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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

New Study: U.S. Shale Boom Has Lowered Trade Deficit by Over $250 Billion

From a press release:
The boom in U.S. oil and gas production over the past decade has exerted a moderating force on what is a large domestic merchandise trade deficit by helping reduce the country’s net petroleum imports, a new report by business information provider IHS Markit (Nasdaq: INFO) says. Continued U.S. production growth is now on track to make the country a net-exporter of petroleum for the first time since at least 1949. 
The total U.S. merchandise trade deficit in 2017 was nearly $250 billion lower than it otherwise would have been if the petroleum (crude oil, refined products and natural gas liquids – petroleum liquids separated out from natural gas and also known as NGLs) trade deficit had remained at its 2007 level, the report finds. IHS Markit projects that the U.S. petroleum trade balance will further improve by roughly $50 billion between 2017 and 2022. 
The findings are part of a new report entitled Trading Places: How the Shale Revolution Has Helped Keep the U.S. Trade Deficit in Check. The report examines the impact of rising U.S. oil, natural gas and chemicals production on the domestic trade merchandise balance and how the U.S. position in energy and chemicals may evolve in coming years.
Click here to read the rest of the release.

Click here to read more and fill out a form to download a copy of the report.

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Permitting Picks Up in Utica Shale



New permits issued last week: 13 (Previous week: 7)  +6
Total horizontal permits issued: 2948 (Previous week: 2935)  +13
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2467 (Previous week: 2462)  +5
Total horizontal wells producing: 2088 (Previous week: 2088)  +-0
Utica rig count: 17 (Previous week: 18)  -1

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December 2018 Shale Activity Maps Released by ODNR






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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Ohio EPA Requests Early Stakeholder Input for Potential Oil and Gas Rules

Ohio EPA is requesting early stakeholder input until Dec. 19, 2018, on potential rules that would cover air pollution emissions from existing non-conventional oil and gas facilities that are not currently covered by Ohio EPA’s most recent general permit.
The rules would cover similar equipment and requirements that are currently covered in U.S. EPA’s New Source Performance Standards for the oil and natural gas sector, as well as Ohio EPA’s oil and gas general permits. The rules would cover both existing and new sources like oil and gas well sites and gas compressor stations.
This early stakeholder outreach provides stakeholders with an opportunity to provide their comments and suggestions before the Agency drafts the language of the rules. After the Agency has addressed comments received during this outreach, it will draft proposed rule language and hold an interested party comment period to solicit comments on the rule language before continuing through the rest of the rule promulgation steps. 
Information on the early stakeholder outreach for these rules can be found online at epa.ohio.gov/Portals/27/regs/3745-31/ESO_NewOilandGasRules_2018.pdf. Comments should be sent by the close of business on Dec. 19 to Mike Hopkins, Ohio EPA Division of Air Pollution Control, PO Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049, or by email to mike.hopkins@epa.ohio.gov.

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EQT Reaches Settlement in Class Action Suit Related to Royalties Scheme

From the Charleston Gazette Mail:
The trial of a major lawsuit alleging that energy giant EQT Corp. has been shortchanging thousands of West Virginians on their royalty payments won’t start Tuesday as planned, following the tentative settlement of the case late last week.

Details of the deal have not yet been made public.

Marvin Masters, lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, said “the parties have tentatively resolved the case,” pending settlement details being worked out.

A spokeswoman for the court confirmed the settlement, and said the trial was canceled.

Linda Robertson, spokeswoman for EQT, declined to comment on the settlement, citing “pending litigation.”

More than 10,000 individuals and businesses in West Virginia are estimated to be members of the class of plaintiffs. They allege that EQT, the state’s second-largest gas producer, was illegally deducting various costs — such as for transporting and processing gas — from their royalty payments.
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ETP's Sloppiness on Rover and Mariner East 2 Pipeline Led to Over 800 Permit Violations

From Reuters:
Energy Transfer LP (ET.N) and its Sunoco pipeline subsidiary have racked up more than 800 state and federal permit violations while racing to build two of the nation’s largest natural gas pipelines, according to a Reuters analysis of government data and regulatory records. 
The pipelines, known as Energy Transfer Rover and Sunoco Mariner East 2, will carry natural gas and gas liquids from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, an area that now accounts for more than a third of U.S. gas production. 
Reuters analyzed four comparable pipeline projects and found they averaged 19 violations each during construction. 
The Rover and Mariner violations included spills of drilling fluid, a clay-and-water mixture that lubricates equipment for drilling under rivers and highways; sinkholes in backyards; and improper disposal of hazardous waste and other trash. Fines topped $15 million. 
Energy Transfer also raised the ire of federal regulators by tearing down a historic house along Rover’s route.
The rest of the article can be read by clicking here.

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PARTA Opens Natural Gas Filling Station in Portage County

From the Record-Courier:
With Ohio’s status as “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas,” it only makes sense for some expansion of infrastructure to make it available to area motorists, said CNG-One’s Michael Battaglia. 
About 60 people were on hand Wednesday as PARTA celebrated just that — the opening of its compressed natural gas filling station, which it uses in some of its buses and makes available to the public. The station is located at 2000 Summit Road just east of Kent State University. 
With the addition of CNG on the site, PARTA General Manager Claudia Amrhein said the agency now has two compressed natural gas buses and plans to buy eight more during the next several years. She encourages other fleet managers to consider converting as well. 
“The station is now open to the public, which makes it really possible for local fleet owners to consider converting to natural gas-powered vehicles,” she said. 
According to Battaglia, several area fleet managers are weighing whether to make the transition, which one should not do lightly. CNG-One converts vehicles running on regular gas to compressed natural gas vehicles.
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Ohio EPA Seeks Input on Proposed Modifications to Belmont County Cracker Plant

Hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 12, 2018


Ohio EPA will hold a public meeting to present information and accept comments on draft modifications to the wastewater discharge permit related to the proposed PTTGCA Petrochemical Complex that would be located at Old Route 7 and Ferry Landing Road (Hwy. 2), Shadyside.
The information session is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Dec. 12, 2018, and will be held at Shadyside Community Center, 50 E. 39th Street. The public hearing will immediately follow, during which the public can submit comments for the record concerning the draft modification.
The modifications to the wastewater discharge permit conditions requested by PTTGC America LLC would:
  • decrease the levels of pollutants to be discharged to the Ohio River;
  • change the locations where storm water, which is water that runs off impervious surfaces after rain events, will be discharged; and
  • modify limits at an internal monitoring station that does not directly discharge to surface water.
During the hearing, the public may present testimony concerning the modifications to the wastewater discharge permit.
The draft modified permit may be viewed online at wwwapp.epa.ohio.gov/dsw/permits/Draft/0IF00018.pdf or at the Ohio EPA Southeast District Office, 2195 Front St., Logan. Call for an appointment: (740) 385-8501.
Ohio EPA values public input. Comments will be accepted both verbally and in writing at the hearing and may be submitted through Dec. 19, 2018. Written comments may be emailed to: epa.dswcomments@epa.ohio.gov or by mail to Ohio EPA-DSW Permits Processing, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049.

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State Lawmakers Increase ODNR Budget for Plugging Wells

From The Times Reporter:
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is revving up its program to plug oil and gas wells that were left behind by their owners. 
State lawmakers more than doubled the plugging program’s budget earlier this year to $15 million. 
ODNR plans to plug 173 wells this fiscal year, and has entered contracts to plug 55 of those wells at a cost of $3.6 million since July 1. 
ODNR spent $6 million to plug 83 wells last fiscal year, a price tag and number of wells that were records for the plugging program, which has been around since the mid-1970s. 
The new funding has allowed the program to put together a robust plugging plan, said Steve Irwin, spokesman for ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. 
“It’s exponential growth headed in the right direction,” Irwin said.
Continue the article by clicking here.

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Paid to Protest: Lifting the Curtain on Keep Wayne Wild, LLC

by Jackie Stewart, Energy in Depth

EID has been exposing the underhanded “Keep It In the Ground” (KIITG) tactics aimed at halting oil and gas development in the Wayne National Forest for years, including the  Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) deliberate efforts to obstruct the federal mineral leasing and permitting process.  Keep Wayne Wild is another example that has taken a page out of this KIITG playbook, working in conjunction with CBD to ban fracking in the Wayne under the guise of a so-called “local volunteer concerned citizens organization.”
According to Keep Wayne Wild’s filing with the Ohio Secretary of State, the self-described “volunteer environmental conservation organization” is actually a for-profit Limited Liability Company (LLC) whose spokeswoman is listed as a current employee of the Sierra Club. Keep Wayne Wild, LLC also has direct ties to the Ohio Health Registry, Buckeye Forest Council, and the Heartwood—groups that have been active in multiple protests and lawsuits involving the Wayne National Forest.
 
History of Keep Wayne Wild
Though Keep Wayne Wild, LLC has officially been a for-profit business much of this year, it was originally established as a California-based nonprofit called SprouTogether in 2016. SprouTogether’s initial Ohio focus was on preventing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from allowing the leasing of federal minerals in the Wayne National Forest. SprouTogether also led a failed fundraising and mobilization effort on Fundly.com, which coincided with the national attention that #NODAPL was receiving at the time.
In 2016, BLM agreed to lease federal minerals in the Wayne after finding “no significant impact” to the forest, resulting in Keep Wayne Wild going virtually silent from November 2016 until March 2017.
Then in March 2017, Keep Wayne Wild, LLC reemerged as a “new group” now based in Columbus, and hosted its first event as this “new” entity – a year before it received its business filing with the Ohio Secretary of State. That same month Keep Wayne Wild, LLC launched its website, using a disturbing anti-fracking video from Appalachia Resist! — perhaps the most rogue fringe activist group in Ohio – whom the company admits they “coordinate and cooperate” with. And despite at the time of this launch not yet being official with the state, included the ability to “donate” on its website.
In fact, it wasn’t until February 2018 – nearly a year after its new website launched – that Keep Wayne Wild, LLC received its for-profit status business certification, and days later, officially joined forces with CBD and others by adding its name as a “conservation group” to CBD’s press release  protesting leasing in the WNF. Following the press release, Keep Wayne Wild, LLC filed an administrative protest challenging BLMs the upcoming federal mineral auction lease sale.
CBD and Keep Wayne Wild, LLC hailed a small victory in September after oil and natural gas permits were delayed and a federal auction lease sale was put on hold– a victory that was reversed in October when BLM issued both permits to drill and announced for the previously halted lease sale will occur in December. Just a few days later, the business launched a social media campaign and event in Columbus asking for legislative opposition to Ohio Senate Bill 250, a bill Keep Wayne Wild, LLC claims takes away the ability to conduct protests like those that have occurred about the Wayne National Forest.
The bill, authored by Ohio State Senator (and Navy SEAL) Frank Hoagland would “prohibit criminal mischief, criminal trespass, and aggerated trespass on a critical infrastructure facility, to impose fines for organizations that are complicit in those offenses, and to impose civil liability for damage caused by trespass on a critical infrastructure facility.”  Not surprisingly, Keep Wayne Wild, LLC and the Sierra Club are tied at the hip on this protest, and if you look at the calls to action and who’s planning to attend this event, you’ll see the same cast of characters that are at all of the Sierra Club events.
Conclusion
As EID has repeatedly pointed out, the smoke and mirrors campaigns being used by the small contingent of Ohio anti-fracking groups is seemingly never ending, and Keep Wayne Wild, LLC’s antics are just the latest example. As a case-in-point, Keep Wayne Wild LLC’s Statutory Agent and spokesperson, Ms. Becca Pollard, claims she is still employed by the Sierra Club, according to a LinkedIn page, is a former employee of Buckeye Environmental Network and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Heartwood.
Here we go again – another fake, so-called “local volunteer group” in Ohio. Keep Wayne Wild, LLC is anything but local, or simply volunteers, as it would have the public (and the media) believe. Instead, Keep Wayne Wild, LLC is a for-profit business that is using its website as a portal to ask for donations to support the Ohio Environmental Council’s lawsuit against BLM and the U.S. Forest Service. It is also seeking legislative support on statehouse issues, as well as petitioning signatures.  It’s clear that the Columbus-based Keep Wayne Wild, LLC, is in fact getting paid to protest, lobby, and organize for profit, off the backs of an issue impacting southeastern Ohio – not a Columbus-based business.
By contrast, “we the people,” the neighbors and landowners in and around the Wayne National Forest (the people who actually live in the region) have made their voices heard during the debate over leasing of federal minerals, and time and time again have made it clear that they are supportive of oil and gas development in the Wayne.

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Activists Voicing Opposition to Belmont County Cracker Plant

From WOUB:
More than 100 people braved freezing temperatures to both listen and have their say in front of Ohio environmental officials at a recent hearing in Belmont County, Ohio. For the three dozen or so people who testified, the stakes were high. 
The hearing at Shadyside High School focused on a nearly 300-page, densely technical, draft air quality permit. The permit is one more step towards a massive, multi-billion dollar petrochemical plant proposed for the banks of the Ohio River just a few miles away from the auditorium. 
Like many at the hearing, Glenn Giffin, president of IBEW Local 141 in Wheeling, West Virginia, used his three minutes to voice a position not merely on the permit at hand, but what this facility could mean for the region. 
“It is a project such as this that will revitalize the Ohio Valley,” he said. 
Giffin and other supporters see a potential economic boom in the plant, called an ethane “cracker.” Its natural gas furnaces literally crack apart ethane — which is brought up during natural gas fracking — into smaller molecules used in plastics and chemical manufacturing. 
But Belmont County resident Jill Hunkler sees this plant as the beginning of something else: an environmental nightmare. 
“We want better options than a massive petrochemical plant,” Hunkler told the audience. 
Officially, the hearing was about a permit. But everyone gathered understood that much more is at stake. The growing abundance of natural gas could fuel a new petrochemical industry in the upper Ohio Valley, with all the economic gains and environmental risks that might bring. The decision on the cracker plant permit presents a crossroads moment for those who live here.
Read on by clicking here.

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Ohio Court Rules on DMA Due Diligence

From Vorys Energy & Environmental Law Blog:
Earlier this week, Ohio’s 7th District Court of Appeals again addressed the amount of diligence required to identify the holders of severed mineral interests under the 2006 version of Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act (2006 DMA). In Sharp v. Miller, 2018-Ohio-4740, the Court reaffirmed its earlier ruling in Shilts v. Beardmore that the 2006 DMA only requires a surface owner to exercise reasonable due diligence to ascertain the names and addresses of mineral holders prior to serving its notice of abandonment by publication. Further, the Court held that whether a surface owner’s actions constitute “reasonable due diligence” will depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual case. Thus, there is no right-line rule or definition of “reasonable due diligence.” Actions that may be reasonable in one case may not be reasonable in another case. 
In Sharp, the surface owners searched the local probate records and deed records, but their search failed to reveal the names of any heirs of the record mineral owners. Moreover, the only address the surface owners found in their search was a post office box that formerly belonged to one of the record mineral owners. Their search did produce a Release of Estate from Administration for one of the record mineral owners. However, that Release did not reference the subject mineral interest. A title report ordered by the surface owners also failed to reveal any potential heirs.
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Monday, December 3, 2018

Rig Count Holding Steady in Utica Shale

WEEK ENDING 11/24/18



New permits issued last week: 5 (Previous week: 7)  -2
Total horizontal permits issued: 2928 (Previous week: 2924)  +4
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2462 (Previous week: 2457)  +5
Total horizontal wells producing: 2086 (Previous week: 2081)  +5
Utica rig count: 18 (Previous week: 15)  +-0

WEEK ENDING 12/01/18


New permits issued last week: 7 (Previous week: 5)  +2
Total horizontal permits issued: 2935 (Previous week: 2928)  +7
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2462(Previous week: 2462)  +-0
Total horizontal wells producing: 2088 (Previous week: 2086)  +2

Utica rig count: 18 (Previous week: 18)  +-0

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