Williams CEO Says M-U Production Will Grow 65% in 5 Yrs

Hart Energy’s Marcellus-Utica Midstream Conference and Exhibition was held this week in Pittsburgh. Although MDN could not be there in person, there are plenty of reports about what was said. Perhaps the most interesting we’ve read are comments by keynoter Alan Armstrong, CEO of Williams. Among the startling remarks Armstrong made: He expects natural gas production in the Marcellus/Utica to grow by 65% over the next five years–from 23 to 38 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). Yikes! He also said there are currently 60 rigs operating in the M-U, which is “not nearly enough.” In order to meet growing demand, Armstrong says some 100 rigs are needed. Double yikes! Here’s some more pickings from what was said at the conference…
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Hope: Atlantic Coast Pipe on Trump List of High Priority Projects

Can you smell it? We sure can. It’s called hope. Not even a full week in the new Trump Administration, hope can be found everywhere. Liberal Democrats still aren’t sure what hit them. Let us help. It’s competence. It’s someone who gives a damn about the average American. It’s someone who believes the country, as it was founded, is the best country in the world. Donald J. Trump. He’s blown into Washington, DC like a hurricane and things are changing so fast most of us can’t keep up. Case in point: On Tuesday, Trump’s second full day on the job (last Friday and the weekend don’t count), Trump signed an Executive Order “Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects.” What are ‘high priority infrastructure projects’? A document has leaked, originally compiled by Trump’s transition team, of 50 ‘Emergency & National Security Projects’ that are infrastructure projects–projects the Trump Administration believes should be worked on immediately. Project #20 in the list is Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), a $5 billion, 594-mile natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. Number 20! How cool is that? No, this doesn’t mean Trump can simply order it approved like some sovereign or tinpot dictator. Our rules and laws must be followed. What it does mean is that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will now receive enormous pressure to quit dragging its feet and to “fast track” the review for ACP. It means hope on now on the horizon…
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PA Report Says Marcellus/Utica Can Support Up to 4 More Crackers

Pennsylvania hired research firm IHSMarkit to study the Marcellus and Utica and how many ethane cracker plants the region can comfortably support. Denise Brinley, a special assistant to the Secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, offered a preview of that report at this week’s Hart Energy Marcellus Utica Midstream conference in Pittsburgh. Although the report is due to be published “in the next few weeks,” Brinley spilled the beans on what it concludes: The PA Marcellus can support another two cracker plants, and the Utica can support two crackers. That’s another four cracker plants, theoretically, that our region can support, in addition to Shell’s ethane cracker. However, the study will also show we need more infrastructure (i.e. pipelines) in order to support such projects. Here’s a glimpse into some very exciting news…
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PA Counties Say Keep Impact Fee, Even if There’s a Severance Tax

The organization that represents county governments in Pennsylvania, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP), has a message for Gov. Wolf and state legislators: Even if you pass a severance tax, keep the impact fee in place. It has, over the past five years, become critically important for all counties across the state–not just counties where drilling takes place (those “impacted”). Not only do counties want to maintain the impact fee in general, they specifically want to keep it as it is currently structured–how much drillers are taxed and how the revenue is split. The message loud and clear coming from CCAP: don’t screw with the impact fee, even if you want to (boneheadedly) add a severance tax…
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Union Thinks Trump Will be Good for Constitution Pipeline

Labor unions, typically big Democrat supporters, are increasingly in love with Donald J. Trump. Why? Because Trump (unlike Barack Obama) is actually pushing ahead with major infrastructure project improvements. He has a list of 50 such high-priority projects (see Hope: Atlantic Coast Pipe on Trump List of High Priority Projects). As we previously reported, Trump signed executive orders earlier this week to restart the momentum on two important pipeline projects: Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline (see Trump Signs Executives Orders to Restart DAPL, Keystone XL Pipes). Unions love it because projects like those two pipelines use union workers. Which has union workers in our neighborhood excited. Laborers’ Local 157 in Schenectady, NY believes Trump’s emphasis on pipeline projects will (hopefully) bleed over to the stalled Constitution Pipeline, a $683 million, 124-mile pipeline from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY carrying Marcellus gas. Not to douse their enthusiasm for Trump and the Constitution project, but the issue is in court and Trump won’t, according to a Constitution spokesman, be able to magically clear a way for the project to get started…
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PA Town Grapples with Setbacks – from Bore Hole or Edge of Pad?

The issue of “setbacks” has always been a contentious issue when it comes to oil and gas drilling. A setback is the distance from a well to nearby structures–like water wells, homes, schools, whatever. In Pennsylvania the state law requires a minimum of 500 feet between a well and nearby structures. But here’s the thing: Do you measure the distance (as drillers maintain) from the bore hole drilled into the ground? Or from the edge of the well pad? A pad is typically 3-5 acres, and if you measure from the edge of the pad, the “actual” distance from the well to a nearby structure may be 1,000 feet instead of 500 feet. Some argue that measuring from the edge of the pad makes more sense–to protect nearby residents from noise, lights, air emissions, etc. But drillers in some locations are hamstrung, especially if the the location where they drill is on a slope or other tough terrain. Measuring from the edge of the pad may mean not drilling at all. It is that very issue now being debated in Murrysville, in Westmoreland County, PA (near Pittsburgh). It is a wisdom of Solomon kind of issue…
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Waters of U.S. Case on Hold Until U.S. Supreme Court Weighs In

In May 2015 Obama’s rogue Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with the Obama U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released a finalized rule clarifying what “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) means vis a vis what can be regulated under the federal Clean Water Act (see EPA Power Grab: Redefines Waters of the U.S. to Include Everything). Essentially the rule change redefines everything down to muddle puddles (we’re not exaggerating) as subject to the federal Clean Water Act. In October 2015 a federal judge stopped WOTUS from going into effect, while it’s litigated (see Sixth Circuit Court Stops EPA from Implementing WOTUS Anywhere). It took a year, but in November 31 states along with other entities filed briefs with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opposing the rule (see 31 States Ask Court to Dump Obama WOTUS Rule as Unconstitutional). Right after that, 21 U.S. Senators and 67 House of Representatives members (Congresspersons) filed a “friend of the court” (amicus) brief urging the court to vacate the EPA’s WOTUS rule (see 21 Senators, 67 Representatives Join Case Against EPA WOTUS Rule). However, the 6th Circuit Court hearing the case has temporarily stopped the case, until the U.S. Supreme Court decides if the 6th Circuit has the right to be the court hearing the case…
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Middletown PA Decides to Blow $45K (not $100K) on Mariner 2 Study

Rabidly anti-drilling organizations like the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council (CAC) have been using the deep pockets of their contributors to stir up dissent against Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 NGL pipeline, particularly in towns in the Philly orbit (see Towns Near Philly Collude with CAC to Block Mariner East 2 Pipe?). CAC has towns like Middletown (Delaware County) so agitated, Middletown’s town council foolishly voted to allocate $100,000 out of $1.8 million the town received for leasing rights-of-way for the pipeline to assess risks and create an emergency response plan for the pipeline (see Mariner East 2 Tells PA Town: You’re Flushing $100K Down Toilet). Sunoco politely told Middletown they’re flushing 100 grand down the toilet. Federal guidelines already provide most if not all of the information (and planning) required to protect the good citizens of Middletown. So instead of blowing $100K, the town council voted this week to blow $44,500 instead…
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BP Report: LNG Sales to Grow 7x Faster than Pipeline Sales

Many of the large integrated oil and gas companies produce an annual report that looks out over the next 20 years. Their best researchers peer into their crystal balls and make predictions about what will happen–and why. BP is one such company. Earlier this week BP released their annual “Energy Outlook – 2017 edition” (full copy below). The big news in the outlook, for us, is finding out that BP predicts LNG (liquefied natural gas) sales will grow seven times faster over the next 20 years than gas sold via pipelines. Making LNG a VERY important part of our future…
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BDO Survey: Energy Industry Jazzed About 2017

Earlier this week BDO USA released its annual 2017 Energy Outlook Survey. The report indicates favorable signs that we are finally on our way to recovery in the oil and gas industry. Following the “particularly volatile 2016, during which oil prices plummeted to their lowest point in over a decade,” energy CFOs say prices will likely increase this year. Which, among other factors, gives them hope. Some of the findings: mergers and acquisitions will accelerate early this year, then level off; changes in regulations are the top concern; and changes in the way partnerships are taxed have the money guys on edge. Here’s the lowdown…
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FERC Approves Atlantic Bridge Project for New England/Canada

Although antis have tried to block major pipeline upgrades in the northeast/New England region, Spectra Energy continues to have success with building and completing its projects. Recently Spectra’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) project, which built ~37 miles of new pipeline and half a dozen new compressor stations along the Alogonquin Gas Transmission pipeline, went into service (see New England Gets Small Increase in NatGas Pipeline Capacity). AIM is now delivering an extra 342 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of Marcellus/Utica natural gas to New England. AIM is part of a larger plan from Spectra called the Access Northeast project to combine several pipeline systems to send gas into New England and all the way to Nova Scotia, Canada. Access Northeast has been frustrated by regulators in New England (see Spectra Energy Puts Access Northeast Pipe to New England on Hold). However, another important piece of the larger puzzle has now fallen into place. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has just approved another piece of Access Northeast, called Atlantic Bridge. FERC previously granted the project a favorable Environmental Assessment last May (see Critical Project for Canadian LNG Exports Gets Favorable FERC Review). With certificates in hand, Spectra Energy can now start the bulldozers and begin construction. What does Atlantic Bridge entail? It beefs up capacity along the Algonquin and Spectra’s Maritimes & Northeast pipeline to carry more Marcellus/Utica gas into New England and now all the way to Nova Scotia…
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FERC Delay Pushes Back NFG’s Northern Access Pipeline Project

National Fuel Gas Company (NFG), the Buffalo-based utility giant with both a drilling subsidiary (Seneca Resources) and a midstream/pipeline subsidiary (Empire Pipeline) filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in March 2015 for a pipeline project they call Northern Access 2016 (later renamed to simply Northern Access Project, dropping the “2016” part). The $455 million project includes building 97 miles of new pipeline along a power line corridor from northwestern Pennsylvania up to Erie County, NY. The project also calls for 3 miles of new pipeline further up, in Niagara County, along with a new compressor station in the Town of Pendleton (see NFG’s Marcellus Pipeline from NWPA to NY Hits Resistence). In July 2016, FERC issued a favorable Environmental Assessment, paving the path for full approval (see NFG’s Northern Access Pipeline Gets Favorable FERC Review). NFG had hoped to have the project done and in-service by November of this year. However, due to foot-dragging by FERC, NFG has just announced a revision. They now say the project can’t get completed until “the second quarter of the Company’s 2018 fiscal year.” NFG doesn’t operate on a calendar year for reporting, they’re a quarter ahead. So the Company’s 2Q18 means 1Q18 for everyone else. Translation: NFG hopes to have it built and in-service by March 2018. In addition to the “bad news” of the delay, NFG sprinkled in some good news about production in 4Q16: due to an increase in Marcellus production, NFG’s calendar 4Q16 production (for subsidiary Seneca Resources) was up 16% over the same period in 2015…
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Wash DC Utility Selling Itself to Canadians, Marcellus Connection

In November rumors swirled that WGL Holdings, the umbrella company that owns Washington (DC) Gas Light Company and WGL Midstream, is considering selling itself to utility giant (and Spanish-based) Iberdrola (see DC NatGas Utility WGL Considers Selling Itself to Spanish Company). Although Iberdrola was sniffing around, apparently they didn’t offer enough money. WGL announced yesterday that instead of selling itself to Ibedrola, it is selling itself to Canadian-based AltaGas Ltd.–for US$6.4 billion. OK, so what does that have to do with the Marcellus/Utica? Plenty. For one, WGL’s midstream (pipeline) subsidiary will be one of the important ways nearly half a billion cubic feet of Marcellus gas will get to the Cove Point LNG facility in Maryland when that facility goes online later this year (see WGL & Antero to Provide Marcellus Gas to India via Cove Point). Second, WGL is the owner of 10% of the Mountain Valley Pipeline project, a $3.5 billion, 301-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA (see WGL Midstream Buys More of Mountain Valley Pipeline). And third, WGL (the utility) is buying and using Marcellus gas for its customers in the Washington, DC area. At one point the utility tried to buy 25 of its own Marcellus wells, a plan rejected by Virginia regulators (see Virginia Rejects Deal for DC-based Utility to Buy Marcellus Wells). So yeah, this is a big deal with implications for the Marcellus…
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Marcellus Gas Saves 438 Jobs at PA Paper Manufacturer

Domtar Corporation designs, manufactures, markets, and distributes pulp, paper, and personal care products from facilities in Elk and Clearfield counties in North Central Pennsylvania. PA Gov. Tom Wolf’s office excitedly announced yesterday that the company has decided to stay in PA and not move, making “significant infrastructure and equipment upgrades at its facilities.” The decision means that 438 jobs will stay in the Keystone State rather than move elsewhere–good for Pennsylvania. Which is all mildly interesting. However, the primary reason they’re sticking around is what caught our eye: the operation is converting from burning coal for energy to burning clean, cheap Marcellus Shale gas. The PA Commonwealth Financing Authority is kicking in $1 million from the Pipeline Investment Program (PIPE) grant fund to pay for a three-mile natural gas pipeline to Domtar’s Elk County paper mill facility…
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Anti-Fracking NY Pays to Train Soldiers to Work in Gas Industry

This story is deliciously ironic. New York State under man-child Gov. Andrew Cuomo has refused to allow hydraulic fracturing in unconventional shale deposits, although there is still fracking in conventional wells (see After 6+ Years, Andrew Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York). Cuomo has gone so far as to try and stop important pipeline projects that will flow shale gas from Pennsylvania into New York, like the Constitution (see NY Gov. Cuomo Refuses to Grant Permits for Constitution Pipeline). So we find it ironic that state funding is now being used in Watertown, NY to offer a free six-week retraining course for active military and veterans, a course that trains them for jobs in…wait for it…the fracking industry. With backing from the New York State Regional Economic Development Council and Department of Labor, the Continuing Education Division at Jefferson Community College (JCC) and the Fort Drum Soldier for Life program are currently hosting “Natural Gas Bootcamp,” a six-week career skills training program, on the JCC campus. We can assure you there is no fracking anywhere near Watertown. The JCC will hold five such training boot camps this year. So Gov. Cuomo’s state-funded Economic Development Council is training workers who will promptly move out of state to get jobs in an industry the state bans. Brilliant…
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New Poll: 62% of Virginians Support Mountain Valley Pipeline

The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is a $3.5 billion, 301-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA. The project, which filed an official application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in October 2015, is being built by EQT, NextEra Energy and several other partners including WGL (see today’s companion story). The project has faced stiff opposition from landowners in West Virginia (see Mountain Valley Pipeline Sues 103 WV Landowners for Survey Access). The project has also faced opposition from landowners in Virginia (see Mountain Valley Pipeline Wins Right to Survey in VA w/o Permission). Fortunately the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is signaling its favor for the project (see FERC Gives WV to VA Mountain Valley Pipeline Provisional Thumbs Up). However, that doesn’t stop rabidly radical organizations like the Sierra Club from spreading lies (see Sierra Club Attacks Mountain Valley Pipeline with Sham Report). Mason-Dixon Polling & Research conducted a public opinion poll of Virginians, to see what residents think of the project. The results are in. The question asked was this: “The proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline would transport natural gas underground from West Virginia to Virginia to help meet the demand for energy in homes and businesses in various regions of Virginia and the southeastern United States. Do you support or oppose construction and operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline?” The response? Some 62% of Virginians support the pipeline, while only 26% oppose it (and 12% are clueless)…
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