Halliburton to add 2,000 jobs as oilfield activity surges
Halliburton, which has operations in Ohio’s Utica shale play, plans to add 2,000 U.S. jobs and ramp up “faster than anticipated to try to match the surging oilfield activity, especially in West Texas,” reports FuelFix.com. The news site says that in an operations update call, Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar reported the company is spending more money now to protect market share and ensure stronger profits in the future. For more, read the full story.
Study: Marcellus, Utica shale region could support four more ‘ethane’ crackers
A new study says production of natural gas liquids (NGL) in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays could support up to four additional ethane “cracker” plants in the region in addition to the one that Royal Dutch Shell is building in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. The report, released by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s office and the Team Pennsylvania Foundation, forecasts $2.7 billion to $3.7 billion in investments in NGL assets as well as the opportunity to attract additional cracker plants, petrochemical businesses and plastics manufacturing facilities. For more, read the full report.
Utica shale play posts big natural gas production gain in 2016
Horizontal wells in eastern Ohio’s Utica shale play yielded more than 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas during 2016, a 43.4% increase from the prior year, reports the Youngstown Business Journal. Citing production reports from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), the newspaper also says Utica wells produced 345.241 billion cubic feet of gas in the fourth quarter of 2016, a 14.1% increase over the same period in 2015. However, the ODNR report showed oil production in the Utica region fell 22% in 2016 compared to the previous year. For more, read the full story.
Oil and gas rig count keeps rising including in Marcellus shale play
The U.S. oil and natural gas drilling rig count jumped 21 units to 789 during the week ending on March 17th, continuing a rally that dates to May 27, 2016, reports Oil and Gas Journal. Citing data from Baker Hughes Inc., the news site says the most recent rig count increases were concentrated in Oklahoma and North Dakota. The rig count in the Marcellus shale play increased by one unit to 42, which is double the number on August 12, 2016. For more, read the full story.
U.S. shale expansion runs counter to OPEC’s global oil strategy
Reuters reports that U.S. shale producers are plotting “ambitious production growth outside the red-hot Permian Basin in Texas, widening a resurgence that could confound” a strategy by OPEC to tighten global supplies. As U.S. shale producers rebound from a two-year price war with OPEC, many are planning to expand production in North Dakota, Oklahoma and other regions such as the Utica and Marcellus shale plays, according to the new service. Reuters notes that Hess Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp., Continental Resources Inc. and other companies recently detailed expansion projects that would result in a “steady supply of American crude exports through the next decade.” For more, read the full story.
Ohio oil and natural gas drilling permits down 44%
The slump in Ohio’s oil and natural gas industry led to a 44% decline in drilling permits in 2016, reports Columbus Business First. Citing a new analysis by the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, the newspaper says 561 permits were issued last year, down from 997 in 2015. Business First says the drop is even more severe when compared to 2014, when 1,659 permits were issued at the peak of the Utica shale boom. For more, read the full story.
Microbes in Marcellus shale could boost natural gas regeneration
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratories (NETL) have found that the Marcellus shale formation may be a rich source for microbial life that “could help refill the important domestic natural gas reservoir by producing methane,” reports Oil and Gas Journal. The news site says NETL research suggests that some species of tiny “worker microbes” known as extremophiles that live in the extreme conditions of the Marcellus shale formation may also be methanogens (meaning they produce methane). NETL said this discovery has important implications for energy production because a biogenic source of methane would mean faster regeneration of natural gas in shale and the potential for secondary gas recovery. For more, read the full story.
Future looks bright for natural gas power generation in Ohio
The future is dim for coal as a source of electric power generation in Ohio but bright for natural gas, reports the Toledo Blade. Citing data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the newspaper says Ohio now has 15 coal-burning power plants capable of producing 15,322 megawatts of electricity. But the Blade notes that in just a few years, the generation capacity of natural gas-fired plants in Ohio is expected to total 19,109 megawatts -- up from 9,449 megawatts today -- with as many as 10 new plants already approved by state regulators or planned by power companies. For more, read the full story.
Pipeline additions likely to boost profits for natural gas producers in Appalachian Basin
A surge in pipeline capacity for natural gas from the Appalachian Basin this year and in 2018 is expected to boost profits for energy producers and hold down prices for Midwest and East Coast buyers, reports Bloomberg BNA. The news service says natural gas producers in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio are eager for the $13.8 billion pipeline build-out “because they have been hurt by depressed prices in pockets of inadequate pipeline infrastructure, compounded by a nationwide two-year slump in [natural] gas prices.” Gas producers in the region are likely to see substantial increases in profitability because of the pipeline additions, Andrew Weissman of EBW Analytics Group told Bloomberg. For more, read the full story.
Sixth Circuit denies rehearing en banc in False Claims Act lease dispute
A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has denied a petition for rehearing en banc of its decision to affirm a district court ruling that Ohio residents failed to assert a claim under the False Claims Act (FCA) in a lawsuit challenging oil and natural gas leases entered into by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, according to Mealey’s Fracking Report. On November 21, 2016, a majority of the Sixth Circuit panel in United States ex rel. Harper v. Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, 6th Cir., No. 15-4406, had affirmed a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi to dismiss the plaintiffs’ suit, stating “it was clear the relators were not the ‘model whistleblowers’ contemplated by the FCA.”
As reported in Mealey’s, the residents filed a petition for rehearing, arguing the majority opinion “fundamentally misconstrues the FCA’s scienter requirement and directly contradicts a U.S. Supreme Court decision by requiring the pleading of subjective knowledge in order to state the reckless disregard or knowledge element of an FCA claim.” The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District argued the rehearing should be denied because the Sixth Circuit panel’s decision does not conflict with any Supreme Court ruling and correctly applies the FCA’s definition of “knowing.” Upon review, the same judges who had issued the majority opinion denied rehearing en banc on the grounds that the issues raised in the petition “were fully considered upon the original submission and decision of the case.”