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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Bankruptcy May Be Coming for Rex Energy

From NGI:
Appalachian pure-play Rex Energy Corp. disclosed in a regulatory filing this month that it is exploring financial alternatives to strengthen its balance sheet, including the possibility of filing for bankruptcy to restructure. 
The small-cap company disclosed in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Form 8-K filing that the talks began last September with financial advisers that represent a group of investors holding a “substantial portion” of the company’s senior notes. 
While Rex management stressed in the filing that no deal has been reached with noteholders during the ongoing negotiations, possibilities include restructuring, refinancing, asset sales or some type of debt forbearance, among other things. 
Some second lien noteholders, Rex said, have agreed to a voluntary, pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing as a way to reorganize in exchange for debt and equity securities. According to the filing, the company has various bond debts of more than $600 million that are scheduled to mature over the next four years.
Read the whole article by clicking here.

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Activist Group Uses Wayne National Forest Decision to Renew Call for Fracking Ban

by Jackie Stewart, Energy in Depth

The Wayne National Forest (WNF) announced this week that it will begin revising its Land Management Plan in April. In a press release issued Tuesday, the WNF explained that its decision was prompted by its desire to improve compatibility with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and other state agencies:
“With ODNR’s intention of revising Ohio’s Forest Action Plan by 2020, we have decided the time is right to revise our Land Management Plan, so that we can work more collaboratively with the State.”
But not surprisingly, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) — one of the groups that filed a lawsuit against the BLM and United States Forest Service (USFS) last year for “failure to account for the impacts of fracking on public health, water, endangered species and the climate” in the WNF — is claiming the decision was prompted by its lawsuit, while also using the announcement as an opportunity to renew its call for a fracking ban in the Wayne.
In a press release headlined “Ohio’s Wayne National Forest Announces Land-planning Update Following Fracking Lawsuit,” CBD spokesman Taylor McKinnon states:
“The Wayne’s management plan is completely outdated, so this is welcome news. The public can now demand a plan that bans fracking in the Wayne. People cherish this spectacular place for its clean water, wildlife and wild forests, not industrialization and pollution.”
Though EID has set the record straight several times before on this issue, it bears repeating that the local community not only supports development in the WNF, but also re-emphasize that claims that WNF’s land management plan is “completely outdated” are completely false as well. Furthermore, the complaints listed in CDB’s lawsuit have long been addressed.
Let’s review this now more than decades-long saga.
Back in 2012, , in response to activist protests, WNF reviewed its 2006 Forest Plan and made noteworthy changes to reflect horizontal drilling, such as updated language pursuant to casing and regulation in Ohio, hydraulic fracturing, orphan wells acting as conduits, fluid migration and forest fragmentation. Following that review, officials declared development could proceed in WNF without any additional regulations or changes to the WNF’s plan due to the safety of these operations and the strong regulations in place in Ohio.
Nonetheless, protests from “Keep It In the Ground” groups such as CBD continued over the next five years, culminating with the aforementioned lawsuits filed by CBD, the Ohio Environmental Council, Heartwood and the Sierra Club in 2017.
A close look at that lawsuit revealed it was simply a hodgepodge of erroneous complaints that have long been addressed.
  • The lawsuit claims USFS should have conducted more environmental reviews when it established its Forest Plan and supplemental review. It did.
  • The lawsuit claimed the most recent extensive WNF environmental review did not go far enough and did not include enough public comment opportunities. Wrong on both fronts.
  • The lawsuit included a litany of accusations made over alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act. Each were false.
Essentially, the lawsuit is a prime example of why CBD has a well-earned reputation as a multimillion-dollar litigation factory whose primary objective is pouring sugar into the gas tank of the regulatory process in order to disrupt the process as much as possible.
Make no mistake, its goal is to impose a de facto moratorium on fracking in the Wayne National Forest from the bench, despite community support for drilling and the fact that lease sales alone have already yielded more than $8 million, a huge chunk of which stays local, funding schools and municipal projects.
Though CDB’s claims that it prompted WNF’s plan to revise its Land Management Plan with its frivolous lawsuit are erroneous, its press release serves as an important reminder that this group will attempt to take advantage of any and all opportunities to advance its objective of banning fracking in the Wayne. It also serves as a reminder that CDB doesn’t mind drawing out this already played-out saga indefinitely, much to the detriment of the communities that would benefit from shale development in the WNF.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Rig Count Up 1, Producing Wells Up by 39 on Latest Utica Shale Report


New permits issued last week: 4  (Previous week: 6-2
Total horizontal permits issued: 2752  (Previous week: 2754-2
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2267  (Previous week: 2254+13
Total horizontal wells producing: 1845 (Previous week: 1806+39
Utica rig count: 24 (Previous week: 23)  +1

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Friday, February 9, 2018

Heads-Up to Ohio Landowners: Beware of Fake Coalitions

by Jackie Stewart, Energy in Depth

For the past few years, we have watched the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and other “Keep It In the Ground” (KIITG) activists employ bait-and-switch tactics to try (unsuccessfully) to stop pipeline development and ban fracking. After epic failures across the state, fringe environmental activists have turned to launching fake landowner coalitions in a new attempt to mislead the public, with a prime example being the Tri-County Landowners Coalition.
But these so-called “landowner” coalitions are nothing more than front groups for a small group of well-coordinated activists who have no interest in leasing or protecting royalty owner interests — but instead want to stop all oil and gas development in its tracks. And their overall goal is even more far-reaching than the oil and gas industry, as they have publicly stated they want to “decide what industries come in here.”
In response to these fake landowner groups in Ohio, the actual national landowner advocacy group – the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO) – recently told EID,
“This constant drum beat by folks who do not want any fossil fuels developed under the guise of ‘local control’ is tiring, and for those of us who have a national perspective is anything but local. Most of the groups claiming to be ‘local grassroots’ organizations may have enlisted a few local residents to carry the banner, but don’t be fooled. The tell on who is behind them is the rhetoric they spew which is the exact same message developed by Food and Water Watch, Food and Water Action, Sierra Club, Green Peace, etc., who are anything but local. Don’t believe me? Just visit any of those organizations’ websites and see what they say about oil and gas, and you will find the exact same talking points these supposed local grassroots groups are using. They all point to lack of federal Safe Drinking Water Act authority over the oil and gas industry as some terrible miscarriage of justice. Look, this is NOT about local control. This is a private property issue.  This is about a few who want to control everyone else for their own selfish reasons.”
So who’s behind the fake Tri-County Landowners Coalition?
Launched by Frack Free Ohio activist Bill Baker, the so-called Tri-County Landowners Coalition“represents” three Ohio counties — Richland, Ashland, and Holmes — and includes, Hayesville Community on Fracked Gas (HCFG), Clear Fork Landowners Group (CFLG), Advocates for Local Land (ALL), and the Monroe Township Landowners Coalition (MTLC).
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Baker and Frack Free Ohio, but he is no stranger to pushing anti-fracking activities in Ohio. Recall that Baker was behind a Community Bill of Rightseffort in 2013 in Richland County, as well.  Five years later, Baker is now attempting to launch this fake coalition, backed by what appears to be about five people, including Elaine Tanner, program director for the nonprofit Friends For Environmental Justice (FFEJ). Tanner recently claimed she has been “a lifelong resident” of Ohio, yet as recently as September 2015, she was identified as part of the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC), in that case fighting the coal industry, and was quoted as being a resident of Letcher County, Ky.
“Our lives in Appalachia are being shortened,” pointed out Elaine Tanner of Letcher County (Kentucky), noting the ‘unimaginable damage to our environment’ coal companies are leaving behind and the ‘legacy pollution we face in our future.’ She said that coal companies should be held accountable for this damage. (emphasis added).
A recently staged press conference was clearly coordinated by OccupyEarth USA, as the event was filmed and posted to their YouTube page immediately after its conclusion. OccupyEarthUSA, in conjunction with United Citizen Action Network (UCAN), also enlisted Baker’s help to raise money to launch the epic failure of the Ohio #NODAPL copycat camp last year to stop leasing of federal minerals in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest.  For the record, the website for UCAN Ohio no longer exists, nor do the bogus copycat camps.
So why the landowner angle these days?
  1. There is no legitimate “movement” in Ohio to ban fracking.
Ohio anti-fracking activists are few and far between, as we have routinely highlighted. There is no “movement” to ban fracking, as Ohio communities have overwhelmingly rejected efforts to do so.
Recall that last year national anti-fracking groups spent weeks advertising the “three massive rallies against fracking” in Cleveland, Columbus and Marietta. But EID was on the ground in all three locations and can confirm the entire “Ohio-wide” effort garnered a total of just 47 protesters, despite being hosted by major national KIITG groups such as 350.org, Sierra Club, Earthworks, Food & Water Watch, Friends for Environmental Justice, Foundation for Economic Democracy and Appalachia Resist!.
In fact, according to an eyewitness account, the showing was so dismal that one of the protestors said,
“It’s sad there’s only 12 people here. It’s a small group because not a lot of people know about fracking.”
Such is the case today, as this fake “landowner” coalition gives the appearance of a groundswell of anti-fracking sentiment, however, in reality they are merely a well-coordinated handful of anti-fracking activists who are simply receiving headlines without any legitimate support for their cause.
  1. Ohio’s environment is improving from natural gas production and consumption — not the other way around.
Further, the arguments that fracking is harming the environment fall flat, considering that three Ohio-based studies have found no environmental impacts from hydraulic fracturing. For example, the University of Cincinnati found “no evidence for natural gas contamination from shale oil and gas mining in any of the sampled groundwater wells,” and in fact, Ohio is leading the nation in carbon emission reductions. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) even hailed Ohio as the “nation’s carbon-reducing powerhouse,” a distinction that can be credited to the Buckeye State’s dramatic increase in natural gas-fired electricity generation since 2005. Crain’s Cleveland Business summed it up best when they reported,
“The biggest reason for the decline, according to watchers, is the advent of shale gas drilling in Ohio. The shale drilling boom’s cheap gas has caused new natural gas power plants to come online in Ohio and nearby states that sell their power into Ohio on a shared electricity grid.”
  1. The economic benefits are undeniable.
Shale development—made possible from fracking—has led to over $63 billion spent in Ohio. The natural gas and oil industry has supported, and continues to support, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and billions in wages in the Buckeye State. According to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, core shale-related employment increased 171 percent from 2011 to 2017. That’s enormous when you consider all other Ohio industries only gained an 8 percent employment increase over the same period of time. What’s more is that shale jobs pay twice as much as any other industry in Ohio.
Conclusion
Event after poorly-attended Ohio anti-fracking event shows that KIITG organizers simply cannot bring out supporters to their cause in the Buckeye State, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they are now trying to use fake landowner groups to push their misinformation campaigns.
But as NARO correctly points out, these fake groups have no real intention to help landowners navigate leasing questions. They want to ban all oil and gas development, period. Here’s a tip for the landowners in the Buckeye State: buyers beware!

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FERC Grants ETP's Request, Allows Rover Drilling to Restart

From Reuters:
The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Tuesday authorized Energy Transfer Partners LP to recommence a horizontal drill under the Tuscarawas River in Ohio as the company works to complete its Rover natural gas pipeline by the end of the first quarter. 
FERC said in a filing it allowed Rover to start drilling again after the company provided a revised drilling plan for the second pipe under the Tuscarawas River on Sunday and some analysis on Monday of residential water wells in the vicinity of the drill.

Rover will monitor the quality of the water in the wells during and for a period of time after the drill. 
FERC ordered Rover to cease drilling of the second pipe under the river on Jan. 24 and asked the company to evaluate alternatives to the drill after Rover lost some drilling fluid - a mixture of clay and water - in the hole.
View the rest of the article by clicking here.

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City of Green Takes Money, Gives Up NEXUS Pipeline Fight

From the Akron Beacon Journal:
The Green City Council voted 4-3 Wednesday to drop the city’s legal challenges and accept money, land and other conditions to allow the Nexus natural gas pipeline to travel through the city. 
About 100 people attended a standing-room-only meeting — the third special meeting the council held to discuss the Nexus offer. 
All but one of 19 residents who addressed the council spoke against the agreement that includes $7.5 million in cash, around-the-clock monitoring of the pipeline and 20 acres west of Boettler Park that the city can use to extend a trail from the park to Koons or Thursby roads. 
Justin Leonti of East Nimisila Road said he wanted the council to continue the fight against the Nexus project. He scoffed at the money portion of the deal, saying Nexus would recoup the $7.5 million in 4½ hours of gas flowing through the Green portion of the line.
Read more by clicking here.

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Gulfport Energy Planning to Be Active in Utica Shale During 2018

From a press release:
Utica Shale 
During 2018, Gulfport plans to run on average approximately 2.5 operated horizontal rigs in the Utica Shale. Gulfport has budgeted to drill approximately 36 to 40 gross (26 to 29 net) horizontal Utica wells with an average lateral length of 11,200 feet. In addition, Gulfport plans to turn-to-sales 33 to 37 gross and net horizontal Utica wells with an average lateral length of 8,000 feet. 
Gulfport intends to participate in non-operated activities taking place on its acreage by other operators that plan to drill approximately 7 to 8 horizontal wells and turn-to-sales 9 to 10 horizontal wells, in each case net to Gulfport’s interest.
Read the whole release by clicking here.

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Environmentalists and Drillers United in Support of Bill to Help Cap Orphan Wells

From WKSU:
An environmental group and an oil and gas industry lobbying group are both praising a bill that passed the Ohio House that would streamline the process of capping some 600 old, unused wells that don’t have owners. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports they also want more money put toward that process. 
The Ohio Environmental Council and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association say the bill will triple the money set aside for capping those so-called “orphan” wells. Tom Stewart with the Oil and Gas Association says that’s needed, noting $62 million in severance tax revenue was transferred out of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in recent years. 
“That includes paying for lawsuits unrelated to oil and gas development and budget transfers to other funds. The budget director said that severance tax should be used to pay for issues such as Medicaid.”
Click here to read more, or to listen to this report.

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