Tag Archives: Pittsburgh

Natural-gas royalties could top $1.2 billion in Pennsylvania

Private landowners are reaping billions of dollars in royalties each year from the boom in natural gas drilling, transforming lives and livelihoods even as the windfall provides only a modest boost to the broader economy.

In Pennsylvania alone, royalty payments could top $1.2 billion for 2012, according to an Associated Press analysis that looked at state tax information, production records, and estimates from the National Association of Royalty Owners.

For some landowners, the unexpected royalties have made a big difference.

“We used to have to put stuff on credit cards. It was basically living from paycheck to paycheck,” said Shawn Georgetti, who runs a family dairy farm in Avella, about 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.

Natural gas production has boomed in many states over the past few years, as advances in drilling opened up vast reserves buried in deep shale rock, such as the Marcellus formation in Pennsylvania and the Barnett in Texas.

Nationwide, the royalty owners association estimates, natural gas royalties totaled $21 billion in 2010, the most recent year for which it has conducted a full analysis. Texas paid the most in gas royalties that year, about $6.7 billion, followed by Wyoming at $2 billion and Alaska at $1.9 billion.

Exact estimates of natural gas royalty payments aren’t possible because contracts and wholesale prices of gas vary, and specific tax information is private. But some states release estimates of the total revenue collected for all royalties, and feedback on thousands of contracts has led the royalty owners association to conclude that the average royalty is 18.75 percent of gas production.

“Our fastest-growing state chapter is our Pennsylvania chapter, and we just formed a North Dakota chapter,” said Jerry Simmons, the director of the association, which was founded in 1980 and is based in Oklahoma. “We’ve seen a lot of new people, and new questions.”

Simmons said he hasn’t heard of anyone getting less than 12.5 percent, and that’s also the minimum rate set by law in Pennsylvania.

By comparison, a 10 percent to 25 percent range is similar to what a top recording artist might get in royalties from CD sales, while a novelist normally gets a 12.5 percent to 15 percent royalty on hardcover book sales.

Before Range Resources drilled a well on the family property in 2012, Georgetti said, he was stuck using 30-year-old equipment, with no way to upgrade without going seriously into debt.

“You don’t have that problem anymore. It’s a lot more fun to farm,” Georgetti said.

SOURCE: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20130129_Natural-gas_royalties_could_top__1_2_billion_in_Pa_.html

Pipeline set to link pair of projects – Marcellus Shale

Mike Stice, President of Chesapeake Midstream Development, a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy, spoke during the Marcellus Midstream Conference & Exhibition in Pittsburgh this week. He said the potential for collecting methane, ethane, butane, propane, pentane and even oil make the Utica and Marcellus shale formations very attractive to companies like his.

“The diversity of the opportunities is where the strength lies,” he said. “We find ourselves on the cusp of a breakthrough for natural gas and oil.”

Chesapeake Energy and its partners will run a 12-inch diameter pipeline to connect the northern and southern portions of its $900 million natural gas processing complex in Harrison and Columbiana counties.

In total, the Oklahoma City-based company plans to lay 200 miles of pipelines across Eastern Ohio in 2012, most of which will be located in Harrison, Jefferson, Columbiana and Carroll counties.

Chesapeake is building the plant with M3 Midstream and EV Energy Partners. Frank Tsuru, president and chief executive officer of M3, also spoke at the conference, highlighting the 12-inch pipeline that will connect the Harrison and Columbiana portions of the major complex.

According to a map on the M3 website, it appears the Harrison County portion of the complex would be built near Scio, while the Columbiana County part would be located near Hanoverton.

The processing facility to be located in Columbiana County will have an initial capacity of 600 million cubic feet per day. Natural gas liquids, via the 12-inch pipeline, will be delivered to a central hub complex in Harrison County that will feature an initial storage capacity of 870,000 barrels. The Harrison County facility also will have fractionation capacity of 90,000 barrels per day, as well as a substantial rail-loading facility, according to Chesapeake.

Chesapeake officials also want to make sure the industry flourishes in Ohio, noting they agree with a comment Gov. John Kasich made during his State of the State speech at Steubenville High School earlier this year.

During the conference, Mark Halbritter, managing director of commercial activities for Dominion Transmission, discussed the company’s $500 million processing complex, which is scheduled to open south of Moundsville by the end of this year. He said a second phase of the plant that would be completed next year could raise the final cost to about $800 million. He said the facility is strategically positioned along the Ohio River so it can process gas derived from the Utica and Marcellus formations.

As for ethane that is derived at the Natrium site, Halbritter said the complex will be able to send ethane to Canada, the Gulf Coast, or to any local ethane cracker, such as the one Royal Dutch Shell plans for Monaca, Pa.

“We expect enough ethane to support both pipelines and up to two crackers,” Halbritter’s presentation states, adding the company anticipates more than 400,000 barrels of ethane will be derived from the Marcellus and Utica shales by 2020.

Jeannie Stell is the editor of Midstream Business magazine, said industry leaders have learned valuable lessons over the past few years of working in the Marcellus and Utica shales.

“It is never too early to start applying for a permit,” she referenced as one of these lessons. A second lesson, Stell added, is that laying pipelines in the sometimes rugged terrain of West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania can be more challenging than doing so in the relative flat country of Oklahoma and Texas.

MATCOR was an active participate and exhibitor at this conference.

SOURCE: http://www.heraldstaronline.com/page/content.detail/id/571616/Pipeline-set-to-link-pair-of-projects.html?nav=5010

Pittsburgh-area site is chosen for major refinery

Shell Oil Co. has chosen a site near Pittsburgh for a major, multi-billion-dollar petrochemical refinery that could create thousands of construction jobs and provide a huge economic boost to the region.

Dan Carlson, Shell’s General Manager of New Business Development, said Thursday that the company signed a land option agreement with Horsehead Corp. to evaluate a site near Monaca, about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

The so-called ethane cracking, or cracker, plant would convert ethane from bountiful Marcellus Shale natural gas liquids into more profitable chemicals such as ethylene, which are then used to produce everything from plastics to tires to antifreeze.

The plants are called crackers because they use heat and other processes to break the ethane molecules into smaller chemical components. A cracker plant looks very similar to a gasoline refinery, with miles of pipes and large storage tanks. The final complex could cover several hundred acres.

Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania had all sought the plant and offered Shell major tax incentives. Monaca is about 15 miles from both the Ohio and West Virginia borders, so workers in all three states are likely to benefit.

Shell has said that it could spend several billion dollars to build the plant, and that the complex would attract a wide range of industry and suppliers to nearby locations. But actual construction is still years away. The company said the next steps are environmental and design studies and further economic analysis, then permits.

One lifelong resident of the Pennsylvania township almost broke down on hearing the news.

“Oh my God. It makes me want to cry. That’s just the best news,” said Christie Floyd-Gabel, Potter Township’s secretary.

It’s also an unexpected turn for Horsehead’s zinc factory on the banks of the Ohio River, which is currently operating. In September the company announced plans to shut the factory by 2013 and relocate to North Carolina, along with most of its 600 workers.

“That was a major loss,” Floyd-Gabel said of Horsehead’s plans to depart, adding that’s it’s amazing that another major corporation may come in to replace Horsehead.

Ali Alavi, a Horsehead spokesman, said the company would have to vacate the over 300-acre site by April 30, 2014, under the terms of the option agreement with Shell.

Shell said the Horsehead site had the mix of resource and transportation attributes “to accommodate facilities for a world scale petrochemical complex and potential future expansions.”

The American Chemistry Council, in a report last year, estimated the new petrochemical complex could attract up to $16 billion in private investment. Shell estimated the core plant could employ several hundred people and create up to 10,000 construction jobs.

Gov. Tom Corbett said at a press conference that the plant could lead to the “renewal of a significant manufacturing base in southwestern Pennsylvania,” but cautioned that the announcement is “the first pitch in a nine-inning game.”

If the plant is built, Shell would be able to supply it partly with gas from its own wells, giving it more control over supply and costs. The company paid $4.7 billion in 2010 for drilling rights to about 650,000 acres in the region.

That also means that Shell could benefit even from the low wholesale prices that have worried some gas drillers, since a cracker plant’s raw material costs would be lower.

Labor leaders welcomed the announcement.

Frank Snyder, secretary-treasurer for the Pennsylvania AFL/CIO, said it represented “some of the most positive economic news for the working families of western Pennsylvania in over a generation.”

“Indeed, all of Pennsylvania can have hope this spring in the anticipated partnership between a world class workforce and a world class business,” said Snyder.

Shell’s choice may also represent an indication of just how strongly the industry feels about the vast gas reserves in nearby underground shale rock formations, given the multi-billion dollar commitments it has made. Carlson told The Associated Press that any plant must be economically competitive with existing cracker plants in Louisiana and Texas, and even with international plants.

The Marcellus Shale, which lies thousands of feet underground, has attracted a rush of major oil companies, who have drilled almost 5,000 new wells in the last five years. The Marcellus covers large parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia, and drillers have also started to tap the adjacent, deeper Utica Shale formation.

Ohio and West Virginia officials had made all-out efforts to attract the plant. Last year West Virginia Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said, “We intend to compete with the last breath in our body to attract one or more crackers,” and both West Virginia’s and Ohio’s governor flew to Houston to meet with Shell officials.

West Virginia offered to slash property tax rates for 25 years in exchange for at least $2 billion worth of investment. Pennsylvania offered 15 years of tax breaks and Ohio also reportedly courted Shell with major incentives.

Corbett said he can’t disclose the full details of the tax breaks Shell has been offered because of a confidentiality agreement, and because negotiations are continuing.

George Jugovic, president of the environmental group PennFuture, said it’s still researching the possible impacts of a cracker plant.

Several other companies are also reportedly considering building similar petrochemical plants in the region.

SOURCE: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20120315_ap_pittsburghareasiteischosenformajorrefinery.html