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Philadelphia residents barred from Chamber energy meeting

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

Residents Barred From Entering Meeting about City’s Energy Future
Groups Rally to Assert City’s “Right to Breathe” as Chamber Meets Behind Closed Doors

Philadelphia, Pa.: Just days after news of yet another fossil fuel industry mishap, Philadelphia residents rallied for their Right to Breathe outside a Chamber of Commerce meeting where local residents were purposefully barred from attending the meeting. Local residents from ACTION United had bought tickets to enter the event in order to learn about the expansions being discussed for the Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery — yet had their tickets revoked two days before the event.
"Phil Rinaldi's projects have huge impacts on my community in Southwest Philly,” said Sheree Arnold, an ACTION United member and resident of Southwest Philly. “We're already suffering the impacts of the poison out of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery -- high asthma rates and cancer. I was planning on attending the meeting today to hear exactly what Rinaldi's planning with his giant pipeline to bring more gas to Philadelphia. I wanted to learn more so I could inform my community on what to expect. But our tickets were refunded -- and we were kicked out of the meeting. Phil Rinaldi is truly having secret, closed door meetings for the rich and powerful only. He pays no attention to those he poisons."
Instead, residents and local groups rallied outside protest the fossil fuel expansions and projects and the fact that the meeting was not open to the public. The protest was coordinated by Green Justice Philly, a coalition working to fight the fossil fuel industry’s plans to expand their presence in the Philadelphia area, and comes on the heels of news of another accident at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) refinery on Friday when a small fire occurred at the refinery.
The Chamber of Commerce committee convening the meeting is headed by Phil Rinaldi, CEO of PES, the South Philadelphia refinery complex which emits over two-thirds of the toxic releases from industrial sources in the city. Rinaldi and others from the regional fossil fuel industry have been pushing a plan to build out fossil fuel infrastructure including shale oil trains, pipelines, terminals and refineries as a plan for Philadelphia’s economic development. Opponents cite the danger of already existing pipelines and trains carrying highly polluting and dangerous shale oil and gas products, along with an asthma epidemic and other health and safety impacts from fossil fuel refining as a reason for decision-makers to deny permits for these projects and instead promote a green economy by supporting renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.
“Philadelphia Energy Solutions has been cited 24 times for violations since 2013,” said Dr.
Walter Tsou of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Every year, they release thousands of
tons of toxins in the Philadelphia area, contributing to respiratory disease in our
communities. Allowing more dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure in our city is rewarding
bad behavior and is like starting a record company at the dawn of the internet.”
Green Justice Philly is a diverse and growing coalition committed to building a healthy,
sustainable and economically just Philadelphia region. We work together to oppose the dirty
fossil fuel industry that puts our neighborhoods at risk and makes our citizens sick, and
cannot contribute to our long-term prosperity.
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NiSource, Dominion join new EPA Methane Challenge program

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2016

From press releases from NiSource and Dominion:

From NiSource:

MERRILLVILLE, Ind., March 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI), one of the nation's largest fully regulated energy companies operating locally under the Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands, today joined the Environmental Protection Agency's Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program as a founding member. The voluntary partnership program was launched today at the Global Methane Forum in Washington, D.C.

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More details on new study looking at Mackinac oil pipelines

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2016

From a press release today from the National Wildlife Federation:

More than 700 miles of Great Lakes shoreline potentially vulnerable to Straits of Mackinac oil spills

 

ANN ARBOR—More than 700 miles of shoreline in lakes Huron and Michigan are potentially vulnerable to oil spills if the pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinac ruptures, according to a new University of Michigan computer-modeling study.

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Mackinac pipelines could pollute Huron, Michigam shorelines

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2016

From the Associated Press today:

A newly released study says hundreds of miles of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron shoreline are at risk of contamination if oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac rupture.
The report by the University of Michigan Water Center is based on 840 computer simulations of possible spills from twin lines that run across the floor of the straits linking Michigan’s two peninsulas.
They are owned by the Canadian company Enbridge, which says they’ve never leaked and remain in good shape. Environmentalists are pushing to have them removed.
Hydrodynamics expert David Schwab directed the study released Thursday. He says when all simulated spills are plotted on a map, 720 miles of shoreline in the U.S. and Canada are considered potentially vulnerable. High-risk areas include Mackinac Island and shores near Mackinaw City.

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Australia's Gorgon terminal ships first LNG cargo

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Australia's Gorgon project, one of the largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in the world, shipped its first cargo last week to Japan. Located on Barrow Island off the coast of northwestern Australia, the project includes a domestic natural gas plant, a carbon dioxide injection project, and an LNG export facility. Its three liquefaction units, also known as trains, have a combined capacity of 2.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). The first train was commissioned in March, with the second and third trains to follow at six- to nine-month intervals. The Gorgon project took more than six years to develop, with the original estimated capital costs of $37 billion U.S. dollars in 2009 growing to $54 billion by 2013, making it the world's most expensive LNG project to date.

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Tags: Australia , LNG (liquefied natural gas)

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Kinder Morgan halts work on $1 billion Palmetto Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2016

From the Associated Press:

Texas-based Kinder Morgan says it is halting work on the $1 billion Palmetto Pipeline after Georgia lawmakers approved a one-year moratorium on permits for petroleum pipelines in the state.

Houston’s Kinder Morgan said in a statement Wednesday it has “suspended further work on the Palmetto Pipeline project,” which would have carried gasoline, diesel and ethanol across 360 miles from South Carolina through Georgia and into Florida.

The project met stiff opposition from both environmental groups and landowners whose property the company hoped to build upon using eminent domain laws. The project had already received setbacks from the Georgia Department of Transportation and a Fulton County judge.

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Nebraska approves new rules for oil, natural gas drilling

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2016

From the Associated Press on Wednesday:

Nebraska has adopted new regulations for the state’s oil and gas industry.

Gov. Pete Ricketts signed the measure into law on Wednesday.

The law by Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala will require periodic sampling and reporting of fracking waste fluids and monitoring of produced water transporters.

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ODNR says Ohio has 12 rigs at work in Utica Shale

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2016

Ohio has approved 2,152 Utica shale permits, as of March 26.

That total includes 1,703 drilled Utica wells and 1,252 producing Utica wells.

Twelve rigs were reported at work in Ohio.

Three new permits were approved: one in Carroll County and two in Monroe County.

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Philadelphia shale boosters want more pipelines, energy hub

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2016

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce wants more pipelines to move shale natural gas and liquids and it wants Phialdelphia to become an energy hub.

That plan was oultined in a report released on Wednesday by the Philadelphia Energy Action Team, a pro-business group organized by the chamber.

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

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SEC is investigating Fairmount Santrol for foreign operations

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2016

A large oil and gas supplier of sand based in Ohio is under investigation by federal regulators looking into whether it may have run afoul of securities laws governing international operations, Columbus Business First reported last week.

Click  here  to read more.

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Tallgrass to buy bigger share in Rockies Express Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2016

Kansas-based Tallgrass Development LP intends to buy a 25 percent share in the Rockies Express Pipeline from Sempra U.S. Gas and Power for $440 million.

Click  here  to read more.

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Gastar says Appalachian asset sale to close by April 8

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2016

From a press release today:

- Closing date of Appalachian asset sale now scheduled on or before April 8, 2016

- 90-day post-peak production rate of first Meramec well was 713 Boe per day (61% oil)

- Second Meramec well completed with 34 frack stages

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Virginia panel approves new Dominion gas-fired power plant

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

Mar 29, 2016

RICHMOND, Va., March 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) today approved Dominion Virginia Power's request for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to build a state-of-the-art natural gas-fired power station in Greensville County.

"We are pleased that the SCC has granted approval for the Greensville Power Station," said Paul Koonce, CEO of Dominion Generation Group. "This project will ultimately bring low cost, reliable electricity to our customers while saving them $2 billion over the life of the plants' operation, in addition to providing a major economic impact and good paying jobs for Southside Virginia."

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Pipeline company terminates Ultra shipping agreement

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2016

Rockies Express Pipeline LLC has terminated an existing shipping agreeement with struggling Ultra Resources Inc, according to NGI reporting.

Ultra Resources, a subsidiary of Houston-based Ultra Petroleum Corp., failed to comply with contracted financial provisions, according to reports.

Ultra has acreage in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, plus in Wyoming and Utah.

The pipeline runs 1,679 miles  rom Colorado to Monroe County in eastwern Ohio.

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Five earthquakes shake central Oklahoma

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2016

From the Associated Press:

Five earthquakes shook central Oklahoma on Tuesday.

The U.S. Geological Survey says two earthquakes hit central Oklahoma in the overnight hours, but no damage or injuries have been reported.

The USGS says a 4.2 magnitude quake struck late Monday in Logan County. The quake was centered 3 miles north-northeast of Crescent, and the USGS says it was felt as far north as Wichita, Kansas.

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Cost of U.S. oil, natural gas wells has declined since 2012

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

The profitability of oil and natural gas development activity depends on both the prices realized by producers and the cost and productivity of newly developed wells. Overall trends in well development costs are generally less transparent than price and productivity trends, which are readily observable in the markets or through analyses of well productivity trends such as EIA's monthly Drilling Productivity Report.

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Tags: drilling , Drilling Productivity Report , liquid fuels , natural gas , oil/petroleum

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Dodsal Group announces natural gas find in Tanzania

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2016

From the Associated Press on Monday:

Dubai-based Dodsal Group says it has discovered 2.7 trillion cubic feet of gas deposits in Tanzania’s Ruvu Basin Coast Region valued at around $8 billion.

The conglomerate says it had initially estimated that the gas deposits held 2.17 trillion cubic feet, but more recent studies revealed it is closer to 2.7 trillion, with a potential upside of 3.8 trillion, which could push its value to $11 billion.

Dodsal Group says its find is Tanzania’s biggest onshore gas discovery and could boost the East African country’s economy.

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CORN offers advice to landowners on Nexus Pipeline route

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2016

From the Coalition to Reroute Nexus, a group opposed to the Nexus Pipeline that would cross northern Ohio including parts of Stark, Summit, Wayne and Median counties:

SPRING IN OHIO - NEXUS LANDMEN in BLOOM
Landowners in northeastern Ohio have been voicing concerns about NEXUS’s pressure tactics. Examples include the agent who "comes every day" and will not leave them alone, the agent who leaves papers in the front door while the property owners are not home and one that was caught snooping in windows and calling out “I know you are in there.” Clearly NEXUS is desperate to get you to sign documents that permanently relinquish your rights.
Please note what follows does not constitute legal advice. Only your attorney can provide that. However, it is altogether fitting and proper to stay connected, informed, share with you what your neighbors are experiencing and review the options available to you in this matter.
1. If NEXUS agents trespass, as they did in Summit, Medina and Lorain counties, call 911 or your sheriff. Law enforcement officers are ready, willing and able to enforce the law. NEXUS does not have the right to violate private property. You may also call the police about harassment (for example, if you've said "no" but NEXUS keeps coming every day). You have the right to peaceful enjoyment of your home. Door knocks are trespassing and the courts have stayed surveys in Medina, Stark and Erie Counties and are considering an injunction against NEXUS in Summit County.
2. If NEXUS is intimidating you or homeowners in your area, call the Ohio Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section at 800-282-0515. The Consumer Protection Section is intended to protect Ohioans from predatory and illegal business practices. With authority granted by the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and other statutes, the section enforces laws that prohibit unfair and deceptive practices including but not limited to: false advertising. If you call, describe the behavior NEXUS is engaging in, whether it's illegal, deceptive, intimidating, or high-pressure.
3. If you are contacted by a NEXUS legal representative to discuss any legal issue without your attorney present, this violates Ohio attorney ethics rules. Anyone named in the Summit County lawsuit should report these violations to David Mucklow and the Summit County Common Pleas Court.
4. The above is also true for property owners in any county in Ohio. Contact your attorney, David
Mucklow or Terry Lodge to report violations.
5. Finally, you are under no obligation to discuss anything with NEXUS or sign anything presented to you
by NEXUS. Negotiating an easement at this time will assist NEXUS in achieving approval of this route,
waive numerous legal rights (including full compensation) and open the door to a second pipeline
possibly being planned.
6. If in the event we are forced to swallow this ill-conceived pipeline, we will recommend attorneys to
represent you and us to achieve the best result possible.

REALITY CHECK
1. NEXUS does not have a Certificate to proceed to build from The Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission.
2. NEXUS does not have the permits from the OHEPA, Army Corps of Engineers, ODNR, etc. required to
build or operate their proposed preposterous pipeline.
3. NEXUS has no binding agreements for gas delivery in Ohio at the 13 tee tap locations mentioned in its
application. All of the precedent agreements with shippers identify delivery locations in Michigan and
CANADA. As such, there is no Purpose or Need for their proposed route.
4. The disruption to family residential properties, planned and future developments, municipal
properties, and forest covered properties is unnecessary. The NEXUS Project can and should be
constructed using one of many alternate routes which will allow its implementation to be with much
less disruption and, therefore, accomplished more quickly and at a reduced cost to the developers.
5. The City of Green Alternate Route is a feasible, constructible and logical alternative that meets the
project objective to export gas to CANADA with less conflict with property owners.

CONCLUSION
Every obstacle you can raise in NEXUS’s path helps you, your neighbors and everybody to protect what
matters. Whether you are fighting for the environment, local control of government or your property
rights as defined by our Constitution, this massively destructive, ill-advised, perhaps unnecessary,
certainly export destined and controversial NEXUS pipeline puts us all at risk. Therefore, every
homeowner who says "no" to NEXUS’s attempt to pressure them into signing an easement is, in my
personal opinion, protecting themselves, protecting their neighbors, and helping millions of people
across the country afflicted with the scourge of the “out-of-control” and “broken process” of routing
and approval of pipeline projects.
Please do what you can to make sure that homeowners in your area are well supported, connected and
informed of their rights. Keep the media informed of our determination.

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Four Ohio colleges get $272,263 to train drilling workers

By Bob Downing Published: March 30, 2016

Four Ohio colleges got a $272,263 grant to promote training of oil and gas workers, according to a recent report in the Youngstown-based Business Journal.

The four schools are Belmont College, Washington State Community College, Zane State College and Eastern Gateway.

Click  here  to read more.

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Drilling downturn produces $2.9 million Pennsylvania deficit

By Bob Downing Published: March 29, 2016

Pennsylvania is facing a $2.9 million deficit in the fund that supports its oversight of oil and gas wells in the next fiscal year, according to a projection from Governor Tom Wolf’s budget office, reported NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

The slowdiown in drilling means less money is available in fines and fees for the Well Plugging Fund, which supports things like DEP’s well inspections and permit reviews– essentially everything the agency does to ensure oil and gas activity is managed appropriately and safely.

Click  here  to read more..

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Air tests in Wyoming Co. show no immediate health impacts

By Bob Downing Published: March 29, 2016

A press release on Monday from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection:

 

DEP Releases Results of Silica Sand Air Monitoring in Wyoming County

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Range Resources completes asset sale in Bradford County

By Bob Downing Published: March 29, 2016

From a press release on Monday:

Range Announces Closing of Bradford County Asset Sale

FORT WORTH, TX -- (Marketwired) -- 03/28/16 -- RANGE RESOURCES CORPORATION (NYSE: RRC) today announced that it has completed the sale of its Bradford County non-operated assets. After purchase price adjustments based upon a January 1st effective date, Range received approximately $110 million of sales proceeds at the closing plus retaining the net cash flow since the effective date. In early February, Range signed a purchase and sale agreement covering its non-operating Marcellus interest in Bradford County, Pennsylvania for approximately $112 million. Range sold an average working interest of 23% covering approximately 10,900 net acres with net production of approximately 22 Mmcf per day. Range will include the Bradford County operations in its operations until the closing date in its first quarter reported operations. The net proceeds were used to reduce debt and other corporate purposes. This monetization further strengthens the Company's financial position by reducing leverage and enhancing liquidity. After the sale, the borrowing base under Range's revolving credit facility remains unchanged at $3 billion. RANGE RESOURCES CORPORATION (NYSE: RRC) is a leading U.S. independent oil and natural gas producer with operations focused in stacked-pay projects in the Appalachian Basin. The Company pursues an organic growth strategy targeting high return, low-cost projects within its large inventory of low risk development drilling opportunities. The Company is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. More information about Range can be found at www.rangeresources.com. - See more at: http://ir.rangeresources.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=101196&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2151244#sthash.mcP6QQb4.dpuf

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U.S. production of NGLs expected to increase through 2017

By Bob Downing Published: March 29, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administartion today:

U.S. production of hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL)—a group of products including ethane, propane, butanes, and natural gasoline—is expected to increase from 3.86 million barrels per day in 2015 to 4.33 million b/d in 2017, according to EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). HGLs are produced at both natural gas processing plants and petroleum refineries, but natural gas plants are expected to provide more than 95% of the forecast production growth.

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Tags: exports , hydrocarbon gas liquids , production , STEO (Short-Term Energy Outlook)

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Ohio frack waste facilities proliferate with little oversight

By Bob Downing Published: March 29, 2016

From two environmental groups last week:

 

Frack Waste Facilities Proliferate in Ohio Despite Lack of Regulations

 

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Massachusetts group to fight Connecticut Expansion project

By Bob Downing Published: March 29, 2016

A grass-roots group in Massachusetts said last week that it intends to file a federal lawsuit to block the so-called Connecticut Expansion.

The suit will be filed under the federal Clean Water Act (a legal first) by the Sandisfield Taxpayers Opposing the Pipeline in Berkshire County.

They are against the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. project and its impacts on the Otis State Forest.

The suit will target the pipeline company and the Federal Energy Regultaory Commission.

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Pennsylvania trade group sues to block new drilling rules

By Bob Downing Published: March 29, 2016

A Pennsylvania trade group, the Pennsylvania Independent Petroleum Producers Association, has filed suit to block new state drilling rules, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last week.

Click  here  to read more.

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New EIA report examines oil, natural gas drilling costs

By Bob Downing Published: March 29, 2016

The U.S. Energy Information Administration last week released a report that looks at trends in U.S. oil and natural gas upstream costs.

Among the report’s key findings are:

The average well drilling and completion costs in five onshore areas evaluated in 2015 were between 25% and 30% below their level in 2012, when costs per well were at their highest point over the past decade.

 

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U.S. EPA fines Williams $14,440 for W. Va. pipeline break

By Bob Downing Published: March 29, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined Williams $14,440 for a rupture of a 4-inch condensate line in West Virginia's Marshall County in April 2015, the Marcellus Drilling News reported.

Click  here  to read more.

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Permian Resources finalizes change to stand-alone company

By Bob Downing Published: March 29, 2016

From a press release last week:

American Energy - Permian Basin, LLC Formalizes Name Change to Permian Resources, LLC and Finalizes Transition to a Standalone Company with Key Executive Appointments

OKLAHOMA CITY, March 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- American Energy – Permian Basin, LLC and its parent, American Energy Permian Holdings, LLC, today announced the renaming of the companies to Permian Resources, LLC and Permian Resources Holdings, LLC, respectively, consistent with previously announced plans to transition to a standalone company, fully independent of the broader American Energy Partners, LP (AELP) platform.  The name changes, after several months of vetting, are effective immediately.  Further, following a detailed planning process over the past six months, the platform separation and transition has been formalized, is well under way, and is expected to be brought to conclusion during the ensuing three months.  On February 26, 2016, and as part of the formalization of the separation, the Board of Directors appointed Jeffrey L. Mobley as Interim Chief Executive Officer, in addition to his role as Chief Financial Officer, and promoted J. Jay Stratton, Jr. to Chief Operating Officer from his previous role as Vice President of Operations.

Jeffrey L. Mobley commented, "After a detailed and thorough planning process spanning six months, we are pleased to announce the anticipated transition of Permian Resources to a separate, standalone-company.  This separation has been a key objective of our business since the company was founded in 2014 and we look forward to finalizing this initiative in the coming months as Permian Resources has matured into a stand-alone company.  We appreciate the strong support and guidance that we have received from our private equity sponsors which, includes The Energy & Minerals Group and others.  Further, this transition was the stated vision of our founder, Aubrey K. McClendon, and we appreciate the assistance the AELP platform has provided since our initial formation two years ago.  Under the guidance of the current management team, Permian Resources has established itself as a premier operator in the Midland Basin of West Texas."

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Asia to drive petrochemical additions to 2020, report says

By Bob Downing Published: March 29, 2016

From a GlobalData press release last week:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Asia Will Drive Substantial Global Petrochemicals Capacity Additions to 2020, says GlobalData

LONDON, UK (GlobalData), 22 March 2016 - Global petrochemicals capacity will grow considerably over the next five years, increasing from 1,464 million metric tonnes per annum (mmtpa) in 2015 to 1,708 mmtpa by 2020, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.

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New USGS map identifies six states at risk of injection quakes

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From the U.S. Geological Survey on Monday:

For the first time, new USGS maps identify potential ground-shaking hazards from both human-induced and natural earthquakes. In the past, USGS maps only identified natural earthquake hazards.

This is also the first one-year outlook for the nation’s earthquake hazards, and is a supplement to existing USGS assessments that provide a 50-year forecast

The report shows that approximately 7 million people live and work in areas of the central and eastern U.S. (CEUS) with potential for damaging shaking from induced seismicity. Within a few portions of the CEUS, the chance of damage from all types of earthquakes is similar to that of natural earthquakes in high-hazard areas of California.

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American Petroleum Partners plans Ohio, W. Va., Pa. drilling

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From a recent press release:

AMERICAN PETROLEUM PARTNERS AND FUNDS AFFILIATED WITH APOLLO GLOBAL MANAGEMENT ANNOUNCE FORMATION OF NEW PARTNERSHIP
American Petroleum Partners LLC ("APP") and certain funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management, LLC (NYSE:APO) (together with its consolidated subsidiaries, "Apollo") formed a strategic partnership in September 2015 to invest in oil and gas properties in the Appalachian Basin.
APP, headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, has an executive management team led by Chief Executive Officer Varun Mishra. After graduating from Texas A&M University, Mr. Mishra worked as a Completions Engineer at EOG Resources and oversaw the completion of Barnett Shale Wells. In 2009, Mr. Mishra became a founding member of Rice Energy and oversaw their technical team leading up to the 2014 IPO resulting in an enterprise valuation of approximately $3 billion. Certain funds managed by affiliates of Apollo have the opportunity to invest up to $800 million in APP (in the aggregate) to pursue acquisitions and development opportunities in the Utica and Marcellus shales.
Mr. Mishra said, “We look forward to working with Apollo to build a low-cost, Appalachia-focused independent E&P business, taking advantage of the current market stress and low commodity price environment. The current APP team has the expertise and track-record to find and efficiently develop shale resources to create value for our partners including land owners. As a low-cost basin, we believe Appalachia will continue to grow as a source of domestic natural gas supply and provide an attractive environment for well-capitalized new entrants with strong operational expertise.”
Rakesh Wilson, Partner at Apollo, said, "We are excited to partner with Varun and the rest of his team as we seek to build a first-rate oil and gas company capable of low cost development of the prolific Marcellus and Utica shales. We believe that APP has the experience to find attractive assets and develop them with the latest, low cost drilling and completion technology."
About American Petroleum Partners LLC
Founded in 2014, APP is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA and is focused on exploration and development in the Appalachian Basin. APP has heavily invested in hiring a talented, skilled and intellectually driven team of energy professionals with deep geologic/geophysical, land, engineering, drilling, production and midstream experience in the Appalachian Basin and specifically, the Utica and Marcellus shale formations. APP’s people are experts in the latest oil and gas technology and strive to create value through continuous improvement and further technological advancement. APP was founded in 2014 with a focus on strong stakeholder
2

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AFL-CIO hails new federal rules on silica dust exposure

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From a press release last week:

AFL-CIO Applauds New Lifesaving Silica Dust Rules

Statement of AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka on OSHA’s new workplace silica standards

Today millions of workers can literally breathe easier knowing that they will not have to sacrifice their lungs and their lives by working in deadly silica dust. The new OSHA silica rules – nearly 20 years in the making – will save hundreds of workers’ lives a year.  

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Love's Travel Stops complete purchase of Trillium CNG

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From a press release on Friday:

Love’s Travel Stops finalizes agreement to purchase Trillium CNG

Agreement demonstrates Love’s commitment to CNG

 

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Medical group backs new protective federal silica rules

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From a press release last week:

While it took nearly three years of waiting, the American Thoracic Society is pleased that OSHA has issued its final rule establishing a more protective standard for occupational silica. The new more protective standard will greatly reduce exposure to this known and potentially deadly occupational hazard.

Despite that fact that the dangers of silica exposure have been known for decades and cost effective methods to reduce silica exposure exist, each year physicians diagnose 1,600 new cases of silica-related diseases. These diseases are largely preventable and the newly finalized OSHA exposure limits, combined with enhanced workplace sampling and medical monitoring required by this regulation, will significantly reduce their rates of occurrence in the U.S.

“Each case of newly-diagnosed silica-related disease in the U.S. represents a failure at the workplace to maintain a safe working environment for employees. Silica-related diseases are preventable with simple, inexpensive interventions. Today’s rule will greatly improve the workplace environment for millions of working Americans,” Robert Cohen, MD, occupational health expert and ATS spokesperson.

 

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NAM says new federal silica rule is 'fundamentally flawed'

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From a press release last week:

New Silica Rule Is Fundamentally Flawed

Manufacturers Need Regulations That Protect Jobs and Assess Real-World Costs

Washington, D.C., March 24, 2016 – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons issued the following statement after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published its final silica rule:

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High production, low prices mean little change in storage

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration recently:

High levels of natural gas production and relatively low natural gas prices are affecting markets for seasonal natural gas storage, including the value of additional storage capacity. For the second year in a row, no new natural gas storage facilities were added, and the slight changes, both positive and negative, at existing storage fields resulted in national storage capacity remaining essentially flat for the year. EIA measures natural gas storage capacity in November each year, which is typically when net storage withdrawals begin.

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Tags: natural gas , prices , production , storage

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Wells drilled since 2014 provide nearly half of Lower 48 oil

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administartion last week:

U.S. crude oil production from the Lower 48 states from new wells (drilled since the start of 2014) made up 48% of total U.S. crude oil production in 2015, up from 22% in 2007. Production from new wells has grown as advances in horizontal drilling and completion techniques led to growth in oil production from low-permeability tight reservoirs. In 2015, production from tight formations—which include, but are not limited to, shale plays—accounted for more than 4 million barrels per day (b/d), or 50% of total U.S. oil production.

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Tags: Bakken , crude oil , drilling , Eagle Ford , liquid fuels , production , shale , tight oil

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Wind, natural gas add electric generation capacity in 2015

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday:

Wind, natural gas, and solar made up almost all new electric generation capacity in 2015, accounting for 41%, 30%, and 26% of total additions, respectively, according to preliminary data. The data also show a record amount of distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity was added on rooftops throughout the country in 2015. The trend of wind, natural gas, and solar additions making up most new capacity is likely to continue in 2016.

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U.S. exports of petroleum products continue to grow

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Friday:

Total U.S. petroleum product exports continued to increase in 2015, up 467,000 barrels per day (b/d) from 2014 to 4.3 million b/d, driven by increased exports of distillate fuel, motor gasoline, and propane. Mexico and countries in Central and South America continue to be major recipients of U.S. petroleum product exports.

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Tags: distillate fuel , exports , gasoline , liquid fuels , oil/petroleum , propane

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Grouse concerns are delaying new drilling leases in West

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From the Associated Press on Friday:

BILLINGS, Mont. — Concerns over a bird that ranges across the American West continue to delay federal oil and gas lease sales, five months after Interior Secretary Sally Jewell proclaimed the Obama administration had found a way to balance drilling and conservation.

The Interior Department said it will defer the sale of almost 60,000 acres of leases that were nominated by companies in eastern Montana as the agency works on new policies for greater sage grouse.
More than 8 million acres of leases previously were deferred in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. It remains unclear when those will be freed up for sales or removed from consideration.

Jewell said in September that Endangered Species Act protections were not needed for the grouse, a chicken-sized bird that inhabits sage brush ecosystems spread across 11 Western states. Grouse numbers declined significantly over the past several decades because of the loss of habitat.

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Injection wells boost quake risk in Dallas-Fort Worth area

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From the Associated Press on Sunday:

DALLAS — A U.S. Geological Survey report concludes the risk of earthquakes for the Dallas-Fort Worth area is higher than it’s ever been.

The USGS review is scheduled for release Monday, according to The Dallas Morning News. The report incorporates “induced” earthquakes into federal seismic hazard maps. That refers to quakes caused when wastewater from natural gas drilling is injected back into the ground.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency drafted a study of worst-case scenarios for North Texas. The newspaper obtained a study copy through a records request after local and federal agencies initially declined to release it.

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United Kingdom sees decline in new field development

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

After many years of decline, production of petroleum and other liquids in the United Kingdom (U.K.) increased by about 100,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2015. The largest contribution to this increase came from fields that were brought online in the second half of 2014. Significant increases also came from fields that came online in 2015, and from improved performance of the U.K.'s largest producing field, the offshore Buzzard field. A similar year-over-year increase in production volumes hasn't occurred since 1998, when petroleum and other liquids production grew by slightly more than 100,000 b/d.

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Tags: liquid fuels , oil/petroleum , production , United Kingdom

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Contractors' group: New silica rule is missed opportunity

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

NEW FEDERAL SILICA RULE'S UNATTAINABLE STANDARD IS A MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO EFFECTIVELY IMPROVE WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY
Nation's Top Construction Officials Says Federal Officials Would Have Done More to Improve Workplace Safety By Finding Ways to Get More Firms to Comply with the Current Standard

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America issued the following statement today in response to the release of a final federal regulation governing exposure to silica by the U.S. Department of Labor today:

"Instead of crafting new and innovative ways to get more firms to comply with the current silica standard, which we know would save even more workers each year, administration officials appear to have instead opted to set a new standard that is well beyond the capabilities of current air filtration and dust removal technologies. Wishing firms could meet this new but unattainable standard will undoubtedly deliver many positive headlines for the administration, but it will be all but impossible for most construction firms to comply with this new rule.

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Broadview Heights group to host April 4 program on drilling

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From a Friday press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

BROADVIEW HEIGHTS:  March 25, 2016 - The local grassroots group, MADION, Mothers Against Drilling In Our Neighborhoods, is hosting a free public presentation for residents to learn about the health, environmental and economic harms that fracking and drilling in our neighborhoods poses. The presentation will be held at the North Royalton Branch (5071 Wallings Road, N. Royalton, OH) of the Cuyahoga County Library on Monday, April 4 from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM.

Since the last well was drilled in Broadview Hts., in 2012, many more studies have come to light regarding the harmful effects to water, air, soil and to the people exposed to the chemicals used during the fracking process and the ones emitted after production begins. MADION felt the time was right to present some of this new information to residents.

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Worker safety is important, IPAA says after final silica rule

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From a press release on Thursday:

Industry Recognizes Importance of Worker Safety in Silica Rule

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) Executive Vice President Lee Fuller reinforced the oil and natural gas industry’s highest priority of worker safety as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its long-awaited final rule on occupational exposure to crystalline silica.

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Ohio releases 700 new geophysical logs for wells

By Bob Downing Published: March 28, 2016

From a press release today from the Ohio Department of Natural Rsources' Division of Geological Survey:

Following a sizable release in January, the Division of Geological Survey has just released some 700 newly scanned geophysical logs for oil-and-gas wells throughout the state. These logs are available as Log ASCII Standard (LAS) files of geophysical log curves or as paper copies.

As the permanent archive of all geophysical logs in the state, the Division of Geological Survey has an ongoing effort to digitally scan all the logs in its archives and any additional suites of logs that become available from more recent drilling operations. To date, about 130,000 geophysical logs have been made available in digital form.

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

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Connecticut pipeline project wins FERC approval

By Bob Downing Published: March 23, 2016

A pipeline project to move Marcellus Shale natural gas to Connecticut has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

But the Connecticut Expansion Project is still coming under fire from local groups and communities.

The projects calls for three loops totaling about 13 miles in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The project was developed by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.

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Newfoundland LNG terminal on hold, Spanish energy company says

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2016

In early 2014, Spanish oil company Repsol was proceeding with plans for a new LNG export terminal near Saint John on the eastern Canadian island of Newfoundland.

That project, known as Canaport LNG, is on hold due to low commodity prices and market volatility, the company says.

Thanks to Jim Willis of the Marcellus Drilling News for spotting this report.

Click here  to read more: http://marcellusdrilling.com/2016/03/repsols-eastern-canadian-lng-export-plant-on-hold/#more-38709.

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Utica, Marcellus pipelines problems to continue to 2019, FERC says

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2016

In a report released last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that pipeline problems that have plagued the Utica and Marcellus shales will likely continue to 2019.

At that time, drillers will likely be able to ship their natural gas to desired, high-paying markets that will ease current financial strains.

The report is called the 2015 State of the Markets Report. It is 31 pages.

Click here for the report: http://www.ferc.gov/market-oversight/reports-analyses/st-mkt-ovr/2015-som.pdf.

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FERC approves pipeline to move Utica, Marcellus natural gas to Chicago

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2016

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a plan to connect natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shales to potential markets in and around Chicago.

Approved was the Natural Gas Pipeline Co. of America’s plan to connect the west-flowing Rockies Express Pipeline to the Chicago area.

That connection, known as the Chicago Market Expansion Project,  would be made in Livingston County, Ill., south of Chicago.

The initial project would transport about 238,000 cubic feet per day.

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87 companies producing oil, natural gas in Ohio

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2016

In 2015, Ohio had 87 companies that completed at least one well, said the Debrosse Memorial Report.

That total is down two from the 89 in 2014.

It was 126 in 2010, 121 in 2011, 112 in 2012 and 113 in 2013.

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Belmont County is No. 1 in Ohio for initial production rates

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2016

Belmont County is No. 1 in Ohio for initial production rates, according to the 2015 Debrosse Memorial Report that analyzes drilling in Ohio.

The average Belmont County well that began production in 2015 averaged 10,150 MCF plus 239 barrels of oil for a total of 13,735 MCFE.

The county had 64 new wells in 2015.

Belmont edged out Monroe County. It was No. 2 with a higher gas total (12,549 MCF) and lower oil total (33 barrels). Its total was 13,044 MCFE.

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Shale tidbits from Ohio Oil, Gas Association’s winter meeting

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2016

The number of lawsuits involving oil and natural gas leases in Ohio dropped slightly in 2015, said attorney Timothy McGranor of the VorysSater Seymour and Pease law firm.

Speaking at the recent Ohio Oil and Gas Association winter meeting, McGranor said Ohio had 84 such lawsuits in 2015, a drop from the 88 total suits in 2014.

There were 71 suits in 2013.

Ohio had five such lawsuits in 2010 when the Utica Shale boom came to eastern Ohio.

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Leftover stuff from the Debrosse Memorial Report

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2016

Ohio has had more than 275,000 oil and gas wells drilled since 1860.

Today there are more than 50,000 producing wells in 49 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

The number of drilling permit issued in Ohio dropped by 40 percent in 2015. The total was 997, down from the 1,659 permits in 2014. That includes combined totals for horizontal and vertical-only wells.

The number of wells completed in Ohio in 2015 was 534, down from the 654 in 2014. That’s an 18 percent decline.

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Belmont County is Ohio’s No. 1 drilling hot spot, Debrosse Report says

By Bob Downing Published: March 22, 2016

Belmont County is the No. 1 drilling hot spot in Ohio’s Utica Shale, according to a new report.

The production of natural gas in Belmont County compares very favorably to northeast Pennsylvania and the wells in the Marcellus Shale in Susquehanna County, according to the 69thDebrosse Memorial Report that was presented last Thursday at the winter meeting of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association in Columbus.

Report author Martin Shumway said Monroe County is also showing nearly the same promise of production available in the future as Belmont County, based on what’s called estimated unrecovered reserves available to drillers.

Susquehanna County is the No. 1 drilling hot spot in Pennsylvania.

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EnerVest happy with Clinton sandstone horizontal wells in Ohio

By Bob Downing Published: March 19, 2016

A Texas-based company is pleased with its initial results in drilling horizontal wells for oil in the often-drilled Clinton Sandstone in Stark and two other counties.

The results from the shallow rock formation look promising, although EnerVest Operating LLC is still fine-tuning the drilling, said Barry Lay, senior vice president and general manager of the company’s Appalachian North Asset Team.

The company has completed seven smaller experimental wells in the Clinton Sandstone, he said on Thursday at the Ohio Oil and Gas Association’s three-day winter meeting in Columbus. Five of the wells are in Stark County, and one each in Carroll and Tuscarawas counties.

Those horizontal wells are producing more than vertical-only wells, and that’s good news, he said.

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More on TransCanada acquisition of Columbia Pipeline Group

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

HOUSTON, March 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Columbia Pipeline Group, Inc. ("CPG") (NYSE: CPGX) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by TransCanada Corporation ("TransCanada") (TSX, NYSE: TRP) for $25.50 per share in cash.  Including the assumption of CPG debt, the total enterprise value of the transaction is approximately $13 billion.  The agreement, which has been unanimously approved by CPG's Board of Directors, represents a premium of approximately 32% to the volume weighted average price over the last 30 days.

"This transaction delivers tremendous value to our shareholders and places CPG within a leading energy platform that can maximize the value of our strategic positioning and deep inventory of transformational growth projects," said CPG Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert C. Skaggs, Jr.  "The value presented here is a strong endorsement of our team's outstanding work.  I am confident that this newly enhanced business will continue to deliver on our core commitments to customers, employees, stakeholders and stockholders."

"This transaction is truly transformational for TransCanada," said Russ Girling, President and CEO of TransCanada.  "CPG's interstate pipeline and midstream assets sit directly on top of the fastest growing areas of the Marcellus and Utica Shale regions.  This provides us with a complementary asset base, a substantial growth pipeline network and a broad team that has a solid track record of executing on projects and delivering results."

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Warren Resources releases 4Q, 2015 financial reports

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

DENVER, March 17, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

Warren Resources, Inc. (Nasdaq:WRES) (“Warren”) today reported its 4th quarter and full year 2015 financial and operating results. 

Lower commodity prices in 2015 versus 2014 were the primary driver for all results recorded in 2015.   The average sales price for oil in 2015 was $41.14 per barrel versus $86.02 per barrel in 2014, a 52% reduction.  The average sales price for gas in 2015 was $1.55 per thousand cubic feet versus $3.06 in 2014, a 49% reduction.  Oil production for 2015 was 980.3 MBbl versus 1,118.3 MBbl in 2014 or a 12% decline.  Gas production in 2015 was 28.0 Bcf versus 16.1 Bcf in 2014.  This 74% increase was primarily the result of a full year of Marcellus production in 2015 versus only approximately 5 months of Marcellus production in 2014. 

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30 groups petition FERC to create public participation office

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

More than 30 groups representing consumer advocates and environmental organizations have filed a petition asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to create an office of public participation, reports NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

In 1978 Congress directed FERC to create the office, but it never happened.

Click  here  to read more.

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Range Resources reaffirms borrowing base

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

FORT WORTH, TX -- (Marketwired) -- 03/17/16 -- RANGE RESOURCES CORPORATION (NYSE: RRC) announced today that the Company's existing $3 billion Borrowing Base and $2 billion Commitment Amount under its $4 billion bank credit facility have been unanimously approved by its 29 lenders. Under the terms of the credit agreement, Range is subject to an annual Borrowing Base redetermination with the next redetermination scheduled for May 1, 2017. The credit facility matures in October, 2019. The financial covenants were unchanged. The outstanding principal balance drawn under the credit facility at December 31, 2015 was $95 million. Roger Manny, Range's Executive Vice President and CFO, commented on the Borrowing Base approval, "This reaffirmation under our annual Borrowing Base redetermination occurred during a period of markedly lower oil and gas prices following a significant asset sale. The unanimous approval reflects the economic strength and resilience of our high-quality asset base and low-cost structure." RANGE RESOURCES CORPORATION (NYSE: RRC) is a leading U.S. independent oil and natural gas producer with operations focused in stacked-pay projects in the Appalachia Basin. The Company pursues an organic growth strategy targeting high-return, low-cost projects within its large inventory of low-risk development drilling opportunities. The Company is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. More information about Range can be found at www.rangeresources.com. - See more at: http://ir.rangeresources.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=101196&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2149392#sthash.CvBnC3DY.dpuf

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EQT tabs Robert McNally to be senior vice president, CFO

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. has named Robert J. McNally to be its new senior vice president and chief financialo officer.

Click  here  to read more.

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TransCanada pays $13 billion for Columbia Pipeline Group

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - March 17, 2016) -

Highlights:

TransCanada Corporation (TSX:TRP) (NYSE:TRP) (TransCanada) today announced it has entered into an agreement and plan of merger pursuant to which it will acquire Columbia Pipeline Group, Inc. (NYSE:CPGX or Columbia), a Houston, Texas-based company that operates an approximate 24,000-kilometre (km) (15,000-mile) network of interstate natural gas pipelines extending from New York to the Gulf of Mexico, with a significant presence in the Appalachia production basin.

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API is reviewing new federal pipeline safety initiative

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Thursday:

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2016 – API Midstream Group Director Robin Rorick reinforced the oil and natural gas industry’s core value of safety and goal of zero incidents as the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a proposal on natural gas transmission.

“We are currently reviewing the new PHMSA rule. Safety is our industry’s core value,” said Rorick. “As we assess the content of the rule, we will be looking to ensure that any proposed change to the current regulatory framework does not compromise safety. 

“Our industry continues to lead on creating new standards to enhance pipeline safety, and we look forward to working with PHMSA to ensure this new rule works with ongoing industry efforts to achieve our joint goal of zero incidents.”

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API says proposed federal offshore air rules are a reach

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2016 – API Group Director of Upstream and Industry Operations Erik Milito said that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) proposal to regulate air quality in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is the latest example of an agency advancing regulation outside of its authority. The agency’s own conclusions contradict the proposal, showing that offshore operations don’t significantly impact onshore air quality.

“BOEM air modeling studies are not expected to be completed until 2017 and were commissioned to inform the rule. The agency should not get ahead of the science and proceed with a rule proposal without the necessary data to justify costly regulatory changes.

“The agency is mandated to regulate OCS emissions only if the activities have significant effects on onshore air quality. Based on the agency’s own studies, that simply isn’t the case. This is regulation for regulation’s sake.

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New federal effort to improve pipeline safety is kicked off

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

From the Associated Press on Thursday:

 U.S. officials moved Thursday to strengthen safety rules for the nation’s 300,000-mile network of natural gas transmission pipelines in response to numerous fiery accidents, including a 2010 California explosion that killed eight people and injured more than 50.

The Department of Transportation proposal would expand inspection and repair rules to include lines in some rural areas and recently-installed lines in burgeoning gas drilling fields.

Pressure-testing for leaks would be required on older lines that were previously exempt, such as the Pacific Gas and Electric Company pipe constructed in 1956 that broke and torched a residential neighborhood in San Bruno, California, six years ago.

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Saudi Refining, Shell to separate joint venture Motiva assets

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

Saudi Refining, Inc. and Shell sign letter of intent to separate Motiva assets

HOUSTON, March 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Saudi Arabian Oil Company ("Saudi Aramco") through its wholly owned Saudi Refining Inc. ("SRI") subsidiary and Royal Dutch Shell plc ("Shell"), through its U.S. downstream affiliate, announce today they have signed a non-binding Letter of Intent to divide the assets of Motiva Enterprises LLC. The Motiva joint venture was formed in 1998 and has operated as a 50/50 refining and marketing joint venture between the parties since 2002. 

In the proposed division of assets, SRI will retain the Motiva name, assume sole ownership of the Port Arthur, Texas refinery, retain 26 distribution terminals, and have an exclusive license to use the Shell brand for gasoline and diesel sales in Texas, the majority of the Mississippi Valley, the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic markets.  Shell will assume sole ownership of the Norco, Louisiana refinery (where Shell operates a chemicals plant), the Convent, Louisiana refinery, nine distribution terminals, and Shell branded markets in Florida, Louisiana and the Northeastern region. 

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High production, low prices mean little change in gas storage

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

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

High levels of natural gas production and relatively low natural gas prices are affecting markets for seasonal natural gas storage, including the value of additional storage capacity. For the second year in a row, no new natural gas storage facilities were added, and the slight changes, both positive and negative, at existing storage fields resulted in national storage capacity remaining essentially flat for the year. EIA measures natural gas storage capacity in November each year, which is typically when net storage withdrawals begin.

With elevated natural gas production, prices have been low and stable in recent years. Natural gas storage facilities have traditionally served as a physical hedge against high wintertime prices. Storage allows natural gas distributors or large natural gas consumers to buy and store less-expensive natural gas in the summer, and then to withdraw natural gas in the winter, when prices are typically higher. In recent years, however, natural gas prices have been exhibiting decreased seasonality, making some kinds of underground storage less financially attractive.

EIA uses two distinct measures of natural gas storage capacity:

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Interior cancels lease of sacred Blackfeet lands in Montana

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

From a Thuursday press release:

Badger-Two Medicine Declared Too Sacred to Drill

Earthjustice statement on the Department of Interior’s decision to cancel

an illegal Solenex lease for oil and gas development

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New offshore air rules would boost operating costs, IPAA says

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

Administration’s Offshore Air-Quality Regulations Making it Prohibitively Expensive to Operate

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The Obama Administration’s proposal to enact new federal offshore air quality monitoring regulations is just the latest in a series of blows to the oil and natural gas industry during the president's final year in office, according to Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Political Affairs Dan Naatz.

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UPS signs agreement to add 12 new CNG fueling stations

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

From a press release today:

TruStar Energy to Build and Service 12 Additional CNG Stations for UPS

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., March 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- TruStar Energy, one of the nation's leading developers of compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations, announced today it was awarded a contract to build 12 additional compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations for UPS (NYSE: UPS). TruStar Energy will also maintain and service the stations under a long-term maintenance agreement.

UPS plans to add 380 new CNG tractors to its growing alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet. The CNG fueling stations, vehicle purchases and CNG infrastructure totaling $100 million are part of UPS's ongoing commitment to diversify its fuel sources and reduce its environmental impact.

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Medina, Portage counties seek community bill of rights votes

By Bob Downing Published: March 18, 2016

Grass-roots groups in Medina and Portage counties are trying to get community bill of rights charters approved by voters on Nov. 8.
Sustainable Medina County is circulating petitions to put the issue before voters in a grass-roots campaign to block the Nexus natural gas pipeline and a pipeline compressor station west of Wadsworth in Guilford Township.
The current structure of Medina County government would remain intact under the proposed charter, but the charter would give the county’s elected officials the authority to protect residents from “corporate harm.” In addition, the people’s right to initiative and referendum would be codified under the plan to give them more control.
It is the second time that such an effort has been undertaken in Medina County.
“This charter will empower the people of our county to say no to Nexus and its threats to the health and safety of our families and the environment,” said spokeswoman Kathie Jones of Wadsworth Township.
The goal is to give the people a voice in whether the pipeline project across northern Ohio is in the best interest of Medina County and whether local residents are willing to expose their families and neighborhoods to the risk, she said.
The $2 billion pipeline project running through Medina, Wayne, Summit and Stark counties needs approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
In order to block the pipeline, Medina County’s community bill of rights would have to be approved by voters and go into effect before the pipeline wins federal approval, expected in late 2016.
The major concern in Portage County is injection wells for drilling wastes that threaten drinking water and the goal is “to legitimize democracy,” said Gwen Fischer of Hiram, a spokeswoman for the Portage Community Rights Group.
The new petition-signing efforts got under way this week and are among five community bill of rights efforts under way in Ohio to protect communities from drilling. Similar initiative have begun in Athens County plus in the cities of Columbus and Youngstown.
The local groups have been working with the Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to assert their rights and protect their communities from drilling, pipelines, compressor stations and injection wells.
“Ohio communities are no longer willing to accept a legal and legislative system that forces fracking and other corporate harms into communities, without the people’s consent,” said Tish O’Dell of Broadview Heights, Ohio organizer for the defense fund. “These initiatives are about people using their right to self-govern to protect their own health, safety and welfare, when they realize that no one else will.”
State government, the groups charge, is working with the oil and gas industry to block them from protecting themselves.
The drilling industry has said it is confident that such measures are illegal under state law that gives the sole authority over drilling to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The deadline for submission to local election boards is in June.
Last year, the Medina County group gathered 5,000 signatures, more than the required 4,900 that were needed. Last August,  Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted ruled the issue off the Nov. 3 ballot in Medina and two other counties.
For more information on the Medina County charter proposal, go to www.sustainablemedinacounty.org.
For information on the Portage County campaign, go to www.portagecommunityrightsgroup.org.

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Eco-group responds to FERC rejection of Oregon LNG project

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2016

From a press release:

Delaware Riverkeeper Network Statement regarding FERC Order Denying
Jordan Cove LNG and Pacific Connector Pipeline

 

Just days after the Delaware Riverkeeper Network filed its historic lawsuit against FERC claiming violations
of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, Due Process rights, in its illegal approval of pipelines, FERC denied
requests for an interconnected export terminal and pipeline in Oregon. This is the first time, in its history,
FERC can be said to have denied a pipeline proposed for approval. While this is welcome news, it does not
change the underlying problem with FERC, which is that it is a rogue government agency that acts as a
rubber stamp for the very companies it is supposed to regulate. Notably, FERC’s denial is based on an
extreme set of facts — consideration of two segments of an integrated project neither of which
had demonstrated contracts for gas customers that would use their services if built. The decision
included no consideration of environmental impacts and only discussed landowner impacts in the context
of the interconnected projects for which there had been no demonstration of customers. And it must be
noted that even this modest decision comes only after the Delaware Riverkeeper Network brought
attention to FERC’s biased review and approval processes.
It is also notable that FERC carefully considered the issue of segmentation — stating that it was
rejecting both projects as they were ‘segments of a single, integrated project’ — a clear and direct
outcome of the legal victory in June 2014 in the case Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. FERC, where the DC
Circuit Court of Appeals found for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network in its claims that FERC was
illegally segmenting projects for review and also failing to consider cumulative impacts.
We will continue to pressure the federal government to investigate FERC for its unlawful practices.
#####

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Ascent Resources announces $500 million equity boost

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2016

From a Monday press release:

Ascent Resources, LLC Announces A $500 Million Equity Raise

OKLAHOMA CITY, March 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Ascent Resources, LLC ("Ascent"), announced today that on March 10, 2016 it entered into agreements to sell approximately 2.2 billion common units ("Common Units") in a private placement transaction, which is expected to result in net proceeds to Ascent of approximately $500 million bringing the total amount of equity raised by Ascent so far in 2016 to $712 million. The Common Units will be sold to the investors at a purchase price of $0.224 per Common Unit. The proceeds of the sale are expected to be funded on or about March 24, 2016 (the "Funding Date"), and Ascent is expected to contribute $500 million in net cash proceeds to Ascent Resources – Utica, LLC ("ARU") within three business days of the Funding Date (the "Contribution").

Upon the completion of the Contribution, ARU and ARU Finance Corporation ("Finco" and together with ARU, the "Issuers") will have satisfied the conditions necessary to exercise their right to redeem their outstanding 3.50% Convertible Subordinated Notes due 2021 issued on February 24, 2016 (the "New Convertible Notes") for incremental junior secured loans due 2019 (the "New Junior Secured Loans") and Common Units and/or the Class A Shares of a newly formed entity ("Class A Shares"). The redemption is expected to take place no earlier than 30 days and no later than 60 days following the Funding Date.

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Natural gas to surpass coal in U.S. power generation in 2016

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administartion today:

For decades, coal has been the dominant energy source for generating electricity in the United States. EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) is now forecasting that 2016 will be the first year that natural gas-fired generation exceeds coal generation in the United States on an annual basis. Natural gas generation first surpassed coal generation on a monthly basis in April 2015, and the generation shares for coal and natural gas were nearly identical in 2015, each providing about one-third of all electricity generation.

Read More ›

Tags: coal , electricity , generation , natural gas

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Rex Energy releases 2015, 4Q operational, financial results

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., March 15, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rex Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:REXX) announced its fourth quarter and full year 2015 operational and financial results.

Fourth Quarter Financial Results

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API chief says Americans endorse offshore Atlantic drilling

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2016

From a press release on Tuesday:

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2016 – API President and CEO Jack Gerard said the administration's offshore oil and natural gas policy is inconsistent with the will of American voters, governors and members of Congress who overwhelmingly support offshore oil and natural gas exploration and development.

“The decision appeases extremists who seek to stop oil and natural gas production which would increase the cost of energy for American consumers and close the door for years to creating new jobs, new investments and boosting energy security,” said Gerard. “This is not how you harness America’s economic and diplomatic potential. While benefiting from energy policy choices made more than a decade ago, this inconsistent policy leads to unraveling the nation's ability to be a global energy leader and has left the future of American energy and national security vulnerable for the geopolitical challenges that lie ahead.

“This decision stunts the safe and responsible path to securing the domestic energy supplies future generations of Americans will need. This also wipes out an opportunity to create scores of additional new jobs for Americans along the Atlantic coast and nationwide, while also erasing millions more in revenue to the government. Expanding offshore development is a key part of that equation.”

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Gas turbine market to 2020 to be stable, GlobalData says

By Bob Downing Published: March 16, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Global Gas Turbine Market Likely to Remain Stable Through to 2020 Despite Fluctuations, says GlobalData

LONDON, UK (GlobalData), 15 March 2016 - The global gas turbine market will remain stable in the coming five years, as its total recorded revenues from the 2010-2015 period will be almost exactly the same as that of 2016-2020, at $58.01 billion and $58.51 billion respectively, says research and consulting firm GlobalData.

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Manufacturing needs reliable energy, NAM says

By Bob Downing Published: March 15, 2016

From a press release today:

Manufacturing Success Depends on American Energy

Administration’s Leasing Plans Effectively Closes Major Development 

Washington, D.C., March 15, 2016 – National Association of Manufacturers Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Ross Eisenberg issued the following statement after the release of the Department of the Interior’s Offshore Leasing Plan:

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Eco-group pleased with Obama's Atlantic drilling decision

By Bob Downing Published: March 15, 2016

From a press release today:

WASHINGTON, DC –  Atlantic Coast communities won a major victory today, when the Obama administration abandoned its plans to open the southern Atlantic to offshore oil and gas drilling for the first time in decades.
 
“This is incredible news for our beaches, for our family vacations, and for sea turtles and whales,’” said Margie Alt, Environment America executive director. “Atlantic coast communities spoke up loudly and clearly against drilling and spilling, and today the president is standing with them.”
 
Announced last January, the initial 2017 to 2022 Outer Continental Shelf leasing plan put at risk beaches from Virginia to North Carolina, marine life such as the right whales, sea turtles, and dolphins; and thriving tourism and fishing industries that contribute more than $4 billion in total economic activity. The updated version released today completely removes the Atlantic lease areas from the plan.
 
Opposition to the drilling proposal had been building for months, particularly among coastal towns and businesses – who view the prospect of offshore oil and gas rigs as a threat to beaches, fisheries, and the Atlantic’s coastal economy.
 
According to the National Ocean Economics Program, ocean-related tourism and recreation generates three times the amount of economic activity Atlantic drilling is estimated to produce.

Last month Environment America and colleagues presented Obama officials with letters signed by more than 1,000 East Coast businesses opposed to the drilling proposal.

“What the administration has done is nothing short of saving the coastal jobs of tens of thousands and protecting our coastal heritage and beauty,” said Pete Key, realtor in Oak Island, N.C., among the many businesses who signed a letter to the president. “I can’t thank them enough for doing the right thing, for our beaches, our economy and for my children and their children.”

More than a hundred coastal towns and cities, including every town on the South Carolina coast and all but five on the North Carolina coast, have passed resolutions against offshore drilling and seismic testing.

“My faith in the grassroots is restored. For more than a year and a half, hundreds of coastal communities, small businesses and environmental groups have come together to defend our pristine coast from seismic testing and drilling for oil and gas,” said Billy Keyserling, mayor of Beaufort, S.C., one of the first towns to pass a resolution against drilling and seismic testing. “This is a great day for the people of Beaufort and people up and down the Atlantic Coast. Many thanks to President Obama for listening to us and responding.” 

Citizens also turned out in droves to oppose the drilling plan, with more than 1400 people, the vast majority against drilling, attending public meetings last year.
 
While the administration is taking the Atlantic out of its proposed program, new lease areas for drilling remain in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic. Last month, environmental groups presented the administration with 2 million signatures from citizens across the country, urging protection for not only the Atlantic, but the Arctic and the remaining unleased portions of the Gulf as well.
 
“We applaud the president for protecting our Atlantic beaches and coastal way of life,” said Alt. “And to avoid the worst impacts of global warming, we must keep the vast majority of oil, coal, and gas beneath the sea and in the ground. That’s why we urge the president to meet the Paris climate accord and his new agreement with Canada, and also reject new drilling in the Arctic and the Gulf.”

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IPAA disappointed with Obama's off-shore drilling news

By Bob Downing Published: March 15, 2016

From a press release today:

Latest Offshore Plan Closes the Door to New American Energy Opportunities

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) President Barry Russell released the following statement on the next stage of the Obama Administration’s proposed five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program for 2017-2022:

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FERC gives favorable EA to Broad Run pipeline expansion

By Bob Downing Published: March 15, 2016

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday gave a favorable environmental assessment to an $406.4 million expansion of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline LLC's system in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The Broad Run improvements include four new compressor stations and improvements to two other stations.

The natural gas pipeline is committed to Antero Resources Corp, one of the mahor Appalachian Basin drillers.

The pipeline will move Utica and Marcellus naturla gas to the Gulf Coast, when completed in late 2017.

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ODNR says drilling rigs in Ohio drops from 15 to 12

By Bob Downing Published: March 15, 2016

Ohio has approved 2,148 Utica Shale permits, as of March 12.

That total includes 1,695 drilled Utica wells and 1,244 producing Utica wells, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The number of rigs working in Ohio has dropped to 12, ODNR says.

It was 15 rigs the previous week.

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Pennsylvania OKs permit for Jessup gas-fired power plant

By Bob Downing Published: March 15, 2016

From a press release:

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Marathon Petroleum, MPLX to drop-down inland marine assets

By Bob Downing Published: March 15, 2016

From a Monday press release:

FINDLAY, Ohio, March 14, 2016 - Marathon Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: MPC) and MPLX LP (NYSE: MPLX) have executed definitive agreements for the contribution of MPC's inland marine business to MPLX. In exchange, MPLX will issue equity to MPC valued at $600 million. MPLX expects 98 percent of the equity to be issued in the form of common units and the remainder in general partner units, at an approximate price of $26.09 per unit.

The total transaction consideration represents an implied multiple of approximately five times the inland marine business' projected earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the next 12 months. MPC has agreed to waive first-quarter 2016 distributions, including incentive distribution rights and general partner distributions, with respect to the common units issued in the transaction. Pending customary closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close as of March 31 and will be immediately accretive to unitholders.

The inland marine business, comprised of 18 tow boats and 205 barges, transports light products, heavy oils, crude oil, renewable fuels, chemicals and feedstocks in the Midwest and U.S. Gulf Coast regions, and accounts for nearly 60 percent of the total volumes MPC ships by inland marine vessels.

"The addition of these high-quality, well-maintained marine assets to the partnership under a fee-for-capacity contract with MPC adds approximately $120 million of annual EBITDA, providing a highly predictable income and cash-flow stream that further diversifies the earnings mix for MPLX," said MPLX Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary R. Heminger. "The acquisition price reflects MPC's ongoing and strong support of the partnership."

Heminger noted that issuing new equity to MPC in consideration for the assets eliminates the need for MPLX to access the public equity markets to fund the transaction.

The terms of the acquisition were approved by the Conflicts Committee of the board of directors of MPLX's general partner. The committee is comprised entirely of independent directors, and is being advised principally by Evercore Partners as to financial matters, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as to legal matters and K&L Gates as to admiralty and maritime law matters.

 

###

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NiSource taps new executive for Columbia Gas Group

By Bob Downing Published: March 15, 2016

From a press release today:

MERRILLVILLE, Ind., March 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) today announced that Pablo A. Vegas will join the company on May 3 as executive vice president and president, Columbia Gas Group for NiSource's Columbia Gas companies, which includes local gas distribution companies in Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Carl W. Levander, executive vice president and chief regulatory officer, will assume the expanded role of executive vice president, regulatory policy and corporate affairs, responsible for policy, corporate communications, federal government affairs, regulatory strategy and human resources at NiSource, as Robert D. Campbell, executive vice president, corporate affairs and human resources, is retiring from NiSource. Levander's current responsibilities include leadership of the Columbia Gas companies, which Vegas will assume in addition to leadership of customer service for NiSource.

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Hydraulic fracturing accounts for 51% of U.S. crude production

By Bob Downing Published: March 15, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Even though hydraulic fracturing has been in use for more than six decades, it has only recently been used to produce a significant portion of crude oil in the United States. This technique, often used in combination with horizontal drilling, has allowed the United States to increase its oil production faster than at any time in its history. Based on the most recent available data from states, EIA estimates that oil production from hydraulically fractured wells now makes up about half of total U.S. crude oil production.

Read More ›

Tags: crude oil , drilling , production

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FERC rejects proposed LNG export facility in Oregon

By Bob Downing Published: March 15, 2016

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday rejected plans for a LNG export facility in Oregon.

The plan had been advanced for Jordan Cove by Veresen Inc.

Click  here  to read more.

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McClendon's SUV traveling 78 miles per hour, police say

By Bob Downing Published: March 15, 2016

From the Associated Press on Monday:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma City police say Chesapeake Energy founder Aubrey McClendon was driving 78 mph when his SUV hit a bridge support and there is no evidence suggesting he tried to veer away to avoid the fatal crash.

McClendon died March 2, a day after a federal grand jury indicted him on a bid-rigging charge. The part-owner of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder had vowed to fight the accusation.

Police said Monday that McClendon's vehicle's data recorder shows that he had been driving 88 mph and tapped his brakes, but not in the 31 feet before impact. Investigators found tire tracks but no skid marks.

Police are checking his cellphone records to determine if he was on the phone.

Investigators wouldn't comment when asked if they believe McClendon intended to crash.

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Alpha Natural Resources to sell off natural gas, other assets

By Bob Downing Published: March 14, 2016

Alpha Natural Resources, a Virginia-based coal company, has changed its plans while in bankruptcy protection, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last week.

The firm intends to sell off 25,000 acres leased for natural gas in Greene County in southwest Pennsylvania, plus sell off its stake in Pennsylvania-based Rice Energy, one of the most active drillers in Ohio's Utica Shale.

The two companies had a joint venture.

Alpha Natural Resources filed for bankruptcy protection last August, citing debt of $4 billion.

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Virginia court rejects landowners' appeal on pipeline access

By Bob Downing Published: March 14, 2016

From the Associated Press last week:

The Supreme Court of Virginia has opted not to hear an appeal related to a surveying law that had enraged landowners in the path of a natural gas pipeline.

The Roanoke Times (http://bit.ly/1pxoH80 ) reports that, following the high court's decision Monday, Mountain Valley Pipeline contractors can return to conduct survey work in Franklin County despite the lack of consent from landowners who last year denied access to surveyors.

The law allows natural gas companies to enter private property without an owner's permission as long as the company has followed notification procedures outlined in the statute. In August, a Giles County judge had rejected an argument that the law provided for an unconstitutional "taking" of property without compensation.

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Cabot to pay $11,000 for Pennsylvania drilling violation

By Bob Downing Published: March 14, 2016

Texas-based Cabot Oil and Gas is paying an $11,000 settlement to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission for commencing gas drilling operations in Pennsylvania before it received permission to do so, NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania reports.

It is not the first time the company has been cited for such an offense.

It is one of the biggest drillers in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania.

Click  here  to read more.

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Garrett County, Md., limits drilling around Deep Creek Lake

By Bob Downing Published: March 14, 2016

From the Associated Press last week:

OAKLAND, Md. (AP) — The Garrett County Commissioners have adopted a watershed management plan that limits natural-gas drilling on nearly 41,000 acres around Deep Creek Lake, a popular vacation destination in western Maryland.

The three-member board voted unanimously Monday to adopt the plan.

It prohibits natural gas wellheads within the watershed but allows companies to drill horizontally from wellheads located outside the watershed boundaries.

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Housing firm: Utica, Marcellus booms triggered record profits

By Bob Downing Published: March 14, 2016

Jim Willis of the Marcellus Drilling News spotted this one:

UMH Properties Inc., a New Jersey-based firm that owns trailer parks, is still very bullish on the Utica and Marcellus shales in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The publicly traded company has 98 communities with 17,800 spots in seven states.

It wants to expand in the Utica and Marcellus areas, company officials said.

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Energy downturn fuels West Virginia budget stalemate

By Bob Downing Published: March 14, 2016

From the Associated Press on Saturday:

West Virginia is finishing a lawmaking session defined by a Republican agenda that sometimes shrugged off the Democratic governor.

Lawmakers also still could be months away from solving a budget stalemate fueled by downturns in coal and natural gas.

The 60-day election year session is expected to wrap up in Saturday's late hours.

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TransCanada Corp. eying Columbia Pipeline Group

By Bob Downing Published: March 14, 2016

TransCanada Corp, Canada's No. 2 pipeline company, is negotiating to buy the Texas-based Columbia Pipeline Group with operations in the Utica and Marcellus shales, BloombergBusiness reported late last week.

Click  here  to read more.

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New Texas-based gas compression firm gets $175 million

By Bob Downing Published: March 14, 2016

From a recent press release:

Texas-based Pegasus Optimization Managers, LLC, a newly formed company led by Randy Dean and Chad Lenamon (former presidents of CDM Resource Management, LLC), has entered into a partnership with certain funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management, LLC  (together with its consolidated subsidiaries, “Apollo”), to build a leading gas compression services business.

Funds managed by Apollo have provided Pegasus with an equity commitment of $175 million to pursue its business plan.

Click  here  to read more.

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Stone Energy Corp. borrows $385 million for operations

By Bob Downing Published: March 14, 2016

From a press release last week:

LAFAYETTE, La., March 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Stone Energy Corporation (NYSE: SGY) today announced that it has borrowed $385 million under Stone's Bank Credit Facility, which represents substantially all of the remaining undrawn amount that was available under the Credit Facility. These funds are intended to be used for general corporate purposes. As of March 10, 2016, following the funding of this borrowing, the aggregate principal amount of borrowings under the Credit Facility was $477 million. This is in addition to approximately $19 million of outstanding letters of credit. The bank borrowings will initially bear an interest rate of approximately 5 percent. On March 10, 2016, the banks provided notice to Stone under the Credit Facility of a request for a borrowing base redetermination.  Stone expects that the borrowing base will be reduced to an amount below the current borrowings.

Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer David Welch stated, "We felt it important to increase our liquidity in the current low price commodity environment to ensure we have adequate financial flexibility.  We will continue to explore various options to strengthen our balance sheet, including alternatives to address our debt position."  

Stone has retained Lazard as its financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP as its legal advisor to assist the Company in analyzing and considering financial, transactional and strategic alternatives. Vinson & Elkins LLP will continue to provide ongoing corporate and finance representation.

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Construction to begin in May on Hillabee pipeline expansion

By Bob Downing Published: March 14, 2016

Williams Partners intends to begin construction in May on the Hallabee pipeline expansion in Alabama.

The project was recently approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The pipeline to serve parts of Florida should be in service by May 2017.

Click  here  to read more.

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Constitution Pipeline delayed to second half 2017

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2016

Geting environmental permits has delayed the 124-mile Constitution Pipeline that will carry natural gas 124 miles from Pennsylvania to New England.

The $925 million project has been delayed from fourth quarter 2016 to second half 2017, said Williams Partners.

Click  here  to read more.

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Delaware Riverkeeper sues FERC over Leidy pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2016

From a press release:

Delaware Riverkeeper Sues FERC Over Leidy Pipeline
FERC’s approval process of Transco projects violate federal law

BRISTOL, PA – The Delaware Riverkeeper Network filed a lawsuit on March 8th against the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (FERC) challenging its approval of the Leidy Southeast Expansion Project pipeline.
Filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the suit alleges that FERC violated
the National Environmental Policy Act by engaging in illegal ‘segmentation’ in its decision-making process,
and by issuing its approval of the pipeline before the State of Pennsylvania had given Clean Water Act
approval for the project.
According to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, FERC violated the National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA) by segmenting its review of Transco’s Leidy Southeast pipeline project into at least four separate
projects. Segmenting a single project into smaller pieces in order to evade full consideration of its
environmental impacts is prohibited by NEPA regulations and court opinions. Most recently, in the case of
Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. FERC, the District Court for the District of Columbia ruled this kind of
segmenting of pipeline projects for review to be improper and in violation of the law.
Furthermore, the case alleges that under the Clean Water Act and court decisions, FERC is clearly obligated
to wait until a state grants a Clean Water Act 401 Certification for a project before granting its own
approval, and in the case of the Leidy Southeast Pipeline FERC failed to allow the state to go first.
“What FERC is doing is blatantly illegal, both under NEPA and the Clean Water Act,” says Maya van
Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “These are not paper
violations of law-- they are resulting in inappropriate and premature approvals of pipelines that are
robbing states and communities of the information and legal opportunity to say no.”
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is requesting that the D.C. court review FERC’s authorization of
Transco to commence building the Leidy Southeast Pipeline.
Page 2 of 2

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WPX completes $309 million sale of San Juan Basin pipelines

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

WPX Energy (NYSE:WPX) announced today that it has completed the previously announced sale of its San Juan Basin gathering system for consideration of approximately $309 million.

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

WPX has rapidly grown its footprint in the Gallup oil play to approximately 100,000 acres. Year-over-year, WPX increased Gallup oil volumes by 128 percent in 2015 to an average of 8,900 barrels per day.

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Warren Resources provides stock, restructuring updates

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

DENVER, March 10, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

Nasdaq Listing

Warren Resources, Inc. (Nasdaq:WRES) (“Warren”) today announced that on March 7, 2016, it received a decision letter from the Nasdaq Hearings Panel (the “Panel”) indicating that Warren’s common stock is permitted to continue to trade on the Nasdaq Global Market through June 20, 2016.

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Mariner East 1 moving ethane, propane to East Coast

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

MARINER EAST 1 PIPELINE LINKS MARCELLUS SHALE TO EAST COAST WITH
INTRODUCTION OF ETHANE SHIPMENTS TO MARCUS HOOK; MARINER EAST 2
KEY TO FURTHER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN PENNSYLVANIA

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pennsylvania, March 10, 2016 – Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P.
(NYSE: SXL) announced today that Mariner East 1, the first pipeline in the larger
Mariner East system, is now transporting both ethane and propane to the Marcus Hook
Industrial Complex and is approaching full operations as it completes loading of the first
waterborne ethane shipment.
Mariner East 1 is the first phase of the multifaceted Mariner East project. With Mariner
East 1 up and running, the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex is now positioned as the
East Coast hub for processing and storing propane, ethane and other natural gas
liquids from the shale basins for distribution to local, domestic and international markets.
The 70,000 barrels per day of ethane and propane capacity for Mariner East 1 is
available for both intrastate and interstate service.
Mariner East 1, originating in Washington County, southwest of Pittsburgh, began
shipping propane in December 2014, serving local and regional propane shippers as
well as the international market. Ethane shipments commenced last month, and the first
tanker carrying ethane to Europe departed from Marcus Hook yesterday.
Mariner East 2, an expansion of the Mariner East system with origin points in Ohio,
West Virginia and western Pennsylvania, will add additional off-take points for propane
shippers in Central and Eastern Pennsylvania. It is expected to be completed in the first
half of 2017 and will add an additional capacity of approximately 275,000 barrels per
day of natural gas liquids, primarily propane and butane, from both the Marcellus and
Utica shales. Mariner East 2 will provide both interstate service and intrastate service
within Pennsylvania and has the potential to expand to 450,000 barrels per day.
“Mariner East 1 is an important milestone for the natural gas and manufacturing industry
in Pennsylvania. As expanded by Mariner East 2, this service will create access to new
and existing markets, provide reliable, cost-effective heating fuel for homes and
businesses, and supply the raw materials that will lead to new manufacturing
opportunities and growth,” said Michael J. Hennigan, Sunoco Logistics’ president and
chief executive officer. “Mariner East 1 is the starting point; Mariner East 2 presents the
opportunity to fully realize those benefits.”
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said: “The opening of the Mariner East pipeline
represents a vital first step in redirecting Pennsylvania’s abundant natural gas resources
to critical markets here at home. Sunoco Logistics is making a $3 billion investment in
Pennsylvania’s energy economy by keeping Marcellus Shale resources for
manufacturing right here in Pennsylvania, rather than sending this business, revenue,
and jobs to other states. The immediate effect will be the creation of 290 to 440
permanent jobs. The long-term impact from operation of this pipeline is an estimated
$100 million to $150 million influx into Pennsylvania’s economy.”
U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., said: “The completion of Mariner East 1 will help
create jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and operations for many Pennsylvanians,”
Senator Casey said. “I will continue to support efforts to strengthen our economy while
helping to make Delaware County an important energy hub in the United States.”
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey said: “As an early supporter of this effort, I’m pleased that the
Mariner East project has been completed. Connecting Delaware County to Western
Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale development will help grow our Commonwealth’s
economy and support good-paying jobs for many Pennsylvanians. It also is an
important step towards America’s energy independence and expanding our role as a
global energy exporter.”
U.S. Representative Pat Meehan said: “When Mariner East was announced in 2012,
the project gave vision and hope for our regional economy and our energy sector
workers. Fulfillment of this vision goes well beyond revitalizing a critical regional asset in
Marcus Hook. We are setting the stage for a stronger economic future right here in our
back yard – the foundation for a manufacturing renaissance and a growing energy
sector here in Delaware County.”
John J. Dougherty, Business Manager of the Philadelphia Building and Construction
Trades Council, commented on the impact to the local labor pool by saying: “This kind
of development creates real jobs, giving Pennsylvanians the chance to get ahead,
instead of falling behind.”
State Senator Tom McGarrigle of Delaware County, said: “I have supported this
project from the beginning because I saw the kind of impact it would have on our
economy. It was clear from my days on County Council that this project was important
not just for Delaware County, but for the entire Commonwealth.”
Mario Civera, Jr., Chairman of Delaware County Council, noted that Mariner East 1 is
the first step in realizing the vision outlined in the Delaware County Industrial
Development Authority’s study on re-purposing the Marcus Hook industrial site. “The
investments and vision Sunoco Logistics is making, the jobs being created, and the
potential for impacts in Southeastern Pennsylvani a for generations to come cannot be
overstated. Delaware County is positioned to be the center of the energy industry for
the eastern United States.”
Gene Taylor, Mayor of the Borough of Marcus Hook, said: “Today’s announcement is
another step in the ongoing rebirth of Marcus Hook, whose heritage is tied to this
facility. Our history and identity has always been an energy town; now our future is, too.”
About Sunoco Logistics
Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE: SXL), headquartered in Newtown Square,
Pennsylvania, is a publicly traded Delaware limited partnership that owns and operates
a logistics business, consisting of a geographically diverse portfolio of complementary
pipeline, terminalling, and acquisition and marketing assets which are used to facilitate
the purchase and sale of crude oil, NGLs and refined products. SXL's general partner is
a consolidated subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (NYSE: ETP). For more
information, visit the Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. website at
www.sunocol ogistics.com
###

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Iowa approves Bakken crude oil pipeline to Illinois

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2016

From the Associated Press on Thursday:

The last state permit needed for a pipeline that will carry a half-million barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota to Illinois was approved Thursday by Iowa utilities regulators, who also gave the Texas-based company authority to use eminent domain for land that property owners are unwilling to voluntarily provide.

The Iowa Utilities Board voted unanimously to approve a hazardous pipeline permit for the so-called Bakken pipeline, 346 miles of which will cross through 18 Iowa counties and 1,300 parcels of land.

"We weighed the public benefits of the proposed hazardous liquid pipeline project against the public and private costs and other detriments as established by the evidence on the record," board member Elizabeth Jacobs said. "Together we weighed all the issues presented by the parties and found the issues of safety, economic benefits, environmental factors and landowners' rights to merit the most significant weight in reaching our decision."

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Construction to begin soon on 50-mile Cornerstone Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2016

Construction is set to begin the coming weeks on the 50-mile Cornerstone Pipeline for Utica Shale liquids that will run from Scio in Harrison County to the Marathon Petroleum refinery in Canton, according to The Drilling Down blog of the Younsgstown-based Business Journal..

The $140 million project is planned by MPLX and the scheduled completion date is late 2016.

The pipeline, 8 inches in diameter, would move up to 40 million barrels per day.

Click  here  to read more: http://businessjournaldaily.com/construction-set-to-begin-on-cornerstone-pipeline/

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Crude oil shipments from Midwest to coasts declining

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

The movement of crude by rail within the United States, including within Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts (PADDs), reached a high of 928,000 barrels per day (b/d) in October 2014, with most of the shipments originating in the Midwest and going to the East Coast, West Coast, and Gulf Coast regions. Since October 2015, crude-by-rail volumes have declined as production has slowed, as crude oil price spreads have narrowed, and as more pipelines have come online.

Read More ›

Tags: Bakken , Brent , crude oil , Gulf Coast , liquid fuels , oil/petroleum , pipelines , rail , transportation , WTI (West Texas Intermediate)

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Ohio groups hail U.S.-Canada pact on methane from drilling

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2016

From a press release today:

Ohio Coalition Praises U.S. - Canadian Pact on Methane As Strong First Step to Limit  Methane Pollution and Address Climate Change

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

COLUMBUS, OH - Yesterday, President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed  to curb dangerous methane pollution from hundreds of thousands of existing sources of oil and gas infrastructure in their respective countries. A large, diverse coalition of environmental, labor, health professionals and faith leaders released the following statement in response to this morning’s announcement:

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Jury awards $4.24 million to two Dimock, Pa., families

By Bob Downing Published: March 11, 2016

An eight-member federal jury in Scranton, Pa., on Thursday found Pennsylvania driller Cabot Oil and Gas negligent and ordered the driller to pay a total of $4.24 million to two Dimock families for polluting their well water starting back in 2008, NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania reports.

The company says it will appeal the decision.

Only two families out of the original 44 plaintiffs in the case against Cabot Oil and Gas went to trial after years of delays, lack of representation, and legal setbacks.

Click  here  to read more.

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IPAA: White House rules target independent producers

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2016

From the Independent Petroleum Association of America today::

White House Methane Rules Targeting Vulnerable Independent Producers

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) Executive Vice President Lee Fuller released the following statement on the Obama Administration’s plans to add costly and unnecessary new mandates on independent oil and natural gas producers:

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Sand, coated proppant sales drop, Fairmount Santrol says

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2016

From a press release today:

CHESTERLAND, Ohio, March 10, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Fairmount Santrol (NYSE:FMSA) today announced results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2015. 

Fourth-Quarter 2015 Results

Fourth-quarter 2015 revenue totaled $134.9 million, down 21% from $171.0 million in the third quarter of 2015, and down 62% from $353.8 million for the same period in 2014. Overall sales volumes were 1.9 million tons for the quarter, a decline of 5% from 2.0 million tons in the third quarter of 2015 and a decline of 23% from 2.5 million tons in the fourth quarter of 2014.

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First ethane shipment from Marcellus Shale heads to Europe

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2016

The first ethane shipment from Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale is headed to Europe.

It is aboard the Ineos Intrepid that departed from Marcus Hook outside Philadelphia.

Click  here  to read more.

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Halcon Resources hires law firm, financial advisor for help

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2016

From a press release on Wednesday:

Texas-based Halcón Resources Corporation (NYSE: HK) ("Halcón" or the "Company") today announced that it has retained PJT Partners as financial advisor and Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP as legal advisor to assist the Company as it charts a course through this downturn.

The Company also today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed John Wat (J.W.) Brown and Paul P. (Flip) Huffard IV as new board members, effective March 4, 2016. With these appointments, the Halcón Board has been expanded from nine to eleven directors.

Floyd Wilson, CEO commented, "We welcome J.W. and Flip to our Board. Their backgrounds and experiences will provide value to Halcón going forward. We continue to focus on finding creative solutions to ensure we come out of this current oil price environment a stronger company. Our hiring of PJT and Weil is consistent with these efforts."

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New federal methane rules threaten shale boom, API says

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2016

From a press release:

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2016 – President Obama’s plans to add costly new regulations on methane when emissions are already falling could harm America’s shale energy revolution that has lowered energy costs for American consumers by $700 a year at the pump and $1200 in home utility bills, said API Vice President of Regulatory and Economic Policy Kyle Isakower.

“Additional regulations on methane by the administration could discourage the shale energy revolution that has helped America lead the world in reducing emissions while significantly lowering the costs of energy to consumers. The administration is catering to environmental extremists at the expense of American consumers.

“America is already leading the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Even as oil and natural gas production has risen dramatically, methane emissions have fallen, thanks to industry leadership and investment in new technologies. These industry-led efforts are a proven way to reduce methane emissions from existing sources, and they are clearly working.

“Let's not forget that the safe and responsible development of energy from shale has helped the U.S. cut CO2 emissions to near 20-year lows. The last thing we need is more duplicative and costly regulations that could increase the cost of energy for Americans and that could potentially drive up greenhouse gas emissions.”

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

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U.S.-Canada pact elevates methane from existing drilling

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2016

From a press release on Wednesday:

OBAMA - TRUDEAU PACT ELEVATES OIL & GAS METHANE POLLUTION ISSUE

Opportunity for big, cost-effective climate action emerges on domestic, international stages;
Turning goals to action will require concrete standards for existing oil and gas facilities

Dear Journalist,

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EDF responds to Obama plan to curtail methane from drilling

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2016

From a press release:

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Earthworks: Obama gets serious about methane from drilling

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2016

From a press release today:

Obama starts process to protect community health from existing oil and gas air pollution

EPA to collect information needed to regulate existing sources of oil and gas methane pollution
Statement of Lauren Pagel, Policy Director, Earthworks

"With today’s announcement, President Obama starts to get serious about oil and gas methane pollution.

Prior to this announcement, his Administration has largely focused on pollution from yet-to-be-built oil and gas facilities. This announcement is of enormous importance because it starts to deal with the main problem - existing facilities.

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Eco-group hails U.S.-Canada deal on global warming

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2016

From an Environment America press release today:

WASHINGTON, DC  - President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today a issued a wide-ranging joint agreement to reduce global warming pollution; advance clean energy and cleaner cars, trucks, and buses; and protect the Arctic.
 
Among the many provisions in the agreement, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to aligned greenhouse gas emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles. They announced new measures to limit methane pollution from oil and gas operations by 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025, a target that must include limits on existing operations if it is to be met. And on the Arctic, they reiterated national goals of protecting at least 17 percent of land areas and 10 percent of marine areas by 2020, and pledged to to take into account climate science and emergency response plans when determining future oil and gas development.
 
Environment America's Executive Director Margie Alt issued the following statement:
 
"This is an ambitious and visionary agreement that will help slow the climate crisis, advance clean energy, and protect the treasured Arctic region, where global warming is already having an acute effect. We especially welcome a historic new commitment from President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau to limit methane pollution and secure a safe future for our children.
 
"Today’s agreement sets a new bar for conserving and protecting the fragile Arctic, one we believe is high enough to ban future oil and gas development. As President Obama prepares to release the next draft of his five-year plan for oil and gas drilling, we urge him to meet the bar he boldly set today.”
 

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Manufacturers concerned by new federal methane rules

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2016

From a press release today:

Administration Threatens Manufacturing Bright Spot

Washington, D.C., March 10, 2016 – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Ross Eisenberg issued the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement to regulate methane from existing oil and gas sources:

“Manufacturers have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent since 2005, while our value to the economy has increased by 19 percent over the same time period. Our ability to produce more and grow the economy while lowering emissions is dependent on access to reliable and affordable energy. The shale revolution has served as a major bright spot for manufacturers and has been a key driver in new investments across the country that have added hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs.

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Red ink sinks Atwood Lake Resort in Carroll County

By Bob Downing Published: March 10, 2016

Ohio's Atwood Lake Resort in Carroll County is closing its doors on March 19, WKSU-FM reports.

It is losing too much money.

Click  here  to read more.

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U.S. oil production dropping, it is now lower than 2015 total

By Bob Downing Published: March 9, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

U.S. monthly crude oil production in December 2015 continued to decline, as oil production reached its lowest level since November 2014. Production also declined from year-ago levels for the first time in more than four years. This continued production decline is the result of lower crude prices, which have declined more than 70% since the summer of 2014.

Read More ›

Tags: crude oil , liquid fuels , production

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Group proposes commmunity bill of rights in Columbus

By Bob Downing Published: March 9, 2016

From a Monday press release:

ORDINANCE PROPOSED FOR COLUMBUS THAT PROTECTS WATER, AIR AND SOIL FROM TOXIC OIL & GAS PRODUCTION ACTIVITIES.

Highly populated areas such as the city of Columbus are no place to dispose of radioactive, toxic waste from industrialized oil and gas production.  The EPA has sanctioned disposal of radioactive shale waste in Columbus, using protocols for testing radium and other radioactive elements whose ability to detect unsafe levels has never been resolved.  Thirteen injection wells exist north of Franklin County, putting our watershed at long-term risk.  Residents have no idea how radioactive these wastes are, that are being disposed of in deep injection wells and on surface landfills around the state.  Hundreds of toxic chemicals involved in the fracking chain have been exempted from EPA authority, leaving our regulators unable to manage them to properly protect residents.  At the same time, we are told that these materials are handled safely and that we have nothing to worry about.

When our regulatory environment will not protect its own residents from potential harms, then the residents must ensure that our laws are altered.  We must do this in a manner that will ensure that our government and regulatory system’s first priority is to protect the health and well-being of our current and future generations - and not to corporations, whose deep pockets for leveraging their own short-term profits weigh heavily on our public officials’ decisions.

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Law firm holding Saturday public meeting on Nexus Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: March 9, 2016

A Columbus-based law firm is holding a public meeting on Saturday  for landowners who may soon start to get financial offers for easement rights for the Nexus Pipeline across northern Ohio.
Goldman & Braunstein LLP will hold the meeting at 1 p.m. at the Conference Place Inc., 6947 Promway Ave. NW, Jackson Township.
If the project is approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the pipeline could be built in 2017. Land would be acquired by deals with landowners or by eminent domain.
Eminent domain attorney Michael Braunstein will address landowners’ concerns and advise them of their rights. People need to know their rights before signing pipeline easements and may need legal representation, he said.
For more information, go to www.ohiopipelineresults.com.

 

here is the company's press release:

Nexus Pipeline Informational Meeting

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Court rejects appeal of 2014 Broadview Heights suit

By Bob Downing Published: March 9, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

Ohio Court of Appeals
Denies the People’s Right to Local Community Self-Government

 

Affirms corporate “rights” and state preemption over community rights in Broadview Hts.

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Utica Shale natural gas, oil production in Ohio increasing

By Bob Downing Published: March 9, 2016

Production of natural gas and oil continues to grow in Ohio’s Utica Shale.
Natural gas production from Ohio’s horizontal wells grew by almost 25 percent from third quarter 2015 to fourth quarter 2015 and oil production jumped by 10 percent in that time, according to new production data released on Wednesday  by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Natural gas volumes in the quarter totaled nearly 303 billion cubic feet and oil production totaled nearly 6.25 million 42-gallon barrels, said ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management.
Natural gas production from 2014 to 2015 grew by 110.6 percent and oil production grew by 99.9 percent in that time, according to the new report.
Natural gas totals jumped from 452.8 billion cubic feet in 2014 to 953 billion cubic feet in 2015, the report says.
Oil totals increased from nearly 11 million barrels in 2014 to 21.98 million barrels in 2015.
Quarterly production of natural gas increased by 80 percent from fourth quarter 2014 and oil production increased by more than 75 percent in that time, the data says.
The production comes at a time when new drilling is falling off as drillers pull back because of low commodity prices.
But the Utica Shale in eastern Ohio remains one of the more active drilling areas. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says natural gas production is likely to drop in April  in six of seven shale drilling areas in the country. Only the Utica Shale is expected to increase. Oil production in the Utica Shale and the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and West Virginia are expected to stay level. The rest will be declining in April, the federal agency says.
The latest Ohio report covers data from 1,265 Utica Shale wells, of which 1,230 reported production. A total of 35 wells reported no production.
To date, Ohio has approved 2,140 Utica Shale permits. Of that total, 1,693 Utica wells have been drilled and 1,240 Utica wells are producing.
The average Ohio horizontal well produced 5,081 barrels of oil and 245.9 million cubic feet of natural gas in the fourth quarter 2015. The average well was in production for 83 days.
The Top 5 Ohio counties for natural gas in the fourth quarter were Belmont with 85.8 billion cubic feet, Carroll with 59.4 billion, Monroe with 49.3 billion, Harrison with 44.8 billion and Noble with 33.9 billion.
The Top 5 Ohio counties for oil were Harrison with 2.4 million barrels, Guernsey (1.5 million), Carroll (1.4 million), Noble (628,100) and Belmont (92,679).
The Top 3 natural gas wells in the fourth quarter were three Mohawk Warrior wells owned by Rice Drilling LLC in Belmont County. No. 1 was Mohawk Warrior 12H with 16.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas in the quarter.
The Top 3 oil producers in the quarter were Red Hill Farms wells owned by Ascent Resources in Guernsey County. No. 1 was the well with 59,502 barrels of oil in the quarter.
The Top 5 Ohio drillers are: Chesapeake Energy, 588 wells; Gulfport Energy, 165 wells; Antero Resources, 120 wells; Ascent Resources, 83 wells.; and Eclipse Resources, 54 wells.
Ohio does not require a separate reporting of natural gas liquids like ethane, butane and propane or condensate, a type of oil.
The NGLs are part of the natural gas total. The condensate is part of the oil total.
The individual well reports are available at http://oilandgas.ohiodnr.gov/production.
 

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EIA: Utica Shale natural gas production to increase in April

By Bob Downing Published: March 8, 2016

Oil production is projected to drop in April in five of seven U.S. shale areas and natural gas production will decline in April six of seven shale areas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In the Utica Shale, oil production will remain steady and natural gas production will increase from March to April, the agency said.

That makes the Utica one of two oil areas not to decline (both remain steady) and the only natural gas area to increase from March to April.

Click  here  to read more.

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Ohio has 1,693 drilled Utica wells, 1,240 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: March 8, 2016

Ohio has approved 2,140 Utica Shale permits, as of March 5.

That total includes 1,693 drilled Utica wells and 1,240 producing Utica wells, said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Ohio has 15 drilling rigs at work.

Eight new permits were approved: six in Belmont County and two in Monroe County, all  by Gulfport Energy Corp.

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Oklahoma releases new plan to curtail injection earthquakes

By Bob Downing Published: March 8, 2016

From the Associated Press on Monday:

Oklahoma state regulators are asking oil and gas producers in central Oklahoma to restrict wastewater disposal operations to help temper a sharp increase in the number and severity of earthquakes.

Monday’s request covers more than 400 wells across 5,200 square miles. It comes after a similar directive in February covering nearly 250 wells in northwestern Oklahoma. Scientists blame wastewater disposal volumes for increased seismicity.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission says the new cuts should reduce disposal volumes by 40 percent from 2014 levels.
The number of earthquakes with a magnitude 3.0 or greater has skyrocketed in Oklahoma, from a few dozen in 2012 to more than 900 last year.

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Rally planned today at BLM drilling auction in Nevada

By Bob Downing Published: March 8, 2016

From a Monday press release:

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

 

RENO, Nev.— Dozens of climate change activists will stage a “Keep It in the Ground” rally Tuesday outside the Bureau of Land Management’s fossil fuel lease sale at a casino in Reno, Nev., March 8. The bureau’s “climate auction,” as protesters dubbed it, will allow industry to bid on more than 50,000 acres — more than 75 square miles — of publicly owned oil and gas leases in Nevada. These public lands harbor an estimated 486,000 tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution and provide important habitat to sensitive and imperiled species such as the bi-state sage grouse, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, pygmy rabbit, Preble’s shrew and at least 22 species of raptors and owls.

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G2X signs agreement on Louisiana methanol facility

By Bob Downing Published: March 8, 2016

From a press release:

HOUSTON, March 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- G2X Energy, a developer of advanced natural gas to methanol projects, along with their strategic partner the Proman Group, announced today they have entered into an engineering services contract with Toyo Engineering Corporation (Toyo) for the detailed engineering needs on their previously announced world-scale methanol production facility located in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  Toyo will be providing basic engineering for offsite and utility facilities and detailed engineering of the complete methanol facility. Once complete, the G2X facility, known as Big Lake Fuels Methanol Plant, will produce 1.4 million metric tons of commercial grade methanol per year. "Toyo is a world leader in engineering and engineering support services and we are extremely pleased to have them as part of our team on the construction of our Big Lake Fuels Plant," stated Tim Vail, President and CEO of G2X Energy who went on to say, "With any project of this magnitude, it is imperative to partner with firms which share our commitment to safety and quality.  The Proman group has worked with Toyo on past projects and has been extremely pleased with their stellar safety record and impeccable reputation." 

Construction on the Big Lake Fuels Plant will take approximately 3 years to complete and will add 2500 direct and indirect jobs to the Lake Charles area. 

For more information regarding G2X Energy, please contact Sandy Fitch at (713)943-2200 or info@G2Xenergy.com.  For interview opportunities, please contact Kathryn Smith at (713)252-5414 or (713)627-8777.

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Ohio industry group testifies before EPA panel on water

By Bob Downing Published: March 7, 2016

From EID-Ohio today:

Ohio's New Groundwater Study Highlight of Energy In Depth Testimony at Science Advisory Board Teleconference on Landmark EPA Fracking Report

Today, Energy In Depth (EID) testified at the Science Advisory Board (SAB) Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel’s public teleconference. EID highlighted the new results of the University of Cincinnati's groundbreaking study of Ohio's drinking water wells near shale gas extraction.

As background, the SAB hydraulic fracturing panel recently released its draft recommendation on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) landmark draft assessment of fracking and groundwater. The purpose of today's public teleconference was to review and discuss the SAB's second draft report, regarding SAB's review of the EPA's draft assessment.

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Ohio-based sand supplier names Biehl to executive posts

By Bob Downing Published: March 7, 2016

From aq recent press release:

CHESTERLAND, Ohio, March 03, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Fairmount Santrol (NYSE:FMSA) today announced Michael F. Biehl will join the Company as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Mr. Biehl will join Fairmount Santrol from Chart Industries, Inc. (Nasdaq:GTLS), a diversified global manufacturer of equipment for the industrial gas, energy and biomedical industries, where he has served as Chief Financial Officer since 2001. Prior to joining Chart Industries, he was Vice President, Finance and Treasurer at the former Oglebay Norton Company, an industrial minerals, mining, processing and transportation company. He previously also worked in the audit practice of Ernst & Young LLP in Cleveland.  Mr. Biehl holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a BBA (with a major in accounting) from Ohio University.

“After a thorough search for the best candidate, we are very pleased Michael will be joining Fairmount Santrol to lead our Finance and Accounting organization. Given his extensive public company financial experience and broad knowledge of the industrial, energy and mining industries, we believe Michael will be an excellent addition to our management team and a valuable asset to our Company,” said Jenniffer Deckard, Fairmount Santrol President and Chief Executive Officer.

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TransCanada to terminate Alberta power agreements

By Bob Downing Published: March 7, 2016

From a press release today:

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - March 7, 2016) - TransCanada Corporation (TSX:TRP)(NYSE:TRP) (TransCanada) today announced plans to terminate its Alberta Power Purchase Arrangements (PPAs). This termination affects the Sheerness, Sundance A and Sundance B PPAs.

"The agreements contain a provision that permits the PPA buyers to terminate the PPAs if there is a change in the law that makes the agreements unprofitable," said Bill Taylor, TransCanada's executive vice-president and president, Energy. "We have made the decision to exercise this right."

Unprofitable market conditions are expected to continue as costs related to CO2 emissions have increased and they are forecast to continue to increase over the remaining term of the PPA agreements. The company expects the termination will improve cash flow and comparable earnings in the near term.

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United Wind closes $8 million in financing with Statoil boost

By Bob Downing Published: March 7, 2016

Norwegian-based Statoil is a player in Ohio's Utica Shale.

From a press release today:

United Wind Closes $8M in Series B Funding

Leading distributed wind developer partners with Statoil Energy Ventures and Forum Equity Partners to expand operations and access to global markets

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Construction at Cove Point LNG facility is 24% complete

By Bob Downing Published: March 7, 2016

Dominion's Cove Point LNG facility in Calvert County, Maryland, was 24 percent complete in January, LNG World News reports.

The facility will be used to ship LNG from the Marcellus and Utica shales to other countries.

Click  here  to read more.

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EXCO Resources not drilling any Marcellus Shale wells

By Bob Downing Published: March 7, 2016

Texas-based EXCO Resources did not drill any Marcellus Shale wells in Pennsylvania in 2015 and has no plans to drill any in 2016.

It is focusing instead on wells in Texas and Louisiana as commodity prices remain low.

Tye company was once a big player in the Marcellus Shale with 281,000 acres leased and 124 horizontal wells in the Marcellus.

Click  here  to read more.

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Oklahoma to slash spending due to lost drilling income

By Bob Downing Published: March 7, 2016

From the Associated Press late last week:

Oklahoma will slash spending across the board by 7 percent for the remaining four months of the fiscal year to cope with a sharp drop in oil and natural gas prices that has hurt state revenue, and a top education official said the cuts will force many rural school districts to reduce classes to four days a week.

State Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger ordered the cuts — on top of previous reductions of 3 percent that began in January — and warned lawmakers that Oklahoma faces a $1.3 billion budget hole for the fiscal year beginning in July that could result in more reductions “right through the bone.”

The state Office of Management and Enterprise Services said that for most state agencies, the cuts will have the impact of an 18 percent reduction over the next 4 months. Agency spokesman John Estus said that for public schools, the cuts will have the impact of a 16.5 percent reduction for the balance of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.

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Wyoming groups sue over federal grouse habitat protection

By Bob Downing Published: March 7, 2016

From the Associated Press last week:

A group of counties and conservation districts in western Wyoming is the latest to sue the federal government over its plans to protect habitat for the greater sage grouse over a vast area of the West.

The lawsuit from the Wyoming Coalition of Local Governments joins lawsuits filed by ranchers, mining companies and others who call the management changes for federal land an example of federal overreach. Environmentalists also have sued — they say the plans don’t go far enough.

The coalition lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Cheyenne advances claims the government “sterilized massive areas of public land to multiple use and natural resource development” in violation of federal laws and based on insufficient analysis and flawed science.

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Company offering old Ormet site for a gas-fired power plant

By Bob Downing Published: March 7, 2016

Wisconsin-based Niagara Worldwide LLC is shopping a former alumniunum smelter in Ohio's Monroe County as a site for a natural gas-fired power plant.

It is shopping the 1,700-acre site of the former Ormet smelter at Hannibal on the Ohio River.

The site, now called the Center Point Terminal, is being partially developed as a transloading and barge facility for Utica and Marcellus drillers.

The old plant formerly employed about 900 workers.

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Eco-groups urge Pennsylvania to enlarge drilling buffers

By Bob Downing Published: March 7, 2016

Moms Clean Air Force and several other grassroots environmental organizations have called on the state Department of Environmental Protection to better protect human health by increasing the buffer zones between shale gas wells and residences, workplaces, businesses and schools, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last week.

About 25 group members attended a news conference Wednesday outside the DEP’s regional offices on Washington’s Landing, where speakers cited a new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives that indicates state-required setbacks between hydraulically fractured gas wells and homes may leave residents, schoolchildren and the public vulnerable to explosions, heat, toxic gas clouds and air pollution, the paper said.

Click  here  to read the full story by reporter Don Hopey.

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U.S. drilling rigs decline by 13 to 489, a near-record low

By Bob Downing Published: March 6, 2016

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 13 this week to 489, a near record low.

The Houston company said Friday that 392 rigs sought oil and 97 explored for natural gas amid depressed energy prices. A year ago, 1,192 rigs were active.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas declined by four rigs, North Dakota and Oklahoma dropped by three, Colorado declined by two, and Louisiana, New Mexico and West Virginia each lost a rig.

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Updates from Ohio's Coalition to Reroute Nexus (CORN)

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

From a recent newsletter from the grass-roots Coalition to Reroute the Nexus Pipeline:

1. Efforts to arrange a meeting with commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissiont hat overseas pipelines failed. The group had sought help from Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman.

2. The group is among 237 grass-root groups across the country that are seeking congressional support to force an investigaton of FERC by the federal Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

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Summit Midstream Partners close on drop down acquisitions

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

From a press release today:

Summit Midstream Partners, LP Announces
Closing of Drop Down Assets from Summit Investments

The Woodlands, Texas (March 4, 2016) – Summit Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE: SMLP) announced today that
on March 3, 2016 (the “Initial Close”), it closed the previously announced drop down acquisition of substantially all
of (i) the issued and outstanding membership interests of Summit Utica, Meadowlark Midstream and Tioga
Midstream (collectively, the “Contributed Entities”), each limited liability companies and indirect wholly owned
subsidiaries of Summit Midstream Partners Holdings, LLC (“SMP Holdings”) and (ii) SMP Holdings’ 40% joint
venture interest in each of Ohio Gathering and Ohio Condensate (collectively with the Contributed Entities, the
“2016 Drop Down Assets”) (the “2016 Drop Down”).
In conjunction with Initial Close, SMLP made a $360.0 million cash payment to SMP Holdings, subject to customary
working capital and capital expenditure adjustments (the “Initial Payment”). The Initial Payment was funded with
proceeds from SMLP’s upsized revolving credit facility, which, by an amendment executed in February 2016, has
an increased borrowing capacity of $1.25 billion effected by the closing of the 2016 Drop Down. A final payment
will made to SMP Holdings in 2020 (the “Deferred Payment”). The Deferred Payment will be equal to: (a) six-andone-
half (6.5) multiplied by the average adjusted EBITDA of the Drop Down Assets for 2018 and 2019; less (b) the
Initial Payment; less (c) all capital expenditures incurred for the Drop Down Assets between the Initial Close and
December 31, 2019; plus (d) all adjusted EBITDA from the Drop Down Assets between the Initial Close and
December 31, 2019.
The terms of the 2016 Drop Down were approved by the board of directors of SMLP’s general partner and by the
board of director’s conflicts committee, which consists entirely of independent directors. The conflicts committee
engaged Evercore Partners to act as its independent financial advisor and to render a fairness opinion, and Akin
Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP to act as its legal advisor.
Overview of 2016 Drop Down Assets
Summit Midstream Utica, LLC (“Summit Utica”) is a natural gas gathering system located in the Appalachian Basin
in southeastern Ohio serving producers targeting the Utica and Point Pleasant shale formations. The system is
currently in service and under development with fourth quarter of 2015 volume throughput of 75 million cubic feet
per day (“MMcf/d”). Upon full development, Summit Utica will be composed of 60 miles of low-pressure and highpressure
gathering pipelines and three compressor and dehydration stations with total throughput capacity of 450
MMcf/d. The Summit Utica system gathers and delivers natural gas, primarily under long-term, fee-based contracts
which include acreage dedications. XTO Energy Inc. serves as the anchor customer on the system. The system
interconnects with Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.’s Utica Ohio River Pipeline.
Ohio Gathering Company, L.L.C. (“Ohio Gathering”) is a natural gas gathering system located in the core of the
Utica Shale in southeastern Ohio which is currently in service and under development. The gathering system,
which is currently in service and under development, spans the condensate, rich-gas, and dry-gas windows of the
Utica Shale for multiple producers that are targeting natural gas, condensate and NGL production from the Utica
and Point Pleasant formations across Harrison, Guernsey, Belmont, Noble, and Monroe counties in
Ohio. Currently, the system is composed of more than 250 miles of low-pressure and high-pressure gathering
pipeline and offers throughput capacity in excess of 1.9 Bcf/d. Condensate and rich gas production is gathered,
compressed, dehydrated and delivered to the Cadiz and Seneca processing complexes, which are owned by a joint
venture owned between MPLX LP (“MPLX”) and The Energy and Minerals Group (“EMG”). Dry gas production is
gathered, compressed, dehydrated and delivered to a downstream interconnect with TETCO and another third party
pipeline. All gathering services on the Ohio Gathering system are provided pursuant to long-term, fee-based
gathering agreements. Gulfport Energy Corporation (“Gulfport”) serves as the anchor customer for Ohio
Gathering. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Ohio Gathering gathered an average of 813 MMcf/d of natural gas. SMLP
is acquiring a 40% equity interest in Ohio Gathering; MPLX and EMG own the remaining 60%.
Ohio Condensate Company, L.L.C. (“Ohio Condensate”) is a 23 thousand barrel per day (“Mbbl/d”) condensate
stabilization facility located in the core of the Utica Shale in southeastern Ohio. The facility commenced operations
in February 2015 and is underpinned by a long-term, fee-based agreement with Gulfport. Condensate stabilization
2
allows for producers to capture the NGLs that would otherwise flash from condensate in atmospheric
conditions. Ohio Condensate is the largest stabilization facility in the Utica Shale and will ultimately serve as the
origination point for MPLX’s Cornerstone Pipeline which will deliver condensate to Marathon Petroleum’s refinery
in Canton, Ohio. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Ohio Condensate handled an average of 18 Mbbl/d of condensate.
SMLP is acquiring a 40% equity interest in Ohio Condensate; MPLX owns the remaining 60%.
Tioga Midstream, LLC (“Tioga Midstream”) is a crude oil, produced water and associated natural gas gathering
system which is currently in service with 73 miles of crude oil gathering pipeline, 83 miles of produced water
gathering pipeline and 79 miles of associated natural gas gathering pipeline. The Tioga Midstream system is
located in Williams County, North Dakota and has 20 Mbbl/d of crude oil gathering capacity, 25 Mbbl/d of produced
water gathering capacity and 14 MMcf/d of natural gas gathering capacity. All gathering services on the Tioga
Midstream system are provided pursuant to long-term, fee-based gathering agreements with Hess Corp. (“Hess”),
which is primarily targeting crude oil production from the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations. All crude oil,
produced water and natural gas gathered on the Tioga Midstream system is delivered to downstream pipelines and
disposal wells (for produced water) that are owned and operated by Hess. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Tioga
Midstream gathered an average of 5 Mbbl/d of crude oil, 5 Mbbl/d of produced water, and 7 MMcf/d of natural
gas.
Meadowlark Midstream Company, LLC (“Meadowlark Midstream”) is currently composed of two separate gathering
systems, including (i) an associated natural gas gathering and processing system located in the DJ Basin serving
producers primarily targeting crude oil production from the Niobrara and Codell shale formations in northern
Colorado and southern Wyoming (“Niobrara G&P”) and (ii) a crude oil and produced water gathering system located
in the Williston Basin serving an independent producer targeting the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations in
northwestern North Dakota (“Blacktail”).
 The Niobrara G&P system is currently in service with 91 miles of low-pressure and high-pressure gathering
pipeline and a cryogenic natural gas processing plant with processing capacity of 15 MMcf/d; processing
capacity is currently being expanded to 20 MMcf/d. Volume throughput on the Niobrara G&P system
averaged 7 MMcf/d in the fourth quarter of 2015.
 The Blacktail gathering system is currently in service with 53 miles of crude oil gathering pipeline and 96
miles of produced water gathering pipeline. The Blacktail system is located in Williams County, North
Dakota and has 40 Mbbl/d of crude oil throughput capacity and 30 Mbbl/d of produced water throughput
capacity. All gathering services on the Blacktail system are provided pursuant to a long-term, fee-based
gathering agreement with an independent producer that is primarily targeting crude oil production from the
Bakken and Three Forks shale formations. Crude oil on the Blacktail system is currently delivered to the
COLT rail terminal in Epping, North Dakota and produced water is delivered to third-party disposal wells
located throughout Williams County, North Dakota. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Blacktail gathered an
average of 4 Mbbl/d of crude oil and 7 Mbbl/d of produced water.
About Summit Midstream Partners, LP
SMLP is a growth-oriented limited partnership focused on developing, owning and operating midstream energy
infrastructure assets that are strategically located in the core producing areas of unconventional resource basins,
primarily shale formations, in the continental United States. SMLP currently provides natural gas, crude oil and
produced water gathering services pursuant to primarily long-term and fee-based gathering and processing
agreements with customers and counterparties in five unconventional resource basins: (i) the Appalachian Basin,
which includes the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in West Virginia and Ohio; (ii) the Williston Basin, which
includes the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations in North Dakota; (iii) the Fort Worth Basin, which includes
the Barnett Shale formation in Texas; (iv) the Piceance Basin, which includes the Mesaverde formation as well as
the Mancos and Niobrara shale formations in Colorado and Utah; and (v) the Denver-Julesburg Basin, which
includes the Niobrara and Codell shale formations in Colorado. SMLP also owns a 40% interest in a joint venture
that is developing natural gas gathering and condensate stabilization infrastructure in the Utica Shale in Ohio.
SMLP is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas with regional corporate offices in Denver, Colorado and Atlanta,
Georgia.

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Southern Ohio earthquake on Feb. 2 was really a sonic boom

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

From a press release:

On the morning of Tuesday, February 2, the Ohio Seismic Network (OhioSeis) received an email and a phone call from the ODNR call center about reports from southern Ohio of booming and shaking in Gallia, Jackson, Lawrence, and Vinton Counties.

After thorough investigation of seismic wave-form data from the Central and Eastern United States Seismic Network, OhioSeis staff seismologists Jeff Fox and Daniel Blake couldn’t identify any definitive earthquake signal. They could find only high-frequency/high-amplitude traces at about the same time at three OhioSeis stations. A quick calculation showed that whatever caused the signals moved from southeast to northwest at approximately 1,342 mph. This is much slower than seismic waves, which travel at approximately 13,690 mph in Ohio.

Fox called the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) office to get times and descriptions of reports. The EMA cited a report of “loud booming reverberating in the hills, shaking, shelves rattling, tools falling off shelves, etc.”

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Dominion, Questar file merger applications in Utah, Wyoming

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

Mar 3, 2016

RICHMOND, Va., March 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion Resources, Inc. (NYSE: D) and Questar Corporation (NYSE: STR) announced today that they have jointly filed merger applications with the Public Service Commission of Utah and the Wyoming Public Service Commission regarding the pending combination that was announced on Feb. 1, 2016. The companies also provided notice of the proposed transaction to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.

The pending merger would create an integrated energy company serving about 2.5 million electric utility customers and 2.3 million gas utility customers in seven states. The combined company also would operate more than 15,500 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipelines, one of the nation's largest natural gas storage systems, and approximately 24,300 megawatts of electric generation.

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U.S. natural gas boom triggers LNG export terminals

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

The first export shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) produced in the Lower 48 states on February 24 is a milestone reflecting a decade of natural gas production growth that has put the United States in a new position in worldwide energy trade.

Read More ›

Tags: exports , LNG (liquefied natural gas) , Marcellus , natural gas , Utica

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Eco-group files lawsuit on pipeline review against FERC

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

From a press release:

Delaware Riverkeeper Network Files Historic Lawsuit Against FERC
FERC’s PennEast Pipeline Review and Approval Process Violating Constitutional Due Process

BRISTOL, PA – The Delaware Riverkeeper Network filed a lawsuit March 2 against the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (FERC). Filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the
suit holds that FERC’s review and approval process for jurisdictional pipeline projects is infected by
structural bias, violating Due Process rights in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
DRN seeks changes to FERC’s funding structure, as well as other fundamental changes to the agency, to
make it accountable and consistent with democratic governance.
FERC is unique among the 26 agencies of the federal government in its financial structure--it recovers the
full cost of its operations through charges and fees assessed on the industries it regulates. “Because FERC
gets its funding from the big companies it is supposed to be monitoring, it has become, perhaps inevitably,
a corrupt, rogue agency,” says Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, leader of the Delaware
Riverkeeper Network. “That’s why FERC has approved 100 percent of pipeline projects—literally every
single one of them—that it has considered since 1986.”
The PennEast Pipeline is a 114-mile, 36-inch diameter structure that is proposed to cut through huge
swaths of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As proposed, PennEast will disturb over 2,400 acres of land,
convert over 400 acres of forested land to open land, cross 234 waterbodies, and impact over 55 acres of
wetlands. The PennEast pipeline would have immense impact on thousands of Americans because of
FERC’s approval process, which grants the power of eminent domain and bypasses all state and local
regulations.
Due process requires that an adjudicative agency be neutral in its decision-making process, the suit argues.
Moreover, the Constitution not only mandates that adjudicative proceedings be free of actual bias--the
Page 2

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ExxonMobil not interested in troubled shale oil companies

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

Texas-based ExxonMobil, the No. 1 oil producer, is not interested in acquiring failed or trouble shale oil producers, chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson told onvestors this week, the Houston Chronicle said.

Click  here  to read more.

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Federal authorities seek to drop McClendon indictment

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

From the Associated Press on Thursday:

Federal authorities sought Thursday to drop a criminal indictment of bid rigging against Oklahoma energy tycoon Aubrey McClendon, who died in a fiery crash just hours after the indictment was announced.

Meanwhile, attorneys for a northwest Oklahoma landowner filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday against McClendon’s former company, Chesapeake Energy, alleging a conspiracy that involved another energy executive, ex-Sandridge Energy CEO Tom Ward.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Chicago-based antitrust division alleged in the indictment against McClendon that he and unnamed co-conspirators orchestrated the conspiracy to rig bids for landowner leases in northwest Oklahoma. Ward, a longtime friend of McClendon’s who co-founded Chesapeake in the 1980s, was the CEO of Sandridge at the time the conspiracy was alleged to have occurred.

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API surveys show strong support for offshore Atlantic drilling

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

New surveys show that 67 percent of South Carolina voters surveyed, 64 percent in North Carolina and 65 pecent in Virgtinia support offshore natural gas and oil development, the American Petroleum Institute reported this week.

Here is the release on the Virginia survey:

Richmond, Va., March 2, 2016 — Sixty-five percent of Virginia voters, including 85 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Independents and 56 percent of Democrats, support offshore development of U.S. oil and natural gas resources, according to a new poll released today by the Virginia Petroleum Council (VPC), conducted on its behalf by Harris Poll. As candidates look towards the general election, 90 percent of Virginia voters agree that energy is an important issue when it comes to the priorities the federal government should be focusing on.

"A strong bipartisan majority of voters in Virginia continue to support producing more domestic energy and creating more jobs in the state," said VPC Executive Director Miles Morin. “Cutting-edge technologies and a core value of safety have helped make the U.S. the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world while protecting the environment and creating jobs in Virginia.”

The statewide telephone poll of 630 Virginia registered voters also found that:

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Ohio should boost severance tax, Policy Matters Ohio says

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

Ohio needs to boost its severance tax on drillers to providd a cushion for local communities and counties when the industry leaves or goes through economic downturns, says Policy Matters Ohio.

Click  here  to read more.

 

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New Ruffalo film on California oil extraction unveiled

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, March 03, 2016
 
TODAY: Across the State, Californians Come Together to Watch New Mark Ruffalo Film on Oil Extraction in California

“Dear Governor Brown” Features Californians from All Walks of Life Highlighting the Dangers Posed by Fracking and Oil Drilling, Calling on Governor Brown to Take Action

CALIFORNIA - Today, members of the Courage Campaign and Californians Against Fracking, along with concerned citizens from across the State will join together to watch Mark Ruffalo’s new film “Dear Governor Brown” on the public health risks posed by oil extraction in California.  The film, produced by actor Mark Ruffalo, features the stories of Californians from all walks of life (and political backgrounds) who have come together to call on the Governor to stop the advancement of extreme oil extraction throughout the State.

Watch a preview here: http://oceans8films.com/films/dear-governor-brown/

Ahead of the film screenings, which will happen in theatres and house-parties across the State, Ruffalo will participate in a live-webcast with film watchers where he will discuss his involvement with the anti-fracking movement, why he produced the film and why it is so important for people to take action against fracking.

Find a local screening here: http://act.couragecampaign.org/event/DearGovBrownScreening/search/

“Despite almost a million petition signatures, protests and countless community actions, Governor Brown continues to stand firm in his support of fracking and extreme extraction in California,” explained Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the Courage Campaign.  “With roughly 300 new wells being approved in the state every month, we can’t wait any longer for the Governor to take action.”  

The film interviews an array of Californians (from scientists to farmers to everyday citizens), who talk about the public­ health threats of drilling, including:

● Recycled wastewater from oil production used to irrigate food crops;
● Communities evacuated because of flammable gas leaks;
● Oil spills closing beaches and killing birds and marine mammals;
● Cancer­ causing acidization chemicals used without warning, just feet from residential homes; and
● Flares burning off polluting chemicals next to elementary schools.

For more information, or to attend a screening of the film, please contact Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email at brett@unbendablemedia.com.

# # # # #

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Alliance applauds passage of Safe Pipes Act by Senate

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

From a press release:

STATEMENT:
BlueGreen Alliance Applauds Reauthorization of Safe Pipes Act

 

“We applaud the Senate for reauthorizing the Safe Pipes Act, important legislation that enables the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to carry out its mission of protecting the public. Right now, PHMSA is working to establish rules that will facilitate upgrades to safer, more efficient technology and help ensure workers get the best training before making repairs to leaking pipes.

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Anti-drilling groups to rally March 23 in New Orleans

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

From a press release:

Disappearing Gulf Coast Sets Stage For Unprecedented Challenge to Oil Industry

 

Local residents and citizens across the country will converge at the Superdome March 23 to demand an end to new drilling leases and a just transition for impacted communities

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AELP offers thanks for support after McClendon's death

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

From a press release on Thursday:

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA - MARCH 3, 2016: AELP would like to thank EMG, its numerous investors and industry friends for the tremendous outpouring of support for the company and for the McClendon family. While all of the employees of AELP are deeply saddened by this tragic event, we are firm in our conviction that Aubrey would want us to persevere and continue his extraordinary legacy of innovation and creativity.

Scott R. Mueller, Ryan A. Turner, and Thomas J. Blalock, Aubrey’s leadership team at AELP, added "We are proud to have worked for Aubrey and to have been a part of starting seven institutionally-funded businesses under his leadership. One of Aubrey’s many skills was recruiting, motivating and retaining the industry’s strongest talent and each of the businesses that Aubrey created with EMG is led by a dedicated management team that is positioned for success in the years to come. While Aubrey’s absence will leave a tremendous void on the AELP platform, we employ a talented team of individuals that will be available to support, if needed, the existing businesses and it will carry on the new business development tradition established by our founder, friend and mentor, Aubrey K. McClendon

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Ohio's injection volume grows by 27.2 percent to record high

By Bob Downing Published: March 4, 2016

The volume of liquid drilling wastes injected underground in Ohio grew by 27.2 percent in 2015 and set a new all-time record.
The volume of salty injected wastes totaled 28.8 million 42-gallon barrels.
It has increased from 16.3 million barrels in 2013 to 22.0 million barrels in 2014 to the new total.
That 2015 total volume is enough to fill nearly 1,840 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Athens, Coshocton and Guernsey counties are the top injection counties in Ohio. Portage County is seventh and Stark County is No. 10.
Such wastes have been linked to small earthquakes in Ohio and other states and critics say injecting such wastes into underground rock formations poses a threat to groundwater.
Industry and state officials say injection wells are a safe disposal method and the growing volume of waste is simply evidence of the Utica and Marcellus shale booms in Ohio and surrounding states.
As of Feb. 8, Ohio has 214 active injection wells with another 18 being drilled and another 13 permitted but not yet drilled.
The 2015 injection total includes 15.9 million barrels of wastes from Ohio and 12.9 million barrels from other states, mostly Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Ohio can do little to block out-of-state wastes because they are protected as interstate commerce by the U.S. Constitution.
The in-state waste being injected in 2015 showed the biggest jump: 47.7 percent.
It grew from 8.1 million barrels in 2013 to 10.7 million barrels in 2014 to 15.9 million barrels in 2015.
The drilling of new wells in Ohio’s Utica Shale has slowed because of low commodity prices, but production from already drilled wells is continuing to grow and that’s what has triggered the big increase in Ohio drilling wastes, said Eric Heis of the ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management.
The data was released by Columbus-based Teresa Mills, an activist with the Virginia-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice.
She goes through records that the industry submits to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources quarterly to compile the totals.
The state does not compile such a report and has not challenged Mills’ previous reports on injection well volumes.
Mills said the biggest surprise was the big increase in Ohio’s 2015 injection total.
Such injection volumes are  “troubling to activists and local communities because the numbers keep going up at a time when we’re seeking relief,” she said. “It’s a problem we want to see go away.”
The increase was not a total surprise because Mills had issued a report last December  saying that Ohio was on pace for a record injection volume.
Athens County passed Coshocton County in 2015 to become No. 1 with 4.0 million barrels. The injection wells in Athens County have become a major local issue.
Coshocton County was second with 3.7 million barrels and Guernsey was third with 3.0 million barrels.
Portage County had 2.1 million barrels injected. Stark County had 577,000 barrels of waste injected.
The other counties in the Top 10 are: Muskingum (2.8 million), Tuscarawas (2.8 million), Washington (2.2 million), Trumbull (1.9 million) and Ashtabula (1.3 million).
Locally, Summit County had 39,667 barrels injected  by Moore Well Service at an injection well in Cuyahoga Falls. Wayne County had 61,319 barrels injected by Dominion East Ohio. Medina County reported zero injection.
Portage County was previously one of the top injection well counties and the fear is that could happen again, said activist Mary Greer of Shalersville Township.
The county currently has 18 injection wells and another one was recently approved, she said.
“That’s not something we’re happy about,” she said. “It’s something we’re outraged about. Our fear is that our total will rise in the next five years. It’s like Portage County is a sacrifice zone.…How many injection wells should one county have?”
Efforts by Northeast Ohio county commissioners and the grass-roots Concerned Citizens Ohio to win support for a proposed statewide moratorium on new injection wells largely failed because of lack of support, Greer said.

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Eclipse Resources to curtail Utica Shale drilling to 3Q 2016

By Bob Downing Published: March 3, 2016

Eclipse Resources Corp. on Wednesday reported a loss of $813.9 million in its fourth quarter.

On a per-share basis, the State College, Pennsylvania-based company said it had a loss of $3.66.

The independent oil and gas company posted revenue of $65.9 million in the period.

For the year, the company reported that its loss widened to $971.4 million, or $4.46 per share. Revenue was reported as $255.3 million.

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New report cites failure of FRA on oil train safety

By Bob Downing Published: March 3, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

In a scathing critique, the US Department of Transportation Inspector General called out the Federal Railroad Administration (which is an agency within DOT) for failing to adequately evaluate or reduce the risks of a catastrophic oil train accident to the American public. The conclusion: The FRA is failing to provide adequate oversight and policing of oil trains, and FRA fails to enforce the rules or prosecute violators when they find dangerous violations.

Oil trains are too dangerous for the rails. The Inspector General makes this point in the first sentence of the review, citing the fatal Lac Megantic oil train disaster. But we’ve heard from far too many local, county, and state officials around the country who believe the federal government is overseeing oil trains and guaranteeing public safety. It’s true that century-old railroad law puts railroads under federal control. That makes sense because a continental railroad system would grind to a halt if it was regulated by thousands of different local and state government entities. But no one should let “pre-emption” or federal-control get in the way of local permitting decisions, especially when it comes to public safety. Especially when it comes to preventing a calamity that could reduce another town to ashes.

This Inspector General report makes it clear the FRA is failing the American people with a good cop/good cop approach when it comes to mile-long oil trains carrying millions of gallons of toxic, explosive crude through US cities and towns.

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Antero Resources, workers donate $13,000 to Ohio food banks

By Bob Downing Published: March 3, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

Antero Resources Celebrates Community Service

Company Donations Top $13,000 for Local, Regional Food Banks, Pantries

Marietta, OH – At a recognition event today hosted by Antero Resources, the company honored a set of local food bank and pantry representatives for their continued efforts to reduce hunger. Volunteers from Belmont, Guernsey, Monroe, Noble and Washington Counties received more than $13,000 in donations from Antero and its employees, supporting 16 separate charitable organizations. Locally, Antero donated to, Robert T. Seacrest Senior Center, Living Water Fellowship, Pleasant City Food Pantry, St. Vincent De Paul, Guernsey, Monroe, Noble (GMN) Tri County Community Action, Samaritan House, and Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio (LSS) Food Pantry.

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Aubrey McClendon, the man behind Ohio's Utica Shale

By Bob Downing Published: March 3, 2016

Aubrey McClendon is the visionary individual behind the development of Ohio’s Utica Shale.
In 2010, his Chesapeake Energy Corp., the No. 2 natural gas company in the United States, swept into eastern Ohio and quietly leased more than 1.5 million acres in 14 Ohio counties. It spent $2 billion on leases for a little-known rock. Carroll County was the center of Chesapeake’s leasess
He got the drilling started in 2011 and Chesapeake remains Ohio’s No. driller with 813 horizontal wells in various stages of development. Each well costs in excess of $7 million. It is the No. 1 producer of natural gas and oil in Ohio.
McClendon’s involvement also gave the Utica Shale credibility at a time when there many doubters.
His most famous quote was that the Utica Shale was “the biggest thing to hit Ohio since the plow.”
”It goes without saying that there would not be a Utica Shale except for Aubrey McClendon,” said Robert Chase, a retired professor and chair of the department of petroleum engineering and geology at Ohio’s Marietta College and an expert on the Utica Shale.
“His people came into Ohio under the cover of darkness and researched everything they could on the Utica Shale, and he realized its potential,” he said. “He started everything.”
Chase added, “The shale boom that we’re seeing in Ohio is attributed all to his vision.”
McClendon was quick to implement the latest technologies, believed strongly in research and creativity and hired the best people, Chase said.
“He was colorful. He was a character. He was pretty brash.…It’s very sad and very strange,” Chase said of McClendon.
McClendon “was a giant in many ways,” said Jim Willis, editor-publisher of the Marcellus Drilling News.
He is usually listed by experts as being among a handful of key figures in the development of shale energy in the United States, Willis said.
He turned out to be correct about the potential of the Utica Shale. “It was, is and will continue to be a major economic force,” Willis said.
“He was very prescient,” he said of McClendon and his Utica dreams.
Chesapeake under McClendon’s rule also became the No. 1 producer in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale.
“To me this is just shocking,” Willis said. “I’m still reeling.”
The Ohio Oil & Gas Association issued a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the McClendon family, especially his wife and children, during this difficult time.”
McClendon invested in Ohio’s Utica Shale twice, once after he was forced out at Chesapeake Energy in 2013.
After leaving Chesapeake Energy, McClendon, a part-owner of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, founded American Energy Partners LP, where he served as chairman and chief executive officer. The firm had 450 employees. He raised $3.5 billion, acquired Ohio leases and had plans for 2,600 wells.
That company spun off a subsidiary, Ascent Resources LLC, an active Ohio driller, into an independent, stand-alone company.
Ascent Resources has 168 Utica Shale permits. That is fourth in Ohio behind Chesapeake Energy (813), Gulfport Energy (271) and Antero Resources (185).
The drilling has tailed off in recent months because of continuing low commodity prices for natural gas and oil.

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Former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon dies in car crash

By Jim Mackinnon Published: March 2, 2016

 Aubrey McClendon, the former CEO of Chesapeak Energy, was killed in a car crash Wednesday in Oklahoma City, police are reporting.

The crash happened one day after McClendon was indicted on a charge of conspiring to rig bids to buy oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.

The Department of Justice said in a statement Tuesday that McClendon is suspected of orchestrating a scheme between two large energy companies, which are not named in the indictment, from December 2007 to March 2012.

Here's a short story on the McClendon crash.

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Ohio has 1,688 drilled Utica wells, 1,240 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: March 2, 2016

Ohio has approved 2,138 Utica Shale permits, as of Feb. 27.

That total includes 1,688 drilled Utica wells and 1,240 producing Utica wells, says the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Ohio has 15 rigs at work.

Four new Utica permits were approved: all in Belmont County for Gulfport Energy.

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Pennsylvania job growth slows in 2015 with energy downturn

By Bob Downing Published: March 2, 2016

From a press release:

Pennsylvania’s modest employment growth in 2015 trailed that of most other states, says economist Guhan Venkatu at the Cleveland Fed’s Pittsburgh branch

Employment in Pennsylvania grew 0.7 percent in 2015, less than half the 1.9 percent employment growth posted nationally and a marked deceleration from the state’s 2014 employment growth of 1.2 percent. The commonwealth’s exposure to the oil and gas industry as well as demographic trends are likely driving the state’s modest employment gains, says Guhan Venkatu, vice president and senior regional officer at the Pittsburgh branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

“Given Pennsylvania’s status as one of the largest producers of energy in the country, it’s perhaps not surprising that the recent downturn in energy markets has had an outsized impact on the state,” says Venkatu. 

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American Energy Partners to spin off two subsidiaries

By Bob Downing Published: March 2, 2016

Oklahoma-based American Energy Partners intends to spin off off two subsidiaries, the Oklahoman reported on Tuesday.

That plan involvesAmerican Energy-Permian Bain LP and American Energy-Woodford LP. Both will become independent, stand-alone companies.

It previously spun off Ascent Resources, an active Utica Shale driller.

American Energy Partners is headed by Aubrey McClendon, the former CEO of Chesapeake Energy.

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Anadarko to cut 2016 onshore spending by 70 percent

By Bob Downing Published: March 2, 2016

Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp. has announced plans to cut its 2016 onshore capital spending by 70 percent, to cut back to five drilling rigs onshore and to monetize up to $3 billion in assets in 2016.

Click  here  to read more.

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GreenHunter Resources, subsidiaries file Chapter 11 papers

By Bob Downing Published: March 2, 2016

From a press release:

GRAPEVINE, Texas, March 01, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- GreenHunter Resources, Inc. (the “Company”) (NYSE MKT:GRH) (NYSE MKT:GRH.PC), a diversified water resource, waste management, environmental services, and hydrocarbon marketing company specializing in the unconventional oil and natural gas shale resource plays within the Appalachian Basin, announced today that the Company and certain of its subsidiaries, namely, GreenHunter Water, LLC; Hunter Disposal, LLC, Ritchie Hunter Water Disposal, LLC, Hunter Hauling, LLC, White Top Oilfield Construction, LLC, Blackwater Services, LLC, Virco Realty, LLC, Little Muskingum Drilling, LLC, Blue Water Energy Solutions, LLC, GreenHunter Wheeling Barge, LLC, GreenHunter Environmental Solutions, LLC, and MAG Tank Hunter, LLC (collectively, the “Filing Subsidiaries” and, together with the Company, the “Debtors”), filed voluntary petitions (the “Bankruptcy Petitions”) for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code (the “Bankruptcy Code”) in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Texas, Fort Worth Division (the “Bankruptcy Court”).  The Debtors have filed a motion with the Bankruptcy Court seeking joint administration of their Chapter 11 cases (the “Chapter 11 Cases”) under the caption In re GreenHunter Resources, Inc., et al.  The Debtors will continue to operate their businesses as “debtors-in-possession” under the jurisdiction of the Bankruptcy Court and in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Bankruptcy Code and orders of the Bankruptcy Court.  The Debtors anticipate that they will conduct a Section 363 sale of substantially all of the Debtor’s assets pursuant to the Bankruptcy Code with an anticipated closing date of May 5, 2016.

In connection with the Chapter 11 Cases, on March 1, 2016, the Company filed a motion seeking Bankruptcy Court approval of debtor-in-possession financing on the terms set forth in a contemplated Debtor-in-Possession Credit Facility (the “DIP Credit Facility”).  The DIP Credit Facility, if approved by the Bankruptcy Court, provides for senior secured super priority term loans in the aggregate principal amount of approximately $3.5 million.

About GreenHunter Resources, Inc.

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McClendon, counsel respond to federal conspiracy indictment

By Bob Downing Published: March 2, 2016

From a press release:

OKLAHOMA CITY, March 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Aubrey K. McClendon responded to today's filing of a single charge of an antitrust conspiracy with the following statement: "The charge that has been filed against me today is wrong and unprecedented. I have been singled out as the only person in the oil and gas industry in over 110 years since the Sherman Act became law to have been accused of this crime in relation to joint bidding on leasehold.  Anyone who knows me, my business record and the industry in which I have worked for 35 years, knows that I could not be guilty of violating any antitrust laws.  All my life I have worked to create jobs in Oklahoma, grow its economy, and to provide abundant and affordable energy to all Americans. I am proud of my track record in this industry, and I will fight to prove my innocence and to clear my name."

McClendon's lead lawyers Abbe Lowell of Chadbourne & Parke and Emmet Flood of Williams & Connolly responded to today's news with the following statement:  "The Justice Department has taken business practices well-known in the Oklahoma and American energy industries that were intended to, and did in fact, enhance competition and lower energy costs and twisted these business practices to allege an antitrust violation that did not occur.  In response to criticism of their past charging practices and in the name of a new policy to be tough on individuals, the prosecutors have wrongfully singled out Aubrey McClendon and have wrongly charged an innocent man.  A charge is one thing.  Proving the case is another.  Starting today, Aubrey gets his day in court where we will show that this prosecutorial overreach was completely unjustified."

SOURCE Aubrey K. McClendon

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CONSOL Energy sells Virginia coal mine for $420 million

By Bob Downing Published: March 2, 2016

Pennsylvania-based CONSOL Energy is continuing its shift from coal to natural gas.

Here is its release on a recent coal sale:

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) announced today that it has entered into an agreement for the sale of its Buchanan Mine in southwestern Virginia and certain other metallurgical coal reserves to Coronado IV LLC for total consideration to CONSOL of $420 million, including $398 million cash payable at the closing.  The transaction is not subject to a financing condition and is being funded by Energy and Minerals Group (EMG), which is the management company for a series of specialized private equity funds.   EMG has approximately $16.5 billion of regulatory assets under management. 

"This is another significant event in the execution of CONSOL Energy's strategy, as well as a meaningful step in continuing to strengthen our balance sheet," said Nicholas J. DeIuliis, President and Chief Executive Officer.  "The Buchanan Mine fits into Coronado's portfolio as a pure play metallurgical coal producer, and, in the end, this transaction bolsters the strategic position of both companies."  

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Rex Energy announces $175 million JV in Utica, Marcellus

By Bob Downing Published: March 2, 2016

From a press release on Tuesday:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., March 01, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rex Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:REXX) ("Rex Energy" or the "company") announced a new $175 million joint exploration and development agreement in the Moraine East and Warrior North Operated Areas.

Joint Exploration and Development Agreement

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McClendon indicted on charge of conspiring to rig lease bids

By Bob Downing Published: March 2, 2016

From the Associated Press on Tuesday:

Aubrey McClendon, the former chief executive of Chesapeake Energy Corp., was indicted Tuesday on a charge of conspiring to rig bids to buy oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.

The Department of Justice said in a statement that McClendon is suspected of orchestrating a scheme between two large energy companies, which are not named in the indictment, from December 2007 to March 2012. The companies would decide ahead of time who would win bids, with the winner then allocating an interest in the leases to the other company, according to the statement.

McClendon denied violating antitrust laws in a statement released Tuesday.

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Florida fracking vote is a win for clean water, group says

By Bob Downing Published: March 1, 2016

From a press release today from Environment America:

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Fracking, the controversial drilling technique that has contaminated water supplies nationwide, was kept at bay in Florida today after Sen. Garrett Richter (R-Naples) abandoned his bill to promote it. The measure, Senate Bill 318, had been up for reconsideration after a bipartisan group of Senators defeated it last Thursday in committee.
 
Fracking would threaten our drinking water and the Everglades, and that’s why this bill has drawn wide, bipartisan opposition from every corner of our state,” said Jennifer Rubiello, Environment Florida state director. “We’re delighted that senators have sided with the clean water and natural beauty that makes Florida famous, not with the narrow interests of the oil and gas polluters.”
 
Florida law is currently silent on fracking, but SB 318 would have changed that by creating a loose set of statewide regulations for the inherently dangerous drilling technique. Perhaps most importantly for the oil and gas industry, the bill also would have nullified existing ordinances that prohibit fracking and preempted all future local bans.
 
The senate measure was intended to pave the way for hydraulic fracturing as well as “matrix acidizing,” the type of fracking most likely in Florida, in which acid is pumped into wells to dissolve limestone and stimulate the flow of oil and gas.
 
“Fracking has polluted our water and air, and marred landscapes across the country,” said Rachel Richardson, Stop Drilling program director for Environment America, Environment Florida’s national federation. “The only safe way to regulate fracking is to stop it before it starts.”
 
The bill had drawn widespread opposition from citizens, more than 80 counties and cities, environmental groups, labor groups, and even a class of fifth graders who testified last week in committee. Every county represented on the Senate’s 19-member appropriations committee had registered opposition to the bill.
 
The Senate bill's counterpart, HB 191, had already cleared the Florida House. But with less than two weeks left of the legislative session, today's action likely killed the pro-fracking measure for good.
 
“Floridians spoke out for our water and our natural environment, and our senators listened,” said Rubiello. “Today marks a victory for our drinking water, our health, and the countless Floridians who made their voices heard."

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Eco-group spokeswoman hails Florida fracking decision

By Bob Downing Published: March 1, 2016

From a press release today:

Florida Legislature Rejects Fracking

"Today’s action against fracking puts Florida near the leading edge of safe, sensible, clean energy policy in the nation."

Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

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W. Va. reduces additional severance tax on natural gas, coal

By Bob Downing Published: March 1, 2016

From the Associated Press:

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has approved tax breaks for West Virginia's coal and natural gas industries.

The Democrat signed a bill Monday dropping additional severance taxes of 56 cents per ton of coal and 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas.

The surtaxes have helped pay a workers' compensation debt for years.

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Forced pooling efforts stall in West Virginia Legislature

By Bob Downing Published: March 1, 2016

For the fifth time in six years, efforts to approve mandatory pooling in West Virginia's Marcellus Shale has stalled in the West Virginia Legislature, the Wheeling Intelligencer/News-Register reported today.

Click  here  to read more.

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Youngstown to host March 2 Skype lecture on water use

By Bob Downing Published: March 1, 2016

From a press release:

Dr. Kelly Sanders, University of Southern California
Uncharted Waters? The Future of the Electricity-Water Nexus

                       
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016, 7 p.m.
Cushwa Hall Room B112
Youngstown State University
 
Website: tinyurl.com/YSU-Energy-S16
 
Dr. Kelly Twomey Sanders is an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California in the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Sanders’ research quantifies how energy, water, food and climate systems interact with one another and the natural environment, through system-scale optimization and computational modeling. She has authored more than two dozen publications and has given dozens of lectures and invited talks on topics at the intersection of engineering, science, and policy. In 2012, Sanders was recognized in Forbes’ “30 under 30: Today’s disrupters and tomorrow’s brightest stars” for her technical contributions to the energy field.  Her research has been featured in prominent media outlets including Forbes, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Bloomberg, Scientific American, and The Christian Science Monitor. She received her B.S. from the Pennsylvania State University in Bioengineering, as well as a M.S.E and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Environmental Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, respectively.
 
No lecture on March 9th due to YSU Spring Break.
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges will speak on March 16th.
 
The lecture is free and open to the public. There is free on-street parking after 5 p.m. at the metered parking spaces along Lincoln Avenue and nearby streets.

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Eclipse Resources responds to NYSE after shares fall below $1

By Bob Downing Published: March 1, 2016

From a Friday press release:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Eclipse Resources Corporation (NYSE: ECR) (the “Company” or “Eclipse Resources”) today announced that the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) has notified the Company that it has fallen below the NYSE's continued listing standard relating to the price of its common stock. The NYSE requires that the average closing price of a listed company's common stock be no less than $1.00 per share over a consecutive 30 trading-day period. As of February 26, 2016, the date of the NYSE notice, the 30 trading-day average closing price of Eclipse Resources’ common stock was $0.93 per share.

Benjamin W. Hulburt, Eclipse Resources’ Chairman, President and CEO commented, “We do not believe that Eclipse Resources’ current stock price, which is almost 80 percent insider held, is indicative of the value of our Company. Eclipse Resources ended 2015 with liquidity of $281 million, which includes $184 million in cash, remaining well positioned to fund its operations.”

Under the NYSE's rules, Eclipse Resources has a period of six months from the date of the NYSE notice to bring its share price and 30 trading-day average share price back above $1.00. During this period, Eclipse Resources’ common stock will continue to be traded on the NYSE, subject to the Company's compliance with other NYSE continued listing requirements. As required by the NYSE, in order to maintain its listing, Eclipse Resources will notify the NYSE, that it intends to cure the price deficiency to the extent it becomes necessary.

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Solar, natural gas, wind are most of 2016 generation additions

By Bob Downing Published: March 1, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Electric generating facilities expect to add more than 26 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale generating capacity to the power grid during 2016. Most of these additions come from three resources: solar (9.5 GW), natural gas (8.0 GW), and wind (6.8 GW), which together make up 93% of total additions. If actual additions ultimately reflect these plans, 2016 will be the first year in which utility-scale solar additions exceed additions from any other single energy source.

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Tags: capacity , electricity , generation , generation capacity , hydroelectric , natural gas , nuclear , renewable , solar , wind

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Halliburton Co. to cut 5,000 jobs or 8 percent of workforce

By Bob Downing Published: March 1, 2016

From the Associated Press last week:

Halliburton Co., which provides well-drilling services for oil companies, is cutting 5,000 more jobs as the industry continues to struggle with slumping oil prices.

A company spokeswoman said Thursday that the latest cuts will amount to about 8 percent of the Houston-based company's global workforce.

Oil prices have tumbled about 70 percent since peaking above $100 a barrel in mid-2014. That has led to less drilling activity and to widespread layoffs in the oil fields. Halliburton rival Schlumberger cut 10,000 jobs in the fourth quarter.

Benchmark U.S. crude settled at $33.07 a barrel on Thursday, up 92 cents or nearly 3 percent.

Halliburton spokeswoman Emily Mir said the company was reducing its workforce "due to ongoing market conditions."

Mir said the company regretted the decision, "but unfortunately we are faced with the difficult reality that reductions are necessary to work through this challenging market environment."

When the layoffs are completed, Halliburton will have reduced its workforce by between 26,000 and 27,000 employees since the peak in 2014, she said.

Halliburton grew from 58,000 employees in 2010 to more than 80,000 during 2014. It slashed that number to 65,000 by the end of 2015, according to regulatory filings.

Halliburton declined to say where the layoffs would fall, saying that such details were competitive information. The company's operations stretch from the U.S. through Africa and the Middle East to Asia.

Last month, CEO David Lesar said that when the company began looking to cut costs, "it started with where we work." Halliburton consolidated facilities in more than 20 countries and closed operations in two, he said.

Lesar said that "2016 is shaping up to be one tough slog through the mud." He said Halliburton was trying to work with the financially strongest oil companies that will do best when the industry recovers.

In November 2014, Halliburton announced that it would buy U.S. rival Baker Hughes Inc. for $34.6 billion. The companies are divesting assets as they seek approval from antitrust regulators, and Baker Hughes also has cut thousands of jobs.

Halliburton shares rose 4 cents to close at $32.50 on Thursday. They are down 4.5 percent in 2016 and more than 25 percent in the past year.

A company spokeswoman said Thursday that the latest cuts will amount to about 8 percent of the Houston-based company's global workforce.

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Eco-group: Shale boom will trigger greenhouse gas releases

By Bob Downing Published: March 1, 2016

From the Associated Press on Monday:

NEW ORLEANS The nation’s boom in cheap natural gas — often viewed as a clean energy source — is spawning a wave of petrochemical plants that, if built, will emit massive amounts of greenhouse gases, an environmental watchdog group warned in a report Monday.

The Washington-based Environmental Integrity Project said hydraulic fracturing of shale rock formations and other advances, such as horizontal drilling, have made natural gas cheap and plentiful — so plentiful that the United States has begun exporting gas.

The watchdog nonprofit, which says its mission is to hold polluters accountable and champion environmental laws, is led by Eric Schaeffer, former director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Enforcement.

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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.