More Progress at Shell’s PA Ethane Cracker Plant Site

Proposed Shell cracker plant site plan
Proposed Shell cracker plant site plan – click for larger version

All signs continue to point to a “go” decision for Shell’s planned ethane cracker plant facility in Monaca (Beaver County), PA. Shell has now spent over half a billion dollars out of a projected $2-$3 billion (25%) on the project already (see Shell has Spent “Half a Billion Dollars” on PA Cracker Already!). Last month a local mall owner said that Shell has leased part of the mall’s parking lot for big bucks (see More Evidence that the Shell Ethane Cracker Plant in PA is a Go). And just last week Shell’s CFO said the PA cracker project is “an excellent project” and they expect to make a decision soon (see Shell Says PA Cracker Decision Coming < 12 Months – Looking Good). We can throw a few more positive signs into the mix. A bridge Shell was building over top a local highway to give trucks easy access to the site is now complete. Shell has committed $69 million to build a new water treatment plant for the local town. And they are now building a new dock facility which, according to Shell, will be “critical” to building the new plant…
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New Tech Converts NatGas into Ethylene, Bypassing Cracker Plants

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Siluria’s Oxidative Coupling of Methane to ethylene (OCM) demo plant in La Porte, Texas

Ethane cracker plants are big deals. We’ve been writing about cracker plants possibly coming to the northeast since 2012, when Shell first floated their idea for a plant and selected a site outside Pittsburgh, in Beaver County, PA (see Shell Announces Location of Ethane Cracker Plant). A cracker plant is a big deal for a couple of reasons. One reason is that building the plant generates thousands of short-term jobs and injects $2-$3 billion (or more!) into the local and regional economy. It’s an economic stimulus the federal government just can’t match–and it doesn’t come from taxpayer’s wallets! In addition, once the plant is built, manufacturing plants begin to locate around it, like mini-satellites. Why? Because an ethane cracker chemically “cracks” ethane turning it into ethylene, the raw material used to make plastics. And plastics are used in just about everything you touch every day. These satellite companies represent thousands of permanent jobs and perhaps an infusion of $15-$20 billion into the regional economy–off the charts! But what if cracker plants were not needed to create ethylene? What if you could bypass cracking ethane and instead go right from natural gas (or methane) to ethylene? That is the premise behind a disruptive new technology from Siluria Technologies. Siluria has operated a pilot plant in Texas for the past year that essentially converts methane into ethylene, without using ethane. Here’s the details…
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Spectra Says PA Pipeline Explosion “Unacceptable,” Blames Pipe Tape

Spectra blazeLast night representatives from Spectra Energy held a town hall meeting at the Congruity Presbyterian Church in Westmoreland County, PA to discuss the explosion of Spectra’s Texas Eastern Transmission’s (TETCO) “Delmont Line 27” which exploded in Westmoreland County, PA on April 29 (see Texas Eastern Pipeline Explodes near Pittsburgh, Antis Celebrate). Speaking and taking questions from the audience were Devin Hotzel, manager of stakeholder outreach, Tom Wooden, vice president of operations, Andy Drake, vice president of operations, and Randy Putt, local area manager. According to Spectra, they think a tape coating used on the welds of the pipeline is the culprit–having corroded over time. There may be other contributing factors, but right now they are concentrating on the tape coating which they say was only used for a short period of time–in the early 1980s when the pipeline was built. Here’s a report from the meeting…
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Anti-Driller Wins Right to Nominate Candidates for CONSOL’s Board

Scott_Stringer
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer

The anti-drilling nutjobs who run the finances for New York City have been (potentially) successful in interfering with the operation of CONSOL Energy, a coal company rapidly transforming itself into a Marcellus/Utica driller. The Comptroller for New York City is Scott Stringer, a hardened leftist and anti-fossil fuel nutjob. He apparently likes to invest in fossil fuel companies with OPM (other people’s money) in order to try and shut them down. At least that’s the way it appears. He uses the pension funds of NYC residents to try and force the companies he invests in out of business. And somehow he gets elected and re-elected–go figure. Stringer sponsored a proxy resolution that passed at CONSOL’s annual meeting yesterday–a resolution that will allow any single investor owning 3% (or more) of the CONSOL’s stock for three consecutive years the ability to nominate a candidate to the board of directors. The board, of course, hires and fires top management and essentially guides the company on the path it wants the company to go. The proposed candidate must still pass a vote by all shareholders. If Stringer can motivate enough other investors, over time he may be able to get anti-fossil fuel candidates elected, which would be a disaster for the company. Needless to say, CONSOL’s management was not happy…
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OH Attorney Predicts DMA Ruling to Come Soon, Settle Now

David J Wigham
David J Wigham

MDN has been reporting on the Ohio Dormant Minerals Act (DMA) for years (see Video: OH Lawyers Explain Dormant Minerals Act & Impact on Utica). In a nutshell, there are two DMAs in Ohio–one passed in 1989 that went into effect in 1992, and another in 2006 which added certain additional procedural requirements to the 1989 version. The DMA in its various versions provides for mineral rights that had previously been separated from surface rights to transfer back to the surface owner under certain conditions. The problem, for drillers and for landowners in Ohio, is in knowing which set of DMA rules to use (1989 or 2006) in determining who owns the mineral rights. A number of DMA cases have gone before the Ohio Supreme Court. Some of the minor cases have been decided (see Ohio Supreme Court Rules in Important Dormant Mineral Act Case). However, most of the big cases remain stalled at the Supreme Court. That is, until now. Ohio attorney David Wigham (Roetzel & Andress law firm) says there are signs that the Supremes are about to release a massive, all-in-one-go ruling on the DMA. He says if landowners (and drillers) were waiting to see which way the wind will blow, they may want to settle now before the Big Decision comes down…
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Open Season to Expand 2 Midwest Pipelines for More Marc/Utica Gas

NGPL Chicago Market Expansion Project
NGPL Chicago Market Expansion Project – click for larger version

In October 2014 MDN told you about plans by Kinder Morgan subsidiary Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America (NGPL) to expand their Gulf Coast mainline pipeline from the Rockies Express Pipeline (REX) interconnection in Moultrie County, Illinois, to points north on NGPL’s pipeline system, called the Chicago Market Expansion Project (see Kinder Morgan Plans Chicago Pipeline Expansion for Marcellus/Utica). In March of this year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved it (see FERC Approves Pipeline to Move More Marcellus/Utica Gas to Chicago). Kinder Morgan is also planning a second project called the Gulf Coast Southbound Expansion Project to send Marcellus/Utica (and other shale locations) gas to the Gulf Coast. Two days ago NGPL announced a non-binding open season–a period of time when drillers and others seeking capacity for each project–can register their interest in each project. NGPL already has customers signed up for the Chicago Market Expansion Project. This new open season is an attempt to see if there’s interest in expanding the Chicago Market Expansion project even more–and to register interest from drillers going the other way–to the south–via the Gulf Coast Southbound Expansion Project. The timing of the announcement is interesting. Observers theorize that Kinder Morgan is trying to make up for recently announced canceled Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline project in New England (see NED is Dead – Kinder Morgan Suspends $3.3B New England Pipeline). Kinder won’t comment. Here’s the details on the new open season…
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OH Landowners Urge BLM to Proceed with Wayne Natl Forest Drilling

Wayne National Forest
Wayne National Forest

As MDN told you last week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is currently seeking public comments on a plan to allow drilling in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest, or WNF (see Another Baby Step in Fracking Ohio’s Wayne National Forest). WNF is a “patchwork” of public land scattered among private land. Some 60% of the mineral rights below WNF are privately owned. Those mineral rights owners have been denied the use of their property rights going on a decade. Ohio landowners are fed up with waiting for the federal bureaucracy to get off its rear-end and allow drilling. In response to the latest BLM call for public input, a group of Ohio landowners calling themselves LEASE–Landowners for Energy Access and Safe Exploration–praising the BLM for its favorable Environmental Assessment (EA) on WNF drilling, and calling on Ohio landowners to provide comments to the BLM during this period. LEASE is hoping a strong showing from Ohio landowners may push the groaning, creaking federal bureaucracy into action to allow drilling…
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PA-Based CELDF Looks for New Dupes in Meigs County, OH

CELDF logoWe’ve written plenty in the past about the PA-based radical anti-drilling group called CELDF–Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (see our CELDF stories here). CELDF seems to have a lot of success in tricking people in Ohio into believing they can pass a so-called Community Bill of Rights to ban fracking, injection wells, etc.–illegal under Ohio state law. When such legislation is passed and then gets challenged, it loses in court. Every time. And when private companies sue for damages, taxpayers end up footing the bill and the CELDF is nowhere to be found (see Anti Group CELDF Won’t Help Grant Twp Pay $1M Judgement). The CELDF is trying their trickery again–this time in Meigs County, OH and in the City of Waterville (in Meigs County). As Forrest Gump said: Stupid is as stupid does…
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Marcellus/Utica Keeps Trailer Park Operator Busy AND Profitable

UMH Properties logoWe occasionally write about a New Jersey-based real estate investment company, UMH Properties, Inc., because they keep buying trailer parks in the Marcellus/Utica with the express hope that drilling activity in the region will lead to high occupancy rates (see our UMH stories here). You might think with the rapid slowdown in drilling UMH’s strategy is in peril. But you would be wrong. Net income for the company was up 165%–from $718,517 in the first quarter of 2015 to $1,906,469 in 1Q16. How can that be? Samuel Landy, president and CEO of UMH, says that the abundance of cheap shale gas has improved the economic lives of people living in their trailer parks. He also said even though there’s less drilling, there’s more pipeline work going on and in those areas UMH’s trailer parks have strong demand. The future looks bright for UMH–thanks to hitching its wagon to the Marcellus/Utica…
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EIA: By 2040 World Energy Use Goes up 48%, Fossil Fuels Provide 75%

EIALet’s put this “keep it in the ground” and “we can use 100% renewables now” nonsense to rest, once and for all. Environmentalists–some of them well-meaning (some just stark raving mad) believe fossil fuels are evil and the cause of all sorts of problems. The opposite is true. Fossil fuels are what run this world, and without them, we’d be living in the Stone Ages again. Nothing points out the fallacy and fantasy of ridding ourselves of fossil fuels more than the International Energy Outlook 2016 (IEO2016), released yesterday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). IEO2016 predicts that energy use across the planet will go up 48% from 2010 to 2040, based on their research. The fastest growing (percentage-wise) power source will be renewables. Yeah! But by the end of that 30-year period, fossil fuels will STILL be providing some three-fourths of all the earth’s energy needs. There is no escaping the fact that fossil fuels will be around, powering the planet, for the next 2-3 generations–minimum. Here’s what the EIA said yesterday…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, May 12, 2016

best of the restThe “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: PES eyes fossil fuel expansion in Philly; natgas comes to Riverside, PA; EPA gets ready to screw o&g industry again; Bill McKibben & friends flirt with inciting violence; the difference between Trump & Clinton as president – 1 million bbl/d; France considers banning US natgas imports; and more!
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