Pennsylvania board approves changes to oil and gas regulations

Pennsylvania’s environmental rule-making body approved major revisions to the state’s oil and natural gas regulations during a recent meeting at which critics of the rules called elements of the package “illegal or unnecessary,” reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The newspaper says Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which had drafted the rules over five years, defended the revisions, and the state’s Environmental Quality Board voted 15-4 to adopt the rules as proposed by DEP. The new regulations include separate standards for the state’s shale gas and traditional oil and gas drilling industries, according to the Post-Gazette. For more, read the full story.


Gulfport reports big increase in proved gas reserves in Utica shale play

Gulfport Energy Corp. has reported a major boost in year-end 2015 proved reserves of natural gas equivalents, mostly in eastern Ohio’s Utica shale play, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. The newspaper says the Oklahoma-based company reported that year-end reserves grew from 933.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent in 2014 to 1.7 trillion cubic feet in 2015, an increase of 82 percent. Gulfport also announced completion of a joint venture with Rice Midstream Holdings LLC, which will develop gas-gathering assets in Belmont and Monroe counties in Ohio to support Gulfport's dry gas drilling activities. For more, read the full story.


Job cuts at Mount Vernon, Ohio plant tied to low oil and natural gas prices

Siemens plans to cut 200 to 300 jobs in Mount Vernon, Ohio as the energy-component manufacturer continues to deal with low oil and natural gas prices, reports the Columbus Dispatch. The newspaper says the company notified employees that some assembly and testing functions will be moved to Siemens’ plants in other cities, with the first phase of the shift to take place in September 2016. The Mount Vernon plant, which has about 600 employees, will continue to house some sales, technical support and research jobs, according to the Dispatch. For more, read the full story.


President Obama proposes fee on oil to pay for clean transportation projects

President Barack Obama’s administration has proposed a wave of clean transportation investments that would be funded through a $10-per-barrel fee on oil at a time when the energy industry “has been crushed by the dramatic crash in oil prices,” reports CNN Money. The financial news site says the tax is “very unlikely” to get through the Republican-controlled Congress. Jeffrey Zients, President Obama's chief economic adviser, told reporters the fee would apply to oil imported into the country, but added that oil pumped in the U.S. and exported would not be taxed, ensuring a "level playing field" for American producers. For more, read the full story.


Chesapeake denies it is planning to file for bankruptcy

A report that Chesapeake Energy Corp. has retained a law firm to restructure its $9.8 billion debt triggered a free fall in the company’s stock price on February 8, 2016, reports the Youngstown Business Journal. The newspaper says Chesapeake’s share price plummeted as much as 50% in the wake of a Debtwire report that the company has hired Kirkland & Ellis LLP to restructure its debt, “stoking fears of bankruptcy.” The stock price rebounded after Chesapeake, one of the more active drillers in Ohio’s Utica shale play, said in a statement that it “currently has no plans to pursue bankruptcy and is aggressively seeking to maximize value for its shareholders.” For more, read the full story.

National, Ohio

Status of Pennsylvania ‘cracker’ appears unchanged despite Shell’s financial struggles

The Pittsburgh Business Times reports that a decision on whether Royal Dutch Shell will proceed with a proposed ethane “cracker” plant in Beaver County, Pennsylvania remains up in the air even in the wake of the company recently reporting a “huge profit drop and plans to slash 10,000 employees and scrap projects.” The newspaper says Shell’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 earnings report includes a comment that indicates the cracker project in western Pennsylvania will continue to exist in a state of "delay/deferral." Shell has been working on the site of a former Horsehead Holding Corp. smelting plant in Beaver County that would be the location for the plant should it be approved. For more, read the full story. More stories about the Shell cracker project can be found here.


Range Resources layoffs to affect Pennsylvania locations

Marcellus and Utica shale driller Range Resources is laying off 55 employees, including 31 in western Pennsylvania, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The newspaper says the Texas-based oil and gas company will cut jobs at its Cecil and Chartiers, Pennsylvania locations as well as other operations. “Low commodity prices have created a harsh reality that everyone in our industry is facing,” Range’s Chief Operating Officer Ray Walker said in a statement. For more, read the full story.


Columbia Pipeline pursues tax deals for project in West Virginia

Columbia Pipeline Group is eyeing possible tax deals for at least two of the gas compressor stations that would be built as part of its $2 billion Mountaineer Xpress Pipeline project in West Virginia, reports the Charleston Gazette-Mail. The newspaper says the pipeline company has approached leaders in Doddridge, Calhoun and Jackson counties about “payment in lieu of taxes” agreements that would allow Columbia to make annual payments in place of the normal property taxes that would be owed on the compressor stations. No deals have been struck, but the Gazette-Mail says conversations with county commissioners suggest the agreements could allow Columbia Pipeline to pay several hundred thousand dollars less annually than it otherwise would over the next 10 to 30 years. For more, read the full story.

West Virginia

Pipeline projects to increase flow of natural gas from Utica, Marcellus regions

A number of recently completed and upcoming natural gas infrastructure projects are expected to increase the reach of natural gas produced in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The agency said key projects that came online in late 2015 or will launch in early 2016 include a Texas Eastern Transmission Company (TETCO) project that increases pipeline takeaway capacity from Ohio; Columbia Gas Pipeline's East Side Expansion that moves natural gas from Pennsylvania to Mid-Atlantic markets; Tennessee Gas Pipeline's Broad Run Flexibility project in West Virginia that transports gas to the Gulf Coast states; TETCO’s Uniontown-to-Gas City project that flows gas from the Marcellus region to Indiana; and Williams Transcontinental Pipeline's Leidy Southeast project that provides more capacity to move Marcellus gas to Transco's mainline extending from Texas to New York. For more, read the full EIA report.

Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia

Company looks at building gas-fired power plant near Pittsburgh

Chicago-based Invenergy LLC is looking at building a 550-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant on a contaminated industrial landfill site in Elizabeth Township near Pittsburgh, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Speaking at a town hall meeting where some residents were critical of the project, Invenergy’s Nick Cohen said the proposed plant would be a beneficial use for the brownfield site where U.S. Steel Corp. and other companies dumped coal sludge and demolition waste in the 1970s and 1980s. The Post-Gazette says the company estimates the plant would create 200 to 300 jobs during a two-year construction period and 21 full-time jobs once the plant is operational. For more, read the full story.

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