Former PA Game Commissioner Fined $75K for Lease Moonlighting

William Capouillez

In August 2013 an extensive investigative article about a then-director for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, William A. Capouillez, appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer (see PA Director of Game Commission Double-Dipping with Gas Leases?). The article spotlighted a potential conflict of interest between Capouillez’s day job and his moonlighting side job as an agent for property owners who lease their land for oil and gas development. The issue? He was signing private deals with the same companies that often work with his state agency. It became a serious legal issue for at least one driller–Range Resources. The independent 8-member board that runs the Game Commission was about to promote Capouillez to the top job of executive director when then-Gov. Tom Corbett put the brakes on it (see PA Gov Corbett Blocks Promotion of Moonlighter at Game Commission). In September the chairman of the PA House Committee on State Government, Daryl Metcalfe, asked the State Ethics Commission to investigate his activities (see PA Game Comm. Head Not Afraid of Gas Leasing Ethics Investigation). Capouillez’s response was “bring it on.” He said he had not taken on new clients for his moonlighting job in three years and had done nothing wrong. The State Ethics Commission did investigate and now, three years later, the Commission levied a $75,000 fine, which Capouillez has agreed to pay, although he remains defiant and says the fine is a tiny fraction of the original fine sought–indication of his vindication…
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PA DEP Tells Mariner East 2 to Correct “Significant Deficiencies”

Mariner East 2
Mariner East 2 – click for larger version

John Hohenstein, the head honcho for dams, waterways and wetlands with the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) sent a strongly-worded missive (21 pages long, full copy below) to Matthew Gordon, principle engineer and project manager for Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner East 2 pipeline project last week. The letter was an assessment of Mariner East 2’s application with the state to cross numerous waterways and swamps as it is (mostly) built next to existing pipelines and stretches across 17 PA counties, spanning the state. In the letter Hohenstein tells Gordon there are “significant technical deficiencies” in the application, and unless those deficiencies are addressed by November 7, Sunoco can kiss stream-crossing approval goodbye…
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PA Town’s Angst Over Mariner East 2 Pipeline Near School, Park

logo-transThere is no doubt Sunoco Logistics Partners has been pushing a boulder up a hill when it comes to the Mariner East 2 pipeline project–a $2.5 billion, 350-mile natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline that will run from eastern Ohio through the state of Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia, carting ethane, butane and propane to the facility from both the Utica and Marcellus region. For over a year the project was mired in legal challenges of whether or not it can claim public utility status, with a right to use eminent domain. In July, PA’s Commonwealth Court ruled it is a public utility with a right to use eminent domain (see Sunoco LP Wins Major Court Decision for Mariner East 2 Pipeline). But the fight continues–town by town. Nowhere is that more evident than Middletown Township in Delaware County, PA. Monday night the town council voted, unanimously, to put an ordinance on the docket for council members to vote on at the Sept. 26 meeting, an ordinance that if passed, will allow Sunoco LP to move forward with building the pipeline on public land in the town–in one case across a park, and in another close to an elementary school…
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Spectra Admits Detecting Corrision in Exploded TETCO Pipe 4 Yrs Ago

Spectra blazeOn April 29, Spectra Energy’s Texas Eastern Transmission (TETCO) “Delmont Line 27” pipeline exploded in Westmoreland County, PA, seriously injuring one resident who still cannot walk after being burned over much of his body (see Texas Eastern Pipeline Explodes near Pittsburgh, Antis Celebrate). The reason for the explosion and fire was corrosion on welds covered with a particular kind of pipe tape no longer in use (see Spectra Says PA Pipeline Explosion “Unacceptable,” Blames Pipe Tape). Brace yourself for news that may make you angry: An investigation four years ago (in 2012) discovered corrosion in the very area where the pipe would eventually explode. Spectra says they documented the corrosion, but pipe corrosion happens over time–this is nothing new–and the thing to do is to monitor it. Spectra planned to reexamine the welds and the corrosion again in 2019, per the normal and accepted safety schedule. According to Spectra, until now it has been observed that corrosion of pipes happens at a rate of no more than 2-3% per year. In the case of the exploding TETCO pipeline, the corrosion rate was vastly accelerated, more like 10-15% per year since the last examination. What made it speed up?…
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NGSA Lobbies Fed Court, DEC to Advance 2 Stalled Pipelines in NY

ngsaThe Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA) has gone into action to support two currently-stalled pipeline projects in the People’s Republic of New York, where Chairman Cuomo rules. Yesterday the NGSA filed a brief in federal court to respond to an effort by the rogues gallery of environmental extremist groups (including Catskill Mountainkeeper, Riverkeeper, Sierra Clubbers and other ne’er–do–wells) to stop the Constitution Pipeline from getting built. The Constitution is a $683 million, 124-mile pipeline from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY carrying Marcellus gas. The enviro groups sued in federal court to challenge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) environmental review of the Constitution. If the wackos can get FERC’s review cast aside, they can slow the project to the point where they can (hopefully for them) kill it. That’s the game plan. NGSA is pushing back, legally. Also this week the NGSA asked the NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to get off its rear-end and approve air permits for Dominion’s New Market Project–a fairly dull $159 million capacity upgrade to an existing natural gas pipeline which runs across upstate New York from the PA line, west of Horseheads, and then northeasterly to the state’s Capital Region. Once again the DEC is doing their master’s bidding by refusing to grant necessary air permits for the New Market Project to proceed…
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Patterson-UTI Buys Canadian Drilling Tech Company

Patterson-UTI logoPatterson-UTI Energy is a company we watch as a proxy for when/if the drop in rig counts for the Marcellus/Utica will turn around (see Turn Around! Patterson-UTI August Rig Count Up 3rd Mo in a Row). Patterson operates a number of rigs in the northeast, as well as other areas of the continental United States and Canada. Patterson announced this morning they have agreed to buy out Canadian-based Warrior Rig Ltd., a drilling technology company. No price was disclosed. We consider it a good sign that Patterson can scrounge up enough nickles to buy another company. A sign that things are indeed beginning to look up…
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Visit MDN at Shale Insight in Pittsburgh Next Week

Shale InsightBy our reckoning, the 2016 Shale Insight event being held in Pittsburgh next week (Sept. 21-22) will be MDN editor Jim Willis’ fifth consecutive Shale Insight event. In past years Jim has hung out at the NGI (Natural Gas Intelligence) booth. This year Jim and Marcellus Drilling News will have their own booth: #208 (near the entrance). Jim invites MDN readers who are attending to stop by and say hello! Jim will bribe passersby with free candy, so stop by and grab a piece! What’s that? You aren’t (yet) registered to attend Shale Insight? Let’s get that rectified right now. There are many reasons to attend, including keynote addresses by Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, and a closing keynote by none other than The Donald (as in Trump). Here’s a rundown of what’s happening next week at Shale Insight…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Sep 13, 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: Utica rigs down by 1; Chinese invade PA next week; natgas industry must be proactive with messaging, or else; sizing the shale footprint; big oil’s new focus – natgas; pulling mythical GHG from natgas streams; and more!
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