Ohio State researchers to study pipeline impacts on cropland
An Ohio State University study that will look at how natural gas pipeline installations affect cropland productivity will begin this fall, reports Farm and Dairy. The newspaper says the study, to be overseen by the university’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, will focus on soil disturbances caused by statewide pipeline installations in Ohio. Over the course of three years, researchers will survey and take samples from 50 farm fields before and after pipeline installations. For more, read the full story.
Shale gas drives power plant building boom in Ohio
A boom in construction of natural gas-fired power plants has hit Ohio, the first since the Utica shale play “changed just about everything in the state's energy landscape,” reports the Columbus Dispatch. The newspaper says six such plants are under construction or in the planning stages in Ohio, showing how shale gas is “transforming the electricity market in a state long associated with coal and coal-fired electricity.” For more, read the full story.
Natural gas prices rise as storage levels decline
U.S. natural gas prices have risen by a third since hitting a two-decade low in the first quarter of 2016 “amid signs that supply and demand are rebalancing and excess stocks left over from an unusually warm winter are being worked down,” reports the Gulf Times. The energy news site says the volume of gas in working storage hit a record 4.01tn cubic feet in November 2015 but has dropped to 3.18tn cubic feet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In addition, Gulf Times says that while output from “unusually productive wells” in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays has continued to increase, there no longer are enough new U.S. wells being drilled to replace declining gas output from old wells. For more, read the full story.
Sunoco wins court fight over Mariner East Pipeline
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court has upheld Sunoco Logistics Partners' authority to take private property for its Mariner East Pipeline, adding momentum to the company’s plan to deliver natural gas from the Marcellus shale region to the Marcus Hook export terminal near Philadelphia. The newspaper says the court, in a 5-2 ruling, affirmed a Cumberland County judge's decision in 2015 that Sunoco's pipeline subsidiary is a public utility as determined by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, which gives Sunoco the authority to take rights of way from property owners who decline to negotiate agreements along the pipeline's 351-mile route. For more, read the full story.
U.S. shale reserves seen as lowest cost option for oil producers
The Wood Mackenzie energy consulting firm says U.S. shale reserves are the lowest cost option for future oil production and are likely to attract more investment than competing projects such as deep-water oil fields, reports the Financial Times. That means producers that rely on oilfields in higher-cost regions such as the North Sea and off West Africa will have to cut costs or face shrinking output, according to the news site. For more, read the full story.
Federal Reserve report offers mixed outlook for region’s energy industry
The Cleveland Federal Reserve's latest economic forecast paints a “downbeat picture” of the energy industry in a region that includes the Utica and Marcellus shale plays, but also says there are some positive signs heading into the second half of 2016, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. The newspaper says the Fed's new “Beige Book” said the region's oil and natural gas activity continued to be depressed on the exploration side, but “things continued apace in the midstream and pipeline investments that are being built to take the Marcellus and Utica natural gas and other byproducts to market.” The Fed also noted rig counts in the region remained low and few workers were being hired in the energy industry, but well numbers and oil and gas output were at historic highs. For more, read the full story.
Two natural gas-fired power plants to go online in Pennsylvania
Two natural gas-fired power plants in upstate Pennsylvania, each capable of meeting the electricity needs of approximately one million homes, are close to being operational, reports the Patriot-News in Harrisburg. Dallas-based Panda Power Funds said its Liberty plant near Towanda in Bradford County is close to starting commercial operations and its Patriot plant near Montgomery in Lycoming County is deemed "substantially complete." The impetus for constructing the plants was the availability of natural gas from the Marcellus shale play, according to the Patriot-News. For more, read the full story.
Ohio State building CNG fueling station for campus buses
Ohio State University has started construction on a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station on campus, a project estimated to cost $3 million, reports Columbus Business First. The newspaper says the station will serve a portion of the university's Campus Area Bus Service fleet and city of Columbus vehicles. Ohio State operates four CNG buses and looks to add six more. For more, read the full story.
U.S. oil and gas drillers set record for defaults on junk bonds
Fitch Ratings says oil and natural gas exploration companies have failed to pay $28.8 billion they owed to junk-bond investors in 2016, bringing the debt default rate among U.S. drillers to a record level, according to FuelFix.com. In addition, companies could default on $40 billion in junk bonds by the end of this year, Eric Rosenthal, Fitch’s senior director of leveraged finance, told the energy news site. FuelFix says the default rate is “a grim milestone for the industry that ran up a half-trillion dollars in corporate debt to pay for a shale drilling boom that produced more oil than the market could absorb." For more, read the full story.
Statoil completes sale of West Virginia shale assets to EQT
Norway-based Statoil has completed the sale of its non-core operated Marcellus shale assets in West Virginia to EQT Corp. in a transaction valued at $407 million, reports LNG World News. EQT will acquire 62,500 net acres and natural gas production of 50 million cubic feet equivalent per day from Statoil USA Onshore Properties, according to the news site. EQT has said those assets, primarily located in Wetzel, Tyler and Harrison counties, will add a sizeable amount of acreage within EQT’s core development area. For more, read the full story.