Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Permitting Continues to Creep Along in Utica Shale

New permits issued last week: 2  (Previous week: 0+2
Total horizontal permits issued: 2839  (Previous week: 2837+2
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2367 (Previous week: 2364+3
Total horizontal wells producing: 1905 (Previous week: 1899+6
Utica rig count: 19 (Previous week: 19)  +-0

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Does Fracking Cause Obesity? Fat Chance, Despite Activist Researchers’ Claims

by Nicole Jacobs, Energy in Depth

The latest study from activist research team Susan Nagel (Univ. of Missouri) and Chris Kassotis (Duke Univ.) attempts to connect fracking to obesity in people living in close proximity to shale development.
The team – who has previously attempted to link shale development to impaired immune systemslow sperm countsovarian follicle problems and pre-cancerous mammary gland lesions – takes things to a whole new level of absurdity with its latest joint, purportingthat,
“Exposure to fracking chemicals and wastewater promotes fat cell development, or adipogenesis, in living cells in a laboratory.”
In other words, fracking fluids – more specifically, a 23-chemical concoction created by the team and samples of produced water taken from well sites in West Virginia and Colorado – could cause obesity in mice. But as the News & Observer recently reported,
“The study does not assert that water in fracking zones is contaminated, as some other Duke research has concluded. Kassotis emphasized that the study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Science of the Total Environment, does not prove that fracking causes obesity in people, only that it stimulates the growth of the fat cells of mice in a laboratory.” (emphasis added)
And the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported,
“Mr. Kassotis said the research ‘doesn’t show that people are getting fat from fracking,’ but does find that exposure to even small amounts of wastewater from fracked shale gas wells can alter the metabolic health of mice.” (emphasis added)
Nonetheless, Kassotis still insists that “the research bears public health implications for people who live in areas where fracking takes place, potentially exposing residents to the potent chemicals on a daily basis in contaminated aquifers,” also telling the News & Observer,
“People living in these regions may be exposed to these chemicals in the drinking water. They’re trigger cells that are sitting in your body, awaiting to be recruited to become fat cells for energy storage.”
But there are a couple of pretty serious flaws in Kassotis’ assumptions. The biggest of these is that even if these chemicals in fact could stimulate fat cell growth in humans or other animals, there has to be an exposure pathway for this to occur. And the science does not support the theory that people living in close proximity to shale development are being exposed to fracking fluid.
In fact, even Michael Greenstone, co-author of the flawed Marcellus low birth weight study released late last year, stated in a recent University of Chicago fracking debate that there is little evidence that exposure to fracking fluids is affecting human health:
“When you read the news media, it’s ‘Oh the fluids are probably getting into the water one way or another and that’s going to just affect people in a big radius.’ It’s just not in the data.”
And Resources for the Future’s Daniel Raimi explained in his recent book that examines the benefits and potential impacts from shale development that,
“To date, there is no research that indicates that the health of people living near oil and gas wells has been — or is likely to be — harmed by exposure to the chemicals mixed in with fracking fluid.”
This research team’s entire body of shale-related work is based on the assumption that groundwater contamination is widespread near shale development. But that simply isn’t the case. As more than two dozen scientific reports have shown, fracking is not a major threat to groundwater.
In fact, in the last month and a half, three studies have been published in the Appalachian Basin – which includes West Virginia – that confirm, to quote the Associated Press, “as a whole, groundwater supplies appear to have held their own against” the significant shale development that has occurred in the region. Further, one of those studies, which was conducted by Penn State University, found that water in Bradford County – one of the most heavily developed counties in Pennsylvania – have actually improved.
Another flaw in the study is the duration of time that the mice fat cells were subjected to abnormal concentrations. Notably, this research team has a habit of using completely unrealistic concentrations of chemicals in its studies. And while the obesity study actually used diluted samples, similar to the team’s previous studies, it still uses unrealistic exposure limits to reach its conclusions.
In this case, fat cell growth was seen in mice cells “[a]fter two weeks of marinating in these fluids.” Even if a pathway to exposure was created, no person is going to be continuously exposed to fracking fluids for weeks on end.
At the end of the day, it boils down to this: This is yet another in a long line of studies from this research team that attempts to link fracking to health ailments using unrealistic exposures and despite a complete lack of existing exposure pathways.  These type of reports may produce headlines, but it adds nothing to the honest scientific debate regarding fracking and public health.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Ohio Roads Continue to Take a Beating From Heavy Oil and Gas Truck Traffic

From the Times Leader:
The oil and natural gas industry has been a boon to the Buckeye State, but local officials say the related heavy truck traffic is taking a toll on local roads.

The situation is exacerbated when truck drivers unfamiliar with the area utilize the wrong roads, area leaders said. 
Belmont Mayor Stan Sobel said this has been an issue in his village for the past six years. 
“Some of the oil and gas trucks have damaged our roads. Some of the drivers, instead of making a turn on our roads normally, they go over the sidewalk and crush sewer systems. There have been a couple times where they have knocked down the poles that held our cable and our telephone services, and we were without service for three days because of that. There’s just been a whole host of things going on,” he said, adding that the problem in his community mainly occurs on Bridge Street and Main Street, with residents’ mailboxes taking damage as well. 
“For us and many of the small villages, the big thing is the destruction of roads,” Sobel continued. “They’re breaking up our roads. Some of the drivers go through people’s yards. We had, at one time, three different mailboxes that were sheared off along the road and lying in the road because of some of these people that went through.
Continue reading this story by clicking here.

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Job Seekers Finding Opportunities in the Oil and Gas Industry

From WTRF:
On Thursday, dozens of residents had the chance to look for a good paying job in the fastest growing industry in our area. 
It was all part of the Tri-State Natural Gas Job Fair. 
The event was held at the JB. Martin Rec Center behind St. Clairsville High School. 
People could meet with recruiters from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio in the natural gas, oil and gas industries.

Many people told 7News they were excited about the options.
Click here to read the whole article, including a list of some of the jobs available.

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New Yale Study is the Latest to Find Shale Drilling Does Not Contaminate Water

From PNAS:
Concern persists over the potential for unconventional oil and gas development to contaminate groundwater with methane and other chemicals. These concerns motivated our 2-year prospective study of groundwater quality within the Marcellus Shale. We installed eight multilevel monitoring wells within bedrock aquifers of a 25-km2 area targeted for shale gas development (SGD). Twenty-four isolated intervals within these wells were sampled monthly over 2 years and groundwater pressures were recorded before, during, and after seven shale gas wells were drilled, hydraulically fractured, and placed into production. Perturbations in groundwater pressures were detected at hilltop monitoring wells during drilling of nearby gas wells and during a gas well casing breach. In both instances, pressure changes were ephemeral (<24 hours) and no lasting impact on groundwater quality was observed. Overall, methane concentrations ([CH4]) ranged from detection limit to 70 mg/L, increased with aquifer depth, and, at several sites, exhibited considerable temporal variability. Methane concentrations in valley monitoring wells located above gas well laterals increased in conjunction with SGD, but CH4 isotopic composition and hydrocarbon composition (CH4/C2H6) are inconsistent with Marcellus origins for this gas. Further, salinity increased concurrently with [CH4], which rules out contamination by gas phase migration of fugitive methane from structurally compromised gas wells. Collectively, our observations suggest that SGD was an unlikely source of methane in our valley wells, and that naturally occurring methane in valley settings, where regional flow systems interact with local flow systems, is more variable in concentration and composition both temporally and spatially than previously understood.

Click here to consider more on the PNAS website.

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Cabot Begins Search for Oil and Gas in Ashland County

From the Ashland Times-Gazette:
In a bid to find the next big source of oil and gas in Ohio, preparations for two exploratory wells are underway in southern Ashland County.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. has permits from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to build two wells out of an anticipated five exploratory wells with Green and Mohican townships seeing a flurry of activity after the permits were approved.
A rig is expected to be ready to drill within the next week at the Kamenik Well Pad located on top of a hill at 1082 Township Road 2375 in Green Township. The site has been under construction for about a month.
Read the whole article by clicking here.

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Anti-Drillers Fight Against NEXUS Pipeline in Green Hits a Wall as Referendum is Kept Off Ballot

From The Suburbanite:
An effort to place a referendum on the ballot regarding the NEXUS settlement won’t be moving forward. 
During the June 11 council meeting, Green Interim Law Director William Chris said several legal counsels reviewed the document and found several insufficiencies. 
The referendum effort came about following City Council approving a settlement with NEXUS on Feb. 7 by a 4-3 vote. The city received park land, $7.5 million and several other safety measures as a part of the settlement. Citizens for Responsible Green Government formed and circulated a petition to have the settlement decided by the voters on the ballot. The group collected more than 1,500 signatures and gave it to the city, which then turned it over to the Summit County Board of Elections. 
The Board of Elections declined to address the validity of the petition and only focused on the validity of the individual signatures. Those signatures were found to be valid. The petitions were then returned to the city to determine the sufficiency and validity of the petition, based on Ohio Revised Code Section 731.31. 
After obtaining several legal opinions, the city won’t be returning the petition back to the Board of Elections. Legal advice from counsel said the petition is insufficient and invalid. The city requested the opinion of Chris and an outside law firm, Brennan, Manna & Diamond, to provide a legal opinion on the sufficiency and validity of the petitions.
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Ohio's Law on Forced Pooling is Upheld in Federal Court

From Vorys Energy & Environmental Law Blog:
On June 13, 2018, a federal district court rejected a takings challenge to a unit order issued by the Ohio Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management under the state’s statutory unitization law, R.C. 1509.28 The court found that “the statutory unitization procedure set forth in R.C. § 1509.28 operates to protect the correlative rights of landowners….and it was passed as a valid exercise of Ohio’s police power.” See Kerns v. Chesapeake Exploration, LLC , N.D. Ohio No. 5:18 CV 389 (June 13, 2018). Although the constitutionality of statutory unitization or its analog, mandatory pooling, is well-settled nationwide, Kerns is the first decision to squarely consider Ohio’s unitization law.
You can read the actual decision below.

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Gas Drillers Hurt by Rise in Oil Drilling

From the Wall Street Journal:
Higher oil prices are helping many American shale drillers. But they are hurting companies that frack for natural gas. 
As companies respond to rising oil prices by drilling more for it, they often unearth gas as a byproduct. That has further weighed on already low gas prices, pressuring shale frackers in regions that primarily produce gas. 
The average share price for the five top companies focused on the oil-rich Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico are up more than 16% over the past year. Share prices for the top five producers focused on the Marcellus Shale in Appalachia, the country’s largest deposit of natural gas, are down more than 9%. 
“It’s going to be tough for the Marcellus for a while,” said Brian Lidsky, managing director at oil-and-gas research firm PLS Inc. “There is just a tidal wave of gas coming out of the Permian.”
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Some Companies Pay the Price for Hedging Oil at $55

From Reuters:
Many top U.S. shale oil producers are missing out on the rally in oil prices to more than $70 a barrel - because they sold their oil through futures contracts at about $55 last year when that looked like a good deal. Now, it looks cheap. 
Those hedged bets will hold down revenues and further frustrate Wall Street investors, who have been disappointed by slow returns from the booming Permian Basin in west Texas. 
The top 25 shale producers will forego about $1.7 billion in combined revenues in the second quarter with oil prices at about $70, according to Denver-based consultancy PetroNerds. Many of those producers used hedges that guaranteed them between $55 and $58 a barrel.

Some west Texas producers face a second profit-limiting dynamic: They are forced to cut prices because the region’s production is overwhelming its pipeline network, raising transportation costs.
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PA Study Finds Water Quality May Be Improving in Areas with Heavy Shale Drilling

From Penn State University:
A new study of groundwater in a rural Pennsylvania county shows only rare instances of possible gas contamination amid an overall trend of improving water quality despite heavy Marcellus Shale development. 
By investigating data from gas companies, the state, and the U.S. Geological Survey, researchers saw possible contamination by natural gas near no more than seven out of 1,385 shale wells studied in heavily drilled Bradford County. The rest of the water chemistry data highlighted that groundwater had either improved or remained level from samples taken prior to the 1990s. 
"The most interesting thing we discovered was the groundwater chemistry in one of the areas most heavily developed for shale gas – an area with 1400 new gas wells – does not appear to be getting worse with time, and may even be getting better," said Susan Brantley, director of Penn State's Earth and Environmental Systems Institute and distinguished professor of geosciences. "But using data analytics we could also see rare sites that warrant more investigation for possible gas anomalies." 
Brantley and an interdisciplinary team of geoscientists and computer scientists used new data-mining techniques to study a large dataset of 11,000 groundwater samples from the 2010s, taken after drilling in Bradford County.
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Utica Shale Permitting Goes Quiet Last Week

New permits issued last week: 0  (Previous week: 2-2
Total horizontal permits issued: 2837  (Previous week: 2837+-0
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2364 (Previous week: 2358+6
Total horizontal wells producing: 1899 (Previous week: 1899+-0
Utica rig count: 19 (Previous week: 19)  +-0

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Belmont County Cracker Plant Moves Closer to Becoming a Reality

Promises of a date for a final decision from PTT Global Chemical on whether it will build a proposed ethane cracker plant in Belmont County have fallen by the wayside in the past, but as time passes it seems any new news that crops up about the plant continues to indicate that it is more likely to be built.  Now a couple of new articles add to that possibility, including a report that Bechtel has been awarded a contract for construction on the plant and another that says a grant has been provided to improve rail services in connection with the project.

We Have Confirmation! PTTGC Selected Bechtel. It’s not a RUMOR! I have heard from two individuals this week that confirms that Bechtel has been awarded the contract. The first person said that he heard from a CM at Bechtel they have been selected for the PTT project and are working through the contract currently. 
The second person informed me that Bechtel was making big equipment orders that were not related to the Shell cracker plant.
And from The Intelligencer:
The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding $16 million in grant funds to improve 30 miles of existing railroad tracks in Belmont County.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, said he believes the funding and the rail project could help to advance development of a proposed PTT Global Chemical America-Daelim ethane cracker plant in the Dilles Bottom area of Belmont County. 
He released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a grant award for the Ohio Rail Development Commission: “This is great news for our region, which is entering a new chapter for economic development, and very positive news for the proposed PTTGCA-Daelim ethane cracker. … Improving safety and capacity of the rail line will directly support job growth and private investment along the Ohio River, which is very welcome news for a region that too often is at the back of the line when it comes to federal spending. I was glad to lead an Ohio delegation letter to (USDOT) Secretary (Elaine) Chao to support this vital $16 million project.” 
PTT spokesman Dan Williamson agreed that the grant represents great news for Belmont County and said it would be good news for PTT as well, if the cracker project moves forward. 
Johnson, though, is optimistic about the grant’s impact on the companies’ future decision about whether to build the cracker plant.

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Previous Concerns of Utica Gas Bottleneck Have Given Way to Concerns Over Too Much Capacity

From Platts:
Natural gas pipeline takeaway capacity additions in the US Northeast production area have yet to spur the level of further output the market was expecting, making it difficult to fill the infrastructure during certain periods, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics. 
The perspective, offered during the first day of the LDC Gas Forum Northeast conference in Boston, comes as industry leaders analyze Appalachian Basin supply, demand and pricing fundamentals heading into the next decade. 
At issue is whether easing pipeline constraints are only temporary and the extent to which LNG export growth will encourage Marcellus and Utica shale producers to drill more. 
"New production is not there to fill these projects, and this is only going to get worse," Luke Jackson, a Platts Analytics senior energy analyst, told attendees at the conference. "On the surface, you'd say the Northeast is evolving. I would argue, 'Not so fast.'"
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Company's Request to Change to Class I Injection Well Meets with Opposition

From The Columbus Dispatch:
A company operating injection wells in Coshocton County has asked regulators to allow a change in its permitting to accept industrial and other nonhazardous waste fluids instead of just oilfield brine. 
If Buckeye Brine is successful, it would mark the first time an Ohio Class II injection well was switched to a Class I. 
Operators say they’ve been pumping oilfield fluids into rock formations deep underground for several years without incident, that the facility was built to exceed injection-well standards and that the permitting change would provide an environmentally friendly alternative for disposing of nonhazardous waste fluids. 
“We’ve operated flawlessly for five years,” said Steve Mobley, company president. “We’re experienced at this business and we’re doing a good thing for the surface waters of the state and making industrial businesses better able to operate affordably.” 
But a local environmental group opposes the move, citing continued concerns about toxic fluids being pumped into the ground. Coshocton Environmental and Community Awareness, or CECA (, and its supporters are posting “No Class I Injection Wells” signs along some roads in the vicinity and urging regulators to reject the application. A billboard with the message is planned along Route 16.
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Analysts and Geologists Both See More Cracker Plants Coming to Region

From The Daily Jeff:
A remarkable event, a “world changing event,” took place six months ago: Natural gas production in portions of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — an area dubbed the “Shale Crescent” — totaled 831 billion cubic feet, said David Hill, a local petroleum geologist. 
That exceeded the total production in Texas, which tallied to 703 billion cubic feet.
This region had reclaimed the record. 
“The last time that happened was about 100 years ago,” Hill said. “So, it’s no wonder that conventional wisdom thinks all of the natural gas is in the Gulf Coast region and that we’re kind of an afterthought up in the Northeast. 
“We’re now bigger than Texas in natural gas production.” 
So, why is that important? Why is it “world-changing?” 
There are various reasons, but for the average citizen of Guernsey County and, indeed, the entire Shale Crescent region, it comes down to one word: Jobs. 
That was the implication of Hill’s remarks when he spoke Thursday morning during a “Coffee and Commerce” meeting at the Southgate Hotel. Those monthly meetings, which began seven years ago, are hosted by the Cambridge Area Chamber of Commerce.
Click here to read the article.

And then there's this, from the Pittsburgh Business Times:
A chemical industry expert believes Shell Chemical’s plant under construction in Beaver County could be joined by announcements about three others in the tri-state region over the next year or so. 
The ethane crackers, which produce the building blocks of many consumer plastics, are considered key to a large petrochemical industry in Appalachia fueled by the region’s natural gas industry and the chemicals, like ethane, that are byproducts. A handful of studies have shown Appalachia’s ethane supply could support up to five ethane crackers, but companies beyond Shell have been reluctant to make the $6 billion to $10 billion commitment yet. 
Tom Gellrich, principal of Top Line Analytics, believes that’s changing. He’s optimistic that the two other potential crackers, PTT Global Chemical in Belmont County, Ohio, and another that had been considered by Braskem near Parkersburg, W.Va., will in fact get the final investment decisions in the next year. He’s looking beyond that to the next company to step up to the Appalachian cracker plate. 
“I don’t think the next announcement is more than a year away,” Gellrich said. 
Gellrich, who has worked in the chemical industry for decades, believes the as-yet-unnamed company is going to be forced to make a move in Appalachia for competitive reasons.
Read that whole story by clicking here. 

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EV Energy Partners Dubs Itself Harvest Oil & Gas Corp. as It Rises from Ashes of Bankruptcy

From a press release:
EV Energy Partners, L.P. today announced that it has successfully completed its financial restructuring and has emerged from Chapter 11 as a new corporation under the name Harvest Oil & Gas Corp. (“Harvest” or the “Company”).

Through the restructuring, Harvest has eliminated approximately $355 million of debt and accrued interest from its balance sheet and significantly enhanced its financial flexibility. At its emergence, the Company entered into an amended and restated credit facility providing for a new reserve-based revolving loan. The initial borrowing base under the credit facility is $325 million, with the first scheduled redetermination of the borrowing base in April 2019. Also, with total debt outstanding of $297 million, and cash on hand of approximately $21 million, total liquidity will be approximately $46 million.

Michael E. Mercer, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented that, “Today begins an important new chapter for our Company. With significantly less debt, we have ample liquidity and expect to generate free cash flow in excess of our planned capital requirements. We are confident that our diverse asset base will serve as a foundation for our future success.” 
Effective today, the Company’s Board of Directors are comprised of management and direct or appointed representatives of the Company’s largest shareholders, whose biographies are included in our current report on Form 8-K filed on June 4, 2018. The new directors are Michael E. Mercer, James F. Murchison, Colby Dunn, Steven J. Pully and Patrick Hickey.
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No Injuries in West Virginia Pipeline Explosion

From Reuters:
TransCanada Corp said it has isolated the section of Columbia Gas Transmission pipe that exploded early Thursday in Moundsville, West Virginia. 
There were no employees at the site at the time of the blast around 4:15 a.m. EDT (0815 GMT) and no homes were in danger, officials from the Roberts Ridge Volunteer Fire Department told local news media. 
The company said in a statement that its first priority was to protect the public and the environment. 
Moundsville is located in Marshall County on the West Virginia panhandle on the Ohio-West Virginia border in the heart of the giant Marcellus and Utica natural gas shale formations.

TransCanada said the incident could impact about 1.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of gas service, according to a notice to customers using the pipeline. 
One billion cubic feet is enough gas for about five million U.S. homes.
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Rig Count Holds Steady as Utica Shale Permitting Remains Glacial

New permits issued last week: 2  (Previous week: 3-1
Total horizontal permits issued: 2837  (Previous week: 2835+2
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2358 (Previous week: 2358+-0
Total horizontal wells producing: 1899 (Previous week: 1901-2
Utica rig count: 19 (Previous week: 19)  +-0

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Anti-Fracking Kucinich Begs for Money After 40-Point Ohio Gubernatorial Primary Loss

by Jackie Stewart, Energy in Depth

Following a landslide defeat in the recent primary election, failed Ohio gubernatorial candidate and anti-fracking activist Dennis Kucinich made embarrassing headlines again this week. This time Kucinich was caught begging for cash to help cover expenses from his over-extended campaign to stop shale development in the Buckeye State.
As the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported, “Normally when a campaign ends, the candidate stops asking for money. That’s not the case with Dennis Kucinich.” No, not at all. Kucinich was recently caught begging for tens of thousands to cover campaign expenditures.
Recall that Kucinich launched his bid for governor largely on a campaign platform that called for a fracking ban and stopping oil and gas development in its tracks. He even campaigned up and down the Ohio River with an outrageous “”Environmental Devastation Tour” that prompted a barrage of backlash from people who actually live and work in eastern Ohio, similar to the comment below:
For months Kucinich spread patently false claims about fracking all across Ohio, using fearmongering tactics in an effort to justify his promise to end shale development. That promise led him to a near 40-point loss at the ballot box in Ohio’s May 8 Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Along the way, Kucinich outspent his campaign coffers and is now begging supporters for cash. In a fundraising pitch to supporters he wrote,
“Now that the campaign has concluded and all the bills are in, we have an urgent need to cover about $38,000 in late expenses for printing, postage, media and contractual services. May we once again call upon your generosity for assistance in retiring our debt? Please help if you can.”
Kucinich also used his recent cry for cash as an opportunity to allege his 40-point loss was a result of the “failed political process.” And he’s not the only sore loser this month. Interestingly enough, after Kucinich campaigned in Youngstown to help bolster the so-called Community Bill of Rights initiative aimed at banning fracking in that community, both his personal bid for governor and the Community Bill of Rights went down in flames: Kucinich received a miniscule 6.5 percent of the vote in Mahoning County and Youngstown voters also rejected the Community Bill of Rights by 12 percentage points.
Source: WFMJ
Not surprisingly, and just like sore loser Kucinich, the Youngstown anti-fracking group behind the Community Bill of Rights have continued to cry foul after their losses at the ballot box year-after-year. In an effort to get ahead of the curve, the Mahoning County Democratic Chairman, David Betras — who is also the vice chairman of the board of elections — quickly shot down a challenge of a recount, as the Youngstown Vindicator reported this week that “recounts didn’t change the outcomes of four races in Mahoning County.” Betras also took a moment to underscore his frustration with their campaigns stating,
“The frackoholics were working my neighborhood hard against me. A win is a win is a win.”
It appears Betras, like everyone in Youngstown, is sick and tired of these antics and feel the matter is settled once and for all. Voters in Youngstown, and Ohio as a whole, have clearly and loudly rejected anti-fracking campaigns, period, end of story.

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2018 Marcellus and Utica Shale Almanac Now Available

From MDN:
MDN is very excited to announce the publication of the Marcellus & Utica Shale Upstream Almanac 2018. The Almanac is a deep dive into the numbers, designed to answer the questions: “Who’s drilling where and how much?” and, “What are the trends? Is drilling going up, down, or maintaining?” It has taken us nearly one year to research and produce this 397-page report. Using data from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, and West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection, MDN has produced the only report of its kind, looking year by year at (1) how many Marcellus/Utica wells were spud (drilled or begun to be drilled), (2) how many wells are actually producing, (3) how many permits have been issued for new shale wells, (4) how much production was generated for methane, oil and NGLs. This information is available year by year for 2011-2017–not only by each individual county where there was any kind of M-U activity, but also by individual driller. We even show detailed data down to the town level. Because we analyze the data year by year using charts to map the data, important trends become obvious. If Marcellus/Utica drilling activity is important to you, the Almanac is THE critical tool that will help answer many of the questions you have… 
Who Will LOVE This Report? 
Anyone who works for an exploration and production (E&P or “drilling”) company whose job revolves around drilling (engineering, logistics, marketing, management, accounting, landmen) will find this report a must-have reference. 
Anyone who works for a “services” company–oilfield services, construction companies, trucking firms, title companies–anyone at “supply chain” companies providing products and services to drillers will find the Almanac a critical tool.
Click here to find out more and, if you wish, to purchase the almanac. 

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

ODNR Releases Updated Utica and Marcellus Shale Activity Maps

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Permitting Slows Again in Utica Shale as Rig Count Drops Below 20

New permits issued last week: 3  (Previous week: 7) -4
Total horizontal permits issued: 2835  (Previous week: 2834+1
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2358 (Previous week: 2357+1
Total horizontal wells producing: 1901 (Previous week: 1901+-0
Utica rig count: 19 (Previous week: 20)  -1

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Utica Shale Getting More Attention in West Virginia and Pennsylvania

From Kallanish Energy:
There is a “new” play that’s beginning to garner some serious interest in the Appalachian Basin, with one major basin player admitting it’s moving to a drilling program centered on this particular play. 
This play is stacked with the Mighty Marcellus in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and thus, until now, has pretty much been an after thought in those two states. 
The ‘dry’ Utica 
But the Utica Shale is going to break out in a big way as exploration takes place. Yes, that Utica Shale. Thought by many as an eastern Ohio play, geologic maps indicate the Utica is much bigger than the Marcellus, covering more area, more states, extending under Lakes Erie and Ontario, and into Canada. 
In fact, the thickest portion of the Utica in terms of pay is in Westmoreland County, in southwest Pennsylvania. 
“Since the Utica gets relatively deeper and drier moving east, it’s often referred to as ‘dry Utica’ in Pennsylvania and West Virginia,” according to Marissa Anderson, a senior energy analyst with BTU Analytics, in a recent blog.
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Monday, June 4, 2018

Oil Industry Not Happy With President Trump's Tariffs

From the Washington Examiner:
The oil industry's lead trade group said it is "deeply discouraged" by President Trump's Thursday decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. 
“We are deeply discouraged by the administration’s actions to impose tariffs on our three closest trading partners," said Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute. The industry views the decision "as a step in the wrong direction,” he said. 
The oil and natural gas group has been pushing hard against tariffs proposed by Trump, including those imposed on $150 billion of Chinese products, because of the industry's dependence on dozens of imports. 
When the president announced the duties in March, saying the penalties were necessary to ensure the U.S. maintains a viable steel industry, he initially granted exemptions to Europe, Mexico, and Canada through June 1. 
The tariffs that Trump announced Thursday "will disrupt the U.S. oil and natural gas industry’s complex supply chain, compromising ongoing and future U.S. energy projects, which could weaken our national security," Gerard said.
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Court Decision Puts Midstream Companies at Risk

From Vorys Energy & Environmental Law Blog:
On May 25, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a district court’s decision that Sabine Oil & Gas Corporation could reject certain gathering service agreements in bankruptcy. The agreements, with Nordheim Eagle Ford Gathering, LLC, provided that Nordheim would supply Sabine with certain gathering, transportation and treatment services for Sabine’s natural gas and condensate production. The Court of Appeals determined that the agreements were not “real covenants that run with the land,” and therefore, could be rejected in bankruptcy as executory contracts. Under Texas law, horizontal privity was required for a covenant to run with the land—i.e., “there must have been some common interest in the land other than the purported covenant itself at the time it was executed.” That was not the case here, the court found. Nor was the horizontal privity requirement satisfied by a separate agreement between Sabine and Nordheim providing for the conveyance of a pipeline easement and a separate parcel of land. As a result, the agreements could be rejected in bankruptcy.
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U.S. Shale Set to Weather the Effects of OPEC's Oil Price Strategies

From CNN Money:
Head-spinning price swings have returned with a vengeance to the oil market. 
A few words from Saudi Arabia about OPEC and Russia pumping more sent crude crashing 8%in the span of just a few days. The dramatic sell-off wiped out a chunk of the recent spike above $70 a barrel that was driven by concerns about President Trump's sanctions on Iran. 

Yet the crazy price moves are unlikely to derail the years-long recovery for the American oil industry from the 2014-2016 crash, which wiped out hundreds of thousands of jobs and sparked dozens of bankruptcies. 
Enormous improvements in shale drilling technology have made oil companies more resilient than the last time they faced major volatility. US oil production is soaring and on track to shatter all-time records. 
Equally important: The boom-to-bust oil industry is working hard not to repeat mistakes of the recent past. Companies have slashed costs, cleaned up their balance sheets and adopted a more disciplined approach aimed at avoiding expensive projects that can lead to financial trouble.

"The crash is still fresh in everyone's minds. They're trying to be much more conservative," said Muhammed Ghulam, an analyst at Raymond James who covers the sector.
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22 Graduate From Utica Shale Academy

From The Times Leader:
The Utica Shale Academy graduated 22 of its newest alumni during it commencement ceremony on Thursday.

Seniors from the main site at Southern Local High School and the satellite location at Columbiana High School joined family, friends and school leaders for the event at Salineville. USA Director Eric Sampson welcomed the crowd to the fourth annual exercise and thanked officials at both schools for partnering with academy and benefiting the students. 
“I would like to thank each and every one of you for being here this evening as we celebrate this one brief moment in time that, for these graduates, has been many years in the making,” Sampson said. “Tonight is a celebration of accomplishments of the individuals that sit here before us. Graduates, each of you have traveled a path that has brought you to this destination. Some of those paths may have been very similar, and some probably couldn’t be more different. But each of those paths brought you to this point in time to celebrate the accomplishments of the last 13 years of your journey in education. We are proud of you and we wish you nothing but great things going into the future.” 
Keynote speaker for the evening was Amanda Greathouse, operator of Safety Pro Training and Consulting of Lisbon. Greathouse encouraged the graduates to leave their comfort zones and take advantage of opportunities before them. She noted her own initial anxieties about taking her knowledge into schools and working with students but said it has been a rewarding experience.
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Ohio Colleges and Universities Receive Over $852,000 From ExxonMobil and Employees

From an ExxonMobil press release:
ExxonMobil and its employees, including XTO staff, contributed more than $852,000 to 33 institutions of higher education across Ohio as part of the ExxonMobil Foundation’s 2017 Educational Matching Gift Program. 
ExxonMobil and XTO employees, retirees, directors and surviving spouses contributed almost $217,000 to 33 Ohio colleges and universities, which was matched by over $635,000 in unrestricted grants from the ExxonMobil Foundation. Although grants are unrestricted, colleges and universities are encouraged to designate a portion to math and science programs supporting student engagement. 
ExxonMobil’s program matches donor pledges on a 3:1 basis up to $7,500 to qualified colleges and universities in the United States, as well as the American Indian College Fund, Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the United Negro College Fund. More than $665 million has been contributed to such American institutions over the more than 50 years the company has offered the Educational Matching Gift Program. 
“We have a long history of supporting a range of efforts to improve education in the United States,” said Kevin Murphy, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation. “Our employees and retirees are similarly committed to investing in quality education, as demonstrated by the impressive amount they have chosen to donate. We’re confident that our contributions as well as the generous support of our employees and retirees will help create a stronger future for today’s students.” 
Nationwide, almost 840 institutions received almost $50 million through the 2017 Educational Matching Gift Program. 
In addition to the Educational Matching Gift Program, ExxonMobil and the ExxonMobil Foundation support and develop programs that encourage students, particularly women and minorities, toward careers in science, technology, engineering and math, as well as teacher training initiatives.
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