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Friday, February 12, 2016

Hillary Clinton Says Ban of Fossil Fuel Extraction on Public Land is "a Done Deal"

From TheHill:
Hillary Clinton appeared to endorse a plan to end fossil fuel development on federal land following Thursday night’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire.

An activist with green group 350 Action asked Clinton whether she would seek to ban hydraulic fracturing if she is elected president.

Clinton, in a video released by the group, said the president doesn’t have the authority to do that. When the activist asked, though, if she would support banning fossil fuel extraction on public lands, Clinton said: “Yeah, that’s a done deal.” 
A separate activist asked Clinton to clarify her position on public land extraction.

“That’s where the president is moving,” she said, according to a video of that exchange. “No future extraction. I agree with that.”
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A Chesapeake Bankruptcy Would Leave a Wide Wake

From Reuters:
U.S. oil and gas pipeline companies including Williams Companies Inc and Kinder Morgan Inc have contracts worth billions of dollars that might be at risk as Chesapeake Energy Corp aims to slash its debts amid collapsing energy prices. 
Chesapeake said on Monday it had no plans to file for bankruptcy after sources told Reuters the firm, whose debt is eight times its market value, had asked its longtime counsel to look at restructuring options. 
The way it deals with its financial woes could be a lifeline or death sentence for midstream pipeline companies. Often called the energy market's "toll takers," they have long-term contracts with producers such as Chesapeake to move, process and store energy products, experts said. Many of these companies are master-limited partnerships, or MLPs.

Chesapeake said it has commitments to pay about $2 billion a year for space on pipelines run by MLPs, federal filings show.
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Thursday, February 11, 2016

CONSOL Energy Reports Record Gas Production

From The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register:
Even as the number of drilling rigs working in the US drops to a six-year low amid low natural gas prices, well sites continue popping up in to reach the Utica Shale formation in Belmont, Monroe and Harrison counties.

One company that keeps working in Ohio is Consol Energy, which reported record natural gas production of more than 1 billion cubic feet per day from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. The company long known for coal mining produced 95.5 billion cubic feet during the quarter , a 35-percent increase from the same period in 2014. 
"The company continues to rapidly implement lessons learned from drilling and completing dry Utica Shale wells, as illustrated by reducing drilling costs per foot by nearly 50 percent from the first to the last well drilled in Monroe County," said Timothy C. Dugan, who serves as chief operating officer for Consol's exploration and production division.
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President Obama Proposes a New $10 Per Barrel Fee on Oil

From Forbes:
According to a White House fact sheet, President Obama’s lame duck federal budget proposal will include a $10 per barrel “fee” on oil. The proceeds, some $40 billion a year, would be directed toward a grand “21st Century Clean Transportation System” that includes shoring up the federal highway fund, building mag-lev trains, charging stations for electric vehicles, self-driving cars and other lower-carbon transportation boondoggles. 
Congressional leaders have declared the president’s entire budget dead on arrival. But the plan, revealed on Thursday, nonetheless sent perturbations rippling throughout the oil industry. The so-called “fee,” which is just doublespeak for a tax, would at least be levied equally on both domestic and foreign supplies, so as to “ensure a level playing field,” according to a White House official. In a rational world, the White House would strive to tilt the playing field in favor of American companies. But in this case it’s just a relief that the tax wouldn’t be imposed only on domestic oil. 
Seems like a good time for a tax on oil, no? The stuff is $30 a barrel. Gasoline $1.50 a gallon (here in Texas anyway). And there hasn’t been an increase to the 18 cents per gallon federal gasoline tax in nearly 35 years. Naturally the White House would never dream of casting this as an additional gas tax. Such use taxes are regressive — they hit the little guy more than the big guy. So of course this fee would stick it to the evil oil companies. Nevermind that Big Oil will just pass along the tax, about 25 cents a gallon, onto motorists.
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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

UPDATE: Supreme Court Blocks Obama's Clean Power Plan


From Reuters:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a major blow to President Barack Obama by putting on hold federal regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions mainly from coal-fired power plants, the centerpiece of his administration's strategy to combat climate change. 
The court voted 5-4 along ideological lines to grant a request by 27 states and various companies and business groups to block the administration's Clean Power Plan, which also mandates a shift to renewable energy away from fossil fuels. 
The highly unusual move by the justices means the regulations will not be in effect while a court battle continues over their legality. 
The White House on Tuesday night said it disagrees with the court decision but said it expects the rule will survive the legal challenge.

"We remain confident that we will prevail on the merits," the White House said, adding that the Environmental Protection Agency will continue to work with states that want to cooperate and that it will continue to take "aggressive steps" to reduce carbon emissions.
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From the North America Shale Blog:
On January 26, 2016, 29 states and state agencies, including Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, and Mississippi (the “29 States”), submitted an application (the “29 States Application”) to the United States Supreme Court seeking an immediate stay of the October 23, 2015, final rule of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) titled “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units” (the “Final Rule”). 
The move came in response to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ January 21, 2016, ruling denying an immediate stay of the Final Rule, pending the court’s decision on various parties’ petitions for a review of the legality of the Final Rule. 
Due to the D.C. Circuit’s refusal to enter a stay of the Final Rule, the 29 States assert Supreme Court intervention is proper, because “[t]here is: ‘(1) a reasonable probability that four Justices will consider the issue sufficiently meritorious to grant certiorari; (2) a fair prospect that a majority of the Court w[ould] vote to reverse [a] judgment below [upholding the Power Plan]; and (3) a likelihood that irreparable harm will result from the denial of a stay.’” Id. at 13 (citations omitted).
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Study of Carroll and Surrounding Counties Finds No Water Contamination From Fracking

From the Times Reporter:
The study looked at water quality in five counties — Carroll, Columbiana, Stark, Harrison and Belmont — with a focus on Carroll County, which has been the epicenter of the Utica Shale boom in eastern Ohio. 
Water was sampled three to four times per year from 23 wells from 2012 to February 2015. A total of 191 samples were taken. 
Researchers were trying to determine whether hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, creates dangerous levels of methane in well water. 
“The good news is that our study did not document that fracking was directly linked to water contamination,” said Dr. Amy Townsend-Small of the University of Cincinnati, who presented the findings Thursday at a meeting of Carroll Concerned Citizens. 
“That’s just in the samples that we took in our study period.” she said. “That’s not to say contamination has not happened in this area or that it hasn’t happened in some of our participants’ wells since we stopped our study last year.”
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Interestingly, Dr. Townsend-Small went on to say that some of the groups that had been providing funding for the study have now abandoned it because they didn't get the results that they thought they were paying for.

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Bankruptcy Rumors Send Chesapeake's Stock Tumbling; Company Attempts to Tamp Down Fears

From Bloomberg:
Chesapeake Energy Corp., the U.S. natural gas driller that’s been slashing jobs and investor payouts to conserve dwindling cash flows, lost half its value after a report that it hired restructuring attorneys. 
The shares dropped a record 51 percent after Debtwire reported that Chesapeake retained Kirkland & Ellis to help restructure a $9.8 billion debt load. The plunge triggered three circuit-breaker halts during the first half hour of trading and extended Chesapeake’s 12-month loss to about 93 percent. The free fall wiped out $838 million in market value in the first hour of trading on Monday. 
Burdened with a debt load eight times larger than its market value, Chesapeake has been canceling drilling projects, trimming its workforce and closing offices to slow the rate at which it burns through cash. Gas, which accounts for about 80 percent of Chesapeake’s production, has averaged about $2.56 per million British thermal units during the past year, down 38 percent from a year earlier.

Chesapeake is the latest U.S. shale driller to flirt with collapse as a crushing glut of gas and crude renders companies increasingly desperate to avoid insolvency. Houston-based Halcon Resources Corp, retained the Weil, Gotschal law firm to explore bankruptcy, reported on Feb. 5, citing a person it didn’t identify. Chesapeake and Halcon both suspended dividend payouts on preferred shares last month.
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Here is what Chesapeake said in a release to try and stop the slide:
Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) stated today that Kirkland & Ellis LLP has served as one of Chesapeake's counsel since 2010 and continues to advise the company as it seeks to further strengthen its balance sheet following its recent debt exchange. Chesapeake currently has no plans to pursue bankruptcy and is aggressively seeking to maximize value for all shareholders.
The bottom line continues to be that Chesapeake is facing huge problems, and the low commodity prices aren't providing any relief.

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Monday, February 8, 2016

ODNR Releases Updated Utica and Marcellus Shale Activity Maps for February 2016

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