Friday, September 13, 2019

NEXUS Pipeline Ruling Could Have Broader Implications

From NGI:
While unsuccessful in their request for rehearing at FERC and before a U.S. district court, Oberlin, a small college city in northern Ohio, and landowners in the state that formed the Coalition to Reroute Nexus, won what ClearView Energy Partners LLC called a “precedential opinion” last week before the DC Circuit in the case City of Oberlin, Ohio v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 18-1248. 
Nexus secured precedent agreements with eight different entities for 825,000 Dth/d, or just 59% of the pipeline’s capacity. Two of the agreements were signed with Canadian companies serving customers in Canada, according to court documents. 
Without the foreign agreements, the DC Circuit noted that only 42% of the project would have been subscribed. “…Because the Commission never considered whether the public benefits of the Nexus pipeline would outweigh its adverse impacts if it were only subscribed for 625,000 Dth/d, we may affirm its finding of public convenience and necessity only if the Commission’s inclusion of the export precedent agreements in its analysis was proper,” the court said. 
But the panel of judges said the Commission failed to explain during oral arguments and in other proceedings why it is lawful to credit demand for export capacity in issuing a certificate. In order to receive a certificate approval under the Natural Gas Act (NGA), a developer must show that its project is in the public interest and meets unserved market demand.
Read more by clicking here. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Under New CEO Toby Rice, EQT Lays Off Almost 25% of Workforce

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Nearly 200 employees of EQT Corp. were cut from “Team EQT” on Tuesday as part of an effort to “transform EQT into a modern, technology-driven and efficient natural gas producer.” 
The Downtown-based oil and gas company, fresh off a shareholder coup that installed Toby Rice as the CEO and replaced nearly all the senior managers with former Rice Energy Inc. executives, sent a letter to its 850 or so employees Tuesday morning saying the layoffs are “difficult but necessary.” 
Mr. Rice, who came to power at EQT on the campaign promise of better planning, warmer relationships with stakeholders, and the ability to track everything at the company through a real-time digital lens, wrote to employees that EQT’s new, slimmed-down structure will “better challenge, empower and support [remaining] employees.” 
EQT bought Rice Energy in 2017, making it the biggest natural gas producer in the U.S. and making Mr. Rice and his family, who founded Rice Energy, large shareholders of EQT.
Click here to read the rest of the article. 

ODNR Looking for Contractors to Plug Old Wells

From the Akron Beacon Journal:
The state has millions of dollars to spend on plugging old and potentially hazardous oil and natural gas wells. Now, it’s looking for more contractors to do the work. 
Prolific shale wells and a change in state law have boosted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources fund for plugging so-called orphan wells. 
The orphan well program has nearly $25 million this fiscal year — $10 million more than the previous year — and is looking to have $28.1 million next fiscal year. 
“We’ve got a lot of money to spend, and we want to plug a lot of wells,” Rick Simmers, chief of ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas, told a group of plugging contractors Wednesday during a meeting at Portage Lakes State Park. 
“We need more contractors,” Simmers said.
Read on by clicking right here. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

FirstEnergy Going All Out to Stop Nuclear Bailout From Being Overturned

After Ohio lawmakers passed a measure requiring electric customers in the state to pay for a massive bailout which would prop up dying FirstEnergy power plants, the company has taken steps to fight back against efforts to pass a referendum which would overturn the controversial law.

Part of the company's effort is a $1 million scare ad campaign that a front group for FirstEnergy named Ohioans for Energy Security is running, which makes the rather bizarre allegation that the natural gas plants poised to take up the slack for electric generation in the state if the referendum is successful are backed by China, and thus Ohio's electric grid would be controlled by China if the law is repealed.

Here is the ad:

Not surprisingly, The Columbus Dispatch investigated these claims and did not find substance to them:
LoParo sent along items from Power Finance & Risk, a website covering the power industry in the Americas. One, from Jan. 30, was related to financing for a project to build a natural-gas-powered generating facility in Lordstown by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners, Siemens Financial Services and Clean Energy Future. That last company is significant because the man who runs it, Bill Siderewicz, also is involved with the anti-bailout effort, Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts. 
The news item said that a $534.4 million loan for the project was being put together by a group of banks led by Credit Agricole of France and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which is controlled by the state. LoParo said he didn’t know how much of the Chinese bank’s money was going into the project. 
But that project was cancelled. As The Dispatch reported last week, Siderewicz pulled the plug on the project because of the passage of the nuclear bailout. 
It’s still the case that some Siderewicz gas-generation projects in Ohio have been financed in part by the Chinese bank. But there’s an important difference between financing a project and investing in one. In the first instance, the bank acts a lender. In the second, the company becomes part owner. 
In any case, LoParo didn’t provide The Dispatch with any evidence that the Chinese government intends to play a role in a possible repeal of House Bill 6. 
“It’s a ridiculously wrong statement to distract voters from the penalties this bill (will inflict) on Ohio consumers,” said Gene Pierce, spokesman for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts.
In an interesting example of hypocrisy, FirstEnergy has received financing from this exact same Chinese bank on other projects.

The group behind the ad also lobbied for the passage of the bailout, and also worked on the campaign for state Attorney General Dave Yost (who launched his own action against the referendum by rejecting the measure because of what he stated were errors and imprecise language).

The Energy and Policy Institute, an anti-fossil fuel organization, took a long look at Ohioans for Energy Security and followed the money to find out who is really behind the group.  Beyond the links to FirstEnergy, the investigation also found ties to coal magnate Robert Murray and his company, Murray Energy.  Murray has already been vocal in his opposition to the bailout referendum.

Click here to read about the investigation by The Energy and Policy Institute.

Now FirstEnergy is taking the fight to the Ohio Supreme Court.

From The Columbus Dispatch:
Last month, it was scary television commercials telling voters that they could avoid a Chinese takeover of power generation in Ohio by not signing petition forms for a ballot initiative. 
Now, FirstEnergy Solutions is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to block the referendum petition drive, which seeks to overturn a $1 billion bailout of the utility’s Ohio nuclear power plants that the state legislature and Gov. Mike DeWine approved in July. 
The filing Wednesday contends that an increase charged to all Ohio electricity ratepayers to fund the bailout constitutes a tax, and the Ohio Constitution bars a public vote on a tax increase. 
The constitution says “laws providing for tax levies ... shall go into immediate effect. ... The laws mentioned in this section shall not be subject to the referendum,” says the court action filed by Columbus attorney John Zeiger.
This argument is very interesting, because proponents of the bailout were very adamant during the process of getting it passed about stating that it was not a tax.  Now that it is passed, they are doubling back on that and saying that it is in an effort to keep it in effect.

Click here to read that whole article.

Construction Set to Begin on Massive $1.6 Billion Gas-Fired Power Plant in Guernsey County

From The Daily Jeffersonian:
Caithness Energy announced that it has successfully closed a $1.6 billion financing for the construction of a fully-permitted 1,875 megawatt combined-cycle natural gas electric generating facility located in Guernsey County.

The financing for the Guernsey Power Station clears the way for the project to move forward to construction.

The proposed facility south of Byesville that will produce enough electricity to power nearly 1.5 million homes.

“Caithness is proud to deliver this state-of-the-art electric generating solution for cleaner, more efficient power into the PJM Market,” said Ross Ain, Caithness Energy president. “Our energy design is cleaner, providing maximum power with minimal impact on the surrounding environment with a dry cooling system that reduces water use by 95 percent compared to traditional facilities.

“We have worked closely with our partners, suppliers and contractors to complete financing and begin construction of this important project. The local community will benefit from up to 1,000 jobs at peak construction and approximately 30 permanent high-tech jobs, all while providing vital funds committed to the Rolling Hills School District that will enable a major school infrastructure construction project.”
Click here to continue reading this article. 

September Utica and Marcellus Shale Activity Maps Published by ODNR

Utica Wells in Production Figure Jumps by 51 on Latest ODNR Report

WEEK ENDING 08/31/19

New permits issued last week: 6 (Previous week: 15)  -9
Total horizontal permits issued: 3157 (Previous week: 3157 +-0
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2690 (Previous week: 2684)  +6
Total horizontal wells producing: 2317 (Previous week: 2266)  +51
Utica rig count: 14 (Previous week: 12)  +2

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

OOGEEP Enlightens Ohio Teachers on the Oil and Gas Industry

From Cleveland Patch:
Thanks to the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP), teachers from 42 Ohio counties are heading back to their classrooms with an insider's look into Ohio's thriving natural gas and oil industry. Equipped with a first-class curriculum, classroom supplies, science labs and experiments, materials kits and more, teachers who attended OOGEEP's STEM and Geology Teacher Workshops are more prepared than ever to bring energy education to Ohio's students. 
Charlene Hopkins-Bey, a teacher at Miles Elementary in Cleveland Metropolitan School District, participated in the STEM workshop held in Marietta. 
OOGEEP holds teacher workshops throughout the year to help foster energy education by connecting STEM and geology education and the energy industry. The curricula for both of OOGEEP's workshops were designed by teachers, for teachers, to be integrated directly into Ohio's educational standards. Teachers spend a full day in the classroom learning from industry professionals and award-winning educators alike before heading out on a unique, industry-related field trip to see Ohio's energy development in action.
Click here to continue reading.