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Ohio Utica Shale

Atwood Lake Resort will soon be up for sale by Carroll County

By Bob Downing Published: June 30, 2016

One more post:

Atwood Lake Resort and Conference Center Lodge will soon be for sale.
The Carroll County commissioners and the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District on Thursday completed paperwork that will allow the commissioners to put the lodge up for sale.
The problem is that the lodge is not self-sustaining and is costly to operate, even with shale subsidies to support the county.
Carroll County had assumed control of the 104-room resort from the district in 2012. The facility was donated to the county.
The facility on 600 acres includes a main lodge, dining room, conference center, two golf courses, 17 vacation cabins, two swimming pools and other amenities.

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A fond farewell from Bob Downing, Ohio Utica Shale blog

By Bob Downing Published: June 30, 2016

This is my final post for the Ohio Utica Shale blog.
I am retiring after 44 years with the Akron Beacon Journal/ohio.com. That included 26 years covering the environment in Northeast Ohio.
For the last six years, I have written extensively about drilling in Ohio’s Utica Shale.
In late 2011, we started the shale blog that has drawn large numbers of readers. We tried our best to provide fair and accurate information looking at both sides as the drilling grew in eastern Ohio. We appreciate your support over the years.
Co-worker Jim Mackinnon will take over the blog next week and guide it in the future.
You can reach Jim at jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal or 330-996-3544.

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Medina County group files 6,578 signatures for charter vote

By Bob Downing Published: June 30, 2016

A total of 6,578 signatures on a petition seeking a November vote on a Medina County community bill of rights was filed on Thursday with the Medina County Board of Elections.
In the next 10 days, the elections board is expected to determine if there are sufficient signatures of registered Medina County voters to trigger a Nov. 8 vote.
Organizers from Sustainable Medina County, a grass-roots group, needed 4,814 signatures to require a vote on the community bill of rights that could help fight shale drilling and related industries.
That meant the group had collected 30 percent more than the minimum number of signatures required, said spokeswoman Kathie Jones of Wadsworth Township.
“Yes, we’re happy, very, very happy,” she said. “We worked really hard to collect the signatures.”
Similar petitions were filed in Athens and Meigs counties and in the cities of Youngstown (for the sixth time) and Waterville as Ohioans fight back against shale drilling, pipeline and injection wells for liquids wastes.
Petitions are still being circulated in Portage County.
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.
The initiative could make it more easier to block the Nexus natural gas pipeline and a pipeline compressor station west of Wadsworth in Guilford Township.
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 $2 billion pipeline project running through Medina, Wayne, Summit and Stark counties needs approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
It is the second time that such an effort has been undertaken in Medina County.
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 on technicalities in Medina and two other counties.
For more information on the Medina County charter proposal, go to www.sustainablemedinacounty.org.
Petitions are still circulating in Portage County where injection wells for drilling wastes are the big issue.
The plan is to turn those petitions into the Portage County commissioners on July 20 to force a vote, said organizer Gwen Fischer of Hiram, a spokeswoman for the Portage Community Rights Group.
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.
For information on the Portage County campaign, go to www.portagecommunityrightsgroup.org or call 330-569-8671.
To date, the cities of Broadview Heights, Yellow Springs, Oberlin and Athens have approved such community bill of rights. It is unclear if such efforts conflict with state law that gives the Ohio Department of Natural Resources sole authority over drilling and related activities.

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Cleanup efforts continue at California pipeline spill

By Bob Downing Published: June 30, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

Cleanup, Mitigation Operations Continue in Ventura

Response to Questions about Company History

Long Beach, CA – The unified response team, consisting of Crimson Pipeline along with federal, state and local regulatory agencies, continues to oversee and diligently execute clean-up operations and air monitoring following a June 23 release of crude oil.

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Stone Energy to resume operations in Appalachian Basin

By Bob Downing Published: June 30, 2016

From a press release on Thursday:

LAFAYETTE, La., June 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Stone Energy Corporation (NYSE: SGY) today announced the termination of an existing long term deep water rig commitment and the execution of a new interim Appalachian midstream contract. 

Stone and Ensco have agreed to terminate Stone's current contract with Ensco for total consideration of $20 million, approximately $5 million of which was a deposit previously provided to Ensco pursuant to the drilling services contract.  Further, Stone agreed to provide Ensco the opportunity to perform certain drilling services commenced before December 31, 2019, and Stone paid Ensco a $5 million deposit to be used as a credit against future drilling activities initiated before March 31, 2017, subject to extension in certain circumstances.  The ENSCO 8503 deep water rig contract was at a day rate of $341,000 and was scheduled to expire in August 2017.

Separately, Stone entered into an interim gas gathering and processing agreement with Williams at the Mary field in Appalachia. The mutually beneficial interim agreement provides near-term relief for Stone by permitting Stone to resume production at the Mary field, thereby providing greater volume to Williams.  Volumes from the Mary field are now at approximately 45 MMcfe per day and are expected to climb to over 60 MMcfe per day in July and then over 100 MMcfe per day in August.  These volumes are in addition to the approximately 20 MMcfe per day producing from the Heather and Buddy fields.  The effects of this agreement on annual guidance, including production volumes and associated costs, are still being assessed.  Updates to annual guidance will be provided in Stone's second quarter 2016 press release.

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Cash-strapped Alaska may end oil wealth checks to residents

By Bob Downing Published: June 30, 2016

From the Associated Press earlier this week:Sh

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — As Alaska faces a multibillion dollar budget deficit, the oil fund wealth checks distributed yearly to nearly every Alaskan could be on the chopping block.

It could mean the first time in more than 30 years that most Alaskans won’t get a check from the government just for living in the state.

“We’ll look at every item individually and decide between now and July 1 what items get vetoed and what does not,” Gov. Bill Walker, who announces budget vetoes Wednesday morning, told reporters earlier this month when asked if he would veto all or part of the $1.4 billion oil check fund appropriation sent to him in the budget by lawmakers.

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Hess Corp. encouraged by exploration well in offshore Guyana

By Bob Downing Published: June 30, 2016

From a press release today:

New York-based Hess Corporation today announced positive results from the Liza-2 exploration well in the Stabroek block offshore Guyana. The results confirm a world-class oil discovery with estimated recoverable resource for the Liza prospect of between 800 million and 1.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

“We are very encouraged by the drilling results to date of the Liza prospect, which we believe has the potential to materially contribute to our resource base and future production growth,” John Hess, CEO of Hess Corporation, said. “In addition to the Liza prospect, we continue to evaluate the resource potential on the broader Stabroek block with additional exploration drilling planned.”

Click  here  to read more.

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North Dakota adopts new rules to reduce crude oil spills

By Bob Downing Published: June 30, 2016

From the Associated Press on Wednesday:

North Dakota regulators on Wednesday adopted new rules aimed at reducing spills in the state's oil patch, despite objections by the industry.

The state Industrial Commission approved the rules that include bonding and third-party inspections of gathering pipelines that carry briny oilfield wastewater. Another new rule requires berms at least 6 inches high be built around existing and future well sites to keep oil and saltwater spills from spreading.

The North Dakota Legislature last year directed the Industrial Commission's Oil and Gas Division to draft new rules. The action came in the wake of a 3-million gallon saltwater pipeline leak near Williston in western North Dakota that regulators said was the biggest such spill to occur in the state.

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EQT, Mountain Valley Pipeline aid West Virginia flood relief

By Bob Downing Published: June 30, 2016

Pittsburgh-based EQT Corporation today announced financial commitments that will assist relief efforts in areas hardest hit by last week’s historic and devastating floods throughout West Virginia. EQT made a $50,000 donation to the West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (WV VOAD), an organization suggested by the state’s elected officials. Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC and its joint venture partners, including EQT Midstream Partners, LP is making an additional $25,000 contribution.

“Our hearts go out to the people of West Virginia as they try to rebuild and recover after these ravaging floods,” said Dave Porges, CEO of EQT Corporation. “To assist the relief effort of areas that many EQT employees call home, we’ve made these donations to WV VOAD, which brings organizations together to work collaboratively during times of disaster to ensure monies are distributed directly and immediately to those victims who need it the most.”

Click  here  to read more.

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New Panama Canal reduces U.S. LNG travel time to Asia

By Bob Downing Published: June 30, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

The newly expanded Panama Canal will be able to accommodate 90% of the world's current liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers with LNG-carrying capacity up to 3.9 billion cubic feet (Bcf). Prior to the expansion, only 30 of the smallest LNG tankers (6% of the current global fleet) with capacities up to 0.7 Bcf could transit the canal. The expansion has significant implications for LNG trade, reducing travel time and transportation costs for LNG shipments from the U.S. Gulf Coast to key markets in Asia and providing additional access to previously regionalized LNG markets.

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Tags: liquid fuels , LNG (liquefied natural gas) , natural gas , transportation

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WRI hails North American leaders for fighting climate change

By Bob Downing Published: June 30, 2016

From a press release on Thursday:

Leaders from the United States, Canada and Mexico announced a comprehensive suite of new collaborative measures to combat climate change, meet their respective emissions targets and expand clean energy opportunities at the North American Leadership Summit in Ottawa, Canada.

President Obama, Prime Minister Trudeau, and President Pena Nieto agreed to a sweeping list of aligned climate targets and domestic policies in the electricity sector, transportation, short-lived pollutants, and international priorities. Targets include meeting 50 percent of North America’s electricity demand from “clean power sources” – including solar, wind, hydropower and nuclear – by 2025 –  meaningfully above business-as-usual trends.

Additionally, Mexico joined the United States and Canada in pledging to curb methane emissions from the oil and gas sector 40 to 45 percent by 2025. The countries agreed to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 and call on the other members of the G-20 to fulfill their prior commitment to doing the same in the medium term. They pledged to align emissions and pollutions standards for light- and heavy-duty vehicles. And, additionally, Mexico and Canada agreed to join the US in creating new internal steps to regulate and reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.

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Ohio activists to show new documentary July 19 in Columbus

By Bob Downing Published: June 30, 2016

From a press release on Thursday:

Ohio Community Rights Network and Columbus Community Bill of Rights Group

 Host Ohio Premier of “We the People 2.0” in Columbus

 

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West Virginia gets an A; Ohio and Pennsylvania get D grades

By Bob Downing Published: June 29, 2016

From the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center today:

While drilling of new gas wells in the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays has fallen recently, industry experts expect renewed activity over many years once prices rebound. To help drilling communities and the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia get the response to drilling right in the future, the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative (MSSRC) today released two documents: Lessons from the Gas Patch: A Local Government Guide for Dealing with Drilling; and A Report Card on Shale Gas Policies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, which grades three states on nine fiscal, social and economic policies related to fracking.

The MSSRC is a project of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, the West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy, and Policy Matters Ohio.

“A lull in the intensity of drilling provides an opportunity for local and state government to digest what has been learned from the 2007-12 drilling boom that caught most people by surprise,” said Jan Jarrett, a PBPC consultant who coordinated the publication of both documents. “Local governments are on the front lines of helping quiet rural communities manage the influx of workers, trucks, and activity that come along with unconventional gas drilling. State governments set the boundaries within which local governments respond and also have more authority in some areas. Taken together, these two documents present best practices to help communities and states learn from each other and from past experience.”

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N.J. congresswoman wants new FERC oversight of pipelines

By Bob Downing Published: June 29, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

Congresswoman Watson Coleman To Introduce Legislation Strengthening FERC Oversight Of Proposed Pipelines

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, N.J., June 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- ReThink Energy NJ and partners announced today that Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ D-12) will introduce legislation to toughen Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) oversight by requiring it to apply more comprehensive procedures to its review of proposed pipeline applications before granting a certificate of public convenience and necessity.

Watson Coleman made the announcement during a press conference at Baldpate Mountain in Titusville, New Jersey, which is along the route of the proposed PennEast pipeline project. Every New Jersey town along PennEast's route has formally opposed the PennEast pipeline, as have a bipartisan coalition of federal and state legislators, citizen groups, and conservation leaders, some of whom were in attendance during today's event.

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North American countries to reduce methane emissions

By Bob Downing Published: June 29, 2016

From the EDF today:

North American Leaders Show Unprecedented Alignment,

Announce Ambitious New Energy and Climate Commitments

 

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Eclipse Resources to complete 24 Utica wells in 2016

By Bob Downing Published: June 29, 2016

From Eclipse Resources on Tuesday:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Eclipse Resources Corporation (NYSE: ECR) (the “Company” or “Eclipse Resources”) today is pleased to provide the following operational update, revised capital expenditure plan for 2016 and amended guidance.

Benjamin W. Hulburt, Chairman, President & CEO commenting on the operations, “The Company has recently made the decision to accelerate our operated drilling and completion activity, ahead of our previously announced third quarter 2016 original start. Looking at current forward strip prices, we anticipate lifting our self-imposed production curtailment program and bringing our production back on line at the end of the third quarter of 2016. Based on where current forward strip prices are, we expect to continue to complete our drilled uncompleted wells through the remainder of the year and into the first quarter of 2017, and to continue to run our operated rig continuously going forward. We continue to forecast production growth in 2017 between 40% to 60% as compared to our forecasted production for 2016. Since recommencing our drilling in the Dry Gas area of our acreage, we have already finished drilling the Holliday A 1H well with a 10,000 foot completed lateral length in 18 days from spud to TD, and I remain extremely proud of our team’s operational excellence, along with the efficiency and cost structure they can provide. Lastly, while we can never completely eliminate commodity risk, we believe we have significantly reduced that risk next year by substantially increasing our hedge position, while at the same time structuring our hedge portfolio to not eliminate our exposure to further commodity price increases.”

Guidance

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Location, tax incentives swayed Shell's cracker decision

By Bob Downing Published: June 29, 2016

Royal Dutch Shell chose to build its planned ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, Pa., because of location and tax incentives, a Shell executive said this week.

He also offered additional company insights.

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

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Energy Transfer announces termination of merger pact

By Bob Downing Published: June 29, 2016

From ETE today:

DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jun. 29, 2016-- Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. (NYSE:ETE) (“ETE” or the “Partnership”) today announced that it has terminated its merger agreement with The Williams Companies, Inc. (“Williams”) effective June 29, 2016.

As previously announced, on Friday, June 24, 2016, the Delaware Court of Chancery issued an opinion finding that ETE is contractually entitled to terminate the merger agreement with Williams in the event ETE’s counsel Latham & Watkins LLP (“Latham”) were unable to deliver a required tax opinion prior to the June 28, 2016, outside date in the merger agreement. Latham advised ETE that it was unable to deliver the opinion as of the outside date. Consistent with its rights and obligations under the merger agreement, ETE subsequently provided written notice terminating the merger agreement due to failure of conditions under the merger agreement, including Latham’s inability to deliver the required tax opinion, as well as the other bases detailed in ETE’s filings in the Delaware lawsuit referenced above.

Williams has appealed the decision by the Delaware Court of Chancery to the Delaware Supreme Court.

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Williams Cos. respond to ETE merger termination notice

By Bob Downing Published: June 29, 2016

From the Wiliams Cos. today:

TULSA, Okla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Williams Companies, Inc. (NYSE: WMB) (“Williams”) today confirmed that Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. (NYSE: ETE) (“ETE”) has provided notice that it is attempting to terminate the Merger Agreement based on an alleged failure to satisfy the closing condition requiring delivery of a Section 721(a) tax opinion from Latham & Watkins LLP.

Williams issued the following statement:

Williams does not believe ETE had a right to terminate the Merger Agreement because ETE breached the Merger Agreement by (among other reasons) failing to cooperate and use necessary efforts to satisfy the conditions to closing, including delivery of Latham & Watkins LLP’s Section 721(a) tax opinion. Accordingly, on June 27, 2016, Williams filed an appeal with the Delaware Supreme Court in connection with the Delaware Court of Chancery's June 24, 2016 ruling relating to the Merger Agreement between Williams and ETE.

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Stripper wells produce 10% of U.S. oil production in 2015

By Bob Downing Published: June 29, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Stripper wells, or wells that produce small volumes, represent an important but decreasing share of total U.S. oil and natural gas production. These wells are characterized as producing no more than 15 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) over a 12-month period. EIA estimates that there were about 380,000 stripper oil wells (so called because they are stripping the remaining oil out of the ground) in the United States operating at the end of 2015, compared to about 90,000 nonstripper oil wells.

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Tags: liquid fuels , oil/petroleum , production

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30 mayors speak out for local control of fracking

By Bob Downing Published: June 29, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

INDIANAPOLIS - Following the United States Conference of Mayors here this weekend, over 30 mayors from more than a dozen states issued a statement today urging state and federal leaders to uphold local control of drilling.

In their statement, the mayors said they opposed moves by both state and federal officials limiting the ability of communities to protect themselves from the harms of industrial fracking. “The growing trend of preemption is alarming,” the mayors wrote.
 
Many of fracking’s impacts – from air and water pollution to earthquakes and ruined roads – are felt more heavily at the local level, prompting over 500 communities across the country to restrict the practice. But the oil and gas industry and their allies in government are fighting back.

Last year, a federal court weighed in on local control of fracking for the first time, striking down a fracking ban in Mora County in rural New Mexico.

“This notion of local control – that we have the right to come together with our neighbors and make our own choices on issues that threaten our public health or quality of life– is a long-standing American tradition, and we should reject attempts to limit it,” said Mayor Javier Gonzalez of Santa Fe, New Mexico, one of the statement’s signers.

The Colorado Supreme Court struck down fracking bans in Longmont and Fort Collins in May. 

"It's essential that local municipalities have control because local elected officials understand the pulse of their community and voice of their constituents," said Mayor Nicole Nicoletta from Manitou Springs, just outside of Colorado Springs. "Studies have shown the potential negative impacts of fracking and we need to be able to examine that at the local level."

In Florida, a state senate committee narrowly defeated a bill that would have preempted local government control.
 
“As fracking continues to become a relevant discussion in our communities, it is more practical that cities and counties have local jurisdiction and control,” said Mayor Randall P. Henderson, Jr. of Fort Myers, Fla. “Citizens have an outright interest in receiving respectful due process and understanding of the facts of fracking, and therefore, an opportunity to weigh in as stakeholders.”  
 
State governments in Ohio, North Carolina, Texas and Oklahoma have also acted to limit local control of fracking.
 
The battle over who regulates fracking comes as the scientific evidence against the drilling technique continues to mount. A draft analysis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on fracking’s impacts to drinking water revealed that every stage of the fracking water lifecycle is vulnerable to water contamination.
 
“The best way for states to protect public health from fracking is to follow the lead of states like Vermont and New York and put a stop to the dirty drilling practice altogether,” said Rachel Richardson, Stop Drilling program director at Environment America, the group that organized the statement. “Until then, city and county governments should have the chance to protect their citizens from harm.”

“We urge our state and federal leaders to affirm the ability of localities to protect the health and quality of life of residents against the widespread expansion of industrial fracking into their communities. The best policy is to leave decisions over these local impacts to local governments and let the democratic will of their residents and other stakeholders be heard,” concludes the mayors’ statement.

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DUCs are providing money-saving option for shale drillers

By Bob Downing Published: June 29, 2016

Drillers across the United States are not drilling new wells but working to complete DUCs or drilled but uncompleted wells as prices remain low.

That's especially true in shale-drilling areas, said Ponderosa Advisors LLC managing partner Bernadette Johnson speaking at a recent Pittsburgh conference.

The number of DUCs across the U.S. has fallen to about 3,1000, down from an estimated 4,600 late last year, according to estimates.

DUCs piled up even as new drilling plunged, said Johnson in stories in Kallanish Energy and Natural Gas Intelligence.

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Kinder Morgan adds partner on Utopia liquids pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: June 28, 2016

Kinder Morgan Inc. is getting a partner on its planned Utopia Pipeline across northern Ohio.
The Texas-based pipeline giant announced on Tuesday  that it had sold a 50 percent equity interest in the project to Riverstone Investment Group LLC of New York City.
To acquire its ownership interest, Riverstone agreed to an upfront cash payment provided at closing, consisting of reimbursement to Kinder Morgan for its 50 percent share of prior capital expenditures related to the project and a payment in excess of capital expenditures to recognize the value created by Kinder Morgan in developing the project to this stage.
Riverstone has also agreed to fund its share of future capital expenditures necessary to complete construction and commissioning of the pipeline.
The $500 million pipeline is planned to carry liquids from Ohio’s Utica Shale to Fulton County near Toledo where it would connect to an existing pipeline. It would run about 215 miles from the eastern terminus in Harrison County. Locally, it would pass through southern Stark and Wayne counties.
The pipeline, 12 inches in diameter, will ship about 50,000 barrels of liquids per day. That could be boosted in the future.
Construction would likely take place in 2017 and the line could begin services in late 2017 or early 2018.
The name Utopia stands for Utica To Ontario Pipeline Access.
The liquids, including ethane and propane, would be shipped to NOVA Chemicals Corp. for use as feedstock for producing plastics at its plant in Corunna, Ontario. There is capacity for additional customers.
“The Utopia pipeline will connect growing ethane supply sources in Ohio to the expanding petrochemical market in Sarnia,” said Don Lindley, president of Kinder Morgan’s Natural Gas Liquids, Products Pipelines.
Added Steve Kean, Kinder Morgan president and chief executive officer: “This agreement also demonstrates our ability to originate projects with attractive returns that partners are willing to pay to participate and invest in.”
The pipeline must be approved by several federal and state agencies but it does not require approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as is required for the Nexus and Rover pipelines across northern Ohio. That is because the Utopia Pipeline does not cross state lines and it is not transporting natural gas.
Kinder Morgan has scrapped plans for a second 12-inch pipeline for natural gasoline originally planned along the same Ohio route. The Utopia West Pipeline would have connected with the existing Cochin Pipeline in northwest Ohio to transport that liquid to Kankakee, Ill., and on to Alberta in western Canada to be used by Canadian tar sand producers.

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SEC issues new transparency rule for oil, natural gas, mining

By Bob Downing Published: June 28, 2016

From an Earthrights International press release:

SEC Issues Long-Awaited Transparency Rule for Oil, Gas and Mining

June 28, 2016, Washington, D.C. - The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a landmark transparency rule yesterday requiring oil, gas and mining companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges to disclose the payments they make to the U.S. and foreign governments. In 2010, Congress mandated the rule in Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act, in order to provide critical information to investors and help communities in resource-rich countries hold their governments accountable for the responsible management of billions of dollars in extractive resource revenues.

Members of Congress, investors worth nearly $10 trillion in assets under management, civil society groups, and citizens of resource-rich countries voiced support for a strong rule, emphasizing the need for detailed payment information. While some oil companies have sought to keep the payments they make to governments secret, other companies are already disclosing payment information voluntarily, or under similar regulations in other jurisdictions.

“The baseless arguments and doomsday predictions made by certain oil companies and industry groups to try to maintain payment secrecy have been thoroughly undermined by the rulemaking record and transparency developments in the rest of the world,” said Michelle Harrison, Staff Attorney at EarthRights International (ERI). “The SEC weighed the evidence and rightfully rejected calls for certain sweeping rule-based exemptions and anonymous, highly-aggregated disclosures that would deprive investors and communities of precisely the information they need. While we are still reviewing the details, we are pleased to see the SEC finally take action on this critical transparency rule.”

The final rule has been delayed for years, prompting ERI, on behalf of Oxfam America, to sue the SEC twice for dragging its feet. Last year, a federal judge ordered the SEC to issue the rule promptly, finding that the SEC had “unlawfully withheld” the final rule. “Our successful lawsuit made sure the SEC could no longer delay action that Congress required it to take years ago,” said Harrison.

“Extractive industry payments have been secret for too long. This rule is a huge victory for investors and citizens who have long called for such information,” said Ian Gary, Associate Policy Director at Oxfam America. “The final rule aligns with the rules in other markets by requiring public disclosure of project-level payments to governments and enables the U.S. to reassert itself as a leader in transparency.”

Section 1504 inspired similar disclosure laws around the world, setting a new global standard for transparency. While the U.S. rule faced delay, the European Union, Canada and Norway plowed ahead, adopting similar mandatory disclosure laws. Many U.S.-listed extractive companies are also covered by the regulations in other markets. Some companies, like Shell, Total and Statoil, are already reporting on their project-level payments in all countries of operation under those regulations without consequence, while others have voluntarily disclosed their payment information. The SEC’s rule intentionally aligns with those rules to ensure consistent reporting obligations.

ERI has submitted numerous comments to the SEC during the 6 year rulemaking process on its own, on behalf of Oxfam, and as part of the U.S. Publish What You Pay Coalition (PWYP-US).
 

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Ohio has 10 Utica rigs at work, two new Utica permits

By Bob Downing Published: June 28, 2016

Ohio has approved 2,185 Utica Shale permits, as of June 25.

That total includes 1,751 drilled Utica wells and 1,328 producing Utica wells, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said.

Ten rigs are working in Ohio, the state said.

Two new permits were approved: one in Carroll County and one in Jefferson County.

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Ohio, West Virginia crackers are proceeding, speakers say.

By Bob Downing Published: June 28, 2016

Proposed ethane crackers in eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia are continuing to take shape, according to speakers on Monday at the Northeast U.S. and Canada Petrochemical Construction conference in Pittsburgh.

A final investment decision on the Ohio plant in Belmont Coutny is expected by first quarter 2017, officials said.

Royal Dutch Shell has said one of its subsidiaries is proceeding to build a cracker in Beaver County, Pa.

Crackers turn ethane from shale drilling into polyethylene for plastics.

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Southwestern Energy to extend, modify credit facilities

By Bob Downing Published: June 28, 2016

From a Monday press release:

Houston, Texas – June 27, 2016...Southwestern Energy Company (NYSE: SWN) today announced that it has entered into agreements with substantially all of its bank group for its $2.0 billion revolving line of credit and its $750 million term loan to extend maturities and modify certain other terms and conditions of the credit facilities.
“We have taken a significant step in managing our debt maturities and liquidity,” said Bill Way, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We have extended liquidity availability and a major portion of our debt by two years with only modest additional cost and covenants. These actions deliver on the plan we discussed previously to strengthen the balance sheet, which is a key component of setting the Company up for value adding growth. We truly value the strong relationships we have with our bank group and appreciate the hard work and trust that the participating banks demonstrated in us throughout this amendment and extension process.”
 

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Williams Cos. stockholders vote to approve ETE merger

By Bob Downing Published: June 28, 2016

Williams Cos. stockholders have overwhelmingly cast their votes in favor of the Oklahoma-based pipeline company completing its proposed merger with Energy Transfer Equity, the Tulsa World reported.

Williams also announced Monday that it has filed papers beginning an appeal in the Delaware Supreme Court of the Delaware Court of Chancery’s ruling last week relating to the merger agreement between the two energy companies, the paper said.

Click here to read the full story.

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API remains concerned about SEC's new Section 1504 rule

By Bob Downing Published: June 28, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Monday:

Washington, June 27, 2016 – API Director of Tax and Accounting Policy Stephen Comstock said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s new rule to implement Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act fails to strike the right balance between informing foreign citizens of government revenues and protecting the competitiveness of American companies. 

“There appears to be no meaningful difference between this rule and the previous rule struck down by the Courts, so our concerns remain the same. The SEC’s rule forces U.S. companies to disclose proprietary information to its competitors while foreign entities do not. This can give some large industry players an advantage on future business projects, and can fundamentally harm American jobs.

“The SEC ignored industry efforts to disclose information, but to do so in a way that doesn’t give competitors an unfair advantage. The industry actively supports the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative which takes a global approach and already includes 51 countries that promote transparency and puts all companies on equal footing.  

“We need to take a closer look at the impact of the new rule on our operations and determine our next steps. The prior court case held that the SEC’s initial rule was arbitrary and capricious.” 

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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Kinder Morgan sells equity interest in Ohio's Utopia Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: June 28, 2016

From a press release today from Kinder Morgan:

In addition to the acquisition of the existing assets, Riverstone has agreed to fund its share of future capital expenditures necessary to complete construction and commissioning of the pipeline project. The total project cost is estimated to be approximately $500 million (excluding capitalized interest).

“The Utopia pipeline will connect growing ethane supply sources in Ohio to the expanding petrochemical market in Sarnia,” said Don Lindley, president of KMI’s Natural Gas Liquids (NGL), Products Pipelines. “We are excited to welcome Riverstone as a partner in the Utopia project.” The project is supported by a long-term contract with Nova Chemicals Corporation.

“This is another step towards achieving our stated goals of strengthening our balance sheet and positioning the company for long-term value creation,” said Steve Kean, Kinder Morgan president and chief executive officer. “This agreement also demonstrates our ability to originate projects with attractive returns that partners are willing to pay to participate and invest in.”

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Canary CEO: Time to make WTI global pricing benchmark

By Bob Downing Published: June 27, 2016

From a recent press release:

The case for restoring WTI as the global oil pricing benchmark

It's time to switch back, Canary CEO says

HOUSTON, June 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Arguably the world's most valuable commodity, crude oil is essential to modern life, the building block for everything from gasoline to guitar strings. Like other commodities, crude is governed by the theory of supply and demand. Producers produce, buyers buy, and, ideally, the price is good for both.

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Youngstown group to submit community bill of rights petitions

By Bob Downing Published: June 27, 2016

From a press release about an event in Youngstown today:

 “We Will Protect Our Drinking Water” Says Group: All Media Are Invited To Attend The Youngstown Community Bill Of Rights Committee’s Official Announcement That It Has Collected The Signatures Required To Put The Community Bill Of Rights Charter Amendment Question On The November, 2016 Ballot: 

Members Of The Committee Will Make Brief Remarks, Provide Updates, And Answer Media Questions Before Delivering Signatures To The Clerk Of Council. The Gathering Will Take Place On Monday, June 27, 2016 At Youngstown City Hall At 1:30 PM On The Sidewalk In Front of Youngstown, Ohio City Hall (Boardman and Phelps Streets).

 
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KEC supports proposed charter amendment in Portage County

By Bob Downing Published: June 27, 2016

A letter of support from the Kent Environment Council on behalf of the Portage Community Rights Group's proposedcommunity bill of rights charter amendment that may be on the November ballot:

We, the board of theKent Environmental Council (KEC) wish to voice our support for the Portage Community Rights Group’s (PCRG) charter petition. The charter’s intent is to restore citizen democracy to Portage County and protect its natural resources. KEC has a long history of working to protect the environment in Kent and throughout Portage County and recognizes the particular risk to the county’s ground water supply posed by the lack of local control of the extraction industry. In an effort to wrest control back from the state government in Columbus PCRG’s charter proposes to return to local communitiestheir constitutional rights to self-determination, allowing citizens throughout the county to exercise those rights in the protection of their soil and water. KEC’ssupport of this charter affirms our recognition of the value of PCRG’S charter effort and demonstrates our commitment to being advocates for our natural resources.

We have historically placed special emphasis on the protection of our ground and surface water. In past years by advocating for and helping to clean up the Cuyahoga River and more recently by co-sponsoring the 2015 and 2016 Edith Chase Symposiums:Not a Drop to Drink andWhen the Well Runs Dry held in the Kent State University Conference Center. Both KEC and PCRG  areconcernedwith the lack of local control overthe disposal of highly contaminated hydraulic fracturing waste water in our county which has the potential of contaminating  community and private water supplies. Our endorsement of this charter effort confirms the significance of the proposal and should encourage all Portage County voters to include their names on the PCRG’s charter petition. Due to the deadline for petition submittal the need for community support is urgent and immediate. For more information and to see how you can help please visit PCRG’s website at  www.portagecommunityrightsgroup.org.

 

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Spectra Energy to check 263 miles of Texas Eastern pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: June 27, 2016

Spectra Energy Corp. says it plans to check 263 miles of the Texas Eastern pipeline system from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, in the wake of the April 29 explosiona nd fire in Pennsylvania's Westmoreland County, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The company is looking at coatings used when the pipeline was built, the paper said.

One person was injured in the explosion.

Click here  to read the full story.

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SEC files charges against Texas oilman Chris Faulkner, others

By Bob Downing Published: June 27, 2016

Texas oilman Chris Faulkner built a high-profile public persona, raised millions for his oil and gas ventures and courted politicians. But the SEC has alleged that behind the scenes, he cheated investors out of $80 million to fund a “debauched” jet-setting lifestyle.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday filed a lawsuit that alleges a stunning failure of corporate governance at Faulkner’s Dallas-based Breitling Energy Corp and other companies he helped to create, Reuters reported.

Based upon inflated estimates of the oil and gas that his companies controlled, the charges said, Faulkner lured hundreds of U.S. investors to back his firms. Their investments were largely used to pay personal expenses for Faulkner, his associates, family and friends, the SEC alleged.

Click  here  to read more.

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United States well count drops by 3, Baker Hughes says

By Bob Downing Published: June 27, 2016

The number of oil and natural gas wells in the United States dipped by three to 421 wells in the most recent count conducted by the Texas-based wells' service company Baker Hughes.

It said there are 330 oil wells, 90 natural gas wells and one miscellaneous well.

That total is down by 438 wells from a year ago.

Ohio has 12 wells and Pennsylvania  has 13 wells, both unchanged from the previous week. West Virginia has 11 wells, down one from last week.

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Judge: Energy Transfer Equity can back out of Williams' deal

By Bob Downing Published: June 27, 2016

From the Associated Press last week:

Texas pipeline company Energy Transfer Equity L.P. can back out of its proposed $33 billion acquisition of Williams Cos., a Delaware judge said Friday.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Williams to hold Energy Transfer to the deal.

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Pennsylvania governor scraps rules on conventional drilling

By Bob Downing Published: June 24, 2016

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill that would scrap the conventional oil and gas regulations, while new rules for Marcellus Shale wells move forward, NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania reported.

The new drilling rules have been in the works since lawmakers updated the state’s oil and gas law back in 2012.

Click  here  to read more.

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Fight over fracking, threat to beluga whales grows in Alaska

By Bob Downing Published: June 24, 2016

There is a dispute brewing in Alaska as to whjether belugas whales in Cook Inlet might be threatened by fracking. An eco-group says yes; the Texas-based company behind the project, BlueCrest Energy, says no.

Here is the statement from the Center for Biological Diversity that was released this week:

Unprecedented Offshore Fracking Threatens Alaska's Endangered Belugas

Federal Officials Urged to Halt Oil Company’s Dangerous Plan to Frack Cook Inlet

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Maryland is reviewing its rules on hydraulic fracturing

By Bob Downing Published: June 24, 2016

From the Associated Press this sweek:

Maryland will consider revising its proposed regulations for the natural gas drilling known as hydraulic fracturing in an effort to add safeguards for public health and the environment, a state agency announced Wednesday.

The Maryland Department of the Environment released issue papers with tentative suggestions for revisions after an 18-month review of regulations that were initially proposed in January 2015. The department says the 2015 proposal "laid a solid foundation" for ensuring natural gas production in western Maryland can be done "in a manner that respects Maryland's environment and people."

Ben Grumbles, the department secretary, said the agency is striving for reasonable and balanced regulations "with stringent but achievable requirements."

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Marksmen Energy reports on its Pickaway County oil wells

By Bob Downing Published: June 24, 2016

From a press release this week:

CALGARY, ALBERTA, June 21, 2016 -- Marksmen Energy Inc. ("Marksmen" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that Marksmen, as operator, and its joint venture partner Houghton Investments LLC., drilled a discovery well at its Pickaway County, Ohio, Davis-Holbrook #1 well location on a large Cambrian Knox target outlined by Marksmen's 3D Seismic programs.

The discovery well was spudded on June 14, 2016. The well which had a projected total depth of 2,480 feet produced free flowing oil to surface from a depth of 2,357 vertical feet from the Cambrian Knox formation. The Davis-Holbrook #1 well intersected the Cambrian Knox formation 40 feet stratigraphically higher than the Company's Strittmatter 1 well, which is located approximately 2,000 feet to the north and on the same large Cambrian Knox structure.

Overnight the well was deepened an additional 120 feet to a total depth of 2,477 feet. The well is currently being logged and completion operations are underway. Production casing is scheduled to be run and cemented today.

Marksmen estimates there are at least an additional five drilling locations on the Davis-Holbrook 3D Cambrian Knox remnant on which the Davis-Holbrook #1 well was drilled.

Marksmen's 3D Seismic acquisition programs in Pickaway County have resulted in Marksmen selecting more than 20 Cambrian Knox target well locations. Additional 3D Seismic surveys are planned on Marksmen's leasehold interests in Pickaway County Ohio.

Results of production testing and other information will be announced when they are available.

For additional information regarding this news release please contact Archie Nesbitt, President, Chief Executive Officer and a Director of the Company at (403) 265-7270 or e-mail info@marksmen.ca.

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Eco-groups concerned by pipeline oil spill in California

By Bob Downing Published: June 24, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

For Immediate Release, June 23, 2016

 

Contact:

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H2O Midstream gets initial funding to offer water operations

By Bob Downing Published: June 24, 2016

From a press release earlier this week:

Houston, TX – H2O Midstream, LLC announced today that it has secured an initial funding commitment of $100 million, with investments from EIV Capital and co-investments from several of EIV’s institutional partners collectively representing more than $50 billion in assets under management. The company is currently pursuing oil and gas opportunities related to water infrastructure throughout North America.

“We see a tremendous opportunity to help the industry lower costs, increase reliability and improve safety performance while allowing producers to focus on core drilling, completions and production operations,” said Jim Summers, Chief Executive Officer of H2O Midstream. “The key is applying best practices developed over the past 40 years by traditional midstream companies to the current challenges of the emerging water market.”

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, H2O Midstream is led by former industry executives with experience at oil and gas majors, traditional midstream companies and private equity funded start-ups.

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CORN, OEC to look at pipeline routing alternatives on July 21

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

A grass-roots group fighting the Nexus Pipeline is teaming up with the Ohio Environmental Council on July 21 to look at pipeline routing alternatives.

The topic of the public meeting is "Working to Change the Process to Better Respect People and the Environment."

Speakers include CORN officials Paul Gierosky and Jonathan Strong and Melanie Houston the statewide eco-group.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Guilfordf Township Hall, 3800 Greenwich Road, outside Seville in Medina County.

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Utica Shale is producing more natural gas with fewer wells

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

Ohio's Utica Shale is producing more natural gas or higher yields with fewer wells for drillers, according to repeated comments at a major shale drilling conference in Pittsburgh.

Click  here  to read more.

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Stockholders O.K. TransCanada-Columbia Pipeline merger

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

TransCanada Advances Vision to Create North America's Leading Natural Gas Transportation and Storage Company

HOUSTON, TEXAS--(Marketwired - June 22, 2016) - News Release - TransCanada Corporation (TSX:TRP) (NYSE:TRP) (TransCanada) and Columbia Pipeline Group, Inc. (NYSE:CPGX) (Columbia) today announced that at a special meeting held earlier today in Houston, Texas, Columbia's stockholders voted to adopt the previously announced merger agreement. Approximately 95.33% of votes cast by Columbia stockholders were in favour of adoption of the merger agreement, which will have TransCanada acquire Columbia for US$25.50 per share of common stock in cash, resulting in an aggregate purchase price of approximately US$13 billion, including the assumption of approximately US$2.8 billion of debt.

"We are very pleased with the support of Columbia's stockholders. Today's vote is an important milestone that moves us closer to completing this acquisition and creating one of North America's leading natural gas transportation and storage companies," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer. "Columbia's assets and development projects are managed by a dedicated employee base with experience and a commitment to operating safely, and we look forward to working with them."

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U.S. crude storage utilization grows as capacity expands

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administartion yesterday:

Weekly U.S. commercial crude oil inventories have increased by more than 71 million barrels (15%) since the end of September, pushing crude oil storage capacity utilization to a near record high of 73% for the week ending June 10.

Read More ›

Tags: capacity , crude oil , Cushing , liquid fuels , storage

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Panama Canal unlikely to alter crude oil shipping patterns

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administartion today:

On June 26, the Panama Canal Authority, the body that operates the Panama Canal, will inaugurate a third set of locks, which will allow for the transit of larger ships. This is the first such expansion since the canal was completed in 1914. With the exception of U.S. propane exports, the expansion of the Panama Canal is not likely to drastically affect crude oil and petroleum product flows.

Read More ›

Tags: crude oil , liquid fuels , propane , transportation

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Obama administration decries judge's BLM-fracking decision

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

From the Associated Press on Wednesday:

Jessica Kershaw, a spokeswoman for the Interior Department, said “modernized fracking requirements” imposed by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell reflect best industry practices and are aimed at ensuring adequate well control, preventing groundwater contamination and increasing transparency about the materials used in fracking.

Ms. Kershaw’s comments came after a judge in Wyoming ruled late Tuesday that federal regulators lack authority to set rules for hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl deals another setback to the Obama administration’s efforts to tighten how fossil fuels are mined.

Judge Skavdahl said the Bureau of Land Management can’t set the rules because Congress has not authorized it to do so. The judge, who was nominated by Obama in 2011, wrote that the court’s role is not to decide whether hydraulic fracturing is good or bad for the environment, but to interpret whether Congress has given the Department of Interior legal authority to regulate the practice.

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Pennsylvania sets hearing on Clearfield County injection well

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Wednesday

DEP to hold public hearing on Injection Well Permit request in Clearfield County

Both DEP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must approve permits for this proposed injection well. EPA’s permits oversee the material that is injected into the well, the integrity of the well, groundwater protection and closure requirements. DEP permits govern how the hole is drilled and surface issues on the well pad.

EPA issued an underground injection control permit for Sammy-Mar’s Povlik # 1 well on March 16, 2016 allowing the company to inject waste water into the well pending DEP approval of a drilling permit. On May 10, 2016 Sammy-Mar submitted an application to drill the well to DEP. A copy of the application is available for review at the Huston Township Municipal Building, 11837 Bennetts Valley Highway, Penfield, PA 15849.

The public hearing is part of the DEP’s intensive permit review process.People who wish to testify should register in advance by calling DEP Community Relations Coordinator john Poister at 412-442-4203 before noon on June 28, 2016. There will also be an opportunity to register at the door prior to the hearing. Registered participants will have five minutes each to present testimony in the form of comments, statements or questions.DEP will respond to all testimony in a written comment and response document.

For those unable to attend the hearing, written testimony will be accepted by DEP at its Southwest Regional Office, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 until July 5, 2016. Written testimony may be mailed or emailed.

WHAT: Hearing for Sammy-Mar injection disposal well
WHEN: Tuesday June 28, 2016 at 6:00 P.M.
WHERE: Penfield Grange Hall, 12255 Bennetts Valley Highway, Penfield, PA 15849.

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Ohio has 1,751 drilled Utica wells, 1,327 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

Ohio has aopproved 2,184 Utica Shale permits, as of June 18.

That total uncludes 1,751 drilled Utica wells and 1,327 producing Utica wells, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported.

Eleven rigs are working in Ohio.

Two new permits were approved. Both are in Jefferson County.

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Company plans gas processing, pipelines in Delaware Basin

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners LP plans to build a new natural gas processing plant and related natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines in the Delaware Basin in West Texas and southeast NHew Mexico.

Click  here  to read more.

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Dominion begins work on Virginia natural gas-fired plant

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

From a press release this week:

RICHMOND, Va., June 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion Virginia Power has begun construction on its 1,588- megawatt Greensville County Power Station, immediately after the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board approved the station's air permit. 

The air permit issued on June 17th was the last regulatory hurdle the station had to clear before it could start construction.

"This is terrific news for Dominion, its customers, the Commonwealth, Greensville County and all of Southside Virginia," said Paul Koonce, chief executive officer for Dominion's Generation Group. "We are excited about the task ahead and are looking forward to getting this state-of-the art power station operating and providing energy to more than 400,000 customers by 2019."

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CONSOL Energy eyes more dry gas development in Utica Shale

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

CONSOL Energy Corp.'s strategy is going to include a lot more dry-gas development in the Utica Shale as some of the economics of the basin have shifted away from the wet-gas areas of the Marcellus Shale, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported.

Click  here  to read the full story..

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Obama signs new federal pipelines safety legislation

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

Washington, June 22, 2016 – The American Petroleum Institute welcomed new pipeline safety legislation signed into law by President Obama today. S. 2276, the PIPES Act, gives Congress and pipeline operators transparency into the regulatory process and sets timelines for feedback to operators on pipeline inspections.

“Maintaining America’s status as the world’s leading oil and natural gas producer requires energy infrastructure,” said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. “Pipelines are one of the safest, most efficient ways to transport the energy families and businesses need. This legislation supports industry’s progress toward our goal of zero incidents and gives pipeline operators regulatory certainty for the next three years.

“Pipelines not only deliver the energy Americans need but they also deliver the clean-burning natural gas that has helped drive carbon emissions to 20-year lows and provide a critical link to connect our abundant oil and natural gas resources to refineries, chemical plants, business and consumers.

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Oregon's senators object to resumption of crude oil trains

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to news that Union Pacific is resuming oil train traffic through the Columbia River Gorge at the site of a fiery oil train derailment that occurred less than three weeks ago, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden expressed their strong objection to the resumption of oil train traffic. The senators called on the United States Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to halt crude oil traffic on this rail segment until the causes of the accident have been fully analyzed and necessary steps to prevent a similar derailment have been taken. 

“We are writing to express our strong objections regarding Union Pacific’s intention to resume crude oil unit train traffic through the Columbia River Gorge less than a month after a fiery derailment on June 3, 2016 in Mosier, Oregon,” wrote the Senators in a letter to FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg. “We urge the FRA to use [its] emergency order authority… to put in place safeguards for unit trains transporting hazardous materials through the Columbia River Gorge. Specifically, we request that the FRA place a moratorium on unit trains transporting crude oil and other hazardous materials through the Gorge until the FRA has issued a final investigative report for the Mosier accident, and ensured all steps have been taken to prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future.”

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House speaker supports judge's ruling against federal rules

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2016
http://spkrryan.us/28QLmYz

CONTACT

AshLee Strong, Doug Andres, Mike Ricci
 

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IPAA hails judge's decision in BLM/fracking lawsuit

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

Statement on the BLM Hydraulic Fracturing Rule Court Decision

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Last night, U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl struck down the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule on hydraulic fracturing. Judge Skavdahl agreed with IPAA, Western Energy Alliance, four oil-producing states, and an Indian tribe that BLM does not have the congressional authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.

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Federal court ruling shows Congress must act, Hauter says

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

Today’s Ruling on Fracking Shows Congress Must Act Now

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

 

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Federal judge rules BLM lacks authority to set fracking rules

By Bob Downing Published: June 23, 2016

From the Associated Press:

A judge ruled Tuesday that federal regulators lack the authority to set rules for hydraulic fracturing, dealing another setback to the Obama administration's efforts to tighten how fossil fuels are mined.

U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl said the Bureau of Land Management can't set the rules because Congress has not authorized it to do so. The judge, who was nominated by Obama in 2011, wrote that the court's role is not to decide whether hydraulic fracturing is good or bad for the environment, but to interpret whether Congress has given the Department of Interior legal authority to regulate the practice.

"It has not," wrote Skavdahl, who last year blocked implementation of rules drafted by the agency.

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Enbridge Energy to acquire new Mackinac safety gear

By Bob Downing Published: June 21, 2016

From the Associated Press:

A Canadian company that owns twin underwater oil pipelines in the area where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet says it’s spending $7 million over the next two years on equipment that could be deployed there quickly in the event of a spill.
Enbridge Energy says the nearly 5-mile-long pipelines that cross the Straits of Mackinac between Michigan’s two peninsulas have never leaked and are safe.
But senior emergency manager Stephen Lloyd says that just in case, the company is ordering additional containment and skimming devices that could suck up oil in open water before it reaches sensitive shorelines.
Environmental groups say the 63-year-old pipes pose too great a risk and should be shut down. They carry nearly 23 million gallons daily to Canadian refineries.

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Low-level radioactive wasts from Marcellus drilling is problem

By Bob Downing Published: June 21, 2016

Writer Jie Jenny Zou of the Center for Public Integrity takes a look at the growing volume of radioactive waste from shale drilling in the Marcellus Shale of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

No federal agency oversees that low-level waste and state agencies may be reluctant to deal with such fracking wastes, the author says.

It is also an issue in Ohio's Utica Shale.

Click  here  to read more.

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Shale is key component in Royal Dutch Shell's growth plans

By Bob Downing Published: June 21, 2016

Royal Dutch Shell is very interested in shale drilling and that is a key element of the company's future growth, Reuters reported.

Shell is investing in building a $6 billion cracker plant in Beaver County, Pa., to turn ethane from shale drilling into polyethylene for plastics.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Rex Energy provides update on joint venture, operations

By Bob Downing Published: June 21, 2016

From a press release today:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., June 21, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rex Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:REXX) today provided an update on its Moraine East Joint Development Agreement and Appalachian Basin operations.

Operational Update

Moraine East Area Joint Development Agreement

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One dead, two injured in North Dakota well explosion/fire

By Bob Downing Published: June 21, 2016

From the Associated Press:

One worker was killed and two others were seriously injured in an explosion and fire at an oil well in western North Dakota, authorities said.

The McKenzie County Sheriff’s Department said 52-year-old Johnny Stassinos of Rock Springs, Wyo., died Saturday afternoon from injuries suffered that morning at a well site operated by XTO Energy Inc. near Watford City.

The department’s statement issued Monday said Daniel Montes, 28, of Fruita, Colo., and Richard Maheu, 27, of Rock Springs, Wyo., were airlifted to the Regions Burn Center in St. Paul, Minn., where they were listed in critical condition.

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OOGA: New Ohio data on Utica drilling reflects downturn

By Bob Downing Published: June 21, 2016

From the Ohio Oil and Gas Association:

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has released its first quarter 2016 Ohio shale wells production totals. Over the first three months of this year, Ohio’s shale wells produced 5,485,854 barrels of oil and 329,537,838 McF (329 billion cubic feet) of natural gas. 

The ODNR released the results in a press release touting a “significant increase from quarterly productions from the first quarter of 2015.” However, looking at a comparison on a quarter-by-quarter basis, oil production has dropped for the first time ever since ODNR has started tracking these statistics. Oil production dipped -12.3% from the fourth quarter of 2015—slipping from 6.25 million barrels in Q4 of 2015 to 5.48 million barrels produced in Q1 of 2016.

The ODNR pointed out in its release that oil production was up 24% in the first quarter of 2016. Although this statistic is one representation, it is not a proper demonstration of what is happening in our industry. The 5.4 million barrels pales in comparison to the last three quarters, in an arena where consecutive increases were previously seen quarter-to-quarter.

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Marathon Oil pays $888 million to expand Oklahoma holdings

By Bob Downing Published: June 21, 2016

From the Associated Press:

Marathon Oil said Monday that it has agreed to pay $888 million for PayRock Energy Holdings, increasing the amount of oil producing land it owns in Oklahoma.

PayRock has 61,000 net surface acres that produces 9,000 net barrels of oil equivalent per day, Marathon said.

Houston-based Marathon is buying PayRock from oil and gas investment firm EnCap Investments.

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Belmont, Monroe counties are Ohio's natural gas hot spots

By Bob Downing Published: June 21, 2016

Natural gas production in Ohio’s Utica Shale remains centered in Belmont and Monroe counties.
Belmont County is No. 1 with 99.2 billion cubic feet, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources records for the first quarter 2016. Monroe is No. 2 with 63.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
Those two counties are in what’s known as the dry gas window and produce high volumes of pressurized natural gas that need little processing. They are home to Ohio’s biggest wells and have emerged as Ohio’s drilling hot spot.
Nine of the top 10 natural gas-producing wells in Ohio are in Belmont County. The other is in Monroe.
Ohio’s top-producing well for natural gas is Mohawk Warrior 12-H drilled by Rice Energy in Smith Township in Belmont County. It produced 1.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas in the quarter. It was also Ohio’s top gas well in fourth quarter 2015.
Two other Mohawk Warrior wells at that site were No. 2 and No. 3 for natural gas production.
Belmont’s natural gas volume grew by 13.4 billion cubic feet from fourth quarter 2015 totals that were released last March.  Monroe County jumped past Carroll County to No. 2 with an additional 14 billion cubic feet.
Carroll County is third with 56.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas in the first quarter. Its gas production dipped slightly: from 59.4 to 56.7 billion cubic feet. It was the Ohio county where Utica wells were drilled.
Fourth is Harrison County with 44.1 billion cubic feet. Fifth is Noble County with 34.2 billion cubic feet.
For oil, the Top 5 Ohio counties are: Harrison, 2.2 million barrels; Carroll, 1,3 million barrels; Guernsey, 1.2 million barrels; Noble, 537,325 barrels; and Belmont, 104,065 barrels.
The top oil well was in Noble County’s Seneca Township with 57,160 42-gallon barrels. It was drilled by Antero Resources.
The top Ohio counties for wells are Carroll, 429; Harrison, 257; Belmont, 174; Monroe, 134; Noble, 116. Locally, Portage has four wells and Stark has two.
The Top 5 Ohio drillers are: Chesapeake Energy, 608 wells; Gulfport Energy, 180 wells; Antero Resources, 129 wells; Ascent Resources, 84 wells; and Eclipse Resources and Hess (tie), 54 wells.
The new quarterly data, released last week by ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management, oil production from Ohio’s Utica Shale dipped for the first time, due to low commodity prices and less drilling.
It dropped 12.3 percent from the previous quarter. It totaled 5.48 million barrels. Natural gas production grew by 24 percent in the quarter. Gas production totaled 329.5 billion cubic feet. That data tracked results from 1,302 Utica 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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Ohio's tica oil production drops, natural gas still growing

By Bob Downing Published: June 18, 2016

Ohio’s oil production from the Utica Shale dropped for the first time while natural gas production continued to grow in quarterly data released late on Friday by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Oil production dipped 12.3 percent from the fourth quarter 2015, according to first quarter 2016 production from 1,302 horizontal Utica wells.

Oil production slipped from 6.25 million 42-gallon barrels in fourth quarter 2015 to 5.48 million barrels, according to the new data.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources did not acknowledge the oil drop in its statement.

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Ohio's Utica production of oil, natural gas still growing

By Bob Downing Published: June 18, 2016

From a late Friday press release from Columbus:

COLUMBUS, OH - During the first quarter of 2016, Ohio’s horizontal shale wells produced 5,485,854 barrels of oil and 329,537,838 Mcf (329 billion cubic feet) of natural gas, according to figures released today by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Quarterly production from the first quarter of 2016 shows a significant increase from quarterly production from the first quarter of 2015.

 

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Williams Companies to offer special ETE merger dividend

By Bob Downing Published: June 17, 2016

From a press release:

Oklahoma-based Williams Companies announced that its Board of Directors has declared a special dividend in the amount of $0.10 per share of Williams common stock, pursuant to the terms of the merger agreement between Williams and Energy Transfer Equity L.P.

The special dividend is contingent on the consummation of the merger and will be payable to Williams holders of record at the close of business on the last business day prior to the closing of the merger.

Click   here  to read more.

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Harrison County township, midstream company in land deal

By Bob Downing Published: June 17, 2016

A township in Ohio's Harrison County is getting a new township office, after M3 Midstream needed the land where the township office stands to expand its Harrison Hub facility in Scio.

North Township agreed to swap its current site for land where a new  township office will be built.

Click  here  to read more.

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Federal plan must recognize impacts of natural gas, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: June 17, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Thursday:

Washington, June 16, 2016 – EPA’s proposed Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) under the Clean Power Plan must embrace the effectiveness of natural gas in reducing carbon emissions, according to API Senior Director of Regulatory & Scientific Affairs Howard J. Feldman.

“API will be reviewing the just-released proposal from EPA on its proposed Clean Energy Incentive Program under the Clean Power Plan. API strongly urges EPA to provide flexibility and a level playing field for all greenhouse gas reduction approaches, including the increased use of natural gas.

“Ramping up the use of natural gas at existing power plants achieves emissions reductions quickly and at a low cost. Increased domestic oil and natural gas production lowers costs for families and businesses, adding $1,337 in disposable income per household last year and creating high-paying jobs nationwide. Additionally, increased use of natural gas has helped drive U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to near 20-year lows while energy use and production have increased.”

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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Downturn forces companies to delay $1 trillion in projects

By Bob Downing Published: June 17, 2016

The collapse of oil has forced the energy industry to delay $1 trillion in projects aimed at pumping crude and searching for oil through the end of the decade, leaving 7 billion barrels of crude in the earth, said Wood Mackenzie, a Texas-based energy research firm.

And though crude prices have risen above $45 a barrel, the industry is expected to continue dropping big projects as oil companies run out of cash, the company said in a story posted by the Houston Chronicle's FuelFix blog.

Click  here  to read more.

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CORN spokesman to address Sierra Club on Nexus Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: June 17, 2016

 Paul Gierosky of the Coalition to Reroute Nexus, a grass-roots group opposed to the Nexus natural gas pipeline, will speak to the Portage Trail Group of the Sierra Club on Tuesday, June 21.

His talk, open to the public, will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 3300 Morewood Road, Fairlawn.

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Clean Power Plan accelerating growth of renewable energy

By Bob Downing Published: June 17, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2016 (AEO2016) Reference case projects that natural gas-fired electricity generation will exceed coal-fired electricity generation by 2022, while generation from renewables—driven by wind and solar—will overtake coal-fired generation by 2029. The shift away from coal-fired generation to a combination of higher natural gas-fired and renewables generation and greater energy efficiency is expected to be accelerated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan (CPP).

Read More ›

Tags: AEO2016 (Annual Energy Outlook 2016) , coal , natural gas , nuclear , renewable , solar , wind

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Petroleum deliveries in May increase 3.1 percent from 2015

By Bob Downing Published: June 17, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Thursday:

Washington, June 16, 2016 – Total petroleum deliveries in May moved up by 3.1 percent from May 2015 to average 19.7 million barrels per day. These were the highest May deliveries in eight years, since 2008. Compared with April, total domestic petroleum deliveries, a measure of U.S. petroleum demand, decreased by 0.1 percent. For year-to-date, total domestic petroleum deliveries moved up by 1.8 percent compared to the same period last year.

“Consumers have been enjoying low prices at the pump and are driving more,” said Erica Bowman, API chief economist. “Demand for gasoline reached a record high for May.”

Gasoline deliveries in May were up from the prior month, the prior year, and the prior year-to-date to reach a record high for the month of May and year-to-date. Total motor gasoline deliveries, a measure of consumer gasoline demand, moved up 2.1 percent from May 2015, to average over 9.4 million barrels per day–the highest May deliveries on record.

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Babst Calland report: Prices down, supply up, reform ahead

By Bob Downing Published: June 17, 2016

From Thursday press release:

Babst Calland Report Emphasizes an Unprecedented Time for the Oil and Gas Industry with Legal and Regulatory Perspective for Producers, Midstream Operators

 

Price Down, Supply Up, Reform Ahead as Regulation Increases

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EPA unhappy with current EIS for Columbia Pipeline projects

By Bob Downing Published: June 16, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  said in comments filed with Federal Energy Refultaory Commission earlier this week that the draft Environmental Impact Statement for Columbia Pipeline Group Inc.’s Leach and Rayne XPress pipeline projects is insufficient, recommending that additional information be included in the final version, NGI reported.

The company needs to look in more details at possible alternatives including other pipelines and the impacts of such alternatives, the agency said.

The $1.4 billion Leach Express Pipeline would run 161 miles in Ohio and West Virginia. It would transport up to 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Utica and Marcellus shales.

The Rayne Express project would boost compression on a pipeline that runs to Rayne, La. That would increase capacity by 1 billion cubic feet per day

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Nova Scotia LNG facility earns Governor in Council approval

By Bob Downing Published: June 16, 2016

From a press release today:


BEAR HEAD LNG RECEIVES GOVERNOR IN COUNCIL APPROVAL
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – Bear Head LNG Corporation, Inc. (Bear Head LNG) is pleased to
announce it has received Governor in Council approval for a licence to import natural gas from
the United States and a licence to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Bear Head LNG’s
project site on the Strait of Canso in Richmond County, Nova Scotia.
The National Energy Board’s approval to import and export natural gas was previously issued
in August 2015, but was subject to the approval of the Governor in Council.
“The Government of Canada’s approval of Bear Head LNG’s natural gas import and LNG export
licences is welcome news,” said Greg Vesey, Managing Director and CEO of Liquefied Natural
Gas Limited and President of Bear Head LNG. “The strategic importance of these approvals,
as well as the regulatory certainty that it provides, distinguishes Bear Head LNG in the North
American LNG marketplace. Bear Head LNG is well positioned to be a major global supplier
of LNG.”
The licences authorize Bear Head LNG to import up to 14.2 billion cubic metres of natural gas
per annum, which would be sufficient to export up to 12 mtpa of LNG from Canada, both
licences are for a period of 25 years.
Bear Head LNG has approval from the US Department of Energy to export US‐sourced natural
gas to both nations that do (FTA) and nations that do not (Non‐FTA) have free trade
agreements with the US.

ABOUT BEAR HEAD LNG CORPORATION, INC.
Bear Head LNG is wholly owned by Liquefied Natural Gas Limited. Bear Head LNG proposes
to develop a liquefied natural gas export facility on the Strait of Canso, Nova Scotia, Canada.
All required initial permits are now in place for Bear Head LNG to construct the LNG export
facility. Canada's National Energy Board and the U.S. Department of Energy have granted
export licenses for the facility. LNG produced at the facility will be transported by LNG vessels
to overseas markets.

ABOUT LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS LIMITED
Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (LNGL) is an Australian listed company (Code: LNG and OTC
ADR: LNGLY) focused on development of mid‐scale LNG plants. LNGL’s business strategy aims
to deliver lower capital and operating costs, faster construction timelines and improved
efficiency, relative to larger traditional LNG projects. LNGL’s portfolio includes 100%
ownership in Magnolia LNG LLC, Bear Head LNG Corporation, Bear Paw Pipeline Corporation
Inc., Gladstone LNG Pty Ltd, and LNG Technology Pty Ltd, which owns and develops the
patented OSMR® LNG liquefaction process.
l

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S&P Global Platts listing Gulf Coast LNG daily export prices

By Bob Downing Published: June 16, 2016

From a press release today:

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Portland area officials push for ban on crude oil rail shipments

By Bob Downing Published: June 16, 2016

From the Associated Press earlier this week:

Portland and Multnomah County leaders on Tuesday urged the governors of Oregon and Washington to push Congress for a permanent ban on oil-by-rail in the wake of a fiery train derailment along the Columbia River.

The June 3 derailment in the town of Mosier showed transporting oil by train is dangerous and unnecessary and should be prohibited by the federal government, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said at City Hall, alongside other government and health officials.

Nobody was injured in the derailment, but it affected water and sewer systems and forced evacuations.

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EPA panel may seek better explanation in fracking report

By Bob Downing Published: June 16, 2016

A much-debated summary on the risks posed by hydraulic fracturing to drinking water was kicked around again June 14 by scientists discussing recommendations to improve an Environmental Protection Agency report, Bloomberg BNA reports.

The EPA draft report said it found no “widespread, systemic impacts” on drinking water from fracking.

The agency's Science Advisory Board (SAB) appeared likely to recommend the addition of some explanatory quantification to help justify the statement—if the statement is to be retained in the final report.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Pennsylvania's impact fees drop by 16 percent

By Bob Downing Published: June 16, 2016

Lower natural gas prices and less drilling in the Marcellus Shale reduced Pennsylvania's impact fee by 16 percent, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

The fee dropped from $223.5 million last year to $188 million this year, the paper said.

Much of that money goes to municipalities impacted by drilling.

Click  here  to read more.

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Noble, PDC complete DJ Basin land exchange in Colorado

By Bob Downing Published: June 16, 2016

From a Noble Energy press release today:

Houston, June 16, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Noble Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NBL) (Noble Energy or the Company) announced today that the Company has signed definitive agreements with PDC Energy, Inc. (Nasdaq: PDCE) (PDC Energy) to exchange certain acreage in the greater Wattenberg area of northern Colorado. Noble Energy will receive approximately 11,700 net acres in the Company's Wells Ranch development area in exchange for approximately 13,500 net acres primarily out of the Company's Bronco area, located southwest of Wells Ranch. The difference in net acreage exchanged is driven primarily by variances in net revenue interest. The transaction is expected to close early in the fourth quarter of 2016, subject to title examination and other adjustments.

Charles J. Rimer, Noble Energy's Senior Vice President, U.S. Onshore, commented, "This strategic acreage exchange expands our Wells Ranch acreage position by approximately 20 percent and provides substantial operating synergies and cost efficiencies for both ourselves and PDC Energy. The trade simplifies long term development of the DJ Basin, adds significant incremental value to Noble Energy and optimizes our existing infrastructure. In addition, the new acreage to Noble Energy materially increases long lateral drilling opportunities within our Wells Ranch development area. Further, the higher contiguous acreage positions for both companies should result in fewer surface locations, reducing the above ground impact."

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Devon Energy sells Midland Basin assets for $858 million

By Bob Downing Published: June 16, 2016

Oklahoma-based Devon Energy Corp. announced Wednesday it has entered definitive agreements to sell its remaining non-core assets in the Midland Basin for $858 million.

These transactions include the Company’s upstream assets in the southern Midland Basin and its undeveloped leasehold in Martin County, Texas. This brings total announced non-core transactions to $2.1 billion.

Click  here  to read more from the company.

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Blog looks at three anti-drilling voter initiatives in Colorado

By Bob Downing Published: June 16, 2016

The BakerHostetler law firm in its shale blog look at three voter initiatives in Colorado that could, depending on outcomes, have a big impact on shale drilling in that state.

Click   here to read about Initiatives 78, 63 and 75.

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PIPES Act legislation sent to Obama for signature

By Bob Downing Published: June 16, 2016

On Monday, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 (PIPES Act) legislation that reauthorizes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) federal pipeline safety program through fiscal year 2019 and contains a number of amendments to the Pipeline Safety Act, says the Babst Calland law firm on its blog.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the PIPES Act last week, and the bill will now be sent to the president for his signature.

Click  here  to read more.

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Too many proposed pipelines in Utica, Marcellus, Braziel says

By Bob Downing Published: June 16, 2016

NGI reports: The need for more takeaway capacity out of the Marcellus and Utica shales has become a common refrain, but with a long list of projects on tap the Northeast could be headed for a pipeline overbuild, according to RBN Energy LLC President Rusty Braziel.

Speaking recently to attendees at the 21st Annual LDC Gas Forums Northeast conference in Bostony, Braziel said an evaluation of price and production scenarios through 2021 suggests the industry is planning too many pipelines to relieve the region’s current capacity constraints.

“Is it possible that we could build too much takeaway capacity out of the” Marcellus and Utica? “It’s certainly happened in about every other segment of the energy business over the last few years,” Braziel said.

Click   here  to read the full story.

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New map shows methane threat from drilling in Ohio

By Bob Downing Published: June 15, 2016

From a press release today from the Ohio Environmental Council:

New Online Map Shows Threat Existing Methane Pollution Poses To Ohio
 

June 15, 2016

COLUMBUS, OH - The Ohio Environmental Council, Earthworks, and Clean Air Task Force (CATF) launched OilAndGasThreatMap.com, a new tool that maps the locations of the 90,313 oil and gas facilities operating in Ohio and the populations, schools and hospitals within a half mile radius of those facilities. Peer-reviewed science shows that living near polluting oil and gas facilities is associated with negative health impacts, including fetal defects and respiratory ailments.

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Nexus Gas Transmission awards four construction contracts

By Bob Downing Published: June 15, 2016

Construction companies based in Mississippi, Georgia and Wisconsin have been awarded contracts by Texas-based Nexus Gas Transmission LLC to build a $2 billion natural gas pipeline across northern Ohio.

Missississippi-based M.G. Dyess Inc. was awarded a contract to build one Ohio section of pipeline, and Georgia-based Latex Construction Inc., was also awarded a section of the pipeline in Ohio, said spokesman Adam Parker in an email.

Wisconsin-based Michels Corp. was awardedtwo contracts for work in Ohio and Michigan, he said.

A dollar figure for the four contracts was not released by Parker.

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Attorney calls Munroe Falls' lawsuit frivolous, waste of money

By Bob Downing Published: June 15, 2016

A statement released today by Canton attorney Scott Zurakowski, who is representing Beck Energy Corp. in a lawsuit filed May 27 by the city of Munroe Falls:

 

Munroe Falls Court Case Over Oil & Gas Well Authority

Deemed Frivolous, a Waste of Taxpayers Money

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12.4 million Americans live within a half mile of oil, gas wells

By Bob Downing Published: June 15, 2016

Two eco-groups have released a new United States map that shows 12.4 million Americans living within a half-mile of gas and oil facilities.

Air quality in 238 counties is impacted by drilling and there are 1.2 million wells in the U.S., according to Earthworks and the Clean Air Task Force.

Here is an announcement from Earthworks that arrived today:

For the first time, you can see all the oil & gas wells nearby 

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DTE wants customers to cover Nexus Pipeline gas supply costs

By Bob Downing Published: June 15, 2016

Detroit-based DTE Energy is seeking a guarantee from state regulators that its gas and electric ratepayers would be responsible for the utility's gas supply costs from the Nexus Pipeline if it proves to be unprofitable, the Detroit Free Press reported.

And critics, including state Attorney General Bill Schuette's office, say the proposal is a big loser for DTE customers because it's not projected to be profitable for decades — and even those projections are questionedm the paper reported.

The Nexus Pipeline would cross northern Ohio and carry Utica Shale natural gas from eastern Ohio to Detroit and Ontario.

Click  here  to read the full story..

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Monroe County driller sentenced for illegal brine dumping

By Bob Downing Published: June 15, 2016

A Monroe County man has been sentenced to four days in jail, two years of probation, community service and a $70,000 fine for dumping drilling wastes into a ditch.

The sentence on Donald Hercher, 67, owner of Hercher Oil Co. came in U.S. District Court.

He was caught in 2011 dumping about 50 gallons of liquid drilling wastes per week into a ditch in Monroe County.

His company operates about 30 conventional, vertical-only wells.

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Congress orders pipeline safety boost in Great Lakes region

By Bob Downing Published: June 15, 2016

From the Associated Press on Tuesday:

Congress has ordered stronger safety measures for pipelines carrying oil and other fuels in the Great Lakes region.
The requirement is contained in a bill that cleared the Senate on Monday and the House last week. It now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The measure reauthorizes a federal program that regulates 2.6 million miles of pipelines nationwide.
Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan says it designates the Great Lakes as an “unusually sensitive area,” where pipelines must meet tougher standards for safe operations. It also requires regulators and pipeline operators to develop plans for dealing with oil spills affecting ice-covered waterways.
Lawmakers have raised concerns about an oil pipeline running beneath the Straits of Mackinac, the link between Lakes Huron and Michigan that often freezes over during winter.

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OPEC income drops from $753 billion to $404 billion, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: June 15, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (www.eia.gov) new OPEC Revenues Fact Sheet looks at the decline in OPEC’s oil export earnings, which reflects the drop in oil prices.

 

 

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Township vote blocks Pennsylvania gas-fired power plant

By Bob Downing Published: June 15, 2016

A township in Pennsylvania's Allegheny County has voted against a required varance for a natural gas-fired power plant.

The 550-megawatt plant, proposed by Illinois-based Invenergy, was rejected by Elizabeth Township near Pittsburgh.

The plant was proposed for a site where fly ash was previously dumped.

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

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EPA bans fracking wastes from Pennsylvania sewage plants

By Bob Downing Published: June 15, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has banned the disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste water at Pennsylvania's public sewage plants, formalizing a voluntary practice that removed most fracking waste from Pennsylvania plants starting in 2011, NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania reported.

It said the EPA on Monday finalized a rule that prevents operators from disposing of waste from unconventional oil & gas operations at publicly owned treatment works.

Click  here  to read more.

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Ohio has 12 drilling rigs at work and one new Utica permit

By Bob Downing Published: June 15, 2016

Ohio has permitted 2,183 Utica wells, as of June 11.

That total includes 1,751 drilled Utica wells and 1,328 producing Utica wells, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Ohio has 12 rigs at work, the state says.

One new permit in Carroll County was approved last week.

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Rex Energy selling Illinois Basin assets for $40 million

By Bob Downing Published: June 15, 2016

From a Rex Energy Corp. press release:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., June 14, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rex Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:REXX) ("Rex Energy") today announced that it entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Campbell Development Group, LLC ("Campbell") pursuant to which Campbell will acquire the company's conventional  Illinois Basin assets. Rex Energy is selling its entire interest in the basin and expects to receive proceeds at closing of approximately $40 million (prior to customary closing and post-closing adjustments) with the potential for additional proceeds of up to $10 million over the next three years based on commodity prices during that time frame. Included in the sale are approximately 76,000 net acres in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky; the assets are currently producing approximately 1,700 net barrels per day. Proceeds from the sale are expected to be used to pay down the revolving line of credit and for general corporate purposes. Rex Energy is undergoing its regularly scheduled borrowing base redetermination, and, pro forma for the Illinois Basin asset transaction, currently expects to maintain its borrowing base at $190 million. The company expects the transaction to close in the third quarter of 2016, subject to customary closing conditions and required approvals.

"First and foremost, I would like to thank all of our Illinois Basin employees for their hard work and dedication throughout the years," said Tom Stabley, Rex Energy's President and Chief Executive Officer. "The sale of the Illinois Basin assets is another important step for Rex Energy toward improving our liquidity position and providing greater capital efficiency as we continue with the development of our core Appalachian Basin assets, in particular our Moraine East Area."

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Kinder Morgan provides $15,000 to Wooster YMCA

By Bob Downing Published: June 15, 2016

The YMCA of Wooster on Wednesday got a $15,000 gift for its youth fitness program.
The grant for a new climbing room at the recently renovated gymnastics center came from Texas-based Kinder Morgan, a giant pipeline conglomerate.
The company is building a cross-Ohio pipeline for liquids from Ohio’s Utica Shale.
The $500 million pipeline that will pass through southern Stark and Wayne counties is known as the Utica to Ontario Piepline Access or UTOPIA. It would run about 215 miles from Harrison County to Fulton County near Toledo where it will connect to existing pipelines.
Construction is planned in 2017 and the pipeline would begin service is late 2017 or early 2018.

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Methane from drilling to be subject of two Ohio meetings

By Bob Downing Published: June 15, 2016

From Earthworks and the Sierra Club on two Ohio public meetings:

Earthworks and the Sierra Club invite you to join us for a discussion about the consequences methane pollution can have on our community's health.

Despite the high stakes, finding clear information can be difficult for such basic questions, like: “How is air pollution measured, monitored, and reported?” or “What pollutants come out of compressor stations and processing plants?”

You’ll hear answers for these questions and many more from our panel featuring Cheryl Johncox - Methane Organizer, Sierra Club; Melanie Houston - Director Oil and Gas Policy, Ohio Environmental Council; and me, Nadia Steinzor - Eastern Program Coordinator, Earthworks.

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Industry groups say drilling changes have aided wildlife

By Bob Downing Published: June 14, 2016

From a press release today:

Gaining Ground: Industry Innovation Protects Wildlife Habitat

The report, Gaining Ground: Industry Innovation Reduces Impacts on Sage-Grouse and Big Game, documents that a single horizontal well now takes the place of 8 to 16 vertical wells, and up to 32 directionally drilled wells can be clustered on one pad. Horizontal development can be accomplished with as few as one or two well pads per square mile, far below the density that affects big game migration and sage-grouse mating areas.

“Healthy wildlife populations are a major part of the culture and economy of the West. As responsible stewards of the land, oil and natural gas companies actively work to protect wildlife,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs at the Alliance. “Companies are now able to do more with less to minimize impacts on species and the landscapes they depend upon. Increased use of horizontal and directional drilling have significantly lowered surface disturbance. Wildlife is truly gaining ground.”

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Post-Gazette takes a closer look at ethane from shale drilling

By Bob Downing Published: June 14, 2016

Reporter Anya Litvak of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette takes a closer look at ethane from shale drilling.

It is the commodity that led Royal Dutch Shell make the recent investment decisison to build a $6 billion ethane cracker plant on the Ohio River in Beaver County, Pa.

The plant will turn ethane into polyethylene for plastics and other products.

The plant is expected to have sweeping imapcts on Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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WBI Energy plans 38-mile, $50 million natural gas pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: June 14, 2016

From the Associated Press:

A Bismarck-based energy company says it wants to build a roughly 38-mile pipeline to deliver natural gas supply to eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.

WBI Energy Inc. said Monday that the expansion would cost an estimated $50 million.

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National Fuel extends Marcellus JV pact with IOG Capital

By Bob Downing Published: June 14, 2016

From a Monday press release:

Under the terms of the revised joint development agreement, Seneca and IOG commit to jointly participate in a program that will develop a total of 75 Marcellus wells located in the Clermont/Rich Valley area in Pennsylvania. In December 2015, IOG initially committed to developing 42 wells with an option to participate in 38 additional wells if elected prior to July 1, 2016. The total number of wells and pad locations included in the revised joint development agreement were modified to reflect mutually beneficial changes in Seneca's drilling and completions schedule resulting from adjustments to gathering infrastructure plans and other operational factors. To date, 39 of the 75 joint development wells have been either completed and turned to sales or drilled and in the process of being completed, leaving an additional 36 wells to be developed under the revised joint development agreement. IOG was also granted an option to participate in a 7-well Marcellus pad that will be completed prior to December 31, 2017. Should IOG choose to participate in the 7-well Marcellus pad, the total commitment under the joint development agreement would reach 82 wells.

IOG continues to hold an 80 percent working interest in all of the joint development wells, with the remaining 20 percent working interest held by Seneca. As part of the amended agreement, Seneca and IOG agreed to make certain modifications to the royalty structure. Seneca's royalty in the additional 36 wells was reduced from 10 percent to 7.5 percent, resulting in a net revenue interest of 26 percent for Seneca and 74 percent for IOG. Consistent with the initial agreement, Seneca's working interest will increase to 85 percent after IOG achieves a 15 percent internal rate of return.

At Seneca's current Marcellus well costs, which have averaged an industry-leading $650,000 per 1,000 feet of completed lateral fiscal year-to-date, IOG's obligation on the remaining 36 wells is expected to further reduce Seneca's net capital expenditures by approximately $35 million in fiscal 2016 and another $120 million spread across fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2018. In total, IOG is expected to fund approximately $325 million for its 80 percent working interest in the 75 joint development wells, which is approximately $55 million less than what was projected under the initial joint development agreement. The decrease from the initial agreement is due to the reduction in the total well count and a $600,000 per well average improvement in Seneca's actual well costs versus initial projections.

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TransCanada, partners to build $2.1 billion Mexican pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: June 14, 2016

From TransCanada Corp. on Monday:

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO and CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - June 13, 2016) - News Release -- TransCanada Corporation (TSX:TRP) (NYSE:TRP) (TransCanada) today announced that its joint venture with IEnova, Infraestructura Marina del Golfo (IMG), has been chosen to build, own and operate the US$2.1 billion Sur de Texas-Tuxpan natural gas pipeline in Mexico. The project will be supported by a 25-year natural gas transportation service contract for 2.6 billion cubic feet a day with the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), Mexico's state-owned power company.

"We are extremely pleased to further our growth plans in Mexico with one of the most important natural gas infrastructure projects for that country's future," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer. "This new project brings our footprint of existing assets and projects in development in Mexico to more than US$5 billion, all underpinned by 25-year agreements with Mexico's state power company."

The bid for the Sur de Texas-Tuxpan project was presented in partnership with IEnova, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy. TransCanada will develop, operate and own 60 per cent of this project, with IEnova owning 40 per cent of it.

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Spectra subsidiary to build $1.5 billion Mexican pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: June 14, 2016

From Spectra Energy, one of the companies behind the planned Nexus Pipeline across northern Ohio:

HOUSTON, June 13, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Spectra Energy Corp (NYSE: SE) today announced that its subsidiary, Valley Crossing Pipeline, LLC, has been awarded a 168-mile intrastate natural gas pipeline project by the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) – Mexico's state-owned utility serving 37 million customers – to provide natural gas transportation services beginning in 2018 to meet Mexico's growing electric generation needs.

"Spectra Energy is pleased to have secured the bid to build and operate this critical infrastructure, which will provide clean-burning and reliable natural gas to support Mexico as its electric generators shift away from fuel oil and imported LNG," said Bill Yardley, president of U.S. Transmission and Storage for Spectra Energy. "Successfully securing this project adds to our already-strong asset portfolio, connects us to another key demand-pull market, and brings us closer to our goal of securing $35 billion in capital expansion projects by the end of this decade, with approximately $20 billion either in execution or in service since 2013."

Valley Crossing will construct and operate a header system of more than 5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) near the Agua Dulce Hub in Nueces County, Texas, as well as a 2.6 Bcf/d pipeline originating at that header and extending to Brownsville, Texas. There, the pipeline will connect with the Sur de Texas – Tuxpan pipeline, which will extend into Mexico.

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Pennsylvania sets June 21 hearing on gas-fired power plant

By Bob Downing Published: June 14, 2016

From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental protection on Monday:

CPV Fairview, LLC is proposing to construct a combined cycle natural gas fired power station with an approximate generating capacity of 1,040 megawatts. Emissions from the main power block (combustion turbines and heat recovery generators) will be minimized through the installation of selective catalytic reduction and oxidation catalyst emission controls.

CPV Fairview’s proposed plan approval application, and other relevant information can be found online here. The documents are also available for review by any interested party at the DEP’s Southwest Regional Office, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. To request a review, please contact Phil Bouse at 412-442-4000.

At the start of the question-and-answer session, representatives from CPV Fairview and DEP will make brief presentations. Members of the public will then have an opportunity to present testimony at the hearing on the consideration to issue the Plan Approval. Comments and testimony will be limited specifically to the application and conditions of Plan Approval. Those wishing to make comments should register with Community Relations Coordinator John Poister either by email or by phone (jpoister@pa.govor 412-442-4203) by noon on June 21, 2016. Commenters may also register at the door on the evening of the hearing.

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API hails Senate vote on pipeline safety legislation

By Bob Downing Published: June 14, 2016

From the American Petroleum Instutute on Monday:

Washington, June 13, 2016 – The American Petroleum Institute welcomed the Senate passage of new pipeline safety legislation that will enhance industry’s goal of zero incidents.

“The oil and gas industry remains committed to continuous improvement in pipeline safety,” said API Executive Vice President Louis Finkel. “The industry is devoted to zero incidents. We continue to lead in protecting the public and the environment. API has released several new standards, and operators continue to spend billions of dollars every year to evaluate, inspect, and maintain pipelines.”

Natural gas and liquids interstate pipelines deliver 99.999 percent of product without incident, but pipeline operators recognize more can be done to ensure that the U.S. continues to have the safest, most robust pipeline network in the world.

“Pipelines continue to be one of the safest modes for transporting energy across the country. As domestic production grows, they will be the critical link to connect our abundant oil and natural gas resources to refineries, chemical plants, business and consumers.” said Finkel.

API thanked the Senate for approving a bill that will enhance our energy infrastructure so Americans can continue to enjoy reliable, affordable fuels.

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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Utica natural gas production projected to dip in July

By Bob Downing Published: June 14, 2016

Natural gas production in the Utica and Marcellus shales are expected to drop from June to July, according to a new report released on Monday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The decline in the Utica shale, a drop of 4 million cubic feet per day, is the smallest of seven shale drilling areas.

Bigger drops are projected in the Marcellus, Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Niobrara and Permian shales.

Oil production in the Utica Shale from June to July is projected to remain the same and to drop in the other six shale areas, according to the EIA's Drilling Productivity Report.

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Pennsylvania legislators, activists counter eco-attacks

By Bob Downing Published: June 13, 2016

From a press release today:

Legislators and Advocates Counter Unprecedented Attacks on PA’s Environment

HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 13, 2016) – Environmental groups and legislators gathered at a Capitol press event today to speak out against legislation that represent the latest example of unprecedented attacks on Pennsylvania’s environment and public health.

“Many members of the General Assembly are adept at kicking the can down the road. Their efforts to derail reasonable environmental protections are a prime example of the shortsighted style of governance that will saddle future generations with irreversible climate implications,” said PennFuture president and CEO, Larry Schweiger, who was joined by representatives from Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Fund with Earthworks providing a statement. “Now is the time for innovation to further clean energy growth and efforts to reverse climate change.

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Marcellus, Utica shales provide big boost to manufacturers

By Bob Downing Published: June 13, 2016

From Energy in Depth's Nicole Jacobs:

The Appalachian Basin that encompasses Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia has a long history of being a manufacturing hub. This region in the Ohio Valley and throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania recently went from being part of the Rust Belt to seeing a resurgence in investment in manufacturing,  thanks to shale development. And that story just keeps getting better as more and more companies return thanks to the affordable energy available in the region.

The Wall Street Journal highlighted this trend earlier this week:

“The Ohio Valley from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Ill., has a long industrial heritage, with chemical companies, and oil and gas producers, that have been operating there for decades. A group of them in Marietta, Ohio, and Parkersburg, W.Va. – with a combined population of about 50,000 — aim to tout their low gas prices and industrial heft to energy-hungry businesses from Brazil to Thailand.”

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Stone Energy says it has completed reverse stock split

By Bob Downing Published: June 13, 2016

From a press release today:

LAFAYETTE, La., June 13, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Stone Energy Corporation (NYSE: SGY) today announced that at the close of business on June 10, 2016, it effected a 1-for-10 reverse stock split. Every 10 shares of Stone's issued and outstanding common stock were automatically converted into one share of common stock. Stone's common stock will begin trading on a split-adjusted basis when the market opens on June 13, 2016.

Pursuant to the reverse stock split, every 10 shares of Stone's issued and outstanding common stock (and such shares held in treasury) were automatically converted into one share of common stock. No fractional shares will be issued if, as a result of the reverse stock split, a stockholder would otherwise have been entitled to a fractional share. Instead, each stockholder is entitled to receive a cash payment equal to the fraction of which such holder would otherwise have been entitled multiplied by the closing price per share on June 10, 2016. Following the reverse stock split, the number of outstanding shares of Stone's common stock was reduced by a factor of ten.  The number of authorized shares of common stock has also been proportionately decreased. The overall and per person share limitations in Stone's 2009 Amended and Restated Stock Incentive Plan, as amended from time to time, and outstanding awards thereunder were also proportionately adjusted to reflect the reverse stock split.

Stone's shares of common stock will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange ("NYSE") under the symbol "SGY" but will trade under the new CUSIP number 861642304. The reverse stock split was intended to increase the market price per share of Stone's common stock in order to comply with the NYSE continued listing standards relating to minimum price per share. The reverse stock split will not cure Stone's non-compliance with the NYSE average global market capitalization.

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Halcon executes restructuring agreement with stakeholders

By Bob Downing Published: June 13, 2016

From a Friday press release:

HOUSTON, June 10, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Halcón Resources Corporation (NYSE:HK) ("Halcón" or the "Company") today announced the Company has executed a restructuring support agreement (the "RSA") with select holders of its 13.0% 3rd Lien Notes due 2022 ("3L Notes"), its three tranches of senior unsecured notes comprised of its 9.75% Senior Notes due 2020, its 8.875% Senior Notes due 2021, and its 9.25% Senior Notes due 2022 (together, the "Unsecured Notes"), its 8.0% Convertible Note due 2020 (the "Convertible Note") and its 5.75% Perpetual Convertible Preferred Stock (the "Preferred Equity", and together with the 3L Notes, Unsecured Notes and Convertible Note, the "Affected Stakeholders"). 

As previously announced, the restructuring plan, if implemented, will result in the elimination of approximately $1.8 billion of net debt and approximately $222 million of Preferred Equity, and will reduce the Company's ongoing annual interest burden by more than $200 million.  Under the terms of the RSA, all current stakeholders, including common equity holders, will receive cash and/or common equity in the restructured Company.  As of June 9, 2016, holders representing 80% of the aggregate principal amount of 3L Notes outstanding, 57% of the aggregate principal amount of Unsecured Notes outstanding, 100% of the aggregate principal amount of Convertible Note outstanding and holders of 63% of the outstanding shares of Preferred Equity have executed the RSA.  The table below summarizes the treatment of the Affected Stakeholders under the plan outlined in the RSA. 

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Judge rules West Virginia county's injection ban is illegal

By Bob Downing Published: June 13, 2016

A federal judge on Friday ruled that key parts of a Fayette County ordinance that banned the disposal of natural gas drilling waste in the county are invalid because they are pre-empted by West Virginia environmental protection laws, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported last week.

Click  here  to read more.

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Maryland to hold public meetings on proposed fracking rules

By Bob Downing Published: June 13, 2016

From the Associated Press last week:

The Maryland Department of the Environment says it will hold three public meetings this month to discuss proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the state.

The agency said in a statement Thursday evening that the first meeting will be held June 22 in Cumberland. Subsequent meetings are scheduled June 27 in Baltimore and June 29 in McHenry.

The agency is required by law to adopt regulations by Oct. 1, but no drilling would be permitted before Oct. 1, 2017.

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Natural gas flaring in North Dakota has dropped since 2014

By Bob Downing Published: June 13, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Admini9stration today:

The volume of North Dakota's natural gas production that is flared has fallen sharply in both absolute and percentage terms since 2014. In March 2016, 10% of North Dakota's total natural gas production was flared, less than one-third of the January 2014 flaring rate, which was at 36%. Flaring rates and volumes have significantly decreased as North Dakota's total natural gas production has continued to grow, setting a monthly total natural gas production record of 1.71 billion cubic feet per day in March 2016. The North Dakota Industrial Commission established targets in September 2015 to reduce natural gas flaring.

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Tags: natural gas , North Dakota , states

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API hails House vote against new federal gasoline fee

By Bob Downing Published: June 13, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Friday:

Washington, June 10, 2016 – API Director of Tax and Accounting Policy Stephen Comstock said lawmakers and the American people are sending a clear message to the White House – we don’t want to pay more at the pump.

“The administration’s proposed per barrel fee of $10.25 amounts to a gasoline tax that is anti-U.S. consumer and could hit everyone in the wallet,” said Comstock. “They think Americans are not paying enough for gasoline, so they have proposed this new tax that could raise the cost of gasoline by as much as 25 cents a gallon according Congressional Research Service. This could harm consumers that are enjoying low energy prices, destroy American jobs and reverse America’s emergence as a global energy leader.”

API thanked Rep. Boustany (R-La.) for introducing the resolution and the bi-partisan work of the House for putting consumers first in getting this resolution passed.

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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Congressional Research Service looks at air issues, natural gas

By Bob Downing Published: June 10, 2016

The Congressional Research Service has released a new report looking at air quality  and natural gas production.

The 21-page report was penned by Richard Lattanzio.

It is entitled: "An Overview of Air Quality Issues in Natural Gas Systems."

Click  here  to read the full report.

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Petitioners pushing solar to replace Aliso Canyon natural gas

By Bob Downing Published: June 10, 2016

From a Friday press release:

 

Los Angeles -- Today, Climate Parents delivered a petition signed by thousands of parents and clean energy supporters to legislators, the California Public Utilities Commission and other decision-makers in support of a solar solutions plan for Los Angeles area customers served by the dangerous Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility. Climate Parents is a national organization of parents and grandparents, based in California, advocating for strong clean energy solutions to climate change.

 

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Quarterly coal production at lowest level since earlu 1980s

By Bob Downing Published: June 10, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Coal production in the first three months of 2016 was 173 million short tons (MMst), the lowest quarterly level in the United States since a major coal strike in the second quarter of 1981. Among the supply regions, coal production from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming declined the most in tonnage and percentage since the previous quarter.

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Tags: coal , production , rail , stocks

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Southwestern Energy to use Antero cash to pay down debt

By Bob Downing Published: June 10, 2016

From Southwestern Energy today:

SOUTHWESTERN ENERGY ANNOUNCES SALE OF
A PORTION OF SOUTHWEST APPALACHIA ACREAGE

Houston, Texas – June 9, 2016...Southwestern Energy Company (NYSE: SWN) announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Antero Resources Corporation to sell approximately 55,000 net acres in West Virginia for $450 million. The cash proceeds from the transaction are expected to be used to reduce the principal balance of the company’s $750 million term loan due in November 2018.
The properties are located in Doddridge, Harrison, Marion, Monongalia, Pleasants, Ritchie, Tyler and Wetzel Counties and are currently producing from the Marcellus Shale. Net production from this acreage is approximately 14 MMcfe per day, primarily from non-operated wells, and proved reserves on this acreage were 11 Bcfe as of December 31, 2015. The Company has no current plans to drill on these properties before 2023.
“This transaction is one step on delivering on the commitment we made to strengthen our balance sheet in 2016,” remarked Bill Way, President and Chief Executive Officer of Southwestern Energy. “We are bringing forward the value of acreage that is much longer dated in our development plans, enabling us to take action and proactively reduce outstanding debt. Together with the progress we are making on margin enhancement, this sale further strengthens both the Company’s financial flexibility and our bridge to value-added growth for shareholders.”
The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2016, subject to customary closing conditions and purchase price adjustments.
Southwestern Energy Company is an independent energy company whose wholly owned subsidiaries are engaged in natural gas and oil exploration, development and production, natural gas gathering and marketing. Additional information on the company can be found on the Internet at http://www.swn.com.
 

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U.S. energy security risk improving due to shale drilling

By Bob Downing Published: June 10, 2016

From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce earlier this week:

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy’s Annual International Index of Energy Security Risk quantifies what has been apparent for the last several years—U.S. energy security is improving as a result of America’s shale energy revolution.

In this year’s Index, the United States jumped two spots to fourth among the top 25 largest energy users. Norway retains the top spot in this year’s Index, a position it has held since 2006. Among the top 25 largest energy users, the Ukraine is once again the least energy secure nation.  Almost every nation saw a decrease in energy security risk in the Index, which is largely driven by less oil price volatility. The Index utilizes data from 2014—the most recent year available for comparative purposes.

“In this era of an increasingly extreme ‘keep it in the ground’ movement, it is important to recognize that the shale revolution has made America almost 25 percent more secure than it was in 1980, reducing our risks across a variety of metrics,” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. It’s vitally important that we don’t squander our energy advantage through bad policy choices.”

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Massachusetts Senate approves 10-year fracking moratorium

By Bob Downing Published: June 10, 2016

From Environment American today:

Boston, MA– The Massachusetts Senate approved a bill yesterday to place a ten-year moratorium on fracking and the disposal of fracking wastewater in the Commonwealth.

“Across the country, fracking is polluting drinking water and making families sick,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “We applaud Senate leaders for taking steps to ensure this dirty drilling and its toxic waste never come to Massachusetts.”

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a method of drilling that involves injecting millions of gallons of water, often laced with toxic chemicals, deep underground to fracture rock formations and release oil and gas.

In a single year, fracking across the country produced at least 14 billion gallons of wastewater containing toxic and often radioactive elements -- wastewater for which there is no known failsafe disposal or treatment method.

Although fracking is not currently happening in Massachusetts, the Hartford Shale, a rock formation under the Connecticut River Valley, may contain deposits of gas suitable for drilling.

“The harm caused by fracking has no place in Massachusetts,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco. “Fracking releases harmful chemicals into our air while contaminating fresh groundwater, causing seismic events, flaring methane and severely harming public health." 

A growing number of documented cases show individuals suffering acute and chronic health effects while living near fracking operations — including nausea, rashes, dizziness, headaches and nose bleeds. Additionally, methane leaks from fracking wells and associated infrastructure are a significant source of global warming pollution.

“When an industry group held a seminar a few years back about fracking in the Hartford Basin, I immediately filed a bill to prevent this activity,” said Representative Denise Provost. “The Connecticut River Valley is heavily dependent on well water, and its surface waters provide much of the drinking water for Greater Boston. A fracking ban is essential to protect our irreplaceable water resources.”

More than 1,000 health professionals have called on state and federal officials to protect the public from the harms posed by fracking.

“Massachusetts has long been a leader when it comes to promoting clean energy and stopping global warming. A ban on fracking is a great way to continue our record of leadership,” said Hellerstein. “Now, it’s up to the House and Governor Baker to finish the job.”

If the senate-passed bill becomes law, Massachusetts would become the latest along the East Coast to restrict the dirty drilling practice. Vermont and New York have banned fracking, and Maryland has enacted a moratorium of its own. 

"Fracking has been a rolling environmental disaster across the country, poisoning waterways and marring landscapes," said Rachel Richardson, Stop Drilling Program director for Environment America, the national federation of Environment Massachusetts. "We're glad to see Massachusetts take steps to avoid fracking's destruction, and we hope more states will follow suit." 

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Antero Resources pays $450 million for 55,000 acres in W. Va.

By Bob Downing Published: June 10, 2016

Colorado-based Antero Resources Corp. today announced that it is acquiring 55,000 net acres in northern West Virginia's Marcellus Shale for $450 million.

The company, one of the biggest players in Ohio's Utica Shale, did not identify the seller, but others said it was Southwestern Energy.

The land is in Wetzel, Tyler and Doddridge counties.

About three fourths of the acreage is expected to produce dry natural gas.

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Industry knocks Massachusetts' proposed fracking ban

By Bob Downing Published: June 10, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Thursday:

Boston, June 9, 2016 – Massachusetts Petroleum Council Executive Director Steve Dodge said the state Senate’s hydraulic fracturing ban is bad energy policy.

“Lawmakers ignored the concerns of a majority of the state’s residents and businesses saddled with the highest-in-the-nation utility bills,” said Dodge.

The bill would ban hydraulic fracturing activities that have already been banned in a state with no natural gas reserves. 

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FTC imposes conditions on Williams-ETE merger

By Bob Downing Published: June 10, 2016

From the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday:

Energy companies Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. (“ETE”), and The Williams Companies, Inc., will divest Williams’ interest in an interstate natural gas pipeline to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that ETE’s proposed acquisition of Williams would likely harm competition in Florida.

According to the FTC’s complaint, the proposed merger, initially valued at $37.7 billion, would have reduced competition in the market for “firm” – i.e., guaranteed – pipeline capacity  to deliver natural gas to points within the Florida peninsula.

In Florida, natural gas is extensively used for electric power generation, making competitive access to constant and reliable sources of supply critical. Florida’s electric power utilities are the state’s largest purchasers of natural gas. The state, however, has virtually no local sources of natural gas production and no natural gas storage, making utilities and other customers dependent on pipeline-transported supply. As the FTC’s complaint alleges, the combination of ETE and Williams, as proposed, likely would have increased the price of transporting natural gas to utilities and other customers.

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259,000 students in two states at risk from crude oil trains

By Bob Downing Published: June 10, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

[Bellingham, WA] Stand released estimates today of the number of Washington and Oregon schools and students in the oil train blast zone, the one-mile evacuation area in the event of an oil train derailment and fire. The estimates are part of a new report Washington and Oregon Schools and Students in the Oil Train Blast Zone that details the potential threat from an oil train derailment and explosion and the long-term health threat from living close to oil train traffic.

In June 2014 Stand (formerly ForestEthics) released the blast zone map tool, which uses rail industry data and Google maps to allow users to see where any address in the US or Canada is in relation to oil train routes. The estimates released today are based on the blast zone map and K-12 public and private school location and population data from the US Department of Education:

 

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Alaska Gasline Development Corp. hires new president

By Bob Downing Published: June 10, 2016

From a press release:

Alaska Gasline Development Corp Secures LNG Expertise  

Alaska poised for growth with appointment of President Keith Meyer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, June 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) announced today the appointment of Keith M. Meyer as its new President. The appointment was made at a meeting of the corporation's board of directors held in Anchorage.

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Newsy items from Utica Midstream conference in Canton

By Bob Downing Published: June 10, 2016

Leftover items from Wednesday’s Utica Midstream conference in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The event drew about 160 participants looking at processing plants and pipelines.

1. Construction is under way on Marathon Pipe Line LLC’s Cornerstone Pipeline, a 50-mile line from Cadiz to Canton. Work on the $250 million pipeline began in May in Harrison County and should begin in Stark County in July. The pipeline should be completed in late 2016. It will transport natural gasoline and condensate to Marathon’s Canton refinery. It will transport 180,000 barrels per day. The company is moving ahead with an 8-mile expansion of the pipeline that will run from Cadiz to Hopedale. It will be completed by the end of year. That is sooner than what had been announced earlier.

2. The Utica and Marcellus shales in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are producing an estimated 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day and that total is projected to grow to 41 billion cubic feet per day by 2025.

3. Marathon’s Canton refinery has processed 15 million barrels of condensate, a clear petroleum product from Ohio’s Utica Shale, in the last few years. Another 5 million barrels of condensate were barged from Wellsville on the Ohio River to the refinery at Catlettsburg, Ky. Marathon has processed 20 million barrels of condensate total.

4. Marathon is also continuing to work to be able to make shipments of Utica shale products to refineries in western Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.

5. Six ethane crackers are under construction of the Gulf Coast. Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia may be getting their first with Shell’s announcement to build a $6 billion plant on the Ohio River in Pennsylvania’s Beaver County. Another cracker has been proposed in Ohio’s Belmont County. Cracker plants turn ethane from shale drilling into polyethylene for plastics.

6. Blue Racer Midstream with processing plants in southeast Ohio and northern West Virginia is working with the U.S. Coast Guard on possible barge shipments on the Ohio River.

7. American Electric Power, the giant Columbus-based utility, uses natural gas to produce 23 percent of its electricity. That is projected to grow to 33 percent in 10 years.

8. Energy Transfer is planning to open a new Canton office as it proceeds with plans to build its Rover Pipeline across northern Ohio. The office will open in early 2017. The project calls for two side-by-side pipelines. It would pass through southern Stark and Wayne counties locally. The $4.2 billion project is awaiting approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. A final federal decision is expected by late October. The first phase of the pipeline to Defiance in western Ohio could be operating by June 2017.

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Few Ohio landowners have signed Nexus Pipeline easements

By Bob Downing Published: June 9, 2016

Only 240 easements have been filed across northern Ohio for routing the $2 billion Nexus Pipeline, and there remains staunch opposition to the pipeline in Medina County, according to a grass-roots group.
The Coalition to Reroute Nexus reviewed easement filings with local county recorders.
The easements are deals between the pipeline company and individual landowners, giving the company access for building the 250-mile natural gas pipeline. The landowners are paid negotiated fees for use of their land.
Pipeline opponents are proud that the number of signed easements is low, said CORN spokesman Paul Gierosky of York Township in Medina County.
Pipeline supporters appear to have signed easements and opponents are holding out, he said. “Most of us won’t sign until we’re forced to,” he said.
CORN is urging landowners not to sign such agreements.
To date, 23.9 percent of Summit County landowners have approved easements, said CORN. That is 40 out of 167 parcels that the company needs, the group said.
Also approving deals are 15.8 percent of Medina County landowners (37 of 233), 25.8 percent of Stark landowners (33 of 128) and 30.9 percent of Wayne County landowners (13 of 42).
In Erie County, only 12.4 percent of landowners have signed such agreements. That is the lowest percentage of the county’s for which reports have been filed.
It is not clear the exact number of Ohio parcels that the pipeline company, Nexus Gas Transmission LLC, needs.
The project to transport natural gas from Ohio’s Utica Shale to Detroit and Ontario and beyond must be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. A final federal environmental report is scheduled to be released next fall  and a final decision next February.
The companies are on track to begin pipeline service in November 2017, said project director Erika Young of Texas-based Spectra Energy, one of the companies behind the pipeline. Also involved is DTE Energy, a Michigan-based utility.
The pipeline would be 36 inches in diameter and would transport up to 1.5 billion cubic feet per day. That’s enough to heat 6 million homes. It would run from eastern Ohio to Defiance in northwest Ohio and then north to Michigan and Ontario. It would connect to other pipelines that could move the natural gas.
Young said a contractor to build the pipeline has been selected but no public announcement has been made, she told an audience on Wednesday at a shale conference at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
The company to build needed compressor stations along the pipeline have not yet been chosen, she said.
The city of Green and residents along the route have fought the project and numerous lawsuits have been filed. The pipeline companies have won most of the suits. Several are pending or on appeal.

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Group cites Muskingum watershed impacts from drilling

By Bob Downing Published: June 9, 2016

From a press release today:

Conservancy District Warned of Watershed Impacts

 

(Grand Rapids, OH)  On June 4, 2016, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) held its annual Conservancy Court hearings in New Philadelphia, Ohio with Judge O’Farrell presiding. As has been done for previous hearings, the FreshWater Accountability Project (FWAP) gave the court testimony regarding the negative impacts to the region’s water due to the MWCD’s engagement in and support of horizontal hydrofracking (fracking) in the region. This industry, also called “unconventional shale drilling” is not at all like the conventional methods used to extract oil and gas in the past. Due to the depth of the drilling and the massive amount of water that is needed to “frack” a well, the industry has created environmental problems in the region, including the massive amount of toxic, radioactive waste that is created, spills and deliberate dumping of this waste, earthquakes due to the disposal of the waste in injection wells, a dangerous increase in heavy truck traffic, and the loss of millions of gallons of freshwater to the region due to the one-time consumptive use by fracking. Science has now concluded that thee air and water contamination from the industry has caused human health effects as a result of the hazardous and radioactive pollutants released by the industry.

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New website looks at impacts of Marcellus gas development

By Bob Downing Published: June 9, 2016

From Penn State University on Tuesday:

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new website is giving people in rural Pennsylvania — and beyond — high-tech tools to learn about Marcellus Shale gas development in their backyards.

The website, Marcellus by Design, introduces some of the complex issues surrounding the industry’s development, and through interactive games and other resources, shows that communities can play a role in the process.

Penn State researchers will take the new technology to rural communities across the state this summer as part of "Marcellus Matters: Engaging Adults in Science and Energy," a larger project that seeks to boost scientific literacy among adults.

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USGS: Colorado's Mancos Shale may hold 66 trillion cbic feet

By Bob Downing Published: June 9, 2016

From the U.S. Geological Survey on Wednesday:

This is the second-largest assessment of potential shale & tight gas resources that the USGS has ever conducted.

The Mancos Shale in the Piceance Basin of Colorado contains an estimated mean of 66 trillion cubic feet of shale natural gas, 74 million barrels of shale oil and 45 million barrels of natural gas liquids, according to an updated assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey. This estimate is for undiscovered, technically recoverable resources.

The previous USGS assessment of the Mancos Shale in the Piceance Basin was completed in 2003 as part of a comprehensive assessment of the greater Uinta-Piceance Province, and estimated 1.6 trillion cubic feet of shale natural gas.

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BP announces natural gas find in Egypt's East Nile Delta

By Bob Downing Published: June 9, 2016

From a press release today:

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API welcomes House passage of pipeline safety legislation

By Bob Downing Published: June 9, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute:

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2016 – The American Petroleum Institute welcomed the House passage of new pipeline safety legislation that will enhance industry’s goal of zero incidents.

“The oil and natural gas industry is committed to safety and zero incidents,” said API Executive Vice President Louis Finkel. “We continue to take the lead in protecting the public and the environment. API has released several new standards, and operators continue to spend billions of dollars every year to evaluate, inspect, and maintain pipelines.”

The U.S. has approximately 320,000 miles of natural gas interstate pipelines and 190,000 miles of liquid interstate pipelines, which combined can circle the Earth more than 20 times. Natural gas and liquids interstate pipelines deliver 99.999 percent of product without incident, but pipeline operators recognize more can be done to ensure that the U.S. continues to have the safest, most robust pipeline network in the world.

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EIA releases its June 2016 Short-Term Energy Outlook

By Bob Downing Published: June 9, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration about its June 2016 Short-Term Energy Outlook:

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released on Tuesday its June 2016 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).

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

EIA’s revised STEO  forecast on summer gasoline prices and demand/supply is at: https://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/tables/pdf/sf-table.pdf

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Latta backs improved federal pipeline safety legislation

By Bob Downing Published: June 9, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

Latta Backs Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Pipeline Safety  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) joined his colleagues in supporting legislation to improve pipeline safety and security in a bipartisan vote this evening. The bill reauthorizes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and includes needed reforms to increase transparency, accountability, and safety. Congressman Latta authored multiple provisions included in the legislation.

“More than two-thirds of the energy consumed in the United States is transported through our countrys system of pipelines," said Latta. “This underscores how important it is to have a pipeline system in place that is safe, secure, and efficient in order to meet our nation’s energy needs. This bill is the result of bipartisan discussions to enact meaningful pipeline safety reform, and I’m pleased to have played a role in this effort through the provisions I authored."

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Ohio Valley business groups brand as Shale Crescent USA

By Bob Downing Published: June 9, 2016

From a press release from Shale Crescent USA:

Shale Crescent USA Initiative Announced: Lowest
Natural Gas Prices in the Industrialized World Offer
a World of Opportunity for the Mid-Ohio Valley

Marietta, Ohio (June 9, 2016) - Local business leaders gathered in Marietta, Ohio today at the
Peoples Bank Theatre to introduce Shale Crescent USA to the public. Shale Crescent USA is
an economic development initiative to encourage business growth in the Mid-Ohio Valley based
upon low natural gas prices that allow manufacturers to operate more efficiently while producing
products more economically with access to water and half the population of the United States.
Natural gas prices in the United States have declined dramatically over the past couple of years
compared to prices in Europe and Asia. Natural gas prices have declined even further in the
states of Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania as a result of the Marcellus and Utica Shale
plays. The Mid-Ohio Valley now offers the lowest natural gas prices in the industrialized world.
Mark Schwendeman, president of the Schwendeman Agency and one of the original visionaries
behind Shale Crescent USA, noted that “the vision from the beginning was to enhance the
quality of life for the people of the Mid-Ohio Valley through the creation of new jobs based upon
the area’s unique availability of natural resources for a variety of manufacturing industries.”
“This initiative has been two years in the making,” added Schwendeman, “and many people
have dedicated a great deal of time to this effort.”
Wally Kandel, senior vice president and Marietta site manager for SOLVAY, believes Shale
Crescent USA “is offering a very unique opportunity for petrochemical or other high energy
intensive businesses to locate in the Mid-Ohio Valley because of the availability of natural gas
and that it is less expensive than anywhere else in the industrialized world.”
Kandel added, “When you couple that with all the other advantages of the Shale Crescent USA
such as access to markets, the plentiful water available through the Ohio River, and a hardworking
and committed workforce, we offer a world-class competitive advantage for
companies.”
During the past few years, shale development has set record natural gas production volumes in
the United States, driven by the expansion of gas supplies from horizontal drilling in Ohio, West
Virginia, and Pennsylvania. This expansion of the Utica and Marcellus Shale plays has
accounted for nearly all of the recent growth in America’s natural gas production.
“By the year 2020, we are looking at accounting for 35% of total U.S. Natural Gas Production.
This is a world-class asset for any energy intensive industry,” Dr. Benjamin Thomas, Marietta
College associate professor of petroleum engineering and geology said.
As the Utica Shale reserves become more defined, additional significant reserves will be
attributed to these states. These reserves will define the largest gas fields in the U.S. within the
states of Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. This is a recent and dramatic shift in the
location of natural gas reserves in the U.S. relative to industry and population. Nothing like this
has occurred since the rise of the industrial age in the late 1800s when the initial development
of oil and gas began in this very area.
According to Jerry James, president and CEO of Ohio based Artex Oil Company, “The United
States is experiencing unprecedented growth in natural gas production in the Utica and
Marcellus shale plays. Many people are not aware that practically all the growth in natural gas
production is occurring in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.”
James added “This is an unprecedented opportunity for manufacturers because we have the
lowest prices of natural gas in the industrialized world.”
James P. Tressel, president of Youngstown State University served as the keynote speaker at
the launch event.
“This region is distinctively poised for greatness,” said Tressel. “There is a unique alignment in
the Mid-Ohio Valley based upon the abundance and low cost of natural gas in the region,
access to water for processing and transportation, as well as an educated and eager work force.
The local business community, regional economic development partners, non-profit and nongovernmental
agencies as well as financial and educational institutions are leading this charge.
They are on mission to make Shale Crescent USA known regionally, nationally, and
internationally as a great place to conduct business.”
John Wharff, president and CEO of JAWCO, believes the region is unsurpassed in its support of
business, its abundant natural resources, and its eager and skilled workforce.
Wharff said, “The exciting part of this initiative is that the Mid-Ohio Valley finds itself at an
intersection between the past and the future. This is a unique opportunity to capitalize on our
good fortune and to open the door to attract downstream energy companies that will provide
good paying jobs and a better quality of life for everyone who calls this area home.”
Shale Crescent USA is a multi-state initiative offering prospective downstream companies an
unparalleled infrastructure including highway access to more than half of the U.S. population,
navigable rivers, rail access, a trained and educated workforce, low natural gas prices, a
commercial airport and a low cost of living and high quality of living, so it is both affordable and
priceless. Shale Crescent USA offers this unusual balance of fast/slow, big/small, and
central/secluded. The branding of the area as the Shale Crescent USA is a strategic aspect of
the initiative developed to separate the region from other areas of the country.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report that in
2013, Ohio had $98.7 billion in manufacturing output making Ohio fourth in the nation with more
than 964,000 workers—the third largest manufacturing workforce in America. In fact, Ohio
gained more than $16 billion in the manufacturing sector from 2010 to 2014. Neighboring state,
West Virginia has an overall employee turnover rate that is 15% below the national average and
second lowest in the country.
To learn more about Shale Crescent USA, visit www.ShaleCrescentUSA.com.
###

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Unplanned oil supply disruptions at highest level since 2011

By Bob Downing Published: June 9, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Unplanned global oil supply disruptions averaged more than 3.6 million barrels per day (b/d) in May 2016, the highest monthly level recorded since EIA started tracking global disruptions in January 2011. From April to May, disruptions grew by 0.8 million b/d as increased outages, largely in Canada, Nigeria, Iraq, and Libya, more than offset reduced outages in Kuwait, Brazil, and Ghana. Along with other factors such as rising oil demand and falling U.S. crude oil production, the rise in disruptions contributed to a month-over-month $5 per barrel increase in Brent crude oil spot prices in May.

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Tags: crude oil , disruption , international , liquid fuels , production , weather

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Fort McMurray fires reducing Canada's oil sands production

By Bob Downing Published: June 8, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

While evacuees from the ongoing fires in Fort McMurray have begun to return to the city, a state of emergency remains in place throughout Alberta, Canada, and the temporary shutdown of the area's oil sands production sites continues. EIA estimates that disruptions to oil production averaged about 0.8 million barrels per day (b/d) in May, with a daily peak of more than 1.1 million b/d. Although projects are slowly restarting as fires subside, it may take weeks for production to return to previous levels. EIA expects disruptions to average 400,000 b/d in June.

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Tags: Canada , disruption , international , liquid fuels , natural gas , oil sands , oil/petroleum , production

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Seventy Seven Energy seeks pre-packaged Chapter 11

By Bob Downing Published: June 8, 2016

From a press release:

OKLAHOMA CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Seventy Seven Energy Inc. (the “Company”) today announced that it has filed a pre-packaged plan of reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. As previously announced, the Company’s pre-packaged plan provides for a substantial deleveraging transaction pursuant to which approximately $1.1 billion of the Company’s outstanding debt will be converted to equity. The Chapter 11 reorganization is expected to conclude within 60 days.

The filing follows the completion of the solicitation process, which began on May 9 of (i) lenders representing the Company’s Incremental Term Supplement (Tranche A) loan, (ii) lenders representing the Company’s $400 Million Term Loan Credit Agreement dated June 25, 2014, (iii) noteholders of the Company’s 6.625% senior unsecured notes due 2019 and (iv) noteholders of the 6.50% senior unsecured notes due 2022. The solicitation process resulted in overwhelming approval of the pre-packaged plan presented by the Company.

"The successful completion of the solicitation process and today’s filing represent the next step forward in our financial restructuring,” Chief Executive Officer Jerry Winchester said. “The support of all of our stakeholders will allow our Company to expedite the reorganization process and maximize our operational strengths and assets to grow our business as the market recovers.”

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McClendon's death ruled an accident by medical examiner

By Bob Downing Published: June 8, 2016

From the Associated Press today:

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The fiery car crash in which energy industry magnate Aubrey McClendon died was an accident, the Oklahoma medical examiner's office ruled Wednesday, also noting that he had traces of a drug in his system commonly used in sleep aids.

The eight-page autopsy report shows the 56-year-old suffered numerous broken bones and other serious injuries in the March 2 crash and that his body was badly burned after he died. The report, which comes a day after police said there wasn't enough evidence to prove whether the crash was intentional, lists multiple blunt force trauma as the cause of death.

Besides traces of the antihistamine doxylamine, there were no other drugs or alcohol in his system, the report said.

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API hails environmental benefits of hydraulic fracturing

By Bob Downing Published: June 8, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute today:

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2016 – API Upstream and Industry Operations Director Erik Milito touted the environmental benefits of hydraulic fracturing in a conference call with reporters today. 

“Hydraulic fracturing has allowed us to drill our way to reduced GHG emissions, reduced criteria pollutants, reduced reliance on imported energy, and lower gasoline prices,” said Milito. “This American story is as real as the science is sound.”

In 1999, the Department of Energy identified hydraulic fracturing as an advanced technology that provides environmental benefits in their report entitled Environmental Benefits of Advanced Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Technology.

One year ago this month, a five-year, multi-million dollar report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed that hydraulic fracturing is safe, thanks to the effectiveness of state and federal regulations, and current industry practices.

During the initial peer review process, several members of EPA’s Science Advisory Board Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel agreed that hydraulic fracturing leads to no widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States. The members agreed that the conclusion is accurate, unambiguous, and supportable with the science and facts EPA has reviewed.    

“The EPA’s scientific data backing the safety of hydraulic fracturing is sound, and the analysis is peer reviewed and complete. There is no basis to seriously question the Draft Assessment Report’s main conclusion, and EPA has not identified any major additional research required to confirm it.

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EnLink Midstream expands Midland Basin gas-gathering system

By Bob Downing Published: June 8, 2016

From a press release:

EnLink Midstream to Expand in the Core of Permian’s Midland Basin with New Crude Oil Gathering System

-- Greater Chickadee crude oil gathering project represents the next step in the development of an integrated crude platform in the Permian Basin by leveraging EnLink’s existing footprint to expand and grow crude oil service offerings.

-- The project will be anchored by long-term, fee-based contracts with top Permian Basin producers.

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90,000 petitioners ask Democrats for fracking ban in platform

By Bob Downing Published: June 8, 2016

From a press release:

Activists Deliver 90,000+ Petitions Calling on DNC to Add Fracking Ban to Party Platform

 

Washington, D.C. - A coalition of climate and environmental justice groups delivered over 90,000 petitions to the Democratic National Committee demanding that a ban on fracking be included in the party platform. The DNC platform committee is holding a public forum to receive input on this year’s platform today in Washington D.C. Petitions were collected and delivered by Food & Water Watch, Climate Hawks Vote, Environmental Action, Honor the Earth, MoveOn.org, and 350.org.

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LongPoint Minerals LLC closes $525 million capital raise

By Bob Downing Published: June 8, 2016

From a press release today:

LongPoint Minerals Announces Closing of $525 Million Capital Raise

DENVER, June 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- LongPoint Minerals, LLC announced today the closing of its initial capital raise totaling $525 million with a lead equity commitment of $450 million from an affiliate of CPPIB Credit Investments Inc. (CPPIB Credit), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), alongside $75 million from third party investors. There will also be a second closing within 60 days for up to an additional $200 million of commitments.

"‎This is an important partnership for LongPoint. With CPPIB's strong financial backing along with other institutional investors, we can deploy our differentiated technical model for strategic mineral and royalty acquisitions in the targeted basin areas," said George Solich, President and CEO. "Over time, we will look to expand our capabilities to other regions in the U.S."

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Pension-fund beneficiaries oppose fossil-fuel divestment

By Bob Downing Published: June 8, 2016

From a press release today:

New Survey: Vast Majority of Pension-Fund Beneficiaries Oppose Fossil Fuel Divestment

 

First-of-its-kind survey asks and answers critical but previously unexplored question: What do actual pensioners think of divestment?

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Ohio sues Youngtown business owner for dumping oil wastes

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

From the Associated Press today:

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO: Ohio’s attorney general is suing the owner of a northeast Ohio company who was sent to prison over the dumping of oil-field waste into a storm sewer in 2012 and 2013.

The lawsuit is seeking to recover financial penalties from Ben Lupo of Poland, Ohio, along with two of his companies and three of his employees.

The Vindicator in Youngstown reports the civil lawsuit was filed last week in a Mahoning County court.

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Eco-group hails decision to block drilling at Chaco Canyon

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

From a press release today from Envrionment America:

WASHINGTON, DC -- Yesterday the Obama administration announced it was cancelling lease sales of over 2,000 acres near New Mexico's historic Chaco Canyon. Rachel Richardson, program director of Environment America's Stop Drilling Program issued the following statement:

"This announcement is an important victory for Chaco Canyon and all those who visit it for hiking, stargazing, and exploring pueblos more than a thousand years old. Fracking outside the canyon would turn this amazing place into an industrial zone.

"We applaud Secretary Jewell's decision to cancel the upcoming lease sale pending adequate environmental review and consultation with tribal leaders -- steps we believe will show just how much Chaco Canyon stands to lose if risked to fracking. Furthermore, we urge the Obama administration to halt all new fracking on public lands, both to protect other treasured landscapes like Chaco and to help stem the climate crisis."

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Shale to fuel most natural gas production growth, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

The growth in total U.S. dry natural gas production projected in the Annual Energy Outlook 2016 (AEO2016) Reference case results mostly from increased development of shale gas and tight oil plays. Natural gas resources in tight sandstone and carbonate formations (often referred to as tight gas) also contribute to the growth to a lesser extent, while production from other sources of natural gas such as offshore, Alaska, and coalbed methane remains relatively steady or declines.

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Tags: exports , forecast , LNG (liquefied natural gas) , natural gas , production , shale

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Range Resources applauds Shell's cracker plant decision

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

From drilling company Range Resources on Shell's cracker plant announcement:

Range applauds Shell’s decision to move forward with their western Pennsylvania petrochemical facility. This is great news for workers and consumers and another example of the positive benefits of shale in Pennsylvania. With continued responsible development of the area’s abundant natural gas and with smart policies in place the industry can continue to create family-sustaining jobs in the region. - See more at: http://www.rangeresources.com/media/news/2016/06/07/range-statement-on-shell-petrochemical-announcement#sthash.uCM2yk7k.dpuf

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Ohio has 1,748 drilled Utica wells, 1,325 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

Ohio has approved 2,182 Utica Shale permits, as of June 4.

That total includes 1,748 drilled Utica wells and 1,325 producing Utica wells, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported.

Eleven drilling rigs are at work in Ohio.

Five new permits were approved: 1 in Belmont County, two in Jefferson County and two in Monroe County.

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Energy jobs can help fight poverty, boost American economy

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute today:

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2016 – API Executive Vice President Louis Finkel today welcomed a report from Speaker Ryan’s Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity and Upward Mobility and underlined the role the American energy renaissance can play in addressing poverty in America and other economic challenges in the United States.

“Pro-energy policy is the best starting point for any plan to reduce poverty in America and turn our still-struggling economy around,” said Finkel. “With average salaries $50,000 higher than other industries and job opportunities across a range of skills and education levels, the oil and natural gas industry offers obvious solutions to disappointing job growth and wage stagnation.

“A recent IHS report projects 1.9 million job opportunities in the oil, natural gas and petrochemical industries through 2035, including many for women and minorities. Pro-energy policies that remove the barriers to energy development and infrastructure construction, along with proper education and job training, can help lift Americans out of poverty and create millions of jobs.  

“We were especially pleased to see the task force report mention the importance of career and technical training.  API stands ready to work with leadership to enact legislation to further these goals.  We support H.R. 4583, legislation that has been passed by voice vote by the House of Representatives and is included in the House amendment to S. 2012, which would require DOE to prioritize energy and manufacturing jobs and collaboration with states and educational institutions to spread the word about available jobs in the energy and manufacturing sectors.”

The IHS report, Minority and Female Employment in the Oil & Natural Gas and Petrochemical Industries, 2015-2035, projects 1.9 million job opportunities in the oil, natural gas and petrochemical industries by 2035. Of those 1.9 million job opportunities:

• 707,000 positions—38 percent of the total—are projected to be held by African American and Hispanic workers
• More than 290,000 – 16 percent – are projected to go to women
• 57 percent are projected to be in blue-collar occupations -- indicating great opportunity for workers with high-school diplomas and some post-secondary training 
• 32 percent are projected to be in management and professional fields -- including engineering, geoscience and finance

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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API knocks decisions to divest from oil, gas investments

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

From the American Petroleum Institute on Monday:

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2016 – API Vice President of Regulatory and Economic Policy Kyle Isakower made the following remarks in response to the District of Columbia Retirement Board’s decision to divest from oil and natural gas investments: 
 
“Divestment is a tactic of misinformed activists whose ‘leave it in the ground’ agenda is incompatible with job creation, affordable energy for consumers, and economic prosperity. 
 
“Millions of retirees and pension holders depend on income from oil and natural gas investments to live. Government pension fund managers have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the greatest return for their investors. Divestment from energy stocks is likely to reduce investment returns and is therefore not in agreement with their fiduciary responsibility.
 
“The United States is the biggest producer of oil and natural gas in the world and at the same time leading the world in reducing carbon emissions. ‘Leave it in the ground’ activists are succumbing to a false choice.  

“America’s energy renaissance is helping to reduce costs for American consumers and businesses while lowering our emissions. Competitive forces and industry innovation are driving technological advances and producing clean-burning natural gas that has reduced carbon emissions to near 20-year lows.
 
“The oil and gas industry is also the leading investor in zero- and low-carbon technologies among all industrial sectors. We can create jobs, provide affordable energy to Americans, and continue to lead in reducing our nation's emissions."
 
Fossil fuels provide more than 80 percent of the energy Americans use every day, according to the Energy Information Administration. IHS estimated that average U.S. disposable household income was $1337 higher in 2015 given lower home energy costs and other savings brought about by unconventional development. AAA estimates that the American consumer saved, on average, over $550 in 2015 on transportation fuel costs as a result of abundant energy.

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 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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Marcellus Shale Coalition praises Shell's cracker decision

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

From press release today from the Marcellus Shale Coalition:

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Marcellus Shale Coalition president David Spigelmyer released the following statement on Shell’s decision today to move forward with the construction of “a major petrochemical complex, comprising an ethylene cracker with polyethylene derivatives unit,” in Beaver County:

“Shell’s decision to move forward with this world-class facility, which will put thousands to work across our region through utilizing clean-burning domestic natural gas for decades to come, is welcomed news, especially given the challenging market conditions.

“This investment also reflects that fact that domestic manufacturing’s potential is near limitless thanks to our abundant and stable energy supplies from natural gas.

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Shell to build $6 billion ethane cracker in Pa.'s Beaver County

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

The game-changing decision by Royal Dutch Shell to build a $6 billion ethane cracker plant in western Pennsylvania has been under study for four years.
It was a long-awaited decision with sweeping implications for the petrochemical and plastics industries in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. It could create tens of thousands of new jobs in the three states, according to some.
The decision by Shell Chemical Appalachia to build the giant plant makes it more likely that a Thai chemical company will decide to build a second $5.7 billion cracker plant — in eastern Ohio’s Belmont County.
Shell announced on Tuesday  that it intends to proceed with the cracker plant on the Ohio River at Monaca in Beaver County.
That news comes as Shell has laid off workers and delayed other projects because of low commodity prices. The company is banking on chemicals moving forward. It had earlier agreed to expand a Gulf Coast cracker and another in China.
The Pennsylvania plant would be the first cracker plant in the three states and the first major cracker to be built outside the Gulf Coast in the last 20 years.
It would rely on ethane from the Utica and Marcellus shales. Ethane, a natural gas liquid, is the U.S. chemical industry’s main feedstock.
The cracker will turn low-cost ethane from shale drilling into polyethylene pellets for plastics, textiles, automotive components and pharmaceuticals.
“This is the biggest of big news,” wrote Jim Willis, editor of the Marcellus Drilling News, a trade publication. “We’ve been waiting for this day for a LONG time.”
Marcellus Shale Coalition president David Spigelmyer said, “Shell’s decision to move forward with this world-class facility…is welcomed news, especially given the challenging market conditions.”
“(Tuesday’s) exciting news is another sign that a renaissance in American chemistry is under way,” said Cal Dooley, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council. “Thanks to our nation’s abundant supplies of shale gas, the U.S. has become the world’s destination for new chemical-industry investment. Our competitive edge will mean new jobs and exports and a stronger manufacturing sector for years to come.”
Shawn Bennett, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a statewide trade group, called Shell’s announcement “phenomenal news.”
It will create a new petrochemical industry in the three-state Appalachian Basin and its impacts on Ohio’s chemical and plastics industries will be “very substantial and very significant,” he said.
Shell’s news is “the announcement we’ve been waiting for,” he said.
Shell’s decision also makes it far more likely that PTT Global Chemical will build its Ohio cracker plant, said Andrew Thomas, executive in residence at the Energy Policy Center at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University and an expert on the Utica Shale.
That company is looking at a site of an old coal-fired power plant at Shadyside — with a final decision expected late this year  or early next year.
It is easier to operate two cracker plants in the same region because two plants offer operating efficiencies for cracker operators when pipelines or crackers go down, he said. “It is easier to run two than one,” he said.
The Shell plant will also produce huge savings for other chemical companies and plastic makers that locate nearby because they will pay less for shipping, he said.
One change that will be likely be needed is for cracker operators to sign long-term contracts of two to five years to purchase the ethane, Thomas said.
At present, they generally buy ethane on the spot market in order to avoid troublesome surpluses because there is little ethane storage in the three states, he said.
Construction on the Shell cracker could begin in 18 months and commercial production is expected “early in the next decade,” the company said. It would create 6,000 construction jobs and 600 permanent jobs.
The plant will use about 105,000 42-gallon barrels of ethane per day.
Shell picked the site in 2012 and purchased the main 340-acre tract, a one-time zinc smelter, in late 2014.
It spent $80 million to fix environmental problems at the site. It also paid $69 million to a local water authority to relocate a water intake and build a new water treatment plant.
Pennsylvania also granted tax breaks to Shell to build the plant.
Ohio had vied for the plant before the Beaver County site was chosen.
At present, ethane from the Utica and Marcellus shales is piped to the Gulf Coast for processing. Some ethane is also being shipped to the East Coast via pipelines where it is loaded on tankers and shipped to Europe and Asia.
Two other cracker plants in the Appalachian Basin have been proposed.
Braskem/Odebrecht, two Brazilian companies, are looking at a site near Parkersburg, W.Va., and a Texas-based company, Appalachian Resins, had been looking at a small cracker plant in Ohio’s Monroe County.

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Chemistry council hails ethane cracker news from Shell

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

From a press release today from the American Chemistry Council:

SHELL DECISION TO BUILD PENNSYLVANIA CRACKER AFFIRMS LEADING ROLE OF U.S. CHEMICAL INDUSTRY

WASHINGTON (June 7 , 2016)The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued the following statement in response to an announcement by Royal Dutch Shell that Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC has taken the final investment decision to build a major petrochemical complex, comprising an ethylene cracker with polyethylene derivatives unit, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Today’s exciting news is another sign that a renaissance in American chemistry is underway,” said Cal Dooley, ACC President and CEO. “Thanks to our nation’s abundant supplies of shale gas, the U.S. has become the world’s destination for new chemical industry investment. Our competitive edge will mean new jobs and exports and a stronger manufacturing sector for years to come.”

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Shale Crescent USA kicking off economic development drive

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

The Mid-Ohio Valley near Marietta now offers the lowest natural gas prices in the industrialized world, according to a new report.
That fact has spawned a new economic development initiative in southern Ohio and northern West Virginia: Shale Crescent USA, the Ohio Valley Energy Advantage.
The newly organized will be introduced on Thursday  in Marietta where it will be based.
Its message is that low natural gas prices due to Utica and Marcellus shale drilling have created a major energy advantage for manufacturers in the Ohio Valley.
It is promoting the region to companies that want to move in or expand, especially petrochemical industries that rely heavily on natural gas.
The region also offers access to the Ohio River for transportation and is close to half of the United States’ population, supporters say.
The new group is hosting programs on Thursday  in Marietta where the new effort is based to kick off the effort.
Shale Crescent USA is working closely with regional and state officials in both states and economic development partners.
Partners include the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority and the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program.
For more information, go to www.shalecrescentusa.com or call 1-888-529-1650.

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Iowa panel approves Bakken oil pipeline construction

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

An Iowa agency on Monday gave the go-ahead for a Bakken Shale oil pipeline in Iowa, despite a complaint from the Sierra Club that such action was illegal.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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KEC honors activist Mary Greer with Edith Chase award

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

From the Kent Environmental Council:

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Three-state partnership behind Shale Insight 2016

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

From a press release:

SHALE INSIGHTTM 2016 ENERGIZED WITH REGIONAL OIL & GAS PARTNERSHIP

MSC, OOGA, WVONGA partnership advances stronger industry voice and collaboration

Pittsburgh, Pa. / Columbus, Oh. / Charleston, W.Va. (June 6, 2016) –The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) and the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA), are pleased to announce a joint partnership to host the sixth annual SHALE INSIGHTTM Conference.  This industry-leading event will take place in the heart of the Marcellus and Utica shale gas plays on September 21 and 22 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.

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Shell to build ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, Pa.

By Bob Downing Published: June 7, 2016

Royal Dutch Shell announced today that it intends to build an ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, Pa.

The news came from CEO Ben van Beurden.

That is major news for the Utica and Marcellus shales in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Two other ethane cracker plants have been proposed: in Belmont County, Ohio and near Parkersburg, W. Va.

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WPX Energy increases 2016 full-year oil production guidance

By Bob Downing Published: June 6, 2016

From a press release today:

TULSA, Okla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- WPX Energy (NYSE: WPX) announced today that it is increasing its full-year oil production guidance to an average of 39 to 41 Mbbl/day, up 5 percent from previous guidance of 37 to 39 Mbbl/day.

Guidance for total equivalent production is up 3 percent to 77 to 82 Mboe/day from a previous estimate of 75 to 80 Mboe/d.

The increase is driven by better-than-expected well performance and an expected increase in drilling and completion activity in the Delaware and Williston basins during the second half of 2016.

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Track failure likely caused Oregon crude oil train derailment

By Bob Downing Published: June 6, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) — Track failure was likely the cause of the oil train derailment in Oregon, an official with Union Pacific Railroad said Sunday.

Sponsored Content is made possible by our sponsor; it does not necessarily reflect the views of our editorial staff.

A failure of the fastener between the railroad tie and the line was likely the problem, but more investigation will be required before railroad officials know for sure, Raquel Espinoza said Sunday.

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Devon Energy to sell Texas, Oklahoma assets for $1 billion

By Bob Downing Published: June 6, 2016

Oklahoma-based Devon Energy Corp. has agreed to sell fields in Texas and Oklahoma and a royalty interest in the northern Midland Basin for almost $1 billion to undisclosed buyers, said Bloomberg.

The largest transaction was for reserves in East Texas for $525 million, the oil and natural gas producer said in a statement Monday

The company also agreed to sell its position in the Anadarko Basin’s Granite Wash area for $310 million. The transactions are expected to close in the third quarter.

The sales are needed to reduce debt, the company said.

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Portage County group to circulate petitions on June 7

By Bob Downing Published: June 6, 2016

A Portage County grass-roots group will circulate petitions on Tuesday  in support of a rights-based county charter vote in November.
The Portage Community Rights Group will be collecting signatures from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at seven locations.
They are:
•Atwater Township, Town Hall, 1219 State Route 183.
•Aurora, Sunny Lake Park, 885 E. Mennonite Road.
•Garrettsville, Silver Frog Studios and Village Bookstore, 8132-8140 Main St.
•Kent, Kent Natural Foods, 151 E. Main St., and Kent Gazebo, corner of E. Main and Franklin streets.
•Mantua, Village Park Lodge, 4810 E. High St.
•Ravenna, outside the Portage County Courthouse on Main Street.
About 4,000 signatures will be needed to get the community bill of rights on the November ballot, said spokeswoman Gwen Fischer of Hiram.
The theme of the grass-roots’ campaign is “Protect Our Water, Our Rights.”
The group is concerned about shale drilling, the use of local water for fracking, pipelines and injecting drilling wastes below ground. It wants more local control over those issues.
Such a charter initiative could, if approved by voters, 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.
For more information, go to www.portagecommunityrightsgroup.org.
Similar petitions are circulating in Medina County where landowners are unhappy with the $2 billion Nexus natural gas pipeline.
Similar community-rights efforts are also under way in Athens County and the cities of Youngstown and Columbus.

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WVU officials pleased with Year 1 of shale drilling program

By Bob Downing Published: June 6, 2016

Officials at West Virginia University are pleased at what's transpired in the first year of a five-year program to better understand shale drilling, a $11 million project that also involves Ohio State University, the ClarkburgExponent Telegram.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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U.S. rig count increases by 4, Baker Hughes reports

By Bob Downing Published: June 6, 2016

The number of U.S. drilling rigs increased by four last week, according to Baker Hughes, the well services company.

As of June 3, the U.S. has 408 active rigs.

That is still 460 less than a year ago.

The 408 rigs include 325 oil rigs, 82 natural gas rigs and one miscellaneous, the company reported.

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Eco-groups pleased with Virginia action on gas power plant

By Bob Downing Published: June 6, 2016

In response to extensive comments from citizens and conservation groups, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has imposed precedent-setting protections against greenhouse gases and other air pollutants from Dominion Power’s proposed gas power plant in Greensville County, VA, according to a post last week from Appalachian Mountain Advocates, a grass-roots group.

It prepared the comments on behalf of Appalachian Voices and the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Click  here  to read more.

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Noble Energy gets O.K. for offshore drilling project in Israel

By Bob Downing Published: June 6, 2016

From a press release last week:

Houston, June 02, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Noble Energy, Inc. (Noble Energy or the Company) (NYSE: NBL) today announced that it has received approval from the Petroleum Commissioner in the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources for the development of the Leviathan project offshore Israel.  The approved Plan of Development (POD) contemplates a subsea system that connects production wells to a fixed platform located offshore with tie-in onshore in the northern part of Israel.  The fixed platform's initial capacity is anticipated to start at 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (Bcf/d) and is expandable to 2.1 Bcf/d.  Leviathan is expected to provide a second source of supply and entry point into Israel's domestic natural gas transport system, while also delivering exports to regional countries.  

The Company also announced the execution of a gas sales and purchase agreement (GSPA) to supply natural gas from the Leviathan field to IPM Beer Tuvia Ltd (IPM).  Under terms of the GSPA, Noble Energy and the Leviathan partners will supply a gross quantity of up to 473 billion cubic feet of natural gas to a new-build independent power facility over an 18-year term, or up to 72 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d).  The Company expects natural gas sales to IPM to commence at field startup.

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Federal audits, enforcement actions add to drillers' angst

By Bob Downing Published: June 6, 2016

Low commodity prices are habing a big impact on drillers, according to BakerHostetler North America shale blog.

Layoffs have happened and non-core assets have been sold to keep companies afloat.

In addition, the federal government has recently increased its audit and enforcement efforts to aggressively collect federal oil and gas royalties due and heavily penalize companies for both minor and major infractions.

Click  here  to read more.

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OPEC officials confident that crude oil prices will improve

By Bob Downing Published: June 6, 2016

OPEC will stick to its policy of unfettered production after members last week rejected a proposal to adopt a new output ceiling, but ministers were united in their optimism that global oil markets are improving, Bloomberg reported..

While crude prices dipped briefly after Thursday’s meeting, there was little of the rancor that punctuated last December’s gathering. The more harmonious atmosphere meant the group was able to appoint a new secretary-general -- Nigeria’s Mohammed Barkindo -- something it hadn’t been able to agree on since 2012.

Click  here  to read more.

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Emergency responders let Oregon oil train fire burn

By Bob Downing Published: June 5, 2016

From a Saturday press release:

News Analysis: Emergency Responders Let Oregon Oil Train Fire Burn  

[Bellingham, WA] On Friday, June 2, an oil train derailed and caught fire in Mosier, Oregon, a town 65 miles east of Portland on the Columbia River. Residents and a nearby elementary school inside the one-mile blast zone were evacuated. There were no reported injuries. But firefighters were notably absent from the scene, which was broadcast for hours from news helicopters. The fire burned until sometime early Saturday morning.

On May 23, 2016, Stand extreme oil campaign director Matt Krogh published a blog on oil train disaster plans and the “burning need for the truth about oil train fires.” The oil and rail industry has launched a public relations effort to deflect public concern over the threat from crude oil trains crossing North America carrying millions of gallons of toxic, explosive crude oil. Oil and rail companies highlight training activities and images of firefighters dousing the flames of burning oil train tank cars. However, concludes Krogh:

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Pennsylvania group challenges fracking permit process

By Bob Downing Published: June 3, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

HICKORY, Pa. (June 2, 2016) – PennFuture has filed a legal challenge to the zoning ordinance in Mount Pleasant Township, Washington County arguing that it is constitutionally invalid because it allows industrial gas drilling across all zoned districts.

Representing members who reside and own property in the township, live near proposed well sites, and have been harmed by the ordinance, PennFuture sent legal notice to the zoning hearing board dated May 27, 2016.

“Our members have twice fought applications for well pads to be located within a mile of the Fort Cherry K-12 school complex,” said George Jugovic Jr., chief counsel for PennFuture.

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Activists target fracking waste on Tuesday's action day

By Bob Downing Published: June 3, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

Groups Call for a Halt to Toxic Fracking Waste and Man-made Earthquakes in a National Day of Action to be held on Tuesday, June 7, 2016

 

Ohio, June 2, 2016 – Even though unconventional fracking currently appears to be experiencing a shale bust, the toxic fracking waste problem is still here and getting worse as millions of gallons and tons of fracking waste is constantly being created, according to groups organizing a National Day of Action to be held on June 7, 2016. 

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Eco-group unhappy with fracking ruling by federal agencies

By Bob Downing Published: June 3, 2016

From a May 27 press release:

Santa Barbara—The Environmental Defense Center (“EDC”) announced their disappointment with the Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment issued today by federal agencies regarding the risky practices of fracking and acidizing from offshore oil platforms in southern California, including the Santa Barbara Channel.  The Final Assessment, produced by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”), fails to properly analyze and disclose the significant impacts that these practices have on water quality, air quality, and marine wildlife.  EDC fundamentally disagrees with the Assessment’s conclusion that these practices do not have significant impacts, and that further analysis is not warranted. 

EDC and Surfrider Foundation submitted a comment letter illustrating numerous fundamental flaws in the Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment that was released in April, and requested that the agencies conduct more comprehensive environmental review.  Unfortunately, the government did not correct its course and has again overlooked potentially significant impacts.

“Fracking and acidizing present new and unstudied risks to the environment, such as the impacts on marine wildlife caused by dumping toxic frac fluids into the open ocean. EDC is committed to ensuring the analysis of these practices is robust and legally adequate,” said Maggie Hall, Staff Attorney with EDC. 

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Warren Resources files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

By Bob Downing Published: June 3, 2016

Warren Resources Inc., a player in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale and the latest victim of the long decline in energy prices, proposed a bankruptcy plan that calls for turning the oil and gas explorer over to senior lenders led by Blackstone Group LP’s GSO Capital Partners, says the Houston Chronicle's FuelFix blog.

Click  here  to read the full story..

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Trends in rail shipments of crude, ethanol, biodiesel vary

By Bob Downing Published: June 3, 2016

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Although pipelines, tankers, and barges are widely used to transport liquid fuels to, from, and within the United States, several types of liquid fuels, including crude oil, ethanol, and biodiesel, are transported by rail in large volumes. EIA recently expanded its rail data for crude oil, ethanol, and biodiesel to provide monthly data going back to January 2010. The data cover rail movements within each Petroleum Administration for Defense District (intra-PADD) and between PADDs (inter-PADD), as well as rail movements to and from Canada. The expanded rail data improve EIA's regional supply and disposition balances by providing information about both shipments and receipts of these fuels by rail.

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Tags: biofuels , crude oil , ethanol , liquid fuels , rail

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Pa. extends comment period for Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: June 3, 2016

From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection:

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Halcon Resources gets notice from N.Y. Stock Exchange

By Bob Downing Published: June 3, 2016

From a Thursday press release:

Houston, June 02, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On May 26, 2016, Halcón Resources Corporation (NYSE: HK) ("Halcón" or the "Company") received notice from the New York Stock Exchange (the "NYSE") that the price of its common stock has fallen below the NYSE's continued listing standard. The NYSE requires the average closing price of a listed company's common stock not be less than $1.00 per share for a period of 30 consecutive trading days.

Under NYSE rules, the Company will regain compliance if, during the six month period following receipt of the NYSE notice and on the last trading day of any calendar month, its common stock price per share and 30 trading-day average share price is at least $1.00. During this period, the Company's common stock will continue to be traded on the NYSE, subject to compliance with other NYSE listing requirements. Halcón has notified the NYSE of its intent to cure this deficiency through the previously disclosed restructuring and pre-packaged Chapter 11 filing it plans to commence within the next several months.

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BP to settle claims by Ohio, New York on Deepwater Horizon

By Bob Downing Published: June 3, 2016

London-based BP plc on Thursday agreed to pay $175 million to shareholders including public pension funds in Ohio and New York.
Those pension funds had sued the company, accusing it of providing misleading information about the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to prop up its stock price.
The lawsuits by U.S. investors were filed by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on behalf of four Ohio state pension funds,  New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and others.
The plaintiffs said they lost as much as 40 percent of their investments due to a decline in BP stock prices in the wake of the spill. They were seeking as much as $2.5 billion.
Ohio’s four pension funds — the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund — lost about $100 million, DeWine said in filing the suits.
The proposed settlement averts a trial that was scheduled for July in a federal court in Houston.
BP announced the settlement, to be paid in 2016-2017 if approved by U.S. District Court, in a 66-word statement.
The plaintiffs had alleged in the suit that BP had misrepresented the estimated size and severity of the spill and the company’s ability to respond to it, especially in the first two weeks.
More than 4 million barrels of oil flooded into the Gulf of Mexico in the 87 days after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig blew up. BP officials repeatedly estimated that 1,000 to 5,000 barrels per day were coming from the well, while internal calculations said the daily volume was more than 10 times greater.
In 2012, BP agreed to pay $525 million to settle claims by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that the company had underestimated the size of the spill in an effort to keep stock prices from falling.
The company also agreed that year to pay $4 billion to resolve criminal charges on pollution violations, misleading Congress and manslaughter for the death of 11 workers killed in the explosion. Seventeen other workers were injured.
Last year, BP agreed to pay $20.8 billion over the next 17 years to cover additional pollution violations, financial losses and natural resources damages suffered by state, local and national governments.
The company has earmarked $56.4 billion to settle all Deepwater Horizon claims, BP said in an April regulatory filing.
Other securities-related litigation is pending, the company said.

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Ohio State University to sell drilling area in West Virginia

By Bob Downing Published: June 2, 2016

Ohio State University intends to sell 28 acres of possible drilling land in West Virginia's Doddridge County, says Columbus Business First.

Click  here  to read more.

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Maryland town proposes ban on hydraulic fracturing

By Bob Downing Published: June 2, 2016

From the Associated Press last week:

The western Maryland town of Friendsville is proposing a ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas within its jurisdiction.

The Town Council voted 4-2 Thursday to have its attorney review the proposed ordinance. Council member Jess Whittemore says in a statement he expects final passage this summer.

The town is in Garrett County, which overlies part of the gas-rich Marcellus shale rock formation. State environmental regulators are developing rules for allowing companies to use the technique to drill for gas as early as October 2017.

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SemGroup Corp. to acquire Rose Rock Midstream

By Bob Downing Published: June 2, 2016

From a Tuesday press release:

TULSA, Okla., May 31, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- SemGroup® Corporation (NYSE:SEMG) and Rose Rock Midstream (NYSE:RRMS) today announced an agreement under which SemGroup will acquire all of the outstanding common units of Rose Rock not already owned by SemGroup in an all stock-for-unit transaction at a ratio of 0.8136 SemGroup common shares per Rose Rock common unit. The implied Rose Rock unit price represents a 7.4% and 19.2% premium to its volume-weighted average prices during the 10-trading days and 20-trading days ending May 27, 2016, respectively.

Following completion of the transaction, SemGroup is targeting an 8% compound annual dividend growth rate and dividend coverage of 1.5 times or greater through 2018. Both SemGroup and Rose Rock expect to maintain their current level of dividends and distributions, respectively, through closing of this transaction.

“We are pleased to announce the combination of SemGroup and Rose Rock, which we expect will provide immediate and long-term benefits for SemGroup and Rose Rock investors,” said Carlin Conner, president and chief executive officer of SemGroup. “We expect the transaction will simplify our corporate capital structure and deliver several important benefits to our shareholders. The elimination of Rose Rock’s incentive distribution structure coupled with Rose Rock’s fee-based cash flows from strong investment grade counterparties will help drive SemGroup’s strategic growth plans. We anticipate that Rose Rock’s businesses, already managed by SemGroup, will enhance our combined credit profile, dividend coverage, and future dividend growth rate beyond 2016.”

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Pennsylvania judge dismisses Butler County SLAPP suit

By Bob Downing Published: June 2, 2016

A Butler County judge has dismissed a case in which 13 Middlesex Township oil and shale gas leaseholders claimed they were denied the opportunity to make money from selling their mineral rights and sought damages from drilling opponents, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The leaseholders' lawsuit alleged that the actions of the drilling opponents, including legal appeals of a zoning hearing board decision, were a “sham” intended only to delay and interfere with their leases, and sought damages in excess of $500,000.

The defendants, five individuals and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the Clean Air Council, argued that the lawsuit was without merit because their actions were constitutionally protected speech.

Their attorney, Witold “Vic” Walczak, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, told the court during a May 19 hearing that the lawsuit was a “SLAPP suit” — a strategic lawsuit against public participation — aimed at penalizing and chilling legally protected comments and appeals.

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FERC approves Kinder Morgan liquefaction project in Georgia

By Bob Downing Published: June 2, 2016

Kinder Morgan, Inc. (NYSE: KMI) today announced that subsidiaries Elba Liquefaction Company, L.L.C. (ELC) and Southern LNG Company, L.L.C. (SLNG), have received authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the Elba Liquefaction Project.

The approximate $2 billion project will be constructed and operated at the existing Elba Island LNG Terminal near Savannah, Georgia.

As previously announced, the first of 10 liquefaction units is expected to be placed in service in the second quarter of 2018, with the remaining nine units coming online before the end of 2018.

This project is supported by a 20-year contract with Shell.

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FERC accepts gas-electric reliability measures in California

By Bob Downing Published: June 2, 2016

From a Wednesday press release:

 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today accepted interim measures to address the limited operability of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility that could affect reliability and market operations in the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) grid this summer.

Today’s order also directs FERC staff to convene a technical conference following implementation of the measures approved in today’s order to discuss the effectiveness of those tariff revisions and the need for additional and/or longer-term measures.

Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon facility experienced a large natural gas leak last fall that significantly depleted the storage field. The leaking well was capped in February and the state of California prohibited injections of natural gas into the facility until completion of a comprehensive safety review.

The facility serves gas-fired generators in the Los Angeles Basin and San Diego. Its limited operations are likely to stress the region’s gas system this summer when Southern California needs those generators to serve both peak loads and changes in load due to the variable nature of renewable generation.

“Substantial efforts have been made by CAISO, California regulators and the energy companies to enhance planning and preparation, communication and coordination, and situational awareness,” FERC Chairman Norman C. Bay said. “That being said, the situation remains a serious one, and we will continue to monitor Aliso Canyon very carefully. While Aliso Canyon is a non-jurisdictional facility, we are ready to provide whatever assistance we can, as needed or appropriate.”

The situation “highlights the connection between the gas and electric industries and how their operations affect consumers,” Chairman Bay said. “It also points out the need for infrastructure as gas becomes the marginal fuel for power generation in many markets. We need to ensure the gas is there in order to maintain reliability.”

Today’s tariff revisions expire November 30, 2016, unless CAISO files to retain or revise them. They are intended to mitigate operational risks that could lead to power outages due to restrictions of gas deliveries to electric generators. They would work by promoting generator bids that reflect gas system limitations, reducing the chance that CAISO will dispatch generators in a way that harms gas system reliability, and permitting CAISO to reserve sufficient internal transmission transfer capability to react to changes in the gas system. The revisions also will improve the ability of generators to recover fuel costs during this interim period of potential volatility.
 

R-16-17

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Wintergreen group seeks review of alternate pipeline routes

By Bob Downing Published: June 2, 2016

From a press release today from Virginia's Friends of Wintergreen:

Asks FERC to require a thorough, point-by-point, evaluation of its alternative routes

NELLYSFORD, VA, USA, June 2, 2016 /EINPresswire.com/ -- On May 16, 2016, Friends of Wintergreen submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) a 128-page analysis of four alternate routes for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) using analysis from its national environmental, legal and pipeline engineering firms.

“We have laid out in great detail the significant environmental, economic and safety problems Dominion’s proposed route will create for Virginia’s largest resort and the nearby tourism corridor of wineries, breweries, cideries, and restaurants,” said Jonathan Ansell, Chairman of Friends of Wintergreen. “Our pipeline engineers also developed several alternative routes that are less damaging.”

Ansell continued, “We favor the greater use of colocation and existing rights-of-way, especially since Dominion’s ACP has one of the worst records in America. This is irresponsible to Virginians.”

Within hours of Friends of Wintergreen’s formal submission to the FERC, Dominion issued a response rejecting the proposals. Dominion claimed they gave "these alternatives the careful consideration they deserve.”

“As Dominion rejected our alternatives within hours, we don’t see how a thoughtful evaluation was possible.” Ansell said. “Two of our route proposals are novel and supported with many pages of new technical analysis from our engineers.”

“Our detailed analysis demonstrates there are less damaging alternatives than those proposed by Dominion, an investor owned company beholden to the interests of its shareholders. We call on FERC and our elected officials to insist Dominion provide a detailed, point-by-point response to our proposals and to other colocation alternatives, rather than accept general, non-specific statements that typically accompany the company’s rejection of any proposal other than its own."

Among the concerns Dominion raised, Friends of Wintergreen’s technical experts do not consider any of them insurmountable:

Dominion, on federally managed lands: “Most of the routes proposed by Friends of Wintergreen cross federally managed lands that do not allow utility corridor crossings. Two of the routes cross land administered by the National Park Service (NPS) in areas where the agency does not have the administrative authority to approve pipelines crossings. Therefore, these routes are not feasible as a matter of current law. Additionally, two of the routes cross areas designated by the U.S. Forest Service as Remote Backcountry or Wilderness Areas, which are either incompatible with or prohibited for pipeline crossings.”

Fact: None of our proposed routes cross federally managed lands that prohibit utility corridor crossings, nor do they cross Remote Backcountry or Wilderness Areas. Furthermore, other remedies are available to Dominion should NPS administrative approvals be inadequate.

Dominion, on constructability: “Constructability is also a significant challenge with these alternatives. For example, extremely steep terrain and severe side slopes, as well as sharp elevation changes at one of the proposed HDD crossings would prevent safe construction in many of these areas. A major interstate highway interchange and multiple abandoned railroad tunnels...would also prevent us from crossing at this location.”

Fact: “The routes we proposed are constructible and safe if built correctly”, said Bryan Melan of Tidewater Integrity Services based in Houston, Texas. “Moreover, these ‘challenges’ are not different than those Dominion faces on routes it has already proposed. We also never proposed using abandoned railroad tunnels.”

Dominion, on comparisons to California: “We often hear Nelson County referred to as the "Napa Valley of Virginia," so it's important to look at Napa Valley's experience. More than three dozen hotels, wineries and resorts in the Napa Valley are located within just a few miles of major natural gas pipelines. These pipelines have not inhibited the success of Napa Valley's tourism industry, and there is no reason to believe Nelson County would be any different."

Fact: Dominion’s ACP will not be located “within just a few miles” of Nelson County’s major tourism destinations. Dominion proposes to build the pipeline within feet of the only entrance and exit to Wintergreen, the largest resort in Virginia with more than 10,000 residents and guests attending daily during peak vacation and holiday periods. Dominion also plans to build the pipeline through Spruce Creek Resort and Market, a 100-acre, five-star resort, hotel, restaurant and public market that is proposed to be built along Virginia Route 151 in Nelson County.

***************************************************************************************
Friends of Wintergreen is a Virginia nonstock, 501c(3) not-for-profit corporation dedicated to protecting and enhancing the value, beauty, integrity, and sustainability of Wintergreen, Nelson Route 151, and neighboring communities.

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Ohio EPA sets hearing on petroleum-related corrective actions

By Bob Downing Published: June 2, 2016

From an Ohio EPA press release on Wednesday:

 Public Hearing Will Address General Permit

for Petroleum-Related Corrective Actions

 Ohio EPA is accepting comments from the public on a draft general permit to regulate wastewater discharges associated with petroleum-related corrective actions.  Qualifying general permit applications would apply to incidents that minimally impact water quality.

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Munroe Falls files new zoning suit against Beck Energy

By Bob Downing Published: June 1, 2016

The long legal fight between the city of Munroe Falls and a Ravenna Township-based drilling company has taken a new twist.
The city has filed a new lawsuit against Beck Energy Corp. and South Carolina-based Sonoco Products Co. for a proposed oil-and-gas well that the city says is illegal because of Munroe Falls zoning.
The well is planned on Sonoco property that is not zoned for wells and the driller has failed to seek a needed conditional zoning certificate from the city, the five-page suit says.
The city says it is confident that local zoning is an legal and appropriate means for a city to control drilling, based in part on what the Ohio Supreme Court said a year ago in a separate suit involving the city and Beck Energy.
In that decision, the court said Munroe Falls should have the authority to enforce reasonable zoning restrictions that apply to drilling, the new suit says.
Wells are permitted in two areas of Munroe Falls zoned for industrial use, the city says.
Beck contends that it does not need a zoning certificate and that it intends to proceed to drill the new well, the suit says.
The company has told Munroe Falls that it intends to proceed quickly after it gets a new permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management.
The old permit expired in April.  The company is seeking to renew that permit and to proceed.
In addition, Munroe Falls contends that the proposed Sonoco well would be within half mile east of Cuyahoga Falls’ municipal well field that provides drinking water to residents of Cuyahoga Falls, Munroe Falls and Silver Lake.
A spill from the proposed well could contaminate drinking water, Munroe Falls said.
The city is asking Summit County Common Pleas Court to “determine whether Munroe Falls has the right to enforce its zoning ordinances relative to oil and gas wells within its municipal jurisdiction and whether Beck is required to obtain a zoning certificate from Munroe Falls prior to drilling the Sonoco well and/or that Beck request a zoning variance from Munroe Falls.”
The suit seeks a declaratory judgement and also asks that Beck be blocked from drilling the Sonoco well until the questions raised by Munroe Falls can be addressed.
Munroe Falls says that “an actual, justiciable controversy exists…and this court should declare the parties’ rights and responsibilities hereunder,” the suit says.
The suit, filed on Friday,  has been assigned to Judge Paul Gallagher.
Efforts to reach Beck Energy vice president David Beck were unsuccessful.
Munroe Falls Law Director Thomas W. Kostoff was out of town and unavailable. Munroe Falls Mayor James Armstrong did not return a telephone call.
The new suit comes after Munroe Falls and Beck Energy waged a long and costly legal battle that went to the Ohio Supreme Court.
In a 4-3 vote, the Ohio high court ruled in February 2015 that local drilling ordinances adopted in Munroe Falls cannot be enforced because they conflict with the 2004 state law that gives Ohio exclusive control over oil and natural gas wells.
The decision took local control of drilling away from communities and supports the state of Ohio as the continued main overseer of drilling.
The case was triggered when Joseph Willingham of Munroe Falls leased his mineral rights off Munroe Falls Avenue to Beck Energy. The company applied to the state for a permit to drill a vertical-only well. The state approved the permit, with several conditions, in February 2011.
Munroe Falls filed a lawsuit in Summit County Common Pleas Court to stop the drilling, saying that Beck Energy was violating local zoning laws.
In May 2011, Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands found in favor of Munroe Falls. Beck Energy appealed to the 9th District Court of Appeals.
The appellate court found that Beck Energy had to comply with Munroe Falls’ ordinances governing local roadways but it held that other local laws — zoning ordinance and four drilling provisions — conflicted with the state statute.
Munroe Falls then appealed the case to the Ohio Supreme Court.
The case is really about home rule, Munroe Falls officials argued.

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Activists call on BLM to halt leasing in Ohio national forest

By Bob Downing Published: June 1, 2016

From a Sierra Club press release today:

Ban Sought on New Fossil Fuel Leasing in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest

Fracking Threatens Climate, Wildlife, Air, and Water

MARIETTA, OH — Environmental groups today called on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to halt all new fossil fuel leasing in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest over concerns about the harmful impact of fracking.

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Ohio-Louisiana pipeline moving natural gas to Gulf Coast

By Bob Downing Published: June 1, 2016

More natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shales is flowing to the Gulf Coast.

Boardwalk Pipeline Partners today began reversing the flow in 690 miles of its Texas Gas Transmission Pipeline as part of what's called the Ohio-Louisiana Access Project.

Click  here  to read more.

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Stone Energy announces 1-for-10 reverse stock split

By Bob Downing Published: June 1, 2016

From a press release today:

LAFAYETTE, La., June 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Stone Energy Corporation (NYSE: SGY) today announced that the Board of Directors of Stone has approved a 1-for-10 reverse split of its issued and outstanding shares of common stock.  The 1-for-10 reverse stock split will be effective upon the filing and effectiveness of a certificate of amendment to Stone's certificate of incorporation after the market closes on June 10, 2016, and Stone's common stock will begin trading on a split-adjusted basis when the market opens on June 13, 2016.

At Stone's 2016 Annual Meeting of Stockholders held on May 19, 2016, Stone's stockholders granted authority to the Board of Directors, in its discretion, to determine whether to proceed with the reverse stock split and, if the Board of Directors so determines, to select and file a certificate of amendment to Stone's certificate of incorporation to effect the reverse stock split at a ratio to be determined by the Board of Directors.

When the reverse stock split becomes effective, every 10 shares of Stone's issued and outstanding common stock (and such shares held in treasury) will automatically be converted into one share of common stock.  No fractional shares will be issued if, as a result of the reverse stock split, a stockholder would otherwise become entitled to a fractional share. Instead, each stockholder will be entitled to receive a cash payment equal to the fraction of which such holder would otherwise be entitled multiplied by the closing price per share on June 10, 2016. The reverse stock split will not impact any stockholder's percentage ownership of Stone or voting power, except for minimal effects resulting from the treatment of fractional shares.  Following the reverse stock split, the number of outstanding shares of Stone's common stock will be reduced by a factor of ten.  The certificate of amendment to Stone's certificate of incorporation in connection with the reverse stock split will also proportionately decrease the number of authorized shares of common stock. The overall and per person share limitations in the Company's 2009 Amended and Restated Stock Incentive Plan, as amended from time to time, and outstanding awards thereunder will also be proportionately adjusted to reflect the reverse stock split.

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Ohio's Utica rig counts drops from 11 to 9, ODNR reports

By Bob Downing Published: June 1, 2016

The number of drilling rigs in Ohio dropped to 9 last week, according to the Phio Department of Natural Resources.

Last week, Ohio had 11 rigs at work.

It also reported that Ohio had approved a total of 2,179 Utica Shale petrmits, as of May 28.

That total includes 1,747 drilled Uitca wels and 1,325 producing Utica wells.

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Study says those who divest of drilling assets will lose billions

By Bob Downing Published: June 1, 2016

From a press release today from the Independent Petroleum Association of America:

Forget Lost Returns: Transaction Fees Alone Could Cost Divested Institutions Billions of Dollars

New study quantifies for the first time significant transactional and compliance costs divested schools will be forced to bear – ones that have nothing to do with portfolio performance

 

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Report: Texas fracking turns U.S. into energy superpowe

By Bob Downing Published: June 1, 2016

From a press release today:

REPORT: HOW NORTH TEXAS FRACKING TURNED AMERICA

INTO AN ENERGY SUPERPOWER

 

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MWCD opens $1.8 million Welcome Center at Atwood Lake

By Bob Downing Published: June 1, 2016

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District has opened a new Welcome Center for campers at Atwood Lake in Carroll County.

The new facility cost $1.8 million and was funded by oil and gas leases signed by the district.

Click  here  to read more from the Times Reporter.

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FourPoint Energy completes acquisition of Chesapeake assets

By Bob Downing Published: June 1, 2016

From a press release today:

FourPoint Energy Closes Acquisition of Western Anadarko Basin Assets

DENVER, June 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- FourPoint Energy, LLC  announced today the closing of the previously announced acquisition to acquire all of Chesapeake Energy's remaining Western Anadarko Basin oil and gas assets for a purchase price of $385 million. The transaction was funded by proceeds from equity issued to existing and new investors.

Subject to closing and post-closing adjustments the assets acquired include an interest in nearly 3,500 producing wells primarily in the Granite Wash, Missourian Wash, Upper and Lower Cleveland and Tonkawa formations. The production mix is approximately 64 percent natural gas and 36 percent oil and natural gas liquids. The assets cover approximately 473,000 net acres, within 15 counties in Western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle and are 98 percent held by production.

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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.