WV Trip to Brazil Reaffirms Cracker Plant: “Comfort Level Strong”

high comfort levelLast week West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin led a trade delegation on a junket to Brazil to talk with officials from Odebrecht and Braskem about the $3 billion proposed ethane cracker plant/petrochemical complex the companies are planning for Parkersburg, WV (see WV Gov. Tomblin Leads Trade Mission to Brazil re Cracker Plant). Accompanying Tomblin on the trip were his wife, Secretary of Commerce Keith Burdette and several others. Fresh back from the trip both Tomblin and Burdette have very encouraging comments. Burdette in particular effused about the ASCENT cracker plant project, saying: “Our comfort level [that the project will happen] is very strong.” Burdette also said (perhaps in response to criticisms about an expensive taxpayer-funded trip to Brazil) that it was important for WV officials to spend time in their offices–as a courtesy and to show commitment to a project that the company is spending beaucoup bucks on in WV…
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Progress with Proposed Seneca Lake Propane Storage Facility

Some positive movement (finally) for the proposed LPG (liquefied petroleum gas, or propane) storage facility proposed by Crestwood Midstream for a depleted salt cavern along Seneca Lake, near Watkins Glen, NY. We’ve been covering this story for years (see our articles on Inergy and Crestwood). In 2009 Inergy, which has since been sold to Crestwood, applied for a permit to store LPG in the depleted salt caverns on Seneca Lake. Since then, the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation, under a series of Democrat governors, has intentionally delayed issuing a permit for the facility. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave their blessing for the facility last month, and early last week the DEC finally issued draft permit conditions–the next step in the process…
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DRBC Tells PennEast They Need DRBC (Not Just FERC) Approval

Looks like all those phone calls and emails and letters and complaining by THE Delaware Riverkeeper, Maya van Rossum, about the PennEast Pipeline that will carry cheap, abundant, clean-burning Marcellus Shale gas from northeast PA to NJ, have had their intended effect. The Delaware River Basin Commission, under the new leadership of Steve Tambini, has notified PennEast that they will need to get the DRBC kiss of approval before they can build the pipeline through the Delaware River Basin area. Let’s hope it’s not the (typical) DRBC kiss of death…
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ECA’s New Regional HQ in Charleston: More WV Drilling on the Way?

Energy Corporation of America (ECA) is a privately owned company founded in 1963 with corporate headquarters in Denver, CO. The company owns and operates approximately 4,600 (mostly vertical) wells, 5,000 miles of pipeline, and leases more than 1 million acres in North America alone. Most of ECA’s leased acreage is in the northeast, so it came as no surprise when they announced last year that they would build a new regional HQ that will house more than one-third of their employees (see ECA Breaks Ground on WV Regional HQ, Donates $600K to Clay Center). The brand spanking new regional HQ building in Charleston, WV is done (cost $10 million to build) and some 115 employees are now moved into a 60,000 square foot building with room for up to 200 employees. But MDN has discovered a head-scratcher…
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EnLink Midstream Job Promotion Signals Rapid Growth Ahead

Personnel changes at upstream and midstream companies aren’t usually something we cover here at MDN. But there are times when personnel changes signal something important. This is one of those times. EnLink Midstream is the renamed Crosstex Energy that was merged with Devon Energy’s midstream division– a merger that happened in March 2014 (see Time to Congratulate Devon & Crosstex on the Birth of EnLink). Eight months later and the company, with a large presence in the Marcellus/Utica, is on a tear. They are raising money and buying assets and expanding rapidly. One of the key people in the merger and subsequent growth is Benjamin D. Lamb, who joined Crosstex in 2012. Prior to that Lamb worked for an investment bank. Lamb has just been promoted to senior vice president but retains his role in leading the company’s mergers, acquisitions and financing transactions. In other words, it’s his job to find the money and buy smaller fish. EnLink’s CEO wants to (gasp) double the size of the company in the next three years, so Lamb has his work cut out for him…
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Green Scissors Proposes New Energy Taxes Under Guise of Spending Cuts

A completely bogus anti-drilling campaign calling itself “Green Scissors” attempts to pass off the latest anti-fossil fuel efforts by Friends of the Earth and two other unheard of, far left groups (Taxpayers for Common Sense and R Street) as cutting wasteful government spending. It is NOTHING of the sort. Their so-called interactive database identifies “more than $259 billion in environmentally-harmful government waste” that they hope Republicans in Congress will adopt. What it really is, is their recommendations for eliminating tax deductions that encourage energy companies to drill for oil and gas. Deductions like instead of the ability to write off an expense up front, in the year when the expense occurs–Green Scissors wants to force energy companies to amortize and depreciate the expense over the life of the asset (decades). In other words, raise taxes on energy companies. In the minds of Green Scissors–ALL MONEY belongs to the government and the government allows you to keep some of it–rather than the other way around…
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PA Severance Tax Will End Worthy Projects in Drilling Communities

The McKean County, PA Board of Commissioners have just approved spending $42,750 to convert space over the Goodwill store in Kane, PA into four one-bedroom apartments to be used to house “transition age youth”–poor kids with no place to live. The money comes from a housing fund established by (yep) the Marcellus Shale impact fee. If PA’s Republican legislature caves and adopts newly-elected Gov. Tom Wolf’s nutball idea of a 5% severance tax, the impact fee will be gone and projects like this will disappear along with it. Which is why communities impacted by Marcellus drilling are universally opposed to changing from an impact fee to a severance tax–because they will get shafted. Right now, 60% of the fee stays local, for projects like this one. With a severance tax, all money goes to Harrisburg and slips through the fingers of greedy politicians–into the back pocket of teacher’s unions, mostly…
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Dominion Awards $1M in Grants to Colleges in Marcellus/Utica

Each year Dominion, a major midstream and utility company with operations throughout the northeast, donates money in education grants via their Dominion Foundation to schools ranging from pre-K through college in the states where Dominion does business: Ohio, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Dominion, you may recall, is the company building the East Coast’s first LNG export facility, investing $3.4-$3.8 billion (see Dominion Breaks Ground on Cove Point, MD LNG Export Facility). They also want to build the 550-mile, $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline from WV to NC (see Dominion Asks FERC to Start Environmental Review of SE Pipeline). The company pumps a lot of money back into local communities where they operate with their investments. They also pump a good bit back via charitable contributions, including $1 million for colleges in the Marcellus/Utica region in 2014…
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