The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted Empire Pipeline Inc. a certificate authorizing it to proceed with a pipeline expansion in Pennsylvania and New York that would enable Marcellus Shale production to be shipped northward on the Empire system. The certificate authorizes Empire to construct, operate and replace about 15 miles of 24-inch diameter pipeline to extend the Empire Connector Pipeline, an interconnection with the facilities of Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., and modifications to an existing compressor station to permit bidirectional flow on Empire’s system. Empire is a subsidiary of New York-based National Fuel Gas.

Pioneer Drilling Co. Inc. has executed three multi-year term contracts for new-build rigs, which are in addition to a new-build contract announced earlier this month. Three of the four will be 1,500 hp AC drilling rigs and one will be a 1,000 hp AC rig, all to be delivered in the first and second quarters of 2012. “Our latest new-build rigs are designed with features to improve horizontal drilling operations in shale plays, which are being well received by our customers,” said Pioneer Drilling CEO Wm. Stacy Locke. Pioneer Drilling provides contract land drilling services to independent and major oil and gas operators in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, the Rocky Mountain and Appalachian regions and internationally in Colombia through its Pioneer Drilling Services division.