Columbus steel plant closing linked to oil and gas downturn

The downturn in the oil and natural gas industry has played a role in the impending closure of the Columbus Castings’ steel plant in Columbus, Ohio, reports Business First. The Columbus newspaper says a resurgence at the plant had been tied to a rise in the rail industry driven by increased oil shipments. That increase boosted demand for the rail-car undercarriages made at the steel foundry. But, with oil prices down and shipments by rail in decline, Columbus Castings is being impacted by macro-level economics and faces the prospect of closing this summer unless it finds a buyer, according to Business First. For more, read the full story.


Bankruptcy court confirms Magnum Hunter’s Chapter 11 reorganization plan

Texas-based Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. and certain of its wholly-owned subsidiaries have announced that the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware has confirmed the companies’ Chapter 11 plan of reorganization, according to MarketWatch. The financial news site says confirmation of the plan is “a critical and near-final step” toward Magnum Hunter emerging from Chapter 11 protection. The company, which has been active in Ohio’s Utica shale play, filed for bankruptcy protection on December 15, 2015. For more, read the full story.

National, Ohio

First tanker of North Dakota crude oil arrives in Europe

A tanker carrying 175,000 barrels of North Dakota crude oil recently arrived in the Netherlands, marking the first overseas shipment of the state's oil since Congress lifted a 40-year ban on crude exports in December 2015, reports the Associated Press. The news service says North Dakota's congressional delegation and industry officials hailed Hess Corp.'s shipment “as a milestone that could open more markets in faraway refineries where premium prices are typically fetched." A Hess spokesman said the oil was shipped by rail from North Dakota to St. James, Louisiana, where it was loaded on a tanker with ExxonMobil Corp.'s oil from the Gulf of Mexico. For more, read the full story.

Global, National

Rice Energy bids for Marcellus and Utica assets from Alpha

Rice Energy Inc. has entered into a $200 million stalking horse asset purchase agreement with a subsidiary of Alpha Natural Resources Inc. to acquire 27,400 acres of undeveloped Marcellus and Utica shale assets in Greene County, Pennsylvania, reports the Observer-Reporter. The newspaper says the agreement also includes an additional 3,200 gross acres to be leased to Rice Energy and rights to deep Utica shale assets on 23,500 net acres. The agreement is part of a restructuring plan by Alpha, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August 2015. For more, read the full story.


Oil-producing countries strike out on production freeze

Officials from 18 countries recently failed to reach a deal to freeze oil production at current levels, reports the New York Times. The newspaper says the meeting of representatives from most of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as well as Russia had been intended to calm oil markets and demonstrate that the two leading oil exporters, Russia and Saudi Arabia, were cooperating. A major stumbling block in the talks, according to the Times, appears to have been pressure from Saudi Arabia for Iran to participate in the freeze. For more, read the full story.


Company completes deal to acquire Eclipse Resources’ wells in Ohio

Diversified Gas & Oil has completed its acquisition of all the conventional oil and natural gas assets of Eclipse Resources in Ohio for $4.8 million, reports StockMarketWire.Com. The financial news site says the assets include approximately 1,300 conventional oil and gas wells and the purchase is the Alabama-based company’s largest in Ohio. Diversified now owns and operates approximately 5,000 conventional wells in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. For more, read the full story.


API report shows 70% drop in natural gas well completions

A new report from the American Petroleum Institute (API) says estimated natural gas well completions decreased 70% in the first quarter of 2016 compared to last year’s level, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. The API report also says exploratory oil well completions fell 90% compared to first-quarter estimates in 2015. In addition, the total number of feet drilled by oil and gas companies decreased 73%, with the largest drop involving the footage of exploratory wells. For more, read the full story.


Rex Energy strikes deal to ship Marcellus ethane to Europe

Rex Energy Corp. has announced a deal in which the company will send its ethane, propane and butane from western Pennsylvania to Europe, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. The newspaper says Rex’s agreement is with Swiss chemical company Ineos Europe AG, which recently shipped the first Marcellus ethane from Range Resources Corp. to Norway via the Marcus Hook terminal in Philadelphia. Rex said it has started shipping ethane on the Mariner East pipeline, and will eventually transport butane and propane as well. For more, read the full story.

Global, Pennsylvania

Moody’s chops credit ratings for Chevron, Shell, Total SA

Three of the world’s largest energy companies, Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA, recently had their credit ratings lowered by Moody’s Investors Service on the expectation that oil prices will stay low and cause leverage concerns, reports The energy news site says Moody’s reduced Chevron and Shell’s ratings one level to Aa2, while Total SA’s was cut two levels to Aa3. FuelFix says oil companies are having their credit ratings cut as the collapse in crude prices reduces cash flows and limits their ability to sustain debt payments. For more, read the full story.


Pennsylvania county prepares for Shell’s ethane ‘cracker’ project

Beaver County, Pennsylvania is getting ready for Royal Dutch Shell’s arrival even as the county continues to wait for the energy company to decide whether to build an ethane “cracker” plant there, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. Speaking at a panel discussion held by the newspaper, Castlebrook Development partner Pat Nardelli said infrastructure is starting to be put in place for the cracker plant, and Shell is seeking land to develop parking for the thousands of anticipated jobs that would be created during construction. “The one thing about Shell is whether they make the decision or not, they’ve spent a half billion (dollars) to date if not more,” Nardelli said, adding Beaver County is “going to have one heck of a building pad sitting down there totally prepared for whomever.” For more, read the full story.

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