Bobby Vagt Out as Pres of Heinz Endowments – Fracking Connection?

Night of the Long KnivesIn August MDN told you about a shake-up taking place at the Heinz Endowments with the firing of “longtime head” of environmental grant making for the Heinz Endowments, Caren Glotfelty (see Heinz Endowments Fires Head of Enviro Grants – Change Coming?). The story is an important one because of the role played by the Heinz Endowments in funding anti-fracking causes. Earlier this year, president of the Heinz Endowments, Bobby Vagt, dared to strike up first a conversation, then a pact, with drillers and a few other brave environmental organizations to found the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (see  Important: Drillers & Enviros Form New Group, Launch Cert Program). Apparently Vagt’s “sell-out” to the drilling industry was the beginning of the end and the enviro-nut long knives came out for him (see Heinz Endowments President Owns $1.2M in Kinder Morgan Stock).

In what appears to be a move by one of the Endowments’ board members–one of the Heinz boys, Andre–Vagt announced he is “retiring” from his job as president of the Endowments. Looks like the long knives finally found their mark…
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Can Donald Trump Save Fracking in NY?

While NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to delay his decision about whether to go up against the nutjobs of his own party–to “man up” and allow fracking, or not–he continues to dream about running for president in 2016. But before he can do that, he has to win re-election as governor of NY next year, in 2014. A shoo-in? A fait accompli? Foregone conclusion? Don’t be so sure. There are a LOT of angry landowners in Upstate NY. And now, there’s Donald Trump.

Rumors are circulating that NY state Republicans are teeing up Trump to run against Cuomo next year, and so far, Trump is not saying “no” to the idea. Could it be that Trump will be the savior of fracking in NY?…
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Unexpected News in Latest BH Rig Counts – 42% Jump in Rigs in…

From time to time MDN takes a look at the Baker Hughes “rig count”–the number of rotary drilling rigs operating in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The “received wisdom” in the drilling industry that is as goes the rig count, so goes production numbers. Used to be if you saw a decrease in the number of rigs in a given geography, maybe 6-12 months later you would see a corresponding decrease in production from that area. No more. Shale drilling has changed all of that. Nowadays the rig counts go down, and production (in PA anyway), doubles! Why? A lot of wells previously drilled are still waiting to be hooked up to pipelines and begin their production. And shale well production is different from conventional well production. The once simple measurement of more rigs/more production (and the reverse) no longer holds completely true.

Rig counts are still, however, a useful metric to track. And sometimes they reveal something surprising, as MDN found out today in reviewing the latest numbers. Rig counts are an indication of where there is an increase (or decrease) in new drilling activity. Landowners eager to have a well drilled on their property can use rig counts to gauge how quickly (or not) that may happen. Supply chain companies that sell services to drillers are also interested in tracking rig counts. So what, exactly, did MDN find that surprised us? The big surprise is where rig counts have recently spiked–significantly. It’s in a Marcellus/Utica state you may not expect…
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ATEX Pipeline Ponies Up $572K to Repair Damaged Roads in Muskingum

Under the “ask and ye shall receive” department… Muskingum County was not happy that heavy truck traffic from companies working for Enterprise Products Partners, building the new ATEX Express ethane pipeline through the county, had damaged some of the county’s roadways. So the county asked Enterprise to pony up over $700K to fix the damaged roads.

Enterprise did not pay the amount requested, but they did agree to pay over a half million smakaroos. Not a bad result for just asking…
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Williams Takes Next Step with Transco Leidy Pipeline Expansion

Williams is hard at work on expanding their Transco Leidy interstate natural gas pipeline–especially in northeast PA around the Scranton area. The “Transco Leidy Southeast Expansion Project” is a massive $610 million project designed to increase the pipeline’s capacity by 525,000 decatherms per day–enough natural gas to serve 2 million homes. The expansion will pipe Marcellus Shale gas to points from New York City to the southeastern U.S. The project includes construction of approximately 30 miles of additional pipe segments, called loops, in PA and NJ, in addition to modifying some existing compressor stations and valve sites.

The Transco Leidy Southeast Expansion is a multi-year project that Williams hopes will be in service by the end of 2015. They recently took the next step in the project with an official filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). An update on the project’s status and what will happen next…
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Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Pipeline Expansion in CT

Spectra Energy wants to bring more of the northeast’s Marcellus and Utica Shale gas to markets in…the northeast! Now there’s a novel idea. In order to do that, Spectra is looking to spend at least $500 million (MDN’s estimate) to expand the pipeline capacity of their existing Algonquin Gas Transmission system. The project calls for 25.6 miles of various segments of existing mainline relay and loop that includes 1.2 miles of new pipeline to be installed beneath the Hudson River using a horizontal directional drill; construction of approximately 18 miles of lateral pipeline relay, loop and expansion; modifications to existing compressor stations in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island; construction of three new meter stations; and modifications to existing meter stations. The upgrades and expansion will increase the pipeline’s capacity by up to 433,000 dekatherms per day.

One of the markets Spectra will take the extra gas to is Connecticut. We get an update on Spectra’s Algonquin project in that state from the Connecticut Post…
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Gas-to-Liquids Trend Picks Up Steam in Northeast

An interesting trend to keep an eye on: gas-to-liquids (or GTL). Gas-to-liquids converts natural gas into other hydrocarbon compounds–like diesel fuel and chemicals used in manufacturing. If the economics are right, GTL may well become an important market for an abundance of very cheap natural gas in the Marcellus/Utica region. In fact, MDN has brought you stories about three such facilities that have been announced in the Marcellus/Utica region (see Chemical Manufacturer to Build Gas-to-Liquids Plant in PAAltoona Area Getting $200M Marcellus Gas-to-Liquids Plant; and Utica Shale Gas-to-Liquids Plant Planned for Ashtabula, OH).

An article by SNL Financial highlights the fact that GTL is not just a northeastern U.S. trend and not just a national trend, but indeed it is an international trend…
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