Wednesday, July 17, 2019

9 Permits Issued Last Week in Utica as Rig Count Bounces Back to 18

New permits issued last week: 9 (Previous week: 3)  +6
Total horizontal permits issued: 3126 (Previous week: 3120 +6
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2647 (Previous week: 2639)  +8
Total horizontal wells producing: 2226 (Previous week: 2225)  +1
Utica rig count: 18 (Previous week: 17)  +1

Bill Watson Tabbed to Helm Utica Shale Academy

From the Weirton Daily Times:
The Utica Shale Academy will have a new leader this fall after Bill Watson was named director of the community school.

Watson, a resident of Wellsville, will helm the program at Southern Local High School and replace Rich Watson, who has become principal of Southern Local Elementary. 
Watson has connections with education and industry and plans to bridge the two to help academy students find a place in the work force. 
He received his diploma from Wellsville High School in 2001 as well as degrees from Bismarck State University of North Dakota in 2007 and Grand Canyon University in Arizona in 2012. Watson also has a connection with Southern Local, since he worked there as a special education teacher from 2012-14. Watson then moved on to become a nuclear specialist at the Beaver Valley Power Station operated by FirstEnergy Corp. in Shippingport, Pa., where his job entailed creating lessons to instruct nuclear instrumentation and control technicians. 
Watson hopes to use his expertise in education and industry to prepare students for a future in energy and other fields.
Click right here to read more. 

Energy Transfer Considers $2.5 Billion Sale of Rover Pipeline Stake

From Bloomberg:
Energy Transfer LP, the U.S. pipeline giant controlled by billionaire Kelcy Warren, is weighing the sale of its 33% stake in a conduit that carries Appalachian natural gas to customers across the Midwest, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Dallas-based pipeline operator has hired an adviser to pursue a potential sale of its operated interest in the Rover pipeline, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information isn’t public. The stake could fetch as much as $2.5 billion, one of the people said.

No decision has been made and Energy Transfer could opt not to sell, the people said. A representative for the company declined to comment. Energy Transfer rose 0.6% to close at $14.91 a share. 
Rover is 713 miles (1,148 kilometers) long and can shuttle 3.25 billion cubic feet of gas daily to customers across Ohio and Michigan, and as far away as Ontario. The project was originally expected to cost $4.2 billion and entered full service last year after a series of delays and construction missteps, including the bulldozing of a historic house in Ohio that the company had said it was buying for office space.
Read the entire article by clicking here. 

Restoration Work Continues for Pipeline Projects in Ohio; Legal Fights Continue as Well

From The Canton Repository:
“We have developed plans to mitigate the unusual rain conditions and we remain on schedule to complete final restoration activities by the fourth quarter of 2019,” Parker wrote. “Most restoration occurs within the first year following completion of construction. However, the process can take longer, depending on weather and other environmental impacts that may interrupt the restoration process.” 
Parker wrote that the goal was to restore the pipeline right-of-way to as close to pre-construction conditions as possible, and minimize long-term impacts. He encouraged landowners with questions about restoration to call the company’s toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 844-589-3655. 
As the restoration continues, so do several lawsuits filed by landowners in counties along the NEXUS route, including five cases in Stark County. 
The lawsuits allege NEXUS and its construction contractor, Michels Corp.:

  • Pumped or diverted water onto farms and residential properties without permission. 

  • Destroyed topsoil and crops on farms and failed to control erosion.

  • Failed to repair damaged drain tiles and properly reclaim land.

  • Caused farmers to lose crops and prevented some landowners from using their properties.

“The cases are preceding in court,” said Michael A. Thompson, attorney for the landowners. 
Rover Pipeline update 
The other major pipeline built recently in Stark County is the Rover Pipeline. Its twin 42-inch-diameter mainlines cross the county’s southern townships and transport up to 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. 
Texas-based Energy Transfer owns the 713-mile Rover system. 
Rover has completed restoration work in Stark County, but standard practice is to monitor the right-of-way for any issues, Energy Transfer spokeswoman Alexis Daniel wrote in an email. 
But the state’s lawsuit against Rover and its contractors is now underway in the 5th District Court of Appeals. 
The Ohio Attorney General sued in 2017 over alleged environmental violations in more than a dozen counties related to sediment-laden stormwater, leaks and spills of clay-based drilling fluid and the release of water used to pressure-test the pipeline.
Continue reading by clicking here. 

OOGA President Provides Latest Update on Utica Shale

From The Canton Repository:
The Ohio Oil & Gas Association held its annual summer meeting at Glenmoor Country Club earlier this week, and The Canton Repository caught up with OOGA President Steve Downey. 
Downey, EnerVest Operating’s vice president of business development, is a 32-year veteran of the industry. He is in the first of two years as OOGA president. Between golf sessions Tuesday, he kept an eye on the upcoming vote on the state budget bill that included OOGA supported provisions concerning drilling units and eliminating the $60 minimum severance tax and the $100 per well transfer fee. He also shared his thoughts on the following topics: 
The current state of the Utica Shale play and its future: 
“The Utica has done really well since its inception... We’re producing probably about 9 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day in Ohio now, somewhere in that neighborhood. It’s ramped up greatly... As prices have moved for (natural gas liquids) and dry gas, the areas have fluctuated just a little bit. Where’s the real drilling? It’s kind of jumped back and forth between the wet gas and the dry gas just depending on economics... 
“Some producers have the ability to go back and forth. Encino Energy – used to be Chesapeake Energy’s assets – they have both wet and dry gas, so they can shift as they see fit, to some degree. You have other companies that are strictly dry gas. ...I think the acreage positions are pretty well set now.”
Read on by clicking right here. 

Rice Brothers Win Battle for Control of EQT

Following a long and contentious fight for control of EQT, the Rice brothers have come out on top.

From an EQT press release:
EQT Corporation (NYSE:EQT) and the Rice Team jointly announced that, based on preliminary voting results at the EQT Annual Meeting today, shareholders have elected all seven Rice Team-nominated directors as well as the five nominees supported by both EQT and the Rice Team. All 12 elected directors received more than 80% of the votes cast at the Annual Meeting. 
After voting results are certified by the independent inspector of elections, expected later today, EQT’s reconstituted Board will be comprised of Lydia Beebe, Dr. Philip Behrman, Lee Canaan, Janet Carrig, Dr. Kathryn Jackson, John McCartney, James McManus II, Anita Powers, Daniel Rice IV, Toby Rice, Stephen Thorington, and Hallie Vanderhider. 
Following certification, the newly constituted Board will meet later today and is expected to name Toby Z. Rice as President and CEO, succeeding Robert McNally. 
Toby Rice said, “We are deeply gratified by the shareholder support for the Rice Team and our plan for EQT. The Company has a world class asset base which provides abundant opportunities for value-creation. Now is the time to put this proxy contest behind us and come together as one team to transform EQT into a technology-enabled, sustainable energy producer. There is a lot of work to be done, and we look forward to rolling up our sleeves and working closely with EQT’s talented employees to execute our plan. We are committed to a smooth transition and to realizing EQT’s full potential to create significant value for shareholders.” 
Robert McNally said, “I’d like to thank employees across the organization for their outstanding work and dedication to EQT as well as our directors for their counsel and dedication. EQT is a unique company with terrific assets, and I wish EQT and the Rice Team great success in the future.” 
The Board of EQT thanks Rob McNally for his service.
Click here to read the whole release.

The Pittsburgh Business Times reported on some of the changes coming for the company:
New EQT CEO Toby Z. Rice said the clock has started running on his team’s 100-day plan to begin the turnaround at the Pittsburgh-based natural gas driller, but disputed that it means a wholesale change of top executives. 
Rice spoke in the back of the second-floor conference room shortly after the annual meeting where he and 11 others supported by the Rice team during the nine-month proxy battle had been elected overwhelmingly by shareholders. The new board, with Toby Rice and his brother Daniel J. Rice IV, was to meet soon after the voting results were certified. But it was clear from the tone that Rice was on his way to becoming the CEO of EQT (NYSE: EQT), the largest independent natural gas driller in the country. 
Yet he gave no hint of a large-scale departure of EQT executives, which in the past two years has seen four CEOs as well as three separate heads of production and the departure of other executives with the November 2018 split into EQT and Equitrans Midstream Corp. (NYSE: ETRN), which is now a separate publicly traded company. He mentioned only replacing of the CEO and the general counsel, a position that itself was replaced in October 2017 in a move that also lead to the departure of the EVP of production. 
“That’s one misconception of this whole campaign, that we’re going to replace 15 executives,” Rice said.
Read that whole article by clicking here. 

Meanwhile, another article from the Pittsburgh Business Times reports that McNally will receive $3.4 million to go away, while Toby Rice will take a salary of $1.00 in his first year as the new CEO.  Click here to read that article (subscription required).

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Rig Count Drops Yet Again in Utica Shale

New permits issued last week: 3 (Previous week: 8)  -5
Total horizontal permits issued: 3120 (Previous week: 3117 +3
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2639 (Previous week: 2636)  +3
Total horizontal wells producing: 2225 (Previous week: 2223)  +2
Utica rig count: 17 (Previous week: 18)  -1

Why is There a DUC on Your Property?

From Farm and Dairy:
There are lots of reasons why a well may be drilled, but not finished and producing: The operator could be waiting for a pipeline to be connected, a crew to complete the fracking, or the markets to improve.
Or it could be a well drilled to hold a lease, or a test well, and never put into production. 
A drilled but uncompleted well (DUC) is a new well that has been drilled, but has not been fracked for the first time and put into production. There is also casing, cementing and other steps that need to be done before a well can start producing. 
Why track drilled but uncompleted DUC wells? They are a signal of overall economic health of the oil and gas producers, as well as future production potential.
Read the whole article, which explains more about the reasons behind DUC wells, by clicking here. 

Largest Grant in State History Will Help Prepare for Belmont County Cracker Plant

From The Columbus Dispatch:
The state’s economic development arm has awarded its largest grant ever for site work for a massive, multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant being considered in eastern Ohio. 
The $30 million JobsOhio grant is another in a series of steps being taken to determine whether Thai chemical company PTT Global Chemical America and its South Korean partner, Daelim Industrial Co., should proceed with the project in Belmont County. The company has committed $65 million to this phase, according to JobsOhio. 
If the companies go forward, they would build one of the largest economic development projects in state history, one with thousands of construction jobs and probably several hundred permanent jobs once construction is completed. 
“JobsOhio’s revitalization grant will support initial site-preparation work, which will begin later this month,” said Matt Englehart, JobsOhio spokesman. “While this is an important and positive step for the project, no final investment decision has been made. JobsOhio and our partners will continue closely collaborating with PTTGC America and Daelim as they work toward a final investment decision.”
Read more by clicking here. 

Mahoning County Strikes New Agreement in Hopes of Cashing in on Shale Drilling

From the Youngstown Vindicator:
Mahoning County now has rights to any Utica shale deposits underneath county-owned land in Canfield, under a new lease agreement with Ohio Valley Energy approved this morning. 
“Under the current old leases, the gas company actually has the rights all the way from the surface to the center of the earth,” said Tim Tusek, the assistant county prosecutor who worked on the arrangements. 
“The best part is there is a real possibility the Utica development will come back to this area, and when it does, the commissioners will be in a position to be able to benefit from it.” 
The existing wells run below about 270 acres west of the Canfield Fairgrounds, near the Mahoning County Experimental Farm operated in partnership with the Ohio State University Extension office there. Tusek said though the wells do bring in a “small” revenue source for the county and offer free gas for the adjacent properties. 
The wells were drilled about 30 years ago, but were sold to Ohio Valley Energy at the end of 2015, said company President Charlie Masters.
Click right here to read the rest of this article. 

Court Rules That Activist Effort to Deal Blow to FERC Can Proceed

From Law360:
The D.C. Circuit on Tuesday refused to dismiss Oberlin, Ohio’s challenge of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of the $2.1 billion Nexus gas pipeline, even though the city has granted permanent pipeline easements to the pipeline’s developer. 
In a one-page per curiam order, Circuit Judges Judith W. Rogers, Sri Srinivasan and Robert L. Wilkins shot down Nexus’ bid to have the case tossed, apparently rejecting the pipeline company’s argument that the city and the Coalition to Reroute Nexus had lost standing to bring the case. 
Nexus had argued that the city executed a settlement agreement granting the pipeline company a permanent easement for its project on May 7, one day after oral arguments were held in the D.C. Circuit case. The settlement “vitiates” the city’s standing, Nexus said. 
Nexus acknowledged that the settlement agreement contained a provision that the deal had “no application” to the D.C. Circuit case, but the company argued that that “does not salvage the City’s standing in this action.”
Read more by clicking here. 

New Report Warns Turning Away From Oil & Natural Gas Will Cost United States $4.5 Trillion

by Elizabeth Caldwell, Energy in Depth

Removing oil and natural gas from the U.S. energy mix could have dire consequences, costing the country $4.5 trillion – or $35,000 per household – according to a new report from energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie:
“For any country to embrace a nationwide transition to 100 percent renewable energy (RE100) or zero carbon (ZC100) emissions constitutes a massive disruption with far-flung economic and social repercussions.”
As the report explains, in order to completely decarbonize by 2030:
“We estimate the cost of full decarbonisation of the US power grid at US$4.5 trillion, given the current state of technology. That’s nearly as much as what the country has spent, since 2001, on the war on terror. From a budgetary perspective, the cost is staggering at US$35,000 per household – nearly US$2,000 per year if assuming a 20-year plan.” (emphasis added)
This cost “includes everything needed to reliably produce and deliver clean energy to consumers”, which Wood Mackenzie estimates is about 1,600 gigawatts (GW) of new wind and solar capacity, and an additional 900 GW of storage capacity. For perspective, current wind and solar capacity is about 130 GW of the roughly 1,060 GW that make up the U.S. power grid’s nameplate capacity. Worldwide there is about 5.5 GW of storage capacity operational or under construction, according to the report. The estimate does not include additional supply chain costs that could result from the increased demand for things like steel and construction equipment.
Wood Mackenzie notes this would be an unprecedented shift:
“Today, no large and complex power system (LCPS) in the world operates with an average annual penetration of greater than 30% wind and solar (W+S). RE100 policies for an LCPS represent uncharted territory. There is little to no historical precedence for dealing with the technological and commercial disruptions that would accompany the mass deployment of variable energy resources.
“Current evidence shows that an LCPS tends to reach a 25% W+S market penetration with relative ease, assuming fundamental natural resource and grid infrastructure prerequisites. Beyond that point, operational and cost complexities progressively multiply, in large part due to the intermittent nature of renewables.” (emphasis added)
Aside from the abundance and low cost of natural gas, its ability to ramp up or down very quickly has made it popular for power generation. Without substantial battery storage, natural gas serves as an important back-up fuel for renewables because solar and wind power experience off-times and seasonal variation, as well as curtailments due to lack of storage capacity, which the report says happens almost daily in California.
As Energy Information Administration analyst Dr. Kathryn Dyl explained this year, natural gas has played an important role in ensuring grid reliability:
“That build-out of natural gas generation capacity on the grid led to the retirement of several coal generators, but also in many ways enabled the growth of renewables, because renewables — particularly wind and solar power — are intermittent or non-dispatchable resources. They only operate at certain times of the day or under certain circumstances and it’s really beneficial to be able to have complementary generation to be able to respond to that.”

Lower cost solutions

Wood Mackenzie is not calling for a halt to increasing the U.S. renewable power generation capacity. Instead it acknowledges the complexity of the issue and offers a few more realistic suggestions than what has been called for by those supporting 100-percent renewable power by 2030, which ultimately would “require more capacity to be built every single year over the next 11 years than what has been installed collectively over the past two decades.”
The first two suggestions include slowing down to allow for technologies to be developed that could lower these costs and to give a more realistic time-frame. The last two are to include other fuel sources, namely nuclear and natural gas. In fact, the report finds that by including natural gas in the energy mix, the cost reductions are pretty substantial:
“Allowing 20 percent of the power mix to come from existing natural-gas-fired generation (ZC80) would reduce RE costs by roughly 20 percent and energy storage costs by at least 60 percent.” (emphasis added)
Natural gas helped the United States lower greenhouse gas emissions almost 73 percent from 1970 to 2017, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The United States has also been a world leader in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, with the EIA attributing the accomplishment largely to the increased use of natural gas in power generation.
Wood Mackenzie’s report, and the consensus from governmental agencies is clear: natural gas provides a strong path to reach our climate goals.

July 2019 Utica and Marcellus Shale Activity Maps

The ODNR has released the Utica and Marcellus shale activity maps for July.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Permitting Picks Back Up a Little in Utica Shale

New permits issued last week: 8 (Previous week: 1)  +7
Total horizontal permits issued: 3117 (Previous week: 3113 +4
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2636 (Previous week: 2630)  +6
Total horizontal wells producing: 2223 (Previous week: 2222)  +1
Utica rig count: 18 (Previous week: 19)  -1