Monday, January 22, 2018

Shale Law Weekly Review - January 22, 2018

Written by:
Jacqueline Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator

The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to shale gas.

Pipelines: FERC Issues Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to PennEast Pipeline
On January 19, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity to the PennEast Pipeline Company (PennEast) for the construction of the PennEast pipeline project. Before construction may commence, PennEast must comply with several conditions included within the certificate. The conditions are based on the environmental recommendations included in the final Environmental Impact Statement. FERC concluded that the project will be beneficial and will not adversely impact existing customers, other pipelines, landowners, or surrounding communities. The project will consist of a 36-inch, 116 mile natural gas pipeline extending from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania to Mercer County, New Jersey.

Pipelines: Constitution Pipeline Files Petition to U.S. Supreme Court Asking for Review
On January 16, 2018, Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC (Constitution) filed a petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court requesting review of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision denying Constitution’s rehearing petition. The Constitution Pipeline Project is designed to consist of 125 miles of pipeline for the purpose of transporting 650,000 dth/d of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale. In 2016, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation denied the Water Quality Certification necessary for the project. Constitution appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals where their petition was subsequently denied. In the present petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, Constitution contends that the project has been unjustly prohibited from construction.

Severance Tax: Oil and Gas Companies File Suit Against 5% Tax Increase Ballot Initiative
On January 10, 2018, several oil and gas companies, including the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, filed a legal challenge to an Oklahoma ballot initiative that would add a five percent gross production tax on oil and gas wells during the first three years of production. The ballot states that funds collected from this tax will be used to provide educational resources and increase teacher salaries. The opponents argue that that ballot summary or “gist” is misleading, biased, and missing relevant information regarding funding distribution.   

Interstate Commissions: Delaware River Basin Commission Announces Hearings on Hydraulic Fracturing Ban
On January 13, 2018, the Delaware River Basin Commission (Commission) announced that it will hold hearings and accept public comment on its proposal to amend current hydraulic fracturing regulations. In November 2017, Commission released a draft of a proposed rule which bans hydraulic fracturing within the Delaware River Basin (18 CFR Part 440). The rule states that high volume hydraulic fracturing creates significant and immediate risks to the conservation and management of water resources. The rule discourages the use of water from the basin for hydraulic fracturing purposes. In addition, the rule discourages the importation of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing. Commission will begin holding public hearings on January 23, 2018, and will accept written comments until the end of March 2018.

Production and Operation: EIA Report Shows Appalachia to Lead in Natural Gas Production
On January 16, 2018, the U.S. Energy Information Administration released their Drilling Productivity Report which states that the Appalachian region is projected to produce 377 million cubic feet more natural gas in February 2018 than is expected to be produced in January 2018. Specifically, the Appalachian region is projected to produce 26.4 billion cubic feet in January and 26.7 billion cubic feet in February. The Drilling Productivity Report is released each month and analyzes the seven main drilling regions in the United States. Currently, the Appalachian region is projected to be the greatest producer of natural gas, followed by the Permian, Haynesville, and Eagle Ford.

Induced Seismicity: Canadian Study Examines Ways to Predict Induced Seismicity from Hydraulic Fracturing
On January 19, 2018, researchers from several Canadian universities published a new study that provides a framework for potentially predicting induced seismicity caused by hydraulic fracturing. The researchers examined earthquakes in the Duvernay Formation in Canada. They found that “injection volume was the key operational parameter correlated with induced earthquakes in the Duvernay.” They also found that injection pressure and geography were factors in determining induced seismicity. The article, Hydraulic Fracturing Volume is Associated with Induced Earthquake Productivity in the Duvernay Play, has been published in Science.

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