Drexel U Study Finds Little Air Pollution Near Marcellus Sites

Real ScienceFinally some real, honest, independent research into the effects of shale drilling on air quality has just been published in the peer reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology. Researchers from Drexel University published the results of air quality research titled “Atmosphere Emission Characterization of Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Development Sites” (full copy below). Rather than focus solely on the release of methane as a global warming concern, the Drexel researchers looked at volatile organic compounds and other pollutants that are a true health concern for people living close to drilling sites and compressor stations. The researchers took measurements using a more accurate instrumentation/methodology than other studies have used and they collected 17 samples at 13 sites including wells, drilling rigs, compressor stations and processing areas. This kind of research is long overdue. What did they find?…
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Blue Racer Midstream CFO Promoted over President to Become CEO

Some changes at the top of Blue Racer Midstream–the pipeline and processing plant company formed in 2012 as a joint venture between Caiman Energy II and Dominion and focused totally on the Marcellus and Utica Shale region. Jack Lafield, founder and CEO of Caiman Energy (sold to Williams for $2.5 billion) and current CEO of Caiman Energy II and Blue Racer, has stepped down as CEO of both companies. Lafield will continue to serve as chairman of the board for Caiman Energy II and remains a member of the board for Blue Racer. In his place Stephen Arata, CFO for both companies, has been named CEO for both Caiman Energy II and Blue Racer Midstream. Although the announcement that Lafield is “retiring” from his post as CEO of both Caiman and Blue Racer as of today (see below), the official biography for Arata on the Blue Racer website says the transition became effective on April 1st–not sure why there is a discrepancy. What’s equally intriguing (to MDN) is that Caiman/Blue Racer’s current president and COO, Rick Moncrief, was not promoted to the top spot and instead Arata, the CFO, was–which is not the typical succession path…
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Penn State Defends Controversial Water Contamination Study

Two weeks ago MDN covered the news that researchers from Penn State had published a study that reportedly showed a Marcellus Shale wastewater impoundment had leaked and some of the wastewater had found its way to a crack underground and traveled up to a mile and a half away to contaminate 3 water wells. This happened in 2010–five years ago (see Penn State Finds Chemical Migration in 3 PA Water Wells from 2010). It seemed at first blush that this was important research not because it proves “fracking contaminates water wells, told you so told you so” as anti-drillers claim–but because of the research tools innovated by the team to detect small amounts of chemicals that may in fact come from shale drilling. However, a few days later the news broke that one of the so-called researchers on the team had actually been a consultant and worked for the three families with the contaminated water wells, helping them in their lawsuit against the driller. When that little overlooked and omitted fact became known, embarrased mainstream news organizations did something we rarely see–they printed retractions/corrections noting the huge conflict of interest (see Reversal: Media Discredits Penn State Water Contamination Study). It gave Penn State a major black eye and damaged their credibility. So Penn State fired off their own mea culpa to defend the research study and the “facts” of how this kerfuffle came to be…
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NY Antis Use Same Strategy for Pipelines: “We Need Health Study”

The anti-drilling nutters in New York are somewhat drunk on their own success. The strategy of “we need to wait until a health study is done” worked so well to delay fracking in NY, the nutters are (predictably) back and now trying to use the same strategy with regard to building new pipelines. It’s no secret that infrastructure–i.e. pipelines–are desperately needed to get Marcellus Shale gas out of Pennsylvania and into markets like New York, New England and beyond. Anti-drillers (actually fossil fuel haters) believe they can now pressure NY officials to delay permits for pipelines in the same fashion they delayed fracking long enough to kill it. The new tactic is to claim pipeline compressor, metering and regulation stations are toxic for those who live near them. In other words, more lying, scare tactics to cover up the fact it is fossil fuel hatred that motivates them and not concern for your health…
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PA Gov Wolf Takes Aim at Bakken Oil Trains Traveling Thru PA

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is now taking aim at railroads transporting Bakken crude oil that pass through PA on their way to refineries along the East Coast. While railroads are typically regulated by the federal government, Wolf is a) hoping to pressure railroads apart from the feds, and b) may try to sneak in his own regulations on top of federal regulations. He’s hired an “expert,” Dr. Allan Zarembski, to look into the matter for the next three months–to provide Wolf with “policy recommendations” (which means new rules and regulations are on the way). Wolf sent a letter (copy below) to CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway telling them to shape up…
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NY Riverkeeper Sues Federal DOT Over New Oil Train Regs

The fossil fuel hating New York Riverkeeper–not to be confused with fossil fuel hating THE Delaware Riverkeeper–has just sued the U.S. Dept. of Transportation over rules the DOT recently issued with regard to railroads transporting crude oil (usually Bakken crude) through New York State. Riverkeeper is being joined in their frivolous lawsuit by several other odious anti-drilling, anti-capitalist Big Green organizations: Earthjustice, Waterkeeper Alliance, ForestEthics and the Sierra Clubbers. Riverkeeper says the DOT’s new rules for oil trains won’t protect rivers like the Hudson…
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Columbia Pipeline Floats IOUs to Pay Down Debt, Fund Dividend

NOTE: NiSource/Columbia called MDN to clarify that the IPO earlier this year was for Columbia Pipeline Partners, NOT Columbia Pipeline Group as we had incorrectly stated in the original version of this story. Thank you NiSource! We’ve slightly modified the opening paragraph below to make it accurate.

The mad dash to raise cash continues in both the upstream and midstream sectors. Today it’s a company in the midstream (pipelines and process plants). In February of this year, NiSource spun off Columbia Pipeline Partners into it’s own company with a $1.1 billion initial public offering of “units” (think shares of stock, see Columbia Pipeline IPO Blows By Rosiest Expectations, Nets $1.1B). Columbia Pipeline Group (of which Columbia Pipeline Partners owns 15.7%) will become its own company and trade under its own stock ticker (CPGX) starting July 1. Yesterday Columbia Pipeline Group announced they are floating a series of IOUs, or “senior notes” looking to raise an eye-popping $2.75 billion. What will they use it for? A little over $1 billion will be used to pay off “intercompany debt” ahead of the separation. Another $1.45 billion will be used for a “special dividend to NiSource in connection with its planned separation from NiSource.” The balance of ~$300 million will be used for “general corporate purposes”–paperclips and such…
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EQT Midstream IPO Nets $621M, “Better than Expected”

A few weeks ago MDN brought you the news that EQT was floating yet another initial public offering (IPO), this time doing it with a newly formed subsidiary (EQT GP) with an eye to selling more ownership in its midstream division (see EQT Floats IPO to Sell Off Some Ownership of Midstream Division). We used EQT’s existing stock price as a potential yardstick to measure what they might bring in. We thought on the low end it might be $1 billion. We were off, by a lot. We thought they would look for $50 per unit (think share of stock). Instead, they were looking for $21-$24 per unit. When the units went on sale, they got $27 per unit, which was more than they expected…
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