D.C. Circuit stays construction of contested portion of Dakota Access pipeline. In the latest development in the ongoing opposition to construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, the D.C. Circuit Court issued an administrative injunction staying construction of a contested portion of the pipeline while it reviews the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an emergency injunction. The administrative injunction extends to all land within 20 miles of Lake Oahe, a lake formed by a dam located on the Missouri River near the tribe’s reservation, and expands the U.S. Army Corps’ voluntary stay which applied only to federal land. The Court stressed that the stay did not reflect any opinion on the merits of the tribe’s motion for an emergency injunction but it is nevertheless a significant victory for the tribe.
Oklahoma regulators close 32 more disposal wells. As part of an ongoing response to concerns over induced seismicity related to wastewater disposal wells, on Sept. 12 the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s Oil and Gas Division ordered the closure of 32 additional wells. The new closures will reduce the volume of wastewater injection by 40,000 barrels per day. The order is part of Oklahoma’s response to a magnitude 5.8 earthquake earlier this month and follows a previously reported Sept. 3 order directing 10 operators to close 37 disposal wells.
Ohio: Supreme Court upholds decision to keep anti-hydraulic fracturing measures off the ballot in November. On Sept. 13, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a 6-1 decision upholding the Ohio Secretary of State’s determination to keep three anti-hydraulic fracturing measures off the ballot in November. The three measures would have turned local governments in Athens, Meigs and Portage counties into charter systems that could control oil and gas development within their boundaries. The Court found that these measures did not meet the criteria for a charter initiative to be placed on the ballot, because they did not provide enough information about how the new charter systems would operate. In a dissent, Justice William O’Neill accused the Secretary of State and local government officials of bowing to pressure from the oil and gas industry, a claim echoed by supporters of the ballot initiatives. Industry representatives framed the opinion as a victory for taxpayers and as part of a long history of judicial decisions supporting continued oil and gas development in and for Ohio, despite opposition by local activists.
Total S.A. to acquire Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s Barnett Shale assets. French oil and gas company Total S.A. announced that it would acquire all of Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s remaining assets in the Barnett Shale in Texas, making it the sole owner and operator of the gas field. Total acquired a 25 percent interest in Chesapeake’s Barnett Shale assets six years ago for $2.25 billion and will now acquire Chesapeake’s remaining interests for approximately $550 million. While new drilling in the Barnett Shale has declined due to low natural gas prices, the formation currently produces the equivalent of 65,000 barrels per day of hydrocarbons. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.
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