Update on Trump’s FERC Appointments – “Fixing FERC”

It sure seems like it’s taking a long time for President Trump and his team to announce and put forward his nominees for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Shortly after taking office, Trump elevated one of the three sitting, Democrat Commissioners, Cheryl LaFleur to be Acting Chairman of the agency. That ticked off the then-current Chairman, Norman “crybaby” Bay, who promptly resigned (see FERC Commissioner Resigns Threatening Major M-U Pipeline Projects). Perhaps he saw the writing on the wall. The sitting President gets to appoint three of the five members of the Commission from his own party–so one of the Dems would have to go. Bay probably figured it would be him, so he jumped ship early, causing some damage to Marcellus/Utica projects because there is currently no quorum for important votes (see FERC Commissioner Norm Bay Targets M-U on Way Out the Door). Bay’s last day was Feb. 3–and still we’ve not heard an official peep from the White House about Trump’s planned three nominees. We’ve heard leaks about who Trump’s picks will be (see Breaking: Kevin McIntyre, Neil Chatterjee are Trump Picks for FERC and Names Mentioned for 3rd FERC Post, Incl. PA’s Powelson). But we’ve not had confirmation of those names, nor a timetable for when they will be proffered to the Senate for a vote, which is required. Frankly, it’s frustrating. We spotted an article about “fixing FERC” that includes a full rundown/bio for each of the three leading candidates that are rumored to in line for an appointment…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Mar 21, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Harrison County, OH begins collecting ad valoreum tax on Utica wells for 2016; wacky enviro groups want Duke U to drop plans for clean-burning natgas plant; fuel pipeline from Chicago to Detroit goes online; Texas AG sues to block PHMSA natgas storage regs; Moody’s upgrades o&g sector in 2017; drillers, service firms may see surge of new IPOs in 2017; US crude oil production dropped last year; OPEC needs to restrain itself in 2018 like it is in 2017; low oil prices prove Obama wrong again; virtual gas pipelines; and more!
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Well Pad Fire @ Chief O&G Site in Wyoming County, PA

Chief well pad fire – click for larger version

There was a fire at a natural gas well pad operated by Chief Oil & Gas in Wyoming County, PA over the weekend. We only have a few details from one news source (which seems odd). A call came in just after 4 am Saturday morning for a well pad in Lemon Township near Tunkhannock, PA. The cause of the fire is unknown. Nobody was hurt. And that’s about all we know. Perhaps an MDN reader in that area can shed more light? Here’s the very brief news item we spotted…
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Federal Judge Rejects Constitution Pipe Request to Bypass NY DEC

A disappointing setback for the much-needed Constitution Pipeline–a $683 million, 124-mile pipeline due to run from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY carrying Marcellus gas. As you may recall, in April 2016, New York’s anti-drilling governor, Andrew Cuomo, decided he would cave to pressure from radical environmentalists and block the building of the federally-approved Constitution Pipeline (see NY Gov. Cuomo Refuses to Grant Permits for Constitution Pipeline). Cuomo’s toadies at the Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) decided not to grant (i.e. denied) the Constitution the permits it needs to cross creeks and swamps. That was finally enough for Williams and the other partners in the project, who promptly sued NY in federal, NOT state, court (see Williams Sues NY Over Constitution Pipe – DEC May Lose Authority). Judge Norman Mordue of the Northern District of New York ruled last week that since NY has not officially denied the water crossing permits–simply not yet acted on them–there is no injury to the project. Even though the pipeline is losing money every day it doesn’t get built due to NY’s inaction. We fail to see how not acting on the permits over the long-term is any different from denying those same permits. It is a distinction without a difference in our book. But that’s what the judge ruled, granting the DEC’s motion to dismiss the case. The thread of hope that remains for the project is another case in which Williams (the builder of the Constitution) filed in an appeals court. Williams is maintaining the second case will go in their favor and when it does, construction is not far behind…
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Maryland’s Traitorous “Republican” Gov Caves, Supports Frack Ban

There were early signs that Maryland’s newly elected “Republican” governor was weak on the subject of fracking, as we pointed out in 2015 when we said that then-new Gov. Larry Hogan, who was elected on a platform of supporting shale drilling, had decided to let a two-year moratorium on shale drilling become law without his signature (see Maryland’s Pusillanimous Gov Allows Frack Moratorium to Become Law). We should have know then that Hogan has no political courage. Recently environmental nutjobs in Maryland have turned up the heat, demanding a total and complete fracking ban by passing a law. The House passed a bill to ban fracking (see Maryland Democrat Lawmakers Continue to Torpedo Fracking). The bill has, so far, been stalled in the Senate. But maybe not for long. On Friday, Gov. Hogan, a spineless “Republican,” said he now supports a complete and total ban on fracking, forever, in his state. He’s “concerned” that if the Senate puts the measure out for a public vote/referendum, fracking in the state might actually happen one day. That’s called governing against the will of the people Mr. Hogan. That’s something Democrats do, not Republicans. What a disappointment this one-term governor has turned out to be…
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List of 11 Utica Shale Electric Plants Coming Soon to Ohio

Earlier this month MDN brought you a list of the existing and/or planned natural gas-fired electric generating plants in Ohio (see 43 Existing/Planned Gas-Fired Elec Plants Overtaking Coal in OH). Thanks to the crack researchers at Energy in Depth, we now have a more detailed list (who’s building it, where it’s being built, how much it will cost) for 11 OH natgas power plant projects that are either construction now, or soon will be…
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OH Supreme Court to Hear Appeal re Driller Who Won’t Explore Utica

What if a landowner leased his or her land decades ago and a driller drilled a conventional natural gas well on the property, and that well has produced commercial volumes of natural gas for years–and still does. And what if the lease gives that driller the right to drill (or not drill) in any given rock lawyer. And what if that driller is content to simply let that conventional well keep producing and not drill further down, into the now commercially viable Utica (or Marcellus) shale layer? Does the landowner, whose land is located where the Utica/Marcellus exists, have any case for taking back the rights to the deeper shale layers the conventional driller refuses to go after? That’s a case that has now worked its way all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court. The question turns on whether or not “reasonable development” in a lease includes unexplored, deep formations…
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Another Review Completed for Canadian Bear Head LNG Project

For some time we’ve tracked the progress of an LNG export plant planned for the eastern shore of Nova Scotia, the Bear Head LNG project. Of all the Canadian LNG export projects, Bear Head seems to have the most momentum. The project has received most of the necessary permits it needs to proceed. But it’s not been without its bumps along the way (see Bear Head LNG Export Plant: Bad News & Good News). Where will the gas come from to feed the plant? One source is likely to be Marcellus Shale coming via the Maritimes & Northeast pipeline, converted to be bidirectional (see FERC Approves Atlantic Bridge Project for New England/Canada). But LNG Limited, the builder of Bear Head LNG, is not putting all of its eggs in one basket. They don’t want to leave the fate of their plant to the flakes of New England who may end up blocking Spectra Energy’s efforts to move more Marcellus into the region. So LNG Limited is also working on a plan to bring western Canadian gas to Nova Scotia (see Canadian Bear Head LNG’s Long-Shot Plan to Get Gas). One more piece of the larger pie to build the plant just fell into place, earlier today. Transport Canada’s TERMPOL Review Committee has completed a review of the Bear Head project and issued a report. The TERMPOL report is a technical review of marine terminal systems and transshipment sites. Technical stuff, lots of recommendations. The bottom line is that Bear Head said they’ll do what’s in the report and the project continues to be very real and on track…
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IEA: CO2 Emissions in US Go Down Again, Thx to Shale

The International Energy Agency (IEA) works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 29 member countries and beyond. IEA’s mission focuses on four main areas of focus: energy security, economic development, environmental awareness and engagement worldwide. A somewhat self-important group that issues reports periodically–particularly on mythical man-made global warming. The core of the man-made global warming argument is that mankind is burning fossil fuels, releasing loads of extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The CO2 in the atmosphere acts as a canopy to trap the earth’s heat and to (someday soon) catastrophically warm the planet, killing off species, causing sea levels to rise, melting polar ice caps. Except none of that is actually happening (the Emperor has no clothes). Which we keep pointing out over and over. We won’t head down that rabbit trail again right now. CO2 levels are important for the eggheads at IEA. In conducting research for the next release of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook report (for 2017), researchers at the agency say worldwide CO2 levels were “flat” in 2016, even though economic activity (or the use of energy) increased. One of the major points in the IEA’s preview of what’s to come in the World Energy Outlook report is this: “The biggest drop [in CO2] came from the United States, where carbon dioxide emissions fell 3%, or 160 million tonnes, while the economy grew by 1.6%. The decline was driven by a surge in shale gas supplies and more attractive renewable power that displaced coal. Emissions in the United States last year were at their lowest level since 1992, a period during which the economy grew by 80%.” Translation: Shale gas is good for global warming, if you believe in global warming…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Mar 20, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Range Resources hosts local students; oil, gas & the WV legislature; natgas line through Polk County, FL creates little fuss; using American shale as foreign policy tool; frack sand operators ebullient over demand; big draw down on propane supplies; federal o&g leases could pay for Republican health plan; drilling begins in Argentina shale; shale’s Mr. Fix-It: Saudi Arabia; Beijing shuts down last coal-fired power plant, switches to natgas; and more!
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OH Couple Illegally Blocks Rover Pipeline Workers from Their Land

A somewhat misguided couple who own land in Harrison County, OH and object to Rover putting a pipeline through their land have decided to break the law. Contractors working for Energy Transfer to clear trees and dig a trench to lay pipeline across their land have been working on their land, on an off, for the past three weeks. Sheila Bittinger and her husband Stanley say they’ve had enough and the couple parked several vehicles across the entrance to their property to prevent any more work on the pipeline. It sounds as if they want to get arrested and that they know this particular bit of “civil disobedience” will result in absolutely nothing. But they’re doing it all the same. If you watch the video (below) you get the impression these are honest, country folks who feel like they’ve gotten a raw deal. We wonder if these landowners have been manipulated by slick lawyers who see a big payday coming from a lawsuit against Rover Pipeline…
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Leach XPress Pipeline Begins Drilling Under the Ohio River

Leach XPress Map Showing BM-111 Loop – click for larger version

In August 2014, MDN told you that Columbia Pipeline Group decided to move forward with investing $1.75 billion dollars for two new projects: the Leach XPress and Rayne XPress pipeline projects (see Columbia Gas: $1.75B for 2 Projects to Send Marcellus Gas to Gulf). Leach Xpress will begin in Marshall County, West Virginia, cross Ohio and end up in Leach, Kentucky. In January 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the two projects (see FERC Approves $1.8B Leach & Rayne XPress Pipeline Projects). Construction has since begun. Part of the Leach XPress project is a sub-project called the BM-111 Loop, three-mile segment of 36-inch diameter pipe, extending from Columbia’s existing Burlington, OH (Lawrence County) meter station. That segment will go under the Ohio River. Work on the BM-111 Loop, which will employ 140 people during construction, has just begun…
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Michigan Judge Rules Rover Pipeline Can Access Holdout Properties

On Feb. 3, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave its final approval to Energy Transfer’s Rover Pipeline project–a $3.7 billion, 711-mile Marcellus/Utica natural gas pipeline that will run from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and eventually into Canada (see ET Rover Pipeline Gets Final Approval by FERC). When FERC approves a project like Rover, the project automatically gets the power to invoke eminent domain against landowners who refuse to sign easements to allow the pipeline. Rover has done that in several states, including Ohio and Michigan. Landowners who own 116 tracts of land in Michigan where Rover will traverse have refused to negotiate or allow Rover access to their land. Those days are over. A federal judge in Michigan has just ruled Rover can immediately seize land along the route of the pipeline and begin tree clearing and construction…
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EXCO Lost $225M in ’16; Screwing Shareholders to Avoid Bankruptcy

EXCO Resources was once a sizable player in the Marcellus. They still have 145,000 net acres in the Marcellus, with 124 horizontal Marcellus wells drilled and in production. However, EXCO, as we pointed out a year ago, has abandoned the Marcellus at this point (see EXCO: No Marcellus Drilling in 2015/2016, NYSE Threatens Delisting). The company flirted with bankruptcy for some time. They were able to slow the bleeding in 2Q16 (see EXCO Still Hammering Midstreamers re Contracts, Bleeding Slowed). In 3Q16 EXCO finally turned a profit, going from losing $355 million in 3Q15 to making $51 million in 3Q16 (see EXCO 3Q16: Turns a Profit! Marcellus Production Continues to Fall). That was an astonishing turnaround for a company razor close to bankruptcy. EXCO has just released its fourth quarter and full year 2016 update, along with details on a plan to keep the company out of bankruptcy court. The update shows the company lost $35 million in 4Q16. EXCO lost $225 million for all of 2016, versus losing $1.2 billion in 2015. The bleeding has slowed. In a surprise move, they added 1 Marcellus well to production in 4Q16. EXCO’s master plan to stay out of bankruptcy includes selling $300 million in bonds to a group of investors–effectively turning over control of the company to its creditors and screwing existing shareholders. Believe it or not, there is a connection between EXCO and the Trump Administration…
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“Religious” Anti-Fracking Protesters Arrested in Annapolis, Maryland

There is a concerted effort by a small group of fossil fuel haters to strip away the Constitutional property rights of all Marylanders by passing a permanent ban on fracking in the state. They’ve already convinced the Maryland House to pass a ban bill. The haters spew outright lies about fracking and attract local media outlets with gullible reporters who never question their outlandish claims. While they make false claims about fracking, that it pollutes water, air and in general kills everything, make no mistake–the root of their objection is that fracking extracts fossil fuels which, in the religion of environmental extremists, causes man-made global warming. That is what animates them. Unfortunately, as we have previously observed, Christian pastors from liberal denominations are claiming that the issue of fracking is a “moral” issue, a “good vs. evil” conflict (see Global Warming Jumps the Shark – Into Maryland Churches). These apostate pastors have left their first love, Jesus Christ, and traded away Our Lord for a bowl of environmental pottage. How sad. And how tragic for the flocks they’re leading–right into the abyss. A group of so-called “faith leaders” and others blocked the entrance to the Maryland State House yesterday, and were promptly arrested and removed…
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NY’s AG Schneiderman Sowing the Seeds of His Own Destruction

New York’s corrupt Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, is getting desperate. We want to go on record as one of the first to say he’s sowing the seeds of his own destruction. Schneiderman is a train wreck waiting (and about) to happen. We refer, of course, to Schneiderman’s eerie similarity to Captain Ahab in Moby Dick in attempting to hunt down ExxonMobil, Schneiderman’s great white whale. Recently Schneiderman, in cooperation with a sycophantic mainstream media, released information that former CEO Rex Tillerson (now Secretary of State) had a second email account. But unlike Hillary Clinton, Tillerson’s second account was not on a private server and was not used (as Schneiderman alleges) to secretly discuss how Tillerson “knew” burning oil and other fossil fuels causes mythical man-made global warming. Schneiderman’s action in running to the press to “reveal” a “secret” email account is a faint–a way to misdirect people from the real story, which is that Schneiderman continues to refuse to disclose his own emails that prove this whole Exxon witch hunt began when Schneiderman colluded and closely coordinated with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Family Fund, and billionaire green activist Tom Steyer. A log of emails shows coordination just prior to the launch of the #ExxonKnew campaign for which Schneiderman is the point man. He’s desperate to avoid releasing his own emails–emails that will implicate him…
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