ME2 Pipe Work in Chester County Shut Down (Again) Following Leaks

Hypersensitive: excessively or abnormally sensitive. That’s the word we would use to describe what’s happening in Chester County, PA–a suburb of Philadelphia–with regard to underground horizontal directional drilling work (HDD) being performed by Sunoco Logisitics Partners on the Mariner East 2 pipeline project. The company keeps having “inadvertent returns”–which we call leaks. Drilling mud (bentonite) used to cool the drill bit goes down the hole, and sometimes it pops back up on the surface in a different place from where it went down. Since the drilling mud is non-toxic clay and water (same stuff used to make kitty litter, toothpaste and lipstick), it’s no big deal. Unless there’s thousands of gallons of it turning up in a creek where it can smother fish and aquatic life. There’s cracks in the ground near the surface and sometimes the mud leaks out of those cracks. Sunoco must track leaks of down to less than one gallon. Antis look at the numbers and make wild claims that the pipeline has leaked “over 100 times” since drilling began. While technically true, many of those leaks are nothingburgers–not worth tracking or talking about (a few gallons at most). However, some of the leaks are big and yes, those do need talking about. Over the past week or so another four leaks have occurred in Chester County, totaling 8,000 gallons. Fortunately none of it ended up in a creek. Because of the leaks, the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has, once again, shut down any further HDD work in Chester County…
Continue reading

MarkWest Energy Settles EPA Air Pollution Case for $5.6 Million

NOTE: A previous version of this post reported a total price of $3.2 million, now changed to account for the addition of an extra $2.4M for required SEPs. See below.

Two MarkWest Energy subsidiaries, MarkWest Liberty Midstream Resources and Ohio Gathering Co., have been forced into signing a settlement of claims brought by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection over charges of releasing too much air pollution from facilities they operate throughout eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania in the Utica and Marcellus shale. The agreement signed yesterday by MarkWest calls for the company to spend $2.6 million to install and operate new technologies to minimize VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions at their facilities–19 major, standalone facilities and 273 smaller facilities. The company will also implement three supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) for an additional $2.4 million. In addition, MarkWest will pay the government a $610,000 fine (i.e. shakedown). Total cost to get the government of out their hair: over $5.6 million. The government claimed MarkWest had not applied for nor complied with necessary permits. But the real disaster, the thing that sent government bureaucrats into fits, is that MarkWest failed to file proper paperwork required under the Clean Air Act. However, the settlement didn’t all go the government’s way. In agreeing to the settlement, MarkWest “expressly denies and does not admit any liability to the United States or PADEP arising out of the conduct, transactions or occurrences alleged in the complaint,” which means antis can’t file frivolous lawsuits against MarkWest over air pollution…
Continue reading

Outrage: Police Send Pizza & Sandwiches Up Tree to Protesters

This is almost beyond words. Earlier this week MDN reported that arrest warrants had been issued for a 61 year-old woman and her daughter sitting 30 feet up in the top of a tree that needs to come down to make way for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (see Arrest Warrant Issued for MVP Tree Sitting “Grandma Red”). Theresa “Red” Terry and her daughter, Theresa Minor Terry (“Jr.”) are illegally trespassing on property (the tree) that now belongs to MVP, via eminent domain. Sometime in the past week or so police began to deny Red’s supporters from passing food and water up the tree. They also have been turning bright lights on the two Theresas during the night, in an effort to deny them sleep and force them down. As the police said: They are meeting the “non-violent protest action” with “non-violent police action.” So what happens when Red and Jr. tell the police they’re hungry and out of food? The police scramble a cop car to the nearest pizza joint and double-time a pizza, and bologna sandwiches, up the tree to the two alleged criminals sitting at the top. To the same two people for which arrest warrants have been issued. We’re confused. Why would the police accommodate two people BREAKING THE LAW BY TRESPASSING? If the police won’t enforce the laws, our country is done. Toast. It will be every man and woman for him/herself–and it won’t be pretty. Selectively enforcing (or not enforcing) the law is not an option. The Roanoke County police guarding the tree should either do their job, or be fired…
Continue reading

Penn State to Help Create New Biz Opportunities from Shell Cracker

The Penn State campus in Erie County (called Penn State Behrend) has been tapped by the PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to be the “lead partner” for developing business and market opportunities for the state related to the mighty $6 billion Shell ethane cracker–currently under construction in Beaver County. Erie County where Behrend is located is certainly not next door to the cracker, not nearly as close as some other Penn State campuses. So why was Behrend selected? In a word, plastics. “The strength of Erie’s plastics industry and the success of Penn State Behrend’s School of Engineering, which offers one of only six accredited U.S. plastics undergraduate programs, makes Erie of particular interest to DCED.” According to DCED’s Denise Brinley, senior energy adviser, “Penn State Behrend can provide critical connections to research support, materials testing and a talent pipeline that will add value to this large-scale petrochemical investment and associated growth in the plastics sector.” Penn State is kicking in a $250,000 grant to their Energy University Partnership for oil and gas strategies, to help prime the pump…
Continue reading

NJ Town Ready to Approve Meadowlands Marcellus-Fired Power Plant

MDN reported two weeks ago that a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi wants to build a huge, new $1.5 billion natural gas-fired electric generating plant in the Meadowlands (New Jersey), just outside of New York City (see Marcellus Electric Plant Proposed for Meadowlands to Power NYC). The North Bergen Liberty Generating Project, at 1,200 megawatts, will help replace some of the electricity lost when the Indian Point Nuclear plant located in New York along the Hudson River closes down in 2021. We suspect that since the mighty Transco pipeline, which flows mostly Marcellus molecules in the northeast, will feed the Meadowlands project, this plant will become an important new market for PA Marcellus production. Of course the plant is being opposed by radicals in the nutty Sierra Club and other Big Green groups who despise all fossil fuels and demand that you and I end our use of fossil fuels to make them feel better about themselves. Fortunately the town where the plant will be located, North Bergen, has rational adults leading it. North Bergen officials are jazzed about the plant and by all indications will soon vote to approve it…
Continue reading

Central Illinois Gas-Fired Power Plant One Step Closer to Reality

EmberClear Pawnee proposed plant site – click for larger version

Last June MDN reported that EmberClear, based in Houston, TX, wants to build a $1 billion, 1,100 megawatt combined-cycle natural gas-fired plant about 15 miles from Springfield, Illinois, in Pawnee (see NatGas and Coal Go to War in Central Illinois). The City of Springfield’s City Water, Light and Power (CWLP) owns and operates a 550-MW coal-fired generating system. According to the state’s coal industry, a new gas-fired plant would rob CWLP’s plant of business, costing jobs and money. However, it appears the city and CWLP doesn’t view the proposed gas-fired plant as a threat. City alderman have just approved a deal for the new Pawnee plant to purchase “at least” 80,000 gallons of water per day from CWLP for a cool $29,000 per month. The water is a critical component in operating the plant. No water, no plant. This is just the latest indicator that Springfield is on board with the plant. Last May the city approved stretching the boundaries of the Springfield-Sangamon Enterprise Zone, to give the Pawnee project millions in tax savings. Here’s the latest news–that the Pawnee project has just taken another big step closer to the start of construction by striking a deal with CWLP…
Continue reading

The Miseducation of Our Youth: Global Warming Brain Disorder

As supporters of the fossil fuel industry, we must deal with the issue of catastrophic, man-made global warming head-on. Our kids now grow up believing this lie, and they turn into activists demanding action–sometimes to the point of violence–in support of this lie. We recently read an opinion column by a young woman who appears to be bright, earnest, talented, dedicated–and she believes the lies taught to her about fossil fuels and their role in society. She recently protested in Albany, willing to risk arrest, all in the name of demanding Gov. Cuomo end the use of all fossil fuels in New York State. She’s deathly afraid (we’d call it a phobia) of a common occurrence: the construction and operation of a natural gas-fired power plant in Orange County, NY. What this young woman apparently doesn’t understand is that New York would be plunged back into the Dark Ages if we were to forgo all fossil fuel use–as she is demanding via her protests. Wall Street would move to another state with no electricity to operate its computer networks. Disease and death would be rampant throughout the state. Reliable electricity (used to charge the phone she uses to snap selfies of her protest marches and arrests) would be a thing of the past. It’s really quite sad that this young woman has been completely and incontrovertibly miseducated. Lied to. Education malpractice. The real shame is that she parades her abject ignorance for the world to see. The miseducation of our youth–the intentional lies told to them about man-made global warming, must stop…
Continue reading

Other Energy Stories of Interest: Wed, Apr 25, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: More pipelines equals less gas price volatility; CenterPoint’s pricey Vectren deal shows allure of natgas; gas plant costs down significantly from 2014; oil frackers say $70 oil is the reward for patience; Halliburton says fracking intensity causing equipment to wear out faster; Trump’s revenge – U.S. oil flooding Europe, dinging OPEC & Russia; China’s natgas crises; and more!
Continue reading

Cuomo-Corrupted DEC Denies Permit for Williams NESE Pipe Project

A new fight is shaping up in the (crumbling) Empire State. Once again Andrew Cuomo, at the prompting of Big Green groups (corrupted by their big donations to his campaign war chest) has instructed his lackeys who run the Dept. of Environment Conservation (DEC) to reject a modest pipeline expansion proposal by Williams’ Transco Pipeline subsidiary. The project, which we’ve previously written about and are actively promoting, is called the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project (see Time to Support Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhancement Project). The project is meant to increase pipeline capacity and flows heading into northeastern markets. Transco wants to provide more Marcellus natural gas to utility giant National Grid beginning with the 2019-2020 heating season. National Grid operates in New York City, Long Island, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. There are a number of components to the project, but the key component, the heart of the project, is a new 23-mile pipeline from the shore of New Jersey into (on the bottom of) the Raritan Bay–running parallel to the existing Transco pipeline–before connecting to the Transco offshore. In a pattern we’ve seen before, the DEC claims, falsely, that an application for a state water crossing permit is “incomplete.” The DEC, like Lucy with her football in the old Charlie Brown cartoons, offers the promise that “if only” the pipeline company will submit a “complete” application THEN they will approve it. But just like Lucy with the football, when the company gets close, the DEC pulls it away yet again. Fool me once… The DEC used this same tactic to defeat the Constitution Pipeline project. It sure feels to us like “here we go again”…
Continue reading

NEPA Hospital Building Marcellus-Fired Electric Plant

Concept drawing for Geisinger’s $18 million Central Utility Plant

A hospital in Wilkes-Barre, PA–the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center–has begun work on building a new $18 million Marcellus gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant. The new plant will cut the hospital’s energy consumption by 40% and save it around $1.5 million in energy costs annually. Cool! This is not the first time we’ve written about the trend among PA hospitals to build their own mini power plants, powered by natural gas. Last time we checked, in November, there were a dozen hospitals across the Keystone State that use CHP technology (see Lancaster Hospital Produces Its Own Electricity Using Marcellus Gas). Hospitals are not the only organizations that use CHP–universities, manufacturing plants and others use CHP too (see Website Connects Lenders/Borrows for Combined Heat & Power Projects). Here’s the news about the newest PA hospital to use CHP–an important new market for PA’s abundant, clean-burning Marcellus gas…
Continue reading

Blue Racer Midstream: The Veins at the Heart of the Utica Shale

Blue Racer Midstream is a pipeline and processing plant company–a joint venture between Caiman Energy II and Dominion Energy–that owns several natural gas processing and fractionation plants, 570 miles of natgas gathering pipelines, and 151 miles of NGL and condensate pipelines in OH and WV. The company’s primary focus from the beginning has been on handling and processing “wet gas” in eastern OH, northern WV and western PA. Blue Racer processes and transports NGLs (natural gas liquids) to market by all means possible–pipeline, rail and yes, even barge (see Blue Racer Barges NGLs to Gulf Coast on the Ohio River). One of the NGLs, ethane, plays a big role for Blue Racer–present and future. It’s time for an update on Blue Racer Midstream, the veins at the heart of the Utica Shale…
Continue reading

Will New WV Exec Order Speed Up Gas-Fired Power Plant Projects?

WV Gov. Jim Justice

Yesterday West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice issued a new Executive Order (EO)–the third of his tenure thus far. The new EO cuts through regulatory red tape and instructs all WV governmental departments that issue permits to prioritize “permits for projects of critical economic concern.” That would include permits for Marcellus/Utica Shale projects. The EO requires agencies to issue written reports to the permit applicant, the executive director of the state Development Office, and to the Governor, explaining why they haven’t gotten off their rear-ends and acted on a given critical permit. As we read about this interesting development, it immediately struck us that we hope the EO also affects the permitting process for new natural gas-fired electric plants. Last September WV Secretary of Commerce, Woody Thrasher, admitted publicly that his beloved state is unfriendly to new natgas-fired electric plant projects (see WV Sec Commerce Says State Unfriendly to Gas-Fired Power Plants). In a speech before state legislators, Thrasher said while Ohio has built 19 new gas-fired power plants, and Pennsylvania has built 22 new gas-fired power plants, WV has built NONE. Zero. Nada. Even though perhaps a dozen such projects have been proposed. The first sliver of light in that respect came in February of this year when finally the very first such project in WV was approved by the Public Service Commission (see Brooke County WV Power Plant Wins State Approval). So when we read about the new EO signed by Justice, our thoughts didn’t jump to permits for shale wells, our thoughts turned to permits stalled for new electric power plant projects–which use Marcellus/Utica shale gas…
Continue reading

EIA: PA’s Natural Gas Production Hits New Highs Each Year

Our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, yesterday took a close look at natural gas production in Pennsylvania and how it has grown. A few interesting factoids: PA averaged a record high 15 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas production in 2017–3% higher than 2016. Most of PA’s natural gas production comes from the Marcellus Shale. PA production accounted for 19% of total U.S. marketed natural gas production in 2017. PA produces more natural gas than any other state except Texas. Several key pipelines have helped move some of PA’s enormous production to other markets. Here’s the insightful look at PA natgas production from expert number crunchers at EIA…
Continue reading

FERC Launches Review of Its Process to Approve NatGas Pipelines

Government agencies, like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), share many of the same characteristics with business entities. For example, each has its own standard operating procedures (SOPs)–the rules that govern how that organization operates. In 1999 FERC adopted SOPs for how it reviews and decides on which pipeline projects it will approve, or not approve (called “Certification of New Interstate Natural Gas Pipeline Facilities – Statement of Policy”). Since 1999 FERC has operated pretty much the same way, taking into consideration certain factors, discounting or ignoring other factors, when approving pipeline projects. It’s time to update FERC’s SOPs. Last week FERC launched a review of its policies in reviewing pipeline projects and has invited the public to provide comments. Anti fossil fuel nutters have been the first in line, hoping to get FERC to adopt policies so strict no pipelines will ever again be approved. Antis have for years lied about FERC’s role in reviewing pipelines, calling the agency a “rubber stamp” approving 99% of the pipeline projects submitted. What antis don’t tell you is that FERC has provided negative feedback for many (most?) pipeline projects, causing the builder to either change the project plan or abandon it altogether. Under current SOPs pipelines either get built “the right way” according to FERC’s strict standards, or the project is withdrawn with no need to be rejected (hence the high “approval” rate). Here’s more background and context for what FERC may be looking to change about the way it approves pipeline projects…
Continue reading

Mammoth Energy Wanders into Non-Shale Work in Puerto Rico

Oilfield services company (OFS) Mammoth Energy Services, headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, operates in both the Utica Shale and Permian Basin. Last time we checked in on the company was over a year ago. At that time MDN reported that Mammoth, a relatively new company formed in 2014, had bought itself a pair of sand mines (see OFS Mammoth Energy Buys Second Sand Co. to Keep on Frackin’). But something happened last year that escaped our notice. Mammoth is not only in the OFS line of work, they also do electrical transmission and distribution (“T&D”) work. Following last year’s disaster when Hurricane Maria devastated the Puerto Rico, Mammoth was hired to help rebuild the electric utility infrastructure on the island. The way we were alerted to Mammoth’s extracurricular activity in Puerto Rico was in spotting a Seeking Alpha investor article. The article (below) takes the approach that Mammoth’s stock value is overinflated by 50% due to the contract they have in Puerto Rico. The author says, rightly, that Mammoth is mainly an OFS company. He thinks when the Puerto Rico work is done, the underlying “weak” OFS customer base won’t be enough to keep Mammoth profitable. We don’t necessarily agree with his views about the company (although it wouldn’t hurt our feelings if Mammoth shed its T&D business). The author is an investor and is “short” on Mammoth, meaning he owns securities that bet on the price of Mammoth’s stock going down. The reason we bring you the following article is because it contains a lot of information about Mammoth–a still small but rapidly growing, and increasingly important, OFS company operating in our region…
Continue reading

Other Energy Stories of Interest: Tue, Apr 24, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: FirstEnergy reaches agreement with creditors for bankrupt subsidiaries; Cheniere settles Sabine Pass LNG tank issues; Colorado energy, manufacturing pushes back on Boulder idiotic climate change lawsuit; gas growth in Okla.; the new EPA and why it drives radicals crazy; the most “hated” sector in the stock market – natgas; if solar and wind are so cheap, why is electricity so expensive?; appreciating fossil fuels on Earth Day; enviro protectionism run amok; the role of accurate weather forecasts in the energy industry; anti-energy policies at the World Bank; and more!
Continue reading