Federal PHMSA Proposes New “Rule” for Interstate Pipelines

Back in the USSRAnother new un-legislated law, euphemistically called a “rule”, is on the way from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Last week the PHMSA released details of a new rule that would, among other things, require operators of interstate pipelines (pipelines that cross state borders) that flow natural gas or natural gas liquids or oil or condensate or… you get the idea–those pipelines must report a leak within 60 minutes (but “at the earliest practicable moment” meaning 60 seconds or less if you can manage it) to the feds from when the company becomes aware of such a leak. The new “rule” will also punish big pipeline projects costing more than $2.5 billion by hiking fees on the pipeline to cover PHMSA expenses in putting such a project through a PHMSA anal exam/review. Want to reverse the flow of the already-built pipeline? Tell the PHMSA first. Want to provide a tap on a pipeline for farms? Tell the PHMSA first. Had an accident/spill? Every employee from the janitor on up who may have had something to do with the operation of that pipeline will now get subjected to a PHMSA drug AND alcohol test. Welcome back to the USSR PHMSA…
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Millions of People Support Atlantic Coast Pipeline via New Group

Support for Dominion’s $5 billion, 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline got a huge boost recently when a new group of over 100 businesses, labor organizations, and other local, state and national groups announced the formation of EnergySure – Standing Up for Reliable Energy. The founding members of EnergySure represent millions of employees and individuals across Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. You may recall MDN’s previous stories about rich, white Republicans (RINOs) opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline because it may leave a dark spot on some of their horse farms (see VA Gentry Class Raising $1M to Oppose Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Virginia RINOs in League with Dems to Stop Atlantic Coast Pipeline). We also told you about a small group of partisan, liberal, left-wing Democrats pretending to be a huge group of “concerned residents” from “Virginia and West Virginia” forming a group called Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance to oppose the project (see New Coalition of Same Old Antis Opposes Atlantic Coast Pipeline). All of those anti-pipeline efforts look like amateur hour compared to EnergySure with its backing of MILLIONS of people who support the Atlantic Coast Pipeline…
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Patterson-UTI Active Rig Count Continues to Slide in June

One of the informal metrics we’ve been following to see when the current slide in rig counts (and consequently drilling activity) has truly turned around is to follow the active rig counts for Patterson-UTI, a major drilling contractor with operations in the Marcellus/Utica region. In March, Patterson ran an average of 142 U.S. rigs and 4 Canadian rigs. In April, they ran an average of 131 U.S. rigs and 2 Canadian rigs. In May, Patterson ran an average of 122 U.S. rigs and 1 Canadian rig. You see the trend. What about June? Patterson recently issued June numbers, and sadly the slide continues. In June, Patterson ran an average of 112 drilling rigs in the U.S. and retained one active rig in Canada…
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3rd SRBC Report: Marcellus Drilling Doesn’t Affect Water Quality

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), charged with protecting and managing the water resources in the Susquehanna River Basin, continues to perform its duty with distinction (unlike another commission with a similar name nearby that fails miserably to perform its duties). In 2010 the SRBC began collecting the data through a state-of-the-art Remote Water Quality Monitoring Network (RWQMN). Part of the remit in that effort is to determine whether or not Marcellus Shale drilling is having an effect on the quality of water in rivers and streams in the SRBC region. Two prior reports issued by the SRBC had shown no impact on the water quality of rivers and streams from drilling. Last week the SRBC delivered its third such report (full copy below). It is the most comprehensive study to date, covering data collected from 2010-2013. And guess what? The new report shows that Marcellus Shale drilling has not impacted local rivers and streams. Period. End of story. So now we have both the federal government, via the EPA, saying fracking doesn’t harm water supplies, and the SRBC saying the same thing. And the politicians in New York State ban fracking because of “maybes” and “mights” and “possibles”–all while real data from real drilling shows shale drilling does not harm the environment–not in the way claimed by NY political charlatans. Here’s what the SRBC said in releasing their latest report on water quality in the Marcellus region…
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Williams Continues to Resist ET Offer, Talks with Other Suitors

An update on the potentially hostile takeover of Williams Companies by Energy Transfer Equity (see Energy Transfer Makes “Indecent Proposal” to Buy Williams for $48B). Williams is trying to get Energy Transfer CEO Kelcy Warren to sign a “standstill” clause before giving Warren access to Williams’ books. Such a clause would restrict Warren from buying shares of stock in Williams, lobbying investors and nominating his own candidates to the Williams board of directors–at least until a deal is cut. Warren is, so far, resisting and keeping up the pressure that he will move in a hostile manner to take over the company if they don’t cut a deal with him asap. This just in: Williams is now actively shopping itself and has “reached out” to more than 15 potential buyers, two of which have signed the standstill agreement and are, right now, poring over Williams’ books…
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Chesapeake Energy’s Theft of PA Landowner’s Royalties

It’s no wonder Pennsylvania landowners are up in arms over their treatment by Chesapeake Energy. Two weeks ago MDN told you about a new bill, HB 1391, that will ensure Pennsylvania landowners receive a minimum 12.5% in royalties for any gas or oil taken from their land (see New Bill HB 1391 Will Guarantee PA Landowners 12.5% Royalties). The reason such a bill is necessary is because landowners are being robbed by some (not all) drillers who are deducting certain “post production” expenses from royalty checks–essentially stealing money that belongs to landowners. Here is a perfect example from Bradford County, PA–the most drilled Marcellus county in the state…
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“Researchers” Take to the Sky to Locate Marcellus Methane Leaks

Tower: “Global Warming Nutjob One–you’re cleared for takeoff on runway three.” GWNO: “Roger. Global Warming Nutjob One is taxiing and will takeoff from runway three. Have a nice, carbon-free day Tower.” Tower: “Er, thanks, we think.” As the Twin Otter airplane takes off into the sunrise, it burns copious amounts of fossil fuels and belches carbon like a dragon as it heads off to monitor whether a teeny tiny amount of methane (natural gas) is leaking from Marcellus Shale drilling sites. Anyone else see the irony here? The Philadelphia Inquirer has written an (article? propaganda piece? promotional advertisement?) about a “research” project under way between Penn State, University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to fly over Marcellus Shale drill sites in Pennsylvania to see if they can catch drillers in the act of leaking methane…
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Eureka Hunter Pipes Hits 700 Mmcf/d, MHR Still Looking to Sell It

Apparently looking to pump up the value and sex appeal of one of its major assets, this morning Magnum Hunter Resources (MHR) issued a press release about its pipeline subsidiary Eureka Hunter calling attention to the news that the midstream operation has increased its throughput to an average of 700 million cubic feet of natural gas per day (700 Mmcf/d, or put another way, 700,000 million Btus, or 700,000 MMBtus). The last time MHR issued a press release about the throughput of Eureka Hunter was in March, when it had achieved an average of 623 Mmcf/d (see Eureka Hunter Pipeline Volume Continues to Expand, now 623 Mmcf/d). Just two weeks ago, facing a cash crunch, MHR announced they are looking to sell 100% of their stake in the Eurkea Hunter subsidiary (see Magnum Hunter Cuts Deal to Sell Eureka Hunter & 2 New JVs). While hitting 700 Mmcf/d is certainly a noteworthy milestone, today’s press release has the look and feel of publicity meant to influence investors rather than news meant to inform…
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The Mad Moms of Broadview Heights Remain Mad over Tossed Lawsuit

The Mad Moms of Broadview Heights, OH (a suburb of Cleveland) say they’re “not going away” when it comes to opposing fossil fuels in their neighborhood. MADION (Mothers Against Drilling in Our Neighborhood) are appealing a tossed-out lawsuit filed by the group following a defeat handed to them by the Ohio Supreme Court. In March, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled a 2012 so-called Community Bill of Rights law adopted by Broadview Heights that prohibits drilling is unconstitutional (see OH Antis Handed Crushing Defeat in Broadview Hghts Home Rule Case). That didn’t sit well with the (stark raving) Mad Moms (see Broadview Heights, OH Moms: Don’t Frack With Us). The Mad Moms filed a new lawsuit to stop the drilling. Last week Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Timothy McCormick tossed the new lawsuit citing the Supreme Court decision. The Mad Moms plan to appeal Judge McCormick’s decision…
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OH Clinton Sandstone on the Radar for Horizontal Drilling & Fracking

The Clinton Sandstone formation has been drilled in Ohio since the late 1800s–for both oil and natural gas. Sandstone is a tightly packed rock like shale, rock that requires fracking in order to effectively release the oil and gas trapped in it. Until recently, the Clinton was drilled vertically. However, some drillers are now experimenting with horizontal drilling and fracking in the Clinton in hopes of reactivating old wells, and establishing new wells. According to a new fact sheet just published by the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) about the Clinton Sandstone, “…after recent successes with horizontal drilling in the development of shale gas plays, operators began applying this method to “Clinton” fields in 2014. This new technology could lead to additional development of some older “Clinton” oil-and-gas fields and hold potential for discovery of new fields. If horizontal drilling proves to be profitable, Ohio could see yet another spike in “Clinton” production.” Cool. Here’s a copy of the ODNR’s Clinton Sandstone fact sheet detailing the history–and possible future–of the Clinton…
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