Chesapeake to focus on well completions in Utica, Marcellus shale plays
Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Doug Lawler said the company will spend 2017 completing existing natural gas wells in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays rather than new drilling in the Appalachia basin, reports the Youngstown Business Journal. “Our activities in the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania and the Utica shale in Ohio will be more focused on completing inventory wells compared to drilling and completing new wells,” Lawler said in a statement. Overall, Chesapeake plans to operate an average of 17 drilling rigs across its holdings in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2017, up from 10 rigs in 2016, and it will spud and place into production 400 and 450 wells respectively compared to 213 and 428 wells last year, according to the Business Journal. For more, read the full story.
Williams Partners boosts stake in Marcellus natural gas system
Williams Partners LP has signed an agreement with Western Gas Partners to boost its ownership stake in two Marcellus shale natural gas gathering systems that Williams already operates, Yahoo! Finance reports. The news site says Western Gas in return will obtain Williams Partners’ 50% ownership stake in the Delaware Basin JV Gathering system in Texas. In the transaction, Williams Partners will receive Western Gas’ 33.75% ownership stake in both the Rome and Liberty natural gas gathering systems in northern Pennsylvania and a cash payment of $155 million. For more, read the full story.
PTT Global Chemical delays final investment decision on Ohio ethane ‘cracker’ project
PTT Global Chemical of Thailand said it needs more time before making a final decision on proceeding with its proposed ethane “cracker” plant in Belmont County, Ohio, reports the Columbus Dispatch. The company said it will make a decision by late 2017, reports the newspaper. "For some in the Belmont County community... we recognize this delay may cause further uncertainty and inconvenience, but we hope that the strong support we have received to date will continue," PTT said in a news release. For more, read the full story. Click here for more stories about the PTT project.
Chesapeake Energy and McClendon estate reach settlement
Chesapeake Energy Corp. and the estate of the late Aubrey McClendon, the company’s co-founder and former CEO, have agreed to settle a multimillion-dollar dispute over data, stocks and the use of a corporate jet by McClendon, reports the Oklahoman in Oklahoma City. The newspaper says that under terms of a settlement filed in Oklahoma County District court, Chesapeake agreed to pay $3.25 million in legal fees and dropped claims for $445 million related to data that McClendon allegedly took from the company when he was fired in April 2013. In exchange, the McClendon estate agreed to drop claims on remaining compensation from his separation from the company. McClendon died in a car crash on March 2, 2016. For more, read the full story.
Appeals court: Ohio residents failed to assert claims on oil and natural gas leases
A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has affirmed a lower court’s ruling that three Ohio residents failed to assert a claim under the False Claims Act (“FCA”) in a recent lawsuit challenging oil and natural gas leases entered into by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (“MWCD”). The Sixth Circuit case, United States ex rel. Harper v. Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, 6th Cir., No. 15-4406, is an appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, in which the relators challenged the MWCD’s leases under the FCA. Mealey’s Fracking Report notes that District Court Judge Sara Lioi had dismissed the suit because “it was clear the relators were not the ‘model whistleblowers’ contemplated by the FCA.”
In their appeal to the Sixth Circuit panel, the relators challenged the district court’s determinations that (1) the relators failed to state a claim under the FCA’s reverse false claim and public-disclosure provisions, and (2) the public-disclosure bar and Federal Rules of Civil of Civil Procedure 9(b)’s heightened pleading requirements applied to the relators’ claims. In affirming the district court’s dismissal of the lawsuit, the majority of the Sixth Circuit panel said the relators “failed to state facts from which MWCD’s awareness of the alleged FCA violations may be inferred even under the more liberal pleading standard set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a).” For more, read the full Sixth Circuit Ruling.
Dynegy deal includes power plants in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania
Houston-based Dynegy Inc. has closed its deal with French energy company Engie to acquire 17 power plants, including natural gas-fueled facilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, reports FuelFix.com. The news site says the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently approved the $3.3 billion deal, which will add more than 9,000 megawatts of generating capacity to Dynegy’s network. The company said the acquisition includes natural gas-fired power plants in Luckey, Ohio, Saint Marys, West Virginia, and Shelocta, Pennsylvania. For more, read the full story.
Report: Oil and gas development fuels property tax revenue gains in eastern Ohio
Columbus Business First reports that new research by the Ohio Oil and Gas Association and Energy in Depth estimates that property tax revenue tied to the oil and natural gas industry could contribute $250 million to eastern Ohio counties over the next 10 years. The newspaper says the two groups collected data on property tax revenue for the six counties -- Belmont, Carroll, Guernsey, Harrison, Monroe and Noble – that have been home to the most drilling in the Utica shale play since 2011. Their research also found that $43 million in oil and gas-related property tax revenue was generated from 2011 to 2015 in those counties. For more, read the full story.
Denver company plans NGL storage facility in eastern Ohio
Denver-based Energy Storage Ventures wants to store up to 168 million gallons of natural gas liquids (NGL) in underground salt caverns about 12 miles south of PTT Global Chemical’s proposed ethane “cracker” plant site along the Ohio River, reports the Wheeling Intelligencer/News-Register. Energy Storage Ventures President David Hooker told the newspaper the storage facility in Monroe County, Ohio would be the first of its kind in the heart of the Marcellus and Utica shale region. Testing and permitting are ongoing for the project, which Hooker hopes to open on former coal mine property near Clarington before the end of 2018, according to the Intelligencer/News-Register. For more, read the full story.
EQT wins auction to acquire Stone Energy’s Marcellus, Utica acreage
EQT Corp.’s $527 million bid was the winner in a bankruptcy auction to buy Stone Energy Corp.’s Marcellus and Utica shale acreage, reports Oil and Gas Investor. The news site says Pittsburgh-based EQT outbid its nearest rival by $16 million and will pay 46% more than stalking horse bidder Tug Hill’s initial $360 million offer submitted in October 2016. EQT said the purchase gives it 86,000 net acres in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. For more, read the full story.
Pipeline projects in holding pattern after resignation of FERC commissioner
Natural gas pipeline projects along the East Coast and in the Midwest face uncertainty as the federal agency that oversees pipeline work loses a commissioner and will be unable to decide on projects indefinitely, reports the Associated Press (AP). The news service says Norman Bay stepped down from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on February 3, 2017, leaving the five-member panel with just two commissioners, one short of the number needed for a quorum to approve projects. AP says at least a half-dozen pipeline projects totaling more than $10 billion “hang in the balance,” including the Nexus pipeline in Ohio and Michigan, PennEast pipeline in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and Northern Access pipeline in Pennsylvania and New York. For more, read the full story.