Velocys GTL Company Suspends CEO for Possible Serious Misconduct

Please see the note on this article for an update about this story.

In September 2013 MDN told you about an innovative new $300 million gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant being built in Ashtabula, OH that will convert Marcellus and Utica Shale gas into chemicals and diesel fuel (see Utica Shale Gas-to-Liquids Plant Planned for Ashtabula, OH and More Details on Ashtabula, OH Gas-to-Liquids Plant). The plant was going to be built by a Houston-based company called Pinto Energy using technology created by UK-based Velocys. But last June Velocys announced they were buying out Pinto Energy lock, stock and barrel–including (and primarily for) the Ashtabula GTL plant (see UK-based Velocys Buys Ashtabula, OH GTL Plant). The last we heard about the Ashtabula GTL plant was that the Ohio EPA issued a draft Lake Erie discharge permit in March 2015 and scheduled hearings about the plant (see OH EPA Issues Draft Lake Erie Discharge Permit for Ashtabula GTL Plant). Here’s the bombshell: Velocys has just suspended its Chief Executive Officer, Roy Lipski, pending an investigation into “allegations of serious misconduct”…
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DEP Approves MarkWest Plan to Expand Bluestone Gas Processing Plant

We wouldn’t classify it as one of the major miracles, but perhaps as a minor miracle. Something comparable to a picture of the Madonna weeping real tears. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), under the leadership of DEP’s PennFuture Secretary John Quigley, has signed off on a MarkWest Energy request to double the size of the Bluestone natural gas processing facility in Butler County. MarkWest plans to build two new units at the facility (200 million cubic feet per day of capacity for each, or 400 Mmcf/d total). The first of the two will, if all goes as planned, come online by the end of this year…
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FUD Splatter: PA IFO Says Lower Impact Fee Revenue Coming in 2015

mud splatterIn the midst of a political debate about whether or not to enact a severance tax comes another masterful one-two punch. First punch: the Democrat-controlled Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office (which is manifestly NOT “independent” but indeed is VERY dependent–on the Democrat Party) has issued an analysis that the world is ending for the impact fee assessed on Marcellus drillers. The IFO, spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) says this year the impact fee is on track to raise the least amount of money it has raised since it’s introduction in 2012 (gasp!). How much less? Somewhere between $14 million and $33 million less (between 6-13% less). Why? Because drillers have slowed down and in some cases stopped drilling new wells due to low prices for natural gas. We note the IFO has never before, according to our recollection, issued such a forecast this early in the year. Why is that? Because the Dems need something/anything to try and bludgeon and bully Republicans into accepting the worst idea ever–taxing a single industry to transfer its wealth to another group of people who don’t earn any wealth on their own–teachers’ unions. Big Education only takes–they never give (except to transfer some of their taken money via union dues back the Democrat Party in a quid pro quo). The second punch then arrives right on cue, from a Democrat sycophantic news outlet publishes this breathless “news”…
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Snapshot of 2015 PA Marcellus Activity So Far – Numbers are Down

As part of an artful Democrat scheme to try and build support for PA Gov. Tom Wolf’s worst idea ever–a high severance tax on the Marcellus industry–the Pennsylvania “Independent” Fiscal Office (nothing of the sort) issued projections that cast fear, uncertainty and doubt that the state’s annual impact fee, which is really just another form of severance tax, will decrease this year (see our companion story today). In making their scary prediction, the IFO quotes several statistics about PA drilling as it stands so far in 2015 that MDN found enlightening (and we think you will too). Note: We’re not saying the IFO’s stats are wrong, we’re saying their conclusions are (with respect to a severance tax). The IFO-quoted stats tell us how much new well drilling is down (so far) in 2015, how many wells have been drilled but not completed, and how many drilled/completed wells have been turned off (“shut-in”)…
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Fracsandphobia for Some Who Live Near Keystone Sanitary Landfill

People are phobic (fearful) of the darnedest things. Some people are afraid of germs (germophobia). Some are afraid of spiders (arachnophobia). Some are even afraid of furry little kitty cats (ailurophobia). Seems that all of us have one phobia or another. Some folks who live near the Keystone Sanitary Landfill outside of Scranton, PA have a phobia over sand that may be hauled to the facility (an irrational fear of sand is eremikophobia). Because Keystone accepts drill cuttings and has, in the past, also been permitted to accept frac sand waste from drilling operations, some people who live in the area are afraid. Of what? That the sand may contain nasty fracking chemical residue and that residue will leach out of the ground and enter their bodies–ahhhhhh! Never mind that the residue in frac sand waste, chemicals like hydrochloric acid, is in such minuscule quantities it’s the equivalent of the amount of hydrochloric acid found in eye drops (yes, eye drops). But facts never get in the way of a good phobia–or a good lie spun by the likes of anti-drilling groups like Food & Water Watch that exist to stop legal, legitimate and safe businesses in the United States from operating…
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Primoris Scores $10M Pipeline Contract in Susquehanna County, PA

Primoris Services Corporation, a pipeline building company based in Dallas, TX, announced today they’ve landed a contract to build 6.8 miles of 16” diameter natural gas pipeline in Susquehanna County, PA. They’ll pick up a tidy $10 million for their efforts. Although Primoris doesn’t name the “midstream customer” in the announcement, it’s almost certainly Williams. While there are several smaller players in Susquehanna County when it comes to midstream and pipelines, Williams is pretty much the dominant force in that area and the only midstreamer we’re aware of that’s building anything right now…
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Everyone’s Talking Lawsuit over New York DEC Frack Ban

Everybody knows a lawsuit is coming against the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s “Findings Statement” that bans fracking (see It’s Official: Cuomo Bans Economic Opportunity & Prosperity in NY). Anti-drillers, including DEC Commissioner Joe Martens, the guy hired by the Rockefellers to ban fracking who is now leaving the DEC to return to a Rockefeller job at his previous organization (the Open Spaces Institute), certainly expects there to be a legal challenge to his non-science-based political decision to ban fracking…
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Let’s Celebrate a Small NY Victory: CNG Distro Center Opens in CNY

A small (very small) victory for natural gas in New York State. And it’s sad that we have to accord this bit of news as actual news. Direct Energy and Xpress Natural Gas (XNG) announced today that they have just opened New York State’s very first compressed natural gas (CNG) production facility and distribution terminal–located in Central New York, east of Utica in Herkimer County. The facility will handle large volumes of natural gas, most of it coming from the Pennsylvania Marcellus (excuse us while we wipe tears away from the keyboard over the destruction to our upstate economy by Andrew Cuomo with his frack ban). This high volume facility, which can handle up to 5.7 billion cubic feet per year, is meant to serve businesses and even entire towns that are not located near a natural gas pipeline. Direct Energy and XNG are targeting not only New York State but also businesses and municipalities in Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut…
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Anti-Drilling PennFuture Gets New President to Replace Cindy Dunn

Since most of the staff from one of Pennsylvania’s biggest anti-drilling groups, PennFuture, has moved to Harrisburg to work in the Gov. Tom Wolf administration (often referred to as the PennFuture administration around the halls of the Capitol), it’s time to appoint a new anti-driller to head the remaining husk of the organization left behind. John Quigley, now Secretary of the Dept. of Environmental Protection used to work for PennFuture. So did John Hanger, Wolf’s Secretary of Planning and Policy. Cindy Dunn, the current Secretary of the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources was, until she moved to DCNR, the head of PennFuture. Her departure left a hole that has now been filled by another trusted anti-driller, Larry Schweiger, someone with enviro street cred who worked for the National Wildlife Organization, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and the partisan environmental committee of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. He’s also good with a Kodak camera–snapping pictures of the BP oil spill in the Gulf (before all of the oil disappeared three weeks after the leak was fixed)…
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