Appalachian Storage Hub Conference speakers agree now is the time to build

The petrochemical industry in Appalachia is currently booming with the Shell ethane cracker under construction and other projects planned in the tri-state area. The Gulf Coast has many large storage hubs for the petrochemical industry, but industry experts at the Appalachian Storage Hub Conference agreed the Appalachian region needs its own storage areas to reach full output potential, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times. The payoff associated with an Appalachian storage hub is massive reports a recent American Chemistry Council study; it could spur billions of dollars in investment and create nearly 100,000 jobs.  For more, read the full story

Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia

PA Supreme Court: Oil and gas wells may not be an acceptable use in certain residential/agricultural zoned areas

In a 4-3 decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in Gorsline v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfield Township, J-13-2017, 2018 Pa. LEXIS 2781 (June 1, 2018), announced a ruling that may impact shale gas development in non-industrially zoned areas throughout Pennsylvania. In the case, Fairfield Township approved an application to permit Inflection Energy, LLC to drill multiple gas wells in a residential-agricultural zoned area. The issuance of the permit was based upon the township board of supervisors’ determination that the drilling and operation of the wells was “similar to and compatible with the other uses permitted in the zone” where the property is located and that the wells constituted a “public service facility” under the local zoning code. Two local families appealed the township’s decision.

The trial court overturned the decision to permit the oil and gas wells, finding that the board’s classification of the wells as “similar to” a “public service facility” was not supported by substantial evidence. The intermediate appellate court reversed the trial court, finding that the oil and gas company’s proposed use was similar to and compatible with a “public service facility” and/or an “essential service.” The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that the board’s determination to permit the wells as “similar to and compatible with” a “public service facility” or “essential service” was an error as a matter of law. The Court reasoned that the proposed drilling did not demonstrate any benefit to the local community such that it could be considered a public service facility but indicated its decision did not decide that all oil and gas development in residential or agricultural zones is unacceptable as a matter of Pennsylvania law. In fact, the Court noted that the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code specifically “permits the governing body of a municipality to amend its zoning ordinances to permit oil and gas development in any or all of its zoning districts.” For more, read the full Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story.

Oil & Gas Litigation, Pennsylvania

Private equity owner could combine Appalachian oil and gas companies

Pittsburgh Business Times reports that EnCap Investments, the private equity owner of Penn Energy Resources LLC and Eclipse Resources, is considering merging the oil and gas companies. Click here to read more.


Former Rice Energy leaders launch new oil and gas fund

The Pittsburgh Business Times reports the family that started natural gas drilling company Rice Energy Inc., which was acquired by EQT Corp. in 2018, has started a new oil and natural gas venture. The newspaper says Rice Investment Group, based near Pittsburgh, is a $200 million multi-strategy fund that will invest in oil and gas companies "with a focus on partnering where [its] operational, technical and strategic experience add value.” Rice Investment Group includes brothers Daniel Rice, Toby Rice, Derek Rice and Ryan Rice. For more, read the full story.


UGI Energy Services expanding Marcellus gathering system

UGI Energy Services is expanding its Auburn natural gas gathering system by adding two compressor stations in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna and Wyoming counties, according to Kallanish Energy. The news site says the $50 million project will transport natural gas from Cabot Oil & Gas. “This expansion will supply gas to end-users and feed new pipelines that will connect Marcellus gas to regions that have not historically benefitted from access to this clean, abundant, and inexpensive energy source,” said UGI Corp. Chief Executive Officer John Walsh. For more, read the full story.


Analysis: Oil and gas workers thrive financially in Pennsylvania

Workers at companies producing most of the natural gas in Pennsylvania are doing quite well financially, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The newspaper reports that median annual compensation for workers is $129,390 at CNX Resources; $123,500 at Range Resources; $118,761 at Chesapeake Energy; $108,458 at Southwestern Energy; $102,470 at EQT Corp.; and $75,891 at Cabot Oil & Gas. For more, read the full story.


Rex Energy plans to file for bankruptcy

Rex Energy Corp., a Pennsylvania-based oil and natural gas company, plans to file for bankruptcy, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The newspaper says Rex, which operates in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays, disclosed in its quarterly report with the Securities & Exchange Commission that it could not come to an agreement with lenders after missing a debt payment in April 2018, and would be seeking protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. For more, read the full story.

Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia

EIA: Natural gas-fired power plants lead rise in electric generating capacity

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has issued a report predicting that 32 gigawatts (GW) of new electric generating capacity will come online nationally in 2018, with 66% of that total to be from natural gas-fired power plants, according to Marcellus Drilling News. The report says that of the 21 GW of new natural gas-fired generation, Pennsylvania will provide 5.2 GW, while Maryland and Virginia will each generate 1.9 GW. Click here to read more.

National, Pennsylvania

Shell Polymers name returning with Pennsylvania ethane ‘cracker’ project

The Shell Polymers name “is returning in a big way” with the development of Royal Dutch Shell’s massive petrochemicals complex in western Pennsylvania, reports Plastics News. The news site says the Shell Chemicals unit, which had exited most of its plastics businesses in recent years, is bouncing back, with production at the Shell ethane “cracker” plant in Beaver County expected to begin in the early 2020s. Polyethylene resins made at the location will mostly be sold to the U.S. domestic market. For more, read the full story.


Utica shale production paces CNX Resources results

CNX Resources reported its first-quarter 2018 sales of natural gas and liquids rose 36% compared to that period a year ago, primarily due to Utica shale play volumes, according to Kallanish Energy. The company said Utica shale volumes, including natural gas liquids, were 184% higher during the quarter than in the first quarter of 2017 and consistent with the company’s previously stated expectations. For more, read the full story.

Ohio, Pennsylvania
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