|item 1. Business|
We believe that we substantially comply with the Clean Water Act and related federal and state regulations Clean Air Act. Our operations are subject to the Federal Clean Air Act and comparable local and state laws and regulations to control emissions from sources of air pollution. Federal and state laws require new and modified sources of air pollutants to obtain permits prior to commencing construction. Major sources of air pollutants are subject to more stringent, federally imposed requirements including additional permits. Federal and state laws designed to control toxic air pollutants and greenhouse gases might require installation of additional controls. Payment of fines and correction of any identified deficiencies generally resolve penalties for failure to comply strictly with air regulations or permits. Regulatory agencies could also require us to cease construction or operation of certain facilities or to install additional controls on certain facilities that are air emission sources. We believe that we substantially comply with the emission standards under local, state, and federal laws and regulations Some of our producing wells and associated facilities are subject to restrictive air emission limitations and permitting requirements. In 2012, the EPA published final New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) that amended the existing NSPS and NESHAP standards for oil and gas facilities and created new NSPS standards for oil and gas production, transmission and distribution facilities with a compliance deadline of January 1, 2015. While these rules remain in effect, the EPA announced in 2013 that it would reexamine and reissue the rules over the next three years. The EPA has issued updated rules regarding storage tanks and additional rules are expected. In December 2014, the EPA issued finalized additional amendments to these rules that, among other things, distinguished between multiple flowback stages during completion of hydraulically fractured wells and clarified that storage tanks permanently removed from service are not affected by any requirements. Further, in 2012, seven states sued the EPA to compel the agency to make a determination as to whether standards of performance limiting methane emissions from oil and gas sources is appropriate and, if so, to promulgate performance standards for methane emissions from existing oil and gas sources. In April 2014, the EPA released a set of five white papers analyzing methane emissions from the industry, and, based on responses received, in January 2015 announced plans to propose a rule governing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry in 2015.
Greenhouse Gas. In response to studies suggesting that emissions of carbon dioxide and certain other gases may be contributing to global climate change, the United States Congress has considered legislation to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from sources within the United States between 2012 and 2050. In addition, many states have already taken legal measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, primarily through the planned development of greenhouse gas emission inventories and/or regional greenhouse gas cap and trade programs. The EPA has also begun to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions under existing provisions of the Clean Air Act. If we are unable to recover or pass through a significant portion of our costs related to complying with current and future regulations relating to climate change and GHGs, it could materially affect our operations and financial condition. To the extent financial markets view climate change and GHG emissions as a financial risk, this could negatively impact our cost of, and access to, capital. Future legislation or regulations adopted to address climate change could also make our products more or less desirable than competing sources of energy. Please read 'Risk Factors-Climate change and climate change legislation and regulatory initiatives could result in increased operating costs and decreased demand for the oil and natural gas that we produce' in Item 1A.OSHA and Other Laws and Regulations.
|item 1a. Risk Factors|
These factors include but are not limited to the following:
* the levels and location of natural gas and oil supply and demand and expectations regarding supply and demand, including the potential long-term impact of an abundance of natural gas from shale (such as that produced from our Marcellus Shale properties) on the global natural gas supply;
* the level of consumer product demand;
* weather conditions;
* political conditions or hostilities in natural gas and oil producing regions, including the Middle East, Africa and South America;
* the ability of the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other exporting nations to agree to and maintain oil price and production controls;
* the price level of foreign imports;
* actions of governmental authorities;
* the availability, proximity and capacity of gathering, transportation, processing and/or refining facilities in regional or localized areas that may affect the realized price for natural gas and oil;
* inventory storage levels;
* the nature and extent of domestic and foreign governmental regulations and taxation, including environmental and climate change regulation;
* the price, availability and acceptance of alternative fuels;
* technological advances affecting energy consumption;
* 20 speculation by investors in oil and natural gas;
* variations between product prices at sales points and applicable index prices; and overall economic conditions, including the value of the U.S. dollar relative to other major currencies.
These factors and the volatile nature of the energy markets make it impossible to predict with any certainty the future prices of natural gas and crude oil. If natural gas and crude oil prices decline significantly for a sustained period of time, the lower prices may cause us to scale back our planned drilling program or adversely affect our ability to make planned expenditures, raise additional capital or meet our financial obligations Drilling natural gas and oil wells is a high-risk activity Our growth is materially dependent upon the success of our drilling program. Drilling for natural gas and oil involves numerous risks, including the risk that no commercially productive natural gas or oil reservoirs will be encountered. The cost of drilling, completing and operating wells is substantial and uncertain, and drilling operations may be curtailed, delayed or cancelled as a result of a variety of factors beyond our control, including:
* unexpected drilling conditions, pressure or irregularities in formations;
* equipment failures or accidents;
* adverse weather conditions;
* decreases in natural gas and oil prices;
* surface access restrictions;
* loss of title or other title related issues;
* lack of available gathering or processing facilities or delays in the construction thereof;
* compliance with, or changes in, governmental requirements and regulation, including with respect to wastewater disposal, discharge of greenhouse gases and fracturing; and costs of shortages or delays in the availability of drilling rigs or crews and the delivery of equipment and materials.
Moreover, economic or other circumstances may change from those contemplated by our 2015 plan, and our failure to recognize or respond to those changes may limit our ability to achieve our objectives Negative public perception regarding us and/or our industry could have an adverse effect on our operations Negative public perception regarding us and/or our industry resulting from, among other things, concerns raised by advocacy groups about hydraulic fracturing, oil spills, greenhouse gas or methane emissions and explosions of natural gas transmission lines, may lead to increased regulatory scrutiny, which may, in turn, lead to new state and federal safety and environmental laws, regulations, guidelines and enforcement interpretations.
We voluntarily disclose on a well-by-well basis the chemicals we use in the hydraulic fracturing process at www.fracfocus.org On August 16, 2012, the EPA published final rules that establish new air emission control requirements for natural gas and NGL production, processing and transportation activities, including New Source Performance Standards to address emissions of sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds, and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS) to address hazardous air pollutants frequently associated with gas production and processing activities. Among other things, these final rules require the reduction of volatile organic compound emissions from natural gas wells through the use of reduced emission completions or "green completions" on all hydraulically fractured wells constructed or refractured after January 1, 2015. In addition, gas wells were required to use completion combustion device equipment (i.e., flaring) if emissions cannot be directed to a gathering line. Further, the final rules under NESHAPS include maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for "small" glycol dehydrators that are located at major sources of hazardous air pollutants and modifications to the leak detection standards for valves. In December 2014, the EPA finalized additional amendments to these rules that, among other things, distinguished between multiple flowback stages during completion and clarified that storage tanks permanently removed from service are not affected by any requirements. In January 2015, the EPA announced plans to propose a rule in summer 2015 governing methane emissions from oil and natural gas completion operations Compliance with these requirements, especially the imposition of these green completion requirements, may require modifications to certain of our operations, including the installation of new equipment to control emissions at the well site that could result in significant costs, including increased capital expenditures and operating costs, and could adversely impact our business In addition to these federal legislative and regulatory proposals, some states in which we operate, such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Texas, and certain local governments have adopted, and others are considering adopting, regulations that could restrict hydraulic fracturing in certain circumstances, including requirements regarding chemical disclosure, casing and cementing of wells, withdrawal of water for use in high-volume hydraulic fracturing of horizontal wells, baseline testing of nearby water wells, and restrictions on the type of additives that may be used in hydraulic fracturing operations.
Climate change and climate change legislation and regulatory initiatives could result in increased operating costs and decreased demand for the oil and natural gas that we produce. Climate change, the costs that may be associated with its effects, and the regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have the potential to affect our business in many ways, including increasing the costs to provide our products and services, reducing the demand for and consumption of our products and services (due to change in both costs and weather patterns), and the economic health of the regions in which we operate, all of which can create financial risks. In addition, legislative and regulatory responses related to GHG emissions and climate change may increase our operating costs. The United States Congress has previously considered legislation related to GHG emissions. There have also been international efforts seeking legally binding reductions in GHG emissions. For example, in November 2014, the Obama Administration announced an agreement with China to voluntarily reduce GHG emissions to 26% to 28% of 2005 levels by 2025. Further, the United States joined over 190 countries in Lima, Peru in December 2014 and agreed to draft an emissions reduction plan ahead of further international climate negotiations in Paris, France in 2015. In addition, increased public awareness and concern may result in more state, regional and/or federal requirements to reduce or mitigate GHG emissions. For example, in June 2013, the Obama Administration announced its Climate Action Plan, which, among other things, directs federal agencies to develop a strategy for the reduction of methane emissions, including emissions from the oil and gas sector. Pursuant to this plan, the EPA announced in January 2015 a plan to regulate methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. In September 2009, the EPA finalized a mandatory GHG reporting rule that requires large sources of GHG emissions to monitor, maintain records on, and annually report their GHG emissions beginning January 1, 2010. The rule applies to large facilities emitting 25,000 metric tons or more of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) emissions per year and to most upstream suppliers of fossil fuels, as well as manufacturers of vehicles and engines. Subsequently, in November 2010, the EPA issued GHG monitoring and reporting regulations that went into effect on December 30, 2010, specifically for oil and natural gas facilities, including onshore and offshore oil and natural gas production facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of CO2e per year. The rule required reporting of GHG emissions by regulated facilities to the EPA by March 2012 for emissions during 2011 and annually thereafter. We are required to report our GHG emissions to the EPA each year in March under this rule and have submitted our annual reports in compliance with the deadline. The EPA also issued a final rule that makes certain stationary sources and newer modification projects subject to permitting requirements for GHG emissions, beginning in 2011, under the CAA. However, in June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court, in UARG v. EPA, limited the application of the GHG permitting requirements under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V permitting programs to sources that would otherwise need permits based on the emission of conventional pollutants.
28 Federal and state regulatory agencies can impose administrative, civil and/or criminal penalties for non-compliance with air permits or other requirements of the CAA and associated state laws and regulations. In addition, the passage of any federal or state climate change laws or regulations in the future could result in increased costs to (i) operate and maintain our facilities, (ii) install new emission controls on our facilities and (iii) administer and manage any GHG emissions program. If we are unable to recover or pass through a significant level of our costs related to complying with climate change regulatory requirements imposed on us, it could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. To the extent financial markets view climate change and GHG emissions as a financial risk, this could negatively impact our cost of and access to capital. Legislation or regulations that may be adopted to address climate change could also affect the markets for our products by making our products more or less desirable than competing sources of energy.
Moreover, some experts believe climate change poses potential physical risks, including an increase in sea level and changes in weather conditions, such as an increase in changes in precipitation and extreme weather events. To the extent that such unfavorable weather conditions are exacerbated by global climate change or otherwise, our operations may be adversely affected to a greater degree than we have previously experienced, including increased delays and costs. However, the uncertain nature of changes in extreme weather events (such as increased frequency, duration, and severity) and the long period of time over which any changes would take place make any estimations of future financial risk to our operations caused by these potential physical risks of climate change unreliable Certain federal income tax law changes have been proposed that, if passed, would have an adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations, and cash flows Substantive changes to existing federal income tax laws have been proposed that, if adopted, would repeal many tax incentives and deductions that are currently used by U.S. oil and gas companies and would impose new taxes.