Thai coal company buys stake in Marcellus shale play

Banpu Pcl, Thailand's largest coal company, has closed on the purchase of a 29.4% stake from Range Resources-Appalachia LLC in the Chaffee Corners Joint Exploration Agreement in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale play, reports the Akron Beacon Journal. The deal represents the first time a Thailand-based company has taken an interest in the U.S. shale gas industry, according to a news release from Kalnin Ventures LLC, which handled the $112 million transaction for Banpu. For more, read the full story.


Expert: Oil needs to hit $75 a barrel before drilling speeds up

Tom Ward, co-founder of Chesapeake Energy, has exploded what has become a widely-held assumption—namely, that $50-a-barrel oil will inspire U.S. shale producers to resume drilling and possibly cause a retaliatory hike in Middle East production, reports Ship and Bunker. Speaking on CNBC's “Squawk Box,” Ward said oil has to reach about $75 per barrel before most drillers will ramp up production. Ward, now chairman and CEO of Tapstone Energy, said drillers need to outspend cash flow to increase production, but capital markets are essentially closed to them at current oil prices. For more, read the full story.


Mountaineer to proceed with natural gas storage project in Ohio

Mountaineer NGL Storage, LLC will move forward with development of its natural gas storage project near Clarington, Ohio after an open season resulted in requests for more than three times the initial planned capacity of the facility, reports the Akron Beacon Journal. The Denver-based company said the project is expected to break ground in early 2017 and be in service in early 2018. Mountaineer plans to offer up to 2 million barrels of initial storage capacity with the facility, which will store ethane, propane, butane and y-grade products for natural gas processors, producers, markets and commodity traders focused on the Marcellus and Utica shale plays. For more, read the full story.


Pennsylvania company raising $100 million to acquire oil and gas assets

Pennsylvania-based MDS Energy Partners LP is raising $100 million to acquire oil and natural gas assets, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. “The nature of it is to acquire oil and gas assets that are either distressed or undervalued and then ultimately to sell those assets at a later date,” Jason Knapp, a principal at MDS, told the newspaper. The Business Times says this approach is a new strategy for the company, which has sponsored at least nine private and public direct-investment partnerships in oil and gas wells. For more, read the full story.


Utica Shale Academy looks to expand offerings for students

Officials at the Utica Shale Academy in eastern Ohio are looking for ways to build upon the school’s programs and offerings to enhance education for future workers in the oil and natural gas industry, says a news release from the Jefferson County Education Service Center. Representatives of the Utica Shale Academy Industry Advisory Committee met recently with officials from Chesapeake Energy, Express Energy, West Virginia Northern Community College and the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program to discuss enhanced training opportunities for academy students. “It was a roundtable brainstorming session to get ideas of what makes kids the most marketable,” said Utica Shale Academy Director Eric Sampson. For more, read the full story.


Federal agency publishes new maps of Utica shale play

Three new maps of the Utica shale play have been published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, reports Farm and Dairy. The maps show thickness, structure and the geologic setting of the play, which includes both the Utica and the Point Pleasant shale formations. For more, read the full story. The maps can be found here.


Halcón’s bankruptcy plan would eliminate $1.8 billion in debt

Halcón Resources Corp., which produces oil in Texas and North Dakota, said it plans to file for a prepackaged bankruptcy that would wipe out $1.8 billion in debt and help it survive the drop in crude oil prices, according to Reuters. The news service says the bankruptcy marks a setback for Halcón Chief Executive Floyd Wilson's long-running goal to build and then sell the company as he had done with the 2011 sale of Petrohawk to BHP Billiton for more than $12 billion. Halcón had been active in the Utica shale play in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania before suspending drilling operations in those areas in 2014. For more, read the full Reuters story.

National, Ohio, Pennsylvania

Oil companies hedge bets against a fall in prices

Bloomberg reports that oil producers are taking advantage of the rebound in crude markets to lock in protection against another slump in prices. Companies increased their bets on falling oil prices to the highest level in more than four years, the news service says, as U.S. inventories of stored oil remain near an 87-year high and a natural disaster in Canada and militant attacks in Africa curtailed oil output. Bloomberg says energy companies that include Chesapeake Energy Corp. used financial instruments such as futures, swaps and collars to guard against another fall in oil prices. For more, read the full story.


Pipeline company looks to move Utica, Marcellus natural gas to Chicago, Gulf Coast

Texas-based Natural Gas Pipeline Co. is trying to determine the level of interest in moving additional natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale plays to Chicago and the Gulf Coast, reports the Akron Beacon Journal. The newspaper says the company has opened a non-binding solicitation of interest for expanded pipeline service from the east-to-west Rockies Express Pipeline to the Chicago area and also intends to move natural gas to South Texas as part of the Gulf Coast Southbound pipeline expansion. For more, read the full story.

Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia

Higher oil prices are not slowing bankruptcy filings

Three recent bankruptcy filings show that $45-a-barrel oil isn’t enough to rescue energy companies on the verge of collapse, Bloomberg reports. The news service says bankruptcies have accelerated as cash-starved companies “find it almost impossible to raise capital” due to being shut out of the high-yield bond markets, credit-line cuts by banks and slow sales of assets. Citing numbers from law firm Haynes & Boone, Bloomberg says 130 North American oil and gas producers and service companies have filed for bankruptcy protection since the start of 2015. For more, read the full story.

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