing Published: February 16, 2016

From the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently:

A new hazard alert from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies health and safety risks to oil and gas industry workers who manually gauge or sample fluids on production and flowback tanks. It was triggered by a series of preventable deaths related to manual gauging of tanks.

The new alert, Health and Safety Risks for Workers Involved in Manual Tank Gauging and Sampling at Oil and Gas Extraction Sites, provides specific recommendations for employers that will protect workers from hazards associated with opening tank hatches to manually gauge or sample hydrocarbon levels. The recommendations fall into three main categories: engineering controls, work practices, and personal protective equipment.

“The expansion of the oil and gas extraction industry has led to new opportunities, but also new risks for workers,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “This joint alert highlights the importance of remaining vigilant about the safety and health of our nation’s workers as our nation changes and adapts to these new opportunities.”

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Opposition grows in N.D. to borehole for radioactive wastes

By Bob Downing Published: February 16, 2016

From the Associated Press earlier this week:

The federal government plans to spend $80 million assessing whether its hottest nuclear waste can be stored in 3-mile-deep holes, a project that could provide an alternative strategy to a Nevada repository plan that was halted in 2010.

The five-year borehole project was tentatively slated to start later this year on state-owned land in rural North Dakota, but it has already been met with opposition from state and local leaders who want more time to review whether the plan poses any public danger.

"It should be a statewide decision," said Jeff Zent, spokesman for North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, adding that a resolution from state legislators is a possibility.

The Department of Energy wants to conduct its work just south of the Canadian border on 20 acres near Rugby, North Dakota — in part because it's in a rural area not prone to earthquakes — but is prepared to look elsewhere if a deal can't be reached. Some sites in West Texas and New Mexico have expressed interest in becoming interim sites for above-ground nuclear waste storage, but it's not clear if they would be considered for borehole technology.

 

Project leaders say the research will require months of drilling deep into the earth but will not involve any nuclear waste. Instead, dummy canisters without radioactive material would be used in the project's third and final phase.

"It's to confirm the viability and concept," said Robert J. MacKinnon, a technical manager on the project at DOE's Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The research team will look at deep rock to check its water permeability, stability, geothermal characteristics and seismic activity — a central concern with burying the hot radioactive waste deep underground.

If nearby earthquakes occur, the crystalline rock could slip and allow for water and radioactive material to migrate away from the site, said Stephen Hickman, director of the U.S. Geological Survey's Earthquake Science Center.

Rugby site has very little seismic activity, he said.

If the technology proves successful and the government moves forward with deep borehole disposal, there must be no fracking-related injection wells are in the vicinity.

North Dakota was one of the country's hot spots for fracking before the price of oil began to drop. Most of the fracking occurred in the state's western half, and there is no fracking done within about 75 miles of the project site near Rugby, which is in the eastern half of the state.

"That would also create a problem," Hickman said of the injection wells, which some research has linked to seismic activity.

Currently, high-level radioactive waste — both from government sources and utilities' nuclear power plants — is without a final burial site. The waste at power plants is stored on site in pools of water or in heavily fortified casks, while the government's waste remains at its research labs.

The Department of Energy said even if deep borehole disposal were to be greenlit and become reality, it would still want to construct a traditional geologic repository that could replace the proposed Yucca Mountain site.

But the 16,000-foot-deep boreholes could be used for high-level radioactive waste from the department's decades of nuclear work originally slated to go to Yucca, including nearly 2,000 canisters of cesium and strontium now being stored in water at the department's Hanford Site in Washington state.

An independent federal oversight agency charged with examining how nuclear waste is handled has concerns the project will distract the department from pursuing another project similar to Yucca.

And state and local officials aren't gung-ho about the $35 million borehole project's first phase being in their backyard.

Duane Johnston is on the Pierce County Commission. He said he doesn't entirely trust the government.

"Sure it's an experimental, we know that," Johnston said. "But it could be suitable for nuclear waste. That's what bothers us. You never know about the government."

Earlier this month, Pierce County officials discussed the issue with the governor and state attorney general, with the county commission ultimately placing a moratorium on the project. The commission says it and the county's planning board must agree before the freeze is lifted.

The county is holding a public hearing Tuesday in Rugby, a community of about 3,000 people 15 miles north of the site.

DOE spokesman Bartlett Jackson said options for alternative locations would be explored if the Rugby site isn't available.

The federal government plans to spend $80 million assessing whether its hottest nuclear waste can be stored in 3-mile-deep holes, a project that could provide an alternative strategy to a Nevada repository plan that was halted in 2010.

The five-year borehole project was tentatively slated to start later this year on state-owned land in rural North Dakota, but it has already been met with opposition from state and local leaders who want more time to review whether the plan poses any public danger.

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DOE report cites weakening case for LNG export approvals

By Bob Downing Published: February 16, 2016

From a press release today:

THE WEAKENING CASE FOR LNG EXPORT APPROVALS

 

DOE Study Confirms that LNG Exports at 12 Bcf/d and 20 Bcf/d Combined with Domestic Demand Consume All Low-Cost Shale Natural Gas Up to $9 and $15-20 mcf Respectively 

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Goldstein looks at shale gas differences between U.S., Europe

By Bob Downing Published: February 16, 2016

From a press release on a Feb. 17 lecture in Youngstown:

Dr. Bernard Goldstein, MD, Univ. of Pittsburgh Grad School of Public Health                     

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Ky. court says Bluegrass Pipeline cannot use eminent domain

By Bob Downing Published: February 16, 2016

From the Associated Press last week:

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Landowners who had opposed efforts to put a natural gas pipeline across 13 Kentucky counties have been victorious in the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Media outlets report that Thursday, the court decided not to review a May 2015 ruling from the Kentucky Court of Appeals that said Bluegrass Pipeline LLC did not have to power of eminent domain because it was not a utility regulated by the state.

Kentuckians United to Restrain Eminent Domain attorney Tom FitzGerald says that because the Supreme Court didn't review the appeal, the appellate court's decision stands.

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West Virginia eliminating fee for worker's compensation debt

By Bob Downing Published: February 16, 2016

The West Virginia Senate has passed SB 419 that would eliminate a fee on natural gas drillers and coal operators.

The fee was designed to pay off worker's compensation debt incurred by the state and those debts have been eliminated, said the Babst Calland law firm on its blog.

The fee, in addition to the state's sevarance tax, was 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas and 56 cents per ton of coal.

Click  here  to read more.

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Pennsylvania's rig count drops to lowest number in nine years

By Bob Downing Published: February 16, 2016

Pennsylvania's rig count dropped last week to 17, the lowest total in nine years, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports.

Click  here  to read more.

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New pipelines boost production in Utica, Marcellus shales

By Bob Downing Published: February 16, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

New Northeast pipelines help boost gas production 18%

In just the past six weeks, natural gas production in the Northeast has averaged 18% more than the year-ago period, according to Bentek Energy. The area includes the prolific Marcellus and Utica shales.

New infrastructure additions coming online in the past several months have likely contributed to year-over-year growth. But while Marcellus production has grown rapidly over the past several years, pipelines to move these increasing volumes out of the Northeast to consumption centers have not grown as quickly, largely because infrastructure projects have long lead times. Insufficient takeaway capacity will generally result in lower prices in the producing region and higher prices in the receiving region than would have been expected otherwise.

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Colorado seeking balance between farming, drilling

By Bob Downing Published: February 16, 2016

From the Associated Press:

DURANGO, Colo. — Oil and water don’t mix, especially in southwestern Colorado where a debate continues over what to do with 3,000 proposed oil and gas wells as water supplies and drilling rigs get closer together.

Mancos Valley farmer Mike Nolan said water should take precedence over oil and gas development as the federal government works on a Resource Management Plan to decide when and where wells can go.

“Water, water, water. When it comes to the MLP, my big thing on this is a concern on water. If anything happens to our water, whether it’s contaminated or diverted for use in wells, that can be a major problem for us,” Nolan said.

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Antero Resources offers details on landfill, wasterwater plant

By Bob Downing Published: February 15, 2016

More from Antero Resources on landfill, wastewater plant plans:

Antero, with its partner Veolia, is developing an industry-leading water treatment and reuse facility that provides an alternative and innovative solution to current disposal methods, creating environmental, economic and community benefits.

Antero’s ongoing commitment to sustainably managing water resources is reflected in the company’s industry-leading freshwater delivery system.

This initial infrastructure build-out of the freshwater delivery system – representing a nearly $500 million investment – is creating important local benefits, including the elimination of 820,000 water truck trips since 2014 alone.

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Antero to build W. Va. landfill next to new wastewater plant

By Bob Downing Published: February 15, 2016

Antero Resources, a major player in Ohio's Utica Shale, has filed paperwork to build a new landfill next to its new wastewater treatment facility in northern West Virginia.

The site is off U.S. 50 in Doddridge County,

The landfill would largely handle salty waste from the planned $275 million water treatment plant that will be designed and built with Veolia Water Technologies.

The plant will likely handle about 60,000 bar4rels per day. It will take two years to design and build the plant.

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Atlantic Coast Pipeline alters route through national forests

By Bob Downing Published: February 15, 2016

Developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have submitted a revised route plan in the Monongahela and George Washington National Forests in West Virginia, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Friday.

The new plan would add about 30 miles to the natural gas pipeline's 564-mile length.

The new route lies in Pocohontas and Randolph counties in West Virginia.

The pipeline, 42 inches in diamerer, would move Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas to Virginia and the Carolinas.

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5.1 earthquake strikes northwest Oklahoma, USGS says

By Bob Downing Published: February 15, 2016

From the Associated Press on Saturday:

OKLAHOMA CITY — The U.S. Geological Survey reports a 5.1 magnitude earthquake in northwest Oklahoma that was reportedly felt across Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Nebraska, Texas, Arkansas and Iowa.

Fairview police and the Major County Sheriff’s Office say there are no reports of injury or damage as a result of the quake that struck Saturday at 11:07 a.m. about 17 miles north of Fairview. Ten smaller quakes ranging from magnitude 2.5 to 3.9 were recorded in the same area over the next several hours following the larger temblor.

The area is about 100 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.

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DOE approves exports from two LNG terminals in Nova Scotia

By Bob Downing Published: February 15, 2016

Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy approved exports from two LNG facilities in Canada to non-U.S. free trade agreement countries.

The approvals affect Bear Head LNG and Goldboro LNG, both in Nova Scotia.

Both projects have full approval from U.S. and Canadian governments.

The terminals are expected to ship natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales to other countries.

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Shell posts jobs opening for proposed cracker plant in Pa.

By Bob Downing Published: February 15, 2016

Royal Dutch Shell has not yet made a decision on whether it will build an ethane cracker complex in Beaver County, Pa.

But it has posted an advertisement to hire a technical services team for the proposed complex at Monaca, Pa., on the Ohio River.

The ad was posted on LinkedIn, reports Jim Willis of the Marcellus Drilling News.

Click  here  to read more.

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Activists attacking West Virginia nuisance change

By Bob Downing Published: February 15, 2016

West Virginia activists are unhappy about a proposed bill that would limit the legal definition of what is a nuisance.

The proposal, SB 508, is in the Committees of the Judiciary.

Activist S. Tom Bond of Lewis County calls the proposal "a dangerous bill" and "a real stinker."

It would limit the ability of residents to file nuisance claims against drillers, critics say.

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Drillers need to cut 2016 spending by 50 percent, study says

By Bob Downing Published: February 15, 2016

The low prices for commodities have created a gloomy scenario for drillers in 2016, according to a Texas-based energy research company.

IHS, in its Energy Comparative Peer Group Analysis of North American E&Ps, says drillers will need to cut 2016 spending by 50 percent from 2015 in order to survive.

IHS, based in Houston, said drilers will need to cut expenses by $24 billion or 30 percent more than cuts already announced.

Click  here  to read more.

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U.S. drilling rig count continues to drop, Baker Hughes says

By Bob Downing Published: February 15, 2016

From the Associated Press:

(AP) — Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by 30 this week to 541.

The Houston company said Friday 439 rigs sought oil and 102 explored for natural gas amid depressed energy prices. A year ago, 1,358 rigs were active.

It is the eight straight week with a decline.

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Royal Dutch Shell completes $50 billion BG Group takeover

By Bob Downing Published: February 15, 2016

Royal Dutch Shell is remaking itself into a major player in natural gas after its $50 billion takeover of the BG Group, a British gas producer.

The deal boosts Shell's natural gas reserves by 25 percent.

The merged company still faces major layoffs in 2016 and beyond.

Click  here  to read more.

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Seventy Seven Energy releases preliminary 2015 information

By Bob Downing Published: February 15, 2016

The Oklahoma-based oilfield services company, Seventy Seven Energy, has released preliminary 2015 financial and operational results.

It is a player in the Utica and Marcellus shales.

Click  here  to read more.

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Fountain Quail gets investment money to expand operations

By Bob Downing Published: February 15, 2016

From a press release last week from a Texas-based water management company:

KELLER, Texas – February 10, 2016 — Fountain Quail Water Management, LLC (“Fountain Quail”) today announced that it has secured a private equity commitment of up to $40 million to expand its North American operations. Established in 1996, Fountain Quail specializes in treating and recycling produced and flowback water generated in oil and gas plays. Fountain Quail’s two proprietary systems, ROVER™ and NOMAD™, cut oil and gas producers’ water-specific operating costs by effectively eliminating the need to transport and dispose of wastewater and source and transport freshwater. Cost savings vary depending on location and range from at least 30 percent to 80 percent. Use of the ROVER™ and NOMAD™ systems also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by removing truck traffic from congested roadways.

Background
Water management is a top-tier issue for most oil and gas producers. Across all U.S. shale plays, an average of 12 barrels of water is produced for every barrel of oil. In 2015, approximately 66 million barrels of water per day (BPD) flowed out of onshore U.S. oil and gas wells. By 2020, produced water volumes are expected to rise to 92 million BPD.[1]  Industry experts estimate that 2015 oilfield water management costs in the U.S. exceeded $37 billion.[2]

In alignment with advances in drilling and completion techniques that increase producers’ water needs, Fountain Quail developed the ROVER™ system to efficiently recycle wastewater into clean brine for reuse during hydraulic fracturing. Fountain Quail’s NOMAD™ system converts wastewater into surface discharge quality freshwater, representing an environmentally favorable alternative to wastewater disposal in evaporation pits or injection wells as well as a cost-effective source of freshwater for hydraulic fracturing. Fountain Quail has deployed its ROVER™ and NOMAD™ systems for leading producers in major shale plays across North America including the Marcellus, Utica, Barnett, Eagle Ford and the Permian Basin.

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Land acquisition proceeding for Utopia East liquids pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: February 13, 2016

Land acquisition for a new liquids-only pipeline across northern Ohio is proceeding with little uproar from neighbors.
The $500 million Utopia East Pipeline has generated little community opposition, unlike two bigger natural gas pipelines that will also cross northern Ohio.
It will run 210 to 215 miles through 14 counties from Harrison County in Ohio’s Utica Shale area west to Fulton County near Toledo where it would connect with an existing pipeline. It would pass through parts of southern Stark and Wayne counties.
The pipeline, 12 inches is diameter, will ship about 50,000 barrels of liquids per day, said Allen Fore, a vice president for public affairs with Texas-based Kinder Morgan, the pipeline giant behind the new project.
The capacity could be boosted to 75,000 barrels per day with the addition of two more pump stations. Two pump stations are planned.
Construction would likely take place in 2017 and the line could begin services in late 2017 or early 2018, he said.
The liquids, including ethane and propane from the Utica Shale, would be shipped to NOVA Chemicals Corp. for use as feedstock for producing plastics at its plant in Corunna, Ontario.
There is capacity for additional customers, Fore said on a recent visit to Akron.
The new pipeline — its name comes from Utica to Ontario Pipeline Access (Utopia) — will require easements from more than 900 landowners in Ohio, and about one third of those deals have been completed, he said.
Kinder Morgan was provided survey access from 98 percent of the landowners along the route, Fore said.
The survey work is largely complete, he said.
Acquiring easements is under way and continuing, he said.
His company also has hired an Ohio firm, Land Stewards LLC in Marion, to work with landowners to resolve concerns including farm drain tile issues. Land Stewards is also working on the Rover natural gas pipeline along a similar route across Ohio.
Utopia East will create about 1,000 union construction jobs, he said.
The pipeline will create five full-time jobs.
The new pipeline is being developed by Kinder Morgan Cochin LLC and Kinder Morgan Cochin ULC subsidiaries.
The pipeline must be approved by several federal and state agencies but it does not require approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as is required for the Nexus and Rover pipelines across northern Ohio.
That is because the Utopia East Pipeline does not cross state lines and it is not transporting natural gas.
Initial paperwork for the pipeline has been filed and applications will be filed this spring with government agencies.
Approval is needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Administration and several Ohio agencies including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Utopia East was first announced in late 2013.
Fore says that Kinder Morgan has scrapped plans for a second 12-inch pipeline for natural gasoline originally planned along the same Ohio route.
The so-called Utopia West Pipeline would have connected with existing Cochin Pipeline in northwest Ohio to transport that liquid to Kankakee, Ill. and on to Alberta in western Canada. It is used by Canadian tar sand producers. Much of the route would have been in a pipeline that previously carried Canadian propane to the United States.

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Rice Energy, Gulfport Energy forming new Utica JV

By Bob Downing Published: February 12, 2016

Moving beyond a letter of intent announced last October, Rice Energy Inc. and Gulfport Energy Corp. have agreed to form a joint venture in Ohio's Belmont and Monroe counties.

The new venture is called Strike Force Midstream LLC.

The deal was announced by Rice Energy in a filing earlier this month with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Click  here  to read more from NGI's Shale Daily..

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MRC Global to sell off OCTG business for $48 million

By Bob Downing Published: February 12, 2016

From a press release earlier this week:

HOUSTON, Feb. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- MRC Global Inc., the largest global distributor, based on sales, of pipe, valves and fittings and related products and services to the energy industry, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its U.S. OCTG business to Sooner Pipe, LLC, a subsidiary of Marubeni-Itochu Tubulars America, Inc., for $48 million, subject to certain adjustments. MRC Global's U.S. OCTG sales were approximately $305 million in 2015. As a result of the expected sale, a pre-tax charge of approximately $5.0 million is expected to be recorded in the fourth quarter of 2015. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016, subject to customary closing conditions.

Andrew R. Lane, MRC Global's chairman, president and chief executive officer, stated, "The divestiture of our OCTG product line is the culmination of our strategy to reduce our exposure to upstream drilling volatility and to focus on growing our higher margin product lines, particularly our valve, valve automation and instrumentation business. We remain committed to our line pipe business as it has applications across each of the upstream, midstream and downstream end markets. This transaction benefits our U.S. OCTG customers, suppliers and employees by placing the business with the leading OCTG distributor and service provider. We will work with Sooner to ensure a smooth transition of the business."

About MRC Global Inc.

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Ohio drillers using more freshwater to frack Utica Shale wells

By Bob Downing Published: February 12, 2016

Drillers in Ohio's Utica Shale used an additional 36 million gallons of fresh water in 2015 from 2014, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

In 2014, the typical well in Ohio's Utica Shale used 7.6 million gallons of water to hydraulically fracture or frack th rock.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Pennsylvania DEP offers details on reducing methane leaks

By Bob Downing Published: February 12, 2016

Pennsylvania state environmental regulators on Thursday offered more details about the Wolf administration’s efforts to cut methane emissions from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry, NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania reported.

Click  here  to read more.

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Siemens to cut up to 300 jobs at its plant in Mount Vernon

By Bob Downing Published: February 12, 2016

Siemens intends to lay off up to 300 workers at its Mount Vernon plant in central Ohio, due to the downtown in the drilling industry, the Columbus Dispatch reported last week.

The company that manufactures energy components now has 600 workers at the Mount Vernon plant.

Click  here  to read more.

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Devon Energy to sell off non-core assets to reduce debt

By Bob Downing Published: February 12, 2016

Oklahoma-based Devon Energy Corp said on Tuesday it has hired the U.S. investment bank Jefferies Group LLC to market assets across four major shale basins to raise cash and slash debt.

In December, the large driller said it was looking to raise $2 billion to $3 billion from selling non-core oil assets as well as its 50-percent interest in the Access pipeline in Canada as crude prices plumbed new lows.

The target value for the divestiture program has remained unchanged even as oil futures have fallen further ,said the company, a former player in Ohio's Utica Shale.

Click  here  to read more from Reuters.

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New EIA data boosts Oklahoma's crude oil production

By Bob Downing Published: February 12, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

EIA's Petroleum Supply Monthly, published on January 30, includes crude oil production estimates for Oklahoma based on EIA monthly survey data. The new estimates are roughly 100,000 barrels per day more than those generated by the previous EIA methodology, which was informed by state-reported data.

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Tags: crude oil , liquid fuels , oil/petroleum , Oklahoma , production , states

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Massive four-month California natural gas leak is plugged

By Bob Downing Published: February 12, 2016

From the Associated Press:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The massive gas leak that spewed uncontrollably for nearly four months drove thousands of Los Angeles residents to pack up and leave their homes, while others rode it out.

Vicky Walker did both, turning her life upside down shuttling between hotels and home every few days, where she lived like a shut-in and stopped walking her dog to avoid the foul stench of gas.

While others blamed the leak for nosebleeds, nausea, headaches and other woes, Walker said she developed a persistent cough and packed on at least five pounds.

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Lenders offer $500 million for Alpha's coal, natural gas assets

By Bob Downing Published: February 11, 2016

From the Associated Press:

Alpha Natural Resources said it has received a $500 million offer from existing lenders for the potential sale of the bankrupt coal producer's core assets.

A filing Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond said the unspecified lenders agreed to serve as the lead bidder. The offer would set the floor for an auction process that lets competitors make higher bids.

Bristol, Va.-based Alpha filed for Chapter 11 protection in August. Since the filing, the company has announced plans to lay off hundreds of workers in central Appalachia, citing tough market conditions.

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Shell postpones LNG decision, defers on shale investments

By Bob Downing Published: February 11, 2016

Royal Dutch Shell plc has moved back a decision on a major LNG project in Canada and is also deferring possible future shale investments, according to media reports.

Click  here  to read more.

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Love's Travel Stops to acquire Trillium CNG with 4 Ohio sites

By Bob Downing Published: February 11, 2016

From a press release last week:

Company brings solid reputation, industry expertise and additional CNG locations

OKLAHOMA CITY, February 2, 2016 – Love’s Travel Stops (Love’s) has entered into an agreement to purchase Trillium CNG, a provider of compressed natural gas (CNG). The agreement will add 37 public-access CNG locations to the Love’s network, bringing the number of Love’s-operated public CNG facilities to 65.

"The acquisition of Trillium CNG provides Love’s with a great opportunity to leverage the very best of two companies," said Frank Love, co-CEO of Love’s. "Trillium’s established network of CNG locations and its deep expertise within the industry will also allow Love’s to serve new types of Customers in new markets while expanding reach to existing Customers."

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CONSOL Energy is best driller, says Susquehanna professor

By Bob Downing Published: February 11, 2016

From a press relase:

A Pennsylvania researcher has created a formula to rank the nation’s oil and gas companies based on their environmental impact.

The formula, developed by Susquehanna University accounting professor John Pendley, was introduced in the article, “Using Inspection Violations as an Environmental Performance Indicator for Natural Gas Companies,” that was recently published in Oil, Gas & Energy Quarterly. Pendley created the formula after seeing the need for objective research on Marcellus shale drilling. 

“It seems logical and reasonable that some gas companies are more careful than others,” Pendley said. “But despite that, there has been little substantive work on the topic.”

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Initial production in tight oil shales continues to increase

By Bob Downing Published: February 11, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Tight oil production in the United States increased from 2007 through April 2015, based on estimates in EIA's Drilling Productivity Report (DPR), and accounted for more than half of total U.S. oil production in 2015. Tight oil growth has been driven by increasing initial production rates from tight wells in regions analyzed in the DPR. As drilling techniques and technology improve, producers are able to extract more oil during the initial months of production from new wells.

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Medina County anti-pipeline group meeting at 6:30 tonight

By Bob Downing Published: February 11, 2016

The grass-roots Medina County group that is fighting the proposed Nexus Pipeline is holding a community update meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

It will be held at the Guilford Township Town Hall, 3800 Greenwich Road.

Jom Strong of the Coalition to Resroute Nexus (CORN) will be a speaker.

The meeting is in advance of an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency public meeting and hearing set for Feb. 16 at Cloverleaf Elementary School, 8337 Friendsville Road, Westfield Township. It will start at 6 p.m.

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New report looks at health impacts of Wisconsin sand mining

By Bob Downing Published: February 11, 2016

From a press release:

For Immediate Release

First Comprehensive Study of Potential Health Impacts of Industrial Sand Mining
in Western Wisconsin Released

Madison, WI – The Institute for Wisconsin’s Health has released a health impact assessment (HIA) researching the potential health impacts of industrial sand mining in western Wisconsin.
This research combines health expertise, scientific data, and input from businesses, community members and organizations into a report offering recommendations to minimize potential health risks, while maximizing potential health benefits.
“Prior to this assessment, there had not been a comprehensive study that looked at the potential health risks and benefits of industrial sand mining on a community level. We are grateful for the assistance of all the business, community, and scientific representatives that assisted us with this effort and are very pleased to share the report with our project partners and the public. We hope that it will be valuable resource for policy makers and community members alike,” said
Nancy Young, Executive Director of the Institute for Wisconsin’s Health.
The Institute for Wisconsin’s Health collaborated with 14 local health departments, the Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Health, the University of Iowa’s Environmental Health Research Center, sand mining industry representatives, expert reviewers and community members over the past year to gather and analyze information on the potential health benefits and risks of industrial sand mining in western Wisconsin. Participating health departments include Barron,
Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Dunn, Eau Claire, Ho-Chunk Nation, Jackson, LaCrosse, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, St. Croix, Rusk, and Trempealeau Counties.
“Our health department is committed to keeping our community informed and healthy. This assessment takes a fair and balanced look at the health impacts of industrial sand mining in our area and adds an important voice to the discussion. We plan to use its findings to inform our citizens and to help ensure that Trempealeau County remains a healthy place to live, work, and
play,” said Sherry Rhoda, Health Officer of the Trempealeau County Health Department.
Health Impact Assessments examine potential risks and benefits to the health of communities and factors in the perspectives of people and organizations that may have very different opinions.
“At the beginning of this assessment process, we committed to providing an unbiased and scientific assessment of the potential positive and negative health impacts of industrial sand mining. Community members as well as health and environmental experts contributed to this process and developed recommendations that will support community health,” added Audrey Boerner, Health Impact Assessment Specialist with the Institute for Wisconsin’s Health.
The report, Health Impact of Industrial Sand Mining in Western Wisconsin, can be found at (www.instituteforwihealth.org/hia.html).
This assessment is supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts - dedicated to promoting the use of health impact assessments in the United States. More information and a searchable map of HIA activity in the United States are available at www.healthimpactproject.org.
The Institute for Wisconsin’s Health, Inc. is an independent, non-partisan public health institute. Its mission is to strengthen Wisconsin’s public health system through capacity building and innovation. More information on the Institute can be found at www.instituteforwihealth.org.
The opinions reflected in the report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Health Impact Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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Pipeline company donates $5,000 to Ohio community agency

By Bob Downing Published: February 11, 2016

From a press release:

Local Nonprofit Benefits from Community Donation

WOOSTER, Ohio (Feb. 11, 2016) - Community Action of Wayne and Medina counties received a donation Wednesday from Kinder Morgan, developer of the Utopia East Pipeline Project, toward its new expansion at Lincoln Way Center, 905 Pittsburgh Avenue, Wooster, and core services, including Head Start, safety programs, parents’ support groups, housing, economic assistance programs, and more.

Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs for Kinder Morgan, presented a check for $5,000 to Melissa Pearce, president and CEO, at the Community Action Wayne/Medina facility.

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U.S. economy will benefit from second shale boom, report says

By Bob Downing Published: February 11, 2016

From a press release:

New Report Proposes Strategic Extension of American Petroleum Power
The past decade witnessed an American energy revolution driven by shale growth; by actively promoting hydrocarbon output, Congress can boost recovery & make geopolitical headway

NEW YORK, NY (2/11/2016) – While the naysayers preach oil’s decline and overestimate the viability of alternative energies, American shale oil companies—after radically and rapidly repositioning the country in global oil markets and boosting economic recovery—have been largely neglected. A new paper by Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Mark Mills illustrates the increased importance of oil to the global economy and outlines steps Congress can pursue to ensure the international competitiveness of America’s shale industry and reshape a volatile geopolitical order.

Mills argues that low oil prices aren’t a sign of oil’s decline, but of the need to implement policy reforms that allow more domestic shale growth. If we can replicate the growth in shale production seen over the past decade, Mills predicts the economy will benefit from a second shale boom, and the geopolitical status quo will shift dramatically in America’s favor.

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Activists plan rally at BLM auction in Colorado

By Bob Downing Published: February 11, 2016

From a press release:

'Keep it in the Ground' Rally Thursday to Protest BLM’s Oil and Gas Auctions in Colorado

 

Despite Auction Postponement, Locals and Activists Ramp Up The Pressure To Permanently End Public Land Fossil Fuel Auctions.

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Williams Partners to ship natural gas to Gulf Coast LNG facilities

By Bob Downing Published: February 11, 2016

Williams Partners LP, the natural gas pipeline partnership controlled by Williams Cos., said it will deliver dry gas to liquefied natural gas export terminals being constructed by Cheniere Energy Inc. and Freeport LNG Development LP.

Williams has secured the contracts for Gulf Connector, a 475,000 dekatherm-per-day expansion of the Transco pipeline system to connect U.S. natural gas supplies with overseas markets, the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based partnership said in a statement Wednesday.

Click  here  to read more.

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Halcon Resources outlines balance sheet initiatives

By Bob Downing Published: February 10, 2016

Halcon Resources Corp. has a few Utica Shale wells in Ohio's Trumbull and Mahoning counties and in western Pennsylvania. It suspended its Utica Shale drilling in March 2014.

Here is a statement issued by the firm on Monday in an apparent effort to reassure jittery investors:

Houston, TX, Feb. 08, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Halcón Resources Corporation (NYSE: HK) ("Halcón" or the "Company") today provided an update on its balance sheet initiatives.

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BP Energy Outlook: Transition to lower carbon future

By Bob Downing Published: February 10, 2016

From a release today:

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Warren Resources working to restructure debt

By Bob Downing Published: February 10, 2016

From a press release:

DENVER, Feb. 09, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Warren Resources, Inc. (Nasdaq:WRES) (“Warren”) today announced year-end 2015 total net estimated proved reserves as appearing in its reserve report prepared by Netherland Sewell and Associates (“NSAI”).  Warren also announced its full year 2016 forecast and the initiation of efforts to restructure its outstanding debt.

Year-end 2015 vs Year-end 2014 Reserves using SEC Pricing

As of December 31, 2015, Warren had estimated net proved reserves of 241.3 Bcfe, which included 12.9 MMbls of oil and 163.7 Bcf of gas.  The PV-10 value of these reserves was approximately $96 million, based on the SEC mandated price deck of $42.81 per barrel of oil and $1.74 per Mcf of gas.  This compares with year-end 2014 total net estimated proved reserves of 428.1 Bcfe, which included 16.8 MMbls of oil and 327.3 Bcf of gas.  The PV-10 value of these reserves was $609.1 million, based on the SEC mandated price deck of $86.71 per barrel of oil and $3.22 per Mcf of gas.  Reserves declined dramatically year over year due to significant decreases in commodity pricing, which resulted in totally eliminating some reserves and reduction in the life span of many others that were included in the 2014 report.

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New study finds no methane from drilling in Ohio water wells

By Bob Downing Published: February 10, 2016

From the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a statewide trade group:

Last week, the Concerned Citizens of Carroll County held a public meeting in the Village of Carrollton to reveal the results of a three-year long study conducted in order to determine if natural gas drilling has had an effect on the quality of water coming from the wells in Carroll County. The Ohio Oil and Gas Association, national group Energy In Depth and other industry folks have attended the meetings over the years to listen to the guest speakers, talk with the media and see the concerns over what is happening in the area.

On this particular night, the guest speaker was a Dr. Amy Townsend-Small a geologist from the University of Cincinnati. Amy and her team had been in the area over the past 3 years testing private water wells to determine if thermogenic methane was present (the kind of methane found in natural gas). The project was funded from two foundations providing grants; one was the Deer Creek Foundation in St. Louis and the other was the Alice Weston foundation from Cincinnati. They have since cut off funding but more on that in a minute. The idea of the study was to take baseline water well testing before much, or in some instances any drilling had taken place in the area near the water wells.

Over the course of the study, which included taking almost 200 samples from 23 water wells in 5 counties, it was reported that natural gas development has had no effect on the water quality. Amy spoke with the local Times Reporter after the meeting and said:

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Pennsylvania governor wants 6.5 percent tax on drillers

By Bob Downing Published: February 10, 2016

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf wants the state’s natural gas drillers to pay a 6.5 percent tax on Marcellus Shale production, which he estimates will bring in $217.8 million dollars for fiscal year 2016/2017 to the state's general fund, NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania reports.

Click  here  to read more..

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New North Dakota crude oil pipeline begins operations

By Bob Downing Published: February 10, 2016

From a Tuesday press release::

The Woodlands, Texas (February 9, 2016) – Summit Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE: SMLP) announced today that
it has commenced operations of the Stampede Lateral crude oil transmission pipeline in North Dakota and is
currently in the final stages of completing the nearby Little Muddy crude oil transmission pipeline, which includes
an interconnect with Enbridge’s North Dakota Pipeline System. These crude oil development projects provide
customers on the Polar & Divide gathering system with two new delivery points and enhanced optionality to access
additional downstream markets via rail and pipeline infrastructure. Prior to the commissioning these projects, crude
oil on the Polar & Divide system was delivered exclusively to the Colt Hub rail terminal in Epping, North Dakota.
The Stampede Lateral connects SMLP’s Polar & Divide crude oil gathering system with Global Partners LP’s
(“Global”) Basin Transload rail terminal located near Columbus, North Dakota. The Stampede Lateral provides
Global and other producers in the region with up to 60,000 bbls/d of crude oil throughput capacity. The 46-mile,
10-inch diameter transmission pipeline originates at SMLP’s newly-built, Divide Station, which offers truck unloading
capabilities and 75,000 barrels of crude oil storage capacity. The Stampede Lateral is underpinned by a long-term,
fee-based contract with Global, including minimum volume commitments. Crude oil on the Stampede Lateral is
delivered to Global’s Basin Transload rail terminal which offers single line haul rail access to Global’s Albany, New
York terminal.
The Little Muddy pipeline will connect SMLP’s Polar & Divide crude oil gathering system with Enbridge’s North
Dakota Pipeline System in Williams County, North Dakota via Enbridge’s Little Muddy Facility located near Marmon,
North Dakota. This development project includes 14-miles of 10-inch diameter crude oil transmission pipeline with
throughput capacity of 27,000 bbls/d. Crude oil delivered to the Little Muddy Interconnect will gain pipeline access
to various downstream markets including Chicago, Patoka, Cushing, Eastern Canada, and the Gulf Coast.
Steve Newby, President and Chief Executive Officer of SMLP commented, “The start-up of the Stampede Lateral
and Little Muddy Interconnect significantly diversifies our downstream takeaway options for our customers on our
crude oil gathering systems in the Bakken. We are excited to enhance the interconnectivity of our crude gathering
system and to provide our customers with to access multiple downstream markets”.
About Summit Midstream Partners, LP
SMLP is a growth-oriented limited partnership focused on developing, owning and operating midstream energy
infrastructure assets that are strategically located in the core producing areas of unconventional resource basins,
primarily shale formations, in the continental United States. SMLP currently provides natural gas, crude oil and
produced water gathering services pursuant to primarily long-term and fee-based gathering and processing
agreements with customers and counterparties in four unconventional resource basins: (i) the Appalachian Basin,
which includes the Marcellus Shale formation in northern West Virginia; (ii) the Williston Basin, which includes the
Bakken and Three Forks shale formations in northwestern North Dakota; (iii) the Fort Worth Basin, which includes
the Barnett Shale formation in north-central Texas; and (iv) the Piceance Basin, which includes the Mesaverde
formation as well as the Mancos and Niobrara shale formations in western Colorado and eastern Utah. SMLP owns
and operates more than 2,600 miles of pipeline and is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas with regional
corporate offices in Denver, Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia.
About Summit Midstream Partners, LLC
Summit Midstream Partners, LLC (“Summit Investments”) directly and indirectly owns a 44.0% limited partner
interest in SMLP and indirectly owns and controls the general partner of SMLP, Summit Midstream GP, LLC, which
has sole responsibility for conducting the business and managing the operations of SMLP. Summit Investments
owns, operates and is developing various natural gas, crude oil and produced water-related midstream energy
infrastructure assets in the Utica Shale in southeastern Ohio, the Bakken Shale in northwestern North Dakota, and
the DJ Basin in northeastern Colorado. Summit Investments also owns a 40% interest in a joint venture that is

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Mining, exploration investment drops 35% in 2015, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: February 10, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Mining and exploration investment declined 35% in 2015, the second largest year-over-year decline since the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) began reporting the series in 1948. Most mining and exploration investment reflects petroleum exploration and development, but the category also includes natural gas, coal, and other minerals. Mining and exploration investment declined from $135 billion in 2014 to $87.7 billion in 2015, weighing down investment growth more than any other segment of nonresidential investment. Total private fixed investment, of which mining and exploration is a small subset, grew 4% in 2015 to $2.7 trillion. Low commodity prices remain a significant factor in U.S. firms' investment decisions.

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Tags: crude oil , mining , prices

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Ohio groups rally against injection wells, schedule screening

By Bob Downing Published: February 10, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

Frackfree Mahoning Valley and Buckeye Forest Council release new information, call for the injection wells near fracking waste-related earthquake epicenters in Weathersfield/Niles to remain closed, and call for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to deny an injection permit for a newly drilled Vienna airport area injection well near family homes saying the well is close to an “area of known seismic activity”:

Frackfree Mahoning Valley will hold rallies at two local injection wells on Wednesday, February 10, 2016, and host a Friday, February 12, 2016 “Film Night and Town Hall – Style Meeting” on why these injection wells and others must stop. Both the film screening of “Oklahoma Shakedown” and town hall will be held on Friday, February 12, 2016 at 7 PM to 9 PM, at The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown, located at 1105 Elm St., Youngstown, Ohio. (Elm & Illinois.)

 

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U.S. Silica introduces new resin-coated proppant for fracking

By Bob Downing Published: February 10, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

U.S. Silica Introduces InnoProp® PLT Polyurethane Low-Temperature Resin-Coated Proppant

New Resin-Coated Sand Outperforms Competing Low-Temperature Proppants

FREDERICK, Md., Feb. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Silica Holdings, Inc. today announced the introduction of InnoProp® PLT, a newly formulated resin-coated proppant designed specifically for enhancing the recovery of oil and gas in low-temperature reservoirs.   Independent test results show this proprietary polyurethane-based formula delivers best-in-class bond strength, crush resistance and conductivity.  U.S. Silica's broad network of strategically located transload facilities served by Class I railroads allows InnoProp PLT to be delivered to locations within 100 miles of more than 80% of today's active drilling rigs.

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Louisiana LNG facility adds new technology to water system

By Bob Downing Published: February 10, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

QUA® Wins Contract to Supply FEDI® Fractional Electrodeonization Technology for Water Treatment Plant at Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass LNG Terminal

CANONSBURG, Pa., Feb. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- QUA® has been awarded a contract to supply its FEDI® Fractional Electrodeionization technology for the RO permeate polishing demineralizing process to support Cheniere Energy's addition of liquefaction services to its Sabine Pass LNG Terminal.

This project is the third phase of expansion to supply water to the facility's liquefaction operations and will add an additional 30% capacity to the water plant. FEDI was also used in the previous two phases. This brings the total water flow rate at this plant to 4,185 gpm (951m3/hr) making it one of the largest electrodeionization (EDI) systems installed in the world.

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IPAA is unhappy with provisions of Obama's budget

By Bob Downing Published: February 9, 2016

From a press release today:

IPAA on Obama Budget:

 

Strengthening, not degrading, American oil and natural gas production is a much better option for our country’

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WPX sells subsidiary to Terra Energy for $910 million

By Bob Downing Published: February 9, 2016

From a press release today:

WPX Energy (NYSE: WPX) announced today that it has signed an agreement to sell its wholly owned subsidiary WPX Energy Rocky Mountain, LLC, to Terra Energy Partners LLC for $910 million. The parties expect to close the sale in the second quarter.

Additionally, Terra is assuming approximately $100 million in transportation obligations in exchange for more than $90 million of WPX’s natural gas hedge value. WPX will retain more than $110 million in additional hedge gains, which will be realized throughout the year.

Click  here  to read more.

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Utica Shale natural gas production to grow in March, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: February 9, 2016

Natural gas production in Ohio’s Utica Shale is expected to increase slightly from February to March, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
That would make the Utica Shale the only one of the seven major U.S. shale areas to show a monthly increase in natural gas production.
In February, the Utica Shale is expected to produce 3.248 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. That total is projected to jump to 3.280 billion cubic feet per day in March.
That is mostly due to new wells in eastern Ohio going into production, despite low commodity prices.
One billion cubic feet is enough natural gas to power up to 11,000 houses for one year.
Overall, natural gas production in the seven shale areas is projected to drop by 451 million cubic feet per day, the EIA said.
Oil production in the Utica Shale is likely to remain the same from February to March: 78,000 barrels per day, the federal agency said.
Only the Permian Basin in Texas showed a monthly increase in oil -production of 1,000 barrels per day. The other five areas all showed drops in oil production.
Overall, the seven oil-drilling areas are projected to see a daily drop of 92,000 barrels from February to March, the federal agency said Monday in its monthly Drilling Productivity Report.

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Crude oil shipments by rail are dropping with low prices

By Bob Downing Published: February 9, 2016

Low commodity prices are having a big impact on crude oil shipments by rail from North Dakota's Bakken Shale through Ohio and other Midwest states to East Coast refineries, EnergyWire reported on Monday.

Click  here  to read more.

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Natural gas for power generation higher this winter, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: February 9, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

So far this winter, natural gas consumption in the electric power sector (gas burn) has been higher than in any previous winter. According to Bentek Energy, gas burn in the electric power sector has averaged 25.0 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) so far this winter (November 1 through February 8), up 17% from last year's average of 21.4 Bcf/d during the same period and significantly higher than the 18.8 Bcf/d average of the past five years. Low natural gas prices have been the primary driver of increasing natural gas use for power generation, although reductions in coal capacity and the availability of efficient gas-fired generating units have also played a role.

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Tags: capacity factor , coal , generation , natural gas

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Ohio has 1,678 drilled Utica wells, 1,150 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: February 9, 2016

Ohio has approved 2,133 Utica Shale permits, as of Feb. 6.

That total includes 1,678 drilled Utica wells and 1,150 producing Utica wells, says the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Sixteen rigs are at work in Ohio.

Four new permits were approved last week: two in Carroll County and two in Jefferson County.

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Natural gas-fired power plant proposed near Pittsburgh

By Bob Downing Published: February 9, 2016

A Chicago-based company wants to build a 550-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant near Pittsburgh.

The $350 million project is being developed by Invenergy LLC.

It would be located in Elizabeth Township.

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

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Obama budget contains anti-energy agenda, API says

By Bob Downing Published: February 9, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Monday:

WASHINGTON, February 8, 2016 – The administration’s final budget proposal due out Tuesday appears to outline a radical, anti-energy agenda of tax hikes and new regulations that could harm consumers, destroy jobs and raise energy costs, API President and CEO Jack Gerard told reporters in a conference call Monday.

“It appears the administration’s last year is dedicated to furthering an extremist agenda at the very real expense of the middle class and low-income families, through tax hikes on energy and a barrage of unnecessary and duplicative regulations that are catering to the well-funded, radical whims of ‘leave it in the ground’ activists.

“The White House has already floated one proposal from the budget: a $10 per barrel tax on crude oil. This unprecedented tax hike – adding, according to public reports, about 30 percent to the cost of a barrel of oil and potentially about 25 cents to the cost of a gallon of gasoline -- is just the latest bad idea from this administration when it comes to U.S. oil and gas resources. 

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Chesapeake Energy says it has no plans to pursue bankruptcy

By Bob Downing Published: February 8, 2016

A statement today from Chesapeake Energy Corp., a major player in Ohio's Utica Shale:

OKLAHOMA CITY, Feb. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) stated today that Kirkland & Ellis LLP has served as one of Chesapeake's counsel since 2010 and continues to advise the company as it seeks to further strengthen its balance sheet following its recent debt exchange. Chesapeake currently has no plans to pursue bankruptcy and is aggressively seeking to maximize value for all shareholders.

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CONSOL Energy names new board chairman

By Bob Downing Published: February 8, 2016

Pittsburgh-based CONSOL Energy is getting a new chairman.

William Thorndike Jr. of the private equity firm Housatonic Partners in Boston will replace J. Brett Harvey, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Harvey will retire in May.

Click  here  to read more.

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TruStar Energy expands compressed natural gas stations

By Bob Downing Published: February 8, 2016

From a press release today:

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Feb. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- TruStar Energy, one of the nation's leading developers of compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations, announced today that the company completed 41 stations for public and private use in 2015, almost doubling the number of CNG stations from 2014, and bringing total completed stations by TruStar Energy to 120. This was accomplished during this period of unusually low oil prices.   

The demand for public and private CNG-fueling stations by fleet owners and operators across the U.S. is continuing to increase because the lower carbon fuel delivers more stable pricing, is a cleaner fuel than diesel and can still provide an attractive ROI for certain applications. Lack of a U.S.-wide CNG fueling infrastructure remains a challenge to wider adoption of CNG in the trucking industry.

"Despite the low price of oil, the transition to CNG still makes environmental and financial sense for many fleet owners," said Adam Comora, President of TruStar Energy. "We are seeing strong demand for CNG fueled vehicles and fueling stations in the refuse industry because of the financial benefits and by municipalities where sustainability is of paramount importance. With the right application, larger corporations that operate their own fleets are beginning to shift to CNG because the economics can still be supported and the abundant, domestically produced fuel shields them from the volatility of diesel prices."

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New pipeline to move Utica, Marcellus natural gas to St. Louis

By Bob Downing Published: February 8, 2016

A Missouri-based company is planning a new 60-mile pipeline to access natural gas from Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The Laclede Group plans to build the pipeline to connect to the Rockies Express and Panhandle Eastern Pipeline north of St. Louis.

That would provide access to natural gas from the Utica and Marcelus shales for its Laclede Gas Co. in St. Louis..

The pipeline will cost $170 million to $200 million and could be built in two to three  years.

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Pipeline company seeking tax breaks on West Virginia project

By Bob Downing Published: February 8, 2016

The Columbia Pipeline Group is talking to three West Virginia counties about making payments in lieu of taxes on compressor stations on its planned Mountaineer Express Pipeline, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports.

Making such annual payments instead of normal property taxes would likely produce a tax break for the pipeline company.

No decisions have been made.

Click  here  to read more.

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Downturn forces Blue Racer Midstream to curtail spending

By Bob Downing Published: February 8, 2016

The downturn in oil and gas drilling is impacting Blue Racer Midstream LLC, a major midstream player in Ohio and West Virginia, reported the Marcellus Drilling News.

Continuing low commodity prices has forced the company to curtail spending, company officials recently said at a conference in Pittsburgh.

The privately held company company is a joint venture of Dominion Resources Inc. and Caiman Energy II LLC.

It has gas-processing and fractionation plants, plus gas-gathering lines and condensate lines in the Utica and Marcellus shales.

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Vorys law firm offers looks at several drilling lawsuits

By Bob Downing Published: February 8, 2016

The Energy and Environmental Law Blog published by the Vorys law firm offers looks at several recent cases involving oil-natural gas drilling in Ohio and other states.

Click  here  to check out the blog posts.

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CONSOL Energy gets 61.9 MMcf from its second Utica well

By Bob Downing Published: February 8, 2016

People are still talking and writing about CONSOL Energy's latest Utica Shale well, GH9, in Greene County in southwest Pennsylvania.

Its initial production numbers are 61.9 million cubic feet per day, writes Jim Willis of the Marcellus Drilling News.

That trails EQT's 72.9 million cubic feet per day, also in Greene County.

CONSOL Energy got 61.4 million cubic feet per day in initial production from its first Utica Shale well in Pennsylvania's Westmoreland County.

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Pa. group wants bigger public role in state forest drilling

By Bob Downing Published: February 8, 2016

The Save the Loyalsock Coalition, a group of 11 eco-groups, wants Pennsylvania to adopt a more formal public participation process when it comes to opening state forests like the Loyalsock to oil-natural gas-drilling, reports NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Click  here  to read more.

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Oklahoma earthquakes may trigger legislative action

By Bob Downing Published: February 8, 2016

From the Associated Press:

OKLAHOMA CITY — The power and frequency of earthquakes in Oklahoma have been increasing, but the Legislature has done little to try to curb the temblors that scientists have linked to the underground disposal of oil and gas drilling wastewater.

That could change this year, as angry residents have been increasingly turning up at town hall meetings and legislative hearings to call for state leaders to address the problem.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Oklahoma this year has already had more than 90 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater, which is generally when most people start to feel them. The town of Fairview, in northwest Oklahoma, has been hardest hit, but several large quakes also have rattled the well-to-do suburb of Edmond, including a 4.3-magnitude quake on Dec. 29 and a 4.2 temblor a few days later.

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CONSOL Energy: Proved developed reserves grew by 16%

By Bob Downing Published: February 5, 2016

From a company press release today:

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- During 2015, CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) added 934 Bcfe (net to CONSOL) of proved reserves through extensions and discoveries. As of December 31, 2015, total proved reserves were 5.6 Tcfe, which included 583 Bcfe, or 10.3%, of oil, condensate, and liquids. Marcellus Shale reserves account for 369 Bcfe, or 14.4%, of these heavier hydrocarbons.

CONSOL Energy replaced 284% of its 2015 production, when considering increases from extensions and discoveries of 934 Bcfe. Production in 2015 was 329 Bcfe (net to CONSOL).

During 2015, drilling and completion costs incurred directly attributable to extensions and discoveries were $618.3 million. When divided by the extensions and discoveries of 934 Bcfe, this yields a drill bit finding and development cost of $0.66 per Mcfe, compared to $0.76 per Mcfe at year-end 2014.

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Canadian well stimulation yields great results, firms report

By Bob Downing Published: February 5, 2016

From a press release:

Record-Breaking CO2 Well Stimulation Yields Outstanding Results

Middle Montney well achieves top-tier 1,768 Boe/d production test results with largest CO2 stimulation.

 

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Obama tax proposal would 'punish' drilling industry, WEA says

By Bob Downing Published: February 5, 2016

From a press release:

Obama’s Budget Proposal

“In every single budget over eight years, the president has attempted to pass energy tax increases that even his fellow Democrats won’t vote for. Given that record, we’re not too concerned about this one, but it’s another example of attempts to punish the oil industry that would only serve to raise costs on the middle class. On the other hand, oil companies have delivered huge cost savings to Americans.

“The proposed $10 per barrel tax is out of step with reality as economic growth slows in the world’s largest oil-producing country, the United States, because of low oil prices. Increased taxes on American oil is a recipe for more job losses and continued sluggish growth. For a president who has worked so hard to help Iranian oil producers, a tax of one-third the current price of oil would only hurt American workers while helping our strategic rivals.”  

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Tree clearing to begin in Pennsylvania's Susquehanna County

By Bob Downing Published: February 5, 2016

Tree clearing is scheduled to get under way today in Pennsylvania's Susquehanna County for the Constitution Pipeline to carry Marcellus Shale natural gas to New York.

The tree clearing in Pennsylvania was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Click  here  to read more from NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania

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Study offers link between California earthquakes, injection

By Bob Downing Published: February 5, 2016

From the Associated Press:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A 2005 spate of quakes in California’s Central Valley almost certainly was triggered by oilfield injection underground, a study published Thursday said in the first such link in California between oil and gas operations and earthquakes.

Researchers at the University of California at Santa Cruz, the University of Southern California and two French universities published their findings Thursday in a publication of the American Geophysical Union. The research links a local surge in injection by oil companies of wastewater underground, peaking in 2005, with an unusual jump in seismic activity in and around the Tejon Oilfield in southern Kern County.

In Oklahoma and other Midwestern states, the U.S. Geological Survey and others have linked oilfield operations with a dramatic surge in earthquakes. Many of those quakes occur in swarms in places where oil companies pump briny wastewater left over from oil and gas production deep underground.

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Low oil prices severely impacting Norway's Statoil

By Bob Downing Published: February 5, 2016

From the Associated Press on Statoil, a player in Ohio's Utica Shale:

Norwegian energy group Statoil posted a net loss of 9.2 billion kroner ($1.08 billion) for the fourth quarter amid the drop in oil prices.

Norway’s biggest oil company said Thursday the quarterly results “continue to be severely influenced by low prices,” adding the loss was 3 percent larger than a year earlier. Revenue fell to 109.2 billion kroner from 147 billion kroner.

CEO Eldar Saetre said the company was stepping up its cost-cutting program and reining in spending.

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API is opposed to Obama proposal to hike tax on crude oil

By Bob Downing Published: February 5, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Thursday:

WASHINGTON, February 4, 2016 – President Obama’s proposal to add a new $10 per barrel tax on crude oil would harm consumers, said API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“The White House thinks Americans are not paying enough for gasoline, so they have proposed a new tax that could raise the cost of gasoline by 25 cents a gallon, harm consumers that are enjoying low energy prices, destroy American jobs and reverse America’s emergence as a global energy leader.

“On his way out of office, President Obama has now proposed making the United States less competitive.”

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 650 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 30 million Americans.

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2015 was landmark year for U.S, energy, new study says

By Bob Downing Published: February 5, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A Landmark Year for US Energy Evolution 

Clean energy, natural gas consumption, and energy efficiency rise, as coal burn and CO2 emissions fall and power prices stay flat in watershed 2015, new study finds

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Canada's tar sands industry battered on all sides

By Bob Downing Published: February 5, 2016

Writer Ed Struzik takes a look at the problems hitting Canada's tar sands industry in Yale Environment 360.

It is, he says, an industry in crisis.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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New initiative launched to link veterans, drilling jobs

By Bob Downing Published: February 5, 2016

From the American Pertroleum Institute on Wednesday:

WASHINGTON, February 3, 2016 – Today, U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined the American Petroleum Institute (API) to officially launch the Veterans Energy Pipeline – www.veteransenergypipeline.com – a new web based tool that will help connect current members of the armed forces and veterans to civilian employment opportunities in the oil and natural gas industry. 

“Our goal is to build on the successes of America’s energy revolution and help those serving our country, as well as veterans, transition into well-paying careers in the oil and gas industry,” said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. “This unique forum will provide important information about the industry, the outlook for job opportunities and useful job-hunting tools and resources.”

To better understand the long-term employment needs of the industry, a recent study from IHS Global, estimates that more than 950,000 job opportunities could be created by 2020 and nearly 1.3 million job opportunities through 2030 across the country in the oil and natural gas industry.

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PHMSA issues new safety advisory for natural gas storage

By Bob Downing Published: February 5, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday:

WASHINGTON, February 2, 2016 – Today the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) released a natural gas storage safety advisory modeled after industry’s best practices.

“Safety is our industry’s core value and we are committed to zero incidents,” said API Midstream Group Director Robin Rorick. “PHMSA’s new safety advisory is in part guided by the best principles industry already has in place for natural gas storage facilities.

“We continue to lead when it comes to safety by constantly upping our safety standards to ensure that we protect the public and the environment. In fact, we collaborated with PHMSA to create new standards just last year,” said Rorick referring to API’s Recommended Practices 1171 and 1170.

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Groups challenge air permits at Albany crude-by-rail terminal

By Bob Downing Published: February 4, 2016

From a press release today from Earthjustice and other eco-groups:

 Broad Coalition Challenges Clean Air Violations at Albany Crude-by-Rail Terminal

Cite environmental justice impacts to public housing residents adjacent to Global facility

ALBANY, NY --  A broad coalition consisting of the County of Albany, a tenants association, and several environmental groups filed a lawsuit today in federal court charging that a major crude-by-rail conglomerate is operating in violation of the Clean Air Act. The lawsuit claims that Global Companies failed to obtain a required air pollution permit and institute necessary pollution controls when it modified its Albany, New York facility in 2012 to allow a five-fold increase in the amount of crude oil handled at the facility. The lawsuit also claims that Global has violated a permit issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation by handling crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota, which emits more air pollutants than conventional crude oil. The lawsuit seeks an injunction requiring the company to apply for the required air pollution permit and prohibiting the facility from handling Bakken crude oil, and asks for fines of $37,500 for each day that Global has operated in violation of the Clean Air Act.

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Groups submit 2 million signatures against offshore drilling

By Bob Downing Published: February 4, 2016

From a press release on Wednesday:

WASHINGTON, DC – Standing with citizens on the frontline of offshore drilling fights --  from North Carolina’s barrier islands to the fragile Arctic -- Environment America and a dozen other green groups delivered more than 2 million petitions to President Obama this afternoon, urging him to drop his administration’s plans for new offshore drilling beginning next year.
 
The Obama administration is expected to issue the next draft of its 2017 to 2022 offshore drilling leasing plan next month. The current version opens up new areas to drilling in the Arctic and the Atlantic Oceans, but environmental groups, hundreds of coastal businesses, and citizens have been calling on the president to reverse course. Last month, Kure Beach, N.C. became the 100th coastal community to pass a resolution against expanding drilling.
 
“There’s no way around it: when you drill you spill. Oil rigs in the Atlantic and Arctic would threaten our precious beaches, harm sea turtles and other marine life, destroy coastal economies, and worsen the climate crisis to boot,” said Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling program. “That’s why we’re proud to stand with millions of Americans to urge the president to drop plans for new dirty drilling.”

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Pennsylvania panel approves revisions to drilling rules

By Bob Downing Published: February 4, 2016

Pennsylvania’s environmental rule-making body approved major revisions to strengthen the state’s oil and gas regulations on Wednesday at the end of a heated three-hour meeting when critics of the rules called elements of the package illegal or unnecessary, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Click  here  to read more.

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Spectra announces 2016 business, financial plans

By Bob Downing Published: February 4, 2016

February 4, 2016

HOUSTON – Spectra Energy Corp (NYSE: SE) and Spectra Energy Partners (NYSE: SEP) today announced their 2016-2018 business and financial plan.

Key highlights for Spectra Energy include:

Key highlights for Spectra Energy Partners include:

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EQT's 2015 proved developed reserves increase by 30 percent

By Bob Downing Published: February 4, 2016

Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. today reported  that its 2015 year-end proved developed reserves were 6.3 trillion cubic feet of equivalents, a 30 percent incease from 2014.

Click  here  to read more.

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EQT income plummets in 2015 due to industry downtown

By Bob Downing Published: February 4, 2016

From a press release today:

EQT Corporation (NYSE: EQT) today announced 2015 net income attributable to EQT of $85.2 million, or $0.56 per diluted share (EPS), compared to earnings of $387.0 million, or $2.54 per diluted share in the previous year. Adjusted net income during 2015 was $114.7 million, compared to $523.9 million in 2014, after considering several items that affect direct year-over-year comparability. Adjusted EPS for the year was $0.75, compared to $3.43 in 2014; and adjusted operating cash flow attributable to EQT was $964.3 million, compared to $1,424.0 million in 2014. The non-GAAP financial measures and the items affecting comparability of results are detailed and reconciled in the Non-GAAP Disclosures section of this news release.

Fourth quarter 2015 net loss attributable to EQT was $134.6 million, compared to a net loss of $14.7 million in 2014. Fourth quarter adjusted net loss was $8.8 million, compared to adjusted net income of $148.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2014; and adjusted EPS was negative $0.06, down from $0.97. Adjusted operating cash flow attributable to EQT was $233.9 million, versus $390.0 million in 2014.

Highlights for 2015:

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Dominion Resources expanding operations in Southeast

By Bob Downing Published: February 4, 2016

From a press release:

Feb 3, 2016

Columbia, S.C. – Dominion Resources, Inc., one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, is expanding its operations in the Southeast. Dominion is committed to investing $10.9 million and relocating their Dominion Carolina Gas Transmission (DCGT) headquarters and operations to Columbia, South Carolina. DCGT owns and operates nearly 1,500 miles of interstate natural gas transmission pipelines in South Carolina and southeastern Georgia.

Dominion’s new facility, representing 120,000 square feet of office space located on nine acres, will now house operations and services for Dominion Carolina Gas Transmission. This move comes on the heels of Dominion’s acquisition of Carolina Gas Transmission (CGT) from SCANA Corporation (NYSE: SCG) for approximately $492.9 million in February 2015.

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High inventories push crude oil prices to low in 13 years

By Bob Downing Published: February 4, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Several factors have played a part in pushing U.S. crude oil prices below $30 per barrel (b), including high inventory levels of crude oil, uncertainty about global economic growth, volatility in equity and nonenergy commodity markets, and the potential for additional crude oil supply to enter the market. Crude oil and petroleum product inventories, both domestically and internationally, have been growing since mid-2014 and are above five-year averages for this date.

Read More ›

Tags: crude oil , diesel , gasoline , heating oil , liquid fuels

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Pennsylvania's lower natural gas fee to generate less income

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

Pennsylvania’s local authorities will lose millions of dollars in fees from the natural gas industry this year because of lower gas prices in 2015, acording to NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

The state's Public Utility Commission announced on Jan. 30 that mostly because of the sharp fall in gas prices, it would be reducing the amounts paid to municipalities and counties from impact fees charged to operators under Act 13, Pennsylvania’s wide-ranging gas industry law.

Click  here  to read more.

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Vallourec SA to lay off 2,600 workers in Europe, China, Brazil

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

Vallourec SA says it intends to raise $1 billion and lay off 2,600 workers in Europe, China and Brazil but its Youngstown operations won't be affected, The Business Journal reported.

The cutbacks are needed by the steel pipe producer because of the downturn in the oil-natural gas drilling industry.

Click  here  to read more.

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N.D. cuts state budget by $1 billion due to drilling downturn

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

From the Associated Press:

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple on Monday ordered deep cuts to government agencies and a massive raid on state savings to make up for a more than $1 billion budget shortfall due to depressed crude prices and a drop in oil drilling.

The state had more than $2 billion in various reserve accounts just one year ago, but oil prices — a key contributor to the state’s wealth — have taken a nosedive in the past year. The Legislature’s record-high $14.4 billion budget for the two years that began July 1 was built on oil prices and economic assumptions that have fallen “much greater than anyone would have predicted,” the governor said.

“After 15 years of receiving almost entirely good news about the growth in revenues for North Dakota, it seems strange to hear that things have gone in the other direction,” the Republican told state agency officials at the state Capitol in Bismarck.

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Marathon Petroleum's quarterly earnings drop 75%

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

Marathon Petroleum Corp. saw its quarterly earnings dip by nearly 80 percent from 2014, but the refining giant still saw a net income gain for the full year, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Cheaper NGLs, weak Canadian dollar hurt Spectra Energy

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

Cheaper natural gas liquids and a weak Canadian dollar dragged down the fourth-quarter distributable cash flow of Spectra Energy, the company behind the Nexus Pipeline across northern Ohio, the company said Wednesday, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Range Resources to lay off 55 including 31 in Pennsylvania

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

Range Resources, one of the biggest players in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, is laying off 55 workers including 31 in southwest Pennsylvania due to low commodity prices.

Click  here  to read more.

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FERC approves Sabal Trail Pipeline in Florida, two other states

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

February 3, 2016

LAKE MARY, Fla. – Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC, a joint venture of Spectra Energy Partners, LP (NYSE: SEP), NextEra Energy, Inc., and Duke Energy, received a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to construct and operate the 500-mile Sabal Trail interstate natural gas pipeline project in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. This approval authorizes Sabal Trail, subject to certain conditions, to proceed with final preparations to commence construction in the coming months to meet a May 1, 2017, in-service date.

Once complete, the 516-mile pipeline would have the capacity to deliver approximately 1.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to the Southeast U.S., including firm transportation services to Florida Power & Light Company and Duke Energy of Florida.

“Sabal Trail will provide a critically-needed source of domestic, clean-burning, affordable natural gas to the Southeast U.S. to meet the growing demand for natural gas-fired generation, the cleanest and most versatile fuel for powering the region’s homes and businesses,” said Bill Yardley, president of Sabal Trail Management, LLC and president of U.S. Transmission and Storage, Spectra Energy.

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Attorney general suing over California methane leak

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

From the Asociated Press:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California’s attorney general has added her name to the long list of parties suing Southern California Gas Co. over a massive out-of-control natural gas leak.

Attorney General Kamala Harris said Tuesday the company violated several state laws and failed to report the leak to the necessary agencies for three days after its discovery in October. Harris says the leak created a public health and statewide environmental emergency.

The company did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment, but has previously cited a policy of not commenting on litigation.

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Eco-groups: Ohio leak shows need for federal methane rules

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

From the Ohio Environmental Council and other groups today:

Crooksville gas leak shows need for U.S. EPA to issue comprehensive oil and gas methane standards
Ohio public interest organizations call for strong protections from dangerous leaks and harmful pollution

On Monday night, hundreds of residents living in Crooksville, Ohio were evacuated from their homes when a natural gas transmission line spewed methane into the air near their village. Residents within a half mile radius of the leak were ordered to leave their homes and take up shelter at Crooksville High School.

As the oil and gas industry continues to expand in Ohio, we are likely to see more public health and safety incidents related to natural gas, which is primarily composed of methane. Methane is highly explosive, and often packaged with health-harming pollutants. These co-pollutants contribute to the formation of smog, which causes asthma attacks, increased respiratory problems, permanent lung damage, and in extreme cases, premature death.

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Sierra Club report: Pipelines will contribute to climate change

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

A recent press release from the Virginia Sierra Club:

 

Climate Disrupting Pollution from Atlantic Coast and
Mountain Valley Pipelines nearly twice that of Virginia
power plants and other stationary sources

 

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CONSOL Energy pleased with its new Utica Shale wells

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

Pittsburgh-based CONSOL Energy Inc. is very pleased with its new dry Utica Shale wells in southwest Pennsylvania.

Utica production of natural gas has tripled at the new, deeper Utica wells.

Click  here  to read more.

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Cimarron Energy acquires Diverse Energy Systems assets

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

From a recent press release:

Cimarron Energy Acquires Diverse Energy Systems Assets

Organizational Strength in Combination

Norman, OK and Houston, TX (February 1, 2016) Cimarron Energy announced today that it has closed on the acquisition of substantially all of the assets of Diverse Energy Systems.  The integration of the business interests of Cimarron and Diverse and the combination of continuing employees from both organizations are part of Cimarron’s strategic plan to create a single source supplier of production, processing, and environmental equipment and related services for U.S. customers in the upstream and midstream markets, and for select international markets.

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Merger creates new company: B&L Pipeco Services

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

From a recent press release:

Pipeco Services and Bourland & Leverich Supply to Merge

New Company to be called "B&L Pipeco Services"

HOUSTON, Jan. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Bourland and Leverich Supply and Pipeco Services, two subsidiaries of Sumitomo Corporation providing Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) products and services to the upstream markets in the United States, have announced their intent to merge. The new company will be called, "B&L Pipeco Services."

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Forbes profiles Texas wildcatter Trevor Rees-Jones

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

Forbes magazine has an interesting profile of Texas wildcatter Trevor Rees-Jones, who was formerly active in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania with Chief Oil Co.

He is interested in making new acquisitions with commodity prices low and company sale prices dropping, too

Click   here  to read more.

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BHP Bilitron to take $4.9 billion hit on U.S. shale assets

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

Australia-based BHP Bilitron said it will take a writedown of $4.9 billion on the value of its shale assets in the United States, due to low commodity prices.

The company is cutting capital expenditures and seeking other savings.

Click  here  to read more.

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Columbia Gas donates $25,000 to Hileman Legacy Fund

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

From a press release:

Cambridge, OH – Columbia Gas of Ohio announced a $25,000 contribution to the Dale Hileman Legacy Fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) during the Eastern Ohio Development Alliance’s (EODA) November 13 board meeting. The contribution recognized Mr. Hileman’s 40-year career with Columbia Gas of Ohio in Carrolton, Jackson, and, finally, Cambridge. Upon his retirement from Columbia Gas of Ohio, Mr. Hileman and his wife, Evelyn, remained in Cambridge where Mr. Hileman co-founded EODA with Dr. Sam Speck and later served the organization as its executive director.

“By making this contribution, we celebrate Dale’s passionate commitment to eastern Ohio and his 40 years of service to our company,” said Dan Creekmur, president of Columbia Gas of Ohio. “We share Dale’s commitment to this region, and we’re excited that the Dale Hileman Legacy Fund will carry on his work.”

The $25,000 contribution will help the Dale Hileman Legacy Fund promote the same cause Mr. Hileman championed throughout his life, economic development and growth. The Dale Hileman Legacy Fund will support organizations working to promote economic growth within the 16 counties served by EODA, comprising Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Guernsey, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Tuscarawas, and Washington counties.

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Anadarko cuts capital expenses by 50% on quarterly loss

By Bob Downing Published: February 3, 2016

Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp. says it will cut 2016 capital spending by $2.8 billion or about 50 percent, due to low commdity prices.

It said 2015 was the worst year financially since it was spun off in 1986.

Click  here  to read more from Bloomberg Business.

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Cabot to cut capital spending by 58%, to drill 30 wells

By Bob Downing Published: February 2, 2016

From a press release today from Cabot Oil & Gas, a major player in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale:

HOUSTON, Feb. 2, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (NYSE: COG) ("Cabot" or the "Company") today provided an operational update for the fourth quarter and full year 2015 and announced an updated 2016 operating plan and capital budget.

Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2015 Operational Update

Cabot expects production for the fourth quarter of 2015 to be approximately 1,642 million cubic feet equivalent (Mmcfe) per day, including approximately 1,552 million cubic feet (Mmcf) per day of natural gas and approximately 14,977 barrels (Bbl) per day of liquids (crude oil/condensate/natural gas liquids). Equivalent production for the quarter is expected to exceed the midpoint of the Company's guidance range of 1,626 Mmcfe per day. Based on the expected production volumes for the fourth quarter, the Company expects its total production growth for 2015 to be approximately 13 percent.

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Eco-groups sue U.S. EPA over air limits for oil refineries

By Bob Downing Published: February 2, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

Community and Environmental Groups Sue the EPA and Call on the Agency to Remove “Free Pass to Pollute” from National Standards for Oil Refineries

Petition and Lawsuit Urge EPA to Strengthen Protections from Cancer-Causing Air Pollution

 

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Gulfport Energy says year-end reserves grow by 83 percent

By Bob Downing Published: February 2, 2016

Gulfport Energy Corp. on Tuesday  reported a major boost in year-end 2015 proved reserves, mostly in the Utica Shale in eastern Ohio.
The Oklahoma-based company reported that year-end reserves grew from 933.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas equivalents to 1.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas equivalents. That is an increase of 83 percent from 2014 to 2015, the company said.
Net production in 2015 averaged 548.2 billion cubic feet of equivalents per day, exceeding the high end of the company’s 2015 guidance, the company said.
The daily production in 2015 averaged 78 percent natural gas, 13 percent natural gas liquids including ethane, butane and propane and 9 percent oil, said Gulfport, one of the biggest players in the Utica Shale.
For 2015, the company got an average of $2.08 per thousand cubic feet of natural gas, $42 per barrel of oil and $13 per barrel on natural gas liquids, the firm said.
The company is operating four rigs and had, through September,  drilled 153 wells in Ohio where it has leased 247.000 acres.
Gulfport also announced completion of joint venture with Rice Midstream Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Pennsylvania-based Rice Energy LLC.
Gulfport will own 25 percent of the joint venture and Rice will act as operator and own the remaining 75 percent. Rice will develop gas-gathering assets in eastern Belmont and Monroe counties to support Gulfport’s dry Utica gas drilling.
Construction of those lines is under way. A new lateral connecting two existing gas-gathering systems went into service on Monday  for Gulfport’s use.
The two companies are also discussing joint water services for hydraulic fracturing or fracking of wells in Belmont and Monroe counties.
Gulfport also reported that it has arranged transport of an additional natural gas from November 2016 through March 2017 because of delays in the ET Rover Pipeline across northern Ohio.
That $4.4 billion pipeline will be delayed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s review of the pipeline that would run 800 miles with various extensions into Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
It would run from Carroll County to Defiance in northwest Ohio. It would pass through parts of Wayne and Stark counties.
Initial plans called for construction to begin in early 2016 but the federal agency has said its review will continue through July.  
The company will release its financial reports on Feb. 18..

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Gulfport Energy reports boost in year-end proved reserves

By Bob Downing Published: February 2, 2016

From Gulfport Energy today:

Click  here  for the full statement.

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, Feb. 02, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Gulfport Energy Corporation (NASDAQ:GPOR) (“Gulfport” or the “Company”) today reported year-end 2015 proved reserves, provided an operational update for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2015 and scheduled its fourth quarter and full-year 2015 financial and operational results conference call.  Key information includes the following:

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Ohio has 1,673 drilled Utica wells, 1,147 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: February 2, 2016

Ohio has approved 2,129 Utica Shale permits, as of Jan. 29.

That total includes 1,673 drilled Utica wells and 1,147 producing Utica wells, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported.

Fourteen rigs are working in Ohio.

ODNR has approved 14 new permits: four in Belmont County, four in Harrison County and six in Monroe County.

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Groups seek investigation into Porter Ranch methane leak

By Bob Downing Published: February 2, 2016

From a Monday press release:

Watchdogs Petition PUC For Open Investigation On Porter Ranch Leak; Decry Secrecy & Question Lack of Transparency

Santa Monica, CA -- Consumer Watchdog and the law offices of Aquirre & Severson petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission for an open investigation into the Porter Ranch leak, including the immediate release of key documents and a PUC meeting in Los Angeles within 10 days to discuss the petition.

“The CPUC has failed to comply with California laws and the CPUC’s own regulations, which require the CPUC to exercise its authority through formal procedures,” the petition states.  “These statutory safeguards ensure that the public – particularly the residents who face an imminent threat to their health and safety – are fully apprised of the situation and are able to exercise their due process rights to protect their families and their property.   Instead, the CPUC has made clear it intends to proceed privately, outside the public’s view.”

Read the petition at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/petition_for_acsf_oii_final.pdf

The petition states, “The CPUC has initiated only an informal staff-run investigation of this natural gas leak. An ‘independent,’ third-party analysis of the cause of the leak has also been undertaken at the direction of CPUC staff, but its reports are to be provided to the CPUC and not released to the public until after the investigation is deemed complete by the CPUC at an arbitrary date.  The CPUC has yet to initiate a formal investigation into the crisis at Porter Ranch.”

“The Public Utilities Commission’s history of making key decisions through private and ex-parte communications with utilities companies makes a public investigation critical to the safety of the people of Porter Ranch,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog.
 
“The Sempra Aliso Canyon gas leak, the 2012 Edison San Onofre radiation leak, the 2010 PG&E San Bruno gas line explosion, and the 2007 Sempra equipment caused fires in San Diego were the product of a broken safety system,” said attorney Mike Aguirre.
“These repetitive disasters show the Wall Street- utilities, the California Public Utilities Commission, the legislature and the Governor are refusing to make the reforms needed to protect the public.”

The petition seeks:

•     “An Order Instituting an Investigation (OII) relating to the causes of, persons responsible for, the ACSF gas leak; the actions required to safely terminate the threat to the public health and safety; and measures to assure full compensation of members and businesses in the community for losses they have incurred as a result of the ACSF gas leak.

•    An emergency public meeting of the CPUC Commissioners in Los Angeles within 10 days of this Petition, in order to consider whether to issue the OII and to report on ACSF to Los Angeles officials and the public;

•    Setting a date for a Prehearing Conference in order to place the OII on a fast track for resolution, without unnecessary “phasing”; and

•    The immediate release of all documents and communications to date between SCG (including its executives, staff and vendors), and the CPUC (including Commissioners, and staff) regarding the ACSF gas leak. “

“Despite the CPUC’s representations to the public that safety at the CPUC was a high priority, the initial response to the report of the Aliso gas leak suggests the CPUC staff’s actions did not comport with the agency’s professed concerns for safety,” the petition states.

“Sempra, PG&E, and Southern California Edison spend millions to fund political campaigns and provide free travel and gifts to those who do their bidding at the CPUC, legislature and Governor’s office,” said attorney Maria Severson.
 
“In each of these multi-billion dollar catastrophes, the Wall Street utilities and state officials have followed a familiar pattern:

“First, the utility executives and CPUC commissioners plot how to conceal evidence and obstruct the media’s effort to find out who was responsible.  

“Second, the CPUC commissioners tell Wall Street that utility customers, not the shareholders, will pay the damages.

“Third: State officials issue misleading reports while claiming an authentic investigation will take too long and cost too much.  
    
“Last year Governor Brown and the legislature had a chance to fix the broken safety system but failed to act.  The legislature did not allow a single knowledgeable utility advocate to come before it with the facts. The Governor vetoed even the weak bills the legislature did pass.  The people of Porter Ranch and Aliso Canyon could have benefited from those reforms the Governor vetoed and the legislature failed to enact.”

Aguirre & Severson have been challenging corruption at the PUC and the legitimacy of the ratepayer settlement over the closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant.  Consumer Watchdog is a nonprofit public interest group that takes on corruption in government and industry.

- 30 -

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Fluid Delivery Solutions LLC acquires Water Transfer LLC

By Bob Downing Published: February 2, 2016

Fort Worth-based Fluid Delivery Solutions LLC has acquired Water Transfer LLC with offices in Midland and operations in the Permian Basin in Texas.

Both companies are involved in water handling for drilling.

Fluid Delivery Solutions also has operations in the Utica, Marcellus, Eagle Ford and Permian shales.

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TransCanada Corp. starts new oil trading group

By Bob Downing Published: February 2, 2016

Canadian pipeline operator TransCanada Corp. has started a new oil trading group based in Calgary, Alberta, Reuters reported.

Click  here  to read more.

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Energy Transfer Partners to trim 2016 capital spending

By Bob Downing Published: February 2, 2016

Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners L.P. last week announced that it will be cutting its capital expenditures in 2016 by at least $750 million.

The company, a major U.S. pipeline outfit, said it will trim capital expenses from $4.95 billion to $4.2 billion because of low commodity prices and the industry downturn.

Click  here  to read more.

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Enterprise Products Partners: Cash, profits grew in 4Q 2015

By Bob Downing Published: February 2, 2016

Texas-based Enterprise Products Partners, a midstream company with pipelines,  reported last week that cash and profits climbed in the fourth quarter 2015.

Click  here  to read more.

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Report: U.S. LNG faces overseas competition from renewables

By Bob Downing Published: February 2, 2016

Lowering renewable energy costs overseas will likely create major competition for LNG from shale development in North America being shipped to other countries for gas-fired generation, especially Japan, according to a new report by the Brattle Group, a Massachusetts-based firm.

Click  here  to read more.

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Health threat from drilling will be topic of Feb. 3 YSU talk

By Bob Downing Published: February 2, 2016

Lynn Anderson of the Guardians of Mill Creek Park will speak on "Threats to Human Health from Fracking and How One Community Battles to Protect Itself" on Wednesdday, Feb. 3.

Her talk will be at 7 p.m. in Cushwa Hall B112 at Youngstown State University.

Free.

It is part of the spring semester speaker series on energy and the environment.

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West Virginia topped 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2014

By Bob Downing Published: February 2, 2016

West Virginia recently released drilling figures for 2014.

The state's 60,000 horizontal and vertical-only wells together produced more than 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2014, says the West Virginia Geological Survey.

That is 3.8 percent of the U.S. total, according to the U.S. Energy Informatin Administration.

Ohio produced 512 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2014, according to state records.

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Activists to protest at BLM's oil, gas auction in Cheyenne

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

From a press release today:

‘Keep It in the Ground’ Rally to Target BLM’s Oil, Gas Auction in Cheyenne

 

Local Citizens, Activists to Protest Public Land Giveaway of over 120,000 Acres

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Magnitude 4.0 quakes jump from 17 to 32 in three states

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

From the U.S. Geological Survey today:

Global Earthquake Numbers on Par for 2015

Posted: 01 Feb 2016 03:34 AM PST

Contact Information:

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Dominion Resources acquires Questar for $4.4 billion

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

Power producer Dominion Resources Inc. is acquiring natural gas distribution company Questar Corp. in a $4.4 billion deal, Reuters reports.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Oklahoma governor OKs $1.4 million for earthquake work

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

From the Associated Press late last week:

By SEAN MURPHY

OKLAHOMA CITY: Gov. Mary Fallin approved the use of nearly $1.4 million in state emergency funds Thursday for state agencies working to reduce the increasing number of earthquakes that have been linked to the disposal of oil and gas wastewater in Oklahoma.

Speaking at The Associated Press' annual Legislative Forum, Fallin also said she will unveil a plan for teacher pay raises during her State of the State address next week.

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U.S. to halt offshore fracking in California until study done

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

From the Associated Press on Friday:

LOS ANGELES — The federal government has agreed to stop approving hydraulic fracturing off the California coast until it studies whether the practice is safe for the environment.

The agreements filed Friday in Los Angeles federal court settle lawsuits brought by environmental groups that challenged the approval of the practice off Ventura and Santa Barbara.

The deals require the Department of Interior to review whether well stimulation techniques such as fracking threaten water quality and marine life.

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Wyoming loses 6,500 oil, gas jobs in 2015 due to downturn

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

From the Associated Press:

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — In what may be the first large-scale energy bust to hit the state in some 30 years, Wyoming’s economy contracted in 2015, losing 6,500 jobs, mostly in the reeling oil and gas industry.

However, the current downturn in Wyoming’s energy industry so far has not reached the severity of the bust that hit the state in the mid-1980s.

“Clearly we’re seeing negatives at this point but not to the same degree as that we saw in the ’80s,” state economist David Bullard said.

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Gastar Exploration announces retirement of executive

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

From a Friday press release:

HOUSTON, Jan. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Gastar Exploration Inc. (NYSE MKT: GST) ("Gastar" or the "Company") announced today the retirement of its Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Michael McCown, effective February 1, 2016. 

Mr. McCown began his tenure with Gastar in December 2009 as a consultant and was hired as the Vice President - Northeast in July 2010.  On June 7, 2013, Mr. McCown was promoted to Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.  During his time at Gastar, the Company established a significant presence in the Marcellus Shale and Utica/Point Pleasant play in West Virginia and commenced operations in the Mid-Continent, initially drilling Hunton Limestone wells in Central Oklahoma and subsequently expanding drilling operations into the STACK play. 

"After a nearly 40-year career, it is time to spend more time at home and less time on the road.  I am proud of our accomplishments in the last six years - we've kept our employees safe, drilled some excellent wells in relatively new plays and strived to maximize shareholder value.  I wish nothing but the best for Gastar and its employees," said Mr. McCown of his retirement.

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Warren Resources defers interest payment on senior notes

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

From a press release today:

DENVER, Feb. 01, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Warren Resources, Inc. (“Warren”) (NASDAQ:WRES) today announced that it has elected not to make the approximately $7.5 million semi-annual interest payment due February 1, 2016 on its outstanding $167.3 million aggregate principal amount of 9.00% Senior Notes due 2022 (the “Notes”), although it currently has sufficient liquidity to make the interest payment in full.

Failure to pay this interest amount on February 1 is not immediately an event of default under the indenture governing the Notes, but would become an event of default if the payment is not made within 30 days of such date.  Upon an event of default under the indenture governing the Notes, the trustee or holders of not less than 25% in aggregate principal amount of the Notes then outstanding may declare the principal amount of the Notes plus accrued and unpaid interest to be due and payable. A failure to pay interest on the Notes within the 30-day grace period would also result in events of default under Warren’s first lien credit facility and second lien credit facility, which would entitle the administrative agents and lead lenders thereunder to declare all obligations thereunder to be immediately due and payable.

Warren has engaged Jefferies LLC as financial adviser in connection with a potential restructuring of its balance sheet, and has initiated restructuring discussions with representatives of the creditors under its first and second lien credit facilities.

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Calif. natural gas leak raises environmental, reliability issues

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

On October 23, 2015, Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) detected a major leak at Aliso Canyon, an underground natural gas storage facility located 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The Aliso Canyon storage facility, which has 115 wells, is the second-largest natural gas storage field in the western United States. The 86 billion cubic feet of working natural gas capacity at Aliso Canyon accounts for two-thirds of SoCalGas' natural gas storage capacity, according to EIA data. Additionally, Aliso Canyon has the largest daily deliverability of all the storage facilities west of the Rockies, estimated at 1.9 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d).

Read More ›

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Constitution Pipeline gets Pa. tree-clearing approval

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

From a Friday press release:

Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC received authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Friday to proceed with limited tree felling activities along its federally-certificated pipeline right-of-way in Pennsylvania.

Editor's note: NOT in New York state.

Back to release: The authorization is a significant milestone and major step forward for the pipeline designed to transport enough natural gas to serve approximately 3 million U.S. homes.

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Shale drilling boosts Delaware River shipping traffic

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

Shipments on the Delaware River in and around Philadelphia are on the rise, thanks to shale drilling.

Shipments of natural gas liquids to Europe are increasing as pipelines are completed to move the liquids to port, officials said.

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

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Atlas Growth Partners planning for initial stock offering

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

Pittsburgh-based Atlas Growth Partners LP has filed paperwork for an initial stock offering that could bring in $1 billion, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports.

The company is a player in Ohio's Utica Shale.

Click  here  to read more.

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Wise Services Inc. shifting base to Ohio's Belmont County

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

A Wyoming-based trucking company is shifting its operations south in eastern Ohio.

Wise Services Inc. is moving from Lisbon in Columbiana County to near Bridgeport in Belmont County to be closer to current drilling in Ohio's Utica Shale, according to the Martins Ferry Times Leader and the Bricker & Eckler law firm's ShaleOhio blog.

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W. Va. lawsuits filed against Antero Resources for damages

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

Landowners in West Virginia have filed two new damage lawsuits against Antero Resources Corp. and Hall Drilling, according to the West Virginia Record and Frack Check West Virginia.

The suits were filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.

The plaintiffs want to join existing suitswith 200 plaintiffs filed against the companies for damages from drilling operations filed earlier in Ohio Circuit Court.

Antero Resources is one the largest drillers in Ohio's Utica Shale.

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Ethane from Marcellus Shale to soon be shipped to Europe

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

The first shipment of ethane from the Marcellus Shale is expcted to head to Europe this month from Marcus Hook near Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The ethane will be transported via 575-foot-long tankers to Norway and Scotland.

The ethane will be transported to Marcus Hook via Sunoco Logistics Partners LP's Mariner East Pipeline that is being tested and is nearly complete.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Baker Hughes: U.S. rig count drops by 18 to 619

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

From the Associated Press:

HOUSTON (AP) — Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by 18 this week to 619.

The Houston firm said Friday 498 rigs sought oil and 121 explored for natural gas amid depressed energy prices. A year ago, 1,543 rigs were active.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas declined by 13 rigs, New Mexico was down four, Louisiana dropped three and Kansas, North Dakota and Pennsylvania were off one apiece.

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Halcon Resources suspends quarterly dividend payments

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

Texas-based Halcon Resources announced last week that it was suspending payments of quarterly dividends on certain stocks in light of low commodity prices.

The company, a former player in Ohio's Utica Shale, is still active in North Dakota and Texas.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Baker Hughes reports 36 percent drop in 2015 income

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

Texas-based Baker Hughes Inc., a major well services company, reported that income in 2015 dropped by $8.8 billion or 36 percent as commodity prices have fallen and the number of drilling rigs in use has fallen.

Click  here  to read more.

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Watershed district lawsuit appealed, after judge finds no fraud

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

A report that is not timely but needs to be posted:

Three Ohio residents have appealed the dismissal of their lawsuit against the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

That was done in December.

In November, U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi in Akron ruled that there was no evidence of fraud by the district in leasing property it owns for shale drilling in eastern Ohio, as was alleged in the original suit.

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Law firm reviews federal legislation on renewables, oil

By Bob Downing Published: February 1, 2016

The BakerHostetler law firm takes a look at recent federal legislation that affects renewable and oil drilling on its North American Shale Blog.

Cick  here  to read more.

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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.