OEPA & Rover at Odds Over Storm Water Runoff, “Fine” Now $714K

More trouble for Energy Transfer and the Rover Pipeline project as the company is working against a tight deadline to get the $3.7 billion, 711-mile Marcellus/Utica natural gas pipeline that traverses Ohio up and running this year. It appears as if the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) is hellbent on picking a fight with the project. Perhaps some of OEPA’s criticisms are justified–perhaps some are not. We’ll give you the “lay of the land” (pun intended) as we see it. Early on Rover appeared to rush too much, resulting in numerous drilling mud spills in locations where Rover was drilling underground to avoid creeks and rivers and other structures. One of those spills dumped 2 million gallons of drilling mud (i.e. bentonite) in a wetland next to the Tuscarawas River (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). Following that accident and other accidents where mud was spilled, the OEPA announced it had fined Rover $431,000. As it turns out, that OEPA claim, made by OEPA spokesman James Lee, was a little white lie (see Turns Out OEPA & Columbus Dispatch Were Lying – Rover NOT Fined). Apparently the OEPA has “suggested” such a fine, but a long process now ensues where such a fine (and the alleged infraction) are negotiated. So no, no fine has actually been assessed, yet. The James Lee from the OEPA is back, partnering up his favorite mainstream mouthpiece–the Columbus Dispatch–to claim that Rover did not plan storm water management properly and that Rover’s poor planning has resulted in heavy storm water runoff into farmers’ fields where Rover is digging trenches. So OEPA is upping their $431,000 “fine” (that’s not actually a fine, yet) to $714,000! Here we go again…Continue reading

WV EDA Approves $10M Loan for Methanol Plant in Institute

Last year MDN was the first to share the news that the California-based US Methanol is building at least two, rumored up to five, methanol plants in the Mountain State (see Rumor: US Methanol Building 5 Methanol Plants in WV). MDN shared a rumor (based on a source) that until we disclosed it, was not public knowledge: The first methanol plant they will build will be in Institute, WV, and the second in Belle, WV–both in the Charleston region. We also told MDN readers that both plants were being disassembled in other countries and brought here. Our rumor/news was later verified by several other news sources, including new details that both Brazil and Slovenia were the countries losing plants. The plant in Brazil was/is being disassembled and moved to Institute (see US Methanol Confirms MDN Rumor – 2 (or More) Plants Coming to WV). We have an update. The West Virginia Economic Development Authority has approved a $10 million loan to US Methanol to purchase machinery and equipment for the Institute plant. US Methanol says progress is being made on moving the plant from Brazil to WV, and that the plant should be up and running by late this year/early next year…Continue reading

PA Appeals Court Clears Way for EQT to Drill Jefferson Hills Well

In December 2015 MDN told you about EQT’s application to drill a single shale well in Jefferson Hills (Allegheny County), PA (see Jefferson Hills, PA Antis Oppose EQT Well Near Future School Site). The well would be drilled “near” where a new school is due to be built, which provided anti-fossil fuelers with an excuse to oppose the project. As part of the a conditional use permit, EQT agreed to (a) not use Borough roads during construction, (b) use a pipeline from a local water company instead of trucks for the water needed to drill and frack, greatly reducing the amount of truck traffic, (c) pledged the project would not impact local streams and wetlands, (d) comply with local lighting regulations, and (e) install sound walls if needed. In other words, EQT bent backwards, forwards, sideways, jump through numerous hoops and turned itself inside out to comply with requests from the town. The Borough Planning Commission unanimously approved the conditional use permit request. But then the town, bowing to pressure from local antis, rejected the request in December 2015, saying the proposed project would endanger local health and the environment. In other words, they had no basis for rejecting the permit. EQT sued and won in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in June 2016. Jefferson Hills appealed and last week, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania upheld the EQT verdict saying the town arbitrarily rejected the permit and EQT should be allowed to drill…
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Energy Cos. Hedge Bets in WV Senate Race, Donate to Both Sides

Something we find distasteful, but a fact of political life, is that the energy industry is playing both sides of the isle when it comes to making campaign contributions in West Virginia’s U.S. Senate race. Up for reelection next year (2018) is Sen. Joe Manchin, a former WV governor. Manchin, a so-called moderate Democrat, ran to fill the seat of Robert Byrd when he passed away while in office, in 2010. Manchin ran again two years later for a full term, in 2012. When it came down to voting based on principle or party regarding the issue of overturning a midnight-before-he-left-office-Obama-onerous-methane-regulation, Manchin chose party (see Methane Repeal Fails in Senate as McConnell Falls a Vote Shy). To be fair, three traitorous Republicans abandoned us too–John “crazy” McCain, Lindsey “Grahamnesty” Graham (disgusting man), and Susan “spineless” Collins. However, Manchin could have changed the vote–and he chose to sell out. He’s not on our favorite list. But, the oil and gas industry can’t seem to give him money fast enough in his reelection bid. On the other hand, some in the industry are also giving money to his main Republican rival (Evan Jenkins) in what will be a hotly contested seat. Some are giving money to both candidates, presumably to curry favor with the winner. We find the practice revolting. Choose a candidate and back him (or her). Let the chips fall where they may…Continue reading

NY’s Grotesque Energy Double Standard re “Home Rule”

Here’s one that really gets us hot and bothered. MDN is written from Upstate New York (near Binghamton). We covered, extensively, the battle to allow fracking (and now, natural gas pipelines) in our beloved home state. We won’t plow up old ground again except to say that one of the battles fought, and lost, was over whether or not local municipalities can ban fracking for everyone. Two backwater towns in New York–Dryden (Tompkins County) and Middlefield (Otsego County) passed town bans that were challenged in court. The case eventually went to NY’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. We (pro-drillers) lost. Local towns now have the right to outright ban fracking–if and when it ever becomes legal to frack in New York. Some call it the “home rule” law. This was all done at the prompting and urging of a very corrupt governor–Andrew Cuomo. The judges on NY’s high court are appointed by the governor. It’s the worst kind of incest and miscarriage of justice. So along comes a wind power project that a corporation wants to build in Western NY. Some of the locals don’t want it. If they convince their towns to pass a ban on wind projects for the town, guess what? In that case NY state law will overrule the town and allow the wind project to get built anyway. How, on God’s green earth, is that in any sense fair? Here’s what we hope: We hope at least one of the towns involved passes a ban and it goes to court and they throw the high court’s decision on frack bans right back in their face. It’s time to expose the energy double standard in NY…
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Williams Gets a New Chairman of the Board

Stephen W. Bergstrom

Midstream giant Williams has just appointed a new chairman of the board, Stephen W. Bergstrom, to replace current chairwoman, Dr. Kathleen B. Cooper. Cooper will remain on the board. Williams is the premier midstream (i.e. pipeline) operator in the Marcellus/Utica. The company’s assets are broad and deep, across the entire country. As we pointed out earlier this month, Williams has had quite a ride over the past five years (see Williams is Done Buying & Selling Assets – For Now). The company, according to CEO Alan Armstrong, has retooled itself to focus on natural gas. And perhaps that’s why there has been a change on board. By all accounts Dr. Cooper has done a great job. But she’s an economist, working at various energy companies and for the government. Bergstrom, on the other hand, is former CEO of American Midstream and Dynegy. He’s been in the trenches (pun intended) at other pipeline companies. At least, that’s our observation. The happy thing is that the change does not appear to be from undue influence by corporate raiders, like Keith “Mini-Me” Meister (protege of Carl Ichan)…Continue reading

Time to Boycott US Bancorp for Anti-Pipeline Discrimination

U.S. Bancorp (aka U.S. Bank) is the fifth largest bank in the United States. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. Bancorp has over 3,000 branches, mostly in the Midwest. The bank recently released an “Environmental Responsibility Policy” (full copy below). In it, the bank says this with respect to financing pipeline projects: “The company does not provide project financing for the construction of oil or natural gas pipelines. Relationships with clients in the oil and gas pipeline industries are subject to the Bank’s enhanced due diligence processes that are outlined further below.” This is TOTALLY unacceptable. The Energy Equipment & Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA) sent an open letter (copy below) to all officers, directors and shareholders calling on the institution to reverse its discriminatory anti-pipeline policy. MDN is a little more impolitic. We’re calling for anyone with a U.S. Bancorp checking, savings, commercial, or any kind of account, to close it. It’s time businesses like U.S. Bancorp are made to pay for this kind of wrongheaded activism…
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Calendar of Marcellus/Utica Events for May 22 – Aug 21

Events related (or of interest) to the Marcellus and Utica Shale, primarily pro-drilling events.

To have your event included (or if you are aware of a worthy event you believe should be on this page), please send the details and/or a link to have it included to the [email protected] email address. Thank you! Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, May 22, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Enormous economic potential with Appalachian storage hub; Marcellus/Utica pipelines to the Southeast; energy strategy demands tri-state accord; drilling boost property taxes in Columbiana County; PA GOP gov candidate pledges no severance tax; CNG poisted to become more readily available; NGL ‘inflection point’ in WV; Senate hearing for FERC nominees this week; BH rig count climbs for 18th straight week; the great US oil export boom; EPA sets aside $12M for employee buyout scheme; Netherlands gets first US LNG cargo; OPEC net oil revenues lowest since 2004.Continue reading

Noble/CONSOL Breakup Continues: Noble Sells 50% of CONE Midstream

Noble Energy dropped a bombshell that it has sold its 100% interest in 385,000 Marcellus/Utica acres and wells producing 415 million cubic feet equivalent of natural gas in West Virginia and Pennsylvania for $1.225 billion to “an undisclosed buyer” (see Noble Energy Sells Remaining M-U Assets for $1.2B – Who Bought?). MDN exclusively shared the news of exactly the who the “undisclosed buyer” is: HG Energy (headquartered in Parkersburg, WV), backed with money from investment firm Quantum Energy Partners. HG is a “portfolio company” of Quantum. The press release announcing the acreage/asset sale went to great lengths to stress that Noble’s half operating interest in the CONE Midstream pipeline gathering system was not part of the deal. CONE is a 50/50 joint venture between CONSOL Energy (the “CO” part of the name), and Nobel Energy (the “NE” part of the name). CONE was Noble’s final connection to our region. No more. Yesterday, Noble Energy announced they’ve sold their 50% stake in CONE to Quantum Energy Partners for $765 million. This time Noble went ahead and announced the buyer, perhaps figuring MDN would find out and blab it any ;-). Here’s the announcement that Noble Energy has left the Marcellus/Utica building…
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Another 7 Easements Signed for Shell’s Falcon Ethane Pipeline

Click for larger version

Last year MDN shared details about Shell’s Falcon Ethane Pipeline system–a pipeline with two “legs” that will feed Shell’s mighty ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, PA (see Shell Working on 94-Mile Ethane Pipeline to Feed PA Cracker). Before the pipeline system had a name (Falcon), Shell had begun the process of signing up landowners to allow the pipeline to cross their property–as far back as February 2016 (see Exclusive: Shell Leasing Land for 2 Pipelines to PA Cracker Plant). In January 2017, we reported on Shell’s progress in leasing land for the pipeline (see Shell Leases More PA Properties to Build Ethane Pipeline). This is a further update. Shell has signed an additional seven parcels of property–in Beaver County–bringing the total to 32 easements now secured for the project in Beaver County…Continue reading

Platts: M-U Drillers Need to Double Rigs to Fill Pipelines in ’17

Platts senior energy analyst Luke Jackson yesterday posted a Platts Snapshot titled, “New Northeast US Gas Pipelines Will be Hard to Fill.” Provocative title. It’s a video. Below is a transcript of the video. In it, Jackson says according to their analysis that drillers in southwestern PA and eastern OH and the northern panhandle of WV will struggle, but eventually succeed, in producing enough natural gas to fill new pipelines coming online this year. But they won’t be able to fulfill their obligations until perhaps December 2017. That is, Antero, Range Resources and Ascent Resources will need to rapidly ramp up drilling–or risk paying for pipeline capacity they’re not using. However, it was Jackson’s comment about pipelines coming online in 2018 and 2019 that really caught our attention. He says in the video: “This new capacity will be nearly impossible to fill, barring a massive ramp in drilling activity, which, per our forecast, is not expected to occur.” So Platts says Marcellus/Utica drillers will not be able to produce enough natural gas to fill all of the new pipelines that will be online by 2019. If we assume the price of natgas goes higher over the next few years (not an unreasonable assumption), what this means is that new drilling is going to ramp up like crazy in the next few years. Buckle up! Here’s the transcript…
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Frack Crew Shortage Hits Nationwide, Including the Marcellus

Once upon a time (in 2013), the oil and gas industry was expanding so rapidly that in places like North Dakota workers at the local McDonalds were getting a singing bonus and making $20/hour. No lie. Workers on drilling rigs and frack crews were paid a premium to keep working. But we became victims of our own success. So much oil and natural gas was produced, the market became saturated and prices crashed. And along with the price crash, rigs were idled and workers were laid off–in the tens and eventually hundreds of thousands. By the time of the deepest, darkest part of the down cycle (early 2016), some 350,000 workers in the industry had received a pink slip (see Big Oil’s Footprint in Washington Shrinks With Price of Crude). Oil and gas is a boom and bust business–that’s the reality. And guess what? The boom times are back. There are now not enough workers and some crews are leaving one company and going to work for another–lured away by higher wages. It’s happening across the Fruited Plain. It’s also happening in the Marcellus. One (very big) Marcellus driller was “left short of fracking crews during the first quarter when some pumping companies walked away for higher-paying contracts.” What does it all mean? It means the good times are here again. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts…Continue reading

Study: Appalachia New Gulf Coast for Petchem, WITH Storage Hub

An economic report released yesterday by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) shows that the Appalachian region could become a second center of U.S. petrochemical and plastic resin manufacturing, similar to the Gulf Coast. ACC President and CEO Cal Dooley presented the findings at a Capitol Hill press event with lawmakers including Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.). “The Appalachian region has distinct benefits that could make it a major petrochemical and plastic resin-producing zone,” Dooley said. “Proximity to a world-class supply of raw materials from the Marcellus/Utica and Rogersville shale formations and to the manufacturing markets of the Midwest and East Coast has already led several companies to announce investment projects, and there is potential for a great deal more.” What will it take to turn our region into another Gulf Coast petchem powerhouse? According to the report, an NGL (natural gas liquids, i.e. ethane) storage hub. You may recall Sens. Capito and Manchin recently introduced a bill to study an Appalachian NGL storage hub (see WV/OH Senators Intro Bill to Study Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub). The study, titled “The Potential Economic Benefits of an Appalachian Petrochemical Industry” (full copy below), says by 2025, the four-state region could see 100,000 permanent new jobs, including 25,700 new chemical and plastic products manufacturing jobs, 43,000 jobs in supplier industries and 32,000 ‘payroll-induced’ jobs in communities where workers spend their wages (restaurants, hotels, etc.). The new investment could also lead to $2.9 billion in new federal, state and local tax revenue annually. It’s huge! There’s a lot riding on an ethane storage hub, which was the point of the report and the political dog and pony show yesterday in Washington, D.C….Continue reading

Mon Valley in Catbird Seat, Close to Both Shell & PTT Crackers

As we have endlessly covered, Shell is in the midst of building a $6 billion ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, PA (see Breaking: Shell Pulls the Trigger, PA Ethane Cracker is a Go!). Cracker plants chemically “crack” ethane to produce ethylene–the raw material used to make plastics, anti-freeze and more. As we point out in another article today, these ethane crackers (along with an ethane storage hub) have the ability to turn the Marcellus/Utica into a new Gulf Coast for petrochemical manufacturing (see Study: Appalachia the New Gulf Coast for Petchem w/NGL Storage Hub). Other cracker plants have been mentioned for the region–the most realistic being a second cracker in Belmont County, OH by Thailand-based PTT Global Chemical. PTT announced earlier this year they are delaying a final investment decision until “late 2017” (see PTT Global Delays Final Investment Decision for OH Ethane Cracker). However, most people (including MDN) think it’s a safe bet that PTT will move forward with the project. The Shell cracker, and the prospect of the PTT cracker, is stirring up a lot of interest in the part of manufacturers to locate in the Mon Valley–that area along the Monongahela River south of Pittsburgh. That region is ideally located–about an hour from the Shell cracker in Beaver County, and about an hour from the proposed PTT cracker in Belmont County, OH. We call it the catbird seat…Continue reading

Cuomo Tries to Finish Killing NY NatGas with New Methane Rules

It’s so enormously frustrating to live in The Empire State–New York. Which is where MDN is produced. Our illustrious governor, Andrew Cuomo, has drunken deeply from the man-made global warming Kool Aid fountain. Cuomo, a radically left Democrat, may or may not actually believe in man-made global warming. Makes no difference. He, like other lib Dems, find it a useful tool to control the population. If you can control what people use for energy (and what how they pay for health care), you control their lives, period. Cuomo has made a decision to align himself with global warming nutters who oppose all fossil fuels because supposedly said fossil fuels, when burned, release carbon dioxide into the air. CO2 becomes “trapped” in the atmosphere and takes a long time to dissipate, creating (as the disproved theory goes) a “greenhouse effect,” trapping heat and (eventually) catastrophically warming Mom Earth. The problem, that we’ve pointed out countless times, is that empirical data–where people use instruments to monitor “average” temperatures–proves the earth has been cooling for the past 20 years. That little fact never makes it into mainstream media because it destroys the mythology that’s developed around this POLITICAL issue. Global warming is not, as the left pushes, about science. It is about politics. But we digress. Yesterday Gov. Cuomo released burdensome new methane emissions regulations that will further hamstring New York’s wilting conventional (not shale) oil and natural gas drillers. It seems Andy simply wants to extinguish the rest of the industry in our beloved home state…
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