ShaleOhio ShaleOhio Bricker & Eckler LLP

 

    

May 22, 2015

Report: Inexpensive natural gas gives edge to U.S. plastics industry
 

A new report says the nation's shale gas fields have given the United States a competitive advantage in the plastics industry, helping to spur $130 billion in new capital investments, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. The newspaper says the report by the American Chemistry Council found that inexpensive supplies of natural gas are tipping the favor of the plastics industry toward the United States because plastics producers in North America primarily use natural gas as a feedstock, while other parts of the world use oil. The council said it is tracking billions of dollars in investments in new manufacturing capacity tied to that price advantage, including nearly $25 billion in the production of polyethylene. For more, read the full story. The American Chemistry Council report can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

May 21, 2015

Oil and natural gas producers to face another credit-line crunch
 

A wave of credit-line reductions the past two months has left oil and natural gas producers scrambling to raise cash to keep drilling, or in some cases, to pay down overdrawn loans, reports BloombergBusiness. The news service says the clock is ticking again on more credit reductions when banks will recalculate borrowing bases -- which are tied to the value of oil -- in October. Mid-Con Energy Partners LP Chief Financial Officer Mike Peterson told Bloomberg that he estimates the oil industry faces potential credit-line cuts of 10-20% in October. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

May 20, 2015

Expert says oil and gas industry not in a panic over low prices
 

American Petroleum Institute Chief Economist John Felmy says the fall in commodity prices has not sparked a panic in the oil and natural gas industry, including in Ohio, reports the Canton Repository. Times have been worse for the industry, Felmy said at an oil and gas forum in Canton, Ohio, and development of U.S. shale formations makes the current situation different than past declines. The United States now ranks as the world’s leading producer of natural gas and is on its way to becoming the world’s top oil producer, he said, adding that Ohio has more rigs drilling shale wells today than it did five years ago despite retrenchment by some companies. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

May 20, 2015

Thai company looks for third partner on ‘cracker’ project in Ohio
 

Thailand's PTT Global Chemical PCL hopes to sign a deal in the second half of 2015 with Japan's Marubeni Corp. and a still-to-be-named third partner to invest in a $5.7 billion petrochemical complex in eastern Ohio, reports Reuters. The news service says a PTT Global executive told reporters that the company is looking to select one of five potential partners that are interested in the ethane “cracker” project that was announced in April. (See our April 23 blog, “Thai company looks at building ‘cracker” facility in eastern Ohio.”) PTT will hold more than a 50 percent ownership stake in the project, according to Reuters, while stakes for Marubeni and a third partner are under negotiation. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

May 19, 2015

Columbia Pipeline Group to spend $10 billion in Ohio and neighboring states
 

Columbia Pipeline Group plans to spend $10 billion in the next five years on natural gas projects centered in Ohio and its neighboring states, reports Columbus Business First. In outlining its plans, the new company, which will separate from parent company NiSource Inc. on July 1, said it has "significant scale (and an) unparalleled strategic footprint" anchored over the Utica and Marcellus shale plays. Business First says Houston-based Columbia Pipeline has 15 natural gas-projects planned for operation by 2020, many of which will crisscross Ohio. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

May 19, 2015

Study: Pennsylvania severance tax would reduce well development and jobs
 

A new study by the Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania (APIP) says a severance tax on natural gas production proposed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf would mean fewer new wells, less gas production and lost jobs in the state over the next decade, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The study found that the proposed severance tax would result in 1,364 fewer wells, nearly 18,000 fewer oil and gas-related jobs and 2.86 trillion cubic feet less natural gas being produced by 2025 compared to projected levels without the tax. A spokesman for the governor told the Post-Gazette that the study is “misleading and its conclusions have no merit.” For more, read the full story. The APIP study can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

May 18, 2015

Oil and gas association challenges new federal rail rules
 

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is challenging new federal rules to improve the safety of oil-by-train transportation, opening the first legal fight in a two-year effort to reduce the risks of moving hazardous materials on railroads, reports the New York Times. The newspaper says API has petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to block key provisions of the rules, which were unveiled in May by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. According to the Times, API’s petition, American Petroleum Institute v. United States, D.C. Cir., Case No. 15-01131, seeks to block a requirement that older tank cars be retrofitted with new safety features designed to prevent them from spilling oil or rupturing in the event of a derailment. API also challenges a requirement that tank cars be equipped with new electronic braking systems or face operational restrictions. For more read, the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Oil & Gas Litigation   |  Permalink

 

May 18, 2015

Waterless fracking yields disappointing results at well in eastern Ohio
 

Columbus Business First reports that the waterless hydraulic fracturing method tested at a well in eastern Ohio has produced disappointing results, “dealing a blow to the innovative technology” that could reduce water use in oil and gas operations in the Utica shale play. The $22 million test well, drilled by EV Energy Partners LP and eight other companies in Tuscarawas County, produced half the amount of oil as a nearby well “fracked” by using a lot of water, EV Energy Chairman John Walker told analysts in an earnings call. Additionally, the Akron Beacon Journal reported that EV Energy may form a joint venture with other companies to develop the crude oil window in the Utica shale play. For more, read the full Business First story. The Beacon Journal story can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

May 15, 2015

Federal judge rules pipeline can cross holdout properties in Pennsylvania
 

A federal judge has ruled that the company building a 124-mile pipeline to transport natural gas from the Marcellus shale play to New York can build across seven Pennsylvania properties whose owners had not agreed to provide access to their land, reports Farm and Dairy. In Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC v. A Permanent Easement for 1.84 Acres, M.D. Pa. Case No. 3:14-cv-02458-MEM, Judge Malachy Mannion of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania held that Constitution Pipeline Company (“Constitution”) has the right of “immediate entry and access onto the subject property” because, among other things, it possesses a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Court further held that: (i) Constitution “has a substantive right to condemn the subject property”; (ii) Constitution “will suffer immediate and irreparable harm” without immediate possession of the property; (iii) the landowners “will receive just compensation” and, thus, “will not suffer significant harm”; and (iv) “the public interest will be best served” by granting Constitution access to the properties. Constitution was ordered to post a $1.6 million bond prior to accessing the properties.


 
Posted by D. Gerken in  Oil & Gas Litigation  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

May 15, 2015

Noble Energy’s $2 billion deal may signal start of mergers and acquisitions
 

Noble Energy Inc. said it will acquire Rosetta Resources Inc. for about $2 billion in stock in what Reuters reports is the first significant deal among U.S. shale oil producers following a steep fall in global crude prices. The news service says the nearly 50 percent drop in crude prices since June 2014 has raised expectations for months about a wave of mergers and acquisitions in the oil and gas industry, and the acquisition by Noble may be a precedent for other companies plotting shale deals. The Rosetta Resources acquisition will give Noble Energy, which is active in the Utica and Marcellus shale plays, entry into the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin shale fields in Texas. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

May 14, 2015

U.S. oil producers hedge bets by locking in prices for 2016 and beyond
 

U.S. oil companies are rushing to take advantage of the rebound in oil markets by locking in prices for 2016 and beyond as they safeguard future supplies and possibly pave the way for a rebound in production, Reuters reports. The news service says the flurry of hedging activity in the past month will help sustain producers' revenues even if oil markets tumble again. That is bad news for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which is counting on low prices to stunt the rapid rise of U.S. shale and other competitors, according to Reuters. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

May 14, 2015

XTO Energy looks to expand gas processing plant in western Pennsylvania
 

XTO Energy is looking at expanding in Butler County in western Pennsylvania where it is planning to build a second natural gas processing plant at its Penn Cryo facility, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. The newspaper says the plant would be capable of processing up to 125 million cubic feet of gas per day and double the facility's current capacity. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

May 13, 2015

Magnum Hunter looks to sell some Ohio leases to raise cash
 

Oil and natural gas producer Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. wants to sell $450 million of its Ohio lease holdings in the Utica shale play, reports Columbus Business First. According to the newspaper, the Houston-based company said it is negotiating a joint venture in which it would sell some of its undeveloped and unproven Utica acreage to provide cash for future capital expenses. Business First says the move is one of five initiatives that Magnum Hunter is undertaking to improve its liquidity. For more, read the full story. More stories about Magnum Hunter can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

May 13, 2015

MarkWest may need more capacity to serve Utica, Marcellus shale plays
 

MarkWest Energy Partners, the predominant natural gas processor in the Utica and Marcellus shale plays, has 19 capital projects on the books but may need more to serve producers in those gas-rich areas, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times. Citing comments made by MarkWest Chairman and CEO Frank Semple during a first quarter earnings call, the newspaper says the company is evaluating the need for additional fractionation capacity to keep up with development in the Utica and Marcellus region. MarkWest already operates gas processing facilities in eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. For more, read the full story. More stories about MarkWest can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  Pennsylvania  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

May 12, 2015

Buoyed by efficient operations, Chesapeake looks for more Ohio acreage
 

Chesapeake Energy Corp. is looking for opportunities to take on more acreage in Ohio, believing it can drill the land more efficiently than its rivals, reports Columbus Business First. The newspaper says executives at the Oklahoma City-based company, a top driller in eastern Ohio’s Utica shale play, have hyped Chesapeake’s operating efficiency, especially in Ohio, where a third-party researcher said it the most-efficient driller by 40 percent. Business First says Chesapeake wants to use that operating advantage to pursue mergers and acquisitions. For more, read the full story. More stories about Chesapeake can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

May 12, 2015

U.S. drillers, refiners are at odds over oil export ban
 

The drop in oil prices is opening a rift in the U.S. petroleum industry over whether to end a circa-1970s federal ban on most exports of oil pumped from U.S. wells, reports BloombergBusiness. The news service says drillers want the restrictions to end in the face of a 40 percent decline in oil prices over the past year, but refiners enjoying a surge in profits from the cheap oil want to keep the export ban in place. Bloomberg says both sides are making their case through stepped-up lobbying, advertising campaigns, congressional hearings, think-tank studies and social media, including Twitter. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

May 11, 2015

Chevron looks to sell more Marcellus shale acreage in Pennsylvania
 

The Pittsburgh Business Times reports that Chevron Corp.'s Appalachia business unit is continuing to restructure its operations, which includes putting about 11,700 acres in the Marcellus shale play in Pennsylvania on the market. The newspaper says that according to a listing on EnergyNet, Chevron is accepting sealed bids on the acreage in Clearfield and northern Cambria counties until May 21. In February, Chevron listed for sale about 15,600 acres in Cambria, Blair and Bedford counties in Pennsylvania. (See our February 10, 2015 blog, “Report: Chevron looking to sell acreage in Marcellus shale play.”) For more, read the full Business Times story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

May 11, 2015

Low prices drive energy companies to terminate drilling contracts
 

As commodity prices remain low, oil and natural gas companies are spending millions to terminate drilling contracts, reports Columbus Business First. The newspaper says the latest example in the Utica and Marcellus shale plays comes from Denver-based Antero Resources Corp., which recently reported it spent $9 million in the first quarter of 2015 to delay or cancel drilling contracts. Business First also says that Whiting Petroleum Corp., the biggest oil producer in North Dakota, said it paid almost $27 million to end drilling rig contracts. For more, read the full story. More stories about Antero Resources can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  United States   |  Permalink

 

May 08, 2015

'Monster well' draws attention to Pennsylvania’s Utica shale play
 

High production rates for natural gas wells in Pennsylvania’s Utica shale formation -- the lesser known cousin of Marcellus shale -- have been raising eyebrows in recent months, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. That includes Range Resources’ “monster well” in Washington County with an initial flow rate in December that was the best ever in the Appalachian Basin, according to the newspaper. The Post-Gazette says drilling activity in the Utica play is generally focused in eastern Ohio where “wet gas” is plentiful, but some operators in Pennsylvania have reported remarkable production results for “dry gas” — mostly methane — from wells hundreds of miles east of the heart of the Utica play in Ohio. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

May 08, 2015

Lower costs for hydraulic fracturing may allow companies to keep drilling
 

U.S. oil and natural gas companies have pushed down costs for hydraulic fracturing faster than expected, and if the trend holds, it could allow drillers to keep working in oilfields that just months ago looked uncompetitive after the oil price crash, according to Reuters. The news service reports that oil and gas producers are insisting on steep price cuts from oilfield service companies that provide everything from drilling rigs to hydraulic fracturing. In fourth-quarter earnings calls, oil and gas operators were looking for price cuts of about 20 percent for such services, but Reuters says the savings appear to be steeper, especially on hydraulic fracturing costs. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

May 07, 2015

Marathon Petroleum to boost size of condensate pipeline in Ohio
 

Marathon Petroleum Corporation's planned Ohio condensate pipeline will be able to move more than five times as much of the super-light crude as initially estimated as the company aims to expand its service to more refineries, reports The Gulf Today, a newspaper in the United Arab Emirates. Marathon said the 49-mile pipeline from southeast Ohio to a tank farm near the company’s oil refinery in Canton, Ohio, will be 16 inches in diameter, twice the originally planned 8 inches. The Gulf Today says the bigger pipeline will be able to move 180,000 barrels per day of condensate, up from 35,000 barrels per day, in the Utica shale play “where output of the super-light form of crude is prevalent.” For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

May 06, 2015

Analysis: Oil at $65 a barrel would ease ‘fracklog’ of U.S. crude
 

BloombergBusiness reports that oil prices need to recover to $65 a barrel for U.S. drillers to tap a pent-up supply locked in shale wells and unleash more crude on commodity markets. Dipping into this “fracklog” would add 500,000 barrels a day of oil to the market by the end of 2016, Bloomberg Intelligence said in an analysis. Bloomberg also says that the number of wells waiting to be hydraulically fractured has ballooned as companies wait for their drilling costs to drop. That could slow the recovery of oil prices if drillers quickly finish wells at the first sign of higher prices. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

May 06, 2015

WPX Energy inks $200 million deal to sell Marcellus shale assets
 

WPX Energy Inc. has signed a $200 million agreement to sell assets in the Marcellus shale play to an undisclosed buyer, reports the Denver Business Journal. The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company said in a release that the sale includes various long-term natural gas purchase and sales agreements along with 135 million British Thermal Units per day of transportation capacity on Transco’s Northeast Supply Link project. WPX had also sold $300 million worth of assets in the Marcellus region earlier this year. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

May 05, 2015

Bricker analysis: More than $6 billion invested in Ohio oil and gas projects since last fall
 

Ohio’s oil and natural gas industry continues to invest billions in new projects despite a downturn that has led to cutbacks in jobs and drilling rigs in the state, reports Columbus Business First. The newspaper says that Bricker & Eckler LLP’s new “Shale Economic Development Overview” for spring 2015 finds that investment in oil and gas projects in Ohio has risen about $6 billion since last fall. In total, more than $28 billion in projects have been announced since Bricker began tracking such developments in October 2013. Business First says that oil and gas exploration and production activity in eastern Ohio is down from a year ago but most other portions of the sector, especially pipelines, are going forward. “Even though there’s been kind of a pause button hit on the E&P side, the infrastructure is still going full-steam ahead,” Bricker & Eckler attorney Matt Warnock, chair of the firm’s oil and gas industry group, told the newspaper. For more, read the full story. The Bricker & Eckler shale overview can be found here.
 


 
Posted by J. Bell in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

May 05, 2015

Improvements by drillers in Marcellus shale play drive up natural gas supply
 

Major improvements by natural gas exploration and production companies, including ones operating in the Marcellus shale play, have allowed them to continue to drill profitably in a period of depressed prices but have also added to the glut of natural gas and put more pressure on prices, reports Platts, an energy news site. "What's happening is that we continue to get better and get more production per rig," Kyle Mork, president of Energy Corporation of America, said at an energy conference in Houston. Platts says that natural gas production in the Marcellus region has increased eightfold since 2010 “due to a combination of the play's vast resource base, industry-leading production costs and continued efficiency gains by operators.” For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  Pennsylvania  United States  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

May 05, 2015

Ohio appeals court rules in favor of Chesapeake and Statoil in lease dispute
 

Ohio’s Seventh District Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Chesapeake Appalachia LLC and Statoil USA Onshore Properties Inc. in a dispute with landowners over the extension of mineral rights leases in Columbiana County, Ohio, reports Farm and Dairy. According to the newspaper, at issue was alleged ambiguity in the language of lease extensions for acreage that Range Resources had assigned to Chesapeake and Statoil in December 2011. In Patrick R. Kenney et al. vs. Chesapeake Appalachia LLC et al., Seventh App. Dist. Case No. 14 CO 24, the landowners appealed a decision by the Columbiana County Court of Common Pleas that granted summary judgment in favor of Chesapeake and Statoil. Farm and Dairy says that the appellants “argued that the renewal clause did not create a legally binding offer, as required for an option, because there was no certainty as to the terms of the extension.” But the Seventh District Court of Appeals rejected that argument, along with three others, in upholding the lower court’s decision. For more, read the full Farm and Dairy story.
 


 
Posted by D. Gerken in  Ohio  Oil & Gas Litigation   |  Permalink

 

May 04, 2015

Chesapeake agrees to pay $25 million to settle lease dispute in Michigan
 

Chesapeake Energy Corp. has agreed to a $25 million civil settlement with the state of Michigan to settle claims that the Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas producer conspired with another energy company to fix bids on oil and gas lease sales in 2010, reports Platts, an energy news site. Citing a news release from the office of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, Platts says the settlement resolves allegations that Chesapeake "had conspired with Calgary-based Encana Oil & Gas to avoid bidding wars against each other in Michigan public auctions for oil and gas leases that caused lease prices to plummet in October 2010.” Chesapeake did not respond to a request for comment from Platts. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Oil & Gas Litigation   |  Permalink

 

May 04, 2015

Trans Energy hit with $600,000 fine for violations in West Virginia
 

Oil and natural gas exploration company Trans Energy Inc. has been put on two years of probation and ordered to pay fines totaling $600,000 for violations of the Clean Water Act in connection with its drilling activity in West Virginia, reports WDTV in Bridgeport, West Virginia. Citing a new release from the office of William Ihlenfeld, II, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, the television station says that Trans Energy discharged materials such as rock, sand, soil and stone into streams in Marshall County to build large impoundments to supply water to nearby natural gas well sites. The release also said that Trans Energy “failed to properly train and supervise its employees and relied upon the unsubstantiated representations of a nearby property owner when determining whether environmental laws were being followed.” For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

May 01, 2015

Economist says shifting landscape could reverse oil industry bust
 

The factors that led to the bust in the nation's oil and natural gas industry could just as easily switch, sending oil prices upward again, John Felmy, chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute, told the Denver Business Journal. Felmy listed several factors that led to the downturn, including rising U.S. oil production during the last five years and the international market becoming glutted with oil in 2014. According to the Business Journal, Felmy declined to forecast where oil prices are headed, but said “for the reasons (prices) came down, they can go back up just as quickly. What will OPEC do? Will there be hurricanes (that shut down production)?” Allowing exports of U.S. crude oil could also change the global supply-demand equation and affect prices, Felmy said. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

May 01, 2015

Southwestern starts drilling on new acreage in Pennsylvania and West Virginia
 

Southwestern Energy Co. has drilled its first five wells on its new Appalachia acreage as the company continues to integrate assets it acquired from Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Statoil in 2014, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. Citing Southwestern’s first-quarter earnings statement, the newspaper says the Houston-based company is now operating in southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia as a result of those acquisitions. (See our January 6, 2015 blog, “Southwestern Energy closes deals in Marcellus, Utica shale plays.”) In addition to drilling the new wells, Southwestern completed four others, which are to be put into service during the second quarter of this year. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Apr 30, 2015

Energy companies trying to ease funding squeeze in oil-price slump
 

Energy companies trying to head off a potential funding squeeze are getting a second chance in the bond market, allowing them to keep drilling as they seek to weather the oil price slump, reports BloombergBusiness. For example, the news site says Halcon Resources Corp., which is run by one of the architects of the U.S. shale boom, recently sold $700 million of bonds that pay junk yields while pledging assets to back the debt. Energy firms are getting a lifeline through such bond sales, according to Bloomberg, as banks shrink credit lines that are tied to the value of oil reserves. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 30, 2015

Geological Survey issues maps on seismic events in oil and natural gas areas
 

The New York Times reports that the United States Geological Survey has released its first comprehensive assessment of the link between seismic events and oil and natural gas operations. According to the Times, the Geological Survey has identified and mapped 17 regions where tremors have occurred, noting that Oklahoma is by far the state with the most seismic events. The report also mapped parts of eight other states from Lake Erie to the Rocky Mountains. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 29, 2015

Oil expert: Crude prices are headed ‘all over the place’
 

Oil historian and economist Daniel Yergin said in an interview with BloombergBusiness that the price of crude oil is headed “all over the place.” According to the news service, Yergin, vice chairman of IHS Inc., said the much-debated shape of the oil price curve will take the form of a “W” as crude is whipsawed by mixed signs from a rattled U.S. shale boom as Saudi Arabia refuses to balance a global supply glut. He also indicated that the fate of world oil markets is largely in the hands of myriad U.S. wildcatters, all with different strategies and an unusual ability to respond quickly to changed circumstances in the energy sector. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 29, 2015

Xcoal Energy plans to tap natural gas from Marcellus shale region
 

Xcoal Energy & Resources LLC, the largest exporter of U.S. coal, is expanding into the natural gas business as the world’s appetite for the cleaner-burning fuel grows at coal’s expense, reports BloombergBusiness. The news service says that Xcoal Founder Ernie Thrasher is starting XLNG Energy & Resources, which plans to begin exporting liquefied natural gas no later than 2018. Bloomberg says the company will focus on selling gas from the Marcellus shale region that includes the historically coal-rich states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Xcoal’s move comes as cheaper gas and tighter clean-air regulations shrink coal consumption in power plants. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  Pennsylvania  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Apr 28, 2015

Expert says energy sector in need of new breed of executives
 

Reuters reports that a Houston-based leadership consultant is saying the energy sector will need a "new breed" of executive who innovates in real-time to effectively navigate through the crude oil price collapse and the industry transformation that is expected to follow. The oil price crash represents for some "a great chance to seize on the crisis and turn it into an opportunity," Les Csorba, a partner with Heidrick & Struggles, told Reuters. He said that as baby-boomer oil executives near retirement, their replacements need to abandon the notion that production growth should be pursued at any cost, a mentality that dominated the sector before drilling for oil and natural gas took off in North America's shale formations. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 28, 2015

OPEC says its price war is driving U.S. producers out of business
 

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) says the demand for oil will rise during 2015 because the cartel is winning its price war against U.S. shale producers by driving them out of business, reports Time magazine. “Higher global refinery runs, driven by increased [summer] seasonal demand, along with the improvement in refinery margins, are likely to increase demand for crude oil over the coming months,” OPEC said in its “Monthly Market Report” issued April 16. According to Time, the OPEC report also said U.S. shale producers are starting to feel the pinch of low oil prices, citing data gathered by oilfield services company Baker Hughes that shows the rig count in the United States fell by 238 in March. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 27, 2015

Companies re-evaluating plans for ethane ‘cracker’ facility in West Virginia
 

Brazilian companies Braskem and Odebrecht have confirmed they are re-evaluating plans to build an ethane “cracker” plant along the Ohio River in Parkersburg, West Virginia, but stressed the project wasn't being cancelled outright, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. In a joint statement, the companies stated that “under the current energy scenarios, the original configuration of Project ASCENT (Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise) needs to be re-evaluated, and a final investment decision on the project will require more diligence.” The statement was issued by Braskem and Odebrecht prior to an announcement on April 22 that PTT Global Chemical of Thailand and Marubeni Corp. of Japan are looking at building a cracker facility in Belmont County, Ohio. (See our April 23 blog, “Thai company looks at building ‘cracker’ facility in eastern Ohio.”) Click here to read the full Business Times story about the Braskem and Odebrecht project.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Apr 27, 2015

Pennsylvania well permits hit five-year low during first quarter of 2015
 

The number of permits for unconventional oil and natural gas wells issued in Pennsylvania during the first quarter of 2015 fell by 30 percent compared to the same period a year ago, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. Citing data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the newspaper says DEP issued 601 permits in the first three months of 2015 versus 863 permits in the first quarter of 2014. That's the fewest number of permits in the first quarter over the past five years, according to the Business Times. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Apr 27, 2015

Report: Shale boom has put United States at center of oil world
 

The latest oil boom gone bust may feel like history repeating itself, but the New York Times reports that this time the center of the oil world has spun from the sands of Saudi Arabia to the shale oil fields of Texas and North Dakota. The newspaper says the United States is overtaking the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as the vital global swing producer that determines oil prices. The change has been building since 2008, says the Times, as American shale fields account for roughly half of the world’s oil production growth and U.S. petroleum output has nearly doubled. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 24, 2015

Antero’s production is strong but rig count falls in Marcellus, Utica
 

Antero Resources announced it came close to doubling its average daily natural gas production during the first quarter of 2015, but it has reduced its rig count in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays by about half, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. In an operational update, the Denver-based company said production rose 89 percent to a daily average of about 1.5 billion equivalent cubic feet of gas compared to the same quarter last year, with production boosted by 41 Marcellus wells being put into service and strong production from wells in the Utica shale play. However, the Business Times reports that Antero is postponing completion of 50 wells in the Marcellus play until 2016 and reducing its rig count from 21 to 11 in the Marcellus and Utica region amid low commodity prices. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Apr 24, 2015

Company plans to move forward on ethane ‘cracker' facility in eastern Ohio
 

The development team at Houston-based Appalachian Resins, Inc. (AR) has agreed to keep moving forward with plans to build a $1.3 billion ethylene/polyethylene “cracker” facility in Monroe County, Ohio, reports DownstreamToday. "Even with changing conditions, Appalachian Resins still appears to be a viable project … because of the plant's location and configuration,” AR Chief Executive Officer Jim Cutler told the oil and gas industry news site. The site says the company expects to build the cracker facility on a 50-acre site abutting the Ohio River in Salem Township, with AR anticipating a 2018 start-up date for the project. Another ethane cracker project is being proposed in nearby Belmont County by PTT Global Chemical of Thailand and Marubeni Corp. of Japan. (See our April 23 blog, "Thai company looks at building 'cracker' facility in eastern Ohio.") For more about the Appalachian Resins project, read the full story by DownstreamToday.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Apr 24, 2015

Report: Great Britain could be sitting on a giant oil field
 

Oil fever has gripped Great Britain after a small company announced the discovery of what it described as “a possible world-class potential resource” in the Surrey countryside south of London, reports the New York Times. According to the newspaper, the company, UK Oil and Gas Investments, said an evaluation by an American firm, Nutech, of a well drilled in late 2014 indicated there were 158 million barrels of oil per square mile in the terrain around it. The Times says investors and others noted that UK Oil and Gas and its partners could be sitting on almost nine billion barrels of oil, which would amount to a giant field if oil can be brought to the surface. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Miscellaneous   |  Permalink

 

Apr 23, 2015

Schlumberger to lay off another 11,000 workers amid oil and gas slump
 

Oilfield services company Schlumberger plans to lay off 11,000 employees in addition to the 9,000 job cuts it announced in January, reports the Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, Louisiana. The newspaper says the company cited a downturn in oil and natural gas exploration and production jobs, principally on U.S. land rigs, tied to low commodity prices. Retired Louisiana State University economics professor Loren Scott told the Daily Advertiser that Louisiana’s offshore oil and gas jobs would not suffer the extent of layoffs that will be felt in states such as Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota and Ohio where most of the drilling is done on land that demands higher per-barrel prices. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 23, 2015

Thai company looks at building ‘cracker” facility in eastern Ohio
 

The Columbus Dispatch reports that an energy company based in Thailand is considering building an ethane “cracker” facility in Belmont County, Ohio, a project that could lead to a multi-billion dollar investment in the eastern part of the state. The newspaper says that PTT Global Chemical of Thailand, a chemical and fuel-refining company, is working with Marubeni Corp. of Japan on the plans for the cracker. According to the Dispatch, the companies will spend the next 12 to 16 months working on engineering plans and obtaining permits and would likely decide in 2016 on whether to move forward with the project. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Apr 22, 2015

Agency: U.S. may become net exporter of energy due in part to Marcellus, Utica shale plays
 

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the United States will reach a new balance in energy trade sometime between 2020 and 2030 and could become a net energy exporter, reports WGBH radio in Boston. The station says the federal agency's prediction cites a rise in domestic natural gas production, including from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and changes in energy demands. Such a shift would end a streak of more than 50 years in which the United States has been a net importer of energy. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  Pennsylvania  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Apr 22, 2015

Oil companies may start bringing drilled wells into production
 

Energy companies keeping thousands of barrels of crude oil off the market by drilling but not completing wells may soon start flooding the market again, reports FuelFix.com. The energy industry news site says that oil producers earlier this year began announcing plans to defer well completions, essentially storing their oil underground until the market rebounds and they can get a better price for their products. FuelFix says oil prices recently have ticked up slightly and oil-field services companies are charging less, so producers have more incentive to start pumping from those drilled wells. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 21, 2015

Group says $8.1 billion in investment expected in Utica shale play next year
 

Despite the drilling slowdown in eastern Ohio’s Utica shale play, oil and gas exploration continues to have positive ramifications across that region of the state, reports the Youngstown Business Journal. Citing an analysis by Energy In Depth Ohio, an oil and natural gas trade group, the newspaper says investment in Ohio’s shale industry has reached $23.3 billion, with another $8.1 billion of investments expected in 2016. That will include the construction of additional pipelines, gas-fired power plants and oil and gas processing plants. For more, read the full story. The Energy In Depth analysis can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Apr 21, 2015

Six natural-gas fired power plants under development in Ohio
 

The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reports that at least six natural gas-fired power plants are being built in Ohio (or in the planning stages) by independent power companies. The newspaper says the companies hope to capitalize on Ohio's plentiful and cheap shale gas; the decision by companies such as FirstEnergy Corp. to close old coal-burning power plants; and proposed federal rules requiring power companies to cut their carbon dioxide emissions. Unlike conventional coal, the new plants combine gas turbines and steam boilers, making them far more efficient than coal-fired boilers. (See our April 14 blog “Swiss company lines up $899 million for gas-fired power plant project in eastern Ohio” for more about one of the projects.)  The full Plain Dealer story can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Apr 20, 2015

Ohio lawmaker says severance tax increase is dead for now
 

Any tax increase on oil and natural gas activity in Ohio is dead for now after lawmakers stripped a proposed tax hike from the state budget bill on April 14, state Rep. Ryan Smith told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Ohio House leaders removed a budget proposal by Governor John Kasich that would have raised the state’s severance tax on horizontal drilling to help pay for income-tax cuts. (See our February 4, 2015 blog, “Kasich’s budget plan calls for big boost in oil and gas severance tax.”) There are no plans to advance any other bill to change the severance tax, said Smith, chairman of the House Finance Committee, adding there's been a slowdown in the oil and gas industry and “we don't want to pile on.” For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Apr 20, 2015

Shell’s purchase of BG Group includes acreage in Marcellus shale play
 

Royal Dutch Shell's agreement to buy BG Group for $70 billion may give it a bigger footprint in the Marcellus shale play, an area that Shell had backed away from in 2014, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. The newspaper says BG has a 50-50 joint venture agreement with Exco Resources Inc. for conventional and unconventional oil and natural gas assets in Pennsylvania. Some of that acreage is not far from what Shell affiliate SWEPI sold to Rex Energy Corp. last summer. (See our August, 19, 2014 blog, “Rex Energy to acquire 208,000 acres from Shell in Pennsylvania, Ohio.”) For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Apr 17, 2015

Shell plans to shed $30 billion in assets once acquisition of BG Group is complete
 

Royal Dutch Shell PLC is planning to sell about $30 billion in combined assets once its planned $70 billion acquisition of London-based BG Group PLC is finalized in early 2016, reports the Houston Business Journal. The newspaper says the combined company, which would be the second-largest energy firm in the world after Exxon Mobil Corp., will look to shed redundant and ancillary assets that could range from holdings in the Houston, Texas region to ones throughout Shell's global operations. "We will focus the company on fewer broad themes," said Shell CEO Ben van Beurden. For more, read the full story. More articles about Royal Dutch Shell can be found here.

 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 17, 2015

Trans Energy shifts focus with sale of acreage in Marcellus shale play
 

Trans Energy Inc. plans to sell some of its oil and natural gas wells and acreage in the Marcellus shale play to focus on its holdings in northern West Virginia, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. According to the newspaper, the West Virginia-based drilling company said it would sell 12 operating wells and 5,159 acres in Wetzel County, West Virginia for $71.3 million to an undisclosed buyer. Trans Energy also said it would focus on what it called its “core acreage” of 10,400 acres in Marion and Marshall counties with plans for about 350 horizontal wells there. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Apr 16, 2015

American Energy-Utica and Chesapeake reach settlement in dispute
 

Columbus Business First reports that American Energy-Utica (AEU) has announced it has reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed against it and other entities earlier this year by Chesapeake Energy Corp. The newspaper says that AEU, an oil and natural-gas company affiliated with American Energy Partners LP (AEP), and Houston investment firm Energy & Minerals Group are no longer part of Chesapeake’s lawsuit. (See our February 19, 2015 blog, “Chesapeake files lawsuit against American Energy Partners and related entities.”) As part of the settlement, AEU will give 6,000 acres in Harrison County, Ohio and pay up to $25 million to Chesapeake, according to Business First. In addition, a statement from American Energy Partners says that former Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon, now a director and the single largest non-institutional shareholder in AEU, did not approve the settlement, and that McClendon and AEP “will continue their efforts to have the dispute arbitrated as required by Mr. McClendon’s agreements with Chesapeake.” For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  Oil & Gas Litigation   |  Permalink

 

Apr 16, 2015

Ohio hits dry well on drilling permits as shale boom becomes quiet
 

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) issued no new permits for wells to be drilled during the week of April 4, marking the first time that has happened since the state’s oil and natural gas drilling boom began about five years ago, reports Crain’s Cleveland Business. The newspaper says ODNR issued almost 2,000 permits over the past three years for a pace of more than 12 new permits each week, so the complete lack of activity was a surprise even to industry insiders. But Ohio Oil and Gas Association Executive Vice President Shawn Bennett told Crain’s: “This is a perfect example of what happens when commodity prices in the industry tank. It’s simple economics — when prices are low, why drill?” For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Apr 15, 2015

Low natural gas prices driving layoffs at Consol Energy
 

Low natural gas prices are causing Consol Energy Inc. to lay off about 5 percent of its work force, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. Consol said in a statement: “Like many of our peers operating in the Marcellus (shale) play, we are evaluating our work force and taking steps to streamline our organization as the industry is confronted by a potentially sustained period of low commodity prices.” The Business Times says Consol employed 3,834 people as of Dec. 31, 2014. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Apr 15, 2015

Oil companies are adapting to the reality of low crude prices
 

As a nine-month downturn in oil prices drags on, the initial panic that swept the energy industry has moderated as companies begin to adapt to drilling in a low-priced crude world, reports the Dallas Morning News. The newspaper says layoff announcements in the oil industry have slowed and the U.S. rig count, a barometer for the industry, fell by 164 rigs over the past four weeks compared to the 276 rigs taken out of service in February. “The rate of decline has slowed, and it will continue to slow,” Chris Lafakis, a senior economist at Moody’s, told the Morning News. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 14, 2015

‘Refracking’ oil wells may not be the best option for drillers
 

While technology now allows companies to go back to wells and spur oil production through “refracking," it remains unclear whether that is the best option in the current crude oil price environment, according to Platts. The energy news site reports that well refractures, which can be done at about 25 percent of the cost of drilling a new horizontal well, have grabbed the industry’s interest as U.S. oil prices stay around the $50-a-barrel mark. But Chris Robart with energy consulting firm IHS told Platts that refracking technology is “not ready for prime time” and identifying wells and deciding how to refracture them is not that simple. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 14, 2015

Swiss company lines up $899 million for gas-fired power plant project in eastern Ohio
 

Swiss company Advanced Power AG has arranged financing for its $899 million natural gas-fired power plant project near Carrollton, Ohio, reports the Akron Beacon Journal. According to the newspaper, the 700-megawatt plant will be powered by natural gas from eastern Ohio’s Utica shale play and could produce enough electricity to power 750,000 homes. Advanced Power said the plant is scheduled to begin operations in late 2017, with an estimated 700 construction jobs and 20 to 30 permanent positions to be created. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Apr 13, 2015

Marietta professor: This is not the time to raise Ohio’s severance tax
 

The timing of Ohio Governor John Kasich’s proposed severance tax increase on oil and natural gas, while possibly “well-intentioned from a political and humanistic standpoint,” couldn’t be worse, writes Marietta College Professor Robert Chase in an op-ed piece in the Akron Beacon Journal. Chase, chairman of the college’s Department of Petroleum Engineering and Geology, contends that Kasich’s tax plan would likely hurt energy investment in Ohio and cost jobs. “The truth is, drilling companies are in trouble,” Chase writes. “The Ohio rig count… is in free fall. (Oil and gas) exploration budgets have been slashed on average by nearly 40 percent for the year ahead. Drilling in Ohio is in danger of coming to a screeching halt.” For more, read the full story. Bricker & Eckler’s analysis of Kasich’s tax proposal can be found here.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Apr 13, 2015

Orders plunge for machinery used in oil and natural gas operations
 

Orders for equipment used in oil and natural gas fields plunged in February in another sign of how energy businesses are preparing for a difficult future now that commodity prices have collapsed, according to MarketWatch. Citing a U.S. Department of Commerce report, the financial news site says that new orders for mining, oil-field and gas-field machinery fell 16.6 percent in February, which was the biggest monthly drop since October 2014. On a year-to-date basis, orders for such machinery are down nearly 30 percent. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 13, 2015

U.S. refineries are ready to produce gasoline at record level
 

Refineries are poised to make gasoline at a record pace this year, keeping the biggest U.S. crude oil glut in more than 80 years from overflowing storage facilities, Bloomberg reports. The news service says that refineries are enjoying their best price margins in two years and will increase output to meet consumer demand. Bloomberg also says refineries have added more than 100,000 barrels a day of capacity since the summer of 2014 when they processed the most oil on record. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 10, 2015

EV Energy Partners sells interest in Utica East Ohio Midstream
 

Utica Gas Services LLC, a subsidiary of Williams Partners LP, will buy EV Energy Partners' 21 percent interest in the Utica East Ohio Midstream LLC operation for $575 million, reports the Canton Repository. Citing a new release from Houston-based EV Energy, the newspaper says the transaction is expected to close in mid-July. In the release, EV Energy CEO Michael Mercer said the transaction, along with the previous sale of the company’s interest in Cardinal Gas Services, “reflects the completion of our divestiture of midstream investments in the Utica shale (play).” For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Apr 10, 2015

Kinder Morgan to add second pipeline to move petroleum liquids through Ohio
 

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that Texas-based Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP plans to add a second 12-inch pipeline to its previously announced project to ship petroleum-based liquids through northern Ohio. The newspaper says the two pipelines, dubbed UTOPIA West and UTOPIA East, would run side-by-side along a 240-mile route from Harrison County in eastern Ohio to Fulton County in northwest Ohio. From Fulton County, UTOPIA West would carry natural gasoline through existing pipelines to Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. UTOPIA East would connect with existing pipelines in Michigan to carry natural gas liquids, including ethane and propane from Ohio’s Utica shale play, to a NOVA Chemicals Corp. plastics plant in Corunna, Ontario. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Apr 09, 2015

Report from environmental group criticizes states for management of oil and gas drilling wastes
 

A new report from an environmental group opposed to hydraulic fracturing contends that Ohio and other Appalachian states are failing to manage oil and natural gas waste as they would other hazardous wastes, reports Crain’s Cleveland Business. The report by Earthworks claims that the states aren’t tracking the drilling waste generated within their borders or properly monitoring its disposal the way federal regulators once hoped. Officials at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) told Crain’s they had not yet seen the Earthworks report but would review it. ODNR has consistently said Ohio’s disposal wells are safe and the agency’s oversight of them is adequate. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Apr 09, 2015

Ruling on northern long-eared bat softens impact for oil and gas industry
 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the northern long-eared bat is a threatened species but not yet endangered, with Columbus Business First reporting that the ruling “softens the blow a bit for an oil and natural gas drilling industry that dreaded an endangered listing.” The newspaper says the federal agency claims the bat is threatened because of a fungal disease that has killed millions of the flying mammals. Industries that work in wooded areas where the bats live had opposed an endangered designation, saying it would make it costly and difficult to clear woods for projects, including new pipelines. Business First says that state agencies have more flexibility in dealing with a species when it is considered threatened but not endangered. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 08, 2015

Low oil prices spark interest among bargain-hunting investors
 

The drop in oil prices and its effect on energy companies has prompted a surge of interest from bargain-hunting investors and those betting on a price rebound, reports Dow Jones Business News. The financial news site says some investors, including distressed debt specialists, traditional equity funds, private equity companies and hedge funds, believe markets have overshot and the price of oil will rise. Others believe they can profit from the current low price of oil as it continues to take its toll on struggling companies. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 07, 2015

Chesapeake Utilities completes merger with Ohio-based Gatherco
 

Chesapeake Utilities Corp. has completed a merger with Gatherco, Inc., which resulted in the creation of Aspire Energy of Ohio LLC in a transaction valued at $59.2 million, reports the Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Based in Orrville, Ohio, Gatherco has operations in 40 Ohio counties, including 16 natural gas gathering systems and more than 2,000 miles of pipelines and right-of-way in central and eastern Ohio. The Plain Dealer says Aspire Energy will use those assets to provide natural gas midstream, processing and transportation services to more than 300 gas producers. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Apr 07, 2015

North Dakota enacts new rules to improve safety of oil shipments
 

ABC News reports that North Dakota has begun requiring the removal of certain liquids and gases from oil before it is loaded onto rail cars in a move that the industry and state regulators believe will make for safer shipments from the Bakken shale play. The rules, developed over the past year, require all crude from North Dakota oil fields to be treated by heat or pressure (to reduce its volatility) before being loaded. "North Dakota's crude oil conditioning order is based on sound science and represents an important step in the ongoing work to ensure that oil-by-rail transportation is as safe as possible," Governor Jack Dalrymple said in a statement. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 06, 2015

Columbia Pipeline plans $1.4 billion project in Ohio, West Virginia
 

Texas-based Columbia Pipeline Group, a unit of NiSource Inc., is seeking federal approval to build a 161-mile pipeline for natural gas, plus three compression stations, in southeast Ohio and northern West Virginia, reports the Akron Beacon Journal. The newspaper says the $1.4 billion Leach XPress Pipeline would carry natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale plays in Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania to markets served by Columbia Gas Transmission and Columbia Gulf Transmission in the Mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Apr 06, 2015

Report: 1.4 million Ohioans live close to tracks that transport Bakken crude oil
 

Almost 1.4 million Ohioans live within a half-mile of railroad lines where volatile crude oil from the Bakken shale play in North Dakota rolls by each week, reports the Columbus Dispatch. According to the newspaper, Ohio is a key junction between the Bakken region and East Coast oil refineries with trains that carry Bakken oil traveling weekly through or near Columbus, Akron, Cleveland and Toledo. While noting most trains don’t derail, the Dispatch says about 12 percent of Ohio’s population could be forced from their homes should a train hauling oil from the Bakken region run off the tracks. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Apr 03, 2015

Chesapeake states its case in widely watched oil and gas royalty dispute
 

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Chesapeake Energy Corp. has gone to the Supreme Court of Texas to defend how the company deducted post-production costs from royalty checks in a case widely watched by the oil and natural gas industry and property owners suing Chesapeake for millions of dollars. In the dispute, Chesapeake Exploration LLC and Chesapeake Operating Inc. v. Martha Rowan Hyder, et al., Sup. Ct. of Texas, No. 14-0302, the company is challenging a 2014 ruling by an appeals court in San Antonio that upheld a state district court decision awarding the Hyder family of Fort Worth at least $1 million in royalties, interest and attorney fees. According to the Star-Telegram, Chesapeake argues that not overturning the appeals court’s decision would create a “sea change in Texas oil and gas law.” The newspaper also reports that attorneys for the Hyder family claim their case involves a “specifically tailored, heavily negotiated” oil and gas lease that says the deal would be “cost-free” for them. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Oil & Gas Litigation   |  Permalink

 

Apr 03, 2015

Dock expansion along Ohio River driven by demand for fracking sand
 

McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises (MRIE) will begin construction on a $1.3 million expansion of its barge dock along the Ohio River in Pittsburgh in a project spurred by the impact that the shale drilling industry has had on the business, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. MRIE moves and stores large amounts of sand used during the hydraulic fracturing process that extracts natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays. The newspaper says the company has seen sand shipments by barge increase dramatically, noting that deliveries of fracking sand have been mired by shortages of railroad cars to move the material. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Apr 02, 2015

Once busy Barnett shale play is down to one drilling rig
 

Plummeting commodity prices, along with the lure of bigger payouts in other parts of Texas and across the country, have brought oil and natural gas exploration nearly to a halt in north Texas, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The newspaper says there was only one drilling rig operating in the Barnett shale play as of two weeks ago. That compares to about 200 rigs in October 2008 when “everywhere you turned, someone was poking a hole in the ground (and) money, as well as gas, was flowing,” says the Star-Telegram. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 02, 2015

Pennsylvania sets hearing date on permit for Shell ‘cracker’ plant
 

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has scheduled a public hearing for May 5th regarding an air quality permit for Royal Dutch Shell's proposed ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. The newspaper says issuance of the permit is considered a critical piece of the development puzzle as Shell continues to evaluate the project. Based on the air permit application, the plant would convert ethane into ethylene and be capable of producing 1.6 million metric tons of polyethylene per year. For more, read the full story. Articles related to the Shell cracker project can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Apr 01, 2015

Oil and gas companies turn to “crowdfunding” for capital
 

Would-be oil and natural gas wildcatters and investors can now turn to equity “crowdfunding,” which is a way to raise money more synonymous with projects in technology, fashion and filmmaking, according to Reuters. The news service reports that at least two small Texas firms, Energy Funders and CrudeFunders, are testing the concept in the oil and gas industry. Potential investors, hoping to tap into smaller projects that big banks would normally pass over, are taking advantage of recent federal legislation that allows crowdfunding by for-profit companies. For more, read the full story.

 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Apr 01, 2015

Oklahoma lawsuit over seismic activity raises liability question for oil and gas companies
 

A home owners’ lawsuit against two energy companies now before the Supreme Court of Oklahoma highlights an emerging liability question on whether companies can be forced to pay for damages from seismic activity if the tremors can be linked to oil and natural gas activity, reports the Wall Street Journal. In the dispute, Sanda Ladra v. New Dominion LLC and Spess Oil Company, District Court of Lincoln County, Okla., No. CJ-2014-115, Ms. Ladra alleges that New Dominion and Spess operated wastewater disposal wells that triggered an earthquake in November 2011 that damaged her home near Prague, Oklahoma. The Journal says that most seismic events under investigation in Oklahoma have been too small to cause major damage. However, the newspaper reports that the prospect of facing juries over claims related to seismic activity is stoking fear among energy companies about lawsuits and tighter regulations that could increase their costs and stall drilling. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Oil & Gas Litigation   |  Permalink

 

Mar 31, 2015

Jobs of energy executives will be in jeopardy if low oil prices persist
 

Energy company executives have held on to their jobs during the crash in oil prices and resulting layoffs of oilfield workers and mid-level employees, but that could be about to change, reports the Houston Business Journal. "If prices stay down, that'll be the next thing (companies will) do," Tom Simmons, the global leader of Spencer Stuart’s energy practice, told the newspaper. "They'll cut into the muscle, which is the management team. Somebody's going to get blamed for the bad decisions." For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 31, 2015

U.S. refiners are going directly to the wellhead to get better crude oil
 

Reuters reports that some U.S. oil refiners are buying tanker trucks and extending local pipeline networks to get more oil directly from the wellhead in an effort to secure a more predictable, consistent and profitable stream of crude oil. As an example, the news service says that Phillips 66, the nation's fourth-largest refiner, has added trucks and offloading equipment at several of its refineries to help reduce its reliance on oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, the nation's biggest crude oil crossroads and storage hub. A growing volume of Canadian oil is often mixed with lighter domestic shale crude at Cushing, Reuters says, resulting in blends that can be less profitable than similar oil from the field. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 30, 2015

Chesapeake cutting capital budget due to low natural gas prices
 

Pointing to low natural gas prices, Chesapeake Energy Corp. is cutting a half-billion dollars from its planned capital expenses this year, just a month after announcing major reductions in spending and rig count, reports Columbus Business First. According to the newspaper, the Oklahoma City-based driller said its capital budget will fall $500 million from the $4 billion to $4.5 billion projection it made in February. (See our March 2, 2015 blog “Chesapeake Energy will reduce capital spending, drilling activity.”) Chesapeake’s average rig count will continue to decline as well, but Business First says the company is keeping its rig count at three to five in the Utica shale play in eastern Ohio. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 30, 2015

Company opts for mineral purchases instead of oil and gas lease agreements
 

It appears a slight shift is taking place on the oil and natural gas front in the Upper Ohio Valley, with at least one firm purchasing entire mineral tracts from property owners instead of entering into lease agreements with them, reports the Intelligencer/News-Register in Wheeling, West Virginia. The newspaper says public records show that Oklahoma City-based Westhawk Minerals LLC paid about $8,750 per acre for a 51.66-acre tract near Shadyside, Ohio, a little more than $6,000 per acre for another tract near Fairpoint, Ohio, and $6,667 per acre for land in Bethlehem, West Virginia. The practice can be beneficial for property owners, according to the Intelligencer/News-Register, in that the up-front payment likely will be higher than what is offered through a lease agreement. However, royalties are not included in such deals. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Mar 27, 2015

Coalition opposes plan to raise Ohio’s severance tax on oil and gas
 

A group of local elected, business, labor and community leaders in Ohio have formed a coalition to oppose Governor John Kasich’s plan to raise the state’s severance tax on oil and natural gas production, reports the Youngstown Business Journal. The newspaper says the Protect Ohio Jobs Coalition announced it is "dedicated to ensuring tax policies do not stop the growth of Ohio's oil and natural gas industry, the Ohio businesses that support it, and the Ohio jobs it creates in related industries." The coalition said it has more than 40 members opposing the severance tax increase proposed in House Bill 64, which continues to be debated in the Ohio House. For more, read the full story. Bricker & Eckler’s analysis of Kasich’s severance tax proposal can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Mar 27, 2015

Ohio rig count drops again as drilling companies pull back
 

The Youngstown Business Journal reports that the drilling rig count in Ohio’s Utica shale play continues to shrink as oil and natural gas producers see no break in the lower energy prices that have caused the industry to pull back on new exploration. The newspaper says that Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported that the rig count now stands at 26, down from 29 the prior week. By comparison, 51 rigs were operating in the Utica play during the week ending January 10, 2015. For more read, the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Mar 27, 2015

Statoil agrees on payment to drill under the Ohio River
 

Norway-based Statoil has agreed to pay an average price of $8,732 per acre to drill on 474 acres of state-owned land under the Ohio River in West Virginia’s Marshall and Wetzel counties, reports the Intelligencer/News-Register in Wheeling. The newspaper says the state of West Virginia will also receive 20 percent production royalties from natural gas drilling under the river. In addition, a spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Commerce told the newspaper that the state is still finalizing drilling agreements with Gastar Exploration and Noble Energy. For more, read the full story. Click here to read our August 27, 2014 blog, “West Virginia seeks bids for shale gas drilling below the Ohio River”


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Mar 26, 2015

Chesapeake executive: It’s time for companies to deliver results in Utica shale play
 

A Chesapeake Energy Corp. executive told Columbus Business First that it is time for oil and natural gas companies to start proving themselves after years of spending big on development of Ohio’s Utica shale play. "We're entering into a stage now ... where companies are going to be asked to start delivering results," said Chesapeake Executive Vice President Chris Doyle, while adding the caveat that low commodity prices and a continued strain on oil and gas infrastructure in the Utica play could change plans. "This is where you will be able to separate the weak from the strong," Doyle told Business First. For more, read the full story. More articles related to Chesapeake Energy can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Mar 26, 2015

Frozen market for oil and natural gas deals may start to warm up
 

Merger and acquisition deals in the oil and natural gas industry remain largely frozen as drillers wait for crude oil prices to hit bottom, but signs of a thaw are emerging, reports Bunker Ports News Worldwide. According to the news site, oil and gas exploration and production companies have issued nearly $9 billion in stock this year, well above recent first-quarter totals. Bunker Ports says some industry watchers see that as a precursor to increased mergers and acquisitions activity, as potential takeover targets and asset holders consider previously unacceptable prices. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 25, 2015

Lifting U.S. ban on oil exports remains a hard sell in Congress
 

Despite a lobbying push by oil and natural gas drilling companies and steep job losses in their industry, there has been no significant effort in Congress to lift the 40-year-old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil, reports Oil and Gas Investor. Citing a story by Bloomberg, the oil and gas news site says that even Congress’ top advocate for lifting the ban, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, hasn’t proposed legislation that would allow exports to flow. The reason for the go-slow approach, according to Bloomberg, is wariness among lawmakers that they will be blamed if gasoline prices climb after the export ban is lifted. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 25, 2015

U.S. oil futures hit six-year low as storage capacity becomes strained
 

Oil futures in the United States are at their lowest level since March 2009 because of speculation that a record supply of oil may start to strain the nation’s storage capacity, reports Bloomberg Business. Citing data from the Energy Information Administration, Bloomberg says U.S. crude oil inventories have increased to the highest level since at least 1982. “It’s highly probable that we will reach the inventory capacity,” Bill O’Grady, chief market strategist at Confluence Investment Management, told Bloomberg. “Once you run out of storage space, that oil has no place to go and prices will just fall.” For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 24, 2015

Big oil companies are giving up on overseas shale drilling
 

After spending more than five years and billions of dollars trying to re-create the U.S. shale boom overseas, some of the world’s biggest oil companies are starting to give up amid a world-wide collapse in crude oil prices, reports the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper says that Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobile Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC have halted nearly all of their hydraulic fracturing operations in Europe, Russia and China. The reasons, according to the Journal, include sanctions in Russia, a drilling ban in France, a moratorium in Germany, poor results in Poland, and low crude prices. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Miscellaneous   |  Permalink

 

Mar 24, 2015

U.S. agency releases final standards for hydraulic fracturing
 

Following a process that included more than 1.5 million public comments, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has released final standards for hydraulic fracturing on public and American Indian lands. The Department of the Interior says that the “common-sense standards will improve safety and help protect groundwater by updating requirements for well-bore integrity, wastewater disposal and public disclosure of chemicals” in well-drilling operations. “Current federal drilling regulations are more than 30 years old and they simply have not kept pace with the technical complexities of today’s hydraulic fracturing operations,” Jewell said in a press release. For more, read the full release.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 23, 2015

Ohio judge strikes down community’s ban on oil and gas drilling
 

Ohio’s oil and natural gas industry received good news on March 11 when a Cuyahoga County judge struck down a Cleveland suburb’s charter amendment that sought to ban drilling, reports the Akron Beacon Journal.  According to the newspaper, Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Astrab ruled that Broadview Heights’ charter conflicts with state law that gives the Ohio Department of Natural Resources the sole authority to oversee drilling. In 2011, Broadview Heights’ voters approved a charter change that banned drilling of new oil and gas wells, but Bass Energy Inc. and Ohio Valley Energy challenged the change in a court filing in June 2014. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  Oil & Gas Litigation   |  Permalink

 

Mar 23, 2015

Rice Energy posts $103.8 million profit in fourth quarter
 

Even though Rice Energy Inc. was only in its first year as a publicly traded company, the Pennsylvania-based natural gas company reported a $103.8 million profit in the fourth quarter of 2014, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The newspaper says Rice’s earnings of 76 cents per share reversed a loss of $15 million or 17 cents per share during the same period a year ago before the company went public in January 2014. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Mar 19, 2015

Lingering questions about local control of drilling in Ohio could spark more court cases
 

Nearly a month after the Supreme Court of Ohio struck down five Munroe Falls’ ordinances, lawyers and local officials are predicting another round of court cases to settle how much control local governments have (if any) over oil and natural gas development, reports Midwest Energy News. The news site says that the Supreme Court’s ruling in State of Ohio ex rel. Jack Morrison, Jr. v. Beck Energy Corp. left open the question of whether Ohio will follow in the footsteps of New York and Pennsylvania, which have preserved some local powers over drilling, follow Colorado and Texas, which have taken a harder line, or chart a new path. For more, read the full story. Click here to read Bricker & Eckler’s full summary of the implications of the Supreme Court ruling.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Mar 18, 2015

U.S. oil glut could push storage tanks to their operational limits
 

The United States has so much crude oil that it is running out of places to store it, and that could drive oil and gasoline prices even lower in the coming months, reports Yahoo! News. Citing an Associated Press story, Yahoo says the country has been producing and importing an average of one million more barrels of oil every day than it is consuming. That extra crude is flowing into storage tanks, pushing U.S. supplies to their highest point in at least 80 years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Yahoo! says if that keeps up, storage tanks could approach their operational limits by mid-April and send the price of crude — and probably gasoline as well — plummeting. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 17, 2015

Experts say oil prices may remain low for several years
 

Bloomberg reports that a consensus is emerging among BP Plc, the International Energy Agency, shale wildcatters and even the Saudis that a near-term recovery to $100-a-barrel crude oil is not in the cards. Instead, industry insiders expect a range of $50 to $60 a barrel for at least the next few years, according to the news service. For example, Dennis Cassidy, co-leader of the oil and natural gas practice for consulting company AlixPartners, told Bloomberg that his group sees an L-shaped chart for crude in which low prices continue for three to five years. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 17, 2015

OPEC strategist says plan to regain oil market share is working
 

Time magazine reports that Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, architect of the strategy by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to regain market share by causing crude oil prices to plunge, says his plan is working. Time says that al-Naimi recently told reporters that the markets have cooled off and cited the price of Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, as having stabilized at about $60 per barrel. He also pointed to data that shows inexpensive oil is driving up demand, notably in China and the United States, which eventually could lead to price stability or to a price rebound. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 16, 2015

Oil companies expected to step up pressure to lift U.S. export ban
 

An energy expert with the Wood Mackenzie consulting group tells the Dallas Business Journal that oil drillers will put more pressure on President Barack Obama and federal lawmakers to lift the U.S. ban on crude oil exports. The newspaper says that pressure will stem from the price gap – possibly as much as $15 to $20 per barrel – between domestic West Texas Intermediate crude oil and international Brent crude. "(Drillers) would really like to capture that Brent price,” Wood Mackenzie’s Harold York told the Business Journal, adding the federal policy keeps them from getting the higher price than if U.S. exports were allowed to flow freely. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 13, 2015

U.S. Steel says layoffs at Lorain plant tied to low gasoline prices
 

Low gasoline prices are partially to blame for the layoffs of 614 workers at U.S. Steel’s Tubular Operations plant in Lorain, Ohio, reports the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. A U.S. Steel spokeswoman told the newspaper that low gas prices are a “large contributing factor” to the layoffs, saying those prices reduce the profit incentive for hydraulic fracturing and conventional oil drilling companies that buy pipe produced by the Lorain mill. The spokeswoman said the layoffs aren’t permanent, but she wouldn’t estimate when the workers will be recalled and the mill restarted. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Mar 12, 2015

Company looks at investing $1 billion to build gas-fired power plants in West Virginia
 

Energy Solutions Consortium is looking at building two natural gas-fired power plants in Beech Bottom, West Virginia, possibly making a $1 billion investment in a project that would create 60 full-time jobs, reports the State Journal in Charleston. W.Va. The newspaper says the New York-based company would have to apply for permits to construct a 550-megawatt plant to serve the nearby Windsor High Voltage substation and a 750-megawatt facility serving the Tidd High Voltage substation across the Ohio River in Brilliant, Ohio. Energy Solutions is looking at buying the property, the former Wheeling Corrugating plant, from the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle, the State Journal reports. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Mar 12, 2015

Kasich may turn to voters if Ohio legislators don’t approve severance tax plan
 

The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reports that Ohio Governor John Kasich said he still hopes state legislators will approve his plan to increase Ohio's severance tax on natural gas and oil production, but he cautioned that the decision could wind up before Ohio voters if lawmakers don’t act. "We talked internally about trying to figure out who out there in the community may want to put this thing on the ballot," Kasich said during a meeting with the news media. The Plain Dealer says that state legislators, who killed Kasich’s previous proposals to raise the tax, are again showing reluctance to support his plan, with many having said they don't want to do anything that would dissuade drillers from operating in Ohio. For more, read the full story. Bricker & Eckler’s analysis of Kasich’s tax proposal can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Mar 11, 2015

Report: Only a small fraction of disposal wells associated with damaging seismic activity
 

A report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) concludes that only a small fraction of the more than 30,000 wastewater disposal wells in the United States appears to be associated with damaging seismic activity, according to Mealey’s Fracking Report. Mealey’s says that the CRS report also states that the potential for seismic activity caused by hydraulic fracturing in oil and natural gas drilling operations appears to be even smaller than that posed by deep-well injection of wastewater. The CRS report says it is likely that states and possibly the federal government will continue to explore ways to understand and mitigate the possibility of seismic activity caused by a small number of disposal wells.  An overview of the report can be found here.


 
Posted by D. Gerken in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 11, 2015

Waterless fracking company sells most of its assets and technology
 

Waterless fracking company GasFrac Energy Services Inc, has announced a deal to sell most of its assets and technology to an undisclosed oil and natural gas company, reports Columbus Business First. The newspaper says that GasFrac, based in Calgary, Canada, had inspired a lot of hope in the oil and gas industry as it was testing a waterless fracking well in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, with EV Energy Partners LP and other business partners. GasFrac's technique uses gelled propane instead of water in hydraulic fracturing. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Mar 10, 2015

Eclipse Resources looks at joint venture for drilling projects
 

Eclipse Resources Corp. is considering a joint venture as lower natural gas prices continue to bite the drilling industry, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. According to the newspaper, Eclipse, which drills primarily in eastern Ohio’s Marcellus and Utica shale plays, said it was in talks with unnamed companies for a joint venture that would "accelerate drilling on its assets without burdening the company's balance sheet." The company, based in State College, Pennsylvania, said a joint venture could involve part of its 2015 capital budget and possibly factor into its 2016 plans, but added there are no guarantees a deal will happen. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Mar 10, 2015

Ohio property owners allowed to renegotiate oil and gas leases
 

Twenty-five Ohio property owners have been permitted to renegotiate certain details of their oil and natural gas leases after a four-year legal fight, reports Farm and Dairy. The newspaper says the property owners, mostly from Columbiana County in eastern Ohio, signed leases in 2008 for about $10 an acre under terms they claimed were misleading. The leases were purchased by Patriot Energy Partners, which sold the deep rights to Chesapeake Exploration for $1,100 an acre, according to Farm and Dairy. The property owners filed suit in the Columbiana County Court of Common Pleas in 2011, seeking to have the leases rescinded. In 2012, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, denying a motion for arbitration by the energy companies. However, the companies successfully appealed the case to the Seventh District Court of Appeals, which ruled in 2014 that the arbitration clause in the lease contracts was valid. Attorney Robert Guehl, who represented the plaintiffs, told Farm and Dairy that the property owners then sought non-binding arbitration, and an agreement was reached through mediation that could provide additional payments to the land owners. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by D. Gerken in  Ohio  Oil & Gas Litigation   |  Permalink

 

Mar 09, 2015

Factors could align to send oil prices plunging for a second time
 

While noting that crude oil prices have recently rebounded to as high as $60 a barrel, OilPrice.com reports that several trends could conspire to force prices down for a second time. The energy news site says drillers are deciding to delay completion of their wells in the hope that oil prices will become more favorable. But when the industry clears out that queue of wells, a rush of new supplies could come online, pushing oil prices down again, according to OilPrice.com. It also says that even with well completions being suspended, oil supplies continue to build with U.S. storage levels now at their highest in more than 80 years. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 09, 2015

Fed: Oil and gas production rises in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia as coal declines
 

Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland have found that the Fed’s Fourth District, which includes the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, has been part of a larger trend of increasing natural gas and oil production and a decline in coal mining, reports Crain’s Cleveland Business. The newspaper says Fed researchers contend that U.S. natural gas production expanded by 21 percent between 2009 and 2014 – a span when Ohio and West Virginia more than doubled their output of natural gas, while Pennsylvania increased its output by more than 1,000 percent. At the same time, coal production in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia declined, following the trend for the country. For more, read the full story. The Fed report can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  Pennsylvania  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Mar 06, 2015

Experts say oil prices may remain low for several years
 

Bloomberg reports that a consensus is emerging among BP Plc, the International Energy Agency, shale wildcatters and even the Saudis that a near-term recovery to $100-a-barrel crude oil is not in the cards. Instead, industry insiders expect a range of $50 to $60 a barrel for at least the next few years, according to the news service. For example, Dennis Cassidy, co-leader of the oil and natural gas practice for consulting company AlixPartners, told Bloomberg that his group sees an L-shaped chart for crude in which low prices continue for three to five years. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 06, 2015

Rise in oil and gas output spikes property tax bills in West Virginia
 

Higher output from wells in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays has spiked property tax bills for more than 23,000 oil and natural gas mineral owners across West Virginia this year, reports the Wheeling Intelligencer/News Register. The newspaper says some of those mineral rights owners have asked officials with the state tax department and Ohio County Commission in Wheeling how they can lower property tax bills they believe are unfairly calculated. But Ohio County commissioners told the taxpayers during a recent meeting that there is not much they can do to help because they lack the authority to change West Virginia’s tax laws. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Mar 05, 2015

Oilfield services companies brace for drop in Utica shale drilling
 

The number of oil and natural gas rigs in Ohio’s Utica shale play has dropped by more than a third since December 2014 and more could be idled if commodity prices stay low, reports the Massillon Independent. The newspaper says that is bad news for oilfield services companies, including Baker Hughes and Schlumberger. A Tuscarawas County economic development official told the Indepedent that oil and gas-related companies in his county have scaled backed their operations but “have not reduced their work force greatly at this point.” For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Mar 04, 2015

Natural gas processing plant opens in Wyoming’s Niobrara shale play
 

The $100 million Bucking Horse natural gas processing plant recently began operations in Converse County, Wyoming, processing gas from the Powder River Basin Niobrara shale play, reports the Douglas Budget. The Wyoming newspaper says that the Bucking Horse plant and the Jackalope Gas Gathering System in Wyoming are owned through a joint venture partnership between Tulsa-based Williams Partners and Crestwood Midstream Partners in Houston. The gathering and processing facilities provide services under a long-term, fee-based agreement with Chesapeake Energy Corp, the top driller in Ohio’s Utica shale play to date. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 04, 2015

Ohio oil and gas production rises but slowdown expected soon
 

New data from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources shows that oil and natural gas production continued to rise in the state during the fourth quarter of 2014 even as commodity prices were falling, reports the Columbus Dispatch. But energy experts and oil and gas industry officials said not to read too much into those numbers and to expect low prices to discourage some production during the next few quarters.“Those numbers don’t tell the full story about the effect of the drop in commodity prices,” Bricker & Eckler LLP attorney Matt Warnock told the Dispatch. “I’ve seen rig count dropping. I’ve seen some companies exiting Ohio for a little while and focusing elsewhere.” For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by J. Bell in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Mar 03, 2015

NiSource plans to spend big to transport gas from Marcellus and Utica shale plays
 

Weeks after opening many of its natural gas pipelines to investors with the initial public offering of Columbia Pipeline Partners, Indiana-based utility NiSource Inc. said it plans to spend billions of dollars on building out its midstream holdings, reports Fuel Fix. The energy industry news site says that NiSource CEO Robert Skaggs indicated that the company would continue to look for ways to move natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays to markets in the mid-Atlantic region. Skaggs noted that Columbia Pipeline has more than $3 billion of growth projects in progress and will spend as much as $15 billion on expansion projects over the next decade. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  Pennsylvania  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Mar 03, 2015

Shale industry official worries that Wolf tax plan puts Pennsylvania ‘cracker’ at risk
 

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the president of a shale gas industry group is saying that Royal Dutch Shell warned Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf last summer that policies which hurt gas production could impact the company's decision on whether to build a multibillion-dollar “cracker” plant in Beaver County to turn ethane into plastics. Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Spigelmyer also told the newspaper that Wolf's recent proposal to tax natural gas production (See our February 17, 2015 blog, “Pennsylvania governor wants severance tax modeled after one in West Virginia”) threatens investments by energy companies and could slow production of gas and related liquids, such as ethane. But a spokeswoman for Royal Dutch Shell told the Tribune-Review: “At no time has Shell linked the potential future of the proposed petrochemical facility with Gov. Wolf's proposed natural gas severance tax.” For more, read the full story. More articles related to Royal Dutch Shell can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Mar 02, 2015

Chesapeake Energy will reduce capital spending, drilling activity
 

Chesapeake Energy Corp., the most active driller in Ohio’s Utica shale play to date, said it will slash capital spending and drilling activity this year in the face of substantially lower oil and natural gas prices, reports the Youngstown Business Journal. According to the newspaper, Chesapeake will reduce its capital expenditure budget by 37 percent in 2015 to between $4 billion and $4.5 billion, compared to $6.7 billion in 2014. Chesapeake also reported it will reduce its rig count to between 35 and 45 this year, the lowest number since 2004. For more, read the full story. More stories related to Chesapeake can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  United States   |  Permalink

 

Mar 02, 2015

Royalty payments in Pennsylvania take hit from lower natural gas prices
 

Royalty payments are down by a third to a half for some lease owners in Pennsylvania who sold their oil and natural gas mineral rights during the shale boom, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. A spokesman for Range Resources told the newspaper that reduced royalty payments are a result of lower natural gas prices and less drilling activity. Leaseholders have also complained their royalty checks are being dented further by some drillers that are deducting post-production costs from their payments, according to the Tribune-Review. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Feb 27, 2015

Colorado task force recommends local input on oil and gas drilling projects
 

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s oil and natural gas task force has endorsed plans for more local input on large-scale oil and gas drilling projects but stopped short of supporting proposals to give more power on drilling issues to local governments, reports the Denver Post. The newspaper says the proposals, which were approved by the task force, focus on enhancing the state permitting process and including local governments in siting decisions at an early stage. However, the task force rejected seven proposals that would have bolstered local governments' ability to make their own rules on oil and gas development. Local control of oil and gas regulation is also an issue in Ohio. (See our February 24 blog, “Supreme Court decision may not close door on local input on oil and gas drilling.”) For more, read the full Denver Post story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Feb 27, 2015

Drop in oil prices affects market for natural gas liquids
 

The fall in crude oil prices is also affecting the market for natural gas liquids, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The newspaper says the market for ethane, which makes up the largest portion of natural gas liquids production, is oversupplied, and ethane is also facing stiffer competition from naphtha, a petroleum byproduct that is cheaper due to falling oil prices. Prices for natural gas liquids have been higher than those for dry natural gas since 2010, but the Post-Gazette says the gap has been shrinking. For more, read the full story
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Feb 27, 2015

Fed up with New York’s ban on fracking, towns threaten succession and to join Pennsylvania
 

Fifteen New York towns that are upset with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to ban hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas have threatened to secede from the state and join neighboring Pennsylvania where fracking is allowed, reports the Huffington Post. Conklin Town Supervisor Jim Finch told the Post  that the towns are compiling a report to assess the feasibility of joining Pennsylvania, noting they are in New York’s Southern Tier that’s sits on the natural gas-rich Marcellus shale formation. Finch said that allowing drilling in the region would provide an avenue for new jobs and a way to raise money for local schools and governments. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Feb 26, 2015

Stark County, Ohio at the center of natural gas pipeline push
 

Shifting economics in the energy sector is making Stark County in northeast Ohio the focus of two natural gas interstate pipeline projects more than 15 years after another big pipeline proposal stalled because of a lack of customers, reports the Canton Repository. The newspaper says the latest projects are a result of a new supply of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays that is rebalancing the national market for gas and rerouting pipeline networks. Pipelines planned by Energy Transfer Partners and NEXUS Gas Transmission would run through Stark County, moving gas from the Utica and Marcellus plays to markets in Ohio, Michigan and Canada. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 25, 2015

Oil companies may turn to ‘refracking’ of wells to reduce costs
 

Beset by falling prices, the oil industry is looking at about 50,000 existing wells in the United States that may be candidates for a second wave of hydraulic fracturing, using techniques that didn’t exist when the wells were first drilled, Bloomberg reports. New wells can cost as much as $8 million to develop, while "re-fracking" is about $2 million, according to oilfield services company Halliburton. Bloomberg says re-fracking offered mixed results in the past, earning it the nickname “pump and pray,” but the crash in oil prices is forcing companies to pursue new technologies to produce oil more cheaply. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Feb 25, 2015

Pennsylvania agency divides boards to reflect differences in oil and gas operations
 

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is replacing all members of its oil and natural gas advisory board to give it a greater focus on shale drilling, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The newspaper says the department will also create a second board to advise the agency on regulations affecting the traditional drilling industry. The changes reflect a push by traditional drillers and state officials to more clearly separate rules for the conventional industry, with its generally smaller operations and shallower wells, from the larger operations of companies targeting the Marcellus and Utica shale formations. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Feb 25, 2015

Ridgetop Capital launches fund to build hotels in Marcellus and Utica shale plays
 

The Pittsburgh Business Times reports that a former Wall Street banker who’s been investing in the Pittsburgh region's energy boom plans to develop hotels in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays. Brad Carpenter, principal of Ridgetop Capital Partners, told the newspaper that Ridgetop Hospitality has $6.4 million in hand toward a $10 million fund to create four hotels. Ridgetop Hospitality will look for properties in the same three-state region – Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia -- as Ridgetop Capital’s other funds. (See our February 3, 2015 blog, “Ridgetop Capital raises $200 million for Marcellus, Utica purchases”) For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  Pennsylvania  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Feb 24, 2015

Congressional Democrats increase probe of disposal of oil and gas wastes
 

Democrats on a congressional oversight panel are stepping up their investigation into how well states are regulating the disposal of oil and natural gas wastes, citing public concern about the potential environmental and health risks of hydraulic fracturing, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. According to the newspaper, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, the lead Democrat on a health subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said he will press environmental agencies in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia for fuller answers to his panel's questions on their level of inspections and enforcement actions regarding waste disposal. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  Pennsylvania  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Feb 24, 2015

Supreme Court decision may not close door on local input on oil and gas drilling
 

The Ohio Supreme Court’s recent ruling in State of Ohio ex rel. Jack Morrison, Jr. v. Beck Energy Corp. may not have fully answered the question of whether the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will always make the final call on oil and natural gas drilling in local communities, reports Columbus Business First. In a 4-3 decision on February 17, the Supreme Court affirmed the sole and exclusive authority of ODNR to regulate oil and gas production in Ohio, albeit in a limited context. Business First says that concurring Justice Terrence O'Donnell limited his argument to the local ordinances involved in the dispute, noting that whether a city has the authority to enact zoning rules on oil and gas wells within its boundaries is "a question yet to be decided."  For more, read the full story. Bricker & Eckler’s analysis of the Supreme Court ruling can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio  Oil & Gas Litigation   |  Permalink

 

Feb 23, 2015

Energy Transfer Partners changes plan on Canadian portion of Rover Pipeline
 

Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners has changed its plan to build portions of the Rover Pipeline in southeastern Michigan and Ontario, Canada, reports the Daily News in Chatham, Ontario. The newspaper says the company instead will connect the Rover Pipeline with the existing Vector Pipeline that crosses Michigan on its way from the Chicago area to a natural gas storage and trading facility in Lambton County, Ontario. Rover Pipeline will carry natural gas from processing facilities in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio to the Midwest Hub near Defiance, Ohio by the end of 2016 and into Michigan by mid-2017, according to the Daily News. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Miscellaneous  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 23, 2015

Republican legislators seem wary of Kasich’s severance tax plan
 

State officials continue to defend Ohio Governor John Kasich's plan to increase severance tax rates on oil and natural gas produced via hydraulic fracturing, but some Republican members of the Ohio House Finance Committee don't appear to be supporting the proposal, reports the Daily Record in Wooster. "This does seem to be a rather large step compared to what we were proposing in the last General Assembly,” said Rep. Tim Derickson, R-Oxford, noting House Republicans backed a smaller severance tax increase package in 2014. For more, read the full story. Bricker & Eckler’s analysis of Kasich’s tax proposal can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 20, 2015

Gastar says couple’s claim is barred in dispute over drinking water contamination
 

Energy company Gastar Exploration Inc. contends in a federal court filing that a West Virginia couple suing it for alleged contamination of drinking water from hydraulic fracturing operations has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, according to Mealey’s Fracking Report. In the dispute, Charles E. Bertrand v. Gastar Exploration Inc., N.D. W.Va. Case No. 14-00147, Charles and Debra Bertrand claim that Gastar contaminated their drinking water and caused other injuries. Mealey’s reports that the couple is seeking unspecified amounts for compensatory and punitive damages, alleging Gastar engaged in “intentional, unreasonable, negligent and/or reckless” interference with the enjoyment of their land and the contamination of their water. In its recent filing, Gastar argues that “the alleged damages, if any, of which Plaintiffs complain, were not proximately caused by or contributed to by any act or omission of Gastar.”

 


 
Posted by D. Gerken in  Oil & Gas Litigation  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Feb 20, 2015

Kasich pushes back on criticism of his severance tax plan
 

Ohio Governor John Kasich is pushing back against oil and natural gas industry experts who say now is not the time to raise the state’s severance tax on oil and gas production. (See our February 16, 2015 blog “Oil and gas industry says Kasich’s severance tax hike is ill-timed”) Kasich told WKSU in Kent, Ohio, that the price of natural gas has stayed “pretty stable” and the higher severance tax he is seeking will help diversify Ohio’s tax structure. For more, read the full story. Bricker & Eckler’s analysis of Kasich’s tax proposal can be found here.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 19, 2015

Chesapeake files lawsuit against American Energy Partners and related entities
 

Reuters reports that Chesapeake Energy Corp. has filed a lawsuit against certain entities started by Aubrey McClendon, the founder and former chief executive officer of Chesapeake. According to Reuters, Chesapeake’s complaint (which was filed in Oklahoma County District Court) alleges that McClendon "misappropriated highly sensitive trade secrets from Chesapeake" and "subsequently used these trade secrets for the benefit of" American Energy Partners (and several other entities), which are active in Ohio’s Utica shale play. The news service says that McClendon issued a statement in which he characterized the lawsuit as baseless and said his severance agreement with Chesapeake included "the right to own and use this information." For more, read the full story. Click here to read the lawsuit. McClendon’s statement can be found here.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Oil & Gas Litigation   |  Permalink

 

Feb 19, 2015

Drones seen as cost saver for oil and natural gas industry
 

Drones could soon be flying over oil and gas infrastructure in eastern Ohio as engineering firms eye the devices as a costs-saving way to better survey large tracts of land, reports Columbus Business First. The newspaper says that deployment of the small, unmanned aerial instruments is just beginning in the Utica shale play, with potential uses ranging from flying over pipelines for maintenance checks to reviewing large projects that a potential buyer wants to ensure are in solid shape. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 18, 2015

Pipeline project will pump $4.2 billion into Pennsylvania’s economy
 

A new study says Sunoco Logistics' expansion of its pipeline system for moving propane, butane and other natural gas liquids from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays to the East Coast will pump $4.2 billion into Pennsylvania’s economy and support 30,000 jobs during construction, reports the Tribune-Review in Pittsburgh. Citing a study by Philadelphia-based Econsult Solutions, the newspaper says many of those jobs are linked directly to construction of the $3 billion, 350-mile Mariner East 2 pipeline, while others will be created when the pipeline and a converted refinery at Sunoco’s Marcus Hook terminal outside Philadelphia open once construction wraps up in 2017. The Mariner East 2 project includes lines linking Ohio, West Virginia and southwest Pennsylvania to the main pipeline in Delmont, Pennsylvania. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Feb 17, 2015

Ohio Supreme Court: Oil & Gas Drilling Statutes Preempt "Home Rule" Power
 

On February 17, in a split 4-3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the sole and exclusive authority of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to regulate oil and gas production in Ohio, albeit in a limited context. In State of Ohio ex rel. Jack Morrison, Jr. v. Beck Energy Corp., the four-justice majority upheld the Ninth District Court of Appeals and concluded that the five city ordinances in question could not be enforced, because they were not a valid exercise of the municipality's home rule powers. Click here to read Bricker & Eckler’s full summary of the ruling’s implications.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 17, 2015

Pennsylvania governor wants severance tax modeled after one in West Virginia
 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has proposed a severance tax on natural gas production, saying the lion’s share of revenue would be used to fund education, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. According to the newspaper, Wolf said the details need to be worked out, but he is recommending a tax modeled after the one in West Virginia, which assesses a 5 percent charge on the value of produced natural gas, plus a 4.7-cent fee on every thousand cubic feet of natural gas drawn from the ground. Wolf said the severance tax would not come on top of Pennsylvania’s oil and gas impact fee; instead that fee would be rolled into the new tax. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Feb 17, 2015

Report: Ohio injection wells handled 35 percent more drilling waste in 2014
 

Oil and gas drilling wastes handled by Ohio’s injection wells grew by nearly 35 percent in 2014, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. The newspaper said the total volume was 22 million barrels of liquid wastes, up from 16.3 million gallons in 2013, based on data compiled by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The volume of in-state waste was 32 percent higher than in 2013, the Beacon Journal says, while out-of-state waste, mostly from Pennsylvania and West Virginia, increased 37 percent. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 16, 2015

Ohio Governor Unveils Proposed Budget for Fiscal Years 2016-2017: Severance Tax Revisions Remain on Tap
 

On February 11, House Bill 64, the two-year budget bill for the state, was introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives. Continuing a trend from prior budgets, the plan calls for an additional 23 percent reduction in the personal income tax rate and an expansion of the small business deduction to the first $2 million on net business income. These reductions would be paid for in part by increasing the sales tax rate from 5.75 percent to 6.25 percent, increasing the tax on tobacco products by $1, increasing the commercial activity tax from 0.26 percent to 0.32 percent of gross receipts, and revamping Ohio’s severance tax on oil and natural gas. The proposal increases the severance tax rate to 6.5 percent of the value of oil or natural gas at the wellhead, or in some cases, 4.5 percent of the value downstream. This varies significantly from the proposals that were considered during 2014. Read here for a summary that compares the various proposals and provides additional information on H.B. 64.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 16, 2015

Oil and gas industry says Kasich’s severance tax hike is ill-timed
 

Ohio’s oil and natural gas industry is saying that Governor John Kasich’s latest plan to raise the state’s severance tax comes at the “absolute worst time,” reports the Columbus Dispatch. Fewer horizontal wells are being drilled and jobs are being lost as lower oil and gas prices and a supply glut combine to make it difficult to turn a profit, Ohio Oil and Gas Association Executive Vice President Shawn Bennett told the newspaper. An $180 million-plus annual tax increase, as sought by Kasich (See our February 4, 2015 blog, “Kasich’s budget plan calls for big boost in oil and gas severance tax") would further discourage drilling investments and job creation, Bennett said. For more, see the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 16, 2015

Pennsylvania court orders recalculation of damages in mineral rights case
 

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has remanded an oil and natural gas mineral rights case to the trial court for a recalculation of damages that were awarded to a mineral rights owner in Dennis Sabella v. Appalachian Development Corp., Pa. Super. Case No 2014-237, according to Mealey’s Fracking Report. The dispute involves 66 subservice acres owned by Sabella in Warren County, Pennsylvania. Mealey’s reports that in 2010, Sabella filed suit in the Warren County Court of Common Pleas against Brian and Lisa Haner, operators of Pine Ridge Energy, which had purchased the mineral rights lease for Sabella’s land but allegedly had failed to pay him royalties for the oil and gas produced from it. Mealey’s says the Warren County court found the Haners liable for trespass and conversion and entered a judgment of $249,972 in favor of Sabella. According to Mealey's, the Superior Court partially affirmed the trial court’s ruling, but vacated its order denying Sabella prejudgment interest and delay damages. The Superior Court then remanded the case “for recalculation of compensatory damages freed from any offset for the costs of development and production."

 


 
Posted by D. Gerken in  Oil & Gas Litigation  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Feb 13, 2015

Pennsylvania pipeline builders shielded from depressed natural gas prices
 

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that analysts are saying pipeline builders in western Pennsylvania are largely shielded from the fallout of depressed commodity prices that has resulted in spending cuts by companies that drill and produce natural gas. “Pipelines are kind of like owning a toll booth on a highway — once you build them, you're going to get guaranteed rates, and you don't build them unless you have subscribers,” said Frank Nieto, senior editor of Midstream Business at Hart Energy Publications in Houston. The Tribune-Review also says pipeline companies are in a “sweet spot” because the drilling boom in western Pennsylvania has led to a bottleneck in the natural gas transmission system. For more, read the full story
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Feb 13, 2015

Report: Ohio's Utica shale play no longer a good news story
 

More than six months of declining oil prices, along with low prices for natural gas, have turned the news from good to bad in Ohio’s Utica shale play, reports Crain’s Cleveland Business. “There hasn't been a shortage of bad news for about the last two months now,” Shawn Bennett, executive vice president for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, told the newspaper. The bad news, including Vallourec Star’s recent decision to shut down its Youngstown steel plant for three weeks (See our Feb. 11, 2015 blog “Ohio steel plant’s temporary shutdown tied to decline in oil and gas business”), follows what Crain’s calls the “good old days when a shale drilling story in Ohio usually was about some company coming here and spending billions on mineral rights leases or midstream processing plants and creating jobs like they were penny candies.” For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 12, 2015

EQT writes off undeveloped acreage in Ohio’s Utica shale play
 

Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. is writing off the value of its undeveloped acreage in the Utica shale play in eastern Ohio, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. The newspaper says the acreage is predominately in Guernsey County. During EQT’s recent earnings call, company executives said they wrote off the acreage because the estimate of the amount of natural gas that is likely to be recovered over the life of the undeveloped acreage was "significantly below expectations." For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 12, 2015

EV Energy Partners plans to sell stake in Utica shale midstream network
 

EV Energy Partners L.P. plans to sell its interest in the Utica East Ohio Buckeye midstream network in 2015, reports the Youngstown Business Journal. The network in eastern Ohio includes the Kensington cryogenic plant in southern Columbiana County and a fractionation plant in Scio in Harrison County. According to the Business Journal, EV Energy’s decision to sell comes as the Houston-based company plans to reduce its midstream capital expenditures by $100 million in 2015 and its exploration and production expenditures by about 40 percent due to the decline in commodity prices. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 11, 2015

Ohio steel plant’s temporary shutdown tied to decline in oil and gas business
 

Crain’s Cleveland Business reports that Vallourec Star’s steel mill in Youngstown is shutting down for at least three weeks, citing lack of demand for the oil and natural gas pipe products it makes. The mill opened in 2013 (See our June 15, 2013 blog “Vallourec Star opens $1.05 billion pipe mill in Youngstown to supply the oil and gas industry”) to help meet the demand for steel tubing by a drilling industry that was exploding across the nation. According to Crain’s, Vallourec said its 500-plus employees will return to work after the "blackout period." The company is also offering six-month voluntary layoffs to workers willing to take them. For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 11, 2015

Southwestern Energy won’t curtail drilling despite price declines
 

Southwestern Energy CEO Steve Mueller says the company has no intention of curtailing drilling operations despite the drop in oil and natural gas prices, reports the Wheeling Intelligencer/New Register. "Almost everyone agrees demand will continue to grow through the end of the decade,” Mueller said, “mainly driven by new power generation and exports, but also including additional industrial growth.” The newspaper says Southwestern, which acquired 413,000 acres in West Virginia and western Pennsylvania from Chesapeake Energy Corp. in 2014, plans to spend $2.6 billion on drilling and hydraulic fracturing this year. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Feb 10, 2015

Report: Chevron looking to sell acreage in Marcellus shale play
 

Chevron Appalachia is looking for a buyer for some of its Marcellus shale acreage in western Pennsylvania, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. Citing listings on the EnergyNet website, the newspaper says that Chevron is selling tracts covering about 15,600 acres in Cambria, Bedford and Blair counties. The Business Times says it is unclear whether the sale is arising from the recent restructuring of Chevron’s Appalachia-Michigan business unit, through which it is laying off 162 employees. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania   |  Permalink

 

Feb 10, 2015

Smaller oil producers facing tough decision due to decline in crude prices
 

Reuters reports that the decline in crude oil prices is impacting scores of smaller U.S. oil producers who face the choice of shutting older, high-cost wells or burning through cash in the hope of riding out the downturn. The news service says that operators are already closing some small, old wells, known as strippers, and tens of thousands of similar wells are on the verge of losing money. A further slide could idle an equivalent of up to 2 percent of U.S. oil supply, according to Reuters. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  United States   |  Permalink

 

Feb 09, 2015

Blue Racer shelves plan for natural gas facility in eastern Ohio
 

Blue Racer Midstream LLC has shelved its plan to build a multimillion-dollar natural gas processing facility in Mahoning County, Ohio, reports the Youngstown Business Journal. "I wouldn't say it's out of the question at some point in the future, but it certainly is at this particular point in time," Blue Racer executive Scott Williams said at the recent Hart Energy Marcellus-Utica Midstream Conference in Pittsburgh. He said Blue Racer has pulled back from the Petersburg project in Mahoning County because the northern tier of the Utica shale play has not delivered sufficient oil and gas production. For more, read the full story. More articles about Blue Racer can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 09, 2015

Consol to cut spending in Marcellus, Utica plays but will still boost production
 

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Consol Energy Inc. plans to trim capital spending on natural gas development but avoid the more drastic cuts other shale-drilling companies are announcing. According to the newspaper, Consol said it will spend about $1 billion this year on development in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays, a drop of 23 percent from the $1.3 billion it spent on that business segment in 2014. Despite the cutbacks, Consol leaders are predicting a 30 percent increase in gas production this year and in 2016. For more, read the full story. More articles related to Consol can be found here.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Pennsylvania  West Virginia  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 09, 2015

Hilcorp to keep drilling in northern tier of Utica shale play
 

Houston-based Hilcorp Energy Co. sees opportunity where others don’t as it plans to drill more natural gas wells this year in the northern tier of the Utica shale play in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, reports the Youngstown Business Journal. A Hilcorp spokesman told the newspaper that the company is optimistic that oil and gas development will remain successful in the Utica’s northern tier, noting that Hilcorp spent $400 million on development of the shale play in 2014. The Business Journal says other companies that initiated drilling programs in the northern tier, which includes Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties in Ohio, have abandoned their interests, suspended exploration or not pursued new development because of lackluster well performance. For more, read the full story. More articles related to Hilcorp can be found here.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 06, 2015

Vectren to spend $34 million on natural gas pipeline projects in Ohio
 

Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio plans to install about $34 million worth of natural gas pipelines across its Ohio coverage area as part of an ongoing project to improve existing infrastructure, reports the Dayton Daily News. That amount is an increase from spending between $15 million and $18 million a year, a Vectren executive told the newspaper. The Daily News says the company is able to spend additional money on infrastructure because of the improving economy in the region and positive results from pipeline replacement work already completed in Ohio. For more, read the full story.
 


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  Ohio   |  Permalink

 

Feb 06, 2015

West Virginia legislators pass bill on transfer of drilling rights
 

Southwestern Energy Co. could soon be allowed to seek a transfer of drilling permits in the Marcellus shale play from Chesapeake Energy Corp. following recent action by the West Virginia House of Delegates, reports West Virginia Metro News. The news service says the House approved Senate Bill 280 to allow the transfer of permits from one drilling company to another, something currently not allowed under state law. The bill is expected to help Southwestern Energy, which paid Chesapeake more than $5 billion last year for 413,000 acres in West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania. (See our October 22, 2014 blog “Southwestern acquires Chesapeake acreage in $5.375 billion deal “) For more, read the full story.


 
Posted by M. Warnock in  West Virginia   |  Permalink

 

Feb 05, 2015

American Energy Corp. requests disclosure of leases in trade-name dispute with American Energy Partners
 

Coal company American Energy Corp. (AEC) has filed a brief in a trade-name and trademark infringement case in Ohio, contending that a hydraulic fracturing company with a similar name should be compelled to produce oil and gas leases it has with landowners, according to Mealey’s Fracking Report. In a filing in American Energy Corp. v. American Energy Partners, S.D. Ohio No. 13-00886, AEC claims the leases held by American Energy Partners (AEP) “are directly relevant to the issue of whether there can be (or is) confusion as to a false affiliation between plaintiff and defendants.” Mealey’s reports that AEC filed suit against AEP, an oil and gas developer, in August 2013 in the Belmont County Court of Common Pleas, arguing that AEP should be barred from using the American Energy Partners name because it would cause “a likelihood of confusion as to affiliation, connection or association with” AEC. American Energy Partners removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
 


 
Posted by D. Gerken in  Ohio  Oil & Gas Litigation   |  Permalink