FERC Grants Final Approval for PennEast Pipe – Real Battle Begins

January 22, 2018 Leave a Comment 

PennEast Pipeline Route – click for larger version

It took over three years, but finally (finally!) PennEast Pipeline received a full, final kiss of approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Friday. One of the five FERC commissioners–Democrat Richard Glick (wind lobbyist, hand-picked by Chuck Schumer), voted against approving the project. Why are we not surprised? PennEast is a $1 billion, 120-mile primarily 36-inch natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Dallas (Luzerne County), PA to Transco’s pipeline interconnection near Pennington (Mercer County), NJ. The pipeline is an important conduit to move gas from the prolific gas fields of northeastern PA to markets in southeast PA and New Jersey. From the beginning of the project there have been a collection of so-called environmental organizations opposing it–including THE Delaware Riverkeeper, NJ Sierra Club, and the NJ Conservation Foundation. All radical groups, far far out of the mainstream. Unfortunately NJ elected an authoritarian Democrat as governor–Phil Murphy (see Dem Candidate for NJ Gov Opposes PennEast, After He $upported It). Murphy (a tool of Big Green) intends to obstruct PennEast any way he can (he said so during the campaign). So the fight for PennEast is far from over. The real battle is just beginning. However, with FERC on their side, PennEast can begin construction this year, in 2018. The more pipeline laid in the ground, the harder it becomes for Murphy and his radical supporters to stop it…
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BLM Auctioning Another 345 Ac. in OH Wayne Natl Forest – March 22

January 22, 2018 Leave a Comment 

Wayne National Forest

Another 345 acres of mineral rights will be auctioned off by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest (WNF) on March 22nd. This will be the fifth auction of land in WNF by the BLM. The most recent round was in December, when BLM auctioned 350 acres in Monroe County, OH netting $944,000 (see BLM Raises $944K from 4th Ohio Wayne Natl Forest Auction). This time around there are two parcels–39.65 acres and 305.84 acres. Which may not sound like much–so what’s the big deal? WNF is a “patchwork” of public land scattered among private land. Some 60% of the mineral rights below WNF are privately owned. Those mineral rights owners were denied the use of their property rights for more than a decade–until the BLM finally began auctions of government mineral rights in BLM in 2016 (see BLM Launches Auction to Lease Wayne National Forest for Fracking). The government portions of the patchwork are needed to combine with the private portions in order to form drilling units large enough to drill on/under. That’s why this is a big deal. Below is the information we could find on this next (5th) round of mineral rights auctions in WNF…
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PA DEP Invites Public Comment on Shell 60-Mile Ethane Pipeline

January 22, 2018 Leave a Comment 

Falcon Ethane Pipeline proposed route – click for larger version

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is taking a close look at Shell’s proposal to build an ethane pipeline to feed the $6 billion cracker plant now under construction in Beaver County, PA. In fact, the DEP wants public input on the ethane pipeline–by Feb. 20th. Brief history: In February 2016, MDN brought you exclusive news that Shell had begun approaching landowners in Beaver County to get them to sign easements for two ethane pipelines to feed the mighty cracker plant they plan to build in the county (see Exclusive: Shell Leasing Land for 2 Pipelines to PA Cracker Plant). At that time Shell had still not fully committed to building the cracker–something they finally did in June 2016 (see Breaking: Shell Pulls the Trigger, PA Ethane Cracker is a Go!). NGI’s Shale Daily broke a story in August 2016 that shed new light on the project–news that Shell is working on an ethane “pipeline system” with two “legs” to feed the cracker, confirming the tip we received in February (see Shell Working on 94-Mile Ethane Pipeline to Feed PA Cracker). Last October Shell filed an application with the PA DEP for the PA portions of the pipeline (see Shell Files PA Application for Ethane Pipe to Feed Cracker Plant). The DEP is now considering those portions–some 60 miles running through the state. Here’s how you can comment on/support the project…
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Although Cove Point LNG Not Yet Operational, Gas Flowing to Plant

January 22, 2018 Leave a Comment 

Last week MDN brought you news that Dominion’s Cove Point LNG export facility along the shore of Maryland has delayed its official start-up until perhaps as late as April (see Uh-Oh: Cove Point LNG Exports Possibly Delayed Until April). An expert analyst theorized the reason for the delay is to install two flaring systems at the plant (a safety precaution). So if the plant is not yet started up for commercial operations, why is gas still flowing to the facility? Other experts, at BTU Analytics, have been watching pipeline flow data and maintain the Cove Point facility has been receiving a steady flow of Marcellus gas since last September! No doubt some of the gas flowing to Cove Point is used for testing the equipment. But how can gas continuously flow to the plant if it’s not yet being liquefied and shipped out? We suspect some of the gas can be stored. As for the rest? We don’t know. What we do know, based on a post by BTU Analytics, is that even though Cove Point isn’t receiving the volumes it eventually will receive (3.5 billion cubic feet per day once it is fully up and running), Cove Point is getting a smaller, steady flow now–and (the point of this post), that smaller, steady flow is an important new market for Marcellus gas…
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NY DEC Asks Court to Toss FERC Order re Millennium Pipe Project

January 22, 2018 Leave a Comment 

Millennium Pipeline is building a tiny, 7.8 mile pipeline in Orange County, NY that will connect the main Millennium pipeline to the CPV Valley Energy Center gas-fired electric plant. Both projects are currently under construction. Millennium’s project, called the Valley Lateral Project, was opposed by the corrupt Andrew Cuomo Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The DEC refused to grant necessary permits for the federal project, so the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted to overrule DEC and allow it to be built anyway (see History Made! FERC Overrules NY DEC on Millennium Pipe Permit). The DEC took FERC to court, but in December, the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the DEC’s request to block the beginning of construction (see Fed Court Denies NY DEC Bid to Block Power Plant Pipe Construction). Construction subsequently began immediately. The DEC, no doubt goosed on by the corrupt Cuomo, has just come back to the Second Circuit with a different request. This time the DEC wants the court toss out FERC’s approval of the project, saying if the FERC approval stands, any company could file a half-baked (i.e. “incomplete” according to DEC standards) application for a water crossing permit and that doesn’t give DEC enough time to chase in a completed application. In other words, companies would “run out the clock” by saying DEC took more than a year to approve an application. DEC calls it “sandbagging” by delaying important information. Somehow DEC’s protestations ring particularly hollow, since they themselves are famous for sandbagging…
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Philadelphia Refinery Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

January 22, 2018 2 Comments 

Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), which operates the East Coast’s largest refinery on the banks of the Delaware River, has sadly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. PES had been on a mission to expand their operation at the Southport Marine site in Philadelphia by leasing an additional 200 acres to build a terminal for shale oil imports and exports. However, in November 2016, PA Gov. Wolf killed that plan when he decided to give a sweetheart deal to another company to develop a parking lot on the site, to park incoming cars arriving by container ships from Japan (see PA Gov Wolf Kills Plan for PES Refinery Expansion in Philadelphia). PES’ stated reason for bankruptcy is due to an onerous EPA requirement that refiners must blend in biofuel with gasoline and diesel, or purchase very expensive credits. PES can’t blend, so they must buy the credits, and it’s put them under water financially. Sadly, the Trump administration caved to the Midwest corn growers lobby and decided to uphold the Obama EPA’s onerous requirement…
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Ohio EPA Continues Campaign to Stop Rover Pipe, Hounds FERC Again

January 22, 2018 Leave a Comment 

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) continues to hound the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) about a potential spill of drilling mud by Rover Pipeline near the Tuscarawas River. Last week we told you that OEPA, which has ZERO regulatory oversight of the Rover Pipeline project, had been told (by informants) that when Rover restarted underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work at the Tuscarawas site, some 146,000 gallons of drilling mud went down the hole but never came back out (see OEPA Continues to Hunt Rover Pipe, Claims 2nd Spill Near River). In April 2017 Rover experienced an inadvertent return (i.e. spill) of some 2 million gallons of drilling mud at the same location (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). Last year’s accident shut down all HDD work for months. It wasn’t until December that FERC allowed Rover to restart HDD work at the Tuscarawas site. After OEPA went blabbing to FERC last week, Rover pushed back by saying there has been no spill or inadvertent return (see Rover Refutes Ohio EPA Claim of 146K Gal. Spill @ Tuscarawas River). We theorize that some (maybe even all 146,000 gallons) of the drilling mud did go down the hole and stayed down the hole. So far it hasn’t come back out, which is not a problem in anyone’s book. OEPA was back at FERC on Friday like an ankle-biting Chihuahua, asking FERC to shut down Rover HDD work because of this unsubstantiated rumor of drilling mud gone missing. Enough is enough! When will FERC slap OEPA around and tell them to back off?…
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New Park Foundation “Study” Targets PA Conventional O&G Wastewater

January 22, 2018 Leave a Comment 

For years now the radical Park Park Foundation has been buying its research from a few select professors at a few select universities. One of the scientists for sale is Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment (see Duke Hit Piece on Shale Water Usage from Same Park-Sponsored Prof and Latest Case of Duke U Bought & Paid “Research” by Park Foundation). Here’s how it works: Park funds Dr. Vengosh’s “research,” and he conveniently “discovers” all sorts of nasty things about shale fracking, publishing his “research” in obscure, peer reviewed journals. Mainstream media picks it up and runs it. Readers who only scan headlines get the impression fracking is evil. Mission accomplished for Park (another hit on fracking) and for Vengosh (another buck in his pocket). That’s how it works in the world of bought-and-paid-for fractivism. We though Vengosh had reformed. In October 2016 he published a fracking wastewater study, funded by the National Science Foundation (NOT the Park Foundation) that found there’s really nothing to worry about after all when it comes to Marcellus Shale wastewater (see Duke U Researcher Tries to Repair Reputation with Wastewater Study). But Vengosh has had a relapse–perhaps he needs more money? Vengosh, with funding from the Park Foundation, has just published a new study that blames conventional (not shale) oil and gas development in Pennsylvania for an increase in radioactivity in streams/rivers where conventional (not shale) wastewater has been treated and released by local sewage treatment plants…
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Calendar of Marcellus/Utica Events for Jan 22 – Apr 21

January 22, 2018 Leave a Comment 

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!
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Jan 22, 2018

January 22, 2018 Leave a Comment 

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye over the break that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Keystone XL pipe construction to begin next year; forward gas prices key to keeping Haynesville recovery alive; Patterson-UTI Energy announces closing on $525M in notes; Congress wants to give FERC final say on natgas exports; China boosts LNG imports ahead of next cold snap; Venezuela’s oil industry is done for; and more!
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New Marc/Utica Driller Salt Fork Resources Gets Upsized Investment

January 19, 2018 Leave a Comment 

It’s not often MDN gets to write about a brand new driller (i.e. exploration & production company) arriving on the scene in the Marcellus/Utica region. This is one of those happy days! Salt Fork Resources, started in March 2017 and headquartered in Canonsburg, PA, was started by three men with extensive experience in the Appalachian region. The company was/is backed by Riverstone Holdings, an investment firm focused on power and energy. The reason that Salt Fork appeared on our radar screen is because of a press release from Riverstone announcing they have “upsized” their backing of Salt Fork–that is, they are giving Salt Fork more money to lease more acreage and drill. How much money? The release does not say. We do know that Salt Fork has, so far, amassed a very respectable 20,000 acres “in the core of the dry gas window of the Utica Shale.” We also know, from their website, that Salt Fork is targeting the Utica in both Ohio and West Virginia. Salt Fork is a portfolio company of Riverstone (i.e. Riverstone owns it). The money Riverstone is giving to Salt Fork is equity, not debt–meaning Salt Fork hasn’t had to borrow a dime, a minor miracle for any oil and gas company. Does Riverstone sound familiar? It should. We’ve previously written about their other Marcellus/Utica region investments a number of times (see our Riverstone stories here). Let’s roll out the red carpet for Riverstone’s Salt Fork Resources and welcome this new company to the club!…
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Mountaineer Xpress Pipe Breaks Ground in WV on $100M Compressor

January 19, 2018 Leave a Comment 

Earlier this week TransCanada (i.e. Columbia Pipeline) broke ground for a new $100 million compressor station that will flow gas through the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline. MDN previously told you that at the end of December the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final approval for Mountaineer (see Leach XPress Goes Online; FERC Approves Mountaineer & Gulf XPress). The $2 billion Mountaineer XPress will build ~170 miles of new pipeline to flow 2.7 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day of natural gas from existing and future points of receipt along or near the Columbia pipeline system–most of it located in West Virginia (see Details on Columbia Pipeline Mountaineer XPress Pipeline Project). At 2.7 Bcf/d, Mountaineer XPress is the second largest (by volume) new pipeline project for the Marcellus/Utica region–second only to Rover’s 3.25 Bcf/d pipeline. It is a big and important project. On Tuesday, even though the temps were frigid and the snow was flying, Calhoun County commissioners along with reps from TransCanada broke ground on an important new compressor station being built to flow gas through Mountaineer XPress. Calhoun has not seen any shale drilling, although neighboring Ritchie County (to the north) and Gilmer County (to the east) have. Mountaineer XPress and this compressor station are helping Calhoun participate economically in the shale miracle, which Calhoun’s commissioners expressed thanks for…
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Mercer County, PA Gears Up to Benefit from Shell Cracker

January 19, 2018 Leave a Comment 

“One word: Plastics” (The Graduate) – Mercer County, which is two counties and 50 miles north of Beaver County (located along the border with Ohio) is making plans now for how their county to grab some of the “low hanging fruit” that will appear when the Shell ethane cracker in Beaver County goes online in the early 2020s. You read that right. NOW is the time for counties in the region to make plans and set those plans in motion to attract some of the numerous businesses that will set up shop to be close to the cracker plant. Mercer County officials recently attended a forum where the topic was ancillary development that will happen because of the cracker plant. What is the low hanging fruit that will magically appear with the cracker? Manufacturing–and the jobs that go with it. In particular, manufacturing and jobs in the plastics industry. A regional trade organization–Penn-Northwest Development Corp.–is planning to hit the plastics industry trade shows this year. Penn-Northwest is working with counties like Mercer to help them market themselves to plastics manufacturers…
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American Energy Partners – Lots of Smoke, Any Fire?

January 19, 2018 Leave a Comment 

MDN previously highlighted news from a relatively new company called American Energy Partners, Inc., based in Allentown, PA, and their subsidiary company Gilbert Oil & Gas (see our AEP stories here). The name is always jarring when we see it, because Aubrey McClendon’s second act after getting ejected from Chesapeake Energy was to found and run a company called American Energy Partners. However, Aubrey’s company was an LLC, and this one is an Inc.–same name but different forms of business entity. Still, we wonder how AEP Inc. has been able to avoid getting sued by the McClendon estate over their use of the name. But we digress. Thus far we’ve seen a lot of press releases (i.e. “smoke”) from AEP. Who are these guys and are they a serious company? Has there been any “fire” to accompany the smoke? We have to say yes, they are serious and yes, there has been at least some red embers burning. In October we reported that AEP’s drilling subsidiary Gilbert Oil & Gas had closed on a deal giving them 12 wells and 1,100 Marcellus acres in Washington County, PA (see American Energy Closes on “Tier I” Assets – Exclusive Details). Hey, it’s a beginning! The company is small and young, but with a determined team. Recently AEP added a new member to the team (a graduate of West Point AND the U.S. Army War College, as well as being a former PA State Senator) as Chief Strategy Officer. Here’s more information about AEP, a company to keep an eye on in 2018…
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NC Continues to Delay Atlantic Coast Pipe, Rejects Part of Erosion Plan

January 19, 2018 Leave a Comment 

North Carolina has a Democrat governor. The state Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is an executive branch agency. So it’s no surprise to learn that the DEQ is antagonistic toward Dominion Energy’s $5 billion, 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. In October the DEQ rejected a plan submitted by Dominion for the pipeline project, claiming the erosion and sediment control part of the plan is not up to snuff (see NC DEQ Rejects Plan for Atlantic Coast Pipeline – What’s Next?). What’s happened since that time? Dominion resubmitted the plan, and in early January DEQ approved part of the erosion/sediment control plan (for the southern part of the project) but rejected the other part (for the northern part of the project). As we previously pointed out, DEQ is currently playing death by 1,000 questions with Dominion, trying to tie the project up in knots (see NC Plays “Death by a Thousand Questions” with Atlantic Coast Pipe). DEQ’s poor behavior continues. Here’s an update on where things stand, and what Dominion will need to do to get ACP approved in the Tar Heel State…
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Cabot O&G Continues Tradition of Philanthropy in NEPA Communities

January 19, 2018 Leave a Comment 

The following guest post was written by Rick Hiduk:

Cabot Warming Hearts at Coldest Time of Year

It has been a particularly cold couple of months, and those most effected by winter’s bite tend to be the less fortunate families in our region and their children. Since Thanksgiving, Cabot Oil & Gas has been reaching out to the community in a variety of ways and brightening the lives of hundreds of area residents. While Cabot has become known for its ongoing philanthropy, the initiatives covering the holiday season were especially well received, helping more than 800 families in northeast Pennsylvania…
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