First Choice Energy

Friday, December 6, 2019

Rover and NEXUS Seek to Have Their Taxes Slashed

One of the selling points touted by the companies behind the NEXUS and Rover pipelines as they sought approval and community support was the amount of property tax revenue that would be generated by their operation in Ohio. 

Now the companies are seeking to have the amount of taxes they pay out be drastically reduced.  From the Canton Repository:
Stark County Auditor Alan Harold said the state told him last week that Rover was seeking to cut its 2019 assessment by roughly 50 percent. 
In an email, spokeswoman Alexis Daniel wrote that the pipeline was a major project with many nuances and Rover is working with the state to determine an accurate valuation. 
NEXUS is seeking to cut its statewide taxable value 30 percent from $1.4 billion to roughly $996 million, according to a copy of the appeal provided by spokesman Adam Parker. 
NEXUS argues it needs the reduction because the $2.6 billion pipeline cost $400 million than expected and it lost market share to other pipelines during an 11-month delay in federal approval. 
“Nexus is committed to paying a fair and justified property tax based on the true market value of the pipeline and looks forward to developing future economic and taxing opportunities in Ohio,” Parker wrote in an email.

Until the appeals are decided, the pipelines must pay taxes on the undisputed portion of their valuations. 
After the Department of Taxation issues a decision, the companies or the affected counties can appeal to the Board of Tax Appeals.
Click here to continue reading this article. 

FirstEnergy Case Gets Tossed by Ohio Supremes, But Company Declares Victory; Fight Continues

FirstEnergy has been fighting an ongoing battle against those looking to introduce a referendum overturning the nuclear bailout the company was handed by Ohio lawmakers.  The company has employed dishonest fear-mongering ads, workers who physically tried to block people from signing the referendum, putting a different petition in front of people interested in signing the referendum to try and confuse them, and of course legal maneuvering (which has included doing a 180-degree turnaround from an earlier stance of refusing to call the ratepayer fees that will line the company's pockets a tax to now stating that it is a tax in order to get a favorable legal ruling).

The fight continues.

From RTO Insider:
The Ohio Supreme Court last week rejected FirstEnergy Solutions’ attempt to block a referendum to repeal $150 million in subsidies for its two nuclear plants. 
Four of the court’s seven judges dismissed FES’ lawsuit, citing a “lack of justifiable controversy.” While the court documents offer no further elaboration, the referendum effort against FES’ plant subsidies failed in October, and its future — including whether petitioners will get extra time to gather the necessary signatures for inclusion on the November ballot — pends before the same court. 
“The decision by the Ohio Supreme Court is a victory for Ohio’s electric customers and recognizes the attempted referendum on HB 6 is over,” Tom Becker, an FES spokesperson, said in email to RTO Insider on Monday. “Those opposed to the bill were unable to gather the requisite number of signatures to initiate a referendum; therefore there is no longer a need for the court to rule on the case.” 
Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts began a campaign against Ohio’s House Bill 6 the same day Gov. Mike DeWine signed the legislation in July. In October, however, the group said it fell nearly 45,000 signatures short of the count necessary for the referendum’s inclusion on the 2020 ballot. 
In its lawsuit, FES argued the new ratepayer fees collected for its nuclear plants — ranging from 80 cents to $2,400/month — are equal to a tax, making the underlying legislation ineligible for the petition that the group was circulating for a ballot referendum. The lawsuit named both the group and Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the state’s chief election official, as defendants. (See FirstEnergy Challenges Nuke Vote in Ohio Supreme Court.) 
Gene Pierce, spokesperson for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, had a different interpretation of the last week’s ruling. 
“The Ohio Supreme Court decision correctly rejected FirstEnergy Solutions’ argument that HB 6’s billion-dollar bailout is not subject to referendum, one of many desperate and greedy FES maneuvers trying to deny Ohioans’ right to vote on bad legislation,” Pierce told RTO Insider in an email. “The argument was ridiculed from the first time it was aired in public, and this legal proceeding was a waste of the Ohio Supreme Court’s time and taxpayers’ money.”
Read more by clicking here and also by clicking here.

Multiple Meetings Held on Proposed Cracker Plant; Still No Final Decision

It's been well over 4 years since we first posted about Belmont County being the site selected for a potential cracker plant.  Despite the fact that site preparation and property acquisition has been ongoing in preparation of constructing the plant, there still is no final decision.  Reports of multiple recent meetings being held about the project may perhaps provide an indication that this may change in the near future.

From WTOV News:

A private meeting was held in Belmont County on Tuesday regarding the proposed ethane cracker plant project.
Members of PTT Global Chemical and Daelim met with state and local leaders at the site in Dilles Bottom. The meeting was held at a garage on the site, and there is no word on what took place inside.
No official announcement has been made regarding the ethane cracker plant that would be built on hundreds of acres in Dilles Bottom.
Read on by clicking here. 

And from WHIO:
Ohio's Republican governor and lieutenant governor met Wednesday with officials from one of the companies proposing to build a multi-billion dollar ethane “cracker”plant in southeast Ohio. 
A spokesman for Gov. Mike DeWine said no “substantive update" would be provided from the meeting in Columbus with board members from Thailand's PTT Global Chemical. 
State and local officials for nearly two years have anticipated an announcement about whether PTT in partnership with South Korea's Daelim Industrial Co. would build the plant along the Ohio River in Belmont County.
Click here to read that whole article. 

And finally, another report from WTOV indicating that officials feel optimistic following their closed meeting at the site:

A private meeting between PTT Global Chemical, DAELIM and state and local leaders took place at the potential ethane cracker plant site in Dilles Bottom Tuesday.

Commissioner JP Dutton says it was just an informational meeting with PTT Global Chemical. He's hoping a positive announcement will be made soon.

"The project team just provided general updates obviously to the state and local governments,” said Dutton.

Dutton says the companies involved have been very open and easy to work with throughout the process.

“To try and develop that relationship as the company moves to a potential investment decision," said the commissioner.
See that original report by clicking here. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Utica Rig Count Drops to 10

WEEK ENDING 11/23/19

New permits issued last week: 9 (Previous week: 1)  +8
Total horizontal permits issued: 3206 (Previous week: 3201 +5
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2734 (Previous week: 2732)  +2
Total horizontal wells producing: 2366 (Previous week: 2361)  +5
Utica rig count: 10 (Previous week: 13)  -3

CSU Study Says Shale Investment in Ohio is Up to $78 Billion Since 2011

From a JobsOhio press release:
Total investment in Ohio's resource rich shale energy sector has reached $78 billion since tracking began in 2011, according to a Cleveland State University (CSU) study. 
Prepared for JobsOhio, the report represents the most recent data available and covers shale investment through the second half of 2018. Earlier in the year, IHS Markit released estimates that by 2040, the Utica and Marcellus shale region, of which Ohio is a significant part, will supply nearly half of all U.S. natural gas production. 
The study from CSU's Energy Policy Center at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, showed drilling investments were slightly down in the second half of 2018 compared to the first half, but total upstream investments were up. Total shale-related investment in Ohio for the second half of 2018, including upstream, midstream and downstream, was around $3.82 billion. Total investment from 2011-2018 totaled about $77.7 billion.

Upstream activities, such as drilling or royalties, accounted for more than $3.5 billion of this total. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas, 117 new wells were drilled during the third and fourth quarters of 2018, 40 fewer than in the first half of the year. Yet longer laterals are resulting in higher production and increased investment per well. Data indicates that the volume of gas-equivalent shale production in the second half of 2018 was 17.7% higher than in the first half, with total upstream spending in the second half of 2018 exceeding that for the first half by around $173.4 million.
Read the whole release by clicking right here. 

Pipeline Through Hamilton County Gets Official Green Light

From WXVU:
The Ohio Power Siting Board Thursday approved Duke Energy's request for a natural gas pipeline in Hamilton County. 
The board approved the Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the Central Corridor Pipeline Extension's alternative plan. 
The alternative plan proposes running the nearly 13-mile, 20-inch diameter pipeline from Blue Ash to just south of Golf Manor along a route that primarily follows Reading Road, passing through Amberley Village, Cincinnati, Evendale, Reading and Sharonville as well as Blue Ash and Golf Manor. 
You can see the exact route in the diagram below.

Gulfport Energy Decides to Cut Jobs and Stop Share Buybacks, Leaving Top Investor Angry

From Reuters:
U.S. gas exploration and production company Gulfport Energy Corp (GPOR.O) on Monday confirmed that it would cut jobs, change its board and end its share buybacks, in a bid to reverse a slide in its stock price. 
Reuters had reported the news earlier in the day, citing sources. 
Gulfport shares, which fell 7.8% to $2.85 in morning trading, have lost about 67% of their market value in the last 12 months, as weak natural gas prices have eroded its profitability and forced it to slash capital investment. 
Gulfport, whose production is focused primarily in the Utica Shale in Ohio and SCOOP acreage in Oklahoma, also made a new commitment to use excess cash to pay down debt, which totaled $2.1 billion as of the end of September. 
The company said it would shed about 13% of its workforce. It also said that Chairman David Houston will not seek reelection to the company’s board when his term ends in 2020, with two other directors - Craig Groeschel and Scott Streller - stepping down from Gulfport’s board by the end of this year.
Click here to read the whole article.

And in another story from Reuters:
Firefly Value Partners on Thursday asked Gulfport Energy for a seat on its board and criticized the “half-measures” which the U.S. gas exploration and production company is taking to improve its financial performance. 
On Monday, Oklahoma City-based Gulfport announced job cuts, board changes and an end to its share buyback program to focus on debt repurchases, to help reverse a more than 65% slide in its share price over the last 12 months. 
But Monday’s proposals failed to captivate investors who pushed the stock down further. 
By Thursday, the New York-based hedge fund fired off a letter to the board in which it blamed the current directors for the company’s failures and said these people could not be entrusted to “clean up the mess they have made.” 
“That is why we are asking that the board immediately fill one of the new director vacancies with a Firefly principal as a shareholder representative,” the letter said.
Read on by clicking here. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Ohio Counties Outside of Utica Drilling Look to Cash In on Shale Boom

From the Times Leader:
As drillers tap the natural gas reserves beneath Ohio’s easternmost counties, community leaders to the west hope to pump some of those profits into their own economies by developing ancillary industries.

Ohio Rep. Adam Holmes, R-Nashport, met recently with representatives of JobsOhio and the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth to discuss ways that counties adjacent to the Marcellus and Utica shale region can capitalize on the activity that is taking place there. At the Zanesville meeting, Holmes said counties such as Muskingum — which lies just west of Guernsey County and within 50 miles of many parts of Noble, Monroe, Harrison and Belmont counties where much of the drilling is taking place — are ideal locations for support services related to the industry. 
Holmes suggested that because of its central location less than an hour east of the state capital and along Interstate 70, Muskingum County is a suitable spot for trucking companies to set up maintenance and repair facilities. He said the location is also ideal for pipe yards and manufacturing and storage for pipelining companies. He pointed out that the flatter terrain of Muskingum County, as opposed to the rolling hills of the more eastern counties, means it is easier to construct large buildings and facilities there. 
He referred to his legislative District 97, which includes Guernsey and Muskingum counties, as a “downstream area” in connection with the industry.
Click here to read the whole article.