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Ohio Utica Shale

REX Pipeline to begin full Ohio-to-Illinois shipments on Aug. 1

By Bob Downing Published: July 30, 2015

One of the largest natural gas pipelines built in the United States will start full scale shipping of natural gas from Ohio to the Midwest on Saturday.  
Those shipments to the Chicago area and elsewhere are expected to have a big impact on natural gas movements in the United States and Canada, according to experts.
“That is really a big deal,” said Shawn Bennett, executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. “It’s huge.”
It will provide a new means for Ohio drillers to get their natural gas out of Appalachia and to get better prices than they are getting now, he said. Ohio drillers have been getting depressed prices because of limited shipment options, he said.
The Utica and Marcellus shales together are producing 25 percent of the natural gas in the United States today, and natutral gas prices in the region are among the lowest in the country, he said.

The 1,698-mile Rockies Express Pipeline (REX) previously was used to ship natural gas from Colorado and Wyoming to Ohio. But the shale boom in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia has reduced the demand for natural gas shipped east in the pipeline.
It will start moving 1.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from Clarington in eastern Ohio to Moultrie, Ill. There have been limited east-to-west shipments for about a year.
It will also be able to continue west-to-east shipments.
The expanded shipments to the west are fully supported by contracts with drillers. The pipeline also offers connections to other pipelines along its route.
The REX Pipeline runs from Opal in southwest Wyoming and Meeker in northwest Colorado east to Clarington on the Ohio River in Monroe County.
It is operated under a joint venture by Kansas-based Tallgrass Energy Partners.
It went into commercial operation in late 2009 as a west-to east line.
It is 36 and 42 inches in diameter in various spots and can handle up to 1.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. That’s enough natural gas to heat about 4 million homes.
The pipeline includes a 14-mile pipeline to MarkWest Energy Partners’ Seneca natural gas processing plant in Noble County.

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CLNG applauds proposed legislation clarifying export process

By Bob Downing Published: July 30, 2015

From the Center for Liquified Natural Gas today:

 

 

Washington, D.C.: The Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG) today commended the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for supporting a provision in the proposed Energy Policy Modernization Act that will offer greater certainty to the United States’ natural gas industry. Under the terms of the legislation, the Department of Energy must issue a decision on any application to export U.S. liquefied natural gas to non-free trade agreement countries no later than 45 days after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has concluded its review.

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PJM, interstate pipelines to work together to improve planning

By Bob Downing Published: July 30, 2015

From PJM Interconnection today:

PJM Interconnection – a regional transmission organization that coordinates wholesale electricity for 13 states and the District of Columbia – and several large natural gas pipelines that provide fuel for electric power generators in the PJM footprint have agreed to work more closely with each other to improve operational planning and address growing interdependence between the electric and natural gas industries.

“This agreement sets the stage for greater coordination between electric generators and the natural gas pipeline industry” said Mike Kormos, PJM Chief Operations Officer.  “As electricity-generating facilities increasingly turn to natural gas, it is important that we all communicate clearly to assure reliable service.”

“These individual pipeline companies and PJM are to be commended for taking the initiative to create a process to promote greater transparency and shared knowledge.  Continued dialogue will result in more informed decisions by the PJM market participants that operate and rely upon gas-fired electric generators,” said Don Santa, president and CEO of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America.

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Senate committee OKs crude exports, more offshore drilling

By Bob Downing Published: July 30, 2015

From Environment America today:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Divided along party lines, today the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved a bill to allow oil exports and expand offshore drilling. In addition to lifting the longstanding ban on crude exports, the measure combines three pro-drilling bills: 

Environment America’s Rachel Richardson, director of the organization’s Stop Drilling program, issued the following statement:
 
“We’ve seen it time and time again: when you drill, you spill. Yet too many senators voted today to expand dirty drilling and put our beachgoers, our coasts, and precious marine life in harm’s way. What’s more, lifting the ban on oil exports increases pollution worldwide and consigns us to a more dangerous climate, while doing nothing to help our energy independence.
 
“Construction for the nation’s first offshore wind farm has just begun in Rhode Island. That’s the energy source off our coast that senators should pursue, and that our beaches, our wildlife, and future generations deserve. Rather than double down on dirty energy sources of the past, senators should heed wide majorities of Americans and support clean, renewable energy for the future.”
 
 

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Shale workers need high school education and more, Dixon says

By Bob Downing Published: July 30, 2015

From the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program in response to a Bloomberg story about high school students dropping out of school to get good-paying drilling jobs:

Response to Bloomberg Article about Teen Dropouts

From: Charlie Dixon, Safety and Workforce Director, Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program

The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) would like to take an opportunity to respond to an article recently linked from Bloomberg news.

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Philadelphia Energy Solutions seeks Bakken JV agreement

By Bob Downing Published: July 30, 2015

Philadelphia Energy Solutions is seeking to complete a joint venture that would give it a controlling interest in crude-oil loading terminals and storage tanks in North Dakota, the source of the Bakken Shale crude that is processed by the South Philadelphia refinery, says NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

The refiner said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on July 27 that it has agreed in principle to enter into a joint venture with BOE Midstream, which owns the rail-loading and oil-storage facilities.

Click  here  to read the rest of the story.

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Post-merger Williams Partners reports boost to 2Q EBITDA

By Bob Downing Published: July 30, 2015

Oklahoma-based Williams Partners today reported a 2Q 2015 EBITDA of $1.01 billion, a $291 million or 41 percent increase from 2Q 2014.

Click  here  to read the full post-merger story.

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Rex Energy offers partial update on 2Q 2015

By Bob Downing Published: July 30, 2015

From Rex Energy on Wednesday:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., July 29, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rex Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:REXX) announced second quarter 2015 production volumes and price realizations.

Production Results and Price Realizations

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LNG exports will impact natural gas markets, consumers

By Bob Downing Published: July 30, 2015

The U.S. natural gas market is waking up.

Seasonal price swings will intensify as the country begins shipping liquefied natural gas cargoes to Asia and Europe later this year, said Bank of America Corp., RBC Capital Markets LLC and Wood Mackenzie Ltd.

While that’s good news for traders yearning for volatility, it could be bad news for consumers. Average retail gas prices also will rise with LNG exports, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Range Resources cuts its work force by 11 percent

By Bob Downing Published: July 30, 2015

Texas-based Range Resources Corp., one of the biggest players in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, has cut its work force by 11 percent this year due to low commodity prices.

The company, the fourth largest driller in Pennsylvania, has about 500 employees in Pennsylvania in addition to its contractors.

Click  here  to read more.

 

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API supports lifting crude oil trade restrictions

By Bob Downing Published: July 30, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute on Wednesday:

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2015 ─ API applauded legislative efforts now underway to lift outdated trade restrictions on U.S. oil during a conference call today with reporters.
     
“At this moment, U.S. diplomats are paving the way for Iran to reassert itself as a major world energy supplier,” said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. “American voters understand that lifting the ban on Iranian oil resources, while maintaining a ban on U.S. companies, is illogical and restricts our own competitiveness. It doesn’t make sense. U.S. energy producers should not be placed at a competitive disadvantage to anyone, whether it is Russia, Iran or any oil-producing country.”
  
“These votes will play an important role in determining whether America remains a global energy superpower for decades to come,” added Gerard. “If we act now to harness this once-in-generation opportunity, America is poised to add billions to the domestic economy, creating jobs up and down the energy supply chain.”
   
“Bipartisan momentum is stronger than ever, and we urge members of the House and Senate to schedule committee and floor votes on this issue as soon as possible.  Now is the time to send a message to allies around the world that America is ready to lead.”
    
Read the full text of Gerard’s opening remarks here.
   
API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 625 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 25 million Americans.

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Royal Dutch Shell to cut 6,500 jobs, $7 billion in projects

By Bob Downing Published: July 30, 2015

Dutch-based Royal Dutch Shell Plc. says it will be cutting 6,500 jobs and paring $7 billion from budgets in the next two years.

It said the cuts are due to what officials temed the continuing "prolonged downturn" for the energy industry.

Click  here  to read the full story from Bloomberg Business.

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Antero Resources reports production grows but profits fall

By Bob Downing Published: July 30, 2015

Colorado-based Antero Resources reported on Thursday  that its natural gas equivalent production grew by 67 percent from a year earlier but was flat from the previous quarter.
That’s because the drilling company has deferred 50 well completions in the Marcellus Shale because of a needed gathering pipeline. That delay had been announced earlier this year.  
The pipeline providing Gulf Coast access is scheduled to be completed late this year and those wells will be completed early next year,  the company said in a second quarter 2015 earnings call with analysts and the media.
Getting those wells into production will provide the company with a $150 million boost in 2016, and Antero Resources is expecting production growth to jump by up to 30 percent in 2016, officials said.
The company, one of the biggest players in Ohio’s Utica Shale, reported a financial loss of $145 million or 52 cents a share during the second quarter. That compares to a $42 million loss or 16 cents a share in the second quarter 2014.
Antero Resources is projecting a slight drop in production in third quarter 2015.
The company produced 1,484 billion cubic feet of equivalents per day in the quarter that ended June 30. . That total includes nearly 46,000 barrels per day or about 18 percent of production. That represents a 127 percent increase from a year ago and a 15 percent jump from first quarter 2015.
Antero Resources had trimmed its capital budget by 49 percent in 2015. It cut its rigs from 21 to 10 and cut completion crews from 10 to 7 as commodity prices dropped.
The company has drilled 68 Ohio wells and has four rigs drilling in Ohio. It completed 10 Ohio wells in the second quarter. The average lateral in those wells was 10,600 feet in length.
Those 68 Ohio wells produced 244 million cubic feet of equivalents per day in second quarter 2015. That included 11,900 barrels per day of liquids.
The company plans to drill another 35 Utica wells in Ohio in 2015. That includes two seven-well pads and one 6-well pad.
It has drilled 413 horizontal wells in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Earlier this week, it drilled its first Utica Shale natural gas well in Tyler County, W. Va. It will be several months before results will be released.
The company has more than 543,000 acres in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The company has also recently acquired 4,400 acres with potential in both the Utica and Marcellus shales in West Virginia’s Tyler County. The purchase price was $33.6 million.
The company has reduced Utica drilling time from 34 to 30 days. It is spending about $1.3 million per 1,000 feet of laterals.
It has recently committed to ship natural gas starting in 2018 with Columbia Pipeline’s Mountaineer Xpress and Gulf Xpress pipelines.
It has reduced drilling costs by 16 percent in the Marcellus Shale and 18 percent in the Utica Shale, said chairman and CEO Paul Rady. His company is positioned to “weather the (economic) storm,” he said.
In the Utica, about 65 percent of the savings came from cuts in well service costs and 35 percent came from operating efficiencies, he said.

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Tidbits from Antero Resources 2Q 2015 earnings call

By Bob Downing Published: July 30, 2015

Tidbits from Antero Resources' second quarter 2105 earnings call:

1. Company is looking forward to completion of Mariner East 2 pipeline to carry liquids to overseas markets. That is likely to happen in fourth quarter 2016.

2. Company has cut well costs by 15 to 20 percent in the Marcellus and Utica shales. Costs have been cut 16 percent in the Marcellus and 18 percent in the Utica, compared to 2014.

3. Company is keeping a close eye on the very lucrative Utica Shale wells being drilled by other companies in southwest Pennsylvania.

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Republic Services adds 17 CNG trucks to its Denver fleet

By Bob Downing Published: July 29, 2015

From a press release received today:

Republic Expands Natural Gas-Powered Fleet Serving Denver

More than half of Republic's Colorado fleet now powered by the domestic fuel source

DENVER, July 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Republic Services announced today the addition of 17 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) solid waste collection trucks to its fleet serving customers throughout the greater Denver area. The CNG trucks replace older diesel-powered trucks, and bring the total number of natural gas vehicles operated by Republic throughout Colorado to 82.

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CORN, NEXUS pipeline at odds over needs in northern Ohio

By Bob Downing Published: July 29, 2015

A press release today:

NEXUS on Collision Course with Community
July 29, 2015 Medina, OH. - NEXUS Gas Transmission’s claim that its current proposed pipeline route is necessary to serve the market area identified by NEXUS and identified customers located along the current route is disputed by the Coalition to Reroute Nexus (CORN or Coalition). In a letter filed July 28, 2015 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) the grassroots organization stated,
“….… Northeastern Ohio is a well-established industrial region that is abundantly supplied with local natural gas distribution as well as high volume natural gas transmission lines. Any assertion that the NEXUS Project is required in the market area of Northeastern Ohio or by identified customers located along the current route shown in Figure 10.4-1 of Resource Report 10 Alternatives is groundless, if not outright false, in an attempt to mislead the Commission.”
The full text of the Coalition’s most recent filing is attached to this Release and can also be found at http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20150728-5051
“There has been no disclosure to date that the Nexus proposed route is necessary to provide a direct interconnect with any committed large volume industrial consumer,” wrote CORN Board Director David Eigel. Mr. Eigel is a veteran of 33 years in the energy and utility industry as a petroleum engineer and senior executive.
The Mission of the Coalition to Reroute Nexus is to inform, educate, and persuade NEXUS to choose a more southerly route largely avoiding higher density counties in the northeastern part of Ohio and the ecologically unique and environmentally sensitive Oak Openings Region in western Ohio. The Coalition’s Goal is the creation of a carefully engineered, thoughtfully located Pipeline Safety Corridor that protects the public, the pipeline itself, preserves property values and demonstrates respect for individual property rights.
The 250 mile Nexus pipeline will cover 11 Ohio counties and is a transmission line for natural gas extracted from southern Ohio and intended for resale to international clients at the Dawn Energy Hub in Ontario, Canada. The proposed pipeline route will traverse densely populated counties in northeastern Ohio and could compromise environmentally unique and fragile areas in western Ohio, according to CORN leaders.
On March 23, 2015 the City of Green, Summit County, in conjunction with the Coalition officially submitted to the Commission an engineered alternate route (City of Green Alternative) that would conflict with 40 percent fewer businesses, 50 percent fewer churches, 70 percent fewer homes and 100 percent fewer schools.
In a head-to-head comparison performed by NEXUS the company confirms that, “…the City of Green Alternative would affect 12.4 acres less wetlands and cross 0.22 fewer miles of state parks and 0.26 miles of public or conservation lands than the corresponding segment of proposed route. It would also cross 24.6 fewer miles of steep slope areas and require 9.3 miles less side hill construction.”
In a June 12, 2015 filing with the Commission, NEXUS dismissed the City of Green Alternate route proposal as, “… not located in the market area identified by NEXUS and identified customers located along the current route…”
The Coalition’s Board of Directors wrote, “More likely the justification of the current route by NEXUS and the attempt to discredit the City of Green Alternative is that if the City of Green Alternative were implemented NEXUS would not be able to meet contractual agreements with customers to be in-service by November 2017. A self-imposed contractual date of November 2017 is an insufficient reason to preclude a well thought out route revision such as the City of Green’s.
Any delays associated with the NEXUS Project and its inability to meet contractual commitments is being caused solely by Nexus and Spectra Energy's inability to listen to and work with stakeholders, who have a far greater understanding of the needs and concerns of the community. Repeatedly, suggestions have been made to NEXUS and Spectra Energy to avoid a collision course with the community and residents of Ohio, only to have NEXUS and Spectra Energy ignore, rebuff and bully the stakeholders in the affected communities as if no consequence will result and if the outcome has been predetermined by the Commission. If NEXUS and Spectra Energy continue this arrogant, stubborn, and overly confident approach in its assertions and ruses designed to mislead the Commission in order to achieve its myopic goal of building the shortest route from Kensington, Ohio to the Dawn Hub in Ontario without any regard for the best interests of the stakeholders, the State of Ohio, and the physical safety of the residents living in the proposed route, there will be consequences.”
www.facebook.com/MedinaNoNexus
Donate to CORN: http://bit.ly/1D49BY1

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Hess Corp. reports net loss of $147 million in 2Q 2015

By Bob Downing Published: July 29, 2015

Gas and oil production increased in the second quarter 2015, but low commodity prices resulted in a financial loss of $147 million, Hess Corp. reported today.

Click  here  to access its 19-page report.

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Swift Energy hires advisers as it considers financia options

By Bob Downing Published: July 29, 2015

From a press release:

Swift Energy Retains Lazard to Advise As to Strategic Alternatives Related to Its Capital Structure

 

HOUSTON, July 28, 2015 – Swift Energy Company (NYSE: SFY) announced today that it has retained Lazard Freres & Co. LLC to advise the Company’s management and Board of Directors with respect to capital structure, financing alternatives and related strategic opportunities.

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Range Resources to further cut rigs in Marcellus Shale

By Bob Downing Published: July 29, 2015

Texas-based Range Resources says it intends to further reduce its rig count in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale.

The company has cut its rigs from 15 to 10 and intends to cut that to six.

Low commodity prices hurt the company in 2Q 2015.

Click  here  to read more.

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New methanol, fertilizer plants to boost natural gas use

By Bob Downing Published: July 29, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Reversing a decline that lasted more than a decade, industrial natural gas consumption has grown steadily since 2009 as relatively low natural gas prices have supported use of natural gas as a feedstock for the production of bulk chemicals. Industrial facilities, including methanol plants and ammonia- or urea-based fertilizer plants, consumed an average of 21.0 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas in 2014, a 24% increase from 2009. Several new industrial facilities began service this year, with additional projects scheduled to come online through 2018.

Read More ›

Tags: Gulf Coast , industrial , natural gas

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Two Oklahoma injection wells shut down after quakes

By Bob Downing Published: July 29, 2015

From the Associated Press:

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oil and gas operators shut down two wastewater injection wells in northern Oklahoma on Tuesday and reduced operations at a third after several earthquakes centered in the town of Crescent rattled the state

Stephens Production and Devon Energy each voluntarily closed one well, and Stephens reduced operations at another well by 50 percent, Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Matt Skinner said.

“In this case, we didn’t have to issue a directive. We simply called them up and said what we were looking at,” Skinner said. “In terms of fast cooperation from the industry, there’s always exceptions to the rule, but broadly speaking we’ve had very fine cooperation.”

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New 92-room Candlewood Suites opnes in Belmont County

By Bob Downing Published: July 29, 2015

From a Tuesday press release:

COVINGTON, Ky., July 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Commonwealth Hotels, Inc. today announced the opening of the newly constructed 92-room Candlewood Suites St Clairsville Ohio. Located at Mall Ring Road, the Candlewood Suites is the newest hotel in the region and is conveniently to I-70.

The hotel was developed and is owned by a subsidy of Corporex Companies, Inc. Corporex is a master developer based in Covington, Kentucky and does business nationally. The hotel is operated by Commonwealth Hotels, LLC a nationally recognized operator of fine hotels. The addition of a new hotel property is always in and of itself noteworthy, but when it is brand-new construction, it's even more exciting," said Brian Fry, President of Commonwealth Hotels.

Candlewood Suites® hotels provide a relaxed casual and home-like experience for extended stay travelers. At Candlewood Suites hotels, guests find spacious studio and one-bedroom suites each with its own fully equipped kitchen, executive desk, and recliner or sofa bed. The Candlewood Gym and free Guest Laundry are open around the clock, and guests can take advantage of the 24-hour Candlewood Cupboard®, where they will find breakfast items, snacks, refreshments, entrees and necessities available.  Candlewood Suites hotels offer guests all of this at a very comfortable price.

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NWF to sue U.S. DOT over oil pipeline oversight failures

By Bob Downing Published: July 28, 2015

From the National Wildlife Federation today:

National Wildlife Federation to Sue Dept. of Transportation over Oil Pipeline Oversight Failures

 

For more than 20 years, federal government has been illegally allowing oil pipelines in U.S. navigable waters to operate without approved safety plans. Pipeline running under Great Lakes’ Straits of Mackinac extreme example of protection failures.

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Brown's statement at hearing on lifting crude oil export ban

By Bob Downing Published: July 28, 2015

From Ohio's U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown today:

SEN. BROWN OPENING STATEMENT AT Banking Committee’s Hearing on lifting THe crude oil export ban

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – released the following opening statement, as prepared for delivery, at today’s hearing titled, “Lifting the Crude Oil Export Ban.”

 

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University of Pittsburgh starting new energy law institute

By Bob Downing Published: July 28, 2015

From the University of Pittsburgh:

PITTSBURGH—University of Pittsburgh School of Law Dean William M. Carter Jr. today announced the formation of the school’s new Energy Law and Policy Institute. Kevin Abbott, senior energy law partner at Reed Smith LLP, adjunct professor, and a 1981 alumnus of Pitt Law, will serve as interim executive director of the institute, which will begin operating in fall 2015 and will host its first major conference on energy law in the spring of 2016.

This interdisciplinary institute draws on the strengths of the University to advance the training of law students to become leaders in providing legal services to the regional, national, and international energy sectors. The institute is a major priority of the School of Law and the University.

The Energy Law and Policy Institute will develop new courses in the field of energy law, with a particular focus on helping students develop practice-ready skills; host major annual conferences that bring together law firms, corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to address cutting-edge issues in energy law and policy; and advance collaborative research and teaching initiatives in the field of energy law in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Center for Energy, Swanson School of Engineering, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, Graduate School of Public Health, and Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, among others. 

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Southwestern Energy releases 2Q 2015 reports

By Bob Downing Published: July 28, 2015

Texas-based Southwestern Energy today released its second quarter 2015 report on operations and finances.

Click  here  to access the 21-page report.

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Lower oil prices in 2Q hurt Norwegian energy company Statoil

By Bob Downing Published: July 28, 2015

From the Associated Press:

Norwegian energy company Statoil says it was hit by lower oil prices, increased depreciation and higher drilling costs in the second quarter, causing net profit to fall 16 percent to 10.1 billion kroner ($1.2 billion).

Revenue dropped to 124 billion kroner in the period, down from more than 142 billion kroner a year earlier.

CEO Eldar Saetre said Tuesday that the company “delivered encouraging operational performance with good production growth and high regularity” in the quarter, adding that it will continue to cut costs as part of an efficiency program that was “on track.”

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Marksmen Energy reports on well drilled in Pickaway County

By Bob Downing Published: July 28, 2015

From Markmen Energy earlier this week:

CALGARY, ALBERTA, July 27, 2015 -- Marksmen Energy Inc. ("Marksmen" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that Marksmen has participated in the drilling of a well operated by its joint venture partners, Hocking Hills Energy and Well Services LLC ("HHE") and Chuck Henry Energy LLC ("CHE") The well drilled is a Cambrian Knox remnant oil well, the Delong-Davis Unit #1, in Pickaway County, Ohio. Marksmen has a 45% working interest in the well.

The well was spudded on July 20, 2015 and reached its total depth on July 26, 2015 targeting a large Cambrian Knox remnant that was drilled based on the interpretation of new 3D seismic and encountered significant oil and gas shows in the top of the Cambrian Knox formation where open hole logs recorded porosities of greater than 20% over a 6 foot interval. Oil did circulate to surface.

The well is currently being completed for commercial production and is expected to have a pump-jack and bottom-hole equipment in place in a week with the tanks and other surface equipment to follow shortly. Production is expected to be on-line by mid-August. Marksmen believes that even at depressed WTI prices for oil, Marksmen's wells can be economically exploited because of the low drilling and operating costs for its shallow light oil drilling programs in Ohio.

This well was drilled based on the latest 3D seismic program completed in May 2015 with our joint venture partners HHE and CHE. The success of this well and the 3D seismic indicate there are at least two step out locations on this remnant. A number of other well locations in the 2015 3D target area are currently being permitted for drilling including the largest remnant identified by seismic, an offset to our Strittmatter #1 well.

To date Marksmen has conducted approximately 7 square miles of 3D seismic acquisition using Bay Geophysical of Traverse City, Michigan. Marksmen currently has leasehold interests aggregating approximately 12,000 acres in Pickaway County. Additional 3D seismic is planned for later this year.

Archie Nesbitt, CEO and President of Marksmen states "Marksmen is very pleased with the initial results from this well based on the very significant contribution that 3D seismic and its interpretation by our technical experts have made to the overall success to date. The program validates the importance of using the best 3D seismic techniques available to exploit the oil bearing zones in this part of Ohio."

Further information will be released as it becomes available.

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OOGA honors Jerry Olds with 2015 Oilfield Patriot Award

By Bob Downing Published: July 28, 2015

From the Ohio Oil and Gas Association:

 

About the Ohio Oil and Gas Association
The Ohio Oil and Gas Association is a trade association with more than 3,300 members involved in the exploration, production and development of crude oil and natural gas resources within the state of Ohio. For more information, visit www.ooga.org.


###

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Ohio has 1,543 drilled Utica wells, 926 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: July 28, 2015

Ohio has approved 1,980 Utica Shale permits, as of July 25.

That total includes 1,543 drilled Utica wells and 926 producing Utica wells, says the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

A total of 20 rigs are working in Ohio.

Five new permits were approved: one in Carroll County and four in Monroe County.

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Eclipse Resources increases quarterly production by 24 percent

By Bob Downing Published: July 28, 2015

Eclipse Resources, based in State College, Pa., reports that second quarter 2015 production increased by 24 percent from the first quarter 2015.

The company's report was released today.

Click  here  to read more..

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Marcellus, Utica provide 85% of shale gas growth since 2012

By Bob Downing Published: July 28, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

The productivity of natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale and the neighboring Utica Shale is steadily increasing because of ongoing improvements in precision and efficiency of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing occurring in those regions. Since January 2012, natural gas production in the Marcellus and Utica regions has accounted for 85% of the increase in natural gas production reported in EIA's Drilling Productivity Report (DPR) and has driven recent growth in total U.S. natural gas production.

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CONSOL Energy reports record production, big loss for quarter

By Bob Downing Published: July 28, 2015

From CONSOL Energy today:

PITTSBURGH, July 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) reported a net loss of $603 million for the quarter, or ($2.64) per diluted share. This compares to a net loss of $25 million, or ($0.11) per diluted share from the year-earlier quarter. The net loss for the quarter includes a significant unusual item: an $829 million pre-tax impairment in the carrying value of CONSOL's shallow oil and natural gas assets largely due to the continuation of depressed NYMEX forward prices.

After adjusting for certain unusual items, which are listed in the EBITDA reconciliation table, the company had an adjusted net loss1 in the 2015 second quarter of $84 million, or ($0.37) per share. Adjusted EBITDA1 was $138 million for the 2015 second quarter, compared to $246 million in the year-earlier quarter. Cash flow from operations in the just-ended quarter was $62 million, compared to $221 million in the year-earlier quarter.

"CONSOL is focused on managing through what continues to be a very challenging commodity price environment," commented Nicholas J. DeIuliis, president and CEO. "Given this environment, we will manage the company to be free cash positive over the next 18 months, beginning in the second half of 2015. We are moving forward by resetting the company using zero-based budgeting, lean manufacturing and continuous improvement to hold our E&P production growth targets, while achieving our free cash flow targets."

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Pennsylvania to drop FracFocus for its own drilling data

By Bob Downing Published: July 28, 2015

Pennsylvania oil and gas officials are breaking with fellow state regulators and planning to drop the FracFocus website for reporting the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

Next year, the state Department of Environmental Protection will shift to using data reported directly to the state by oil and gas companies and integrating it with other data compiled by the agency.

Click  here  to read more.

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Drilling boom causes teens to drop out of high school

By Bob Downing Published: July 28, 2015

Low-skilled males are dropping out of high school to get good-paying jobs in the oil industry, according to a report from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Click  here  to read more.

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Stanford study: Shallow fracking raises water questions

By Bob Downing Published: July 28, 2015

From Stanford University:

Fracking operations such as this one in Pennsylvania are studied by Stanford Professor Rob Jackson for their effects on groundwater.

The United States now produces about as much crude oil as Saudi Arabia does, and enough natural gas to export in large quantities. That's thanks to hydraulic fracturing, a mining practice that involves a rock-cracking pressurized mix of water, sand and chemicals.

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Halliburton, Baker Hughes have laid off 27,000 workers

By Bob Downing Published: July 27, 2015

Well service company Halliburton has laid off 14,000 workers and Baker Hughes, also a well services company, has laid off 13,000 workers since the drilling industry hit the skids late last year.

Both totals are more than the companies had previously disclosed.

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Oil spill in Trumbull County affects Shenango River

By Bob Downing Published: July 27, 2015

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency assisted local agencies in containing a crude oil spill that originated in Trumbull County Friday morning and made its way to the Shenango River in Pennsylvania. The spill forced Aqua Pennsylvania to turn off its pumps.

Click  here  to read more.

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Investigators looking at radioactivity in Pennsylvania stream

By Bob Downing Published: July 27, 2015

Bromides were found in Ten Mile Creek, a stream that flows through Greene County in southwest Pennsylvania and empties into the Monongahela River.

The bromides may have come from fracking liquids.

The stream also contains Radium-226 and Radium-228 at levels that 60 times greater than federal drinking water limits.

Investigations are under way.

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Two new injection wells operating at company's Ohio facility

By Bob Downing Published: July 27, 2015

From GreenHunter Resources today:

GRAPEVINE, Texas, July 27, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- GreenHunter Resources, Inc. (NYSE MKT:GRH) (NYSE MKT:GRH.PC), a water disposal and total fluids management company operating in the Appalachian Basin, today announced production commencement late last week of the Harris C&W #1 (C&W) and McKelvey M #3 (McKelvey) SWD wells located at the Company’s Mills Hunter facility located in southeastern Ohio. The initial combined injection rate for the C&W and McKelvey wells is approximately 6,000 barrels per day, or approximately 3,000 barrels per day each. The increased injection capacity effectively raises GreenHunter’s overall disposal volumes from approximately 15,000 barrels per day to approximately 21,000 barrels per day, an increase of approximately 40 percent.

Kirk Trosclair, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer said, “After a prolonged delay, we are finally able to report that two new disposal wells are online and operating near full capacity at our largest SWD facility.  These wells are the third and fourth wells to be placed in service at the Mills Hunter facility. Two additional wells are in the final approval stage with certain State authorities.  While demand for our water disposal services remains strong even during the downturn being experienced today in the energy industry, the regulatory process for adding injection wells to our portfolio has changed over the last year. The entire process from start to finish is taking much longer than initially anticipated.  The review and approval process, which previously took around thirty to forty-five days is now taking more than ninety days.”  

Both the C&W and McKelvey wells are recompleted SWD wells from previously existing producing well bores, or what we refer to as “conversion wells”.  Conversion wells historically have a much lower all-in capital cost.  They typically run approximately $500,000 - $600,000 per well, compared to new drill wells which typically can cost between $1.1 million to as much as $1.5 million each.  To-date, eleven out of the twelve injection wells in the GreenHunter Resources portfolio are conversion wells. 

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Gulfport Energy up to 137 (gross) producing Utica Shale wells

By Bob Downing Published: July 27, 2015

From Gulfport Energy today:

OKLAHOMA CITY, July 27, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Gulfport Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:GPOR) ("Gulfport") today provided a second quarter 2015 operational update and scheduled its second quarter 2015 financial and operational results conference call. Operational highlights for the second quarter of 2015 include:

Operational Update

Gulfport produced oil and natural gas sales volumes of 473.9 MMcfe per day during second quarter of 2015, representing a 12% increase over first quarter 2015 production of 424.4 MMcfe per day and a 196% increase over second quarter of 2014 production of 160.3 MMcfe per day. For the second quarter of 2015, Gulfport's production mix was approximately 77% natural gas, 13% natural gas liquids and 10% oil, as compared to 68% natural gas, 20% natural gas liquids and 12% oil during the first quarter of 2015 and 61% natural gas, 9% natural gas liquids and 29% oil during the second quarter of 2014.

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Survey shows 57 percent of Pennsylvanians support fracking

By Bob Downing Published: July 27, 2015

From Robert Morris University:

PITTSBURGH, June 16, 2015 — Nearly a decade into the Marcellus Shale energy boom, Pennsylvanians expressed both overwhelming support and strong environmental misgivings, about fracking — the unconventional drilling technique that has made the state’s expanding energy economy possible.

A poll by The Robert Morris University Polling Institute shows 57.1 percent of Pennsylvanians in support of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which injects millions of gallons of water laced with small amounts of chemicals a mile beneath the earth and breaks up shale formations, releasing a bounty of natural gas. Nationally, the figures showed 55.9 percent of Americans hold the same view.

The poll was conducted nationwide last month and included a statistically reliable sampling of Pennsylvania residents. The survey is sponsored by Trib Total Media.

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Drill cuttings get chilly reception in Pennsylvania's Tioga County

By Bob Downing Published: July 27, 2015

A proposal to take treated drill cuttings and to use them to extend an airport runway in Pennsylvania's Tioga County is getting a chilly reception.

Clean Earth would use the 400,000 tons of cuttings to extend the runway at the Wellsboro Johnston Airport by 600 feet.

But the cuttings would be near a stream that drains to Pine Creek, the proclaimed Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.

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

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Shell may start its own gas-fired power plant at Pa. cracker

By Bob Downing Published: July 27, 2015

From the Associated Press last week:

MONACA, Pa.: A proposed petrochemical plant in western Pennsylvania would use — and generate — a substantial amount of power.

The Beaver County Times reports that Shell Chemicals’ ethane cracker plant proposed for Potter and Center townships in Beaver County would likely require more than 100 megawatts of electricity to operate. That would power 100,000 homes at any given moment, FirstEnergy Corp. spokesman Doug Colafella said.

“That’s pretty massive,” he said. “It would be a huge industrial customer.”

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Illinois anti-fracking group drafts community bill of rights

By Bob Downing Published: July 27, 2015

From the Associated Press on Friday:

An anti-fracking group has drafted a proposed community bill of rights for Jackson County that it plans to unveil at an event this weekend.

The Southern Illinois Rights Project is rallying Saturday at the Town Square Pavilion in Carbondale. At the public event, the group will present the document and circulate a petition to encourage the Jackson County Board to accept its proposal.

Southern Illinois Rights Project member Al Parr says the group aims to protect residents and the environment from the expansion of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in southern Illinois. Although the Illinois Constitution includes protections regarding residents' health and well-being, he says the state could do more to regulate fracking.

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U.S. rig count is up 19 to 876, Baker Hughes says

By Bob Downing Published: July 24, 2015

The number of working drilling rigs in the United States has increased by 19 from a week ago, according the Baker Hughes count released today.

There are 876 active rigs in the U.S.

That is 1,007 fewer than a year ago.

Canada has eight additional rigs from a week ago.

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Fulton County judge gives Nexus O.K. for survey access

By Bob Downing Published: July 24, 2015

A judge in Ohio's Fulton County has given the Nexus Pipeline LLC permission to survey the properties of landowners who had refused access.

Click  here  to read more.

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Proposed Louisiana cracker would process Utica ethane

By Bob Downing Published: July 24, 2015

An Asian company is working with American-based Axiall Corp. to build an ethane cracker plant in Louisiana to process ethane from the Utica and Marcellus shales in Ohio, Pennyslvania and West Virginia.

The ethane would be moved to the Gulf Coast by pipeline.

The Wheeling Intelligencer/News-Regsiter reported that Atlanata-based Axiall is partnering with South Korea's Lotte Chemical Corp..

The plan is to produce 1million metric tons of ethylene per year at Lake Charles, La.,  starting by the end of 2018.

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Hocking College to partner with Stark State on drilling program

By Bob Downing Published: July 24, 2015

A press release from earlier this week from Hocking College:

Hocking College will offer the first year of a Petroleum Technology program in partnership with Stark State College. The program is now enrolling students for autumn semester 2015; the Hocking College portion of the program will be located at the Hocking College Logan Campus.

This program leads to the completion of an associate degree through Stark State College, an approved ShaleNet training provider. Students can complete the first year of an Associate of Applied Science degree program at Hocking, then choose one of five Petroleum Technology tracks to complete at Stark State: Pipeline Technician, Instrumentation Electronics Technician, Production Technician, Industrial Process Operation or Petroleum Industrial Mechanics Technology.

The current oil and gas boom in the United States has resulted in new job opportunities and Ohio sits atop large portions of the Utica Shale formation, a large reserve the U.S. is only just beginning to tap. According to the latest Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services Ohio Shale Quarterly Economic Trends for Ohio Oil and Gas Industries report, core shale-related employment, which includes such things as pipeline construction and well drilling, increased more than 110 percent from the third quarter of 2011 to the third quarter of 2014. The largest percent growth in employment for the core shale-related industries during that time frame was in the Southeast region of the state, which saw in increase of 227 percent.

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Halliburton, BlackRock to refrack wells in $500 million venture

By Bob Downing Published: July 24, 2015

Halliburton and private equity firm BlackRock are teaming up in a $500 millon venture to refrack wells over the next three years.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Shale drilling on Pennsylvania public lands slowed in 2014

By Bob Downing Published: July 24, 2015

Shale gas development on public lands in Pennsylvania slowed in 2014, another sign of economic stress in the Marcellus Shale, reports NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Magnum Hunter Resources says last stockholder suit dropped

By Bob Downing Published: July 24, 2015

From Magnum Hunter Resources today:

IRVING, TX--(Marketwired - Jul 24, 2015) -  Magnum Hunter Resources Corporation (NYSE: MHR) (NYSE MKT: MHR.PRC) (NYSE MKT: MHR.PRD) (NYSE MKT: MHR.PRE) (the "Company" or "Magnum Hunter") announced today that, on June 22, 2015, the 125th District Court of Harris County, Texas dismissed the last remaining stockholder derivative case against certain of the Company's officers and directors. As previously announced by the Company, a series of stockholder derivative cases were filed against certain of the Company's officers and directors alleging certain breaches of fiduciary duties and other matters in connection with the dismissal by the Company of its independent registered public accounting firm in spring 2013. With this dismissal, the Company and the individual defendants have now been successful in defending all of the derivative cases. In addition, as previously reported by the Company in its public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, all of the class action complaints previously filed against the Company and certain of its officers relating to, among other things, such allegations have also been dismissed. Accordingly, all of the shareholder lawsuits relating to these allegations have now been dismissed, and no cash settlements of any form have been paid by the Company or any of the Company's insurance carriers in connection with these lawsuits.

Management Comments

Mr. Gary C. Evans, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Magnum Hunter, commented, "Our Board of Directors is very pleased to put these shareholder lawsuits behind us. The plaintiffs brought their claims before nine different judges in seven different courts. Every single one of these judges who considered the plaintiffs' allegations agreed with us that the claims should be dismissed. While this has been a time consuming process, we held our ground and resolved each and every lawsuit without any payments to plaintiffs. All litigation expenses for shareholder lawsuits, other than insurance policy retention amounts, have been covered by our insurance policies."

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Cabot to keep limiting natural gas production until prices rise

By Bob Downing Published: July 24, 2015

Texas-based Cabot Oil & Gas, the No. 1 driller in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, said it intends to keep limiting natural gas production until commodity prices rise.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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EQT's first Utica Shale well is No. 1 for initial production

By Bob Downing Published: July 24, 2015

Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. has to be very pleased with its first Utica Shale well in Greene Co., Pa.

The company reported that the well is producing 72.9 million cubic feet per day of natural gas.

That would make it the No. 1 Utica Shale well drilled so far.

It surpasses the previous record of 59 million cubic feet per dayfrom a Range Resources' well in Washington Co., Pa.

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API: Methane emissions dropping under existing programs

By Bob Downing Published: July 24, 2015

A press release on Thursday from the American Petroleum Institute:

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2015 – API said it will work with EPA to improve the agency’s new voluntary program on methane emissions but cautioned against duplicative regulations on oil and gas operations.

“Even as oil and natural gas production has risen dramatically, methane emissions have fallen, thanks to industry leadership and investment in new technologies,” said API Senior Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Howard Feldman. “Methane is the primary component of natural gas, and emissions will continue to fall as operators innovate and find new ways to capture and deliver more of it to meet consumer demands. Voluntary programs are the best way to reduce methane emissions from existing sources. Industry is already incentivized to best determine how to cost-effectively reduce emissions and will consider participation in a voluntary program provided it has the necessary flexibility and incentives.”

EPA’s latest greenhouse gas inventory reported that methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells are down 79 percent since 2005. Total methane emissions from natural gas systems are down 11 percent since 2005, a direct result of industry innovation according to API.

“The oil and natural gas revolution is driving unprecedented job growth, providing Americans with affordable energy, and helping to reduce emissions,” Feldman said. “In fact, safe and responsible development of energy from shale has helped the U.S. cut CO2 emissions to near 20-year lows. Additional regulations on methane by EPA and other agencies could have a chilling effect on the American energy renaissance, our economy, and our progress reducing emissions.”

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 625 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 25 million Americans.

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U.S. EPA proposing voluntary methane reduction program

By Bob Downing Published: July 24, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is putting together a program to encourage the oil and gas industry to voluntarily reduce methane emissions.

The Methane Challenge Program would ask oil and gas companies to set specific goals for reducing methane emissions at their facilities and then detail annual progress made. 

According to the EPA, the program builds on the 20-year-old Natural Gas STAR Program, which encourages reductions in methane emissions at oil and gas facilities.

Methane is the main component of natural gas. It’s a potent greenhouse gas.

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U.S. EPA could boost water safety from fracking, report says

By Bob Downing Published: July 23, 2015

The U.S, Environmental Protection Agency could take action in two areas to improve safety around drinking water supplies and hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

That assessment came in mid-July in a new report from the EPA's Inspector General.

Click  here  to read the report.

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First lawsuit filed against New York's fracking ban

By Bob Downing Published: July 23, 2015

A New York attorney has quietly filed a lawsuit, believed to the first, against New York's ban on hydraulic fracturing or fracking, says Jim Willis of the Marcellus Drilling News..

The suit was filed by East Rochester attorney David Morabito over land he owns in Allegany County.

The suit against the New York Department of Enviromental Conservation was filed about two months ago.

Click  here  to read more.

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Additions needed to draft energy plan, API says

By Bob Downing Published: July 23, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute on Wednesday:

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2015 ─ Major elements of a national energy strategy should be added to a draft package approved today by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, said API. 
 
“The last major energy legislation was crafted in 2007, and important changes are needed to unlock the full economic and security benefits made possible by America’s energy revolution,” said API Executive Vice President Louis Finkel. “America is now a global energy superpower, producing more oil and natural gas than any nation in the world. A truly comprehensive strategy is needed to harness that energy to create well-paying jobs, save consumers money, increase government revenues, and strengthen the security of America and its allies.
 
“We’re disappointed that the first draft of this bill doesn’t yet include important bipartisan proposals to lift outdated restrictions on exports, expand access to domestic resources, and reform bureaucratic hurdles that stand in the way of infrastructure investments and trade with our North American neighbors. 1970s-era relics like the ban on crude exports only harm consumers and restrict opportunities for U.S. workers. However, this draft does include strong provisions to help train U.S. workers for the next generation of energy jobs, and we are optimistic that other important, pro-growth policies will be added as this package moves through the amendment process.
 
“America has a stronger, more diverse energy mix than at any time in generations. Updating our laws to reflect a new energy landscape could generate 2.3 million U.S. jobs, add $443 billion per year to the economy, and save the average household $360 per year by 2035, according to a study by Wood Mackenzie.”
 
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has announced that a related energy package may soon be introduced in the Senate.
 
“House and Senate leaders recognize that this is a work in progress. We urge lawmakers to seize this opportunity to create jobs and support America’s growth as a global energy superpower by lifting outdated roadblocks to oil and natural gas exports, infrastructure, and energy development.”
 
API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 625 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 25 million Americans.

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Columbus petition organizers fail to collect enough signatures

By Bob Downing Published: July 23, 2015

The grass-roots group seeking a community bill of rights in Columbus failed to gather enough valid signatures.

The group gathered more than 13,000 signatures but 5,470 were invalid.

It needed 8,957 valid signatures to place the community bill of rights before voters in November.

It appears that the group may try again, aiming for a vote in November 2016.

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Low commodity prices hurt EQT Corp. in 2Q 2015 report

By Bob Downing Published: July 23, 2015

Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. reported second quarter income of $5.5 million, compared to quarterly income of $110.9 million a year ago.

That's due to low commodity prices for natural gas and liquids from Marcellus Shale drilling.

Click  here  to read the company's statement.

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EQT Midstream, Range Resources sign pipeline pact

By Bob Downing Published: July 23, 2015

Pennsylvania-based EQT Midstream Partners and Texas-based Range Resources-Appalachia LLC have signed a pipeline agreement.

Under the $250 million deal announced today, EQT Midstream will provide 32 miles of pipelines and compression in southwest Pennsylvania.

Range Resources is one of the biggest drillers in the Marcellus Shale.

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Sunoco Logistics has 13th quarter with distribution increase

By Bob Downing Published: July 23, 2015

From a press release today:

SUNOCO LOGISTICS ANNOUNCES THIRTEENTH CONSECUTIVE QUARTER OVER QUARTER
DISTRIBUTION INCREASE OF 5 PERCENT AND EARNINGS CONFERENCE CALL DATE
The Partnership announces 41st successive quarterly distribution increase overall
PHILADELPHIA, July 23, 2015 – Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE: SXL) (the “Partnership”) today
announced that Sunoco Partners LLC, its general partner, has declared a cash distribution for the second quarter 2015 of
$0.438 per common unit ($1.75 annualized) to be paid on August 14, 2015 to unit holders of record on August 10, 2015.
This represents a 5 percent increase over the first quarter 2015 cash distribution of $0.419 per common unit ($1.68
annualized) and a 20 percent increase over the second quarter 2014 cash distribution of $0.365 per common unit ($1.46
annualized). This is the forty-first successive quarter the Partnership has increased its distribution.
“We are pleased to announce another significant increase as we are in our fourth year of growing our distribution
20 percent annually,” said Michael J. Hennigan, president and chief executive officer. “We continue to execute our
strategy for growth. We are committed to growing stable, ratable cash flow for the Partnership and distributing that cash
to our investors.”
The Partnership also announced that it will hold a conference call on Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. ET
(7:00 a.m. CT) to discuss its financial results for the second quarter 2015. Earnings are expected to be released after the
market closes on Wednesday, August 5, 2015.
Those wishing to listen can access the call by dialing (USA toll free) 1-800-369-2171; International (USA toll) 1-
517-308-9315 and request “Sunoco Logistics Partners Earnings Call, Conference Code: Sunoco Logistics”. This event
may also be accessed by a webcast, which will be available at www.sunocologistics.com. A number of presentation slides
will accompany the audio portion of the call and will be available to be viewed and printed shortly before the call begins.
Individuals wishing to listen to the call on the Partnership’s web site will need Windows Media Player, which can be
downloaded free of charge from Microsoft or from Sunoco Logistics Partners’ conference call page. Please allow at least
fifteen minutes to complete the download.
Audio replays of the conference call will be available for two weeks after the conference call beginning
approximately one hour following the completion of the call. To access the replay, dial 1-866-463-4974. International
callers should dial 1-203-369-1409.
ABOUT SUNOCO LOGISTICS
Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE: SXL), headquartered in Philadelphia, is a master limited partnership that
owns and operates a logistics business consisting of a geographically diverse portfolio of complementary crude oil, refined
2
products, and natural gas liquids pipeline, terminalling and acquisition and marketing assets which are used to facilitate the
purchase and sale of crude oil, refined products, and natural gas liquids. SXL’s general partner is a consolidated subsidiary
of Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (NYSE: ETP). For more information, visit the Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. web site at
www.sunocologistics.com.
 

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Brown picks California panel to expand monitoring of fracking

By Bob Downing Published: July 23, 2015

From the Associated Press on Wednesday:

California Gov. Jerry Brown says he's created a panel to study how California should monitor hydraulic fracturing for oil.

The panel will review a state-ordered fracking study released this month that found some of the chemicals used in California's fracking boom likely pose a risk to public health. It said the state has failed to track them.

The study ordered by state lawmakers also urged greater oversight of fracking and other intensive oil field production methods.

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First meeting of Pennsylvania pipeline task force

By Bob Downing Published: July 23, 2015

From Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection:

“We are in the midst of a wave of energy development that is unlike any other in the state’s history. The Marcellus shale and shale gas resources generally – including the upcoming Utica play - presents an immense economic opportunity for the commonwealth,” said Sec. Quigley in his opening remarks addressing the 48 member task force. “Governor Wolf wants this industry to succeed and recognizes that the infrastructure challenge is a major one and we need to work together to find the win-win opportunities to connect these wells to markets.”

In addition to the members of the task force, there are also 110 additional volunteers on 12 workgroups.  The workgroups will present recommendations to the task force on subjects such as agriculture, natural resource protection, workforce and economic development, emergency preparedness and end-users of natural gas products (a full list of workgroups can be found here)

“As you look at the density of development that is occurring… there are profound environmental and community impacts that we need to take into consideration,” said Quigley.

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Pennsylvania to get 30,000 miles of new pipelines

By Bob Downing Published: July 23, 2015

Pennsylvania will likely see about 30,000 miles of new pipelines to carry natural gas and liquids from the Marcellus and Utica shales, a top state official said on Wednesday at the first meeting of the state's pipeline infrastructure task force.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Eco-group unhappy with decision on Royal Dutch Shell drilling

By Bob Downing Published: July 23, 2015

A press release from Environment America today:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Department of the Interior today granted conditional permits for Royal Dutch Shell PLC to begin drilling off the coast of Alaska in the Chukchi Sea. For the time being, the company is only permitted to drill the top sections of its wells because it lacks the equipment to cap the wells in case of emergency. Rachel Richardson, the director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling program, issued the following statement:
 
“We’ve seen time and again, most recently just last week: when you drill, you spill. And when you spill in the Arctic Ocean, the consequences are all but irrevocable. The area is simply too fragile and too remote to ever fully recover from a catastrophic spill, and polar bears, beluga whales, and other wildlife unique to this precious area will pay the price.
 
“Allowing Shell, with its horrible track record of accidents and disregard for the rules, to drill even on a limited basis without the equipment on site to contain a spill is truly reckless.

"Today's action is a huge setback for climate action and the health of the Arctic. But in the long term, with the support of the public, we can protect our oceans from drilling and transition toward a 100 percent clean energy future."

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Royal Dutch Shell wins approval for exploratory Alaskan drilling

By Bob Downing Published: July 23, 2015

From the Associated Press:

By KEVIN FREKING and DAN JOLING

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Obama administration has given Royal Dutch Shell PLC approval to begin limited exploratory oil drilling off Alaska's northwest coast.

The two permits issued Wednesday clear the way for drilling in Chukchi Sea, but with conditions.

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Ashtabula County to host July 27 forum on injection wells

By Bob Downing Published: July 22, 2015

From a press release:

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Brown seeks to do more in switching to new crude oil railcars

By Bob Downing Published: July 22, 2015

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown on Wednesday  called for doing more to get rid of older railcars transporting hazardous materials to better protect Ohio communities.
“We’ve seen too many derailments of trains with unsafe cars, often carrying crude oil and other hazardous material. It’s time to put a stop to these dangerous and costly spills,” Brown said in a teleconference.
“That’s why I introduced legislation that would help reduce risks to communities near railroad tracks by phasing-out older tank cars, providing a tax credit to help companies upgrade to newer, safer cars and help communities better prepare for accidents,” he said.
Up to 50 trains per week carrying volatile crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale pass through Ohio on their way to East Coast refineries.
The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that trains carrying crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times per year for the next 20 years, causing as much as $4 billion in property damage.
Ohio was third in the United States for the most rail incidents involving hazardous cargoes in 2014, Brown said.
Federal rail rules were tightened in May. He called those federal rules “a good start.” But even more needs to be down to speed up the phase-out of older, dangerous tank cars and to encourage companies to replace them with newer. safer cars, and that’s why he introduced his Hazardous Materials Rail Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2015.
It would provide a tax credit to companies that upgrade the newer cars to the highest required safety standard. Those credits could cover up to 15 percent the cost of new rail cars.
The bill also would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to implement recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board to give first responders real-time information on rail transportation, update track maintenance standards and study first-responder preparedness for rail accidents.
The bill would also provide funding to better equip communities and first responders for rail accidents. It would establish a dedicated fund for clean-up costs of oil train accidents, advanced training for first responders and grant money for states and cities to reroute rail tracks carrying large volumes of hazardous materials away from highly populated areas.
The changes would be funded by a $175-per-shipment fee on older tank cars.
Getting such rail shipments rerouted away from urban areas will be costly and it may be difficult to get done, Brown said.

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Baker Hughes sees 33 percent drop in 2Q 2015 revenues

By Bob Downing Published: July 22, 2015

With revenues of $4 billion in the second quarter 2015, well services company Baker Hughes saw a 33 percent drop in reevnue from a year ago.

Click  here  for more details.

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New pipelines will provide Marcellus-Utica link to Florida

By Bob Downing Published: July 22, 2015

Pipelines projects by the Williams Co., Kinder Morgan Inc. and Spectra Energy Corp. will soon by moving natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales to Florida, says Genscape Inc. and Tudor Pickering Holt and Co. in a new assessment.

Such shipments will likely begin in late 2015 and will provide cheaper energy to the Southeast for the first time since the U.S. shale boom took off.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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GE, Statoil pick winners in first fracking sand competition

By Bob Downing Published: July 22, 2015

From a press release from Statoil and GE:

Five Winning Technologies Address Alternatives for Sand in Shale Development: Sand plays a critical role in shale development and the hydraulic fracturing process.

The proppant is mixed with water and injected into a formation to “stimulate” or “prop open” the tiny fractures, enabling oil and natural gas to flow freely.
 
Well stimulation requires hundreds of truck trips to transport materials, which increases road wear and traffic as well as noise, dust and emissions.

By focusing on sand, the crowdsourcing Challenge looked for solutions that have the potential to reduce the environmental impacts on local communities, lessen emissions and make energy production more efficient.

The objective of the Sand Challenge was to reduce truck trips.
(Photo: Ole Jørgen Bratland)

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MPLX, MarkWest provide added information on merger

By Bob Downing Published: July 22, 2015

From a press release earlier this week:

FINDLAY, Ohio, and DENVER, July 20, 2015 - Last week MPLX LP (NYSE: MPLX) and MarkWest Energy Partners, L.P. (NYSE: MWE) (MarkWest) announced they had signed a definitive merger agreement whereby MarkWest would become a wholly owned subsidiary of MPLX. In connection with the announcement, MPLX affirmed its anticipated distribution growth guidance of 29 percent in 2015 and shared that it expects a 25 percent compound annual distribution growth rate for the combined entity through 2017, with a "peer-leading" distribution growth profile thereafter. MPLX and MarkWest are clarifying "peer-leading" implies an annual distribution growth profile of approximately 20 percent in years 2018 and 2019.

The combined partnership also anticipates the opportunity for incremental growth capital investments afforded by the stronger financial position of the combined entity and support from its investment grade sponsor Marathon Petroleum Corporation (NYSE: MPC).

MPLX and MarkWest are providing additional information on the incremental organic growth opportunities available to the combined partnership, and have added information to the announcement materials to supplement that discussion.

All materials will be available under the Investor Relations tabs for MPLX at http://www.mplx.com and MarkWest at http://www.markwest.com and will be a part of a Form 8-K filed with the Securities Exchange Commission this morning.

 

 

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Activist investment firm pushing CONSOL Energy

By Bob Downing Published: July 22, 2015

A Tennessee-based activist investment firm is pushingfinancially struggling CONSOL Energy Inc. to get more value from its natural gas division.

Southeastern Asset Management owns 21.1 percent share in CONSOL Energy with offices outside Pittsburgh.

Click  here  to read today's story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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Noble Energy takeover of Rosetta Resources is approved

By Bob Downing Published: July 22, 2015

A press release from earlier this week:

Houston, July 20, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Noble Energy, Inc. ("Noble Energy") (NYSE: NBL) today announced that the stockholders of Rosetta Resources Inc. ("Rosetta") overwhelmingly approved the merger of Rosetta into a subsidiary of Noble Energy.  The transaction closed following the shareholder meeting and the merger will be effective at the end of today.  In conjunction with the closing, Rosetta will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Noble Energy and James E. Craddock, Rosetta's Chairman, CEO and President will join the Noble Energy Board of Directors.

Highlights of the acquisition for Noble Energy include:

Dave Stover, Noble Energy's Chairman, President and CEO stated, "Today's closing of the Rosetta acquisition represents another milestone for Noble Energy.  The addition of Rosetta's Eagle Ford Shale and Permian positions expands our onshore business with high-quality acreage in two premier unconventional basins, increasing our development inventory and further diversifying our portfolio.  The strength of these assets and the Rosetta team, combined with Noble Energy's exceptional financial and operating capacity, will drive significant value creation for our existing and new shareholders."

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Oil company mergers are down, federal agency reports

By Bob Downing Published: July 22, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

The second quarter of 2015 exhibited the largest amount of oil companies' merger and acquisition (M&A) activity by value since fourth-quarter 2012. The announced merger between Royal Dutch Shell and BG Group in early April accounted for $84 billion of the $115 billion quarterly total.

Read More ›

Tags: financial markets , liquid fuels , oil/petroleum

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Anxiety builds among Ohio drillers due to low commodity prices

By Bob Downing Published: July 22, 2015

Some anxiety is building among Utica Shale drillers in Ohio because of the continuing low commdity prices for natural gas and liquids, says Dan Gearino in an article in the August issue of Columbus CEO.

The drillers may be getting nervous but the midstream operations including pipelines and gas-processing plants are doing well, the expert said.

Click  here   to read the full story.

 

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Carroll County celebrates $899 million gas-fired power plant

By Bob Downing Published: July 21, 2015

CARROLLTON: A big change is coming to Ohio: Coal is out and cleaner-burning natural gas is in.
That switch is behind the ceremonial ground breaking on Tuesday  southeast of Canton in tiny Carroll County where  a new $899 million natural gas-fired power plant is being built in the heart of Ohio’s Utica Shale.
Carroll County Energy hosted a mini-party for the 700-megawatt plant that is already under construction at the 77-acre site off state Route 9 about 2½ miles north of Carrollton. That’s enough electricity to power 750,000 houses.
The plant scheduled to begin operations in December 2017.
The plant would have been impossible except for the development of the Utica Shale in eastern Ohio that is producing large quantities of low-cost natural gas, said Thomas Spang, chief executive officer of Advanced Power AG, the Swiss-based company behind the project.
An estimated 700 construction jobs and 21 permanent jobs will be created, the company said.
The plant will produce 50 percent of the carbon dioxide and less than 10 percent of the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that would have been produced by a coal-fired plant, the company said.
It will also capture waste heat to generate additional electricity.
It will be close to Kinder Morgan’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline plus American Electric Power transmission lines, officials said.
Plans for the project were first announced in July 2013.
The new plant is “a game-changer,” said Carroll County commissioner Jeff Ohler. “This is a historic event.”
Carroll County hopes that the new plant will produce a major economic boost with other plants being built nearby to tap into the electric power, said commissioner Bob Wirkner.
Carroll County drilled its first Utica horizontal well in March 2011. Today the county has 431 drilled Utica wells, of which 363 are producing. Both totals are No. 1 in Ohio.
Spang said Advanced Power is planning for a second natural gas-powered project in Ohio , although no details were released.
The new plant in Carroll County is one of six gas-fired plants that will be built, converted or expanded to produce electricity in Ohio, all by private companies. They should all be operational by 2019.
That includes an $800 million gas-fired power plant  in Lordstown in Trumbull County (Clean Energy Future) and the Nexus Pipeline across northern Ohio will include a connection to provide natural gas to a existing 753-megawatt power plant in Avon Lake in Lorain County that is converting to natural gas (NRG Energy).
Other gas-fired plants are proposed for Middletown (NTE Energy LLC), Vinton County (Rolling Hills Power Co.) and Oregon (Oregon Clean Energy).
The plants will combine gas turbines and steam boilers, making them more efficient than coal-fired plants.
Those six projects together will result in expenditures of $3.8 billion and will produce 4,238 megawatts of electricity, says Jackie Stewart of Energy in Depth-Ohio, a pro-drilling trade group. That is enough electricity to power 3.5 million homes, she said. One megawatt can power between 600 and 1,000 homes.
There are also plans for eight natural gas-fired plants in Pennsylvania and three in West Virginia.
Akron’s FirstEnergy Corp. has no plans to switch existing plants to natural gas, says spokeswoman Stephanie Walton.
It has a 545-megawatt gas-fired plant in Lorain and has five gas-fired plants in Pennsylvania, Those plants together can produce 1,447 megawatts. They are used for peaking periods when electric demand is high and more electricity is needed.
The company has scrapped plans to switch to natural gas at its 1,710-megawatt Hatfield Ferry plant in Masontown, Pa., she said.
Natural gas produces 8 percent of the electricity produced by FirstEnergy companies, Walton said.
Columbus-based American Electric Power is shutting down seven coal-fired plants and converting two plants to natural gas. They are the Big Sandy plant in Kentucky and the Clinch River plant in Virginia.
About 23 percent of AEP’s electric power comes from natural gas. It has added 4,800 megawatts of gas-fired power in the last 10 years. That includes Appalachian Power’s 580-megawatt plant that opened in 2012 at Dresden in Ohio’s Muskingum County.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that natural gas is producing more electricity than coal for the first time in the United States.
According to the federal EIA, natural gas accounted for 31 percent of all electricity produced in the U.S. in April; coal produced 30 percent. Nuclear power produced 20 percent.
The natural gas use jumped from 22 percent in April 2010. At that time, coal was used to produce 44 percent of electricity.
Numerous polluting coal-fired power plants are being retired by utilities and the remaining plants face stricter federal environmental rules including the Obama administration pushing its climate-change plan.
Last week, an Iowa-based utility, Alliant Energy, announced plans to switch to natural gas at two of its plants and to close additional five coal-burning plants. That makes 200 U.S. coal-fired plants that have been shut down since 2010, says the Sierra Club, a national eco-group that has been pushing to close coal-fired plants.
Coal-fired power plants are also a major source of carbon dioxide, a key global-warming gas.
Getting rid of coal-fired plants will improve the health of Americans and boost America’s switch to clean-energy resources like wind and solar, said Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director.
The 200 coal-fired plants that are closed or closing caused  6,000 heart attacks, 60,000 asthma attacks and 3,600 deaths each year, the Sierra Club says. It says the plants annually emitted as much pollution as 39 million passenger vehicles, plus 7,600 pounds of mercury, a potent neurotoxin.

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Ohio has 1,535 drilled Utica wells, 925 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: July 21, 2015

Ohio has approved 1,980 Utica Shale permits, as of July 18.

Of that total, 1,535 Utica wells are drilled and 925 Utica wells are producing, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources says.

Twenty rigs are drilling in Ohio.

Six new permits were approved. All six are in Carroll County.

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Pennsylvania to convene first pipeline task force meeting

By Bob Downing Published: July 21, 2015

From Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection:

The group of 48 experts and stakeholders will recommend policies, guidelines and best practices to guide the anticipated and unprecedented build-out of pipeline infrastructure expected to take place across Pennsylvania during the next decade. The group’s report is due to Governor Tom Wolf by February 2016.

NOTE: Seating and parking will be very limited so we encourage the public to view the proceedings via the live stream online at: http://pacast.com/players/live_dep.asp

The agenda and related materials for the meeting are available on DEP’s website at: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/pipeline_infrastructure_task_force/22066/2015_meetings/2097721

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Chesapeake Energy to eliminate 3Q common stock dividend

By Bob Downing Published: July 21, 2015

From Chesapeake Enerty today:

OKLAHOMA CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jul. 21, 2015-- Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) today announced an updated financial strategy. Highlights include:

Due to the current commodity price environment for oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids, and the resulting reduction in capital available to invest in its high-quality assets, Chesapeake Energy will eliminate its common dividend effective 2015 third quarter and redirect the cash into its 2016 capital program to maximize the return available to its shareholders.

Doug Lawler, Chesapeake’s Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We received approval from our Board of Directors to eliminate the common stock dividend of $0.35 per share annually, which is applicable to the 2015 third quarter. We believe this decision is prudent as we continue to invest and redirect as much capital as possible into our world-class assets. The elimination of the common stock dividend will save approximately $240 million annually. This, along with the redemption of the preferred shares in our CHK Cleveland Tonkawa subsidiary, is part of a broader disciplined approach that began two years ago to decrease the company’s financial complexity and increase our liquidity. The company’s liquidity position remains extremely strong with more than $2 billion of unrestricted cash on our balance sheet and an undrawn $4 billion revolving credit facility as of June 30, 2015. We continue to move forward with multiple opportunities that will strengthen our cash flow generation capabilities, and I look forward to future announcements regarding the ways we are creating additional value in the months ahead.”

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CONSOL Energy to post 2Q 2015 loss to low commodity prices

By Bob Downing Published: July 21, 2015

From CONSOL Energy on Monday:

PITTSBURGH, July 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) is announcing several items in advance of its scheduled July 28 second quarter earnings announcement.

First, CONSOL expects to report a second quarter loss from operations, primarily due to lower commodity prices. Operationally, CONSOL expects to achieve previous quarter total production guidance for both the E&P and Coal Divisions.  

Separate from the operating loss, the company expects to record a significant impairment charge due to the reduction in the carrying value of CONSOL's conventional shallow oil and natural gas assets, largely resulting from a continuation of depressed NYMEX forward prices. This impairment charge is a non-cash item that will not affect the company's reserves, Marcellus and Utica Shale segments, or net asset value (NAV). Also, the impairment will lower depreciation, depletion and amortization (DD&A) moving forward.   

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Two Butler County families file suit against XTO Energy

By Bob Downing Published: July 21, 2015

Two Butler County families have filed a lawsuit against XTO Energy, alleging that the energy company illegallydeducted expenses before making royalty payments.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court.

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

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Petrolympic Ltd. wants to drill Utica dolomite in Quebec, Texas

By Bob Downing Published: July 21, 2015

From a recent press release:

Toronto, Ontario – Petrolympic Ltd. (“Petrolympic” or the “Company”) (TSX-V: PCQ, OTCQB: PCQRF) has announced that the Company's shares have been approved for listing on the OTCQB Marketplace and have commenced trading on that exchange. Real-Time Quote Display Service for the company’s US symbol (OTCQB: PCQRF) is now available at: http://www.otcmarkets.com/stock/PCQRF/quote. The Company has also maintained its listing on the Canadian Securities Exchange in Canada, under the symbol PCQ.

“We have been pursuing the OTCQB listing for quite some time and are gratified that our efforts have now been rewarded,” said Mendel Ekstein, Petrolympic CEO. “Liquidity offered through the OTCQB Marketplace will yield far more accessibility to a much wider range of retail and institutional investors, and we intend to take full advantage of this by attracting as many new eyeballs to our Company's progress as possible. We are committed to enhancing our investor relations through the use of creative social networking and other sophisticated investor awareness programs.”

Petrolympic has recently announced significant oil and natural gas discoveries in a conventional hydrothermal dolomite reservoir in Quebec. The Company is actively pursuing a reservoir characterization and delineation program to develop this resource in a dynamic market and in a context of rejuvenated provincial regulations and energy policies.

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Nova Scotia LNG facility wins export approval from U.S. DOE

By Bob Downing Published: July 20, 2015

A proposed liquefied natural gas facility in Nova Scotia has received export approval from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Bear Head LNG Corp. says the approval would authorize it to bring up to 440 billion cubic feet per year of U.S. natural gas to Canada and to export up to eight million tonnes of liquefied natural gas per year to free-trade countries.

The company is waiting for the same authorization from Canada's National Energy Board.

Construction of the facility near Port Hawkesbury is expected to begin in 2016, with operations to start in 2019.

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Cabot, Range could be targets for purchase by supermajors

By Bob Downing Published: July 20, 2015

Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. and Range Resources Corp., both major drillers in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale. are among the top upstream candidates to be picked off by a supermajor as those giants go hunting for M&A later in the year, Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research analysts said.

Buying oil and gas reserves on Wall Street will be cheaper than finding them in the field at current prices, Goldman said, and the majors have $150 billion ready to spend.

Click  here  to read the full story from SNL.

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Athens County judge orders charter initiative on Nov. ballot

By Bob Downing Published: July 20, 2015

From a Friday press release from Athens County:

Judge Affirms People’s Right of Initiative,

Orders Athens Board of Elections to Place County Charter on Ballot

 

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Nexus Pipeline is winning Ohio legal fights over survey access

By Bob Downing Published: July 20, 2015

From the Associated Press:

By MARK GILLISPIE
Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — The company planning to build an industrial-sized natural gas pipeline across northern Ohio has been waging and mostly winning court battles to allow surveyors onto people’s property to determine a preferred route that will be submitted to a federal agency for approval.
The $2 billion project is being proposed by NEXUS Gas Transmission, a subsidiary of Houston-based Spectra Energy and Detroit-based DTE Energy. Attorneys for NEXUS have obtained temporary restraining orders in Fulton, Lorain, Sandusky, Lucas and Wood counties that allowed surveyors onto the land of those sued.
A case is pending in Erie County and, on Friday, a judge in Medina County denied NEXUS’ request for a restraining order and set a trial date to hear arguments on Sept. 24.
Liz Athaide-Victor, one of the leaders of a citizens group opposed to NEXUS’ pipeline plans, likens the company to “schoolyard bullies.”
“I think the court battles are just beginning,” Athaide-Victor said.
NEXUS has surveyed about two-thirds of the thousands of Ohio properties in the proposed path. It needs to complete the surveys to meet its self-imposed November deadline for submitting an application with the company’s preferred route to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval.
The company is proposing to build 200 miles of underground pipeline from Columbiana County in southeast Ohio to the Michigan border in northwest Ohio, moving as much as 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas each day. Another 50 miles will be built in Michigan, ending at the Canadian border. NEXUS wants to start construction in early 2017 and have the project completed by the end of the year.
NEXUS spokesman Arthur Diestel said the pipeline will get affordable natural gas to customers in Ohio, Michigan, Chicago and Canada to meet growing need of all types: industrial, commercial and residential. Diestel said 90 percent of the proposed route would traverse existing rights of way and agricultural land. And, he said, the company is committed to restoring all property, including wetlands, used for pipeline construction.
“We want to minimize those impacts, and we want to mitigate them,” Diestel said.
Property owners and public officials who are opposed to the current proposed route continue to dig in. They worry about what the pipeline will do to property values and are concerned about the potential danger that that a high-pressure pipeline represents in the unlikely event that there’s an explosion.
But Ohio law is on NEXUS’ side. Companies that want to build a pipeline or install other utilities have the right to survey and “appropriate” as much land as needed to complete projects. But nothing will be built unless FERC approves a route. When that occurs, the company will have to negotiate a price for using someone’s property.
“They’ll pay for the land, but I’m not for sale,” said Robert Wheeler, who owns just over 110 acres in Erie County’s Milan Township.
Wheeler thought that having his property listed on the National Register of Historic Places might cause NEXUS to reroute the pipeline around him. The house he lives in was built in the early 1820s. A distant relative, the sister of inventor Thomas Edison, once lived in the home. His neighbors relented and allowed the surveyors to do their work. Wheeler refused and become a defendant in a NEXUS lawsuit.
“They said they can’t fight them,” said Wheeler, a musician. “You might not be able to win, but I’m sure going to try.”
Kathy Cikotte is another Erie County defendant. She owns eight acres in Berlin Township where she raises alpacas and horses.
“A lot of people are feeling intruded upon,” Cikotte said. “Where are the rights of the property owner to say, “No, I don’t want this’?”
Dick Norton, the mayor of Green, a city 10 miles south of Akron in Summit County, says he understands the economics and the need for transporting gas from the shale fields, but is opposed to having the pipeline come through his city of 26,000 people.
“FERC requires an installer to avoid public places such as schools, office buildings, parks and anything to do with wetlands and areas environmentally protected,” Norton said. “Their routes violate all of those.”

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Ohio water district sees Utica royalties plummet 73.3 percent

By Bob Downing Published: July 20, 2015

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District intended to spend hundreds of millions of dollars maintaining and improving its recreational facilities in coming years.
Money from Utica Shale lease bonuses and drilling royalties would pay those bills.
But making changes at Atwood, Charles Mill, Pleasant Hill, Seneca and Tappan recreational parks and Piedmont and Seneca marinas plus adding a new trail network probably is going to take longer than originally planned.
That’s because the district’s royalty payments from the three drillers tapping the land are shrinking in a big way, as Ohio’s Utica Shale quietly loses a bit of its financial luster.
Monthly royalty payments to the watershed district from its 13 initial Utica Shale wells topped $1 million in December. They fell under $275,000 in MayThose payments plummeted from $1,018,217 in December to $688,445 in January, to $584,373 in February, to $431,567 in March, to $361,974 in April to $272,132 in May.
That is a 73.3 percent drop over six months.
Overall, drillers paid the district just under $14.6 million in royalties from mid-2013 through May 15, according to financial records.
John Hoopingarner, executive director for the watershed district, which stretches from Akron to the Ohio River, said the reduction in royalties also will affect plans to start a $25 million revolving loan fund for sewer improvements by local communities, to eliminate an $80 million maintenance backlog and to provide funds after the district had cut its assessment on landowners by 50 percent this year.
If the royalty downturn continues, then the district might need to revise its long-term plans this year, Hoopingarner said.
What’s happening with royalties in the watershed district is occurring across the board with leaseholders in eastern Ohio.
Paul Feezel, a leaseholder and member of Carroll Concerned Citizens, said similar drops are showing up in royalty payments in Carroll County, where Ohio’s Utica Shale boom first took off.
The drop in royalty payments to Utica leaseholders has “been very dramatic. I have seen it myself,” said Robert Chase, a retired professor and chairman of the department of petroleum engineering and geology at Ohio’s Marietta College.
That drop appears “really steep ... and is surprising,” said Ted Auch of Cleveland Heights, a spokesman for the FracTracker Alliance, a watchdog group.
The drop in royalty payments is proof of the industry’s boom-or-bust cyclical nature, the industry says.
“Just like the industry, the MWCD and landowners across eastern Ohio are suffering from the crash in commodity prices on oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids,” said Shawn Bennett, executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a statewide trade group.
“While commodity prices are a large part of the reduction in royalty payments for the MWCD, they are also seeing the decline curve starting to kick in on the old wells, and there just aren’t enough new wells being placed online because of market conditions to increase lost production and revenue,” Bennett said. “The harsh reality is that the oil and gas industry is cyclical. It will rebound, but everyone with a financial stake in oil and gas production must be careful and plan for those fluctuations accordingly.”
Three factors at play
Three factors are contributing to falling royalty payments in Ohio’s Utica Shale:
• The wells are producing less natural gas, oil and what are called natural gas liquids: ethane, butane and propane. That is called a natural decline curve, and is expected with any well.
Wells produce their greatest volumes right after they are drilled, and their volumes generally continue to decline with time.
According to some estimates, wells will lose 50 percent of production after 12 months and another 25 percent at the end of 24 months. That results in less revenue for leaseholders over time.
• Prices paid for oil have plummeted in the past year. From a high of $100 a barrel in September, the price dropped steadily each month to a low of $38 in March and April. The price has rebounded recently, to about $60 in May and June.
Watershed district staffer Mark Swiger said his agency was aware that production from its 13 wells would drop after six months but was taken aback when prices also plummeted.
“We just didn’t know how drastic it would be,” he said. “What we’re seeing is pretty striking.”
• Evidence exists that drillers have curtailed, or even shut down, production on some wells in hopes that gas and oil prices will recover.
It is highly likely that Ohio drillers voluntarily have trimmed production because of low prices, said Jeffrey Dick, a professor and chair of the department of geology and environmental sciences at Youngstown State University.
In addition, some pipelines in the Utica Shale might be at capacity and unable to take everything coming from wells to processors, he said.
What’s happening with royalty payments in Ohio is hitting the watershed district hardest because it is the biggest shale-drilling leaseholder in eastern Ohio. It received $175 million in signing bonuses for leases covering 23,802 acres at four reservoirs: Clendening in Harrison County; Leesville in Carroll County; Piedmont in Guernsey, Harrison and Belmont counties; and Seneca in Guernsey and Noble counties.
Most royalty payments are secret deals between drillers and leaseholders. But the district, based in New Philadelphia, is a public, government agency. Its finances, including its royalty payments, are public records.
The district also makes money selling water for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to drillers.Its contracvts call for three leases with 20 percent royalties and one with 16 percent royalties.The watershed district, which covers 54,000 acres, is expecting drillers to hook up three new wells at Seneca in November, Swiger said. The district expects additional wells in the future on its acreage, he added.
The district got its first royalty payments in mid-2013 from Oklahoma-based Gulfport Energy Corp.
The district gets royalties from four Gulfport wells near Clendening and two Gulfport wells near Piedmont
It also has three wells with Antero Resources near Seneca and four wells with American Energy-Utica (now Ascent Resources) near Clendening.
The companies’ drilling units in the four leases vary from 633 to 817 acres.

 

District gets $14.6 million in Utica royalties through May 15As of May 15, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District had been paid $14,591,714 from its oil and gas leases since the royalty payments began in June 2013.
Nearly all of the money came from two companies: $10.1 million from three Antero Resources wells in Noble County and $3.9 million from four Gulfport Energy wells in Harrison County.
The district’s financial records also offer the first look at Utica Shale natural gas liquids: ethanes, butanes and propanes.
The district has been paid for 2,528,956 barrels of liquids worth about $2.3 million.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources does not require drillers to track liquids separately. Those figures are lumped in with natural gas.
Early on, such liquids made eastern Ohio an attractive place to drill, although a recent glut has lowered the prices paid for them.
The district’s records show that liquids produced 15.8 percent of royalties.
Oil was the biggest money maker for the water district: nearly $8.1 million, or 55.4 percent of royalties. Production came from nearly 98,000 barrels of oil.
Natural gas produced nearly $4.2 million in royalties or 28.7 percent. That came from 884,867 barrels of oil equivalents.
— Bob Downing

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50 Ohio landowners seek $9.2 million for breach of contract

By Bob Downing Published: July 20, 2015

About 50 Jefferson County landowners in eastern Ohio are parties in a lawsuit against American Energy Utica LLC and Great River Energy LLC, according to the Farm & Dairy newspaper.

The Ohio landowners are alleging breach of contract for overdue signing bonuses and are seeking $9.2 million for the companies' failure to comply with terms of leases.

The plaintiffs include the Toronto city schools and several villages that have leases.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Top 20 firms account for 78 percent of global shale market

By Bob Downing Published: July 20, 2015

The 20 biggest players in the$34.6 billion global shale market include companies involved in the Utica and Marcellus shales,  according to a report from London-based Visiongain.

Those 20 firms account for 78 percent of the overall global shale market, it said.

That includes Antero Resources, Chjesapeake Energy, Chevron, CONSOL Energy, Range Resources, Royal Dutch Shell, Southwestern Energy and Statoil.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Clean Water Action supports federal drilling wastewater rule

By Bob Downing Published: July 20, 2015

From Clean Water Action on Friday:

“Sending oil and gas wastewater to sewage treatment plants puts our drinking water at risk. EPA's proposal is a commonsense solution  to prevent threats that fracking wastewater poses to downstream communities.”

                                                                 - John Noël, National Oil & Gas Campaigns Coordinator, Clean Water Action

EPA’s Proposed Oil and Gas Wastewater Rule Reflects Better Understanding of Environmental Threats 

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Appeals court upholds first Illinois rules on fracking

By Bob Downing Published: July 20, 2015

An appeals court in Illinois has upheld the state's first rules on hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

The court said the new rules would cause "no irreparable harm" if adopted, says the law firm BakerHostetler in its review.

Click  here   to read more.

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Attorneys moving to North Dakota to ease shortages

By Bob Downing Published: July 20, 2015

Attorneys from Ohio and other states are flocking to North Dakota where legal jobs are available, says the Wyoming Public Media Statewide Network.

Felony arrests in North Dakota's Northwest Judicial District that covers the heart of the Bakken Shale area have jumped 436 percent from 2009 to 2014. That has triggered a legal boom.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Medina County judge rejects TRO request from Nexus Pipeline firm

By Bob Downing Published: July 17, 2015

Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Collier late today rejected the request for a temporary restraining order from Nexus Gas Transmission LLC.
The company had filed suit against four Medina County landowners to get access to the properties for its surveyors. One landowner later settled.
The company "failed to prove that irreparable harm will result," Collier said in his seven-page ruling.
A hearing had been held in court on Monday.
Collier scheduled an expedited trial on the company's request, to begin at 9 a.m. Sept. 24.
The pipeline, 36 inches in diameter, will stretch 250 miles from Columbiana County to Defiance in northwest Ohio and north into Michigan and Ontario to transport natural gas from Ohio's Utica Shale.

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Judge rules Chesapeake must pay $438.7 million in bond deal

By Bob Downing Published: July 17, 2015

A federal judge has ruled that Chesapeake Energy must pay an additional $59.1 million to bondholders, bring the total payment to $438.7 million, according to Reuters.

Click  here  to read the full story.

 

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New Ohio budget includes modifications to Ohio drilling rules

By Bob Downing Published: July 17, 2015

Ohio's biennial state budget, approved June 30, by the Ohio Legislature includes several provisions on rules affecting Ohio gas and oil drilling, says the law firm of Babst, Calland.

Those mew provisions will go into effect on Sept. 29, 2015.

Click  here  to see the report from the law firm.

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Company to use fracking to clean up Nebraska contamination

By Bob Downing Published: July 17, 2015

Archer Daniels  Midland plans to use fracking techniques on a small scale to clean up lingering groundwater contamination at its soybean extraction plant in Lincoln, Neb.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Drilling triggers Colorado outbreaks of invasive downy brome

By Bob Downing Published: July 17, 2015

From a press release today:

Research Suggests Ways to Manage Downy Brome Infestations Triggered by Oil and Gas Operations

LAWRENCE, Kansas – July 17, 2015 – The U.S. oil and gas industry has grown rapidly in the past decade, creating thousands of new jobs across a broad geography. The digging performed around rigs and pipelines, though, does have a downside. It disturbs the soil and surrounding native vegetation, giving invasive weeds a chance to flourish.   

“In western North America, many energy developments coincide with infestations of downy brome, a nonnative annual grass that grows very aggressively,” says Danielle Johnston, Ph.D., a researcher with both Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Colorado State University.

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Kinder Morgan subsidiary proceeds with New England pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: July 17, 2015

Texas-based Kinder Morgan on Thursday approved its Tennessee  Pipeline Co. to proceed with the $3.3 billion Northeast Energy Direct Project.

It will run from Wright, N.Y., into New England at Deacut, Mass.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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Stone Energy Corp. offers drilling, production update

By Bob Downing Published: July 17, 2015

From a recent press release:

 

LAFAYETTE, La., July 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Stone Energy Corporation (NYSE: SGY) today provided a drilling and production update. In the Gulf of Mexico deepwater, operations at the Cardona #6 development well, located in Mississippi Canyon block 29, have been proceeding ahead of schedule and below budget, and drilling has been completed through the targeted zones.  The well encountered approximately 288 feet of net pay in two intervals, similar to the Cardona #5 net pay of 275 feet.  Analysis of logging and pressure data confirmed the existence of oil in the pay zones. The well has been successfully cased and cemented across all productive zones, the subsea tree has been installed and completion operations have begun.  The well will be tied into our existing Cardona subsea infrastructure, which flows into Stone's Pompano platform.  It is expected that gross production from Cardona #6 will reach approximately 5,000 Boe per day (65% working interest) from the lower completion by late September.The upper completion is expected to have a similar production rate and will be accessed in the future by hydraulically shifting sleeves between the upper and lower completions. 

Upon completion of the Cardona #6 well, the ENSCO 8503 deepwater drilling rig will be released for approximately 60 days to receive scheduled maintenance and to be outfitted with mooring capabilities.  The rig will then be mobilized to Mississippi Canyon block 26 to finish the completion of the Amethyst discovery (100% working interest). Amethyst will also be tied back to the Pompano platform, where first production is expected early in the first quarter of 2016. Following the Amethyst completion, the rig is currently projected to drill the Cardona #7 development well and the Lamprey deep water exploration prospect. 

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Warren Resources provides 2Q 2015 operational update

By Bob Downing Published: July 17, 2015

From a press release from earlier in the week:

NEW YORK, July 13, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Warren Resources, Inc. (NASDAQ:WRES) today provided an update on the Company's operations in its Marcellus, California, and Wyoming business units.

Warren continues to execute successfully on its five core business strategies: right sizing capital spending; optimizing current assets and protecting production against commodity risk; increasing liquidity; positioning for commodity price recovery; and pursuing selective growth opportunities.

Warren previously announced a revised capital budget of $21 million for 2015, which allows the Company to spend within its cash flow.  Ongoing optimization efforts have resulted in strong production results in the second quarter of 2015 and reduced costs in the first half of the year, trends which the Company expects to continue through the year. Warren's previously announced refinancing with GSO Capital Partners and Franklin Square Capital Partners and pending Wyoming CBM asset sale will increase the Company's pro forma liquidity to over $60 million and reduced net debt by approximately $47 million. Importantly, the Company will not face reduced liquidity during the fall of 2015 since it no longer has a reserve-based credit facility.

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API supports federal aligning of offshore well control, standards

By Bob Downing Published: July 17, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute today:

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2015 – API welcomed the federal government’s effort to align regulations for offshore well control with industry standards in comments filed today with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). API also cautioned that the unintended consequences of some elements of the proposed rule could make offshore operations less safe.

“We share the government’s goal of enhancing offshore safety while producing more oil and natural gas here at home,” said Erik Milito, API upstream group director. “Offshore oil and natural gas development in the U.S. is safer than ever before thanks to the diligent, continuous efforts of industry and regulators.”

API has published more than 100 new or revised standards for exploration and production in the last five years. The industry also formed the Center for Offshore Safety in 2011, and the government has updated its regulations multiple times since 2010.

The well control rule proposed by BSEE incorporates a number of API standards, including API Standard 53, Blowout Prevention Equipment Systems for Drilling Wells. Published in November 2012, this document updated and strengthened an existing standard to prioritize consistent procedures, preventive maintenance, inspections and testing for blowout preventers.

“In many ways, BSEE’s proposal acknowledges how the industry has taken the lead to improve safety,” said Milito. “Unfortunately, certain aspects of the rule, if not fixed, could have unintended consequences that increase the risk to people and the environment.”

API reiterated its commitment to remaining engaged with the government to ensure the final rule enhances safety and promotes continuous improvement through innovation.

“Our industry works every day to continually enhance the safety of operations offshore,” said Milito. “API will continue to work closely with the administration to ensure that every piece of the final rule makes a measurable improvement to safety.”

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

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U.S. petroleum deliveries grew by 4.2 percent in last year

By Bob Downing Published: July 17, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute on Thursday:

File Type: pdf | File Size: 118063

File Type: pdf | File Size: 84359

File Type: pdf | File Size: 17573

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Three rail cars leaking crude after Montana derailment

By Bob Downing Published: July 17, 2015

From the Associated Press today:

CULBERTSON, Mont. (AP) — More than 20 cars on an oil train derailed in rural northeastern Montana, and at least three of them were leaking crude, leading some homes to be evacuated, authorities said.

There were no immediate reports of injury or fire, but of the 21 cars that derailed Thursday evening, only two remained upright, Roosevelt County Sheriff Jason Frederick said.

Authorities had earlier reported just two cars were leaking, but Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Matt Jones updated the number to three in a statement Friday morning. The oil had been contained, and railroad employees were on the scene, Jones said.

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Activists say fracking wastewater too toxic for sewage plants

By Bob Downing Published: July 16, 2015

A press release today from Environment America:

WASHINGTON, DC – Toxic fracking wastewater shouldn’t be treated at facilities that can’t handle its hazards, Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), clean water and public health advocates, and more than 30,000 Americans said today, a day before the public comment period closes for a proposed federal rule to prohibit fracking waste shipments to sewage treatment plants.
 
“It’s crazy that highly toxic, radioactive wastewater can still be treated at the same place as dirty bath water, then released into the rivers and lakes we drink from,” said Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling program. “Preventing this practice is a critical step toward protecting our water and our health from the dangers of fracking.”
 
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process by which large volumes of water along with sand and toxic chemicals are injected underground to extract shale gas. Much of this fracking fluid mixture returns to the surface as toxic wastewater, often with radioactive elements.
 
Municipal water treatment plants, which treat waste and then release it into drinking water supplies, aren’t suited to treat such hazards. The mixture of bromides in wastewater and the chlorine used at sewage treatments plants also can produce a toxin linked to bladder cancer, miscarriages and still-births.
 
The issue received attention in Pennsylvania in 2011, when fracking chemicals were detected in western rivers, and officials ordered 15 treatment plants to stop accepting and treating fracking waste.
 
While no known municipal treatment plants now accept fracking waste, federal rules still allow it, and the option could become more attractive to drillers as standards tighten on other waste disposal methods.
 
Advocates said today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rule to prevent future discharges is essential to mitigating fracking’s harms.
 
"Clean drinking water is essential to human health," said Katie Huffling, a registered nurse and director of programs for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. "Fracking wastewater is highly radioactive and contains heavy metals and salts that form toxic byproducts during the treatment process. These chemicals do not belong in our drinking water supply.”
 
Even if EPA’s rule is finalized as proposed, fracking wastewater disposal still presents a conundrum for public health and safety. Plants designed to treat fracking waste are far from foolproof, as Duke University researchers found in Pennsylvania. Waste often spills into rivers and streams during storage and shipment. And studies show reinjecting the waste deep underground is most likely causing earthquakes.
 
Rep. Cartwright told reporters in a conference call today he planned to introduce legislation soon to require fracking wastewater to be treated as hazardous waste.
 
“While this rule does close one important channel through which these toxic materials can enter our drinking water, it will not comprehensively protect us from the dangerous loophole in RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) that has existed for 27 years,” Rep. Cartwright said. “Congress must pass sensible reforms to ensure that oil and gas companies are responsibly storing, handling and disposing of highly hazardous waste.”
 
Public health advocates said the proposed EPA rule highlighted the inherent dangers of onshore oil and gas drilling.
 
“Fracking wastewater is a big problem for which there is simply no adequate solution,” said Richardson. “We applaud EPA for taking this step to protect families on the frontlines of fracking. To fully protect our drinking water and the health of our families, we need to ban this practice altogether and transition to 100 percent clean energy.”
 

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Ohio adopts stricter rules on horizontal well pad construction

By Bob Downing Published: July 16, 2015

From an ODNR press release today:

COLUMBUS, OH - Today, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) implemented new rules regulating the construction of horizontal well pad sites. Stringent construction standards will ensure that well pads provide a safe foundation for drilling rigs and production facilities throughout the operational life of the well, emphasizing public safety and environmental protection.

Under the new rules, operators will submit detailed horizontal well pad site plans certified by a professional engineer to then be reviewed by the ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management (DOGRM) prior to the construction of the well pad. The plans will include, but are not limited to, detailed drawings of well pad features, an emergency release conveyance map, a geotechnical report, and a sediment and erosion control plan. The division’s regional engineering staff will inspect sites during each stage of construction to ensure compliance with the new standards. Altogether, these new rules include the most comprehensive and proactive horizontal well pad regulations in the country.

Horizontal well pads are larger in size than traditional vertical well pads and often house multiple wells, allowing operators to access greater acreages of shale reserves with a smaller environmental footprint. Likewise, abundant production quantities from horizontal wells create a need for large scale operations to occur on or near the well pad. Stable access roads, also addressed in the new rule, are crucial for transporting drilling materials, and in the event of an emergency, provide safe access for response vehicles, personnel and equipment.

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Hospitalization rates rise with Pennsylvania drilling, study says

By Bob Downing Published: July 16, 2015

A study released on Wednesay in the journal PLOS shows a rise in hospitalization rates that researchers say correspond to an increase in the number of shale gas wells in Northeast Pennsylvania, says NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Click  here  to read the full story..

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Kinder Morgan buys Shell's interest in Georgia LNG terminal

By Bob Downing Published: July 16, 2015

Texas-based Kinder Morgan is buying 100 percent of Shell's equity interest in the Elba Liquification Co. LLC and its LNG facility in Elba, Ga.

Click  here   to read the full story.

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EIA reporting monthly base gas levels in underground storage

By Bob Downing Published: July 16, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

With the release of the most recent Natural Gas Monthly, EIA began publishing base gas levels in natural gas storage facilities through the natural gas query system. Base gas plays an important role in underground natural gas storage, serving to maintain cavern or reservoir pressure and keeping natural gas storage facilities operational.

Read More ›

Tags: natural gas , storage

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Antero Resources releases 2Q 2015 reports, updates

By Bob Downing Published: July 16, 2015

DENVER, July 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Antero Resources (NYSE: AR) ("Antero" or the "Company") today announced its second quarter 2015 operations update.

Highlights include:

Operating Update

All operational figures are as of the date of this release unless otherwise noted. 

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Utica natural gas, oil to grow in August, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: July 15, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration earlier this week:

Release Date:  July 13, 2015  |  Next Release: August 10, 2015  |  full report

 

The Drilling Productivity Report uses recent data on the total number of drilling rigs in operation along with estimates of drilling productivity and estimated changes in production from existing oil and natural gas wells to provide estimated changes in oil and natural gas production for seven key regions. EIA's approach does not distinguish between oil-directed rigs and gas-directed rigs because once a well is completed it may produce both oil and gas; more than half of the wells produce both.

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Halliburton, Baker Hughes extend time frame for DOJ review

By Bob Downing Published: July 15, 2015

From a Friday press release:

HOUSTON – July 10, 2015 – Halliburton Company (NYSE: HAL) and Baker Hughes Incorporated (NYSE: BHI) today announced that they have entered into a timing agreement with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) pursuant to which both companies have agreed to extend the period for the DOJ’s review of Halliburton’s previously announced acquisition of Baker Hughes to the later of November 25, 2015 or 90 days after both companies have certified substantial compliance with the DOJ’s second request. Both Halliburton and Baker Hughes expect to certify substantial compliance with the DOJ’s second requests, issued to each company, by mid-summer. Timing agreements are often entered into in connection with large, complex transactions, and provide the DOJ additional time to review responses to its second requests. In light of the timing agreement, Halliburton and Baker Hughes also have agreed to extend the time period for closing of the acquisition to no later than December 1, 2015.

Halliburton and Baker Hughes continue to be in discussions with the DOJ, the European Commission and other competition enforcement authorities with respect to the acquisition. As previously announced, Halliburton is currently marketing for sale its Fixed Cutter and Roller Cone Drill Bits, Directional Drilling and Logging-While-Drilling (LWD)/Measurement-While-Drilling (MWD) businesses. In addition, Halliburton has shared with various competition enforcement authorities around the world a proposal to divest additional businesses of the companies which, together with the previously announced divestitures, are within the scope of those contemplated by Halliburton at the time of the transaction. There is no agreement to date with any competition enforcement authority as to the adequacy of Halliburton’s proposal or any alternative proposal. The parties will continue to work constructively with all competition enforcement authorities that have expressed an interest in the proposed transaction.

About Halliburton

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Marcellus driller, Warren Resources, seeking new CEO

By Bob Downing Published: July 15, 2015

From a press release on Tuesday:

NEW YORK, July 14, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Warren Resources, Inc. (NASDAQ:WRES) today announced that it has commenced a search for a Chief Executive Officer. The Company has retained executive search firm Egon Zehnder to assist with the selection process.

In making the announcement, Warren's Interim Chairman Dominick D'Alleva, said, "Under the steady hands of Interim CEO and director Lance Peterson, Warren has navigated the critical liquidity and debt issues that faced oil and gas companies in the past several quarters, and we are now ready to dedicate the necessary time and resources to conducting a search for a permanent CEO. To the right candidate, we are pleased to offer an attractive opportunity to shape the next phase of the Company's growth, including a strategic review of all assets and offices in the Company's portfolio."

Egon Zehnder and the Company are committed to conducting a rigorous and efficient search process, and look forward to introducing a new CEO as expeditiously as possible.

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Ohio Geological Survey releases new suite of well logs

By Bob Downing Published: July 15, 2015

From the Ohio Department of Natural Resources:

The ODNR Division of Geological Survey has made available more than 3,300 newly scanned geophysical logs for oil-and-gas wells throughout the state. These logs are available as raster images (in TIF format) or as paper copies.

The Division of Geological Survey is the permanent archive of all geophysical logs in the state, dating back to 1947. In 2012, the Division completed a project to digitally scan all the logs in its archives. With this latest release, approximately 130,000 geophysical logs are now available in digital form.

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

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CONSOL Energy laying off 470 workers due to low prices

By Bob Downing Published: July 15, 2015

Pennsylvania-based CONSOL Energy is laying off about 470 workers or 10 percent of its work force, due to low natural gas and oil prices.

The layoffs will hit 290 workers in natural gas and corporate and 180 in its Pennsylvania coal mines.

Click  here  to read the ful story.

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Utica Shale is comparable to Marcellus Shale, WVU says

By Bob Downing Published: July 15, 2015

From West Virginia University on Tuesday:

Utica Shale play may be next big natural gas producer says WVU study

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Driven in part by production from Marcellus Shale and other shale plays, natural gas has surpassed coal as the leading source of our nation’s electricity, and now a West Virginia University-led study suggests there's more to come underneath the Marcellus.

Results of the study provide evidence that the Utica play, which spans West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio and New York, is much larger than original estimates, and its size and potential recoverable resources are comparable to the Marcellus play, the largest shale oil and gas play in the U.S. and the second largest in the world.

Data from Utica Shale Play Book Study, a two-year geological study conducted by the Appalachian Oil and Natural Gas Research Consortium, a program of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at WVU, were presented at a workshop today (July 14) in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.

The majority of the Utica Shale play lies beneath the Marcellus Shale play. The interval between the two plays – the space between the Marcellus and the deeper Utica – ranges from 4,000 feet in Ohio to greater than 6,500 feet in West Virginia. The drilling depth of the Utica ranges from less than 4,000 feet in Ohio to more than 12,000 feet in West Virginia, which is more than two miles below the surface. 

In 2013, a study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, reported that Marcellus Shale operators produced 2.86 trillion cubic feet of gas. In a 2012 study, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that technically recoverable resources in the Utica – the volume that can be extracted from the reservoir using existing technology – were 38 trillion cubic feet of gas and an additional 940 million barrels of oil. 

WVU’s study shows that the Utica play contains technically recoverable resources of 782 Tcf of gas and 1,960 MMbo.

“The revised resource numbers are impressive, comparable to the numbers for the more established Marcellus Shale play, and a little surprising based on our Utica estimates of just a year ago which were lower,” said Douglas Patchen, director of the consortium and well-known expert on the Appalachian Basin.

“But this is why we continued to work on the resource estimates after the project officially ended a year ago. The more wells that are drilled, the more the play area may expand, and another year of production from the wells enables researchers to make better estimates." 

The project was the brainchild of Patchen and had three main objectives:

Patchen said that the general public may only be interested in the resource numbers, but the research consortium wanted to undertake a multi-disciplinary, basin-wide project at various scales.

“Our research spanned basin-wide subsurface correlation and mapping of potential pay zones to macroscopic and microscopic examination of cores and thin sections of reservoirs to the nano-scale development of porosity in organic rich zones,” he said.

In addition to estimates of oil and gas resources, the research team presented comprehensive data on the stratigraphy, petrology, reservoirs and areal distribution of the play. Researchers found that:


“This is a landmark study that demonstrates the vast potential of the Utica as a resource to complement – and go beyond – what the Marcellus has already proven to be,” said Brian Anderson, director of WVU’s Energy Institute. “Dr. Patchen and his team are to be commended for assembling an impressive consortium to undertake such a comprehensive study such as this.”

The consortium is a partnership of 15 industry members, four state geological surveys, two universities, one consulting company, and one national lab. Members include the WVU National Research Center for Coal and Energy, Washington University, the Kentucky Geological Survey, the Ohio Geological Survey, the Pennsylvania Geological Survey, the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, the U.S. Geological Survey, Smith Stratigraphic, and the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The consortium was sponsored by Anadarko, Chevron, CNX, ConocoPhillips, Devon, EnerVest, EOG Resources, EQT, Hess, NETL Strategic Center for Natural Gas and Oil, Range Resources, Seneca Resources, Shell, Southwestern Energy and Tracker Resources.

-WVU-

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Rocky Mountain crude production shipping by pipeline, rail

By Bob Downing Published: July 15, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Rail and pipeline shipments of crude oil from the Rocky Mountain region (Petroleum Administration for Defense District 4) have steadily increased as regional crude oil production has increased. The recently released Petroleum Supply Monthly, which contains data for April 2015, shows that 122,000 barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil was moved by rail from PADD 4 to other regions of the country, representing 19% of total crude shipments from the region.

Read More ›

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IPAA is unhappy with pact to lift Iran oil sale sanctions

By Bob Downing Published: July 14, 2015

From the Independent Petroleum Association of America today:

IPAA: Iran Deal a Disadvantage to America’s Oil Producers

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Today, Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) President Barry Russell released the following statement after the Obama Administration secured an agreement with Iran, which includes provisions that will soon lift global sanctions on Iranian oil sales:

“Once oil sanctions on Iran are lifted, today’s deal will soon put America’s oil producers at a competitive disadvantage on the global marketplace. As soon as Iran is permitted to export its surplus oil on the world market, why can’t we allow our own companies to do the same with their American-made surplus of crude oil? It’s an action that would lower gasoline prices for American consumers while positioning the United States more powerfully in the international energy arena. It’s past time to lift the 1970s-era ban on crude exports, which makes no sense for a nation that has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s leading oil producer in 2015. It’s not only good national security policy, it’s good for American energy self-sufficiency.”

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WPX in $2.35 billion merger with RKI to access Permian Basin

By Bob Downing Published: July 14, 2015

Oklahoma-based WPX is spending $2.35 billion in a merger agreement with RKI Exploration and Production LLC to gain access to the Permian basin in Loving County, Texas, and Eddy County, N.M., where the company has four rigs deployed.

Click  here  to read the company's full seven-page statement.

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Summer gasoline prices are lowest in years, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: July 14, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

The average retail price for motor gasoline this summer (April through September) is expected to be $2.67 per gallon, the lowest price (in real dollars, meaning adjusted for inflation) since 2009, based on projections in EIA's July Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). This decline is mainly the result of the projected 41% year-over-year decline in the average price of North Sea Brent crude oil.

Read More ›

Tags: gasoline , prices , STEO (Short-Term Energy Outlook)

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Natural gas surpasses coal in electric production for first time

By Bob Downing Published: July 14, 2015

From the Associated Press today:

Natural gas overtook coal as the top source of U.S. electric power generation for the first time ever earlier this year, a milestone that has been in the making for years as the price of gas slides and new regulations make coal more risky for power generators.

About 31 percent of electric power generation in April came from natural gas, and 30 percent from coal, according to a recently released report from the research company SNL Energy, which used data from the U.S. Energy Department.

A drilling boom that started in 2008 has boosted U.S. natural gas production by 30 percent and made the United States the world’s biggest combined producer of oil and natural gas. Hydraulic fracturing has allowed energy companies to tap huge volumes of gas trapped deep underground in shale formations.

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New report says Utica Shale holds more natural gas, oil

By Bob Downing Published: July 14, 2015

The Utica Shale and associated hydrocarbon-rich rock zones hold significantly more potentially recoverable natural gas than early estimates predicted, according to research released today at a workshop in Pennsylvania.

The new study estimates that the total Utica Shale play holds technically recoverable volumes of 782 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and nearly 2 billion barrels of oil.

Those estimates are the average of a wider range of possibly recoverable amounts of oil and gas in the play, which stretches beneath parts of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and other states and includes neighboring oil- and gas-bearing geologic layers.

The new oil and gas estimates are much higher than a 2012 U.S. Geological Survey assessment of the Utica Shale and underlying Point Pleasant formation, which pegged the play’s technically recoverable undiscovered resources at 38 trillion cubic feet of gas, 940 million barrels of oil and 208 million barrels of natural gas liquids like ethane, butane and propane.

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Rex Energy taps Robert W. Ovitz to be chief operating officer

By Bob Downing Published: July 14, 2015

From a press release on Monday:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., July 13, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rex Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:REXX) announced that it has appointed Robert W. Ovitz as Chief Operating Officer of the company. Mr. Ovitz, who most recently served as the Senior Vice President, Operations for the company, assumes the COO role from Patrick M. McKinney, who has served as COO since May 2010 and both President and COO since October 2011. Mr. McKinney will leave the company in August to pursue an opportunity in the investment banking industry.

Effective immediately, Ovitz will assume responsibility for company-wide operations, with direct oversight of Appalachian and Illinois operations, reservoir engineering, and exploration and geology. He will be responsible for the alignment, prioritization and management of operational capital to execute the company's exploration, drilling and production strategies, and for ensuring operational excellence across the company.

Tom Stabley, Rex Energy's Chief Executive Officer, will assume the role of President and Chief Executive Officer after Mr. McKinney's departure in August. 

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Ohio has 1,531 drilled Utica wells, 922 producing Utica wells

By Bob Downing Published: July 14, 2015

Ohio has approved 1,974 Utica Shale permits, as of July 11.

That total includes 1,531 drilled Utica wells and 922 producing Utica wells, says the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

There are 19 drillling rigs at work in Ohio.

Ten new permits were approved: one in Belmont County, one in Harrison County, seven in Monroe County and one in Noble County.

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Fracking could become 2016 Colorado ballot issue

By Bob Downing Published: July 14, 2015

From the Associated Press:

Environmentalists and the energy industry have fought decisive battles over fracking in New York, Oklahoma and Texas, but the outcome is unclear in Colorado, where the issue could go to a ballot fight in the 2016 election.

A task force convened by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper tried to find a compromise over who should regulate the industry — the state or local government — and to what extent. Fracking critics were bitterly disappointed when the panel suggested leaving regulatory power in state hands and avoided recommending specific health, environmental and safety rules.

“I think the fossil fuels industry won,” said Karen Dike, a member of Coloradans Against Fracking.

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Medina County judge to rule soon on Nexus Pipeline access

By Bob Downing Published: July 14, 2015

A Medina County judge is expected to rule by Friday whether a Texas-based energy company can perform surveys on private property despite landowner protests.

Common Pleas Judge Christopher Collier is expected to rule on the access request filed by Spectra Energy Corp. for its Nexus Pipeline that will cross northern Ohio.

The company filed suit against four Medina County residents who denied the company survey access.

They live in Montville, York, Guilford and Brunswick Hills townships.

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Michigan calls for new review of Straits of Mackinac pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: July 14, 2015

From a press release today:

National Wildlife Federation Heralds New Michigan Report as Major Step Forward to Protect Communities, Wildlife, Great Lakes from Risky Oil Pipelines

 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (July 14, 2015) – The National Wildlife Federation is heralding a new report by the State of Michigan as a major step forward in the effort to protect the Great Lakes, fish, wildlife, and communities from another major oil spill like the one near Kalamazoo, Mich., in 2010 that dumped more than 800,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River—the largest inland oil disaster in U.S. history.

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Akron votes to keep fracking out of local parks

By Bob Downing Published: July 14, 2015

From a story today by ABJ co-worker Stephanie Warsmith:

Akron wants to keep fracking out of its parks and the land around the parks.

Akron City Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday opposing House Bill 8, which would allow the forced inclusion of public land, including municipal parks, in a drilling unit without the permission of the public entity for horizontal drilling and fracking.

“The way I see it, this is a small opportunity for us to provide some assistance to preserving our parks,” said Councilman Rich Swirsky, who chairs council’s new Green and Sustainability Committee.

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Rover Pipeline to spend $85 million with Ohio-based vendors

By Bob Downing Published: July 13, 2015

From a press release today:

ROVER PIPELINE TO SPEND MORE THAN AN ESTIMATED $85 MILLION WITH OHIO-BASED COMPANIES

Ariel Corporation, Industrial Piping Specialists and Emerson Process Management among the vendors

for the natural gas pipeline project

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MLPX to acquire MarkWest Energy in major merger deal

By Bob Downing Published: July 13, 2015

From a press release today:

FINDLAY, Ohio, and DENVER, July 13, 2015 - MPLX LP (NYSE: MPLX) and MarkWest Energy Partners, L.P. (NYSE: MWE) (MarkWest) today announced they have signed a definitive merger agreement whereby MarkWest would become a wholly owned subsidiary of MPLX. The merger would be a unit-for-unit transaction, generally expected to be tax-free, plus a one-time cash payment to MarkWest unitholders, that implies a total enterprise value for MarkWest of approximately $20 billion, including the assumption of debt of approximately $4.2 billion, as of the close of trading on Friday, July 10, 2015.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of the general partners of MPLX and MarkWest, the common unitholders of MarkWest would receive 1.09 MPLX common units and a one-time cash payment of approximately $3.37 per MarkWest common unit, for total consideration of $78.64 per MarkWest common unit, based on fully diluted units currently outstanding and the closing price of MPLX's units on July 10, 2015. MPLX's sponsor, Marathon Petroleum Corporation (NYSE: MPC), would contribute $675 million of cash to MPLX to fund the one-time cash payment. In addition to the attractive premium of 32 percent based on the July 10, 2015, closing price of $59.75, MarkWest unitholders would participate in the combined partnership's projected peer-leading distribution growth.

The proposed transaction combines the nation's second-largest processor of natural gas and largest processor and fractionator in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays with a rapidly growing crude oil and refined products logistics partnership sponsored by MPC. The combination would create the fourth-largest master limited partnership (MLP) based on a market capitalization of $21 billion. MPLX Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary R. Heminger said that as part of the combination, MPLX affirms its anticipated distribution growth of 29 percent this year and expects a 25 percent compound annual distribution growth rate for the combined entity through 2017, with the capacity to support a peer-leading distribution growth profile for an extended period of time thereafter. "Our strategic combination with MarkWest would result in a large-cap, diversified MLP with an exceptional growth profile," Heminger said. "This transaction creates a tremendous platform for the combined partnership to continue to grow distributable cash flow and creates significant long-term value for the unitholders."

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U.S. natural gas production drops 0.6 percent from May to June

By Bob Downing Published: July 10, 2015

From Bentek Energy today:

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Royal Dutch Shell's U.S. unit may drop oil from its name

By Bob Downing Published: July 10, 2015

The U.S. unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc may soon drop the word “oil” from its name in a move that would symbolize its transition to other sources of energy, Bloomberg Business reports.

Click  here  to read more.

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Ohio EPA approves wastewater permit for Ashtabula Energy

By Bob Downing Published: July 10, 2015

From the Ohio EPA today:

Ohio EPA Issues Final Permit to Ashtabula Energy, LLC

            Ohio EPA has approved a wastewater discharge permit for a proposed Ashtabula Energy industrial processing plant to be located on the south side of Lake Road East, on the east side of EMC facility in Ashtabula.

            The Ashtabula plant will convert natural gas to diesel fuel and other liquids. The permit will allow the facility to discharge 1.625 million gallons of wastewater per day into Lake Erie. The discharge would contain cooling water, water treatment plant residuals, non-process storm water, sanitary wastewater, and treated process waste streams. All permitted process and sanitary wastewater would be cleaned and treated prior to being discharged. 

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Federal, state production data can differ greatly, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: July 10, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (www.eia.gov) latest “Today in Energy” brief  explains why EIA’s estimates for an individual state’s monthly crude oil production can sometimes differ from the initial production numbers put out by that state's reporting agency.

EIA develops state-level production estimates for selected states that are based in part on state-level data. However, data published by state agencies are often incomplete when first published because of a combination of late reporting and processing delays, mainly due to the filing of production reports that do not contain all required information...Production data for Texas, the largest crude-oil producing state, published by EIA in the Petroleum Supply Monthly (PSM) and by the Texas Railroad Commission (TRRC) in its monthly reports, reflect differences in the treatment of incomplete and lagged data...The need for EIA to calculate a true-up oil production volume for states, including Texas, will soon be replaced by a direct EIA survey of oil producers, just as it currently surveys natural gas producers in its EIA-914 survey.”---EIA

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First hotel opens in tiny Cadiz, second hotel is being developed

By Bob Downing Published: July 10, 2015

Tiny Cadiz in northern Harrison County has gotten its first hotel, reports Columbus Business First.

The 81-room  Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham opened June 18 in the village of 3,300 people in the heart of Ohio's Utica Shale boom.

It was developed by Harrison Development LLC.

Another company is also developing a second Cadiz hotel: a Days Inn & Suite.

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Ohio gas-to-liquids company suspends CEO

By Bob Downing Published: July 10, 2015

Velocys plc, the company behind a small-scale gas-to-liquids project in Ohio's Ashtabula County, has suspended its chief executive officer.

The company said CEO Roy Lipsli was being suspended for what it callerd "serious misconduct."

The alleged wrongdoing does not include fraud or financial impropriety, the company said.

The length of the suspension was not announced.

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Nexus Pipeline sues four Medina County landowners for access

By Bob Downing Published: July 10, 2015

Four landowners in Medina County have been sued by the Nexus Pipeline for refusing to allow surveyors on their property, says WKSU radio.

The company has taken similar legal action against other landowners along the pipeline's route across northern Ohio.

Click  here  to read more from WKSU.

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Official New York fracking ban starts 120-day legal clock

By Bob Downing Published: July 10, 2015

When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration banned large-scale hydraulic fracturing, it put an end to a seven-year review process that drew hundreds of thousands of public comments and sharply divided the general public.

At least for now.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation's action on June 29 started a 120-day clock for fracking proponents to examine whether the ban has any legal holes.

If a lawsuit isn't filed by Oct. 27, state law says the decision can no longer be challenged.

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California farmers are using drilling wastewater to grow crops

By Bob Downing Published: July 10, 2015

California's four-year dry spell is resulting in drillers recycling drilling wastes and providing that water to farmers, Bloomberg Business reports.

Click  here  to read the full story.

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West Virginia looks at drilling wastes going into landfills

By Bob Downing Published: July 10, 2015

From the state of West Virginia last week:

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Farmers seek to avoid N.Y. fracking ban with gelled propane

By Bob Downing Published: July 10, 2015

From the Associated Press earlier this week:

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A group of five farm families is seeking a state permit for a natural gas well using gelled propane instead of water for fracking, thus avoiding New York's ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

The Snyder Farm Group is seeking to develop a 53-acre natural gas well in the Tioga County town of Barton, near the Pennsylvania border. A permit application is in the preliminary stage before the Department of Environmental Conservation, a lawyer who represents the company seeking the permit said Thursday.

DEC spokesman Tom Mailey said the agency will review the application as required by law. "DEC will follow the mandates in the State Environmental Quality Review Act, which could include requiring an Environmental Impact Statement," Mailey said.

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Energy Transfer Equity confirms offer to acquire Williams Cos.

By Bob Downing Published: July 10, 2015

From Texas-based Energy Transfer Equity LP earlier this week:

The company, in response to inquiries from stockholders, confirmed its offer to acquire  The Williams Companies.

Click  here  to read more.

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Stone Energy Corp. offers updates on Gulf drilling

By Bob Downing Published: July 10, 2015

From Stone Energy Corp. earlier this week:

LAFAYETTE, La., July 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Stone Energy Corporation (NYSE: SGY) today provided a drilling and production update. In the Gulf of Mexico deepwater, operations at the Cardona #6 development well, located in Mississippi Canyon block 29, have been proceeding ahead of schedule and below budget, and drilling has been completed through the targeted zones.  The well encountered approximately 288 feet of net pay in two intervals, similar to the Cardona #5 net pay of 275 feet.  Analysis of logging and pressure data confirmed the existence of oil in the pay zones. The well has been successfully cased and cemented across all productive zones, the subsea tree has been installed and completion operations have begun.  The well will be tied into our existing Cardona subsea infrastructure, which flows into Stone's Pompano platform.  It is expected that gross production from Cardona #6 will reach approximately 5,000 Boe per day (65% working interest) from the lower completion by late September.The upper completion is expected to have a similar production rate and will be accessed in the future by hydraulically shifting sleeves between the upper and lower completions. 

Upon completion of the Cardona #6 well, the ENSCO 8503 deepwater drilling rig will be released for approximately 60 days to receive scheduled maintenance and to be outfitted with mooring capabilities.  The rig will then be mobilized to Mississippi Canyon block 26 to finish the completion of the Amethyst discovery (100% working interest). Amethyst will also be tied back to the Pompano platform, where first production is expected early in the first quarter of 2016. Following the Amethyst completion, the rig is currently projected to drill the Cardona #7 development well and the Lamprey deep water exploration prospect. 

Production for the second quarter is expected to be at or above the high end of the previous guidance range of 246-258 Mmcfe per day.The increase is a result of reduced scheduled third-party pipeline downtime in the GOM deepwater and flatter than expected production declines in Appalachia.  Additional upward revisions in Appalachian production may be realized in the second quarter of 2015 earnings results pending participation elections by Stone's operating partners. 

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Portage backs injection moratorium, Medina gets charter vote

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

Local control of injection wells and pipelines remains a hot issues in northern Ohio.
On Thursday,  the Portage County commissioners voted to seek a state-backed moratorium on new injection wells for liquids wastes from shale drilling.
The moratorium would only affect new injection wells, not existing wells.
Similar proposals have been approved by county commissioners in Trumbull and Athens counties.
The Ohio drilling industry says such a moratorium is not necessary.
Ohio has 202 injection wells, most of which are based in counties in eastern Ohio. Trumbull County is third for 2014 volumes; Portage County is fourth and Stark County is 10th.
“Our entire region is unfairly burdened by disposal wells,” said activist Mary Greer of Shalersville Township.
Local counties have no say in the permitting or operating of injection wells. Since 2004, that control rests solely with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Earlier this week, the Medina County Board of Elections ruled that a grass-root group had gathered enough signatures to place a proposed county charter amendment before the voters in November.
Sustainable Medina County is backing a new county charter with community bills of rights that might be used to block a planned natural gas pipeline.
A total of 4,867 valid signatures were collected; 4,814 signatures were needed.
Winning approval of the election’s board was a key step, but supporters must now win the public’s support, said spokeswoman Kathie Jones of Wadsworth Township.
Such a move would be among the first in Ohio. Similar campaigns are under way in Fulton, Meigs and Athens counties and in the city of Columbus.
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.
Sustainable Medina County is troubled by the 22 miles of the $2 billion Nexus Pipeline that would cross Medina County. A compressor station is also planned. The pipeline would also run through southern Summit and northern Stark counties.
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 2016, the grass-roots group said.
The pipeline, which still needs federal approval, would stretch 250 miles from Columbiana County to Defiance in northwest Ohio. It then would run north to Michigan and Ontario. Construction could begin in January 2017, and the pipeline could begin operations the following November.
For more information on the charter proposal, go to www.sustainablemedinacounty.org.
On Wednesday,  more than 100 local Ohio officials submitted a letter seeking more local control over drilling to Gov. John Kasich.
“As local elected officials, we are deeply concerned about the significant and growing threat hydraulic fracturing poses to our health and environment,” reads the letter, organized by the advocacy group Environment Ohio, a member of the Environment America federation. “We urge you to stand up for the right of all communities to determine whether, where, and how this dirty drilling is conducted within their own borders.”
“When the gas drillers see Ohio in their rear view mirror, we’ll want to know that we did everything we could to protect our communities from their harms,” said James O’Reilly, a frequent critic of drilling, a Wyoming City Council member and University of Cincinnati professor of law and public health.
The best way for Ohio to protect public health from fracking is to follow the lead of states like Maryland and New York and put a stop to the drilling practice, Environment America said. City and county governments should have the chance to protect their citizens from harm, said the group.

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Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf names 48 people to new pipeline task force

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

From the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection earlier this week:

 
“Pipeline expansion is important to our economy and growing energy sector,” Governor Wolf said. “We will work together to make sure that this important infrastructure can be developed effectively and responsibly with consideration for the environment, residents and local communities.”
 
The task force is made up of representatives from state agencies, the legislature, federal and local governments, the pipeline and natural gas industries and environmental groups. Experts were drawn from across the state and country.
 
“Governor Wolf has charged the task force with crafting an innovative, collaborative and responsible approach to pipeline development that balances environmental protection with economic opportunity,” said Quigley. “Through smart planning, Pennsylvania can experience economic prosperity, achieve energy security, and protect the environment and communities.”
 
The members will define a set of recommendations and best practices for: planning, siting and routing pipelines; amplifying and engaging in meaningful public participation; maximizing opportunities for predictable and efficient permitting; employing construction methods that reduce environmental and community impacts; and developing long-term operations and maintenance plans to ensure pipeline safety and integrity. The task force will provide a report of recommendations to Governor Tom Wolf by February 2016.
 
More than 200 people applied to participate on the task force.
 
The task force will be informed by an additional 101 individuals, serving on 12 workgroups, who will focus on such issues as pipeline safety and integrity, siting and routing, environmental protection, conservation, agriculture, emergency preparedness, natural gas end use, county government, local government, public participation, workforce and economic development, and historical, cultural and tribal issues.
 
The first meeting of the task force will be held from 1-4 PM, July 22 at DEP's South-central Regional Office, 909 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg. The meeting will be open to the public and streamed live and will also available on DEP's website. Access information will be posted here prior to the meeting.
 
Following is the list of task force appointees: 
 
State Government:
• John Quigley, Secretary, DEP (task force chair)
• Dennis Davin, Secretary, Department of Community and Economic Development
• Karen Murphy, Secretary, Department of Health
• Leslie S. Richards, Secretary, Department of Transportation
• David Sweet, Special Assistant, Governor’s Office
• John Hanger, Secretary, Policy and Planning, Governor's Office
• Dan Devlin, State Forester, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
• Michael F. Smith, Executive Deputy Secretary, Department of Agriculture
• Richard D. Flinn, Jr., Director, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency
• Heather Smiles, Chief, Division of Environmental Services, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
• Michael R. DiMatteo, Chief, Division of Environmental Planning and Habitat Protection, Pennsylvania Game Commission
• Sarah Bellew, Deputy State historic Preservation Officer, Pennsylvania Historic Museum Commission
• Paul Metro, Manager, Gas Safety Division, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
• David Smith, Property Management Administrator, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

Federal Government:
• David Hanobic, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Outreach Coordinator
• Colonel Ed Chamberlayne, Baltimore District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
• Steve Tambini, Delaware River Basin Commission

External Stakeholders:

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Williams' Transco to expand natural gas shipments to NYC

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

Williams' Transco is seeking approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expand natural gas shipments to New York City by the winter 2017.

The project is called the New York Bay Expansion Project.

Click  here  to read more.

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Ohio-West Virginia pipelines hit record volume, company says

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

From Magnum Hunter Resources:

IRVING, TX--(Marketwired - Jul 6, 2015) - Eureka Hunter Pipeline, LLC ("Eureka Hunter"), a company in which Magnum Hunter Resources Corporation (NYSE: MHR) (NYSE MKT: MHR.PRC) (NYSE MKT: MHR.PRD) (NYSE MKT: MHR.PRE) ("Magnum Hunter" or the "Company") owns a substantial equity interest, announced today that throughput volumes on Eureka Hunter's gas gathering pipeline system located in West Virginia and Ohio, have now reached a new record high of over 700,000 MMBtu per day on Thursday, July 2, 2015.

The Company recently announced its intention to pursue the sale of 100% of its equity ownership interest in Eureka Hunter pursuant to a Current Report on Form 8-K filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission on June 25, 2015. Based upon current market conditions, the Company believes that a sale of all of its equity interest in Eureka Hunter could generate up to approximately $600 - $700 million in gross cash proceeds to Magnum Hunter.

Magnum Hunter Management Comments

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Magnum Hunter Resources to amend revolving credit facility

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

From Magnum Hunter Resources on Wednesday:

IRVING, TX--(Marketwired - Jul 8, 2015) - Magnum Hunter Resources Corporation (NYSE: MHR) (NYSE MKT: MHR.PRC) (NYSE MKT: MHR.PRD) (NYSE MKT: MHR.PRE) (the "Company" or "Magnum Hunter") announced today that it has received and accepted a firm commitment (the "Commitment") from Bank of Montreal, which is the administrative agent and lead lender under the Company's senior secured revolving credit facility (the "Facility"), to (i) consent to certain amendments and waivers with respect to the Facility (the "Amendments") and (ii) assume the interests under the Facility of each other current member of the Facility's lending syndicate that may not choose to consent to the Amendments contemplated by the new Commitment.

The Amendments will, among other things, permanently eliminate the Company's obligation under the Facility to raise $65 million in net cash proceeds from certain specified transactions by July 10, 2015. As of the date of the Commitment, the Company had raised an aggregate of approximately $55.6 million in net cash proceeds from certain of these specified transactions in connection with this obligation, to which the Company will no longer be subject following the effective date of the Amendments. In addition, the Amendments will include waivers of compliance by the Company with the current ratio and total secured net debt to EBITDAX ratio covenants currently existing under the Facility until the earlier of (i) the fiscal quarter ending December 31, 2015 or (ii) the fiscal quarter during which the Company closes on the sale of all or substantially all of the Company's equity ownership interest in Eureka Hunter Holdings, LLC ("Eureka Hunter"). The Company previously announced its intention to pursue the sale of 100% of its equity ownership interest in Eureka Hunter pursuant to a Current Report on Form 8-K filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission on June 25, 2015. Based upon current market conditions, the Company believes that a sale of all of its equity interest in Eureka Hunter could generate up to approximately $600 - $700 million in gross cash proceeds to Magnum Hunter.

The Commitment of Bank of Montreal and the Amendments contemplated thereby are subject to the satisfaction of certain customary conditions, including, with respect to the Amendments, the requisite consent of the other lenders under the Facility. Pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Commitment, Bank of Montreal has agreed to assume 100% of the other bank commitments under the Facility of each other current lender that may choose to cease being a lender under the Facility in connection with the Amendments outlined herein.

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Rex Energy closes on sale of Water Solutions Holdings LLC

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

From Rex Energy today:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., July 09, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rex Energy Corporation (Nasdaq:REXX) (the "Company") announced today that it, together with its partners in Water Solutions Holdings, LLC ("Water Solutions"), has closed on the previously  announced sale of Water Solutions to American Water Works Company, Inc. ("American Water"). The sale of Water Solutions includes all subsidiaries, including Keystone Clearwater Solutions. Rex Energy, which held a 60% interest in Water Solutions, is selling its entire interest and received net proceeds from the sale of approximately $67 million. The proceeds will be used to pay down the revolving line of credit and for general corporate purposes.

About Rex Energy Corporation

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21 Utica permits approved in Harrison, Monroe, Noble counties

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

Ohio has approved 1,964 Utica shale permits, as of July 4.

That total includes 1,530 drilled Utica wells and 918 producing Utica wells, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Ohio has 16 rigs at work.

A total of 21 new permits were approved: five in Harrison County, eight in Monroe County and eight in Noble County.

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API adopts new pipeline safety management standard

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute on Wednesday:

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2015 – The American Petroleum Institute announced a new pipeline safety management system standard. This new standard which was built on the industry goal of zero incidents was created with engagement and guidance from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and other key stakeholders to further enhance pipeline safety.

“Pipelines are safe and efficient, but we are always looking for new ways to make them better, which is why industry is embracing this new standard,” said API Midstream Director Robin Rorick. “It’s also a great example of what can be done when industry, regulators and all key stakeholders work together to achieve a common objective, which is to protect the public, the environment and provide the fuels Americans need.”

API developed and published Recommended Practice 1173 under its American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited process and is the American National Standard (ANS) on the subject of pipeline safety management systems. API’s rigorous process is open, transparent and ensures that the best minds from government, academia, the public and industry fully participate in the development of API standards.

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API endorses lifting U.S. crude oil export ban

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

From the American Petroleum Institute today:

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2015 ─ API urged lawmakers to quickly chart a bipartisan path forward during today’s House hearing on legislation to lift America’s outdated ban on crude oil exports.
  
“Crude exports could generate immediate and long-lasting benefits for U.S. workers, for U.S. consumers and families, and for our allies abroad,” said API Executive Vice President Louis Finkel. “Bipartisan momentum is stronger than ever, and lawmakers should seize this opportunity to cement America’s role as a global energy superpower.
  
Study after study has shown that exports will incentivize higher domestic production, create more U.S. jobs, put downward pressure on gasoline prices, and reduce the power that foreign suppliers have over our allies. Last month, a report from Harvard Business School confirmed that the ban is ‘reducing U.S. growth, with no clear offsetting benefits for America or Americans.’
  
“We applaud the bipartisan efforts of leaders in Congress who are ready to send a signal of strength to our allies abroad, and we urge House and Senate leaders to make this a top priority.”
  
API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 625 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 25 million Americans.

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80 events to mark anniversary of Quebec's oil train disaster

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

From the ForestEthics on Monday::

80+ Events Highlight Opposition to Oil Trains: Stop Oil Trains Week of Action Launches on Anniversary of Lac Megantic Disaster

[San Francisco, CA] ForestEthics today announced the launch of the Stop Oil Trains week of action, more than 80 coordinated protests and events planned by citizens in dozens of US and Canada cities, July 6-12. Event organizers are calling for a ban on oil trains.

This morning activists were detained by police as they attempted to hang a 60-foot banner in front of a rail bridge on the oil train route through the Bay Area, California. The banner reads “Stop Oil Trains Now: Are You in the Blast-Zone.org.” Climbers, who are risking arrest, are representing: Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, and ForestEthics.

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U.S. crude production could hit highest level in 45 years

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

U.S. Energy Information Administration Administrator Adam Sieminski issued the following comments on EIA’s July 2015 Short-Term Energy Outlook, which was released on Tuesday:

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

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

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Statoil wins Energy Intelligence new energy leadership award

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

From Energy Intelligence

Statoil Wins 2015 Energy Intelligence Award for Leadership in New Energy

New York – July 8, 2015 – Energy Intelligence announced today that Norwegian company Statoil is the winner of its 2015 Award for Leadership in New Energy. The award recognizes a company that is at the forefront of the energy transition from traditional fossil fuels to a lower-carbon energy system. Statoil has been a pioneer in the transition in several ways -- political engagement, investments in alternative and lower-carbon energy, and efforts to “green” its conventional oil and gas business -- and is considered a leader among its peer group of large oil and gas companies. The award will be presented to Statoil during the 36th Annual Oil & Money Conference in London in October.

The award's selection process began with the Energy Intelligence editorial team compiling a list of nominees who exemplify excellence in transitioning from traditional fossil fuels to a lower-carbon energy system. The winner was then chosen by a selection committee comprised of independent experts in new energy from the business world complemented by senior energy executives and government officials that act as advisers to Energy Intelligence.

"Statoil stands out among IOCs as a leader on this issue," said David Pike, Energy Intelligence Editorial Director. "The company's involvement in the climate debate has helped guide the industry toward greater engagement in the run-up to December's Paris climate summit."

Chief Executive Eldar Sætre recently ranked climate as one of the industry's top two challenges alongside high costs, while declaring that the firm wants to be the most carbon efficient oil and gas company.

Statoil sees a strong link between business competitiveness and being a low-carbon producer, with efforts to improve efficiency in its operations and reduce its environmental footprint deemed a sensible move in a competitive industry environment. Statoil is working with 10-14 different companies to develop technologies to combat gas flaring, and it has set up a joint technology program with General Electric to address this and other issues, such as fugitive greenhouse gas emissions and water usage at oil and gas fields.

The firm has made investments in offshore wind projects and says it is also looking at further expansion. Underscoring this ambition, Statoil recently announced the creation of a dedicated "new energy solutions" business unit, reporting directly to the CEO.

Statoil is a strong advocate of both carbon pricing and carbon capture and storage, with the latter building on its hands-on experience at the Sleipner field, Snovit LNG project, and Technology Centre Mongstad. Statoil sees strong demand for hydrocarbons continuing into the future, but highlights the role that cleaner-burning natural gas could play in displacing coal.

The 2014 Award for Leadership in New Energy was awarded to Dong Energy of Denmark and was accepted by Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Stakeholder Relations Jaokb Askou Bøss. In 2013, the award was presented to Spain’s Iberdrola, represented by renewables chief Xabier Viteri Solaun, at Oil & Money 2013. The inaugural award was awarded to UAE's Masdar, represented by Chief Executive H.E. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, at Oil & Money 2012.

About Energy Intelligence (www.energyintel.com)
Energy Intelligence (EI) is the leading independent provider of energy news, analysis, data and research. Our award-winning information services set the industry standard for excellence, and our proprietary data are indispensable for all energy professionals. Research & Advisory, an independent arm of EI, provides retainer services, manages projects for clients internationally and compiles incisive reports and data analytics. Energy Intelligence also hosts several events, including the prestigious Oil & Money Conference and Global Energy Intelligence Day, Moscow. Providing over 60 years of expert energy coverage, EI is your guide to understanding today’s biggest stories and taking advantage of tomorrow’s opportunities.


About EI New Energy (www.energyintel.com/newenergy)
Tracking the transition of the global energy industry from conventional fossil fuels to a lower-carbon world, EI New Energyfocuses on carbon markets, renewable power and transportation innovation.



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U.S. petroleum exports continuing to increase, EIA says

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

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

Over the past decade, domestic refinery output of petroleum products has grown significantly while consumption has declined, resulting in a major increase in product exports. Petroleum product exports averaged 4.1 million barrels per day (b/d) in the first four months of the year, an increase of 0.5 million b/d over exports the same time last year. Product imports are also higher than last year, but to a lesser extent, leading to an increase in net petroleum product exports.

Import and export patterns vary by region, with most exports leaving from the Gulf Coast (Petroleum Administration for Defense District 3), and imports coming to the East Coast (PADD 1). Record-high refinery runs and increased global demand for petroleum products from the United States continue to push exports higher.

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Report: Reforms needed to boost American energy boom

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

From the Manhattan Institute today:

Study Proposes Reforms to Amplify and Extend U.S. Energy Boom
Policy changes can strengthen energy markets and open access to new resources larger than those driving the current shale boom 

New York, NY (7/9/15) — A new study by the Manhattan Institute outlines 11 policy reforms to double down on the explosion in America’s oil and natural gas production. These reforms ensure resources are put to their most efficient use and lay the groundwork for a new wave of production from federal lands and waters to follow the shale boom. The result will be lower energy prices, more jobs, faster economic growth, and greater geopolitical power for America. To take advantage of these opportunities, policymakers must look beyond the current glut in oil and gas markets and plan for the years and decades to come—the time to invest is now.

Oren Cass, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, argues that the energy landscape has changed dramatically since our energy regulations were written. In the past 8 years the U.S. has transitioned from a dependent importer to a powerful producer, and everything we knew about our energy resources has been flipped on its head. Power in global markets has shifted from OPEC to U.S. producers. Plunging prices for both oil and gas are saving the average household at least $1,500 per year.

But failure to update policy accordingly has already cost America in foregone royalties, wasted subsidies, and missed opportunities to create jobs and lower prices further. And with global demand forecast to rise faster than U.S. output for the foreseeable future, we must decide whether we will pursue the opportunity aggressively or let the pendulum swing away again. Updating our outdated energy policies can strengthen America’s new status as an energy superpower and set in motion exploration and investments by industry that will pay enormous long-term dividends. 

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Local officials seek more local control from Ohio on drilling

By Bob Downing Published: July 9, 2015

From Environment America on Wednesday:

More than 100 mayors, county commissioners, city councilors, and other local elected officials from communities across Ohio issued a letter to Governor John Kasich today, calling for the local authority to limit and prohibit dangerous fracking operations. The letter’s release follows another setback in court for communities seeking to ban or regulate the dirty drilling practice.
 
“As local elected officials, we are deeply concerned about the significant and growing threat hydraulic fracturing poses to our health and environment,” reads the letter, organized by the advocacy group Environment Ohio, a member of the Environment America federation. “We urge you to stand up for the right of all communities to determine whether, where, and how this dirty drilling is conducted within their own borders.” 
 
Many of fracking’s impacts-- from air and water pollution to earthquakes and ruined roads-- are borne most heavily at the local level, prompting communities in Ohio and across the country to pass measures to regulate or ban the practice.
 
“When the gas drillers see Ohio in their rear view mirror, we’ll want to know that we did everything we could to protect our communities from their harms,” said James O’Reilly, Wyoming City Council Member and University of Cincinnati Professor of Law and Public Health.
 
In response to more than 100 local efforts to ban or regulate fracking nationwide, the oil and gas industry has paired up with state officials in many cases to strike back.
 
In Ohio, a 2004 state law handed exclusive authority to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to regulate and permit oil and gas wells. Since then, in court cases all the way up to the Ohio Supreme Court, judges have used the law to strike down local measures that block or restrict oil and gas drilling.
 
In May Texas adopted a law barring local regulations of fracking, invalidating measures in Denton and other Texas communities. Oklahoma soon followed suit.  
 
The battle over who regulates fracking comes as the scientific evidence against the drilling technique continues to mount. An analysis of recent peer-reviewed studies determined that 72 percent of them showed “indication of potential, positive association, or actual incidence of water contamination.”
 
The best way for Ohio to protect public health from fracking is to follow the lead of states like Maryland and New York and put a stop to the dirty drilling practice altogether, Environment America said today. Until then, city and county governments should have the chance to protect their citizens from harm, said the group.

“Local communities deserve clean water and clean air, so they deserve local control of fracking," said Sarah Frost, outreach director with Environment America.
 
 

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Fracking myths are many and damaging, writer argues

By Jim Mackinnon Published: July 8, 2015

Merrill Mathews at Investor's Business Daily takes a stab at clearing up what he says are myths involving fracking.

Mathews: "Much of the reporting on fracking is a confused mess, which must leave many people wondering exactly what's going on. One day there's a news story or newly released study implying that fracking is causing earthquakes or groundwater contamination; the next day there's a different study or story asserting there is no clear connection.

"No wonder last March the Gallup Polling Co. found that an equal number, 40%, supported and opposed fracking."

Read the full column here.

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Dominion seeks Virginia O.K. for $1.3 billion gas-fired power plant

By Bob Downing Published: July 5, 2015

A press release from last week:

RICHMOND, Va., July 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion Virginia Power today asked the Virginia State Corporate Commission (SCC) for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to build a $1.3 billion state-of-the-art natural gas-fired power station in Greensville County.

If approved, the high-efficiency, combined-cycle station would generate about 1,600 megawatts, enough electricity to power 400,000 typical homes during peak demand. Construction is scheduled to begin next year pending SCC approval.

"Our analysis shows that over the life of this station our customers should save more than $2 billion versus the projected cost for purchasing the same amount of power for customers off the regional power grid," said David Christian, chief executive officer for Dominion Generation. "It will be highly efficient, low cost and very reliable. It will also have excellent environmental attributes and an extremely favorable location for fuel and transmission service."

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U.S. gas, oil drilling rigs grew by two to 859, Baker Hughes reports

By Bob Downing Published: July 5, 2015

After 29 weeks of declines, the number of U.S. oil rigs increased last week, according to compilations by Baker Hughes, the well service company.

The number of U.S. oil rigs grew by 12 to 640.

That is the highest level since Dec. 5, 2014.

The number of gas and oil rigs together grew by two to 859.

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Food, Water Watch issues fact sheets on Nexus, ET Rover pipelines

By Bob Downing Published: July 5, 2015

Food and Water Watch, a national group fighting shale drilling, has released new fact sheets on the Nexus and ET Rover pipelines in Ohio and Michigan.

Click  here  to read them.

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Broadview Heights group will appeal judge's dismissal of lawsuit

By Bob Downing Published: July 5, 2015

From the Associated Press:

BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) — A community activist group near Cleveland that opposes oil and gas wells in residential neighborhoods said it plans to appeal a judge's decision to dismiss its lawsuit against the state.

Mothers Against Drilling in Our Neighborhood, which is based in Broadview Heights, claimed the city's Community Bill of Rights approved by voters in 2012 supersedes a state law permitting drilling.

But Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Timothy McCormick dismissed the lawsuit this week, citing a February Ohio Supreme Court case that said municipalities' home rule does not overrule state law regulating oil and gas drilling. The court had given the Ohio Department of Natural Resources exclusive authorization to permit, locate and regulate wells in 2004.

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Grass-roots group wants independent analysis of Nexus Pipeline route

By Bob Downing Published: July 5, 2015

From the Coalition to Reroute Nexus:

News Release
(Note to Editor: This release includes an attachment containing additional information)
Need for Independent Route Analysis of NEXUS Pipeline Requested by Coalition
July 2, 2015 Medina, OH. - NEXUS Gas Transmission’s claim that its current proposed pipeline route is necessary to serve current and future industrial consumers is disputed by the Coalition to Reroute Nexus (CORN). The grassroots organization is asking for an independent analysis to review Nexus’ claims and their outright rejection of the City of Green Alternate route supported by CORN.
In a strongly worded letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) the leaders of CORN listed multiple discrepancies and undocumented assertions within the Nexus June 12, 2015 filing where the Texas based corporation claimed that a change of the pipeline’s route “would not accomplish the Project’s purpose and need.”
“There has been no disclosure to date that the Nexus proposed route is necessary to provide a direct interconnect with any committed large volume industrial consumer,” wrote CORN Board Director David Eigel. Mr. Eigel is a veteran of 33 years in the energy and utility industry as a petroleum engineer and senior executive.
The 250 Nexus pipeline will cover 11 Ohio counties and is a transmission line for natural gas extracted from southern Ohio and intended for resale to international clients at the Dawn Energy Hub in Ontario, Canada. The proposed pipeline route will traverse densely populated counties in northeastern Ohio and could compromise environmentally unique and fragile areas in western Ohio, according to the CORN leaders.
More 20150702F Independent Analysis Needed
919 East Turkeyfoot Lake Rd.
Suite B
Akron, OH 44312
Email: plgierosky@gmail.com
Coalition to Reroute Nexus
Contact: Paul L. Gierosky 216-469-5206
Eastern Ohio Spokesperson
Contact: Liz Athaide-Victor 419-344-3804
Western Ohio Spokesperson
The Mission of the Coalition to Reroute Nexus is to inform, educate, and persuade Nexus to choose a more southerly route largely avoiding higher density counties in the northeastern part of Ohio and the ecologically unique and environmentally sensitive Oak Openings Region in western Ohio. The Coalition’s Goal is the creation of a carefully engineered, thoughtfully located Pipeline Safety Corridor that protects the public, the pipeline itself, preserves property values and demonstrates respect for individual property rights.
Add One,

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Ohio judge dismisses Broadview Heights lawsuit by residents

By Bob Downing Published: July 2, 2015

From a Thursday press release:

BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, OH:  Yesterday – in time for the July 4th celebration of American Independence and democracy – the Cuyahoga County Court dismissed a class action lawsuit filed by residents of Broadview Heights to protect their inalienable right to local self-government. The suit was filed against the state of Ohio and the oil and gas industry, as fracking is being forced into communities without their consent.

 

In November 2012, Broadview Heights residents, with 67% of the vote, adopted a Community Bill of Rights codifying their right to local, democratic self-governance, and rights to water and a healthy environment – banning fracking as a violation of those rights.

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ODNR releases new fact sheet on Ohio's Clinton Sandstone

By Bob Downing Published: July 2, 2015

Ohio's first Clinton Sandstone well was drilled in 1887 in Lancaster.

From 1887-2013, Ohio has drilled an estimated 80,000 Clinton wells, mostly shallow wells.

They have produced 8.7 trillion cubic feet of natural. That's enough natural gas to heat all of Ohio's 5 million homes for 26 years at current rates of consumption.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Geological Survey has a new two-page fact sheet out on the Clinton Sandstone. It is GeoFacts No. 30.

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REX Pipeline to begin full westward natural gas flow on Aug. 1

By Bob Downing Published: July 2, 2015

Starting Aug. 1, the Rockies Express Pipeline will be reversed in a full-scale change.

It will flow natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shales in Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania west through Indiana and Illinois to Missouri.

Previously, it flowed west to east.

Click  here  to read a detailed story by RBN Energy.

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15 fracking chemicals may pose threat to groundwater, study says

By Bob Downing Published: July 2, 2015

From the University of Colorado-Boulder:

A new University of Colorado Boulder framework used to screen hundreds of organic chemical compounds used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows that 15 may be of concern as groundwater contaminants based on their toxicity, mobility, persistence and frequency of use.

Using a fast groundwater transport scenario, the team predicted that 41 of the 659 organic compounds screened would have 10 percent or more of their initial concentrations remaining at a transport distance of roughly 300 feet. That is the average state “setback” distance in the United States between a fracking well and a drinking water well, said CU-Boulder Professor Joseph Ryan, the principal investigator on the study.

In the fracking process, a mixture of water, sand and various chemicals is pumped into wells at high pressure to create fissures in subterranean shale layers to release natural gas and oil. Oil and gas companies use a wide variety of chemicals to increase viscosity, inhibit equipment corrosion and reduce friction, among other things.

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Alpha Natural Resources acquires full share in Marcellus venture

By Bob Downing Published: July 2, 2015

From Alpha Natural Resources on Wednesday:

BRISTOL, Va., July 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. (NYSE: ANR) announced today that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Pennsylvania Services Corporation (PSC), has acquired the 50% interest in its natural gas exploration and production joint venture, Pennsylvania Land Resources Holding Company, LLC (PLR), owned by EDF Trading Resources, LLC (EDFTR).  The $126 million transaction, which makes PSC the sole owner and operator of the venture, allows Alpha to expand and control a highly economic natural gas development program composed of over 25,000 net acres and associated infrastructure in the Marcellus Shale. 

EDFTR and PSC initially formed the PLR joint venture in May 2013 to exploit a large, concentrated Marcellus Shale gas resource in Greene County, Pennsylvania.  The concentrated acreage position is considered to be in the "core of the core" of the Marcellus Shale, one of the most profitable natural gas plays in the United States, and located adjacent to some of the most productive wells in the basin to date.  PLR's large, contiguous acreage position will allow efficient development of the resource with long laterals, maximizing both well productivity and returns.  Significant existing pipeline capacity located adjacent to or crossing PLR's leased acreage also provides strong transportation optionality.

Brian Sullivan, Alpha's Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, stated, "We expect drilling on the first pad to begin in the next 30 days, with an estimated 4 wells completed by the first quarter of next year."  PLR's concentrated position when it entered into the joint venture in May 2013 was 12,000 net acres, which has since more than doubled.  Additionally, two well pads have been constructed with a total of 14 permitted wells.  "Our current leasehold position gives us an immediate drilling inventory of more than 50 locations," Sullivan added.

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Fossil fuels top 80 percent of U.S. fuel mix since 1900

By Bob Downing Published: July 2, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

While the energy history of the United States is one of significant change, three fossil fuel sources—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—have made up at least 80% of total U.S. energy consumption for more than 100 years. Recent increases in the domestic production of petroleum liquids and natural gas prompted shifts between the uses of fossil fuels (largely from coal-fired to natural gas-fired power generation), but the predominance of these three energy sources is likely to continue into the future.

Read More ›

Tags: coal , consumption , demand , electricity , hydroelectric , liquid fuels , natural gas , nuclear , oil/petroleum , renewable , United States , wood

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Oklahoma court: Driller can be sued for earthquake damage

By Bob Downing Published: July 2, 2015

From the Associated Press:

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court said New Dominion LLC can be sued for damage caused by an earthquake that a woman blames on disposal wells tied to fracking, in what may be the first such case to head to a jury trial.

Sandra Ladra sued New Dominion and Spess Oil Co. for injuries suffered to her knees and legs in November 2011, when a 5.0 magnitude earthquake struck near her home in central Oklahoma. She said the tremor caused the rock facing on her two- story fireplace and chimney to fall into the living room, where she was watching television with her family.

Oklahoma, a region not known for seismic activity, has experienced a rash of earthquakes since 2009, the same year area oil companies began using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to shatter deep rock layers to extract oil and gas. Fracked wells produce large quantities of wastewater, which drilling companies inject into ultra-deep disposal wells, which critics blame for causing earthquakes.

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Hedges are expiring: that raises questions for shale drillers

By Bob Downing Published: July 2, 2015

The insurance protecting shale drillers against plummeting prices has become so crucial that for one company, SandRidge Energy Inc., payments from the hedges accounted for a stunning 64 percent of first-quarter revenue, Bloomburg Business reports.

Now the safety net is going away The insurance that producers bought before the collapse in oil is expiring. As they do, investors are left to wonder how these companies will make up the $3.7 billion the hedges earned them in the first quarter after crude sunk below $60 from a peak of $107 in mid-2014.

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Ohio Chamber of Commerce endorses Nexus Pipeline

By Bob Downing Published: July 2, 2015

From the Ohio Chamber of Coomerce on Wednesday:

NEXUS Gas Transmission Pipeline Brings Much Needed Energy Infrastructure & Jobs

 

NEXUS Gas Transmission recently filed its full set of draft Resource Reports that indicates six Ohio customers, including local distribution companies and industrial parks, have executed contracts to access supplies from the proposed pipeline route.  According to Draft Resource Report 1 filed on June 12th, NEXUS has secured customers and supports future residential, commercial and industrial growth in Columbiana, Wayne, Medina, Erie, Wood and Lucas Counties.

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Industry groups seek relief from northern long-eared bat rules

By Bob Downing Published: July 2, 2015

From a press release on Wednesday:

IPAA and API Renew Request to Fish and Wildlife Service in Fifth Round of Comments on the Northern Long-Eared Bat

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Today, the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the American Petroleum Institute (API) urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to amend the Interim 4(d) Rule for the northern long-eared bat to reflect the fact that oil and gas development activities do not pose a significant threat to the existence of the bat. Failure to provide an exemption would impose unnecessary and costly burdens on the oil and gas industry, the local communities with which these companies reside, and the FWS, while not providing a measurable conservation benefit to the northern long-eared bat.

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Resolution approved by Athens County commissioners

By Bob Downing Published: July 2, 2015

Here is the resolution approved earlier this week by the Athens County commissioners on injection wells in Ohio:

 

Resolution For the Athens County Commissioners to Declare a Moratorium of New Injection Wells in Ohio, submitted July    , 2015

 

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Denver-based firm buying Chesapeake assets for $840 million

By Bob Downing Published: July 2, 2015

Denver-based Four Points Energy LLC is buying $840 million of assets in Oklahoma from the Cheseapeake Energy Corp.

Click  here  to read more.

 

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NiSource, Columbia Pipeline complete separation of firms

By Bob Downing Published: July 2, 2015

From a press release today:

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. & HOUSTON – NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) and Columbia Pipeline Group (NYSE: CPGX) (“CPG”) announced today that the separation of the two companies was completed successfully through a distribution of all the common stock of CPG held by NiSource to NiSource shareholders.
Under the terms of the distribution, effective at 11:59 p.m., New York City time, on July 1, 2015, NiSource shareholders were distributed one (1) share of CPG stock for every one (1) share of NiSource common stock they held as of 5:00 p.m. CT on June 19, 2015, the record date.
Beginning with today’s market open, CPG will begin “regular way” trading on the NYSE as an independent public company under the symbol “CPGX.”
As of the separation, NiSource, based in Merrillville, Indiana, remains one of the largest natural gas utility companies in the United States, serving more than 3.5 million customers in seven states under the Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands. The company also provides electric distribution, generation and transmission services for approximately 500,000 NIPSCO electric customers in northern Indiana. NiSource will continue to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: NI). Additional information about NiSource can be found at www.nisource.com.
"As a pure-play utility company, NiSource offers a fully regulated platform for growth with a storied track record of execution on stakeholder-supported system enhancement opportunities, which are expected to exceed $30 billion over the next 20-plus years,” said NiSource President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Hamrock. “This straightforward and well-established plan is underpinned by a deep commitment to safety, customer service, environmental sensitivity and employee engagement.”
CPG, based in Houston, includes Columbia Gas Transmission, Columbia Gulf Transmission, Columbia Midstream Group, its ownership interest in Columbia Pipeline Partners LP (NYSE: CPPL), and other natural gas pipeline, storage and midstream holdings previously owned by NiSource. In total CPG operates more than 15,000 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines, nearly 300 billion cubic feet of underground natural gas storage working capacity, and a growing portfolio of midstream and related facilities. Additional information about CPG can be found at www.cpg.com.
“As an independent company, we are committed to unlocking significant value and enabling even greater growth investment,” said CPG Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert C. Skaggs, Jr. “We are actively executing on a significant number of transformational growth opportunities, as well as our landmark long-term system modernization program. These investments are expected to drive robust adjusted EBITDA and dividend growth and triple CPG’s net investment by 2020.”
2
About NiSource
NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) is one of the largest fully-regulated utility companies in the United States,
serving approximately 3.5 million natural gas customers and 500,000 electric customers across seven
states through its local Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands. Based in Merrillville, Indiana, NiSource’s
more than 7,000 employees are focused on safely delivering reliable and affordable energy to our
customers and communities we serve. NiSource has been designated a World’s Most Ethical Company
by the Ethisphere Institute since 2012 and is a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability – North America
Index. Additional information about NiSource, its investments in modern infrastructure and systems, its
commitments and its local brands can be found at www.nisource.com. NI-F

About Columbia Pipeline Group
Columbia Pipeline Group operates approximately 15,000 miles of strategically located interstate pipeline,
gathering and processing assets extending from New York to the Gulf of Mexico, including an extensive
footprint in the Marcellus and Utica Shale production areas. CPG also operates one of the nation’s
largest underground natural gas storage systems. CPG is listed on the NYSE under the ticker symbol
CPGX. Additional information can be found at www.cpg.com.

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Athens County calls for moratorium on new injection wells

By Bob Downing Published: July 1, 2015

Ohio's Athens County commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to seek a state-backed moratorium on new injection wells.

The request would not impact existing injection wells.

The Trumbull County commissioners approved a simialr resolution last week.

At present, injection wells are governed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

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MarkWest opens new office space in Cadiz in Harrison County

By Bob Downing Published: July 1, 2015

MarkWest Energy Partners has opened a new office in Cadiz in Ohio's Harrison County.

The 20,000-square-foot facility will house 70 to 80 workers.

Click  here  to read more.

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Halliburton to close Homer City facility, 90 to lose jobs

By Bob Downing Published: July 1, 2015

From the Associated Press:

HOMER CITY, Pa. (AP) — Halliburton is closing a western Pennsylvania plant with 430 workers, but says 80 percent of them will be offered transfers to a facility in Zanesville, Ohio or other Pennsylvania locations.

Halliburton spokeswoman Susie McMichael says the Homer City plant about 45 miles east of Pittsburgh is closing because the company’s customer base in the area have moved to southwestern Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.

The Houston-based company, which provides products and services to energy firms, opened the Homer City location in 1970.

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EIA expands natural gas production with new data for 10 states

By Bob Downing Published: July 1, 2015

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration today:

Beginning this week, EIA is expanding its reporting of monthly natural gas production by 10 additional states. The addition of these states—Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, and West Virginia—significantly enhances EIA's monthly coverage, which was previously limited to Alaska, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming, and the federal Gulf of Mexico. Accompanying EIA's expanded coverage is a new webpage, Monthly Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production, which replaces the Monthly Natural Gas Gross Production Report.

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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.