Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Permitting Picks Up in Utica Shale as Rig Count Drops

WEEK ENDING 05/25/2019

New permits issued last week: 17 (Previous week: 2)  +15
Total horizontal permits issued: 3093 (Previous week: 3080 +13
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2601 (Previous week: 2600)  +1
Total horizontal wells producing: 2186 (Previous week: 2186)  +-0
Utica rig count: 16 (Previous week: 18)  -2

Friday, May 24, 2019

Courts Clarify: Fractivists Aren't Experts

by Elizabeth Caldwell, Energy in Depth

Activists relying on Professor John Stolz to lend scientific credibility to their “Keep It In the Ground” stance on energy might want to review court records from a recently decided Pennsylvania appeals case that made it clear he’s no expert on natural gas development.
Stolz, director of the Center for Environmental Research and Education at Duquesne University, has claimed expert status on fracking. When a few residents in Westmoreland County, Pa., challenged Allegheny Township’s zoning ordinance that allowed for fracking, they brought in Stolz to testify on their behalf. It didn’t turn out well for him.
Stolz was not qualified as an expert.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court this month officially ended the case, after the township zoning board that heard from Stolz, a county judge and the state Commonwealth Court all rejected appeals of the ordinance. The Commonwealth Court specifically highlighted the shortcomings of Stolz’s ‘knowledge’ of fracking in its decision.
When Stolz testified to the Allegheny Township Zoning Board , the township had already issued a permit to CNX to develop the Porter well pad. As the Commonwealth Court noted in its decision: “The  Board did not qualify Dr. Stoltz [sic] as an expert.”
The court’s summary of Stolz’s zoning hearing testimony makes it very clear that his familiarity with actual facts around the planned development of the well was shaky at best. Through his testimony, Stolz:
  • “Conceded that he had no knowledge of the location of wells or public water sources in the Township and had not realized that the Porter Pad project would not use water from streams but, rather, public water sources.”
  • “…testified that onsite burial of waste is problematic; he was unaware that CNX did not plan to bury waste at the Porter Pad site.”
  • “…opined that truck traffic would increase at the site because CNX will need to drain the condensate tanks. Dr. Stoltz [sic] did not know how much condensate would be generated or what type of gas would be extracted at the Porter Pad; he agreed that “dry gas” does not present condensation issues.”
In reality, Stolz is a microbiologist with no real-life experience in unconventional shale development. He has also admitted bias against the oil and natural gas industry.
In 2017, when announcing he end a congressional bid, Stolz wrote on Facebook that he was now “free to continue my outreach and advocacy for the new economy with a fossil fuel free future.”
His research is funded by anti-energy foundations. His Duquesne University faculty page states that Stolz’s lab “is currently funded by grants from the Heinz Endowments and Colcom Foundation.” EID has previously reported that both Heinz Endowments and Colcum have a history of anti-fracking advocacy.
Courts continue to disregard activists posing as experts.
Colleagues of Stolz, such as Seth Shonkoff and Tony Ingraffea, who have also received or benefitted from Heinz funding, have been similarly called out by courts on their ‘expertise’ in shale development.
When PennFuture challenged the shale zoning in Mt. Pleasant Township in Washington County, Pa., the Zoning Hearing Board disregarded testimony from  Shonkoff after the finding  it to be “equivocal, not properly founded, and not credible”.
Shonkoff – who leads the anti-fracking Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Health Energy – was also the author of a 2012 strategy memo which encouraged anti-fracking groups to make connections between health problems and fracking, even when no evidence existed to support the linkage.
In  a separate Pennsylvania court case, Cornell Professor Tony Ingraffea (who has a Ph.D. in civil engineering) admitted under cross examination he had no experience whatsoever with shale development:
How many oil or gas wells have you participated in the actual design, construction, drilling or completion?
That’s what I said.
None. How many cement jobs have you actually participated in designing or conducting?
In an actual well as opposed experimental well, none.
I’m talking a real world here actual well, okay. None. Correct?
There was reference to cement bond logs. Have you ever conducted one or run a cement bond log on an oil or gas well
No, I have not.
Have you performed integrity or pressure testing of an oil or gas well?
No, I have not.
And, of course, we heard some reference to hydraulic fracturing. You’ve never participated in the hydraulic fracturing of an oil or gas well, have you, sir?
No, I have not.
Have you ever observed hydraulic fracturing of an oil or gas well?
Not on a pad, no.
By that you mean you looked at it on the screen, a computer screen in your office, is that right?
No…some distance away from a pad where fracking was occurring.
What personal experience do you have with plugging or cementing an oil or gas well?
Absolutely none.

Select Energy Services Pondering a Sale

From Bloomberg:
Select Energy Services Inc., a provider of water to shale drillers, is in the early stages of considering a sale, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Gainesville, Texas-based company has spoken to advisers about exploring strategic options, including a potential sale, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public. Select Energy Services hasn’t made a final decision and could opt to remain independent, the people said.

Chris George, a spokesman for the company, declined to comment on any specific sale considerations.

“We are always evaluating our strategic options, as can be seen from our recent decisions to divest of certain non-core businesses as well as to recently re-segment the reporting structure of the business,” George said.
Click here to read more.

Long-time readers of the blog may recall Select Energy Services' name from several years ago, when the company reneged on a deal to serve as the cornerstone of Commerce Park in Carroll County

Utica Rig Count Rises Again, But Permitting Remains Very Slow

WEEK ENDING 05/18/2019

New permits issued last week: 2 (Previous week: 3)  -1
Total horizontal permits issued: 3080 (Previous week: 3079 +1
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2600 (Previous week: 2600)  +-0
Total horizontal wells producing: 2186 (Previous week: 2185)  +1
Utica rig count: 18 (Previous week: 17)  +1

Friday, May 17, 2019

Pin Oak Energy Scoops Up Utica Shale Assets in Deal with Protege Energy

From a press release:
Pin Oak Energy (Pin Oak) has acquired from Protege Energy III LLC the Caywood A 1H Utica well located in Washington County Ohio along with nearly 10,000 net acres in Washington and Noble Counties Ohio and Wood County, West Virginia. In addition to the producing Utica well, Pin Oak acquired the Big Red pad location, 60 square miles of proprietary 3D Seismic, largely undedicated acreage position and a 4-mile gathering line connecting into Blue Racer Midstream’s Washington County Connector line.
Marcellus Drilling News reports that Pin Oak is quickly moving on plans to develop its new assets:
It didn’t take long for Pin Oak to form their first drilling unit in Washington County, called Big Red. We have the details on where it is, and which properties are included.

Thanks to an MDN tipster, we have a copy of a pooling notice filed by Pin Oak on May 1. Pin Oak is pooling the land owned by 21 different landowners in Liberty Township (Washington County) to form a 465-acre unit they call the Big Red Unit. Below is the pooling notice. At the end of the notice you’ll find a list of the landowners and how much of their property will be included in the pool, along with a map of the unit.
To view the copy of the pooling notice, click here (subscription required).

Construction Finally Starting on $1.3 Billion Columbiana County Power Plant

From Business Journal Daily:
Representatives from South Field Energy Partners will be on hand this afternoon to break ground for a $1.3 billion combined-cycle energy plant that is likely to employ more than 1,100 tradesmen during the peak construction phase. 
The new plant, scheduled for commercial operation by mid-2021, would be fueled by natural gas and steam. It would be capable of generating 1,182 megawatts of power to the PJM grid, enough power to supply 1 million homes. 
Meanwhile, South Field’s parent, Advanced Power, announced Tuesday that it has sold a 15% membership interest to JXTG, a major oil and energy company based in Japan.

Thomas Spang, Advanced Power CEO, said the investment underscores the wide support the project has received in the private sector.
Read the whole article by clicking here. 

Energy Transfer to Donate $450,000 to PA Special Olympics

From a Special Olympics Pennsylvania press release:
Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) today announced a three-year partnership that will recognize Energy Transfer as its Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) Guardians of the Flame Premier Sponsor. LETR, the largest public awareness vehicle and grass-roots fundraiser for Special Olympics, is changing the future for people with intellectual disabilities and lighting the way for acceptance and inclusion. 
Energy Transfer will donate a total of $450,000 over a three-year period to further SOPA's mission to broaden the opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities (ID). Energy Transfer is one of the largest and most diversified midstream energy companies in the country with more than 86,000 miles of oil, natural gas and refined fuels pipelines traversing 38 states. Both organizations share a similar focus on working to improve the quality of life and well-being for the community. 
Known as Guardians of the Flame, law enforcement members and SOPA athletes carry the "Flame of Hope" into the Opening Ceremonies of local and state Games. The flame symbolizes courage and the celebration of diversity uniting communities around the globe. In 2018, more than $1.3 million was raised to support nearly 20,000 SOPA athletes via a multitude of LETR events and activities around the state that included Torch Runs, annual Polar Plunges, the Beaver Stadium Run and more. In Pennsylvania, there are more than 500 members of law enforcement and emergency responders engaged in LETR efforts.
Click here to continue reading. 

OOGEEP: Wide Range of Career Opportunities Available in Ohio's Oil and Gas Industry

From an OOGEEP press release:
As we celebrate "In-Demand Jobs Week" in Ohio, the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) wants Ohio students and job-seekers to know that there are more than 75 different rewarding and high-demand careers available in Ohio's natural gas and oil industry. In-demand jobs are defined as jobs that have a sustainable wage and a promising future based on the projected number of openings and growth. 
"In 2011, our industry employed around 14,000 Ohioans, and today that number has dramatically increased to nearly 200,000, thanks to the ongoing development of the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations," Rhonda Reda, OOGEEP Executive Director said. "As a result, workforce development remains a priority for our industry." 
OOGEEP recently released a new Career Guide and an online Career Video Series that highlights the in-demand careers in Ohio's natural gas and oil industry including diesel mechanics, welders, lease operators, land surveyors, CDL truck drivers, derrickhands, geologists, petroleum engineers and many more.
Click here to read more. 

2020 Dems Take Extreme Positions on Oil & Gas Development

by Jack Anderson, Energy in Depth

With the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination getting more crowded every week, gaining the financial favor of deep-pocketed fringe activists could make a difference for candidates hoping to escape the first round of Democratic tryouts.
It’s no secret that Big Green has plenty of greenbacks to go around this election cycle, and Democratic hopefuls have been openly competing for those dollars. But for many, simply pledging to uphold the Paris climate accords isn’t enough to draw the support of well-endowed environmental activists, leading several candidates in the field to take extreme “keep-it-in-the-ground” (KIITG) stances on federal energy policy, ignoring key facts about oil and natural gas development on federal lands and its environmental benefits.
As of last week, nine Democratic hopefuls have pledged to enact a moratorium on new oil and natural gas development on federal lands if elected president, or at least restrict development in certain states, according to E&E News. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former HUD Secretary Juli├ín Castro have all committed to KIITG drilling moratoriums. California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker also cosponsored legislation that would codify Obama-era restrictions on Alaska’s oil and gas industry.
While these candidates may perceive embracing KIITG messaging as a good short-term political move, such a stance betrays a shortsighted misunderstanding of the importance of oil and gas production on federal lands.
Emissions are falling as production rises.
Halting all new federal leases for oil and natural gas development would only cut U.S. emissions by 4-5 percent by 2030, according to a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute. But even that estimate seems on the high side; total emissions from production on federal lands fell from 2004-2015, according to a 2018 report by the U.S. Geological Survey, while production on those lands increased dramatically.
Natural gas in particular has played a leading role in reducing U.S. emissions. From 2005 to 2017, the fuel was responsible for 50 percent more reductions in emissions from power generation than solar and wind combined, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In the same period, production of natural gas rose 51 percent across the country, and America’s GDP rose 48 percent.
More revenue is coming from less land.
The economic benefits of federal oil and gas leases are tremendous for local economies surrounding these developments. For example, New Mexico’s state and local governments absorbed over 20 percent of all revenue generated by oil and gas development across the state in 2017, through taxes and royalties; in 2018, New Mexico’s state government alone collected an estimated $3 billion in royalties and taxes, giving the government a $1 billion budget surplus for the first time in its history.
More western states have seen exceptional economic benefits from development on public lands. Wyoming, for example, took in $902.6 million from oil and gas in 2017. Montana also enjoys nearly $250 million in annual state revenues and nearly 30,000 jobs created by the oil and gas industry. Colorado’s oil and gas industry supports 161,000 jobs – with an average salary of over $100,000 – and contributed nearly $500 million to government revenues in 2016.
These tremendous economic benefits have all been made possible in part by federal oil and gas leasing. Yet less than 10 percent of federal lands in the western U.S. are actually leased for oil and gas development. And the number of new acres leased has fallen off since 2012.
Just this small proportion of federal lands being made available for oil and gas development has had a profoundly beneficial impact on the American economy, which should be a priority for presidential candidates. Limiting production on federal lands would threaten the country’s current trajectory to become a net energy exporter by 2020.
Candidates embracing economically impractical and environmentally unhelpful KIITG policy positions are ignoring the economic growth, environmental benefits and geopolitical stability made possible by increased oil and natural gas production. We can export U.S. oil and gas resources to global markets, cutting into the market share of less environmentally friendly regimes like Russia, Iran and Venezuela Candidates who choose to embrace America’s newfound leadership position in global energy can work hand-in-hand with local communities to preserve and enhance the benefits of American oil and natural gas.

Permitting Remains Slow, Rig Count Holds at 17 in Utica Shale

WEEK ENDING 05/11/2019

New permits issued last week: 3 (Previous week: 4)  -1
Total horizontal permits issued: 3079 (Previous week: 3076 +3
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2600 (Previous week: 2584)  +16
Total horizontal wells producing: 2185 (Previous week: 2179)  +6
Utica rig count: 17 (Previous week: 17)  +-0

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Rumor Central: Belmont County Cracker Plant Decision Could Be Coming in September, Project May Be Sold to New Company

Jim Willis of Marcellus Drilling News reported last week a rumor that was passed along to him by a trusted source regarding the cracker plant that has been in the planning stages for Belmont County for some time now.

Here is a small portion of what Jim reported:
Then our source added this, about the timing of an FID announcement:
PTT is saying that it likely will be September when an FID is announced. 
Finally, our source dropped a bombshell–that PTT may end up having to sell the project:
Multiple players are saying that PTT and Daelim are having enough trouble with the financing (causing the September timing) that they will be forced to sell the project to a bigger player. Two super majors are sniffing around, and there is some indication that a couple other major US and European players are sniffing too.
You can read the whole report, which has quite a bit more information on this, by clicking here (subscription required).

Jefferson County Becoming Key Location in Utica Shale Drilling

From WTOV 9:

An event was held by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce to give the community an update on progress being made in the oil and gas industry.

Several topics were up for discussion, including pipeline investment projects, natural gas powerplants and more. 
Representatives with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, Encino Energy and Ascent Resources were all in attendance. 
Jefferson County, in particular, is a growing area when it comes to Utica Shale. Based on Monday’s presentation, they only see more progress being made.
Click here to view this article in its entirety on WTOV's website.

New Nature Study Affirms the Climate Benefits of Increased Natural Gas Use

by John Glennon, Energy in Depth

The increased use of natural gas in electricity generation contributes to long-term “climate stabilization objectives,” according to a new study published in Nature. Notably, the study’s top line finding should address concerns that natural gas is less effective at reducing emissions than initially anticipated:
“We found that the coal-to-gas shift is consistent with climate stabilization objectives for the next 50-100 years. Our finding is robust under a range of leakage rates and uncertainties in emissions data and metrics. It becomes conditional to the leakage rate in some locations only if we employ a set of metrics that essentially focus on short-term effects. Our case for the coal-to-gas shift is stronger than previously found…”
The study is unique in that it is the first to employ a “multimetric approach” to analyze the impact which takes into account “short-term (a few decades) and long-term (about a century) climate impacts.”
Methane emissions intensity is declining in the top U.S. oil and gas basins.
The study comes at a time when the U.S. oil and gas industry is making significant strides in reducing methane emissions leakage rates, a fact that was noted in the study:
“A recent synthesis study gave a leakage estimate of 2.3% for the United States…CH4 measurements and inventory data are concentrated in the United States, leaving the leakage estimates in the other parts of the world more uncertain. Leakage rates outside of the United States could be high due to fewer regulatory oversights on environmental issues, among other factors.”
recent EID analysis found that in the Permian and Appalachian basins methane emissions intensity – emissions per unit of production – decreased by 57 percent and 82 percent, respectively, from 2011 to 2017.
The increased use of natural is improving air quality.
In addition to climate impacts the study notes that increased use of natural gas to meet energy demand also could lower emissions of other air pollutants and improve air quality:
“…air quality can be evaluated together with climate impacts, which could probably strengthen the case…”
This trend is already occurring, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2018 “Our Nation’s Air” report that found air pollution declined 73 percent from 1970 to 2017 at the same time America’s gross domestic product  increased 262 percent. Most notably, the EPA data showed that emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and fine particulate matter  — widely viewed as the most harmful air pollutants — have collectively declined 55 percent since 2005.
The findings of the Nature study also align with the latest EPA data released this month which show that greenhouse gas emissions in the United States fell 12 percent from 2005 to 2017 while natural gas production increased 51 percent:
The Nature study provides yet another proof point that the United States is leading the world in carbon emissions reductions thanks in large part to our embrace of natural gas. As natural gas continues to be an increasingly important energy source to meet the demand for electricity, there could also be more long-term climate benefits to come. As Independent Petroleum Association of America’s Executive Vice President Lee Fuller stated:
“America’s oil and natural gas producers are working hard to develop America’s own abundant resources in a safe and environmentally sound manner. The federal government’s own data confirms methane emissions have fallen in recent years and are continuing to drop, even as oil and natural gas production has risen. As technology has improved, the industry’s processes have become more efficient. Responsible energy development has and will continue to play a leading role in making the United States the world leader in greenhouse gas reductions.”

Infighting and Upheaval Seem to be Ruling the Day at EQT

EQT's merger with Rice Energy in 2017 made the company the largest natural gas producer in the United States.

Given recent events, some at EQT might be questioning if bigger is always better.

Starting several months ago, the Rice brothers mounted a challenge to EQT's leadership.  The fight has remained ongoing, and all seems to be leading up to a major showdown in July. 

In the latest developments, the Rices filed a lawsuit against EQT regarding the company's handling of the proxy bidding process for board nominations.

Now that lawsuit has been dropped after EQT made some adjustments to resolve the issues that the Rice brothers had with the process.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
EQT Corp. and the former leadership of Rice Energy Inc. are continuing their feud even as a lawsuit filed by Toby Rice against the Downtown-based company has been dropped. 
EQT is fighting off an animated proxy challenge from Mr. Rice, his brother Derek Rice and a group of former executives from Rice Energy, which was bought by EQT for $6.7 billion in November 2017. 
The Rice team claims that EQT has mismanaged the company’s assets over the past year and a half and hasn’t delivered the results it should have after the companies combined. Mr. Rice is aiming to replace EQT’s CEO Rob McNally and to win enough votes to install nine new board members. 
The latest spat between the two camps manifested two weeks ago when EQT announced its improved first quarter earnings and Toby Rice filed a lawsuit against the company alleging that EQT was trying to bias the proxy vote through tricky legal language in its board nomination process.
That same article later goes on:
The proxy fight looks like it’s headed straight for EQT’s annual shareholder meeting, scheduled for July 10.
 Read the whole article by clicking here.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports that the company is also losing its executive vice president of production, after she had only been in the job since October:
The executive in charge of EQT’s natural gas production will be leaving her post early next month after a little over six months in the job. 
Erin Centofanti, who became executive vice president of production Oct. 25, 2018, gave her two-week notice Thursday. EQT (NYSE: EQT) confirmed her plans to depart. 
“Erin has decided to move on to the next phase in her career, and her last day with us will be May 3,” an EQT spokeswoman told the Business Times. Her next move was not disclosed. 
Centofanti, 42, is a 15-year veteran of EQT, having joined in 2004 as a reservoir engineer. She was SVP of asset development at EQT Production, and was promoted in a corporate shakeup that led to the departure of EQT’s previous EVP of production, David Schlosser.
In the midst of all this, EQT did report positive numbers for the 1st quarter of the year.  That's done little to stop all of the upheaval, but for the moment the current braintrust leading the company has given shareholders who may have been leaning towards the huge changes proposed by the Rices some reason to reconsider.

Monday, May 6, 2019

May 2019 Shale Activity Maps

Rig Count Bounces Back in Utica Shale

WEEK ENDING 04/27/2019

New permits issued last week: 10 (Previous week: 6)  +4
Total horizontal permits issued: 3071 (Previous week: 3062 +9
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2581 (Previous week: 2574)  +7
Total horizontal wells producing: 2179 (Previous week: 2179)  +-0
Utica rig count: 17 (Previous week: 14)  +3

WEEK ENDING 05/04/2019

New permits issued last week: 4 (Previous week: 10)  -6
Total horizontal permits issued: 3076 (Previous week: 3071 +5
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2584 (Previous week: 2581)  +3
Total horizontal wells producing: 2179 (Previous week: 2179)  +-0

Utica rig count: 17 (Previous week: 17)  +-0