Thursday, January 30, 2020

Permitting Picks Up in Utica Shale; Rig Count Holds at 11

WEEK ENDING 01/25/20

New permits issued last week: 11 (Previous week: 2)  +9
Total horizontal permits issued: 3184 (Previous week: 3184 +-0
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2711 (Previous week: 2711)  +-0
Total horizontal wells producing: 2434 (Previous week: 2431)  +3
Utica rig count: 11 (Previous week: 11)  +-0

Three Key Things to Know About Rolling Stone's Latest Oil, Natural Gas Hit Piece on TENORM

by Nicole Jacobs, Energy in Depth

Rolling Stone author Justin Nobel has been spending a lot of time in the Appalachian Basin recently, and not because some of the biggest bands in history will be touring here this year, as one would expect from the music magazine. Instead, Nobel has been conducting a tour of his own, amplifying “Keep It In the Ground” research and messaging, and writing his latest misleading hit piece on the oil and natural gas industry.
His latest article claims that the industry is knowingly exposing workers and communities to high levels of radiation through the produced water and solids that result from drilling. And while he peppers in statements from regulatory officials, the overall image he paints is a false one, of an unregulated industry, despite this being one of the most regulated industries in the country.
Here are three key things to keep in mind when reading the Rolling Stone article:
Fact #1: This isn’t the first time Rolling Stone or Justin Nobel have misled the public.
Rolling Stone suffered “a loss of reputation, journalistic credibility and $3 million,” when it was forced to retract and admit that a story it ran in 2015 was completely made up.
Similarly, Nobel’s and the magazine’s coverage on oil and natural gas – whether it was blaming infant deaths on drilling in Utahportraying pipelines as underregulated and unsafe, or misleadingly praising a compendium full of debunked research as a “new” “authoritative study,” among others –  has been high on KIITG rhetoric, but short on actual facts.
Fact #2: Multiple regulatory agencies have determined oil and natural gas activity is not a health concern.
Contrary to Nobel’s claims that radon and radiation have not been well-studied, a multitude of research has been conducted on both radon and technically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material, or TENORM.
To his credit, Nobel mentions a 2015 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection study that found there is little potential for harm to workers or the public from radiation exposure due to oil and gas development.” But Nobel included criticism of the report from Marvin Resnikoff, whose own research has been intensely scrutinized, including by the U.S. Geological Survey that said Resnikoff “relied on theoretical calculations utilizing limited data from geologic analogs.”
Nobel and Resnikoff criticized the PaDEP report for “ignor[ing] the well-documented risks posed by the inhalation or ingestion of radioactive dust,” but in fact, PaDEP’s study did consider inhalation in its study. Specifically as it pertains to one of Nobel’s major talking points, the spreading of brine (produced water) on roads, PaDEP found “limited potential” for people enjoying the outdoors to be exposed to radiation from this practice, explaining:
“The recreationist is an appropriate exposure scenario based on the remote location of the roads. A recreationist, such as a jogger or hunter, usually spends less time on the impacted area, e.g., two hours a day, three days a week, than a resident. However, a recreationist may have a higher inhalation rate than a resident. Recreational land use addresses exposure to people who spend a limited amount of time at or near a site while playing, fishing, hunting, hiking, or engaging in other outdoor activities.” (pg. 158)
Not only does the Rolling Stone article fail to include PaDEP’s findings on brine being used as a road de-icer and for dust control, but there’s also no mention of other state agencies’ findings. For instance, Ohio Department of Natural Resources has also been studying the application of brine on roads. ODNR spokesman Adam Schroeder recently told The Columbus Dispatch:
“The (Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil & Gas Resources Management) has collected brine samples from both brine hauler trucks and wells. These samples are helping the division to establish baseline radiological data on naturally occurring radioactive material in produced brine from different geological formations.”
“Recent models from both the Ohio Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection show that controlled application of brine containing naturally occurring radioactive material offers a negligible risk to human health.” (emphasis added)
Similarly, a 2015 West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection report found:
“Radioactive compound levels in landfill leachate are at similar levels at both landfills that accept drill cuttings, and landfills that don’t accept drill cuttings.”
“Drill cuttings from the Marcellus Shale formation contain radioactive compounds at levels higher than the overlying strata, and are likely contributing to radioactive compounds present in landfill leachate. However, radioactive compounds are found at landfills that don’t accept drill cuttings, therefore it can be expected that radioactive compounds present in landfill leachate, at landfills that accept drill cuttings, are also the result of other materials being accepted in the landfill.” ( emphasis added, 154)
Further, Nobel included criticism of the Pennsylvania report for “downplay[ing] the radioactive gas radon,” but ignores the WVDEP’s findings that:
Radon levels recorded are significantly below proposed federal drinking water standards.”
There is also no mention that New York Department of Environmental Conservation reached similar conclusions to PaDEP on TENORM and public health in 2013:
“Based on currently available information it is anticipated that cuttings and flowback water will not contain significant levels of naturally occurring radiological materials (NORM)…. Any potential worker-health or waste-disposal impacts related to concentrated NORM are already subject to controls under existing DOH and DEC regulations…with those measures in place, potential significant adverse impacts on human health from NORM exposure are unlikely.”
Separately, radon has also been studied extensively in Pennsylvania where homes historically have significant issues with the gas, including in areas well outside the Marcellus Shale region.
In 2016, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University released a report concluding “there is no support” to back up activists’ claims about cancer risks from radon in Marcellus Shale gas. This research was supported by the PaDEP’s citizen’s guide on radon that explains:
“Radon from soil gas is the main cause of radon problems” in homes in Pennsylvania.
Fact #3: The oil and natural gas industry is strictly regulated, including in how it manages solid waste and produced water.
There are strict regulations on how the drill cuttings and other solids that result from shale development are tested and disposed of. In Pennsylvania, for instance, Chapter 288 of Pennsylvania’s Residual Waste Landfills regulation regulates all solid waste and includes sections of the Radiation Protection Act, which specifically regulates disposal of drill cuttings into landfills. In addition to monitoring, these regulations even dictate specific areas of the landfill that can be used for materials releasing radiation:
“For noncaptive residual waste landfills, a designated area for vehicles for use in the event of the detection of waste containing radioactive material. The designated area shall, by location or shielding, protect the environment, facility staff and public from radiation originating in the vehicle. The Department’s ‘‘Guidance Document on Radioactivity Monitoring at Solid Waste Processing and Disposal Facilities,’’ Document Number 250-3100-001, describes various factors to consider in determining an appropriate designated area.”
Produced water is also strictly regulated and typically managed by recycling and reuse, disposal in injection wells or treated at facilities licensed to process the water. Importantly, approximately 90 percent of the brine produced in Pennsylvania is recycled and reused in the development of future natural gas wells. In Ohio, because of its more extensive network of injection wells, that is the more common form of management.
Notably, this isn’t the first time that Nobel has painted an image of Ohio’s injection wells being dangerous. EID took him to task in 2017 for similar claims, and the fact remains that the state’s injection well program is one of the best in the country, and has been described as a case study on best management practices. In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency evaluated Ohio’s compliance under the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, concluding that ODNR is running a “good quality program.” And the Groundwater Protection Council stated:
“Ohio is at the forefront of regulating Class II injection wells and is continuously advancing regulations of the UIC program. ODNR’s ongoing efforts provide the necessary protections to help ensure that Ohio’s underground drinking water resources are safe.”
The health and safety of its workers is a top priority for the oil and natural gas industry across the country. That’s a fact that continues to be demonstrated through in-depth trainings and procedures, the sole purpose of which is to protect the people whose work fuels the world. Nobel’s latest piece is one in a long line of biased imitations of investigative journalism that push a “Keep It In the Ground” narrative, while ignoring science.

Friday, January 24, 2020

2 New Permits Issued in Utica Shale Last Week

WEEK ENDING 01/18/20

New permits issued last week: 2 (Previous week: 4)  -2
Total horizontal permits issued: 3184 (Previous week: 3184 +-0
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2711 (Previous week: 2711)  +-0
Total horizontal wells producing: 2431 (Previous week: 2423)  +8
Utica rig count: 11 (Previous week: 11)  +-0

Documentary Stokes Fears, Prompts Residents to Speak Out Louder Against Belmont County Cracker Plant Plans

From The Times Leader:
For some of the nearly 50 people who turned out to view a documentary film screening, the film not only provided a new perspective about how widespread the plastic waste problem is worldwide — but it also validated their concerns about the proposed PTT Global Chemical America plant for Belmont County.

The Ohio Valley citizens group, Concerned Ohio River Residents, made the educational documentary prerelease screening of “The Story of Plastic” available Saturday afternoon at the Grave Creek Mound Historical Site theater in Moundsville. The group invited dozens of invited local “decision makers” and politicians in an effort to showcase the global plastic pollution crisis that the world now faces, according to Bev Reed, an organizer of the group. 
She said while the 90-minute film still has still not been released to the public by its creator, Deia Schlosberg, she is hopeful the film will be made available to the public as soon as possible. Reed said the film is “very eye opening,” and that the group members feel very fortunate to have access to an early viewing. 
“The Story of Plastic” focuses on exposing the truth behind the plastic pollution crisis, according to its creators. In the film, footage shot over three continents illustrates the ongoing catastrophe: fields full of garbage, heaps of trash; rivers and seas clogged with waste; and skies choked with the runoff from plastic production and recycling processes.
Read the rest of that article by clicking here.

The Columbus Dispatch editorial board added their voices to those who aren't thrilled about the potential impacts of the cracker plant as well:
As Ohio officials do all they can to make a proposed $5 billion petrochemical plant a reality in Belmont County, we hope they are equally determined — and able — to protect the Ohio Valley’s air, water and health. 
To people concerned about the environment, climate change and public health, the facility proposed by Thailand-based PTT Global Chemical America is a nightmare. To expect the powers that be to oppose the plant, however, is unrealistic. 
The word “gamechanging” is used to describe the economic effect it could have on an area of the state that has suffered for decades from the decline of coal. If plans come together, the plant would mean thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs at the plant. 
The so-called “cracker” plant would take the ethane found in natural gas — produced in abundance via fracking wells in the area — and break the molecules into smaller molecules of ethylene, the root chemical for many plastic products. 
And the jobs and the building wouldn’t stop with the cracker plant. Its demand for ethane would spur more drilling in the area. There would be processing facilities to separate the ethane from the natural gas, and storage for the ethane destined for the cracker plant. A company called Energy Storage Ventures has said it will begin construction this year on a project to store 2 million barrels of ethane, butane and propane in underground salt caverns near Clarington, Ohio.
Click here to read the rest of that editorial. 

Gulfport Energy to Pay $1.7 Million Penalty and Make Upgrades in Settlement With EPA

From The Oklahoman:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday it has reached an agreement to end an enforcement action against Gulfport Energy that accused the company of violating air emissions standards at 17 well pad locations it operates in eastern Ohio’s Utica Basin. 
EPA officials said the settlement, which includes an agreement by Gufport to pay a $1.7 million penalty, addresses Clean Air Act violations regulators assert they found at the locations during inspections they conducted in 2015. 
The company, investigators found, failed to capture and control emissions from storage vessels on the pads. 
It also failed to comply with associated inspection, record-keeping and reporting requirements related to operations at those locations.

The violations were issued in December 2016.
You can read the rest of this article by clicking here. 

Supreme Court Rejects Columbia Gas Storage Field Case

From Law360:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to review a Sixth Circuit ruling that a TC Energy Corp. unit didn’t need landowner permission to access an underground natural gas storage facility with a valid Federal Energy Regulatory Commission operating certificate. 
Landowners whose property sits atop Columbia Gas Transmission LLC’s storage field near Medina, Ohio, claimed the Sixth Circuit wrongly held in July that the Natural Gas Act doesn’t require companies that hold FERC certificates for storage fields to acquire the property they need for those fields. That means companies have the right to use that land without getting the go-ahead from landowners first, the appeals court said. 
In urging the Supreme Court to reject the landowners’ petition, Columbia argued that the dispute is a matter of state law, not the NGA, and that the landowners never even raised the federal law issue in the lower court. 
The dispute stretches back to 2013, when 29 landowners rejected a compensation offer from Columbia in relation to its Medina storage field, for which the company had a certificate of public convenience and necessity since 1958, according to the landowners’ Oct. 8 petition for writ of certiorari.
Read on by clicking here. 

Gemma Power Systems Wins Contract for $900 Million Gas-Fired Power Plant in Harrison County

From World Construction Network:
Gemma Power Systems, a subsidiary of Argan, has secured an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services contract from Harrison Power to build the 1.08GW Harrison Energy Center in Ohio, US.

Harrison Power’s parent firm EmberClear is developing the natural gas-fired power plant in Harrison County. Construction works are due to begin this year with commercial operations planned in the first quarter of 2023.

Being developed at a total cost of $900m, the 1.08GW Harrison Energy Center It will be located 50 miles west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the Village of Cadiz, Harrison County, Ohio.

The project will be constructed in the Harrison County Industrial Park on a 100-acre site allocated for a power plant. It is expected to create nearly 600 construction jobs and 30 permanent jobs.

EmberClear president and CEO Raj Suri said: “Harrison Energy Center will be a reliable, highly efficient world class power generating facility offering stability and cleaner electricity to the PJM power market. We look forward to working alongside Gemma and Mitsubishi to bring this significant project to completion.”

The county will build, own and operate all the water/wastewater pipelines in order to reduce capital expenditure and risk for the project. To minimise water usage, the power plant will use an air-cooled condensing system.
Click here to read more. 

WTRF also reported on this:

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

One Study Credits Shift from Coal to Natural Gas with Saving Lives as Another Warns of Higher Emissions

From a UC San Diego news release:
The decommissioning of coal-fired power plants in the continental United States has reduced nearby pollution and its negative impacts on human health and crop yields, according to a new University of California San Diego study. 
The findings published this week in Nature Sustainability use the U.S. transition in recent years from coal towards natural gas for electric power generation to study the local impacts of coal-fired unit shutdowns. While the shift from coal to natural gas has reduced carbon dioxide emissions overall, it has also changed local pollution levels at hundreds of areas around the country. In particular, the burning of coal creates particulate matter and ozone in the lower atmosphere—often experienced as “smog” —which can affect humans, plants and regional climate. These pollutants (aerosols, ozone and other compounds) from coal burning can wreak havoc on human health when inhaled, and also have damaging effects on plant life. They also alter local climate by blocking incoming sunlight. 
The author, Jennifer Burney, associate professor of environmental science at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy, combined data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on electric power generation with satellite and surface measurements from the EPA as well as NASA to gauge changes in local pollution before and after coal-fired unit shut-downs. She also studied changes in county-level mortality rates and crop yields using data from the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 
Burney found that between 2005 and 2016, the shutdown of coal-fired units saved an estimated 26,610 lives and 570 million bushels of corn, soybeans and wheat in their immediate vicinities. The inverse calculation, estimating the damages caused by coal plants left in operation over that same time period, suggests they contributed to 329,417 premature deaths and the loss of 10.2 billion bushels of crops, roughly equivalent to half of year’s typical production in the U.S.
Click here to read the whole release.

Meanwhile, from The Columbus Dispatch:
The fracking boom across the country has resulted in greenhouse gas emissions steadily climbing each year since the United States has become the largest producer of oil and gas in the world. 
As a result of the boom, there are plans over the next five years to build or extend 157 petroleum and natural gas drilling sites and chemical manufacturing and refinery plants across the country, according to federal records. 
That expansion will result in greenhouse gas emissions across the U.S. totaling 990.5 million tons per year by 2025, according to a study by the Environmental Integrity Project
The nonpartisan and nonprofit group, established in 2002 by former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency attorneys, said that’s the equivalent of 50 new coal-fired power plants. 
The emissions estimate includes the proposed Thailand-based PTT Global Chemical America ethane petrochemical plant in Belmont County. The so-called “cracker” plant, which would use natural gas and create ethylene, an ingredient used in plastics, would emit an estimated 1.785 million tons of greenhouse gases each year. 
“It’s company-supplied information. The big picture, especially for Appalachia — Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — is this facility would create demand for even more oil and gas extraction and kind of lock this region into that economy,” said Courtney Bernhardt, research director for the Environmental Integrity Project. “Right now, renewable sources of energy are available. And I know that this facility would be creating plastic, ultimately, but there are other ways to make plastic.”
Read the rest of that article by clicking here. 

It's with studies like that in mind that protesters are fighting to try and stop the proposed cracker plant, as reported by The Times Leader:
A potential ethane cracker plant proposed for Dilles Bottom is facing some opposition.

More than 30 people from communities such as Wheeling, Bridgeport, Moundsville, Shadyside and Weirton held signs and stationed themselves on both sides of W.Va. 2 at the Moundsville Plaza, located across the Ohio River from the proposed plant site. Many drivers honked horns as they passed, and some shouted encouragement and gave thumbs-up signs. 
PTT Global Chemical America and Daelim Industrial Corp., based in Thailand and South Korea, respectively, obtained an air permit-to-install and a modified wastewater discharge permit for the project in 2018. Environmental groups opposed to the project immediately challenged one of those permits, but that issue was resolved in September, when a settlement was announced. 
Vincent DeGeorge, representing the activist organization Concerned Ohio River Residents and president of Ohio Valley PEACE, said the protesters have environmental and health concerns. 
“We’re a group of local citizens who think the truth, all the information about this cracker plant, hasn’t come out, and we’re confident when that information comes out, the environmental concerns, the economic concerns, the health concerns, Ohio River residents will be convinced that this cracker plant is not the way to go, that there are much better alternatives,” he said. “(We’re) letting other people who have concerns about the cracker plant know that they’re not alone.”
That whole article can be read by clicking on this link. 

Columbia Gas Faces Opposition to Pipeline in Union County

From the Marysville Journal-Tribune:
The Union County Commissioners are filing an appeal to a project that would bring nearly five miles of gas line from Jerome Township and into Marysville. 
“While we are not so much opposed to what they are doing, we just don’t feel it goes far enough,” said Tim Hansley, Union County Administrator. 
In December, Columbia Gas submitted a Letter of Notification, indicating they intended to construct a 4.78 miles natural gas pipeline, known as the Marysville Connector, beginning at Watkins-California Road between U.S. 42 and Derio Road and ending on Industrial Parkway near Veyance Technologies. 
While Columbia Gas says the majority of the 12-inch natural gas main will be constructed within permanent private pipeline easements, paperwork from the company says it does not actually have any of those easements yet. In addition to the 4.78-mile length of the pipeline right-of-way, Columbia Gas says it will obtain land rights for staging areas that will be situated along the pipeline right-of-way and other areas needed during construction.
Click here to continue reading. 

Rig Count in Utica Shale Slips to 10 on Latest Report

WEEK ENDING 01/11/20

New permits issued last week: 4 (Previous week: 2)  +2
Total horizontal permits issued: 3184 (Previous week: 3182 +2
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2711 (Previous week: 2709)  +2
Total horizontal wells producing: 2423 (Previous week: 2423)  +-0
Utica rig count: 10 (Previous week: 11)  -1

ODNR Publishes First Well Activity Maps of 2020

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Rig Count and Total Permit Count in Utica Shale Continue to Decline

WEEK ENDING 01/04/20

New permits issued last week: 2 (Previous week: 2)  +-0
Total horizontal permits issued: 3182 (Previous week: 3187 -5
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2709 (Previous week: 2706)  +3
Total horizontal wells producing: 2423 (Previous week: 2422)  +1
Utica rig count: 11 (Previous week: 12)  -1

Friday, January 3, 2020

Ohio Supreme Court to Review Case in Fight to Overturn FirstEnergy Nuclear Bailout

From The Columbus Dispatch:
The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to rule on federal-court questions that could revive the failed referendum campaign seeking to repeal the ratepayer-financed House Bill 6 bailout of a pair of nuclear power plants in the state. 
U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus in Columbus ruled on Oct. 23 that Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts turned to the wrong court in its bid for additional days to gather more signatures for its petition drive to place a ballot issue before voters. 
Sargus sent the case to the state Supreme Court, which agreed Tuesday by a 4-0 vote to hear the lawsuit filed by opponents of the new law. 
Justices Judith French, Patrick Fischer and Patrick DeWine did not participate in the vote because they have conflicts of interest involving their past campaign managers having served roles in the referendum campaign. State appellate court judges would be appointed to replace them in hearing arguments. 
Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts had asked Sargus, in a suit against Secretary of State Frank LaRose, to grant it up to 38 additional days to gather signatures. The group argued that unconstitutional state laws and reviews denied it the full 90 days and thus access to the ballot.
Read the whole article by clicking here. 

ODNR Has the Money to Plug Abandoned Wells, Now Looks for Contractors to Take on the Work

From the Canton Repository:
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is still seeking contractors to plug the state’s backlog of orphan and idle wells. 
ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management wants to award up to $25 million in contracts to plug some 200 wells before the fiscal year ends in June. 
Contractors who wish to bid have until Jan. 20 to be certified through the state’s Department of Administrative Services. 
ODNR spokesman Adam Schroeder said the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management has been focused on enlarging the pool of contractors eligible to bid. 
“We certainly have budget dollars in the Orphan Well Program to plug more wells and there’s definitely an inventory of wells to be plugged,” Schroeder said. “So, the more contractors we can have bidding on these projects, the better.” 
Orphan wells are oil and gas wells that weren’t plugged properly in the past and don’t have an owner who could pay to have them plugged now. The wells are health and environmental hazards because they can leak oil, natural gas and brine, and even cause explosions when natural gas collects in a building near a leaking well. 
Orphan wells in Ohio have been found under a school, next to houses, in farm fields and even under a reservoir. ODNR has identified nearly 1,000 orphan wells in 71 counties. (Stark has seven while Summit has nine, Carroll has 13, Wayne has 10 and Tuscarawas has three.)
Find out more by clicking here. 

Court Ruling May Lead to Sales Tax Refunds for Ohio Frackers

From JDSupra:
The Tenth District Ohio Court of Appeals recently applied a statutory amendment clarifying the oil & gas exemption for Ohio sales & use tax retroactively. Interestingly, while this appeal was pending at the Board of Tax Appeals, the legislature amended the statute to clarify the scope of the exemption for fracking equipment. Although legislation is generally applied prospectively, this amendment was considered remedial and expressly stated that it clarified existing law and applied retroactively, including to current appeals. R.C. 5739.02(B)(42)(q). Stingray Pressure Pumping, LLC v. Tax Commr. of Ohio, 2019-Ohio-5198. This decision opens up refund opportunities for taxpayers in the oil & gas industry, even those currently appealing an assessment. 
The particular issue in this case was whether a sales tax exemption applied to certain equipment used by Stingray Pressure Pumping, LLC in the production of crude oil and natural gas by fracking. The BTA initially denied exemption for equipment used to mix liquids and materials before being pumped into wells. Under previous case law, this type of property was taxable since it was considered adjunct to the drilling process, rather than used directly in the production of oil and gas.[1]
Read more by clicking here. 

Utica Shale Permits and Wells Drilled Totals Have Declined 3 Weeks in a Row

WEEK ENDING 12/21/19

New permits issued last week: 2 (Previous week: 15)  -13
Total horizontal permits issued: 3192 (Previous week: 3205 -13
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2710 (Previous week: 2725)  -15
Total horizontal wells producing: 2422 (Previous week: 2422)  +-0
Utica rig count: 13 (Previous week: 12)  +1

WEEK ENDING 12/28/19

New permits issued last week: 2 (Previous week: 2)  +-0
Total horizontal permits issued: 3187 (Previous week: 3192 -5
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2706 (Previous week: 2710)  -4
Total horizontal wells producing: 2422 (Previous week: 2422)  +-0
Utica rig count: 12 (Previous week: 13)  -1

Ohio AG's Vendetta Against Rover Pipeline Hits Another Legal Snag

From KDKA News:
An Ohio appeals court this week upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the state against the builders of a natural gas pipeline over spills of drilling fluid into wetlands during construction in 2017. 
A three-judge panel for the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Canton said the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency lacked the authority to enforce regulations against Rover Pipeline LLC because it failed to act within a year’s time on the company’s 2016 application for a clean water certificate. 
The $4.3 billion Rover Pipeline consists of twin 42-inch high-pressure lines that span 713 miles (1,147 kilometers) miles from northern West Virginia into Michigan. They are capable of carrying 3.25 billion cubic feet (92 million cubic meters) of natural gas per day, an amount that can serve the needs of 30,000 homes for a year. The pipelines began carrying gas in August 2017. 
The project developed by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners drew the attention of the Ohio EPA when construction crews spilled 2 million gallons (7.6 million liters) of non-toxic clay-based lubricant into wetlands as it installed pipe beneath the Tuscarawas River in northern Ohio’s Stark County. 
Ohio proposed a $2.3 million fine against Rover Pipeline LLC and sued the company and its contractors in November 2017, saying Rover officials were unwilling to engage in settlement talks.
You can read the rest of this article by clicking here. 

Risberg Pipeline Goes Into Service

From the Star Beacon:
Dozens of people gathered in North Kingsville on Friday to celebrate the ribbon cutting for a new natural gas pipeline. 
Seven people cut the ribbon on the Risberg Pipeline, which runs from Meadville, Pennsylvania, to North Kingsville. The pipeline, which was expected to cost $86 million, is comprised of 30 miles of existing pipeline and 28 miles of new pipeline, 12 of which was built in Ashtabula County. 
“We have known for a long time that this part of Ohio was in need of natural gas supply, to support not only existing businesses, but also new business opportunities,” Oivind Risberg, owner and CEO of RH energytrans, said to the assembled crowd.

“I’m very happy that we spent the last few years 100 percent dedicated to get gas in here, because I got tired of listening to the need for natural gas supply when we have so much of it underneath us,” Risberg said. 
Risberg praised the state of Ohio, and how welcoming the state is to businesses.
Click right here to continue reading. 

Chevron Has Begun Removing Itself from the Appalachian Basin

From the Pittsburgh Business Times:
Chevron is getting a quick start on its plans to divest its assets in the region.

A few days after announcing it was divesting of its assets in the various shale plays of the Appalachian region, the California energy giant closed on selling a 38.5 acre parcel once expected to be the new home of a regional office campus to Green Tree-based Burns Scalo Real Estate Services.

The sale of the property closed late this week after Chevron (NYSE:CVX) first opted to drop its headquarters campus plan in June 2016 when it listed the property for sale with Cushman & Wakefield Grant Street Associates.
Jim Scalo, president and CEO of Burns Scalo, plans to revive the kind of ambitious office development plans which motivated Chevron to buy the property and others in the first place.

Burns Scalo paid a total of $8 million for the Chevron site as well as a three-acre former Gander Mountain store that fronts onto MarketPlace Boulevard and is considering an early strategy of a 500,000-square-foot office park on the site.

"The reason we bought this is because we now sit with 41 acres of land that has infrastructure that’s pad ready in the largest submarket for suburban office space in the region," he said.
Click here to read more. 

Scientists Estimate That Belmont County Well Blowout Released a Staggering Amount of Methane

From CNN:
In February 2018, a blowout at a natural gas well in rural Ohio forced nearby residents to evacuate, but the incident received little national attention at the time. 
A new analysis of satellite data shows that the leak was far more significant than previously thought. 
In just 20 days, the damaged well platform spewed an estimated 60 kilotons of the potent planet-warming gas methane into the atmosphere, scientists say. 
That's more methane than European countries like France, Spain and Norway release in a year. 
It appears the peak emission rate was twice as great as the second largest leak ever measured in the United States, the scientists say. 
The discovery was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and was made by a group of Dutch and American scientists, who used new satellite technology to detect and measure the size of the leak during a routine global survey.
Read the whole article by clicking right here. 

Ohio Survey Finds That 8 in 10 Support Oil and Gas Development

From the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program:
Eight out of 10 Ohio voters support natural gas and oil development and say the industry is important to their community, and nearly two thirds of Southeastern Ohio voters oppose banning development in the Ohio Valley, according to newly released public polling sponsored by the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP). 
A survey of 400 registered voters in eight southeastern counties found strong approval across all age groups and political affiliations for Utica and Marcellus Shale development. Six in ten voters support continued development in and around the Wayne National Forest, according to the poll conducted by FTI Consulting. 
The results align with those from a statewide OOGEEP-commissioned poll conducted earlier this year by Saperstein Associates, which found six out of 10 voters have positive impressions of the natural gas and oil industry. The statewide poll of 2,102 voters found at least 80 percent of Ohioans agree that the natural gas and oil industry creates local jobs, eases poverty, saves consumers money, drives local manufacturing and provides local workers with education and training. 
“Ohioans understand how safe and environmentally responsible shale development is creating local, well-paying jobs and generating new opportunities for manufacturing and economic growth,” said OOGEEP Executive Director Rhonda Reda. “We heard that overwhelmingly both statewide and in the southeast region, where 83 percent of respondents agree the natural gas and oil industry is producing energy in cleaner and more efficient ways.” 
Efforts to ban shale development have little favor in southeastern Ohio, where 63 percent oppose such a policy. In the Wayne National Forest, 64 percent of voters support allowing private landowners to continue leasing land and mineral rights for natural gas and oil production.
Click here to read this whole release. 

Gulfport Energy Begins to Sell Off Some Utica Shale Assets

From a Gulfport Energy press release:
Gulfport Energy Corporation (NASDAQ: GPOR) (“Gulfport” or the “Company”) announced today that the Company has entered into agreements to divest certain non-core assets and provided an update on the continuation of discounted debt repurchases.

Non-Core Asset Divestitures 
Gulfport recently entered into a definitive agreement to divest its water infrastructure assets across its SCOOP position to a third-party water service provider. Gulfport expects to receive $50 million in cash upon closing and has an opportunity to earn potential additional incentive payments in excess of $50 million over the next 15 years, subject to Gulfport’s ability to meet certain thresholds which will be driven by, among other things, the Company’s future development program and future water production levels. The agreement contains no minimum volume commitments. The Company anticipates closing the transaction during January 2020. Scotiabank served as financial advisor to Gulfport on the divestiture of its water infrastructure assets. 
Separately, Gulfport also recently entered into an agreement to divest certain non-operated interests in the Utica Shale for approximately $29.0 million in cash. The Company anticipates closing the transaction prior to year-end 2019.

In addition, the previously announced sale of certain overriding royalty interests associated with assets Gulfport held in the Bakken closed on December 11, 2019 and, net of purchase price adjustments, Gulfport received approximately $7 million of total proceeds.
Read the whole release by clicking here. 

Study Finds That PA Economy Would Be Heavily Damaged by Fracking Ban

From Times Online:
A ban on hydraulic fracturing would hit Pennsylvania’s economy hard, according to a study released Thursday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 
Researchers predict the state would lose roughly 609,000 jobs and $261 billion in gross domestic product by 2025 if lawmakers were to issue an outright ban on fracking. The average Pennsylvania consumer would see his cost of living increase by $4,654, while household income would decrease by $114 billion by 2025, according to the study. 
A number of Democratic presidential candidates, including front-runners Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and U.S Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, say they’d eliminate the process of fracking if elected in 2020. This has alarmed industry and labor leaders, although environmental groups remain firm in their opposition to the practice — arguing it increases the risk of contaminated groundwater, air pollution, gas explosions and man-made earthquakes. 
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, recently introduced a resolution reaffirming that presidents cannot unilaterally ban fracking on state and private land. 
Pennsylvania’s gas output has grown substantially in recent years as companies tap into the region’s immense Marcellus and Utica shale reserves. Natural gas is now responsible for roughly 35 percent of Pennsylvania’s power generation.
Click here to read more. 

Columbia Gas Proposes $135 Million Pipeline Expansion in Ohio

From Kallanish Energy:
Local natural gas distribution company Columbia Gas is proposing construction of a new $135 million pipeline to be built in central Ohio, Kallanish Energy reports. 
The company says a new supply of gas is needed in order to keep providing reliable service to old and new customers in the region. 
The Columbus Northern Loop project is designed to bring natural gas from pipelines east of Ohio's capital city of Columbus, where supplies are plentiful, to areas north and west of Columbus. 
A company spokesperson told WBNS TV-10 in Columbus the project is in the early planning stages. Members of the public will have the chance to review the plans and offer input that will help decide the final route.
Click here to read the rest of that article.

Columbia Gas has set up a webpage with details about the project.  Click here to check that out. 

Utica and Marcellus Natural Gas Production Likely to Slow in 2020

From WSKG:
The region’s Marcellus and Utica shale gas producers had a banner year in 2019. Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia together accounted for one-third of the nation’s natural gas production. But a likely slow-down is ahead in 2020. 
Marcellus and Utica shale drillers produced 30 billion cubic feet of gas in 2019. The increased supply has driven down prices to about $2 per million British thermal units. Compare that to the previous decade, when gas was selling at about $8 per million Btu. 
Penn State geologist Terry Engelder first reported on the abundance of shale gas in 2008. 
“These companies made their investments, anticipating six- to eight- to 10-dollar gas,” Engelder said. “No one ever dreamed it would stabilize at two-dollar gas. There’s just so much of it, particularly here in Pennsylvania, that the companies can’t sell it.”
Read more by clicking here.