DEP Says Fracking at PA Utica Wells “Likely” Caused Earthquakes

On Friday, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection held a hastily-called webinar to discuss findings that, frankly, aren’t all that newsworthy or surprising. After 10 months of study, the DEP has concluded that zipper fracking activities by Hilcorp in Lawrence County, PA “likely” caused a series of earthquakes in April 2016 so minor that nobody could feel them. And the DEP concluded this after 10 months of study, when a week before the DEP itself issued the permits to drill in Lawrence County, Hilcorp drilling was shut down about seven miles away, across the border in Mahoning County, Ohio, for potentially causing low-level earthquakes there (see Hilcorp Awarded Permits to Drill 7 New Wells Near Earthquake Zone). It wasn’t exactly rocket science to connect the dots and speculate that fracking over top an active fault had caused the low-level earthquakes on the PA side of the border, as it had on the OH side of the border. As we’ve stressed multiple times here on MDN, earthquakes related to shale are almost always connected with injection wells–when large amounts of liquid are injected near a fault. Earthquakes from fracking activities are rare–like under 10 times, ever, out of millions of fracked wells. Statistically zero. Still, let’s not let a good “crisis” go to waste. The DEP, in releasing a report about the incident (full copy below), said they will work up new regulations to detect and prevent such statistically zero occurrences from happening again…
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Dealing with Pipeline Cos. – Lessons re Rover’s Eminent Domain

Two weeks ago MDN ran a story about the fact that time has run out on recalcitrant landowners in Ohio who have refused to negotiate with Rover Pipeline–and are now being sued using eminent domain (see Time’s Up – Rover Pipe Uses Eminent Domain on Holdout OH Landowners). Because of our nutty (or should we say batty) environmental regulations that require pipeline companies to clear trees only from Oct. 1 to Mar. 31 due to U.S. Fish and Wildlife regulations against disturbing nesting bats, and because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was slow off the mark in approving the Rover project, the company must now clear trees in double time. There is no time left to negotiate–even though landowners have had two years to do so. As a last resort, Rover is using eminent domain procedures in court to (yes) force their way onto property and get it ready for construction this summer. Perhaps a little-known fact: Rover also runs through portions of Washington County, PA. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette found a couple of landowners with sad stories about the big bully Rover using eminent domain against them. Look, we’re not unsympathetic. If we owned a farm (as one of the interviewees does) and they want to run the pipeline through a prized hay field, we’d likely be opposed too. However, the story highlights the fact that others in similar circumstances worked hard early on with Rover to reroute the pipeline through their property–and were successful. The moral of the story is this: the pipeline WILL come, your best chance of influencing WHERE it comes happens EARLY in the process…
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PA Rep. Garth Everett Reintroduces Minimum Royalty Bill, 3rd Time

Third time’s the charm? The Pennsylvania General Assembly convenes for two-year sessions. Almost six years ago during the 2013-2014 session of the General Assembly, PA Rep. Garth Everett introduced “minimum royalty” legislation that would guarantee PA landowners would get minimum royalty payments of 12.5%–regardless of any kind of post-production expenses. It was called House Bill (HB) 1684 and it failed to even come to the floor for a vote (see PA Royalty Bill 1684 Off the Agenda, Likely for Rest of 2014). Everett re-introduced it during the 2015-2016 session, renamed HB 1391. Once again, near the end of the term, it failed to get a full vote (see PA Royalty Bill Dead for Another Year – Supporters Vow to Fight On). Everett is not giving up. Last Friday he re-introduced the bill for the third time, this time called HB 557. Does it stand a chance?…
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Last Minute Attacks Fail to Stop Mariner East 2 Pipeline Progress

We appear to be in the final death throes of radical environmental efforts to block the construction of Mariner East 2–a $2.5 billion, 306-mile natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline that will run from eastern Ohio through the state of Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia. Last week the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) gave its final approval for the project (see Finally! PA DEP Issues Final Permits for Mariner East 2 Pipeline). It didn’t take long for a coordinated attack from the the enviro left–THE Delaware Riverkeeper, the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council and the Mountain Watershed Association (see Maya & Friends Sue (Once Again) to Stop Mariner East 2 Pipe). On Thursday they asked the PA Environmental Hearing Board to block construction until they can figure out a new way to try and stop the project, claiming “irreparable harm” will happen if construction proceeds. On Friday a judge refused their request. They asked the judge to reconsider a few hours later, after they had manufactured new “evidence” for the judge. Meanwhile, supervisors in West Goshen (a Philly suburb) filed a complaint against Mariner East 1 and 2 with the PA Public Utility Commission, in a apparent effort to stop any new construction there. Try as they might to stop it, this pipeline is about to get built…
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Mountaineer Keystone Renames Itself Arsenal Resources

In October 2014, Mountaineer Keystone, a pure play Marcellus/Utica driller headquartered in Pittsburgh, bought out PDC Mountaineer for half a billion dollars, creating a company with 181,000 net acres totally focused on the northeast (see Major New Player in the Marcellus Emerges: Mountaineer Keystone). Mountaineer Keystone got its start in 2010 when founder/CEO Rob Kozel formed the initial management team from former Texas Keystone people. In 2011 the company took a boatload of money from First Reserve, an energy investment firm. We don’t have the back story, but in November 2015, Mountaineer announced that Kozel was out as CEO, and in his place the board has selected David Wood, the current Chairman of the Board at Mountaineer Keystone (see Shake-up at the Top of Marcellus Driller Mountaineer Keystone). Last Friday Mountaineer changed its name–to Arsenal Resources…
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Small Group Begins Sleepover to Block Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

As we reported last week, a small group of anti-fossil fuelers were planning on grabbing their sleeping bags and heading to Amish country for a sleepover at the Magic Tree House (see Antis Plan a Weekend Campout to Protest Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline). Beginning Friday night, a group of about 50 launched their “encampment,” calling it The Stand. Supposedly this is a “peaceful” protest to prevent Williams from digging a trench across the property where the flimsy tree house shack is built. Organizers claim they don’t want any violence, like that in North Dakota (similar “peaceful” protest). They also claim someone would be present at the location from now until they are forcibly removed by law enforcement, in an illegal attempt to block construction of the pipeline. It’s a good thing the ~2.4 million miles of underground pipelines in the U.S. got in the ground before leftist enviro-nutters decided to make an issue out of it…
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Spectra Energy Still Committed to Building New England Pipeline

On Friday midstream (pipeline) company Spectra Energy issued its fourth quarter and full year 2016 update. At the end of update, Spectra provides details on projects it will complete in 2017, those in development to be completed in 2018, and the final category of projects “in development.” It is that last one that caught our eye, because there is one project listed: Access Northeast, the pipeline project Spectra wants to build to bring more Marcellus/Utica shale gas to New England. Our quick take of what Spectra said: When the New England states get their heads out of their…lobster brisket…and pass laws and regulations getting on the same page, we’ll be here ready to build the project and make it happen. That is, Spectra has not given up on Access Northeast–and neither should we. Here’s the expansion projects update section, which includes not only the update for Access Northeast, but details for other projects located in the Marcellus/Utica region…
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NJ Sierra Club Tries to Pedal More Lies About PennEast Pipeline

PennEast Pipeline, to their credit, is done being silent when it comes to the lies and distortions of groups like the radical (and lying) New Jersey Sierra Club. Recently PennEast called out the Sierra Club (and THE Delaware Riverkeeper) for their lying ways, without using the word “liar” (see PennEast Pipeline Calls THE Dela. Riverkeeper & Sierra Club Liars). Now the word liar IS used, with respect to the Sierra Club’s latest 100% false claims that PennEast threatens drinking water and is somehow comparable to the Oroville Dam debacle in California. It is a scurrilous accusation, being strongly refuted by PennEast…
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How Maryland Screwed Garrett County Residents Out of Shale Money

Maryland’s heavily Democrat legislature is doing its best to slap a permanent ban on fracking in the state (see Maryland Democrat Lawmakers Continue to Torpedo Fracking). Such a ban would be a disaster for the state–and for landowners in places like Garrett County (far western MD) where there is Marcellus Shale gas. However, deep and long-lasting damage has already been done by Maryland legislators. In Garrett County energy companies once held leases on 100,000 acres of land–before the legislature and governor diddled away for four years. Today? There are remaining leases on 4,000 acres. That change represents millions of dollars that did not go into the pockets of MD landowners. Maryland seems to be in a race with New York to see which state is the most energy unfriendly state in the country…
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Go Pound Sand, Please! Proppant Shortage on the Way?

We’ve heard of concerns that there may be a shortage of sand used for fracking in the near future–right here in the Marcellus/Utica. We then spotted a story about an impending sand shortage by the Reuters news agency (below). It takes something like an average of 11 million pounds to frack a well. Chesapeake Energy experimented with pushing the envelope with a well in Louisiana by using 50 million pounds (see Propageddon: Chesapeake “Unleashes Hell” with Sand in LA Gas Well). To get the latest update on sand in northeast, be sure to attend a panel discussion on proppants MDN editor Jim Willis is hosting on March 2 in Pittsburgh, at the Oil & Gas Awards’ 2017 Northeast Industry Summit (register for free here). In the meantime, here’s the latest scuttlebutt about a sand shortage…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Feb 20, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: New subpoena for NY AG Schneiderman and his climate change communications in Exxon witch hunt; Utica region hotel up for auction; Mountaineer gas to infuse WV economy with money re pipeline; shale drilling on a roll as OPEC cuts keep oil prices above $50/barrel; but oil prices are now stuck in the $50s; inflation coming to the oil patch; what lies ahead for Statoil; and more!
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