Rice installs executives at EQT

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that EQT’s new CEO Toby Rice has appointed a slate of executives from his former company Rice Energy, Inc., including general counsel William Jordan, CIO Tony Duren and CHRO Lesley Evancho. Other key positions have been filled but were not yet named. These executives have been tasked with leading EQT through the transition period and implementing Mr. Rice’s proposed 100-day plan. Read the full story, including market and production goals and Mr. Rice’s thoughts on company culture.

Pennsylvania

UGI expands midstream portfolio with acquisition

UGI Energy Services, a subsidiary of UGI Corporation, has announced that it has entered into an agreement with TC Energy to acquire the equity interests of Columbia Midstream Group from one of TC Energy’s subsidiaries. The deal is worth roughly $1.25 billion, and will allow UGI to “expand [their] midstream capabilities in the prolific…Southwest Appalachian Basin,” according to UGI president and CEO John L. Walsh.  Other “compelling financial and strategic benefits,” according to UGI and reported by BusinessWire, include diversification, expansion of revenue, portfolio-building and an expanded footprint in the midstream asset market across Utica and Marcellus. Read the full story, including financing and closing details, here.

Ohio

Permit for proposed injection well, RUMA stalled by township trustees

The Intelligencer: Wheeling News-Register has reported that the Richland Township (Belmont County) trustees have tabled indefinitely two key items which would allow Omni Energy Group to drill and operate at the intersection of U.S. 40 and Ohio 331: the permit for the proposed well and the road use maintenance agreement for Omni’s ongoing operations in relation to the well. Likewise, the trustees have requested the involvement of the county and state and federal representatives. Concerns are running high among residents, some citing fears of health threats, some the noise and disruption of construction; some are skeptical of wastewater well technology in general. The discussion is ongoing; the next trustees’ meeting is August 7. Read the full story.

Ohio

Rice and his team are once again in control of EQT

Toby Rice sold Rice Energy Corp. to EQT Corp. in 2017. On Wednesday, July 10, 2019, as reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, after a nine-month campaign culminating in a shareholder vote, a majority Rice-nominated slate has taken over the board and installed Mr. Rice as CEO. EQT posted disastrous results in 3Q 2018, which is cited as a major catalyst for this change. Plans are under way for the transition and all involved are looking to a successful transformation. Read the full story.

Pennsylvania

Marietta official, Ohio Oil and Gas Association weigh in on water studies

A team from Yale University and MIT will be conducting a new drinking water study in Belmont and Monroe Counties, reports The Intelligencer: Wheeling News-Register. Researcher Nicole Deziel, who did a pilot study in Belmont County in 2016, will spearhead this new effort, collecting data and samples and speaking with residents. Her research follows the EPA’s 2016 report stating the need for more data to determine the ultimate impact of oil and gas development on public health. Deziel’s stated intention is threefold: to develop a predictive model of contamination, perform data analyses of screenings for contamination and study neonatal health outcomes. Jeffery Kephart, Marietta’s water superintendent, pointed out that some of the chemicals thought to cause health issues may turn up in water from sources not related to fracking. Mike Chadsey of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association noted that Ohio’s “strong well casing standards” are a key to protecting the drinking water. Read the full story.

Ohio

West Virginia decisions highlight conflict between oil & gas companies, landowners

In contrast to its recent ruling in Andrews v. Antero (See ShaleOhio, June 14), the West Virginia Supreme Court’s decision in EQT Production Company v. Margot Beth Crowder and David Wentz represents “a rare victory for residents,” according to ProPublica. Landowners and lessors Crowder and Wentz sued EQT when EQT drilled on their land to access natural gas underneath neighboring properties. The high court ruled that lessees may only use surface lands to aid in the development of minerals “underlying the [leased] tract;” developers may not use the surface lands of a lessor to develop an adjacent tract without the express permission of the landowner. The 5-0 ruling sets a legal precedent in defining EQT’s actions as trespassing. Read ProPublica’s comparison here.

West Virginia

Bechtel will build Belmont County cracker

Thai petrochemical giant PTT Global Chemical has selected Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals to build the Belmont County ethane cracker plant, according to S & P Global. Bechtel is also building a Shell cracker in Monaca, Pennsylvania. Ethane cracker plants could spur economic growth in the region; two large-scale projects in close proximity could encourage workers to relocate here rather than coming in to work on a project-by-project basis. Utica and Marcellus could support four additional cracker plants, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, further increasing development potential. The Belmont County plant will site on a former coal-fired power plant in Mead Township.

Ohio

WV high court sides with Antero in implied surface easement dispute

Law 360 reports that the West Virginia Supreme Court has issued its ruling in the matter of Robert L. Andrews et al. v. Antero Resources Corp. et al. The court addressed whether the plaintiff landowners were unreasonably and substantially burdened by the defendant gas developers’ activities on and around their land. The majority opinion held that the plaintiffs failed to present evidence of such a burden, particularly on the issue of whether Antero’s activities to develop the mineral estate were reasonably necessary. In addition, the court found that the landowners’ stated “…annoyances, inconveniences, and discomforts” in relation to Antero’s activities on the property “simply do not rise to the level of a substantial burden” as required by West Virginia case law.

The 3-2 decision affirms the lower court’s ruling that the defendants acted in accordance with their implied rights to use the surface estates. Justice Jenkins wrote the majority opinion. In dissent, Justice Workman criticized the majority for failing to provide any guidance on the interplay of the competing rights of a surface landowner and a mineral estate owner. Law 360 notes that this type of conflict between oil & gas E&P companies and landowners is on the rise in West Virginia; it's expected that the number will only continue to grow because of the prevalence of split surface and mineral estates in the Appalachian region.

West Virginia

Construction begins on critical Ashtabula County pipeline

Construction of the Ohio portion of the Risberg Line has begun, reports the Ashtabula Star Beacon. Once complete, the Risberg Line will flow 55 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of gas from Pennsylvania to the northern tip of Ohio in Ashtabula County. It is expected that the pipeline will help address Ashtabula County’s natural gas needs. The county has suffered from a shortage of natural gas in the past which has impacted its ability to attract certain industries. RH energytrans, the company that will build and own the line, plans to finish construction in early summer. Read the full story.

Ohio, Pennsylvania

New PJM report demonstrates potential costs of FirstEnergy nuclear bailout

A new study shows that Ohio House Bill 6, which subsidizes FirstEnergy Solutions’ two Ohio nuclear plants, could cost Ohio ratepayers even more than the hundreds of millions of dollars in direct charges proposed to prop up the nuclear plants and two older coal plants. The analysis from grid operator PJM concludes that keeping FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants open could, in addition, cost ratepayers as much as $16 million per year in lost savings by discouraging cheaper gas generation from coming online. Read the full story.  

Ohio
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