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Columbia Pipeline Group seeks O.K. for Leach Xpress Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2015

Texas-based Columbia Pipeline Group is seeking federal approval to build a new 161-mile pipeline for natural gas plus three compression stations in southeast Ohio and northern West Virginia.
The company has filed initial paperwork for the Leach XPress  Pipeline with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The $1.4 billion pipeline would carry natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shales in Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania to markets served by Columbia Gas Transmission and Columbia Gulf Transmission in Mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coast states.
The 36-inch-in-diameter pipeline would transport up to 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. That’s enough to heat 15,000 American houses for one year.
The Columbia Pipeline Group is a unit of Indiana-based NiSource  Inc. It is also the parent company of Columbia Gas of Ohio.
The new pipeline would be built by Columbia Transmission.
The project is supported by four drilling companies: Oklahoma-based American Energy Partners LP, Range Resources Corp., Noble Energy Inc. and Kaiser Marketing Appalachia LLC. The four companies have signed up to ship their natural gas in the new line.
Pipeline construction could begin in late 2016 with service beginning in late 2017.
“We have been a part of Ohio and West Virginia for more than 100 years and have an unparalled footprint in the Marcellus and Utica production areas,” said Glenn Kettering, the Columbia Pipeline Group.
The new pipeline will “increase the capacity and flexibility of the Columbia Transmission and Columbia Gulf systems to further enhance transportation options for producers in Appalachia,” he said in a statement.
The eastern terminus of the new pipeline would be near Moundsville, W. Va. It would run west into Ohio to near Lancaster and then south to McArthur. It would run through 10 Ohio counties. A small section of new pipeline would be added near Huntington in West Virginia’s Wayne County.
The new line would connect to the existing Columbia Gulf pipeline to the Gulf Coast at Leach, Ky.
The Columbia Pipeline Group also intends to boost compression on the Rayne Express Pipeline that runs south to Rayne, La. That would boost capacity in the pipeline by 1 billion cubic feet per day. The four companies are supporting that project.
Those plans were announced last August,  although the projects have gotten little attention with numerous other pipeline projects being planned and built in eastern Ohio and surrounding states.
The federal agency held five public meetings on the new pipeline in January and February. The company’s FERC application is PF14-23.
The Columbia Pipeline Group operates about 15,000 miles of interstate natural gas pipelines and 37 storage fields. It delivers in excess of 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year.

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U.S. Geological Survey seeks earthquake science proposals

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2015

From the U.S. Geological Survey:

 

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Bakken trains may be hauling 437,000 barrels per day through Ohio

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2015

It’s no secret that trains carrying highly volatile Bakken Shale crude oil pass through Ohio daily en route to East Coast refineries.
The new revelation is that as much as 437,000 barrels per day of the dangerous crude oil may be moving by train across Ohio because it straddles key west-to-east rail lines.
That crude oil volume surfaced on Tuesday when the federal government released first-ever monthly data on crude oil shipments by rail. Such shipments have raised safety concerns in some circles with accidents and derailments.
In January, the region that includes the Midwest and North Dakota’s Bakken Shale was by far the largest shipper of crude by rail, averaging 732,000 42-gallon barrels per day.
The East Coast region was the largest recipient, taking in 437,000 barrels a day by rail from the Midwest in January. That’s enough Bakken crude to fill 612 rail tank cars every day.
Much of that volume likely passed through Ohio on rail lines en route to the East Coast.
“That’s disturbing,” said activist Teresa Mills of Columbus. “Ohioans need to know that that much volatile Bakken crude is passing through our state on ‘bomb’ trains that run through some of our major cities.”
About 1.4 million Ohioans within a half-mile of tracks that carry crude oil trains across Ohio, she noted.
She said she feared that a major crude oil train derailment in Ohio would overwhelm the ability of first responders to handle it.
In February, a 100-car Canadian National Railway train hauling crude oil derailed in northern Ontario, Two days later, a 109-car CSX oil train derailed and caught fire near Mount Carbon, W. Va. Another oil train derailed and caught fire on March 5 near Galena, Ill.
The worst of the crude oil derailments happened July 6, 2013, and involved a runaway train that killed 47 people in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec.
The number of rail accidents remains relatively small compared to total rail traffic, but fiery accidents involving crude oil are increasing because U.S. and Canadian oil production is booming.
Previously, estimates had been made on the volume of crude oil shipments by rail. In January, Ohio said that between 17 and 49 oil trains per week pass through Ohio. The Beacon Journal had earlier estimated 50 oil trains per week in Ohio.
Rail shipments are in vogue because there are no pipelines to move the Bakken crude east to refineries.
The volume of crude shipments by rail in the United States has grown from 55,000 barrels a day in 2010 to more than 1 million barrels per day in 2014, said the U.S. Energy Information Administration in a teleconference.
Seventy percent of that oil came from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana where crude production has grown by 1 million barrels per day from 2010 to 2014.
The second-largest source was the Niobrara Shale in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska where production has grown by 300,000 barrels of crude per day in those five years.
The federal agency — part of the U.S. Energy Department although it operates independently — said 70 percent of Bakken crude is transported by rail plus 60 percent of Niobrara production is moved by rail.
The agency said the rapid building of what is called unit train loading terminals, a step that takes six to 12 months, expedited the rapid oil growth in the two areas.
“The new crude-by-rail data provides a clearer picture on a mode of oil transportation that has experienced rapid growth in recent years and is of great interest to policy makers, the public, and industry,” EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski said in a statement.
The crude-by-rail data provide a clearer picture of an oil transportation mode which has rapidly grown recently and is of great interest to policymakers, the public, and the rail and oil industries, he said.
The agency already tracks shipments via pipelines, tankers and barges.
The data is limited in that it only tracks movements within and between the five regions into which the EIA divides the country, as well as movements between Canada and each region.
Much of the information came from the federal Surface Transportation Board, officials said.
The East Coast refineries had previously relied on out-of-country oil shipped to the United States.
To access the  new data, go to www.eia.gov/petroleum/transportation.
In a related development, one railroad on Monday announced new safety standards for crude oil trains.
The Texas-based BNSF that hauls much of the oil from North Dakota said it was imposing slower speed limits in major cities and increasing track inspections near waterways. It is also stepping up efforts to find and repair defective wheels before they can cause derailments.

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New federal monthly data to track crude oil rail shipments

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administartion today:

For the first time, EIA is providing monthly data on rail movements of crude oil, which have significantly increased over the past five years. The new data on crude-by-rail (CBR) movements are integrated with EIA's existing monthly petroleum supply statistics, which already include movements by pipeline, tanker, and barge. The new monthly time series of crude oil rail movements includes shipments to and from Canada and dramatically reduces the absolute level of unaccounted for volumes in EIA's monthly balances for each region.

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Tags: Canada , crude oil , rail

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Texas legislative committee guts community rights, critics say

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2015

From four eco-groups on Monday:

Texas House Energy Resources Committee Approves CSHB40, Guts Community Rights

At bidding of oil and gas industry, state’s long-held tradition of local control on track to be reversed

Austin, TX – Today the Texas State House Energy Resources Committee approved a controversial measure that guts the rights of communities to protect themselves from impacts of oil and gas operations within their borders. Ignoring objections from cities around the state, Committee members approved the Committee Substitute for HB40. Rep Anchia voted against, Rep Wu voted present, all others members attending voted for.

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EPA offers look at preliminary analysis of fracking water

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released an analysis of frack water on Friday, based on data that drillers supplied to the website FracFocus.

The EPA’s report is just one part of the agency’s long awaited fracking study, which will assess the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies. The full report is due out this spring.

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

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Pennsylvania begins monthly production reports from drillers

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2015

Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale drillers will begin filing monthly production reports this week, to comply with a new law enacted last fall.

The data was previously collected by the state Department of Environmental Protection twice a year.

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

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Illegal Youngstown liquid dumping will be subject of April 1 talk

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2015

A representative of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will speak on Wednesday, April 1, on the agency's investigation into the illegal dumping of drilling liquids into the Mahoning River in Youngstown.

The speaker will be Kurt Kollar.

His talk will be held in Youngstown State University's Cushwa Hall B112.

The talk begins at 7 p.m.

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Barnett Shale in North Texas is down to lone drilling rig

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2015

In late 2008, there were 200 drilling rigs in the Barnett Shale in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in search of natural gas.

Today there is only one rig. It is on the east side of Fort Worth as drillers have moved elsewhere.

Click  here  to read the rest of the story from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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Federal energy information agency releases February review

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration last Thursday:

Summary data on energy production, consumption, stocks, trade, prices, and emissions

The February 2015 Monthly Energy Review (MER), EIA's primary report of recent and historical energy statistics, was released on March 26, 2015.  This month’s MER includes the first complete set of 2014 preliminary statistics for U.S. total energy consumption, production, trade, and carbon dioxide emissions.  The report is posted at: http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/index.cfm?src=email

Preliminary data indicate that in 2014:

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U.S. rig count drops by 21 to 1,048, Baker Hughes says

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2015

From the Associated Press on Friday:

 Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by 21 this week to 1,048 amid falling oil prices.

Houston-based Baker Hughes said Friday 813 rigs were seeking oil and 233 exploring for natural gas. Two were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, 1,809 rigs were active.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas each lost three rigs while California, Colorado, New Mexico and North Dakota were down two apiece. Wyoming was off by one.

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Pipelines encountering strong public resistance in Northeast

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2015

From the Associated Press and from today's front page of the Akron Beacon Journal:

By RIK STEVENS
Associated Press
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — There is near universal agreement that the Northeast has to expand its energy supply to rein in the nation’s highest costs and that cheap, abundant, relatively clean natural gas could be at least a short-term answer. But heels dig deep when it comes to those thorniest of questions: how and where?
Proposals to build or expand natural gas pipelines are met with an upswell of citizen discontent. At the end of last year, a Massachusetts route selected by Texas-based Kinder Morgan generated so much venom that the company nudged it north into New Hampshire — where the venom is also flowing freely. During this winter’s town meetings, a centuries-old staple of local governance in New England, people in the nine towns touched by the route voted to oppose the project.
That Northeast Direct line is one of about 20 pipeline projects being proposed throughout the Northeast, where savvy environmental and political forces combine with population density to provide a formidable bulwark. There’s another reason the loudest protests are all coming from the region: They’re where the gas is, waiting just east of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale region.
“Everyone seems to know the Northeast has a pipeline capacity problem, but not many seem to be willing to make many concessions to fix that problem,” said Andrew Pusateri, senior utilities analyst for Edward Jones.
And these are folks who pay a lot to stay warm in the winter and keep the lights on in summer. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, New Englanders paid $14.52 per thousand cubic feet of gas in 2014, compared to $10.94 for the rest of the nation. ISO-New England, which operates the region’s power grid, said in its 2015 Regional Electricity Outlook that natural gas availability is “one of the most serious challenges” the region faces as more coal and oil units go offline.
The Kinder Morgan plan would take gas from the plentiful Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania and pump it through a 36-inch line from Wright, New York, to Dracut, Massachusetts. Along the way, it would cut across a 70-mile stretch of southern New Hampshire, tickling the Massachusetts line. About 90 percent of the project would be along an existing power line corridor.
Homer Shannon and his wife raised three children on their suburban plot in Windham, New Hampshire, where the pipeline would pass a few hundred feet from their house. The retired high-tech salesman is part of a 10-family group of neighbors opposed to the pipeline’s route.
“This whole Northeast Direct thing is just fraught with question marks,” Shannon said. “Why in the hell is it in New Hampshire anyway? They want to get it from New York to Massachusetts and if you draw that line on a map, it sure doesn’t go through New Hampshire.”
Opponents — on the route and far from it — worry about environmental and scenic harm, lower property values, the potential for accidents and the idea that relying on natural gas only forestalls a switch to more renewable sources like wind or solar.
“It would be really nice if, as a region, we had a coherent energy policy that stated, ‘These are the things we need to do to improve our energy situation,”’ Shannon said. “And if one of those things is I have to sacrifice part of my backyard for the greater good, I’d be willing to have that discussion. But I don’t see it that way. I see it as them enriching themselves on my back and I don’t like that.”
In New York and Pennsylvania, the 124-mile Constitution Pipeline has also fanned flames of opposition, some of it pegged to the price the gas company is paying to take land. Of 651 landowners in New York and Pennsylvania affected by the $700 million pipeline project, 125 refused to sign right of way agreements. Condemnation proceedings undertaken by Constitution have largely resolved the remaining disputes, either through settlements or access granted by a judge.
Donald Santa, president and CEO of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, said it follows that the most complaints would come from the Northeast because that’s where most of the pipeline activity is happening, largely because of the boom enabled by the Marcellus Shale.
“Having so much of this gas literally on the doorstep of the market has really increased the need to get the gas to consumers,” Santa said.
Richard Wheatley, a spokesman for Kinder Morgan, said the company’s pipeline is not the only one getting pushback. He declined to address the opposition specifically but said the company continues to reach out to landowners and others as the siting process moves along. The company expects to file a certificate with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this year.
Pusateri, the Edward Jones analyst, said part of the resistance may also be inflamed because of how the gas gets out of the ground. The Marcellus Shale gas is extracted using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The process, which blasts chemical-laden water into wells to crack open rock, has drawn heavy criticism. In New York, much of the antipathy toward pipelines was driven by the anti-fracking sentiment that resulted in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ban on shale gas development in New York.
“All major projects have some opposition, but I would say this pipe has garnered more attention and protests and gained more steam than average,” he said. “I think Kinder has done what they can to move the right of way of the pipe as much off of people’s property as possible. They can do this by utilizing utility easements at times. I don’t know that opposition really softens.”
———
Associated Press writer Mary Esch in Albany, New York, contributed to this report.

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Truck accidents increase by 13 percent in Ohio's Utica Shale area

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2015

Truck crashes in the Utica Shale drilling area of eastern Ohio jumped by 13 percent from 2013 to 2014, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Thoe accidents began climbing in the third quarter 2014, the Ohio Highway Patrol told the paper.

Statewide, truck accidents grew by 23 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Halliburton, Baker Hughes stockholders approve merger

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2015

Shareholders on Friday voted to approve the mergers of rival oilfield services firms Baker Hughes Inc and Halliburton, bringing the proposed deal that still lacks regulatory approvals a step closer to finalization.

The cash and stock deal announced in November will create an oilfield service giant to take on market leader Schlumberger NV.

Click  here  to read more.

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EnLink companies name Deck to oversee Permian Basin operations

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2015

Fron EnLink Midstream last week:

DALLAS, March 26, 2015 EnLink Midstream, LLC (NYSE: ENLC) (the General Partner) and EnLink Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE: ENLK) (the Master Limited Partnership) (together “EnLink”) announced today that Andrew A. Deck has been appointed Senior Vice President of the Permian Basin. Mr. Deck will partner with the Gas and Liquids Business Unit leadership teams to identify and execute commercial projects that support EnLink’s growth strategy in West Texas. 

 

“Andy has over 30 years of industry experience, with the last several years focused on companies in the Permian Basin; he will be instrumental in the execution of our strategic growth opportunities in West Texas,” said Barry E. Davis, EnLink Midstream President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are excited to welcome Andy to the EnLink team and are confident his deep industry expertise and leadership will make a significant contribution to our future success.”

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U.S. oil production growth in 2014 was largest in 100 years

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

U.S. crude oil production (including lease condensate) increased during 2014 by 1.2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) to 8.7 million bbl/d, the largest volume increase since recordkeeping began in 1900. On a percentage basis, output in 2014 increased by 16.2%, the highest growth rate since 1940. Most of the increase during 2014 came from tight oil plays in North Dakota, Texas, and New Mexico where hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling were used to produce oil from shale formations.

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FERC: Alternate Nexus pipeline route should be reviewed

By Bob Downing Published: March 27, 2015

A federal agency has directed the company behind the proposed Nexus natural gas pipeline to investigate an alternative route that would relocate the $2 billion project to less populated areas in the region.

The city of Green has proposed moving about 103 miles of the pipeline — some 40 miles of it slated for southern Summit County and northern Stark County. Instead, the path would cross southern Stark and Wayne counties, then western Wayne, Medina and Lorain counties, avoiding more heavily populated areas.

Green Mayor Richard G. Norton said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the latest development. Concerned residents have filled several meetings regarding the project, voicing concerns that the original route would pass too close to residential areasl.

Texas-based Nexus Gas Transmission LLC will consider Green’s proposal, company spokesman Arthur Diestel said.

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Wyoming joins lawsuit against new federal fracking rules

By Bob Downing Published: March 26, 2015

From a press release today:

STATE OF WYOMING JOINS INDEPENDENT PRODUCERS
IN OPPOSITION TO FEDERAL HYDRAULIC FRACTURING RULE

The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office filed today a complaint in Wyoming federal district court asking the Court to set aside recently-finalized federal regulations related to hydraulic fracturing on federal and public lands. Wyoming’s complaint requests the court set aside regulations the United States Department of the Interior announced last Friday, the same relief sought in a Complaint that BakerHostetler previously filed in the same court on behalf of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (“IPAA”) and Western Energy Alliance. Wyoming becomes the first state to challenge the rule.

According to the Bureau of Land Management’s Public Land Statistics, more than 1,000 permits were approved on federal oil and gas leases located within Wyoming during each of the last two fiscal years for which data is available. At the conclusion of Fiscal Year 2013, Wyoming had more than 4 million federal acres designated as being in producing status. Wyoming leads the nation in both categories. Wyoming is also a leader in regulating oil and gas development. During recent testimony before the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell praised Wyoming’s hydraulic fracturing regulations, acknowledging that “Wyoming has done a very good job in providing regulations that are forward thinking.”{1}

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Schlumberger Ltd. to pay fine of $232 million, DOJ announces

By Bob Downing Published: March 26, 2015

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The world’s largest oil services company, Schlumberger Ltd., has agreed to a penalty of more than $232 million and one of its subsidiaries will plead guilty to trade sanctions violations, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

The criminal case against Schlumberger Oilfield Holdings Ltd. resolves a yearslong investigation into allegations that the wholly owned subsidiary had illegally conducted business from Texas with Sudan and Iran in violation of U.S. economic sanctions.

The subsidiary will plead guilty in federal court in Washington to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. As part of the plea deal, the company has agreed to cooperate with the government and will spend three years under corporate probation.

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Dominion to build gas-fired power plant in Southside Virginia

By Bob Downing Published: March 26, 2015

From Dominion today:

Mar 26, 2015

RICHMOND, Va., March 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion Virginia Power today announced the company is proposing to build an approximately 1600-megawatt, natural gas-fueled power station in Greensville County. The station, which would cost more than $1 billion, would be a combined-cycle facility consisting of three gas-fired combustion turbines and a steam turbine designed to generate enough power for 400,000 typical homes at peak demand.

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Republic Steel laying off 200 workers at Lorain plant

By Bob Downing Published: March 26, 2015

From the Associated Press today:

Republic Steel has announced it is temporarily laying off 200 workers from its Lorain plant in northeastern Ohio.

The Morning Journal (http://bit.ly/1CdhEmO ) reports the layoffs, affecting hourly and salaried employees, were announced Wednesday.

The paper says Paula Dudukovich, Republic Steel’s director of human resources, blamed the layoffs on declining conditions in the oil and gas markets and reduced demand.

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Senate Democrats seek to toughen rules on crude oil trains

By Bob Downing Published: March 26, 2015

From the Associated Press:

Senate Democrats have proposed federal legislation to strengthen safety standards for trains that carry volatile shipments of crude oil.

Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell on Wednesday said the measure would ban the use of older tank cars, regulates the volatility of crude oil carried on trains and ensures that rail infrastructure is properly maintained.

Cantwell cited four oil train derailments in the U.S. and Canada since February and said more derailments are likely as trains carry increasing amounts of crude oil through numerous communities across the country. A runaway oil train derailed in Quebec in 2013, killing 47 people.

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Drilling rigs in North Dakota drop below 100, first time in 5 years

By Bob Downing Published: March 26, 2015

From the Associated Press on Wednesday:

The number of drill rigs in western North Dakota’s oil patch has slipped below 100 for the first time in five years due to the sagging price of crude.

There were 98 rigs drilling in North Dakota on Wednesday. That’s 100 fewer than on the same day one year ago. It’s the lowest since March 2010.

North Dakota is the nation’s No. 2 oil producer behind Texas. North Dakota has been producing about 1.2 million barrels of oil daily.

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Carroll County talk on Ohio's proposed right-to-know changes

By Bob Downing Published: March 26, 2015

A press release from Concerned Carroll Citizens:

 

CHEJ to Highlight First Responder Risks from Ohio’s Proposed Right-to-Know Changes

Carrollton Ohio: Ohio House Bill 490, sponsored by Andy Thompson (R), whose district includes Carroll County, seeks to stop direct reporting of hazardous chemical inventories to state and local emergency planners and fire departments for Ohio drillers. Instead the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) would have sole discretion over whether, and to what extent, critical chemical information will be shared with first responders and citizens living near gas and oil wells.

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Maryland votes could curb natural gas drilling in state

By Bob Downing Published: March 26, 2015

Both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly separately passed measures Tuesday that mark the most aggressive action the legislature has taken to curb natural gas extraction in the state.

The Maryland House of Delegates passed a three-year ban on fracking and the Senate approved tough new legal standards for drillers.

Each bill must still clear the other chamber, but the actions signaled the legislature was willing to go further than it has before to limit natural gas drilling.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Groups discover unlicensed frack fluid facility in Jefferson County

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

A press release on Tuesday from Ohio's Communities United for Responsible Energy:

CURE discovers illegal frack fluid facility in Jefferson County


Hammondsville, OH -- As the oil and gas industry lobbies lawmakers to further consolidate power in the hands of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), the agency has  shown itself to be ill-equipped to have more oversight of the booming drilling industry.

For more than six months, residents of Hammondsville Township in Jefferson County endured clear cutting, constant truck traffic and loud activity often in the dead of night as a fracking facility moved onto a lot on Rte. 213. Rows and rows  of tanks lined up - some with signs declaring: “danger” others said “oil based mud.”  Until last week, no official from Hammondsville township, Jefferson
County, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, or the Ohio Department of  Natural Resources could say just what is going on there. Nearly six weeks after an open records request from Communities United for Responsible Energy (CURE)
and the Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC), the Ohio Department of Natural  Resources solved part of the mystery: the facility, operated by Anchor Drilling  Fluids, was operating illegally without a required chief’s order.

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Sign up extended to April 13 for Ohio's Cornerstone Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

Two companies have extended the open season to April 13 for a new Ohio liquids pipeline that would run through Stark, Carroll, Tuscarawas and Harrison counties.

The extension for the 50-mile Cornerstone Pipeline was announced by Marathon Pipe Line LLC and Ohio River Pipe Line LLC, subsidiaries of MPLX LP.

The deadline for pipeline users to commit was originally scheduled to end on March 13.

"The Cornerstone Pipeline and associated Utica Shale build-out projects will allow MPLX to provide transportation solutions from the Utica Shale area to a wide range of markets," said Pamela Beall, MPLX president. "This open season offers multiple pipeline options leveraging new and existing pipelines to meet the needs of various producers and end users."

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Industry groups to offer education to oil-train first responders

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

A press release today from American Petroleum Institute and Association of American Railroads:

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- America's oil and freight railroad industries have developed a new education module for first responders as part of a holistic effort to better prevent, mitigate and respond to derailments of trains carrying crude oil, the heads of API and the Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced today.

"When it comes to shipping crude oil by rail our first priority is safety," said API President and CEO Jack Gerard on a conference call today. "While the first steps are to prevent and mitigate the impact of train derailments, if an incident happens, we also need to make sure firefighters and first responders have the knowledge they need to protect local communities."

The program, which will complement existing training efforts for firefighters and other first responders, will be taught for the first time this weekend at conferences in Nebraska and Florida.

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Bankrupt Gasfrac gets court approvals to sell most assets

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

From Gasfrac on Friday:

 

GASFRAC ANNOUNCES COURT APPROVAL OF AGREEMENT FOR THE SALE OF SUBSTANTIALLY ALL OPERATING ASSETS AND RELATED TECHNOLOGY AND CCAA UPDATE

Calgary, Alberta. March 20, 2015

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Pennsylvania man guilty of damaging Greene County drilling rig

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

A Pennsylvania man has pleaded guilty to damaging a drilling rig in Greene County, in an effort to remove copper wiring for scrap money.

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

 

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Pennsylvania issues drought watch for 27 counties

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

From Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection:

The very dry fall and below-normal precipitation in January and February have contributed to low groundwater levels in the northeast and central portions of the state. The increasing temperatures and melting snow have helped, but groundwater levels may not be back to normal before the summer.

The 27 counties under the drought watch issued today are Berks, Bradford, Cambria, Carbon, Clinton, Columbia, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Monroe, Montour, Northumberland, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, Westmoreland, and Wyoming.

All Pennsylvanians are advised to heed this drought watch by conserving their water use and consumption.

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Dominion celebrates Cove Point LNG project in Maryland

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

From Dominion today:

LUSBY, Md., March 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion (NYSE: D), one of the nation's largest energy companies, today celebrated with its international business partners and Maryland community leaders the construction of the Dominion Cove Point LNG Liquefaction project.

Kenichiro Sasae, the Japanese ambassador to the United States, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan joined Dominion Chairman Thomas F. Farrell II at the ceremony, along with Diane Leopold, president, Dominion Energy; Kazuhiro Takeuchi, president, CEO, and general manager for the Americas, Sumitomo Corp of Americas; Jayanta Sinha, president, GAIL Global U.S.A., and Steven R. Weems, president, Calvert County Board of County Commissioners.

"Cove Point will supply critical American allies in India and Japan with much-needed natural gas that will help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions," said Farrell. "Although the doubters said it could not be done, in late 2017 our liquefier will be online, and ships will begin receiving LNG for export."

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Upstream capital spending dropped 12 percent year-over-year

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

 

Based on financial statements from selected international oil and natural gas companies, spending on upstream investments was 12% lower in fourth-quarter 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. Upstream spending on exploration and development typically accounts for the bulk of these companies' investment expenditures.

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North Dakota may challenge federal fracking rule on U.S. lands

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

From the Associated Press today:

North Dakota is considering challenging a new federal fracking rule for U.S. government lands.

The Obama administration is requiring companies that drill for oil and gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing drilling technique. A final rule released Friday also updates requirements for well construction and disposal of water and other fluids. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management rule, under consideration for more than three years, takes effect in June.

State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said the rule is an overreach, and Gov. Jack Dalrymple said it could interfere with the work of the state’s Water Commission and Health Department.

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More efforts needed to prevent crude oil train accidents, API says

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday:

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2015 – A Department of Energy report on crude oil properties and transportation safety published today highlights the continued need for efforts to prevent more train derailments, said API Director of Midstream Robin Rorick.

“This report shows the need to focus more on preventing train derailments as part of a holistic approach to safety improvements of shipping oil by rail,” said Rorick. “The Department of Energy found no data showing correlation between crude oil properties and the likelihood or severity of a fire caused by a derailment.”

The kinetic energy created by a derailment can play a far bigger role in the size of a fire than whatever the train is hauling, according to the report. DOE’s key findings state that “the energy generated from an accident has the potential to greatly exceed the flammability impact of...crude oil property-based criteria.”

“This report raises puzzling questions about Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg’s suggestion that nothing more can be done to prevent derailments,” said Rorick. “We can and must do more to prevent derailments as part of a comprehensive approach to safety.”

The Department of Energy’s findings fit with the Federal Railroad Administration’s own report published last September, which concluded that “using vapor pressure as a metric to identify potential hazards may not prove effective when considering real world accident conditions.” The Department of Transportation stopped using vapor pressure for flammable liquid classification in 1990.

“Safety is our core value and zero incidents is our goal,” said Rorick. “The oil and natural gas industry has led in improving safety through tank car design and supports further enhancements based on good science, but prevention remains a critical piece of this equation. We will continue to work with the railroad industry and will not stop until the goal of zero incidents is achieved.”

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

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A historical look at the Macksburg Oil Field in southern Ohio

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

Ohio drilled its first oil well in 1814 and that triggered a drilling boom in three counties that lasted 40 years.

The counties involved in the so-called Macksburg Oil Field were Noble, Morgan and Washington.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Geological Survey has outlined the history of the Macksburg Oild Field.

Click  here  for the interesting two-page account.

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Researchers to fly over western drilling regions to collect samples

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

From the Associated Press on Monday:

Researchers are taking to the air to measure trace emissions over oil and gas production sites in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota, the Niobrara shale formation of northern Colorado and Wyoming, and the Four Corners.

Scientists from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plan 15 research flights out of Colorado and Texas between now and May, the Daily Camera, a Boulder, Colorado, newspaper, reported Monday.

The researchers are using aircraft equipped with chemical instruments, and tell the Camera that once their data is collected, it will take more than a year to synthesize.

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Southwestern sells conventional assets in East Texas, Arkoma Basin

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

From Southwestern Energy last week:

Houston, Texas – March 20, 2015...Southwestern Energy Company (NYSE: SWN) announced today that it has executed a definitive agreement with a private buyer to sell Southwestern Energy’s conventional oil and gas assets located in East Texas and the Arkoma Basin for approximately $218 million. The proceeds from the transaction will be used to reduce debt. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015.
“Combined with the already announced divestiture of our northeast Pennsylvania gathering system, this transaction achieves the net divestiture proceeds targeted as part of the acquisition financing plan,” remarked Steve Mueller, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Southwestern Energy. “With the acquisition financing now complete, we will continue our focus on extracting the long-term value from our premier assets for our shareholders for years to come.”
RBC Richardson Barr advised Southwestern in connection with this transaction.
 Additional information on the company can be found on the Internet at www.swn.com.

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U.S. shale drillers scrambling to thwart OPEC threat

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

From the Associated Press on Monday:

By JONATHAN FAHEY, AP Energy Writer  

(AP) — OPEC and lower global oil prices delivered a one-two punch to the drillers in North Dakota and Texas who brought the U.S. one of the biggest booms in the history of the global oil industry.

Now they are fighting back.

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Ohio State intends to shift to CNG to fuel its 37-bus fleet

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

Ohio State University intends to shift its bus fleet to cleaner-burning compressed natural gas, (CNG).

Four buses use the fuel and the univfersity is seeking a fuel provider.

It intends to shift its 37-bus fleet to CNG in the future, according to reporter Laura Arenschield's blog at the Columbus Dispatch.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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EnLink Midstream to acquire Texas pipeline from Devon Energy

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

From EnLink Midstream Partners on Monday:

DALLAS,MARCH 23, 2015 — EnLink Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE: ENLK) (“EnLink” or the “Partnership”) today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the Victoria Express Pipeline and related truck terminal and storage assets (“VEX”) from Devon Energy Corporation (NYSE: DVN). Total consideration for the transaction is approximately $210-$220 million, including approximately $171 million in cash, approximately 338,000 of the Partnership’s common units and EnLink’s assumption of approximately $30-$40 million in certain construction costs to expand the system to full capacity, subject to adjustments. The transaction, which is expected to close on or about April 1, 2015, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, is expected to be immediately accretive to the Partnership.

 “We continue to make significant progress executing on our growth plan,” said Barry E. Davis, EnLink President and Chief Executive Officer. “This transaction marks the first dropdown from Devon to EnLink, and we expect transactions like this to play a significant role in our future growth. These assets will give EnLink a tremendous growth platform in the Eagle Ford Shale. We look forward to providing high-quality midstream services to producers and marketers in the Eagle Ford area.”

 The VEX assets include a 56-mile multi-grade crude oil pipeline, as well as the pipeline’s destination facilities at the Port of Victoria, including an eight-bay truck unloading terminal, 200,000 barrels of above ground storage, of which 50,000 barrels are under construction, and rights to barge loading docks. Also included in the transaction are facilities near the origin of the pipeline that are currently under construction, including an eight-bay truck unloading terminal and 160,000 barrels of above-ground storage (the “Cuero Facilities”). The Cuero Facilities are expected to be operational in the second half of 2015.

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Ohio Valley residents selling, not leasing, mineral rights

By Bob Downing Published: March 25, 2015

One Oklahoma-based company has started buying, not leasing, mineral rights in the Ohio Valley.

Westhawk Minerals LLC is the company involved, reports Casey Junkins of the Wheeling newspaper and the Ohio Valley Shale Blog.

Click  here  to read his full story.

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Ohio business leaders oppose hiking severance tax on drilling

By Bob Downing Published: March 24, 2015

A press release received today:

LEADERS ANNOUNCE COALITION OPPOSING

SEVERANCE TAX INCREASE

 

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Maryland fracking moratorium headed to House of Delegates vote

By Bob Downing Published: March 24, 2015

From the Associated Press today:

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A bill to place a three-year moratorium on fracking in Maryland survived eight amendments and is headed to a vote in the House of Delegates.

On Monday, the Protect Our Health and Communities Act dodged attempts by House Republicans to change the legislation and make it easier for fracking to start in western Maryland. Currently there is no fracking in Maryland.

The moratorium was sponsored by Democratic Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo of Montgomery County. It originally proposed an eight-year halt, but last week was reduced to three years in an amendment approved by the House Environment and Transportation Committee.

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West Virginia, Statoil agree on drilling under Ohio River

By Bob Downing Published: March 24, 2015

From the Associated Press:

West Virginia and Statoil have agreed on a deal for natural gas and oil drilling under the Ohio River.

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register reports that Norway-based Statoil plans to drill on about 474 acres of state-owned land under the river in Marshall and Wetzel counties.

Statoil has agreed to pay an average price of $8,732 per acre. The state also will receive 20 percent production royalties.

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Crude oil storage ar Cushing, Okla., at record levels

By Bob Downing Published: March 24, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administartion on Monday:

 

After increasing for 15 consecutive weeks, crude oil storage at Cushing, Oklahoma, reached 54.4 million barrels on March 13, according to EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report. This volume is the highest on record, but not the highest percent of storage utilization, as working storage capacity at Cushing has also increased over time.

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U.S. shale gas exports are looking less likely, speakers say

By Bob Downing Published: March 24, 2015

The potential of exporting natural gas is not as rosy as some had one thought, according to speakers at last week's New Energy Financial 2015 conference.

It was staged by the Institute for Energy Econonics and Financial Analysis.

Click  here  to read more.

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Ohio has 1,400 driled Utica wells with 829 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: March 24, 2015

Ohio has approved 1,864 Utica Shale permits, as of March 24, says the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Ohio has drilled 1,400 Utica wells, of which 829 Utica wells are producing.

There are 26 rigs working in Ohio.

The state has approved 10 new permits: three in Belmont County, two in Carroll County and five in Monroe County.

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Los Alamos simulations boost safety of offshore drilling rigs

By Bob Downing Published: March 24, 2015

A press release from the Los Alamos National Lobratory today:

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., March 24, 2015—Los Alamos National Laboratory mechanical and thermal engineering researchers’ efforts to solve the complex problem of how ocean currents affect the infrastructure of floating oilrigs and their computational fluid dynamics (CFD) numerical simulations received recognition from ANSYS Inc., a company that provides computer-based engineering simulation capabilities.

“Because energy resources are in demand, and most of the Earth is covered by water, we are going into deeper and more challenging waters to meet our energy needs,” said Dusan Spernjak, of the Laboratory’s mechanical and thermal engineering team. “Designing a floating structure for offshore deep water oil drilling is a challenging task because drilling starts deep under the sea surface with no infrastructure in place.”

Vortex-induced motion (VIM) is a complex problem that occurs when there are highly turbulent flow and fluid-solid interaction phenomena. The available experimental data are very limited, especially from field measurements. The large size of the problem and complex physics calls for advanced numerical simulations using supercomputers to solve VIM.

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Drilling boosts non-native plant growth in N.D.'s Bakken shale

By Bob Downing Published: March 24, 2015

From the U.S. Geological Survey today:

BOZEMAN, Mont. – The presence of non-native plant species is significantly greater adjacent to oil well pads than in non-developed areas of the Williston Basin, according to a first-of-its-kind U.S. Geological Survey study for this area.

While previous studies have documented increased presence and abundance of non-native plant species in areas undergoing energy development, this was the first such assessment in the U.S. portion of the Williston Basin, which is experiencing rapid energy development and includes portions of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota as well as Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Noxious weeds and other non-native plant species compete with native plants for limited soil and water resources, degrade habitat, reduce forage for wildlife and livestock, and can reduce agricultural yields. Those specifically identified as noxious weeds are designated by a federal, state or county government as injurious to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife or property.

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Anders Opedal to become new COO at Statoil on April 1

By Bob Downing Published: March 24, 2015

From Statoil:

Opedal will be responsible the corporate improvement programmes and for driving operational efficiency across Statoils business areas.

Anders Opedal

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Members named to Pa. conventional oil, gas advisory committee

By Bob Downing Published: March 24, 2015

From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Monday:

HARRISBURG, PA -- The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the members of the Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Committee (COGAC). COGAC's mission is to increase transparency and communication about regulating the conventional oil and gas drilling industry.

COGAC will advise DEP in the development of regulations relating to conventional oil and gas extraction. COGAC will be given the opportunity to review and comment on all regulations of a technical nature prior to submission to the Environmental Quality Board.

COGAC consists of voting and non-voting members, all of whom are residents of Pennsylvania. All members were chosen by the Acting Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

The voting members consist of representatives of the Pennsylvania Independent Petroleum Producers (PIPP), Pennsylvania Grade Crude Coalition (PGCC), Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA), Pennsylvania Coal Alliance (PCA) and the Citizens Advisory Council. These members are:
•Mark L. Cline, Sr., Production Supervisory & On-Site Manager, Cline Oil, Inc. (PIPP)
•David Ochs, Senior Geologist/Geology and Operations Manager, Kriebel Resources Co., LLC (PIOGA)
•A. Bruce Grindle, President, Oil & Gas Management, Inc. (PGCC)
•Dave Yingling, Engineer, Rosebud Mining (PCA)
•Burt A. Waite, Senior Geologist, Moody and Associates (CAC)

The non-voting members are:
•Jim Morrison, Chief Administrator, Municipality of Murrysville
•Doug D'Amore, DCNR Sproul State District Forester
•R. Keith Hite, Vice President of Public Relations, Blackford Ventures; Former Executive Director, PA State Association of Township Supervisors
•Sherry Tune, Forest Supervisor, Allegheny National Forest Service

COGAC will meet on Thursday, March 26, 2015, at 10:00 AM in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson State Office Building, 400 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA, 17101. This advisory committee meeting is open to the public and can be accessed by way of a DEP webinar. For more information, or to participate in the webinar, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click on the "DEP Webinars" button.

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Brown to join NiSource as finance executive vice president

By Bob Downing Published: March 24, 2015

From NiSource Inc. today:

  MERRILLVILLE, Ind. , March 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) today announced that Donald Brown will join the company on April 6, 2015 , as an executive vice president in the corporation's Finance organization. Brown is expected to be appointed chief financial officer (CFO) for NiSource , effective upon the completion of the previously announced separation of NiSource and Columbia Pipeline Group (CPG) into stand-alone, publicly traded companies. The separation is expected to be completed in mid-2015.

As announced last December, NiSource's current executive vice president (EVP) and CFO, Stephen P. Smith , is expected to become EVP and CFO at CPG at the time of the separation. Brown will report to Joseph Hamrock , EVP and group chief executive officer (CEO) of NiSource's Gas Distribution business unit. Hamrock is expected to become CEO of NiSource at the time of the separation.

"Donald brings an exceptional depth of public utility experience combined with a track record of disciplined financial management and execution," Hamrock said. "He joins an already solid and familiar team of finance and operational leaders that have consistently delivered on our customer and investor expectations during a period of significant growth and expansion."

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Chesapeake Energy reducing capital budget by $500 million

By Bob Downing Published: March 24, 2015

From Chesapeake Energy on Monday:

OKLAHOMA CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mar. 23, 2015-- Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) today announced it has reduced its 2015 capital budget (including capitalized interest of $500 million) to $3.5 – $4.0 billion for 2015, which is a $500 million reduction from its previous guidance of $4.0 – $4.5 billion. Chesapeake plans to operate 25 – 35 rigs in 2015, which represents a decrease of approximately 55% from an average of 64 rigs in 2014. The company intends to spud and connect to sales approximately 520 and 650 gross operated wells, respectively, in 2015 (a decrease from 1,175 and 1,150 wells in 2014). As a result, the company is lowering its targeted 2015 production to 231 – 236 million barrels of oil equivalent, or average daily production of 635 – 645 thousand barrels of oil equivalent, which represents 1 – 3% production growth over the prior year after adjusting for 2014 asset sales.

Doug Lawler, Chesapeake’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “We entered 2015 with a strong liquidity position and we intend to manage it prudently. In response to continued weak commodity prices, we are further reducing capital expenditures and associated drilling activity. As a result, we now forecast ending 2015 with approximately $6 billion in combined cash and borrowing capacity under our credit facility. With this budget revision we anticipate being free cash flow neutral by the end of 2015.”

Further information is available at www.chk.com.

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Falling prices will have little impact on Utica Shale, NavPort says

By Bob Downing Published: March 23, 2015

Could the impacts on the Utica Shale in Ohio and the Marcellus Shale in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia from falling commodity prices be far less than some have suggested?

From Seeking Alpha:

NavPort, which collates oil-well and rig data using regulatory reports, supplied two charts illustrating the severity of the effect of the price drop on shale formations and producers.

This chart shows the expected decline in 2015 well completions in the 14 U.S. shale formations with the most production:

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Anti-fracking film be screened in Fairlawn on March 26

By Bob Downing Published: March 23, 2015

Sustainable Akron is hosting a screening of a new anti-fracking film on Thursday.

The documentary film, Groundswell Rising, will be shown at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 3300 Morewood Road, Fairlawn.

The 52-minute film, directed and produced by Renard and Matt Cohen of Resolution Pictures, was shot in New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Washington, D.C.

Admission is free.

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New hotel opens in Caldwell, work begins on new Cadiz hotel

By Bob Downing Published: March 23, 2015

From a press release last week:

DRILL CAPITAL ANNOUNCES EXPANSION IN THE UTICA SHALE AND STRATEGIC ENTRY INTO THE PERMIAN SHALE


- Expands Utica Property Portfolio and Announces Successful Grand Opening in Caldwell, Ohio
- Breaks Ground on Utica Shale Property Located in Cadiz, Ohio
- Announces Strategic Entry in the Permian Shale with Expected Ground-break in 2H/15

NEW YORK, NY, March 18, 2015/PRNewswire/ -- Drill Capital LLC, an alternative asset manager focused on investments in the North American energy sector continued its expansion in the Utica shale formation with the opening of a three-story 80 room Wyndham hotel in the town of Caldwell, Ohio. The property adds to the firm’s investment portfolio in the northeastern Ohio energy corridor.
Drill is also pleased to announce that it has broken ground on a third project in the Utica shale located in the town of Cadiz, Ohio. The expansion in the area follows Drill’s recent entry into the Utica Shale and the successful opening of a similar sized Wyndham property located in Carrollton, Ohio during the third quarter of 2014.
Additionally, Drill will be moving forward with the next set of investment projects to be located in the Permian Shale, a major production hub in the US Lower 48. Similar to the Utica Shale portfolio, the future projects will capitalize on the demand for lodging accommodations within strategic locations across the west Texas and southeast New Mexico regions.
“We are very pleased with the build-out and performance of our Utica shale portfolio and all the more excited as we set our eyes on our next set of development projects in the Permian shale for the second half of this year” said Mr. Guindo, Founder and Managing Partner of Drill Capital. “We continue to be very positive on the longer term fundamentals of the US energy industry and intend to strategically position our private investments in order to benefit from this mega-trend going forward.”
About Drill Capital LLC
Drill Capital LLC is an alternative asset manager focused exclusively on the energy sector. Drill targets non-traditional opportunistic private investments as well as
public investments that offer exposure to the energy markets. Drill relies on bottom-up primary fundamental research within the energy space, one of its key areas of expertise.
For more information, visit www.drillcapital.com.

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Ohio House approves expedited unitization rules

By Bob Downing Published: March 23, 2015

The Ohio House of Representatives last week unanimously passed legislation that would both protect landowners and help oil and gas companies more easily form drilling units by allowing them to unitize state-owned land such as roads, universities and wildlife areas.

H.B. passed 96-0 and will be considered by the Ohio Senate.

Under current law, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), which regulates the state's oil and gas industry, does not have to decide on unitization requests within a certain time frame, which has left landowners waiting for such decisions for nearly two years, according to the bill's Republican sponsors.

The legislation would speed up that process and require ODNR to hold hearings on requests within 45 days of receiving them and issue final decisions within 30 days after the hearings.

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Company seeks Kentucky approval for first deep horizontal well

By Bob Downing Published: March 23, 2015

A drilling company wants to drill the first deep horizontal well in eastern Kentucky.

Horizontal Technology Energy Co., a branch of Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp., wants to drill.

There was a state hearing on the request in late Feburary.

The company wants to drill int he Rogersville Shale that extends into nearby West Virginia.

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Southwestern Energy to begin drilling in W. Va's Ohio County

By Bob Downing Published: March 23, 2015

Southwestern Energy intends to begin drilling in West Virginia's Ohio County on land it recently acquired from Chesapeake Energy.

The company intends to drill 50 to 75 wells in 2015.

Click  here to read more from Ohio Valley Shale Play.

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Railroads, energy companies must boost crude oil rail safety

By Bob Downing Published: March 23, 2015

The acting administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration said railroads need to do more to assure the safety of Bakken Shale from North Dakota to East Coast refineries oil and that the energy industry needs to step up, too.

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

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Howard Energy Partners expanding into Pa.'s Marcellus Shale

By Bob Downing Published: March 23, 2015

From Texas-based Howard Energy Partners last week:

SAN ANTONIO - March 19, 2015 - Howard Midstream Energy Partners, LLC dba Howard Energy Partners (HEP) today announced that it has executed a definitive purchase and sale agreement with Southwestern Energy Company (NYSE: SWN) to purchase the company’s northeast Pennsylvania natural gas gathering assets in Bradford and Lycoming counties for $500 million, subject to customary purchase price adjustments. The gathering systems, serving the Marcellus Shale region, include approximately 100 miles of natural gas gathering pipeline, with nearly 600 million cubic feet per day of capacity and 53,000 horsepower of compression.

In addition to the existing systems, HEP plans to design, construct and operate a new natural gas gathering system for SWN in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Once fully operational, the new system is expected to add up to 380 million cubic feet per day of capacity in the area.

“This is a significant transaction for us as these established assets place Howard Energy Partners in the heart of the prolific Marcellus Shale,” said Brad Bynum, President and Co-Founder of Howard Energy Partners. “This acquisition is a testament to our long-term growth strategy to broaden our footprint and build a diversified portfolio of large-scale assets and revenue streams. We are excited about the development potential in the Marcellus and are honored to enter into this arrangement with Southwestern Energy, one of the largest producers in the area.”

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New federal rules will protect drinking water, ProPublica says

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2015

From ProPublica on new BLM drilling rules:

Progress and Controversy Arrive With New Rules for Fracking on Public Lands

New rules announced Friday governing how energy companies frack for oil and gas on federal lands represent a significant step toward protecting drinking water resources in some of the most heavily drilled parts of the country, ProPublica's Abrahm Lustgarten writes.

The rules mark the first time the federal government has stepped in to enact protections to limit risks posed by a technology that has been both criticized for causing environmental harm and credited with making the nation one of the leading producers for oil and gas.

Key takeaways from Lustgarten's report:

More in the full story here: http://www.propublica.org/article/progress-and-controversy-arrive-with-new-rules-for-fracking-on-public-lands. It's free to republish and Lustgarten is available for interviews.

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New BLM rules include stronger safeguards, eco-group says

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2015

From EarthJustice on Friday on new BLM rules:


Department of the Interior Releases Final Rules for Fracking on Public Lands
Comprehensive rules on hydraulic fracturing and drilling include stronger safeguards than in 2013 while failing to ensure sensitive and valuable areas are kept off limits to drilling
 

Washington, D.C. —The U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalized a new set of rules today governing hydraulic fracturing on public lands nationwide. The controversial oil and gas development technique more commonly known as “fracking” blastsmillions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to force oil and gas from underground deposits. It is a central part of unconventional drilling operations that have been linked to public health issues as well as air and water pollution.

 

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New federal rules fail to protect forests, parks, eco-group says

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2015

From Environment America on Friday on new federal fracking rules:

WASHINGTON, DC—Today the Obama administration released its long-awaited rule governing fracking on federal public lands. While somewhat less damaging than as originally proposed, the plan fundamentally fails to protect America’s most prized forests and other natural areas from pollution, Environment America said.

The administration will not keep sensitive areas off limits to fracking, despite the Department of Energy’s own advisory panel advice to the contrary. The oil and gas industry has expressed interest in fracking 12 million more acres of parks, forests, and other public lands.

“Some places are just too precious to drill and frack, and that includes our parks, canyons, and forests,” said Rachel Richardson, advocate with Environment America. “That’s why Americans have submitted more than 1 million comments asking the administration to protect our prized public lands from fracking."

Today’s rule places no limits on the toxic and often carcinogenic chemicals than can be used in fracking. It allows oil and gas companies to disclose their chemical use exclusively on an industry-run website called FracFocus, and only after they have already started drilling.

“If the oil and gas industry is going to put our public lands at risk from dangerous drilling, the least they could do is follow the strictest regulations possible,” said Richardson. “But the administration isn’t requiring them to do that.”

Under contention for three years, the final rule modestly increases environmental protections compared to earlier versions. It restricts the use of open-air pits for storing toxic oil and gas wastewater, responsible for more than 400 instances of groundwater contamination in New Mexico alone. It also tightens standards for well construction.

“The rule released today could be worse. It could be more harmful to our health and the environment, and the administration deserves credit for making it less reckless,” said Richardson. “But make no mistake: today’s announcement is bad news for our forests and parks.”

 

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New BLM rules fail to protect public lands, NRDC says

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2015

From the Natural Resources Defense Council on Friday on new BLM rules:

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New BLM fracking rules don't go far enough, water group says

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2015

From Clean Water Action on Friday after BLM releases new federal fracking rules:

Today the Department of Interior released the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule on Oil and Gas Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Tribal Lands. The rule is a long awaited and much needed update to decades-old BLM regulations for oil and gas development.

 

The rule includes some important provisions that exceed most state protections including moving away from wastewater disposal in open unlined pits.  BLM also strengthened well construction requirements to prevent well failures that lead to leakage of methane and other potential contaminants. 

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NAM calls federal rules 'one-step forward, two-steps back' policy

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2015

From the National Association of Manufacturers on Friday on new BLM rules:

Washington, D.C., March 20, 2015 National Association of Manufacturers Vice President of Energy and Resource Policy Ross Eisenberg issued the following statement on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hydraulic fracturing regulations for federal lands:

 

“Manufacturers across the United States are experiencing a resurgence, fueled by the American energy revolution and this newest regulation from the BLM not only stands to halt the potential for shale energy on federal lands, but also the potential to create over one million manufacturing jobs.  States are already effectively and safely regulating hydraulic fracturing and new federal rules will add additional bureaucracy, more confusion and unnecessary time delays.

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New BLM fracking rules are costly, burdensome, Latta says

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2015

Statement on Friday from U.S. Rep. Robert Latta (R-Ohio's 5th District) on new federal fracking rules:

Latta Statement on Administration's Latest Attempt to Discourage American Energy Production

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH), member of the of the Energy and Commerce Committee's Energy and Power Subcommittee, today released the following statement regarding the Administration's regulations on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands: 

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Industry groups file lawsuit against new federal fracking rules

By Bob Downing Published: March 20, 2015

Independent Producers Lead Legal Challenge Against BLM’s Hydraulic Fracturing Rule
BakerHostetler files suit in federal court on behalf of the Independent Petroleum Association of America and Western Energy Alliance

DENVER, March 20, 2015 — After a regulatory review process lasting more than three years, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued today a final rule purporting to govern hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands. Given BLM’s failure to correct flaws in earlier versions of the rule – flaws that were addressed expressly in public comments responsive to the agency’s proposal -- BakerHostetler immediately filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the two most prominent national trade associations representing independent oil and gas producers: the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and Western Energy Alliance (the Alliance). The associations’ Complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming, asserts that BLM’s final rule is both substantively meritless and the product of a procedurally deficient rulemaking process. The Complaint requests that the federal court set aside the final rule.

Independent oil and gas producers note several factors that undermine the legitimacy of BLM’s approach. Most important, even were another layer of administrative rules necessary to ensure that hydraulic fracturing can be conducted safely, a position that contravenes decades of technical evidence, BLM’s new regulations do not represent those rules. Despite being titled as a rule for “Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands,” BLM’s proposal does not attempt to govern any aspect of the hydraulic fracturing process. This omission suggests little more than a politically-motivated attempt to appeal to those that misrepresent “hydraulic fracturing,” using the term as a proxy for all oil and gas development rather than focusing on the more accurate, and narrower, definition of the term as a well stimulation technique.

What is included in the final rule are new regulations imposing administrative impediments that will complicate and frustrate oil and gas production on federal lands. BLM has included cementing and construction standards that it contends will ensure well bore integrity, but which simply duplicate existing state regulations and industry best practices. The agency will now require public disclosure of chemical additives injected during production operations, mirroring requirements that already exist under state law. But unlike the states, BLM will now also require operators to disclose highly confidential operational and engineering design information in a manner that disregards the prohibitions against such disclosures under federal public records laws. And BLM’s proposal will impose rigid requirements for the methods that may be used to manage and store water produced during oil and gas operations, regardless of whether that storage method represents the most environmentally sensitive method of managing produced water.

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API: BLM's new federal fracking rules are costly, duplicative

By Bob Downing Published: March 20, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute:

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) hydraulic fracturing rule imposes new costs and delays on energy development without improving on existing state and federal regulations, according to API.

"Despite the renaissance on state and private lands, energy production on federal lands has fallen, and this rule is just one more barrier to growth," said API Director of Upstream and Industry Operations Erik Milito. "Under the strong environmental stewardship of state regulators, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have opened up a new era of energy security, job growth, and economic strength. Increased production and use of natural gas has helped cut U.S. carbon emissions to a nearly 20-year low, and this decision only stands in the way of further progress, hampering natural gas development on federal lands onshore, where it has already declined an amazing 21.6 percent since 2009.

"A duplicative layer of new federal regulation is unnecessary, and we urge the BLM to work carefully with the states to minimize costs and delays created by the new rule to ensure that public lands can still be a source of job creation and economic growth."

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Eco-groups unhappy with federal fracking rules for public lands

By Bob Downing Published: March 20, 2015

A press release today from eco-groups:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalized rules regulating the practice of hydraulic fracturing – commonly called fracking – on public lands. As the BLM itself admits, this rule advances the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above energy policy, which aims to expand domestic oil and gas production. Even though BLM has failed to take serious action, Representatives Mark Pocan (D – Wisc.) and Jan Schakowsky (D – Ill.) have heeded this call by introducing legislation in the previous Congress to ban fracking on all federal lands, with plans to reintroduce this session.

“We owe it to our future generations to protect the land that was put aside for the public good,” said Congressman Mark Pocan. “Regulating fracking still risks accidental spills, water contamination, methane leaks, earthquakes and habitat destruction. The only way to mediate these risks is to not allow fracking in the first place.”

"Our Public Lands are too precious to spoil with fracking, said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. "The BLM regulations are a step in the right direction, but more must be done to ensure that public lands are protected and preserved for future generations. We will continue to work to completely ban fracking on public lands.”

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Judge: Pipeline can be built on properties without owners' approval

By Bob Downing Published: March 20, 2015

From the Associated Pressw:

SCRANTON, Pa. – The companies backing a 124-mile pipeline designed to ferry cheap Marcellus Shale natural gas to New York and New England can build across seven northeastern Pennsylvania properties whose owners had not agreed to it, a judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Malachy Mannion ruled that the Constitution Pipeline has the necessary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and that it serves the public interest by providing additional natural gas pipeline capacity.

Mannion also wrote in the Tuesday ruling that the Susquehanna County landowners stand to gain adequate compensation from the pipeline’s owners. Some of the defendants did not respond to the lawsuits seeking access to their land.

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Pennsylvania doctor loses suit on secrecy of fracking liquids

By Bob Downing Published: March 20, 2015

A federal appellate court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a Pennsylvania physician challenging a law that precluded him from releasing information he obtained regarding chemicals contained in hydraulic fracking fluid.

Click  here  to read the full story..

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Mountain Valley Pipeline runs into West Virginia opposition

By Bob Downing Published: March 20, 2015

From the Associated Press today:

A proposed natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Southside Virginia is running into opposition.

Media reports say families in West Virginia’s Summers and Monroe counties have filed suit to stop surveying of their properties for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The families contend the project does not have a “public use” and is not eligible to use West Virginia’s eminent domain law to force residents to allow the surveys.

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Transco seeks FERC approval to ship Marcellus gas to Southeast

By Bob Downing Published: March 20, 2015

Williams announced on Thursday that Transco has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its fully subscribed Dalton Expansion Project, which would support providing Marcellus Shale gas to the Southeast for electricity generation and local natural gas distribution.

Click  here  to read the company's full statement.

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Southwestern Energy sells Pennsylvania gas-gathering system

By Bob Downing Published: March 20, 2015

Texas-based Southwestern Energy Co. announced that it is selling a natural gas-gathering system for $500 million in Bradford and Lycoming counties in northeast Pennsylvania.

Click  here  to read the company's full statement.

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Musicians to release anti-fracking album on June 16

By Bob Downing Published: March 20, 2015

From a Thursday press release:

John Butler Trio, Bonnie Raitt, Pete Seeger, and more stand against fracking on ‘Buy This Fracking Album,’ 6.16

John Butler Trio, Bonnie Raitt, Michael Franti, Indigo Girls, and many more are lending their voices in an effort to shed light on the dangers of hydro-fracking - a method of extracting natural gas from the earth’s shale that also jeopardizes and contaminates the water table - on a 24 track, two disc benefit compilation, 'Buy This Fracking Album' (June 16th). The album proceeds will benefit Marcellus Protest, a non profit organization in Pennsylvania, and other grassroots organizations around the country working to ban fracking. Album beneficiary Food & Water Watch is donating its share of the proceeds into a fund that album producers will distribute to grassroots organizations. Many of the artists who have contributed songs to the album have openly voiced their opposition to fracking, with arguments ranging from the desire to champion community health, combat the corporate hold on American democracy, or - in the words of singer Kristen Graves - “I want future generations to have an example of what it looks like to live humbly, respectfully, and well with the earth.”

Watch the official album trailer here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p_AJfztA94&list=PL-l7ReFycws7ah5ELGDK73UGirtAv_xXh&index=5

‘Buy This Fracking Album’ contains a combination of original recordings, previous releases, and live renditions of older songs. The compilation includes Pete Seeger's first album appearance since his passing - a never before released live rendition of Woody Guthrie's classic “This Land Is Your Land" - “Hell to Pay” by Bonnie Raitt from her ’94 album ‘Longing in Their Hearts,' a live version of the Indigo Girls' “World Falls,” and original recordings from Meshell Ndegeocello (“Never Still Water”), Marco Benevento and Dave Dreiwtiz (“Freakin Frack”), and more.

While the songs on the album range in genre and subject, they all share the common goal of bringing awareness to one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. Each of the 24 tracks speak to the fact that - as contributor Anti Flag says - “[corporations] can’t drink money, and we can’t drink natural gas.” Michael Franti says he wrote "Earth From Outer Space," "as a reminder of the importance of all of us being stewards of our planet, keeping it healthy for the next generations” and Bonnie Raitt - a founding member of Musicians United for Safe Energy - added, "banning fracking everywhere is one of the most critical environmental issues of our time because it destroys our water, our communities and our planet.” As Rusted Root's Michael Glabicki explains, banning fracking is "not a matter of politics or money - it’s just a matter of common sense that you don’t destroy the earth like fracking does.”

‘Buy This Fracking Album’s’ Long Island-based producer Jason Samel is, in his own words, "not one to close [his] mouth much about anything” - a trait that led him to realize early in his career that he did not fit into the corporate world. When Occupy Wall Street began in September 2011, Samel was thrilled to see “activism in his backyard,” and joined protesters at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. In the park, Samel was moved by different types of music converging together for a singular cause, and left feeling inspired to create his first benefit album - ‘Occupy This Album.’ Through a series of connections and introductions he made during the movement, as well as support from filmmaker Michael Moore, Samel produced a four-disc album featuring “99 songs for the 99 percent,” with music by Jackson Browne, Warren Haynes, Willie Nelson, Yoko Ono, Immortal Technique, and Arlo Guthrie. It also was during his time at Zuccoti park that Samel took notice of the anti-fracking movement, and began laying the foundation for what would eventually become his second benefit album and the follow-up to ‘Occupy This Album’ - 'Buy This Fracking Album.’

Funding for the album is being raised through a crowd-funding campaign on Pledge Music, which allows fans to show their support by purchasing unique items and experiences, including concert tickets, a signed guitar, VIP tickets with a meet and greet with Bonnie Raitt, a one of a kind hand painted guitar from Michael Franti, DJ lessons with DJ Logic, and Marco Benevento will even play a concert in your home.

‘Buy This Fracking Album’ - Tracklist:

Disc 1:
1. “Smallest Trees” - Rootz Underground
2. “Freakin Frack” - Marco Benevento and Dave Dreiwitz
3. “Smarty Pants” - Rusted Root
4. “Earth From Outer Space (Acoustic)” - Michael Franti
5. “Activist” - Jay Samel w/ DJ Logic and Friends
6. “Revolution” - John Butler Trio
7. “Russel Crowe” - Moon Hooch
8. “Never Still Water” - Meshell Ndegeocello
9. “Gasland Terror” - Anti Flag
10. “Seasons” - Rebel Diaz
11. “Hydro Fracking Clowns” - Chris Merenda
12. “Fools Gold” - Pony Boy

Disc 2:
1. “This Land is Your Land (Live At Farmaid 2013)” - Pete Seeger
2. "Before the Drilling Rigs Got Here” - Thom Chacon
3. “Lack of Cash Flow Blues” - David Amram
4. “Drill on the Horizon” - Mike and Ruthy
5. “Motherland (Live)” – Natalie Merchant and The Felice Brothers
6. “The Mountain” - Steve Earle
7. “Down There” - Tom Chapin and John Forster
8. "The River Song” - Kristen Graves
9. “Hell to Pay” - Bonnie Raitt
10. “World Falls (Live)” - Indigo Girls
11. "What About Climate Change” - Eve Silber
12. “Star Spangled Banjo” - Josh
Fox

http://www.MovementMusicRecords.com
http://www.pledgemusic.com/buythisfrackingalbum
http://www.facebook.com/movementmusicrecords
http://www.twitter.com/movemusicrecord
https://www.facebook.com/BuyThisFrackingAlbum/
http://www.twitter.com/frackingalbum
http://www.jasonsamel.com

www.youtube.com/MusicForOccupy

For more information on 'Buy This Fracking Album,' please contact Rebecca Shapiro (rshapiro@shorefire.com), Jon Bleicher (jbleicher@shorefire.com), or Greta Hayes (ghayes@shorefire.com) at Shore Fire Media: (718) 522-7171

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U.S. petroleum deliveries jumped 1.5 percent in February

By Bob Downing Published: March 20, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute on Thursday:

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2015 ─ Total U.S. petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand) rose 1.5 percent from February 2014 to average 19.3 million barrels per day. This was the highest February demand since 2008.

“Greater demand for gasoline and jet fuel and a colder-than-usual February brought total February deliveries back to pre-recession levels,” said API Chief Economist John Felmy. “At the same time, the continued strength of crude oil and refinery production ensured that stocks of crude and refined products remained high.”

February gasoline demand edged up 0.1 percent from the prior year to average 8.7 million barrels per day -- the highest level for the month since 2009. Demand for jet fuel rose 2.4 percent over the same period to the highest February level since 2008, while deliveries of “other oils” gained 13.0 percent driven by strong demand for propane. Demand for distillate and residual fuel fell by 4.8 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.

At nearly 9.3 million barrels per day, U.S. crude oil production in February increased by 14.5 percent from a year earlier. This was the highest crude oil production level since April 1973. Natural gas liquids (NGL) production, a co-product of natural gas production, set a new all-time high last month by gaining 18.1 percent over the same period to average nearly 3.2 million barrels per day.

According to the latest reports from Baker-Hughes, Inc., the number of oil and gas rigs in the U.S. in February was 1348, a drop of 19.9 percent from the previous month and 23.8 percent below the year ago level.

U.S. total imports in February averaged nearly 9.8 million barrels per day, 7.0 percent higher than the prior year. Meanwhile, crude oil imports rose by 6.0 percent to just over 7.6 million barrels per day. Both figures were the third lowest February levels in 18 years, although the level of crude oil imports was also the highest for the month since 2012.

At nearly 9.5 million barrels per day, production of gasoline hit a record high for the month on a 1.9 percent increase from February 2014. Production of distillate fuel in February rose by 3.8 percent from the prior year to reach a record February level of over 4.7 million barrels per day.

Refinery gross inputs rose by 0.7 percent from last year to a record high for the month of over 15.6 million barrels per day. At the same time, exports of refined petroleum products were up by 27.5 percent to average 4.6 million barrels per day–the highest February level ever.

The refinery capacity utilization rate averaged 87.9 percent last month. This was down 1.6 percentage points from January but up 1.3 percentage points from February 2014. API’s latest refinery operable capacity was 17.793 million barrels per day.

Crude oil stocks ended up by 17.8 percent from a year earlier at 439.7 million barrels–the highest February inventory level since 1930. Stocks of motor gasoline also ended higher in February, up 3.7 percent from last year to 236.6 million barrels. Stocks of distillate, jet fuel and “other oils” were all up from year ago levels as well.

API is a national trade association that represents all segments of America’s technology-driven oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 625 members – including large integrated companies, exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms – provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 25 million Americans. The industry also supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy, delivers $84 million a day in revenue to our government, and, since 2000, has invested over $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives.
 

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Gulfport Energy sues Ohio village for drilling water from reservoir

By Bob Downing Published: March 20, 2015

Citing a potential financial loss, Oklahoma-based shale driller Gulfport Energy is suing the village of Barnesville to draw water from the Slope Creek Reservoir for its nearby drilling operations.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Sierra Club is fighting H.B. 133 and drilling in Ohio state parks

By Bob Downing Published: March 19, 2015

From the Sierra Club today:

Columbus, Ohio - The Ohio House Energy and Natural Resources Committee rekindled a debate about allowing fracking to occur in Ohio’s State Parks, Forests, and Nature Preserves this week during considerations of House Bill 8 (Hagan). The bill established a fast-track provision, which would have forced approval of fracking in portions of parks, forests, and preserves. This bill sought to amend the process laid out in the previously passed House Bill 133 (2011), which opened up Ohio’s public lands to fracking and established a “public lands leasing commission” required to approve permits. The Governor has instituted a “de facto moratorium” on drilling in these areas by refusing to appoint members to this leasing commission. HB 8 would have circumvented the Governor’s decision not to drill in these areas by working around the commission and utilizing a process called "forced pooling."

 

An amendment was carried forward in HB 8 earlier this week (attachment), which added protections to these sensitive areas. The Ohio Sierra Club worked with allies at the Ohio Environmental Council to help educate the committee members about how drilling would impact Ohio's most sensitive public lands.

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Utica Shale drilling has created 8,000 jobs in Ohio, speakers say

By Bob Downing Published: March 19, 2015

Shale drilling never produced as many jobs in Ohio as industry groups had earlier predicted, said several speakers at a Thursday shale conference in Wheeling, W. Va., organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

The number of jobs tied to drilling for natural gas and liquids in the Utica Shale in eastern Ohio is about 8,000, said Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg, Pa.

Shale drilling also created an estimated 23,000 jobs in Pennsylvania and another 6,000 jobs in West Virginia from 2005 to mid-2014, he said.

There were industry groups and studies that had predicted 200,000 new shale jobs in Ohio several years ago. Ohio State University in 2011 had predicted 20,000 new jobs.

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Fracking boom produces 47 percent drop in natural gas prices

By Bob Downing Published: March 19, 2015

From the Brookings Papers today:

U.S. Fracking Boom Responsible for 47 Percent Gas Price Drop Compared to What Prices Would Have Been, New Brookings Paper Finds

Well-being of gas consumers improved by $74 billion per year, but environmental economic impacts unknown

 

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'Frack Pack' rules in Congress would close drilling loopholes

By Bob Downing Published: March 19, 2015

From Friends of the Earth today:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of Congress have just introduced a set of bills (called the Frack Pack) that would end exemptions that the oil and gas industry currently receive from some of the country’s bedrock environmental laws -- the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. These bills and their sponsors include:

Friends of the Earth’s Climate and Energy campaigner Kate DeAngelis offers the following statement in response:

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Union Pacific wants to ship LNG by rail, seeking federal approval

By Bob Downing Published: March 19, 2015

The Omaha-based Union Pacific Railroad wants to transport liquified natural gas on its rails, a plan that is coming under fire from some concerned about the safety of such shipments.

It is seeking federal approval for such shipments.

Click  here  to read the latest story.

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SterneAgee analysts shift Chesapeake Energy to underperforming

By Bob Downing Published: March 19, 2015

afrom New York-based analysts Sterne Agee today:

CHESAPEAKE ENERGY CORP. (NYSE: CHK) RATING: UNDERPERFORM
Price: $14.13
Price Target: $9.00

Analysts: Tim Rezvan, Truman Hobbs
Downgrade to Underperform, Cut Estimates, Initiate $9 PT. Questionable Capital Allocation and FCF Deficit Concern Us.

Our Call
We see leverage trending toward 4.0x net debt/TTM EBITDA by y/e 2015. The near-term drilling focus in the Haynesville Shale and Mississippian Lime does not appear to be returns-focused, and CHK shares still trade at a premium multiple. Further, we see downside risk to our $2.70/mcf 2015 Henry Hub natural gas forecast (19% below consensus). We support management's moves to remove balance sheet opacity, but the prior regime's financing decisions are driving sub-optimal capital allocation amid depressed commodity prices. We acknowledge being late on this call given YTD underperformance, but we believe CHK shares remain overvalued as concerns on capital allocation and overall asset quality linger.

• Leverage Outlook: Recent Marcellus Sale Was Band-Aid on a Fragile Balance Sheet; Near-Term Acquisition Increasingly Unlikely. Y/e 2014 net debt/TTM EBITDA declined to 1.5x due to the southern Marcellus Shale asset sale. Including common and preferred equity dividends, we estimate a $1.75 billion FCF deficit in 2015, which pushes y/e 2015 leverage toward 4.0x. A sharply contracting EBITDA growth outlook, due to falling commodity prices and 2014 sales/spin-offs, leads us to believe a transformative oil acquisition is less manageable, with cash on hand needed to mitigate a steep FCF deficit. This point is reinforced by the company's weak equity currency. CHK shares have declined 24% YTD, versus the XOP's (Standard & Poors E&P ETF) 3% rally.

• Haynesville Shale: 2015 Drilling Program May Fill Volume Commitment, But at a Cost. We acknowledge steps made in the Haynesville Shale to mitigate shortfall penalties from minimum volume commitments (MVCs) of 1.02 Bcf/d in '15, 1.2 Bcf/d in '16 and 1.07 Bcf/d in '17. 4Q14 Haynesville production of 910 mmcf/d gross (592 mmcf/d net) suggests the company may meet its 2015 gathering commitment to midstream providers. But it comes at a cost - an estimated 2015 net capital spending obligation of ~$475 million in the Haynesville Shale to run 7-8 operated rigs. Chesapeake's surprisingly low net spending level given the rig count suggests it is focusing 2015 drilling on areas with lower working interests (versus its 71% average across its footprint). While drilling may be the best way to address the volume commitment in place through '17, it has not helped the company's consistently below-average ROACE. Annualized 4Q14 ROACE of 1.7% is second lowest in the group.

• Estimates Lowered. We Think Street Follows Us Down. 2015/2016 EPS declines to ($0.60)/($0.58) from ($0.51)/($0.41). EBITDA declines to $2.29/$2.61 billion from $2.47/$2.71 billion. 2015E EBITDA is 28% below consensus of $3.19 billion. Updated EPS estimates no longer assume share repurchases.

• Full-Cycle Margins Look Negative in 2015/2016 and Don't Validate Drilling Program. After digesting Chesapeake's 10-K filing, we find ourselves increasingly skeptical of the current drilling program. We estimate full-cycle costs of $19.03/boe, versus weighted average realizations (including hedges) of only $17.02/boe. We expect Chesapeake to continue to report industry-lagging realizations on natural gas (73% of 2015E production). This exacerbates problems from focusing drilling in areas where the company needs to meet volume commitments entered into by the prior CEO in conjunction with the sale of gathering assets. A table with full-cycle data from 2013-2016 is on page 4.

• Barnett Shale MVC Also Lingers. While lingering Haynesville MVCs raise eyebrows because the company has a 13% allocation in its D&C budget to the play this year, the more impactful Barnett Shale MVC is yet another financial hurdle the company needs to overcome, one that will persist through 2019. The company has a commitment to deliver 1.0-1.1 Bcf/d over that period, versus estimated 2014 natural gas production of 355 mmcf/d net in the Barnett Shale (assumes gas was 90% of 2014A production of 144 Bcfe). While we do not have specific contract terms on shortfall penalties related to the Barnett Shale, we know the ~1 Bcf/d volume commitment in 2015 equates to a $392 million commitment ($0.39/mcf). Given the company's guidance of a 1-2 rig allocation for both Barnett Shale and exploratory drilling, we expect 2015 gas production from the play to decline 5-10% to ~330 mmcf/d net (~650 mmcf/d gross, based on 52% net revenue interest), implying a healthy, persistent shortfall over the next five years, unless the company chooses to re-allocate Haynesville rigs to the Barnett in 2017 as the Haynesville MVC wraps up. To summarize, there is no near-term solution in sight for the shortfall penalties that manifest as weak natural gas price realizations.

• Mississippian Lime Focus - Small Part of Capital Spending Program, But Hard to Make Value Case in this Environment. Chesapeake's 2013 Mississippian Lime JV with Sinopec (SNP, $79.92, Not Rated) gave the Chinese company a 50% working interest across 850K acres in the play. Over the last year, the company has focused Mississippian Lime drilling around a high-graded 160K net acre section, where it has cited 50% IRRs based on $3 million well costs, 288 mboe EURs, $90/b WTI and $4/mcf Henry Hub gas. Oil and gas prices are sharply below that level now, which we believe more than makes up for any efficiencies from drilling in sweet spots with EURs of 350+ mboe and driving well costs to/below $3 million. The company's relatively low working interest (estimated at 40%) eases some of the capital constraints one would otherwise expect from a 7-8 rig program, implying net annual spending here of approximately $200 million. But we would prefer to see capital re-allocated to core Eagle Ford Shale properties in Dimmit/LaSalle/McMullen Counties, where Chesapeake ran 20 rigs in 2014, but is expected to run only 12-14 this year.

• If These Issues Are Negative and Impactful, Stock Should Not Trade Rich to the Group - Lower Rating to Underperform, $9 PT. Despite the absolute and relative underperformance seen YTD, CHK shares continue to trade at a premium multiple. While Chesapeake has delivered on reducing debt ($11.1 billion at y/e 2014, down from $13.1 billion as of June 30, 2013) and now has $4 billion of cash on hand, the company has cannibalized EBITDA through the sale of the southwestern Marcellus acreage and the 2014 spin-off of its oil services segment. As a result, our sharply lower Discretionary CF and EBITDA estimates are only partially attributable to lower commodity prices. CHK shares trade roughly a half turn rich to the group on 2015/2016 EV/EBITDA. Our $9 PT reflects a target 2015 EV/EBITDA multiple of 7.0x, versus the group average of 8.5x. This multiple would be among the cheaper in the group for gassy E&P, a discount we argue is merited.

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Rice Energy tapping Ohio, Monongahela rivers for drilling water

By Bob Downing Published: March 19, 2015

Intersting tidbit from March 12 report by Pennsylvania-based Rice Energy on its water use in the Utica and Marcellus shales:

Fresh Water Distribution Systems

Construction of our fresh water distribution systems is in progress and by year end 2015 will provide direct access to 9.2 million gallons per day of fresh water from the Monongahela River and other regional water sources in Pennsylvania and 16.7 million gallons per day of fresh water from the Ohio River and several other regional sources in Ohio for our well completion operations.

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U.S. commercial crude inventories provide most days since 1985

By Bob Downing Published: March 19, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

With lower U.S. refinery runs and increases in domestic crude oil production, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories at the end of February provided the most days of supply since the mid-1980s. Commercial crude inventories were sufficient to supply 29 days of U.S. refinery demand, based on expected refinery runs in March.

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Utica Shale will separate weak companies from the strong

By Bob Downing Published: March 19, 2015

It's time for Utica Shale companies to start proving themselves, says a top Chesapeake Energy Corp. executive.

The play has proven to have less oil than expected but it still a big provider of natural gas and other liquids.

"This is where you will be able to separate the weak from the strong," Chesapeake's Chris Doyle told Columbus Business First in looking at the Utica Shale in eastern Ohio in the coming years.

Click  here  to read more from Columbus Business First on Tuesday.

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Ohio's Land Stewards hired as ombudsmen for Rover Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: March 19, 2015

An Ohio company has been hired to serve as an ombudsman/land steward for a major natural gas pipeline that will cross northern Ohio.

The job went to Marion-based Land Stewards LLC, a multi-disciplinary consulting group with soil scientists, agricultural engineers, agronomists and conservation planners.

It was hired by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners and its Rover Pipeline Co. LLC to look out for landowners in 18 Ohio counties by preventing and correcting pipeline-related problems.

However, the hiring has raised some doubts from farmers along the pipeline route based on comments made at public meetings.

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Bennett to speak April 8 at Canton's Utica Upstream conference

By Bob Downing Published: March 19, 2015

From the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday:

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Federal agencies drag feet on oil train lobbying, group says

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2015

From ForestEthics:

Federal Agencies Drag Feet on Oil Train Lobbying: Groups Appeal Delay on Freedom of Information Request

[Bellingham, WA] -- ForestEthics today filed formal appeals with federal agencies that have refused to provide records on oil and rail industry lobbying on new oil train safety rules. In January five groups filed FOIAs requesting correspondence between federal officials and 97 named oil and rail lobbyists, including six former members of US Congress. Under FOIA rules the agencies had 20 days to provide the information. Today, two months later, the agencies remains unresponsive and the group filed formal FOIA appeal letters.

On March 6, while a derailed oil train burned for the second day in Illinois, rail lobbyists, met with the White House Office of Management and Budget. Four of the lobbyists named in the FOIA attended the OMB meeting: Rollin Bredenberg (BNSF), Edward Hamberger (AAR), Gregory Fox, (BNSF), and Michael Rush, (AAR).

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Pennsylvania to hire outside firm to audit drilling royalty income

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2015

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is preparing to hire an outside firm to audit the royalty payments that the agency receives from natural gas production on state lands to ensure that drilling companies’ price calculations are accurate, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Cracker developers in waiting game, due to low commodity prices

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2015

Low commodity prices for oil and natural gas have the developers of potential Appalachian Basin cracker plants taking a wait-and-see attitude.

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

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Coalition working to restore acidic stream in Tioga County

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2015

From Southwestern Energy:

COALITION ANNOUNCES PLANS TO RESTORE FALL BROOK

TIOGA COUNTY

 

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Pennsylvania cleans up contaminated sludge in Indiana County

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2015

From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection today:

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Shell affiliate wins full certification from Pittsburgh-based center

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2015

From the Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale Development today:

Center for Sustainable Shale Development Certifies Shell Appalachian Operations

for Completion of Air & Water Evaluation and Verification Process

 

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Ohio state parks are safe from fracking, after legislative action

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2015

Ohio's state parks are safe from fracking, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

That action came after Republicans and Democrats worked together, the paper said.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Shell putting brakes on shale projects in South Africa

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2015

Dutch energy giant Shell has halted shale plans in South Africa and pulled a key corporate figure from that country, as commodity prices drop and delays have been encountered in getting drilled started in South Africa.

Click  here  for the full story.

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U.S. natural gas development is benefitting chemistry industry

By Bob Downing Published: March 17, 2015

From the American Chemistry Council today:

CHEMISTRY INDUSTRY HIGHLIGHTS MANUFACTURING GROWTH AT NATURAL GAS CAUCUS BRIEFING

WASHINGTON (March 17, 2015) – At a briefing held today by the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus, ExxonMobil Chemical Company Senior Vice President Matthew Aguiar explained how domestic natural gas development is enabling growth in manufacturing investment and jobs, and the chemistry industry’s leading role.

The shale gas production boom has made America one of the world’s lowest-cost producers of basic petrochemicals, with a decisive competitive advantage in global markets. As a result, 225 chemical industry projects – new facilities, expansions and restarts – valued at $137 billion are planned or have begun. They could generate $93 billion per year in increased chemical industry output and at least 665,000 permanent new jobs by 2023. More than 60 percent of the new investment is by firms based abroad.

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Search under way in Pennsylvania for missing nuclear gauge

By Bob Downing Published: March 17, 2015

From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Monday:

For more information on DEP’s Bureau of Radiation Protection, visit www.dep.state.pa.us.

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Groups urge two governors to veto Port Ambrose LNG plan

By Bob Downing Published: March 17, 2015

From Food and Water Watch on Monday:

New York, NY – A letter sent today by advocacy group Food & Water Watch to Governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo, signed by 217 national, state and local organizations, called on the governors to veto an offshore liquid natural gas (LNG) port being proposed for construction in the waters just off New York and New Jersey. As the letter states, the proposed Port Ambrose LNG facility would pose a significant explosion and pollution threat to nearby costal communities, would increase dependence on fossil fuels and fracking throughout the region, and would impede the prospect of offshore wind energy development in the same location. Both Christie and Cuomo have the ability to veto the proposal outright.

Additionally, as the public comment period on Port Ambrose came to a close today, Food & Water Watch submitted more than 27,000 comments to the U.S. Coast Guard and the federal Maritime Administration opposing the plan. The letter opposing Port Ambrose was signed by organizations from 24 different states, including prominent national organizations such as Sierra Club and 350.org.

“Governor Christie vetoed a similar offshore LNG proposal in 2011 and we hope he’ll once again do the smart thing for the safety and prosperity of the Jersey Shore,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Governor Cuomo recently became a national leader on the environment and public safety when he banned fracking in New York. For him to allow Port Ambrose now would be a real contradiction, and an about-face on fracking and fossil fuels. We urge both governors to reject this unneeded, unwanted offshore hazard.”

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EnLink Midstream acquires Coranado Midstream in Permian Basin

By Bob Downing Published: March 17, 2015

From EnLink Midstream companies on Monday:

DALLAS,March 16, 2015 — The EnLink Midstream companies, EnLink Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE:ENLK) (the Partnership) and EnLink Midstream, LLC (NYSE:ENLC) (the General Partner) (together “EnLink”), today announced that the Partnership completed its previously announced acquisition of Coronado Midstream Holdings LLC (“Coronado”), which owns natural gas gathering and processing facilities in the Permian Basin, for approximately $600 million, subject to certain adjustments.

 “The Permian Basin remains a strong and significant growth area for EnLink,” said Barry E. Davis, EnLink President and Chief Executive Officer. “We have identified and executed on strategic growth opportunities to expand our asset base in the region through over $1 billion of capital invested since 2011. These assets come with an experienced management team that is highly respected and known for outstanding performance, and we welcome Coronado’s talented employees into the EnLink family.”

 Coronado was founded by a group of independent producers and partners, including Reliance Energy, Wexford Capital LP, Gulfport Energy Corp, Wallace Family Partnership LP and Ted Collins, Jr. The Coronado assets include three cryogenic gas processing plants with a capacity of approximately 175 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) and a 270-mile gas gathering pipeline system in the North Midland Basin. Construction of an additional 100 MMcf/d gas processing plant and gathering system expansions are currently underway. EnLink plans to connect the Coronado and Bearkat gas gathering pipeline systems to create a multi-county rich gas gathering and processing system that will offer extensive low pressure gathering services, cryogenic gas processing, and multiple delivery points for marketing customers’ products. With this acquisition, EnLink now owns and operates around 360 miles of gas gathering pipelines, approximately 300 MMcf/d of processing capacity as well as crude trucking and logistics services extending through seven counties in the core of the Midland Basin.

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Ohio rig count drops to 27, says Department of Natural Resources

By Bob Downing Published: March 17, 2015

Ohio has approved 1,855 Utica Shale permits, as of March 14.

That total includes 1,393 drilled Utica wells and 828 producing Utica wellls, says the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Of note, the number of rigs operating in Ohio has dropped to 27 amid low commodity prices and cutbacks by drilling companies.

Ohio had 37 rigs on Feb. 28 and 49 rigs as of Jan. 3, according to state records.

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Falling rig counts foreshadow drop in oil production in 3 plays

By Bob Downing Published: March 17, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

 Note: The number of drilling rigs in Ohio has falledn to 27, as of March 14, says the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. That's down from 37 rigs on Feb. 28 and from 49 rigs on Jan. 3, according to Ohio records.

 

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'Groundswell Rising' to be screened March 24 in Medina

By Bob Downing Published: March 17, 2015

The film Groundswell Rising: Protecting Our Children's Air and Water will be shown March 24 in Medina County.

The screening will be at 7 p.m. at the Unity of Medina Church, Williams on the Lake, 787 Lafayette Road, Medina.

The film is being presented by Sustainable Medina County and the Unity of Medina Church.

The 80-minute documentary, directed by Renard Cohen, looks at energy development in Pennsylvania and New York.

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West Virginia rejects forced pooling legislation in tie vote

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

West Virginia's House of Delegates, in a rare tie vote, has rejected forced pooling legislation.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Atlantic Sunrise to boost Pennsylvania, Virginia economies

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

Williams' Atlantic Sunrise pipeline would generate $1.6 billion in additional wages, revenues and investments in Pennsylvania and Virginia, according to a study from Penn State University.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Ohio, West Virginia gas-gathering system sets record volume

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

From Magnum Hunter Resources today:

 

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwired - Mar 16, 2015) - Eureka Hunter Pipeline, LLC ("Eureka Hunter"), in which Magnum Hunter Resources Corporation ( NYSE : MHR ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRC ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRD ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRE ) ("Magnum Hunter" or the "Company") owns a substantial equity interest, announced today that throughput volumes on Eureka Hunter's gas gathering pipeline system located in West Virginia and Ohio, have now reached a new record of approximately 623,713 MMBtu per day on Friday, March 13, 2015.

Magnum Hunter Management Comments

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Rex Energy's four-well Powell pad in W. Pa. begins production

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

From Rex Energy today:

 

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. , March 16, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rex Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:REXX) provided an operational update on the company's Appalachian Basin operations.

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Group reacts to ruling in Broadview community rights' case

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

From the Ohio Community Right to Know Network today:

The Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas overturned the people of Broadview Heights’ Community Bill of Rights Charter Amendment banning fracking, for now. Residents spoke very clearly in November 2012, when they passed their Bill of Rights by 67%. They deserve a defense of their charter amendment based on the protection of the peoples’ inalienable community rights to local self-governance, and clean air and water.

 

However, the City chose not to make such a defense. Instead, our local government agreed with the corporate plaintiffs that state law authorizing corporate harms supersedes community rights. The defense was based on an agreement that the state is within its authority to preempt local law - even when that local law protects the community’s health, safety, and welfare.

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Oxford Co. lists 19 U.S. energy companies on oil death list

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

David Fessler is an energy and infrastructure strategist with The Oxford Co., a publisher based in Baltimore, Md.

He has printed a list of 19 publicly energy companies that are, in his view, swimming in debt and overleveraged with what he calls ugly balance sheets.

These companies may be sold off or go bankrupt in the future, he says.

Of the 19 companies on his Oil Company Death List, eight are players in the Utica and Marcellus shales in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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Low gasoline prices contribute to U.S. Steel layoffs in Lorain

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

Low gasoline prices are directly responsilble for U.S. Steel laying off 614 workers at its plant in Lorain northern Ohio, according to the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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More on injection well, quakes, scientific study in Trumbull County

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

Here's more on the still-closed injection well off state Route 169 north of Niles in Trumbull County.

 It is owned by American Water Management Services.

The two injection wells in Weathersfield Township were shut down last August following earthquakes.

The shallower well at 4,700 feet was allowed to resume operations later.

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25 Ohio landowners to renegotiate lease details after court fight

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

Twenty-five Ohio property owners have been permitted to renegotiate certain details of their oil and natural gas leases after a four-year legal fight, reports Farm and Dairy.

The newspaper says the property owners, mostly from Columbiana County in eastern Ohio, signed leases in 2008 for about $10 an acre under terms they claimed were misleading.

The leases were purchased by Patriot Energy Partners, which sold the deep rights to Chesapeake Exploration for $1,100 an acre, according to Farm and Dairy.

The property owners filed suit in the Columbiana County Court of Common Pleas in 2011, seeking to have the leases rescinded. In 2012, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, denying a motion for arbitration by the energy companies.

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Law firm seeks to block use of eminent domain for Rover Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

From Goldman & Braunstein, a Columbus-based law firm that specializes in eminent domain cases, on March 6:

Goldman & Braunstein, LLP, a Columbus, Ohio-based law firm representing private landowners, filed a Motion to Intervene today in an Application submitted by Rover Pipeline, LLC (Rover) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to construct the proposed “ET Rover” natural gas pipeline (FERC Case No. CP15-93). Rover’s Application seeks FERC approval to construct over 700 miles of new natural gas pipelines, primarily in Ohio (Rover Application page 10).

Goldman & Braunstein’s Motion claims Rover’s Application also seeks FERC approval for a schedule that will require a writ of immediate possession from the federal court (See Motion at 5, citing Rover Application pages 14, 46). According to the Motion, a writ of immediate possession enables private companies to take land from its owner prior to the determination and payment of compensation, contrary to Ohio’s eminent domain laws (Motion pages 4-5, citing the Ohio Constitution, Article XIII, § 5).

Goldman & Braunstein represents Ohio landowners faced with projects that are vested with eminent domain authority to take private land. The firm filed its Motion to Intervene on behalf of the numerous landowners it represents whose land has been surveyed for the ET Rover pipeline. “We are working to protect the rights of Ohio landowners throughout the process,” says attorney William Goldman.

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EQT plans to drill Utica well in West Virginia's Wetzel County

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. intends to drill an experimental Utica Shale well in West Virginia's Wetzel County.

The well will be similar to a similar well that the company has partially drilled in Pennsylvania's Greene County.

Both wells will be about 13,500 feet deep.

The company intends to drill 59 fewer wells in 2015 -- with a goal of 122 wells.

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Could Colorado face statewide vote on banning fracking in 2016?

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

A grass-roots group is pushing to get fracking banned in Colorado.

The group wants Gov. John Hickenlooper to issue an executive order, a step that seems unlikely, reports the Baker-Hostetler law firm.

If that doesn't happen, the group, Coloradans Against Fracking, intends to seek a statewide vote on banning fracking.

Click  here  to read more.

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Pennsylvania seeks new planning strategy for pipelines

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

John Quigley of Pennsylvania's Department of Envrionmental Protection wants a new planning strategy to deal with the growing number of pipelines and their impacts.

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

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North Dakota investigates dumping of radioactive oil field wastes

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

From the Associated Press last week:

WILLISTON, N.D. — State health officials say radioactive oil field waste has been illegally dumped in western North Dakota.

Officials on Thursday said up to 100 filter socks were found in a property within the city limits of Williston. The socks are the nets that strain liquids in the oil production process.

Scott Radig with the Division of Waste Management says the cleanup is scheduled to begin Friday.

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Two Pennsylvania men indicted for damaging Chevron wells

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

Two releases from the U.S. Department of Justice:

December 4, 2014

PITTSBURGH - A resident of Greene County has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of damage of an energy facility, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

The one-count indictment, returned on Dec. 2, named Brian M. Harbarger, 35, as a defendant.

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Sunoco Logistics withdraws zoning override requests for pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

Philadelphia-based Sunoco Logistics Partners LP has withdrawn requests to override local zoning ordinances for its Mariner East Pipeline.

The company has withdrawn nine of its requests before the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission.

The requests have turfned into a heated issue.

Click  here  to read the full story from March 9.

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Pennsylvania moving to curtail, ban open drilling waste pits

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is moving to discourage and, in some cases, ban the use of open waste pits in shale gas operations in favor of closed tanks, in a revised draft of drilling rules that the agency released last week.

The draft rules would ban waste pits at Marcellus and Utica shale gas well sites, and require companies to close or substantially upgrade large centralized wastewater storage ponds that have leaked and been implicated in soil and water contamination cases in the state in recent years.

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

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Cabot reports year-end proved reserves grow by 36 percent

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2015

From Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.:

HOUSTON, Feb. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (NYSE: COG) today reported year-end proved reserves of 7.4 trillion cubic feet equivalent (Tcfe), an increase of 36 percent over year-end 2013.  Specific highlights from the Company's year-end reserve report include:

"Cabot's proved reserve growth for 2014 represents the Company's fifth consecutive year of double-digit reserve growth, resulting in a five-year compounded annual growth rate of 29 percent," said Dan O. Dinges, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.  "The Company's finding and development costs are truly impressive when taking into consideration that 43 percent of the 2014 investment program was directed toward oil initiatives in the Eagle Ford Shale that by nature are more capital intensive.  In addition, this initiative resulted in a 100 percent increase in our liquids proved reserve base year-over-year."  Dinges added, "Our reserve growth continues to be driven primarily by our organic drilling programs in the Marcellus Shale and Eagle Ford Shale, where we have an extensive inventory of future drilling projects that will continue to allow for reserve growth in 2015 despite reduced activity levels."

The table below reconciles the components driving the 2014 reserve increase:

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Federal agency orders new valves on 6,000 rail tank cars

By Bob Downing Published: March 14, 2015

The Federal Railway Administration on Friday ordered the owners of about 6,000 rail tank cars to replace unapproved valves that may contribute to crude oil leaks.

Click  here to read the full story.

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U.S. drilling rigs dropped by 67 to 1,125, Baker Hughes says

By Bob Downing Published: March 14, 2015

From the Associated Press on Friday:

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. fell by 67 this week to 1,125 amid depressed oil prices.

Houston-based Baker Hughes said today that 866 rigs were seeking oil and 257 exploring for natural gas. Two were listed as miscellaneous. The count is down from 1,809 rigs active a year ago.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas lost 37 rigs, Louisiana declined by seven, Oklahoma was down five, North Dakota and Ohio four each, New Mexico and Wyoming three apiece, Colorado two, and Alaska, Kansas and Utah by one each.

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CONSOL Energy cuts 2015 capital budget due to low gas prices

By Bob Downing Published: March 13, 2015

From CONSOL Energy today:

 

PITTSBURGH , March 13, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) announced today a revised 2015 E&P capital expenditure ( CAPEX ) forecast of $920 million , excluding business development, permitting, and land acquisitions, which is a decrease from the initial $1.0 billion E&P capital plan that was announced in January 2015 . The revised budget reflects a continued focus to high-grade the development plan to further reduce capital in a lower commodity price environment, while maintaining the E&P production growth target of 30% in 2015. In addition to reducing capital, CONSOL also continues to make significant progress on driving operating costs lower through cutting costs and implementing efficiency improvements with the goal of keeping its year-end 2015 leverage ratio flat, when compared to 2014. Excluding Marcellus gathering capital of approximately $100 million , CONSOL expects to allocate approximately 52% of the remaining E&P capital budget towards dry-gas development. CONSOL is retaining the flexibility to increase activity levels in the second half of 2015 if the forward trend in gas prices justifies increasing production. Whether CONSOL increases its activity levels in 2015 will largely determine the production growth in 2016, which the company expects to exceed 20% over 2015 production levels.

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Three killed in oil field rig explosion in West Texas

By Bob Downing Published: March 13, 2015

From the Associated Press on Wednesday:

An oil field rig has exploded in West Texas, killing three workers.

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Exxon Mobil says U.S. needs to adjust energy policies

By Bob Downing Published: March 13, 2015

From Seeking Alpha today:

Exxon statement says U.S. needs to adjust energy policies

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Pennsylvania names members to drilling advisory panel

By Bob Downing Published: March 13, 2015

From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently:

HARRISBURG -- The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the members of the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board (TAB). TAB’s mission is to increase transparency and communication about regulating the unconventional oil and gas drilling industry.
TAB is authorized under the 2012 Oil and Gas Act to advise DEP in the formulation, drafting, and presentation stages of all regulations relating to unconventional oil and gas extraction. TAB will be given the opportunity to review and comment on all regulations of a technical nature prior to submission to the Environmental Quality Board.
TAB consists of five members, all of whom are chosen by the Governor and are residents of Pennsylvania. All board members were appointed on March 9, 2015.
There are five TAB members appointed by the governor. Three members are either petroleum engineers, petroleum geologists or drillers with at least three years of experience in Pennsylvania. One member is a coal mining engineer with three years of experience in Pennsylvania. The last voting member is a geologist, petroleum engineer or driller with three years of experience in Pennsylvania, chosen from three candidates supplied by the Citizens Advisory Council to the governor.The Advisory Board members include:

• Fred J. Baldassare, P.G., Owner & Senior Geoscientist, ECHELON Applied Geoscience Consulting
• David A. Yoxtheimer, P.G., Hydrogeologist, Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research at The Pennsylvania State University
• Robert C. Hendricks, P.G., Water Team Lead/Groundwater Protection Lead Appalachia, Shell Exploration and Production Company
• Casey V. Saunders, P.E., Pennsylvania Coal Operations Senior Project Engineer, CONSOL Energy
• Bryan J. McConnell, P.G., Environmental Program Manager, Tenaska, Inc.
The non-voting members of the Advisory Board are selected by the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. These members are:
• John Walliser, Esq., Vice President of Legal & Government Affairs, Pennsylvania Environmental Council
• W. Michael Griffin, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Center for Energy and Decision Making, Carnegie Mellon University
• Emily Krafjack, President, Connection for Oil, Gas, & Environment in the Northern Tier, Inc.
• Barbara G. Kutchko, Ph.D., P.E., Physical Scientist, National Energy Technology Laboratory at the US Department of Energy

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Canada proposes new safety standards for crude oil tank cars

By Bob Downing Published: March 13, 2015

From the Associated Press earlier this week:

The Canadian government has proposed tough new standards for rail tank cars used to transport crude oil in response to a string of fiery crashes.

The proposal, posted online Wednesday by Transport Canada, would require the cars to have outer "jackets," a layer of thermal protection, and thicker steel walls.

The requirements are tougher than the oil industry wanted. But the proposal doesn't include electronically controlled brakes that automatically stop train cars at the same time instead of sequentially, which are opposed by freight railroads. Regulators said they will take that issue up separately.

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Rice Energy's five wells produce 80 million cubic feet per day

By Bob Downing Published: March 13, 2015

From friend Jim Willis, editor of the Marcellus Drilling News:

Pennsylvania-based Rice Energy reported that its five Utica wells in Ohio's Belmont County are in aggregate producing close to 80 millioncubic feet per day in natural gas.

Each of the five wells is producing 15.5 million to 16 million per day, said CEO Dan Rice in a telephone conference with analysts and the media.

The wells are Bigfoot 9H, Blue Thunder 10H and 12H and God Digger 1H and 3H.

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Judge strikes down Broadview Heights' community bill of rights

By Bob Downing Published: March 13, 2015

A Cuyahoga County judge has struck down Broadview Heights’ community bill of rights that banned additional drilling.

The action came from Judge Michael Astrab in what was a major victory for Ohio’s drilling industry.

Astrab said the city’s community bill of rights conflicts with state law that gives the Ohio Department of Natural Resources sole authority to regulate drillers since 2004.

Many had questioned whether such community bills of rights are legal in Ohio, and the Broadview Heights case is the first Ohio case to get a legal review.

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Judge rejects Broadview Heights' community bill of rights

By Bob Downing Published: March 13, 2015

A Cuyahoga County judge has struck down a Cleveland suburb's charter amendment that sought to ban drilling, in a major victory for the Ohio drilling industry.

The ruling on Wednesday came from Judge Michael Astrab in a case that involves the community of Broadview Heights and its community bill of rights.

Astrab said the city's charter conflicts with state law that gives sole and exclusive authority to oversee drilling to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The Ohio Supreme Court recently issued a similar finding in a case involving the city of Munroe Falls.

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EIA projects modest Utica Shale growth through April 2015

By Bob Downing Published: March 13, 2015

From the Vorys law firm on Thursday:

EIA’s March Drilling Productivity Report Posted in Energy

EIA’s March Drilling Productivity Report estimates modest growth in Utica Shale production through April 2015. The report forecasts that oil production will increase by 3 Mbbl per day while gas production will increase by 50 MMcf per day.

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New Concord fire chief wins OGEEP fire safety award

By Bob Downing Published: March 13, 2015

New Concord Fire Chief Brent Gates in the winner of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Prorogram's 2015 Pipeline Award for fire safety.

Gates has headed the department in Ohio's Muskingum County since 1992.

The award was presented on Thursday at the winter meeting in Columbus of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.

OOGEEP also saluted Eric Smith who served on irs board of directors from 2011-2015.

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PDC Energy donates $20,000 to OOGEEP for teacher training

By Bob Downing Published: March 13, 2015

Colorado-based PDC Energy has donated $20,000 to the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program for additional teacher training.

The award was made om Thursday at the Ohio Oil and Gas Association's winter meeting in Columbus.

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Oil price drop producing lower tax revenue for top crude states

By Bob Downing Published: March 13, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Adminstration on Thursday:

 

The decline in spot oil prices in the last half of 2014 and first month of 2015 has reduced oil and natural gas production tax revenues in some of the largest oil- and natural gas-producing states.

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Company wants to restart Ohio injection operation after quakes

By Bob Downing Published: March 13, 2015

American Water Management Services Inc. asked a state panel Wednesday to allow it to resume operations at a Trumbull County injection well after seismic activity near the site last year, the Youngstown Vindicator reported on Thursday.

The state ordered the company to cease operations at the Weathersfield Township site after two minor quakes in July and August. The company appealed that order and wants the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission to allow it to restart oilfield waste injections, though at a lower rate.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Drillers tap into Clinton, Berea sandstones with horizontal wells

By Bob Downing Published: March 13, 2015

COLUMBUS: Experimental horizontal wells in Ohio and surrounding states show great promise as a way for drillers to tap into the much-drilled Clinton sandstone, industry representatives say.

Such wells are three times more costly than comparable vertical-only wells, but the horizontal wells are seven to eight times more productive, said Mark Lytle, CEO emeritus of Wooster-based Buckeye Oil Producing Co.

The new wells are "not monster gas wells," but his company was very surprised at the volume of natural gas that was tapped, he said.

His company has drilled a horizontal well in the Berea sandstone in West Virginia and hopes to drill one Clinton sandstone well in Ohio this year, he said Thursday at the Ohio Oil and Gas Association’s winter meeting. The three-day program attracted more than 1,000 people and it wraps up on Friday.

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Chesapeake Energy testing waterless fracking at Ohio oil well

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2015

Chesapeake Energy is working to test waterless fracking at an oil well in Tuscarawas County in Ohio;s Utica Shale.

Click  here  to read more from Columbus Business First.

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Tax cuts are not good for Ohio, says Policy Matters Ohio

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2015

From Policy Matters Ohio:

 

Ohio needs more revenue, not more cuts

Policy Matters outlines tax proposal flaws in testimony to lawmakers

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Chesapeake sees greatest potential in Ohio's Utica Shale

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2015

Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy is very happy with its Utica Shale holdings in eastern Ohio, a company spokesman told Columbus Business First.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Ohio groups support chemical disclosure to first responders

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2015

From two grass-roots Ohio groups, Communities United for Responsible Energy and SafeOhioNow, today:

 

 

Who: Communities United for Responsible Energy/SafeOhioNow

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Pipelines needed to move gas from Tioga County's Utica Shale

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2015

Seneca Resources has reported that it has drilled a Utica Shale well in Tioga County on state forest lands in north-central Pennsylvania.

That well is producing 22.7 million cubic feet of naturdal gas per day.

The state forest tract holds great promise although pipelines are needed to transport that natural gas to market.

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

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New gas-fired power plant proposed near Clarksburg, W. Va.

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2015

Developers Andrew and Matt Dorn have signed a preliminary agreement to build a new gas-fired power plant near Clarksburg, W. Va.

ESC Harrison County Power has signed an agreement with Harrison County.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Eclipse Resources in talks for a Utica Shale joint venture

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2015

From the Pittsburgh Business Times last week:

A Pennsylvania-based drilling company is cutting back further on its drilling plans in Ohio and is considering a joint venture as lower natural gas prices continue to bite the industry.

Eclipse Resources Corp., which drills primarily in the eastern Ohio's Utica Shale, said in a statement it was in talks with unnamed companies for a joint venture that would "accelerate drilling on its assets without burdening the company's balance sheet."

Click  here  to read the full story..

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WGL Midstream is new partner in Mountain Valley Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2015

From Pittsburgh-based EQT Energy today:

Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, a joint venture between affiliates of EQT Corporation (NYSE: EQT) and NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE) today announced that a subsidiary of WGL Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: WGL), WGL Midstream, has acquired a 7% ownership interest in the joint venture, and a subsidiary of Vega Energy Partners, Ltd., Vega Midstream MVP LLC, has acquired a 3% interest. NextEra Energy will hold a 35% interest; and as previously announced, EQT Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE: EQM) is expected to assume EQT’s 55% majority interest in the joint venture and to operate the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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EQT to sell West Virginia gathering system for $1.05 billion

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2015

Pittsburgh-based energy company EQT Corp. plans to sell its Northern West Virginia Marcellus Gathering System, along with a preferred interest in an EQT subsidiary, for $1.05 billion to the company’s pipeline arm, EQT Midstream Partners, the company said on Tuesday.

EQT Corp. will receive $997.5 million in cash and $52.5 million in common and general partner units.

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

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Pennsylvania releases stricter drilling rules, surface activities

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2015

From Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection earlier this week:

HARRISBURG -- The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the latest draft revisions of the Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites, continuing DEP’s record of modernizing and strengthening the environmental controls employed by this industry to assure the protection of public safety.

“These proposed revisions focus on the need to protect public safety and the environment while enabling drilling to proceed,” said Acting DEP Secretary John Quigley.

The proposed amendments to Chapter 78 address surface activities at oil and gas well sites, and center on five core areas. The regulation amendments are proposed to:

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Bakken producer Whiting Petroleum is seeking a buyer

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2015

From earlier this week:

Whiting Petroleum Corp., the largest oil producer in North Dakota's Bakken Shale, has hired a bank to pursue a possible sale, people familiar with the matter said.

The Denver-based company, which has a market value of $5.7 billion, has reached out to potential buyers including Norway’s Statoil ASA, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Whiting, which acquired Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. for $3.8 billion last year, is searching for a buyer as the price of crude oil has fallen by half since July to about $50 a barrel. The company has been exploring the sale of its oil and gas processing assets in North Dakota, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

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Western Maryland activists to rally March 11 in Annapolis

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2015

From a press release today from Maryland groups:

Annapolis, Md. – On Wednesday, March 11, Western Marylanders are coming to Annapolis to help deliver over 20,000 messages to state lawmakers calling for a long-term moratorium on fracking before testifying before the House Committee on Environment and Transportation in favor of the Protect Our Health and Communities Act (HB 449/SB 409). During a noon press conference on Lawyers' Mall, Western Maryland business leaders will emphasize how fracking threatens the region's booming tourism industry, and why a moratorium is needed to protect the local economy. Over 100 business leaders from Western Maryland also signed onto a letter, to be delivered on Wednesday, urging the moratorium.

Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo and Senator Karen Montgomery are the two lead sponsors on the Protect Our Health and Communities Act (HB 449/SB 409), introduced in February, to enact a long-term moratorium on fracking in the state. Business owners are in favor of a moratorium due to concerns that fracking will negatively impact the booming tourism industry in Maryland.

Fracking is a controversial natural gas drilling method that involves blasting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at extreme pressure to break up rock and release the gas. Maryland’s new governor, Larry Hogan, has said he wants to move forward with drilling — despite the growing evidence of its harm and the most recent polling, which shows a clear majority are concerned about those risks.

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Natural gas rush could result in higher energy bills in future

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2015

From the Union of Concerned Scientists today:

TODAY’S RUSH TO NATURAL GAS COULD MEAN HIGHER ENERGY BILLS TOMORROW

NEW REPORT SHOWS DIVERSIFYING ELECTRICITY MIX WITH RENEWABLES, ENERGY EFFICIENCY CAN LIMIT RISKS OF NATURAL GAS OVERRELIANCE

WASHINGTON (March 10, 2015) — Homes and businesses across the country are becoming increasingly vulnerable to higher electricity bills as utilities rely more and more on natural gas to generate electricity, according to a report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Ramping up energy efficiency and renewable energy resources like solar and wind power would help insulate consumers against these economic risks, while also diversifying the power mix and reducing climate risks by cutting heat-trapping carbon emissions.

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Eco-groups align to challenge FERC review of pipeline projects

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2015

A press release received today from anti-pipeline groups in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia:

 

Environmental Groups Align Efforts to Challenge FERC Pipeline Projects

Groups claim federal agency facilitates fracking for shale gas

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Ohio has 1,386 drilled Utica wells, 821 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2015

Ohio has approved 1,852 Utica shale permits, as of March 7.

Of that total, 1,386 Utica wells have been drilled and 821 Utica wells are in production, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said.

A total of 33 rigs are working in Ohio.

Twenty new permits were approved: six in Belmont County, one in Columbiana County, five in Harrison County, four in Monroe County and four in Noble County.

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Gov. Wolf proposes tougher drilling rules in Pennsylvania

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2015

From the Associated Press on Monday:

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A forthcoming proposal to toughen regulations for the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling industry will target how it stores waste, dampens noise and affects public water resources, schools and playgrounds, state environmental regulators said Monday.

The proposal is the first signal from Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration of how it will approach the natural gas industry after the Democrat campaigned last year on a promise to toughen state regulation of the industry. He also is seeking lawmakers’ approval of higher taxes on booming natural gas production to boost aid to public schools.

The administration’s approach to waste storage was motivated, in part, by leaking wastewater impoundments in southwestern Pennsylvania that prompted the Department of Environmental Protection last year to pursue multimillion-dollar fines.

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North Carolina pipeline hearing attracts 100 people

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2015

From the Associated Press today:

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Supporters of a proposed $5 billion natural gas pipeline through eastern North Carolina say it will bring jobs to parts of the state that need them most.

But opponents worry the project will hurt property values and likely will not result in the number of jobs that supporters suggest.

Media outlets report about 100 people turned out Monday in Fayetteville for a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hearing on the pipeline.

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2015 additions mostly wind, natural gas; retirements mostly coal

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

 

In 2015, electric generating companies expect to add more than 20 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale generating capacity to the power grid. The additions are dominated by wind (9.8 GW), natural gas (6.3 GW), and solar (2.2 GW), which combine to make up 91% of total additions. Because different types of generating capacity have very different utilization rates, with nuclear plants and natural gas combined-cycle generators having utilization factors three to five times those of wind and solar generators, capacity measures alone do not directly show how much generation is actually provided by new capacity of each type. Nearly 16 GW of generating capacity is expected to retire in 2015, 81% of which (12.9 GW) is coal-fired generation.

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Ohio likely to get ballot issue, if Kasich's severance tax effort fails

By Bob Downing Published: March 9, 2015

From the Associated Press on Friday:

COLUMBUS, Ohio: Gov. John Kasich says he foresees a ballot measure emerging if his latest effort to raise taxes on oil-and-gas drillers fails to get through the Legislature.

Kasich predicted at a news conference Friday that a citizen group or aspiring politician would spearhead the effort and seek rates even higher than he has proposed.

Kasich’s current budget proposal calls for a fixed rate on crude oil and natural gas of 6.5 percent at the wellhead, and a lower 4.5 percent for natural gas and natural gas liquids sold downstream.

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Marathon Petroleum announces management changes

By Bob Downing Published: March 9, 2015

From Marathon Petroleum last week:

FINDLAY, Ohio, March 3, 2015 - Marathon Petroleum Corporation (NYSE: MPC) President and Chief Executive Officer Gary R. Heminger today announced a series of key management changes at MPC headquarters, including the appointments of Donald C. Templin as executive vice president, Supply, Transportation and Marketing, and Timothy T. Griffith as senior vice president and chief financial officer. Both will report to Heminger.

Templin, who has served as senior vice president and chief financial officer since June 2011, will provide executive oversight for Supply, Distribution and Planning, Marketing, Transportation and Logistics, and Business Development.

"Don has provided outstanding stewardship of our financial affairs and demonstrated valuable leadership in our first years as a standalone public company, which has been enormously beneficial to our stakeholders," said Heminger. "He has also been instrumental in our strategic growth activities, including the acquisition of the Galveston Bay Refinery, the creation of MPLX LP and our recent purchase of Hess' retail assets. I am confident that he will continue to strengthen our company's future as he applies his commercial skills on the operating side of our business."

Griffith joined MPC in August 2011 as vice president of finance and treasurer, and assumed responsibility for investor relations in early 2014. In his new role, he will oversee the Accounting and Controller's group, Information Technology, Tax, Finance and Investor Relations, and will continue to serve as treasurer.

"Tim's leadership, financial acumen and proven ability to effectively communicate with investors have helped us build on the strong relationships we already have while forging new ones within the global investment community," Heminger said. "In his new role, Tim will remain an instrumental part of that ongoing focus."

In addition to the changes outlined above, Heminger announced that George P. Shaffner has been appointed senior vice president, Health, Environment, Safety and Security, and John S. Swearingen has been appointed senior vice president, Transportation and Logistics.

"We are very fortunate to have the deep bench strength needed to enable the members of our executive leadership team to seamlessly change responsibilities in order to maintain a strong succession model," Heminger said. "George's extensive operating experience and strong commitment to our environmental and safety values will greatly benefit our Health, Environment, Safety and Security function, while John's breadth of refining experience and previous role as president of Marathon Pipe Line LLC will serve the Transportation and Logistics organization well." Shaffner will report to Heminger and Swearingen will report to Templin.

Also reporting to Templin will be James P. Heintschel in the newly created role of vice president, Business Development. Heintschel served as Business Development director prior to this appointment. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Heintschel began his MPC career in 1978 in the Treasury organization in Findlay. He has since held various positions of increased responsibility in the Treasury, Supply and Transportation, Auditing, Accounting and Purchasing organizations. He transferred to Springfield, Ohio, in 1988, where he served as manager, Commercial Services, for Emro Marketing Company, the predecessor to Speedway LLC. In 1995, Heintschel returned to Findlay as manager, Pricing and Allocation in the Marketing organization. In 2002, he was named manager, Special Products Marketing. He assumed the role of director, Business Development, in January 2010.

Heintschel earned a bachelor's degree in finance from The Ohio State University in 1978 and an MBA from Bowling Green State University in 1980.

"I am delighted to welcome Jay to our executive leadership team," said Heminger. "His strong strategic expertise, astute commercial skills and track record as a leader will ensure that our company is well-positioned for business growth across all of our focus areas."

All executives involved in the moves will remain at MPC's headquarters in Findlay. These appointments are effective immediately.

For more information about MPC, including executive biographies, please visit http://www.marathonpetroleum.com.

 

###

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Crude oil train accident on Saturday in northern Ontario

By Bob Downing Published: March 9, 2015

From the Associated Press on Saturday:

GOGAMA, Ontario: A CN Rail train carrying crude oil derailed early Saturday in northern Ontario, causing numerous tank cars to catch fire and spill into a local river system, officials said.

It was the third CN oil train derailment in northern Ontario in less than a month, and the second in the same area, renewing concerns about the safety of shipping crude oil by train and further suggesting that new safety requirements for tank cars carrying flammable liquids are inadequate. CN said the cars had been retrofitted with protective shields to meet a higher safety standard known as the 1232.

The new standard was enacted in Canada after a fiery derailment of a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic oil train derailment in July 2013 in the center of Lac-Megantic, Quebec , killed 47 people, but oil trains meeting the new standard continue to derail and catch fire throughout North America.

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Group troubled by Illinois oil train accident near Galena

By Bob Downing Published: March 9, 2015

From ForestEthics on Friday:

Link to online version

Contact: Eddie Scher, 415-815-7027

Statement on Galena Oil Train Accident

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Changes in natural gas spot prices may be slow to hit consumers

By Bob Downing Published: March 9, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

 

While natural gas wholesale spot prices have dropped to relatively low levels since the end of 2014, these low prices have not translated directly into lower retail prices for consumers who use natural gas to heat their homes and businesses. This short-term lag is largely due to the nature of utility regulation. Over longer periods, changes in natural gas spot and residential prices are much more closely correlated.

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Seneca Resources reports on Utica Shale well in Tioga County

By Bob Downing Published: March 6, 2015

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y.--  Seneca Resources Corporation,  the wholly owned exploration and production subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Company,  has announced initial results from a recently completed well in the Utica Shale  in Tioga County, Pa.

Seneca recently completed an exploration well, targeted for the Utica Shale formation, on a pad located within its DCNR 007 tract in Tioga County, Pa. The well had a 24-hour peak production rate of 22.7 million cubic feet ("MMcf") of natural gas per day. The well was drilled to a true vertical depth of approximately 12,200 feet, had a treatable lateral length of 4,640 feet, and was completed over 30 stages.

Click  here  to read more.

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Kinder Morgan identifies shippers on New England pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: March 6, 2015

From the Associated Press:

CONCORD, N.H. — The Texas-based energy company that wants to build a natural gas pipeline through southern New Hampshire into Massachusetts has lined up utilities and other entities to transport the gas.

Kinder Morgan announced Thursday it had commitments from National Grid, Liberty Utilities, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, Connecticut Natural Gas Corp. and other anchor shippers to transport about 500 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. The pipeline’s capacity is from 1.2 billion to 2.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day.

The gas from the Marcellus Shale fields would travel from Wright, New York, to Dracut, Massachusetts.

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Statoil to pay nearly $2 million for illegal well in North Dakota

By Bob Downing Published: March 6, 2015

From the Associated Press on Thursday:

FARGO, N.D. — A Norway-based oil company accused of illegally operating a well in North Dakota that was planned by its predecessor has agreed to pay nearly $2 million to settle a civil suit.

Authorities say the well was drilled in December 2011 on unleased federal land about two weeks after Statoil Oil & Gas Services Inc. acquired Brigham Oil & Gas L.P.

An investigation that began two years later discovered that Statoil had produced and sold federally owned oil and natural gas valued at nearly $2 million.

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Illinois rail accident involved newer, safer crude oil cars

By Bob Downing Published: March 6, 2015

From the Associated Press:

GALENA, Ill. — The two rail cars that split open and burst into flames during a western Illinois oil train derailment were retrofitted with protective shields to meet a higher safety standard than federal law requires, the railroad said.

Thursday’s accident in a rural area south of the city of Galena is the latest failure of the safer tank car model and raises more concerns that even tougher requirements are needed.

Six of the BNSF Railway train’s 105 cars derailed in an area where the Galena River meets the Mississippi. Two of those cars burst into flames. No injuries have been reported.

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Lois Gibbs to speak on March 13 meeting in Youngstown

By Bob Downing Published: March 6, 2015

From FrackFree Mahnong Valley:

Nationally renowned leader who led the Love Canal, New York community out of harm’s way, author, and 2003 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Lois Gibbs, is coming to Youngstown, Ohio to share her story and address citizens’ concerns about man-made earthquakes, fracking waste injection wells, and drinking water:

A Townhall-style meeting featuring Lois Gibbs will be held on Friday, March 13, 2015, at 7 PM to 9 PM, at the The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown, located at 1105 Elm St., Youngstown, Ohio. (Elm & Illinois.)

 

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Ohio EPA to hold second public hearing on Ashtabula Energy plant

By Bob Downing Published: March 6, 2015

From the Ohio EPA on Thursday:

Ohio EPA will hold a public meeting on Thursday, March 19, 2015, regarding a draft wastewater discharge permit issued to Ashtabula Energy for a proposed industrial processing plant to be located on the south side of Lake Road East, just east of EMC Ashtabula LP, in Ashtabula.

 

An information session and public hearing is set to begin at 6 p.m. at Kent State University, Ashtabula Campus, Blue-Gold Room, 3300 Lake Road West, Ashtabula.

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Eclipse Resources releases fourth quarter, year-end results

By Bob Downing Published: March 5, 2015

Pennsylvania-based Eclipse Resources last nuight released its fourth quarter operational  results and year-end 2014 results.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Two natural gas-fired power plants proposed for Brooke County

By Bob Downing Published: March 5, 2015

New York-based Energy Solutions Consortium LLC wants to build two natural gas-fired power plants in Brooke County, W. Va.

The two plants together would generate up to 1,300 megawatts of power and would together have a $1 billion price tag.

The company has a similar plant at Moundsville, W. Va.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Gasfrac Energy Services selling off all operating assets, technology

By Bob Downing Published: March 5, 2015

From Gasfrac Energy Services:

 

GASFRAC ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT FOR THE SALE OF SUBSTANTIALLY ALL OPERATING ASSETS AND RELATED TECHNOLOGY AND CCAA UPDATE

Calgary, Alberta. March 3, 2015

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U.S. petroleum product exports increase for 13th consecutive year

By Bob Downing Published: March 5, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

 

U.S. exports of noncrude petroleum products from the United States averaged a record 3.8 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2014, an increase of 347,000 bbl/d from 2013, based on data from EIA's Petroleum Supply Monthly. In particular, exports of motor gasoline, propane, and butane increased, offsetting a decrease in distillate exports.

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Value of oil, natural gas jump 28.9 percent from 2007 to 2012

By Bob Downing Published: March 5, 2015

From U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday:

 

The U.S. Census Bureau released figures today from the Economic Census showing that the value of shipments for the nation’s crude petroleum and natural gas extraction (NAICS 211111) industry climbed 28.9 percent between 2007 and 2012, despite only an 8.5 percent increase in the number of establishments over the same period.

Value of shipments rose from $212.8 billion in 2007 to $274.3 billion in 2012, with the number of establishments increasing from 5,964 to 6,470.

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Responses to low oil prices to impact long-term supply dynamics

By Bob Downing Published: March 5, 2015

From GlobalData today:

LONDON, UK (GlobalData), 5 March 2015 - Governments’ responses to low oil prices will have a significant effect on supply dynamics for years to come, depending on whether fiscal regimes are adjusted to provide a landscape in which companies can make big development decisions, says an analyst with research and consulting firm GlobalData.

According to Will Scargill, GlobalData’s Upstream Fiscal Analyst, relatively low costs and the design of fiscal regimes in a number of countries should mitigate the impact of the recent price drop in most mature basins. However, the threat to Exploration and Production (E&P) companies’ bottom lines means that improved recovery in high-cost mature basins is compromised, new developments in growth areas are being put on hold, and unconventional development is slowing.

Scargill comments: “Several governments have taken positive steps to adapt to lower prices in recent months, with Argentina’s measures especially improving project economics. Argentina has reduced the investment threshold for the Investment Promotion Scheme for Hydrocarbon Production and has decreased the rate of export duty, for when oil prices are below $80 per barrel (bbl), to 10–13% from 45%, meaning fields should remain profitable at $50/bbl.

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BakerHostetler's shale oil, gas year in review, 2015 look forward

By Bob Downing Published: March 5, 2015

From the BakerHostetler law firm:

 

BakerHostetler's Shale Oil and Gas Industry 2014 Year in Review and 2015 Look Forward

Dear Bob:

BakerHostetler’s Energy and Shale Team is pleased to share with you its Shale Oil and Gas Industry 2014 Year in Review, which summarizes the key legislative, regulatory, and litigation-related changes taking place in the developing shale oil and gas industry. Among other things, the report analyzes:

 

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NiSource, Columbia Pipeline to build bigger midstream

By Bob Downing Published: March 5, 2015

From NiSource recently:

Weeks after opening many of its pipelines to investors with the initial public offering of Columbia Pipeline Partners, Indiana-based utility NiSource said it plans to spend billions more building out its midstream holdings.

NiSource, an electricity and home heating company, spun off its pipeline, midstream and storage business into master limited partnership Columbia Midstream Partners in early February.

The initial offering pushed through headwinds in the commodities business and has traded up about to $28.12 after a $23 dollar debut that raised $1.08 billion.

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23,000 West Virginia landowners facing higher property tax bills

By Bob Downing Published: March 5, 2015

Higher Marcellus and Utica shale production in West Virginia triggered higher state property tx bills for 23,000 West Virginia residents with leased mineral rights.

Click  here  to read the full story..

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EIA expected to report natural gas storage withdrawal, Platts says

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2015

From Platts today:

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FERC approves rerouting of Rockies Express Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2015

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved changing the Rockies Express Pipeline to become an east-to-west pipeline with approval for the switched routing from Monroe County, Ohio, to Moultrie County, Illinois.

Click  here  to read more.

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U.S. crude oil storage capacity up to 60 percent, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

 

Crude oil inventory data for the week ending February 20 show that total utilization of crude oil storage capacity in the United States stands at approximately 60%, compared with 48% at the same time last year. Most U.S. crude oil stocks are held in the Midwest and Gulf Coast, where storage tanks were at 69% and 56% of capacity, respectively, as of February 20. This capacity use calculation reflects only crude oil stored in tanks or underground caverns at tank farms and refineries, and excludes some crude oil that is included in commercial inventory data, such as pipeline fill and lease stocks held in production areas.

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Ohio sues BP for $33 million for alleged double dipping in cleanups

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2015

From the Associated Press on Monday:

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio is suing oil and gas company BP for more than $33 million, alleging it double dipped by taking state funds and money from insurers to clean up accidental leaks from underground storage tanks at hundreds of gas stations around the state.

The state’s attorney general and the Ohio Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Release Compensation Board filed the lawsuit Monday. The board administers a fund used as a last resort when tank owners lack coverage or don’t accept insurance money.

The lawsuit alleges London-based BP wrongfully obtained $33.3 million in reimbursements from the fund, saying it had no insurance for the leaks when it often accepted insurance money for the same releases.

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Anadarko to cut 2015 capital expenditures by 33 percent

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2015

Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp. is planning to cut capital spending by a third this year as it reduces drilling and delays well completions in response to plunging oil prices, executives said Tuesday.

The 33-percent spending cut includes its plan to bring down 40 percent of its U.S. land drilling rigs and to defer 125 onshore well completions, in part an effort to sway oil field service contractors to lower their their prices.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Wolf proposes $100,000 boost for health registry near drilling

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2015

In his budget plan unveiled Tuesday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf proposed a $100,000 funding increase to the state Department of Health to create a registry to monitor people who live near natural gas drilling sites.

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

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Mineral named after late Kent State University geology professor

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2015

 

Northern Ohio is now the birthplace of one of the world's new mineral species.

Carlsonite — named after a long-time Kent State University geology professor — was discovered at a shale fire along the Huron River in 2009.

The discovery was named after Ernest H. Carlson (1933-2010), a Kent State professor starting in the 1966-1967 school year.

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Ohio has 1,382 drilled Utica wells, 818 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2015

Ohio has approved 1,837 Utica shale permits, as of Feb. 28, says the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Of that total, 1,382 Utica wells have been drilled and 818 Utica wells are in production.

Ohio has 37 rigs at work.

A total of 13 new permits were approved: seven in Carroll County, one in Columbiana County, one in Jefferson County and four in Monroe County.

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API is fighting additional Pennsulvania severance tax plan

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute-Pennsylvania on Tuesday:

Harrisburg, Pa., March 3, 2015—API-PA Executive Director Stephanie Catarino Wissman criticized Governor Wolf’s proposed budget plan for including an additional severance tax on natural gas development in Pennsylvania that will harm job growth and weaken the state’s economy.

“The governor’s proposed tax hike could threaten the future of our state’s best job creators,” said Wissman. “The current local impact tax, which is collected from every shale drilling site in the state, has distributed more than $630 million to communities since 2012 – including more than $224 million in just 2014. That’s on top of over $2.1 billion in state and local taxes already generated by our industry.”

As recorded by the Governor’s Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania continues to shatter the commonwealth’s records in natural gas production, producing more natural gas each year. In 2014 the commonwealth was among the top two states in the nation for natural gas production with four trillion cubic feet of natural gas produced, a 30 percent increase over 2013's record production numbers.

“More growth means more jobs and more revenue; higher taxes mean driving development away from Pennsylvania, costing jobs and the loss of revenue which can pay for education, transportation, healthcare, and other state programs,” said Wissman. “The governor should focus on choosing forward-looking pro-energy policies that will continue to benefit the commonwealth and its citizens.”

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

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API wants to lift U.S. trade restrictions on crude oil in 2015

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday:

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2015 ─ During today’s House energy hearing, lawmakers should consider ways to move toward lifting U.S. trade restrictions on crude oil this year, according to API.

“The U.S. energy revolution has transformed the global landscape, creating countless economic opportunities for American workers and consumers,” said API Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Louis Finkel. “To continue growing as an energy superpower, America must have policies that reflect modern energy markets, rather than policies based on a market that existed in the 1970s. Study after study shows that free trade in crude oil will mean more jobs, downward pressure on fuel costs, and could reduce the power that foreign suppliers have over our allies overseas.

“Today’s hearing is not the first to explore U.S. energy exports, but it marks a fresh opportunity for a new Congress to move quickly this year and harness the wide-ranging economic benefits free trade. Our competitors overseas are working hard to lock-in their economic advantages as exporters, and we must act now to ensure U.S. producers can compete effectively for a share of the global market. It’s the smart thing to do for U.S. consumers, for U.S. workers, and for the energy security of America and its allies.

The consensus among policy experts, economists, and analysts is overwhelmingly in favor of exports, and we’re sharing that information with API’s extensive grassroots network to ensure that lawmakers hear from their constituents. The Senate has already scheduled their next hearing on exports, and we’re optimistic that this issue will continue to gain bipartisan momentum in the months ahead.”

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 625 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 30 million Americans.
 

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Company names vice president of reservoir engineering

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2015

From Magnum Hunter Resources today:

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwired - Mar 4, 2015) - Magnum Hunter Resources Corporation ( NYSE : MHR ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRC ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRD ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRE ) (the "Company" or "Magnum Hunter") announced that the Company has appointed Charlie Gibson as Vice President of Reservoir Engineering effective March 2, 2015. Mr. Gibson, age 56, will report to Gary C. Evans, Chairman & CEO of Magnum Hunter.

Mr. Gibson brings more than 30 years of engineering experience, including operations, reservoir and reserve reporting, primarily within growth oriented oil and natural gas companies. Prior to joining Magnum Hunter, Mr. Gibson served as Senior Vice President of Production Operations at Denbury Resources, Inc. ("Denbury") since June 2014. During his twelve year tenure at Denbury, he held many managerial positions including Senior Vice President of Planning, Technology and Business Development, Vice President of its West Region and Vice President of Reservoir Engineering and Geology. Mr. Gibson was a key participant in Denbury's significant business decisions. He was also involved in its analysis of potential acquisitions and integral to its reserve engineering process. Prior to joining Denbury, Mr. Gibson served in various reservoir and engineering roles at Coho Resources and ORYX Energy. Mr. Gibson earned a Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering degree from Louisiana State University.

Magnum Hunter Management Comments

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Two groups seek legal action against Ohio drilling wastes

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2015

From two clean-water groups today:

WATER PROTECTION GROUPS GO ON OFFENSIVE AGAINST

UNREGULATED RADIOACTIVE FRACKING WASTE FACILITIES

 

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McClendon's firm seeks to sell 29,000 Utica acres in Ohio

By Bob Downing Published: March 3, 2015

American Energy Partners LP is looking to sell 29,000 acres from its undeveloped Ohio Utica shale portfolio.

The land is in two different parts of eastern Ohio: About 18,000 acres in Noble, Guernsey and Tuscarawas counties on the western edge of the play, and 11,000 acres in Jefferson, Columbiana and Carroll counties, according to Columbus Business First.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Assessing water quality in areas with fracked oil, gas wells

By Bob Downing Published: March 3, 2015

From the U.S. Geolocial Survey today:

This release can be found in the USGS Newsroom at: http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=4138.

 

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Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank looks at energy production, prices

By Bob Downing Published: March 3, 2015

Christopher Vecchio of the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank has authored a new report on trends in energy production and prices in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky for oil, natural gas and coal.

Click  here  to read the full report.

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Ohio records will be spotlighted in March 13 Youngstown program

By Bob Downing Published: March 3, 2015

From Frackfree Mahoning Valley:

Frackfree Mahoning Valley says newly obtained public documents show that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) denied a Mahoning County injection permit based upon their finding that “ … the Khalil #3 saltwater injection well is located in close proximity to an area of known seismic activity”:

If ODNR has not already done so, Frackfree Mahoning Valley calls for ODNR to uphold this order despite company’s letter saying it will appeal the Chief’s Order:

Frackfree Mahoning Valley is planning a Townhall – style, open public meeting on Friday, March 13, 2015, featuring a nationally renowned leader and speaker, to discuss these documents and what communities can do to protect their drinking water, air, land and public health, safety, and property values in relation to fracking waste injection wells and man-made earthquakes.

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What's the Utica? Halcon Resources has no plans for Utica Shale

By Bob Downing Published: March 3, 2015

The Marcellus Drilling News reported two months ago that Texas-based Halcon Resources Corp. had no plans to drill in 2015 in the Utica Shale.

Colorful chairman and CEO Floyd Wilson had previously referred to s***** Utica Shale wells that the company had drilled in Ohio. And he did not want any more of those kind of wells.

Here is the latest exchange bwteen Wilson and an analyst:

Jason A. Gilbert – Goldman Sachs & Co.
Okay. And then last one, if I might, what are your plans for the Utica?

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UGI cuts natural gas price to customers by 3.8 percent

By Bob Downing Published: March 3, 2015

Pennsylvania's UGI Utilies cut its rate charged to customers by 3.8 percent becaise of the volume of available Marcellus Shale natural gas.

The price per month dropped from $85.43 to $82.20.

Click  here  to read more.

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Warren Resources offers updated look at 2014 reserves

By Bob Downing Published: March 3, 2015

From Warren Resources today:

 

NEW YORK , March 3, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Warren Resources, Inc. ("Warren" or the "Company") (Nasdaq:WRES) today announced its year-end 2014 estimated proved oil and gas reserves.

Warren's estimated proved oil and gas reserves totaled 428.1 billion cubic feet of oil equivalent ("Bcfe") at December 31, 2014 , an increase of approximately 111% from the 202.5 Bcfe at year-end 2013. Total proved reserves for 2014 were 24% crude oil ( California ) and 76% natural gas ( Pennsylvania and Wyoming ). Proved developed producing ("PDP") and proved developed nonproducing ("PDNP") reserves were 59% of total proved reserves at year-end 2014, and 41% of total proved reserves were proved undeveloped ("PUD").

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WPX Energy is trimming 8 percent of company workforce

By Bob Downing Published: March 3, 2015

Tulsa-based  WPX Energy  is trimming its company-wide workforce by approximately 8 percent and consolidating most of its regional office staff in Denver, Colo. , together with personnel at the company’s headquarters in Tulsa, Okla.

Eighty-three employees are being notified that their positions are affected by the workforce reduction, including 44 in Tulsa , 25 in Denver , 11 in Parachute, Colo. , two in New Mexico and one in North Dakota .

Click  here  to read the company's full statement.

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Gulf of Mexico oil production expected to keep increasing

By Bob Downing Published: March 3, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Infromation Administartion today:

Because of the long timelines associated with Gulf of Mexico (GOM) projects, the recent downturn in oil prices is expected to have minimal direct impact on GOM crude oil production through 2016. EIA projects GOM production to reach 1.52 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2015 and 1.61 million bbl/d in 2016, or about 16% and 17% of total U.S. crude oil production in those two years, respectively.

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Magnum Hunter Resources releases year-end 2014 reports

By Bob Downing Published: March 2, 2015

From Magnum Hunter Resources today:

 

New Record Daily Production of ~205.8 MMcfe/d (34,299 Boe/d); New Record Throughput on Eureka Hunter Pipeline of ~463,400 MMBtu/d

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwired - Mar 2, 2015) - Magnum Hunter Resources Corporation ( NYSE : MHR ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRC ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRD ) ( NYSE MKT : MHR.PRE ) (the "Company" or "Magnum Hunter") announced today financial and operating results for the three months and twelve months ended December 31, 2014. The Company plans to file its Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2014 with the Securities and Exchange Commission later today, Monday, March 2, 2015. Highlights of the Company's financial and operating results include the following:

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U.S. rig count drops by 43 to 1,267, Baker Hughes reports

By Bob Downing Published: March 2, 2015

Baker Hughes reports that the number of U.S. drilling rigs dropped by 43 the week of Feb. 27 to 1,267 rigs.

That number of rigs has dropped by 502 from a year earlier.

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EV Energy to sell off interest in Ohio processing, separation plants

By Bob Downing Published: March 2, 2015

Texas-based EV Energy Partners intends to sell off its interest in processing facilities in the Utica Shale in eastern Ohio.

It is seeking a buyer for its 21 percent interest in Utica East Ohio, which operates natural gas-processing plants in Columbiana and Carroll counties and a liquids-separating plant in Harrison County.

The company said it hopes to close the sale soon. It has invested $294 million in the processing.

Last fall, EV Energy Partners sold its 9 percent interest in Ohio’s Cardinal Gas Services to two South Korean companies for $162 million.

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Enlink Midstream extends signup for Ohio condensate pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: March 2, 2015

From EnLink Midstream on Friday:

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

 

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

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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.