Oil and Gas Update for 3/17/2017 – As Natural Gas Prices Slightly Rise, Trump’s Budget Cuts Hit EPA Hard and Sabine Rejection Doesn’t Survive District Court Appeal.

Natural gas spot prices continued to climb since our last report alongside a healthy rig count that gained another 21 units nationally, but oil prices still ended up around $50/bbl at the end of a less volatile week. The Trump Administration’s proposed budget cuts grabbed headlines, including a whopping $2.6 billion cut to EPA’s share of the pie.  In Appalachia, PADEP’s Secretary wrote a forceful letter to EPA Secretary Pruitt deriding the budget cuts while the courts wrangled with issues ranging from eminent domain restrictions on storage operators in Pennsylvania and limitations on forfeitures of oil and gas leases in Ohio.  In other regions, the latest decision in the Sabine saga affirms the ability to reject certain gathering agreements under Section 365 of the Bankruptcy Code.  Here’s your week in review:

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Oil and Gas Update for 3/10/2017 – Amidst Sliding Oil Prices, TX Supremes Tackle Paying Quantities and POTUS asks SCOTUS to Wait on WOTUS.

Natural gas spot prices climbed modestly since our last report amidst a rising rig count and fledgling oil prices that dipped below $50/bbl on the West Texas index for the first time this year before inching up at week’s end.  Things are relatively quiet in Appalachia but the Texas Supremes weighed in on a case involving a claim that a well failed to produce in “paying quantities” under the familiar Clinton v. Koontz standard and Trump asks SCOTUS to hold off on deciding the prior administration’s “Waters of the United States” rule given his recent executive order that seeks to dial back on that rule.  Here’s your week in review:

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Oil and Gas Update for 3/3/2017 – Natural Gas Spot Prices Still Sliding, New EPA Chief Stalls Prior Administration’s Oil/Gas Methane Reduction Crusade; TX Supremes Toss Groundwater Contamination Claims

The Henry Hub continues to underwhelm since our last report, rising modestly after dropping to its lowest point since mid-November 2016.  In Appalachia, a court of appeals in Ohio says landmen need a broker’s license to lease oil and gas rights in order to recover disputed payments for services.  Elsewhere, Trump’s EPA rolls back prior information requests issued by the Obama Administration for data to evaluate proper methane reduction regs for existing oil and gas sites, drawing cheers from state governments and jeers from environmental groups.  In other news, the Texas Supremes confirmed that the statute of limitations bars old groundwater contamination claims while a federal court in Virginia says a royalty agreement under Wyoming law is subject to rejection in bankruptcy.  Here’s your week in review

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Oil and Gas Update for 2/17/2017 – PADEP Pipeline Approvals, Trump’s Rollback of Energy Related Regs, and Earthquakes in the Utica

The Henry Hub dipped below $3 for the first time in several months alongside a rig count that climbed 10 more units nationwide since our last report, despite a fragile but steady oil price hovering at around $55/bbl.  In Appalachia, PADEP issued several key permit authorizations for the Marine East 2 and PennEast pipeline projects and has its eyes set on low-level microseismic activities attributed to zipper frac jobs in the Utica.  In other news, Trump’s controversial pick for EPA chief survives a bumpy nomination process amidst rollbacks of energy-related regulations by Congress and the President under the infrequently invoked Congressional Review Act.  Here’s your week in review:

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Oil and Gas Update for 2/10/2017 – PA Governor Proposes Severance Tax – Again – while Rover Pipeline Initiates Condemnation Proceedings in WV and OH Federal Courts

The Henry Hub is on a gradual slide, but that hasn’t stifled the rig count, climbing an additional 12 units since our last report alongside a relatively steady oil price.  In Appalachia, Governor Wolf proposed another severance tax to fill budget gaps by approximately $215 million while Rover Pipeline invokes eminent domain authority for a FERC-approved project designed to move Appalachian gas.  Here’s your week in review:

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Oil and Gas Update for 2/3/2017 – Tracking the Trump Effect on Energy Policy, a Couple of Gorsuch’s Oil and Gas Opinions, and a Couple of Vanishing Royalty Verdicts in TX and WY.

The national rig count continues to climb while oil and natural gas prices dipped slightly since our last report. In Appalachia, the West Virginia Supreme Court denied a partition by a co-owner of oil and gas interests who sought to develop the shallow rights himself while blocking the co-tenants from developing the deep rights. In other news, Trump’s recent flurry of executive actions provide some insight into his vision for energy policy, and his pick for SCOTUS – a judge from an energy producing region – has penned a few noteworthy oil and gas decisions. In other regions, courts in Texas and Wyoming made a splash last week throwing out multi-million dollar judgments while a federal court in Texas weighs in on WARN Act applicability in the oil patch for rig closings. Here’s your week in review:

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Oil and Gas Update for 1/20/2017 – PADEP Issues Report on Coal and Gas Extraction Standards, Oil and Gas Class Actions in the Shale Patch are on the Rise, and Texas Court Rejects Attempted Double Tax of Pooled Mineral Interests.

In the midst of the Inauguration and a Million-Women March, the national rig count jumped a considerable degree since our last report while natural gas spot prices and oil prices remained relatively flat. In Appalachia, PADEP punted on new construction standards for gas wells in coal regions while the courts tackled issues ranging from class action certifications for landowners seeking bonus payments for rejected oil and gas leases in Pennsylvania, FLSA class actions brought by landmen seeking overtime pay in Ohio, and spudding obligations of assignees of oil and gas interests in West Virginia. In other news, courts grappled with royalty class actions involving proper allocation of post-production cost in Oklahoma, attempts by local governments in Texas to tax pooled mineral interests, and the proper venue for challenges to injection well permits issued by the Railroad Commission. Here’s your week in review:

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Oil and Gas Update for 1/13/2017 – PA Court Strikes Blow to PADEP’s Multi-Million Penalty Calculation, Royalty Owners get Class Actions Certified in WV and TX, and Oil Companies Awarded $100 Million from Feds

Since our last report, natural gas spot prices dropped across the board alongside a dip in the rig count and oil prices, signaling an up-and-down start to the year despite optimism for industry growth. In Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Court said the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection can’t use a “continuing violation” theory to impose a seven-figure penalty on a well operator following a discharge to groundwater from a frac impoundment.  Elsewhere in Appalachia, a West Virginia federal judge granted a request to certify a class of royalty owners in a dispute over fixed deductions from royalty payments while an appellate court in Ohio evaluated evidence to establish production “in paying quantities.” In other cases, a federal judge in Texas certified a class of royalty owners alleging breach of implied marketing duties in a dispute over improper charges for gas processing fees while the Federal Court of Claims ordered that the government owes oil companies a whopping $100 million for remediating sites that involved the production of military aviation gas during World War II.  Here’s your week in review:

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Oil and Gas Update for 1/6/2017 – PADEP Signals Rollback of Expedited Review for ESCGP-2 Applications, PA Superior Court Denies Claim to Oil and Gas Rights Conveyed by Tax Sale, and TX Supremes OK Common Carrier Status for CO2 Pipeline.

Natural gas spot prices dipped at the close of 2016 following a much-needed spike while the rig count and oil prices continued their steady climb in week one of 2017. In other news, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection concluded an audit of its expedited review procedures for earthmoving general permits and signaled that fewer applications will qualify for faster approvals while the Texas Supreme Court held that a CO2 pipeline served the public and qualified as a common carrier for purposes of eminent domain. Here’s your first roundup for 2017:

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Oil and Gas Update for 12/12/2016 – Oil and Natural Gas Prices, Rig Count Trend Upward as 2016 Winds Down.

As we inch toward the end of this up-and-down year, commodity prices soared (relatively speaking) since our last report with the Henry Hub closing in on $4/MMBtu and oil prices climbing above $50/bbl alongside a consistently rising national rig count. In other developments, federal and state courts in Appalachia and elsewhere managed to issue a few final yet interesting decisions as they attempt to clear their dockets before year end.  With our sincere thanks for tuning in this year and our best wishes for a happy holiday season, here’s your final roundup of the past several weeks as we close out 2016:

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At the Well Weekly
Welcome to At the Well Weekly, a blog designed for busy folks in the oil and gas industry. If you haven’t read a thing during the week, our hope is that you can breeze through the update and be up to speed on the basics such as current rig counts, commodity prices, and case law updates on legal issues of interest in Appalachia and elsewhere.
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Cozen O’Connor Blogs