Odds in Favor of a PA Ethane Cracker Just Went WAY Up

may the odds be ever in your favorAt the end of October, MDN told you about comments from Shell’s retiring CEO Peter Voser that stoked fears that the previously announced Pennsylvania ethane cracker plant they may build was in doubt (see Rumor Mill: PA Ethane Cracker Plant on Shell Chopping Block?). Voser said that Shell’s wishlist included three major projects: the ethane cracker in PA, a gas-to-liquids plant in Louisiana, and an LNG plant in Canada. At the time Voser said Shell cannot build all three projects and would need to make “hard choices.”

It looks like the choice has been made and it’s very good news for PA! Yesterday Shell announced they are nixing the gas-to-liquids project in Louisiana, which (MDN’s view) makes it much more likely the PA ethane cracker plant will go forward. Here’s Shell’s statement from yesterday:
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Let it Flow! ATEX Ethane Pipeline Testing Now, Online Soon

When it comes to carting away lucrative ethane from the Marcellus/Utica, there’s been a horse race between Sunoco Logsitics and their Mariner West pipeline to Sarnia, Canada, and the Enterprise Products Partners and their ATEX (Appalachia-to-Texas Express) pipeline to the Gulf. Mariner West recently won the race in a photo finish (see “Midstream Knife Fight” – Who Will Have 1st Operational NGL Pipeline to Gulf?). However, Enterprise announced yesterday they are now filling the ATEX pipeline with ethane and testing it. The pipeline should be fully operational by the end of December–months ahead of schedule.

The exciting thing about the ATEX pipeline is it’s connection to four different fractionation (“separating”) plants: two in OH, one each in PA and WV. Why are these two ethane pipelines a big deal? Great question…
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Ohio Passes 1,000 Utica Shale Permits Issued, No End in Sight

Three cheers for Ohio! Hip hip, hooray! Ohio has just flown past 1,000 Utica Shale permits issued. The number, as of last Saturday, is 1,006 to be exact. Of that number 617 wells either are or have been drilled (two-thirds!). Perhaps most fitting is that Aubrey McClendon’s new company, American Energy Utica, received it’s first five permits to drill in this latest batch issued by the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR). McClendon was the first to recognize the potential of the Utica Shale and moved his then-company, Chesapeake Energy, into purchasing 1 million acres of leases in the Ohio Utica.

What is truly mind-blowing is that it took only three years for Ohio to go from zero permits to 1,000+ permits for Utica wells, establishing the Utica as one of the country’s hottest shale plays. Here’s a rundown on the latest numbers from Ohio’s Utica Shale:
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IOGA of NY Dumps PR Consultant, Media Speculation Goes Wild

This is an “inside baseball” kind of story–or in this case, inside New York oil & gas politics. The Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York (IOGA of NY) recently underwent some belt-tightening. You look over your budget–the money coming in and the money going out–and you make decisions. That’s what companies, and organizations, do. The government doesn’t do that because they just take it from we citizens to pay for their voracious drunken spending habits. But that’s another story for another time.

IOGA of NY looked at declining membership revenues because oil and gas drillers are leaving or staying away from New York over an ongoing five and a half year moratorium, and IOGA decided they could do without the services of their high priced PR consultant. Happens every day in thousands of companies and organizations across the world. But only in NY do the media try to fabricate a story out of it to say IOGA of NY is throwing in the towel…giving up…admitting defeat. We say it’s wishful thinking on the part of NY’s anti-fracking media. IOGA of NY is doing nothing of the sort…
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Pathetic Response to Threatened Lawsuit over NY Frack Regs

On Monday, Tom West, an attorney for Norse Energy, sent a “demand” letter addressed to NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens with the not-so-subtle threat that unless Martens releases the fracking regulations (called the SGEIS), Norse will sue Martens, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah under Article 78 for not doing their jobs. That is, Norse (via West) will sue to force the release of the SGEIS (see Tom West Demands DEC Com. Martens Release the SGEIS – Soon). All three of the anti-fracking cabal (Cuomo, Martens, Shah) got the letter.

So far Cuomo himself hasn’t had the guts to say anything about the letter or potential lawsuit. Neither has Joe Martens. Instead, they continue to let State Health Commissioner Shah catch the spears for it. At a public health forum in Manhattan on Tuesday, Shah addressed the issue by saying, in essence, Shazam! We done just got us some new informations in just the past few weeks (can ya’ll believe that?)! Ya’ll can’t rush this, ya know. To which we say, “pathetic”…
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Bluegrass NGL Pipeline’s Eminent Domain Challenged in KY Court

A small but dedicated group of anti-drillers in Kentucky continue to oppose plans by Williams and Boardwalk Partners to build the Bluegrass natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline through their state. The Bluegrass will stretch from the Marcellus/Utica all the way to the Gulf Coast. MDN estimates it will cost at least $1.5 billion to build it (see 2013 Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook – Volume 2). We told you about previous efforts to stop the pipeline in, ironically, the Bluegrass state–Kentucky (see Bluegrass NGL Pipeline Encounters Resistance from Some in KY and Bluegrass NGL Pipeline Hits Brick Wall in the Bluegrass State). We even told you about God getting involved (see Thank God the Bluegrass Pipeline will Bypass Marion County Nuns).

Looks like the anti-drillers have not given up. A new group with the cutsie name KURE (Kentuckians United to Restrain Eminent Domain) has formed to oppose the pipeline. Their strategy is to deny the Bluegrass the right to use eminent domain to lay pipeline under property where landowners don’t want it. KURE filed a lawsuit yesterday in Franklin Circuit Court (Frankfort, KY) questioning the legality of eminent domain for the Bluegrass…
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NYC’s Energy Infrastructure “Transformed,” Boston’s is Not – Why?

We find it amusing that mainstream media is so narcissistic and navel-gazing that if a story doesn’t originate from NYC/DC media axis, it’s as if the story never existed. Case in point: The Atlantic magazine trumpets “no one noticed” that last month a whole lot more natural gas started flowing to New York City because of a new $1.2 billion pipeline from Spectra Energy connecting NJ to NY. Uh, excuse us Atlantic, but MDN noticed. We’ve been covering this story for the past two years! We told readers back on Oct. 21 that Spectra was opening the valves on an additional 800 million cubic feet of mostly cheap Marcellus Shale gas per day (see Spectra NJ-NY Marcellus Gas Pipeline Goes Online Nov. 1).

It may take a few months, but we’re glad to see some mainstream media outlets finally, grudgingly, report the good news. However, there are other stories the media continues to ignore, like why Boston will continue to pay high prices for their natural gas even though there’s plenty of cheap gas to be had. There’s a pretty simple explanation…
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