Marcellu$ Activitie$ Involve State & Local Government

by Duane Nichols on March 10, 2018

Marcellus Shale Gas Well Drilling Operation in Appalachia

Co-tenancy bill headed to WV governor

From an Article by Rusty Marks, WV News Service, March 5, 2018

CHARLESTON — A co-tenancy bill passed by the state Senate and House of Delegates is on its way to Gov. Jim Justice for consideration.

House Bill 4268 would allow a 75 percent super-majority of property owners on a contested piece of property to agree to have the property developed for oil or gas drilling. Under current law, a single holdout or non-locatable owner or heir can effectively block drilling on the land.

Oil and gas drillers could go to court to try to force drilling on contested pieces of property under current law, but developers say the process is long, ponderous and expensive.

Oil and gas industry representatives and groups advocating for property owners’ rights met for months prior to the regular legislative session to work out compromise legislation that both sides could live with. Lawmakers have been working for several years on some kind of co-tenancy legislation.

The bill would ensure that owners who don’t agree with drilling on the property would get the same rights and royalty payments as the majority, and would set aside money to pay royalties for non-locatable owners or heirs in the event that they are found.

The Senate Judiciary Committee left the bill essentially intact for fear of upsetting the balancing act that took place to reach a compromise between property owners groups and industry representatives. But that didn’t stop attempts to amend the bill when it came to the Senate floor.

When House Bill 4268 came up for second reading on March 2. Sen. Richard Ojeda, D-Logan, tried to amend a 2 1/2 percent increase in the gas severance tax into the bill. Ojeda had introduced Senate Bill 486 earlier in the session to raise the severance tax, but the bill died in committee.

“What I’m trying to do is find money to give to PEIA,” Ojeda said Friday. However, his amendment was voted down.

Sen. Mike Romano, D-Harrison, then attempted to add amendments that would have increased the rights of non-consenting property owners. Those amendments also failed.

House Bill 4268 passed the Senate on Saturday. But because the Judiciary Committee made minor changes to the bill it had to go back to the House. The House voted to agree with the changes on Monday.


$597,000 maintenance agreement inked for Allegheny Township, Westmoreland County, PA Marcellus well pad

From Mary Ann Thomas, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, March 9, 2018

Allegheny Township and Huntley & Huntley, the Monroeville-based exploration and drilling company, recently finalized an excess maintenance agreement for $597,000 to pay for damage and impact to roads for the development of the Marcellus Shale natural gas well, known as the Porter well pad, near Willowbrook Road.

This year, Huntley and Huntley plans to complete the construction of additional erosion and sedimentation control, along with improving the access road and pad surface at the Porter well pad, according to Jennifer Hoffman, Huntley and Huntley’s vice president of regulatory affairs, environment, health and safety.

A recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling has breathed life into a Commonwealth Court appeal from several residents in 2016, who challenged the township zoning ordinance permitting drilling throughout the township.

Last month briefs were submitted and arguments presented before a panel of judges. Although their decision is still forthcoming, according to Allegheny Township supervisors Wednesday, prep work for the well can continue.


PA-DEP: Shale well fee increase needed to fix ‘dire’ funding picture (2/14/18)

HARRISBURG — Large fines paid by drilling companies kept Pennsylvania’s oil and gas regulatory program from bankruptcy last year, as program costs surpass dwindling revenue from well permits by nearly $700,000 a month, the program’s director said.

Scott Perry, the deputy secretary for the Department of Environmental Protection’s office of oil and gas management, laid out what he called the dire condition of the program’s funding situation to justify a PA-DEP proposal to more than double the cost of a permit to drill a shale gas well from $5,000 to $12,500.

The program — whose staff size was reduced from 226 to 190 to cut costs — reviews permit applications, inspects well sites and develops policies to improve oversight of the industry. Its primary funding source is a one-time permit fee paid by companies for each well they apply to drill.

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