FERC Green Lights Rover Pipeline Construction

Along with chainsaws buzzing (until Mar. 31) and wood chips flying, Rover Pipeline has now started the backhoes. As MDN previously reported, on Feb. 3 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave its final approval for Energy Transfer’s Rover Pipeline project, a $3.7 billion, 711-mile Marcellus/Utica natural gas pipeline that will run from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and eventually into Canada (see ET Rover Pipeline Gets Final Approval by FERC). At the time we observed Rover had received permission to clear trees before the Mar. 31 “can’t kill roosting bats” deadline. However, Rover did not have permission to begin digging trenches and laying pipeline. That permission came this past Friday…
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Statoil WV Tax Overpayment Court Case – Money “Already Gone”

Statoil, based in Norway, is a big player in the West Virginia Marcellus Shale. Statoil paid property taxes to Brooke, Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties (all in WV) in 2015 and later found, during an audit/review, that they had overpaid those counties. They overpaid Brooke by $1.8 million, Ohio by $2.9 million, Wetzel by $1.6 million and Marshall by $342,000 (see Statoil Wants Millions in Refunds from Tax Overpayments in WV). The WV Tax Department argued that Statoil “acted negligently” and exercised “poor judgment” in not finding the mistake sooner. All four counties voted to deny Statoil’s request, so Statoil took them to court, asking the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to hear the case. However, the Appeals court ruled that the cases are not “complex” and don’t require “special treatment,” so back to county court the cases went (see Statoil’s Tax Overpayment Cases Bounced Back to WV County Courts). A hearing was held last Friday in the case. There’s not much in the way of new news to report, other than Statoil wants the cases combined and the counties would prefer to keep the cases separate. The other bit of information is that the overpayments were spent about as quickly as they were received, and the counties are expressing angst over where they will find the money to issue a refund check, should the court case(s) go against them…
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43 Existing/Planned Gas-Fired Elec Plants Overtaking Coal in OH

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Ohio currently has 15 coal-fired electric plants producing 15,322 megawatts of electricity, and 33 natural gas-fired plants producing a maximum of 9,449 megawatts. Most of the existing natgas plants were built to serve small areas or for use during times of peak electricity demand. But that’s changing. Ohio is seeing coal-fired plants retire, and new large natgas plants rise up to take their place. Many of the existing 33 natgas plants generate 25-30 megawatts of electricity. But the new plants planned are close to, or exceed, 1,000 megawatts. Beasts! It’s a fair statement to say that natural gas (specifically shale gas) is “changing the electricity grid landscape” in the Buckeye State. Below is an article outlining how natgas is changing electricity in Ohio, along with a list of the 33 existing, 5 approved and five proposed (43 in all) natural gas-fired electric plants in Ohio…
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Ohio EPA Begins Using New General Permits for Compressor Stations

Compressor stations in Ohio, needed to flow natural gas through numerous new pipelines being built, require a permit from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to get built. The Ohio EPA considers each application independently, a laborious and long process. In an effort to streamline that process, the Ohio EPA began work on a plan in September 2015 to issue “general permits” for compressor stations (see Ohio EPA Seeks “Pre-Comments” on Compressor Station Permit Plan). A general permit is, essentially, a cookie cutter approach. If midstream companies agree to the provisions in the general permit, i.e. they commit to using certain types of equipment and certain standards, the permit process will speed along much faster. In April 2016 Ohio EPA floated draft versions of the new general permits (see Ohio EPA Seeks Comments on New Permits for Compressor Stations). The long wait is over. Ohio EPA announced last week that the new general permits (there are a BUNCH of them) are ready for use…
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The Difference One Utica Pipeline Can Make on Gas Prices

What happens when you build a major interstate natural gas pipeline–and you’ve guessed wrong about the market. That happened to Tallgrass Energy and their Rockies Express Pipeline (REX), which runs from Colorado and Wyoming in the West to Ohio in the East. The REX Pipeline was completed in 2009, just in time for the shale revolution to begin in the Marcellus and now in the Utica. What to do when you’re pumping gas into a saturated market? You reverse the flow (see Reversing the Fortunes for “Wrong Way” REX Pipeline). On August 1, 2015 the section of REX from Monroe County, OH to Mexico, MO (called Zone 3) reversed the flow and began to carry 1.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of Utica and Marcellus Shale gas to the Midwest, including to the greater Chicago area. In January 2017, REX completed the reversal project and now flows 2.6 Bcf/d of Marcellus/Utica gas to the Midwest (see REX Pipe Completes Expansion Today, 2.6 Bcf/d Flowing East-to-West). The ace researchers at Natural Gas Intelligence have been looking at prices Utica drillers were able to get for their gas at key locations before and after REX reversed the pipeline and have found that single pipeline has “erased” the price differences between Utica and Marcellus gas. That is, Utica drillers now fetch much higher prices for their gas, everywhere they sell it (in Ohio and out), because of the REX pipeline and the new markets it has opened up…
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Protesters Try to Resurrect Failed ND Pipeline Fight in Lancaster

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Anti-fossil fuelers opposed to the Williams Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project–a $3 billion, 198-mile pipeline running through 10 Pennsylvania counties to connect Marcellus Shale natural gas from PA with the Williams’ Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County–are using the same (losing) playbook to oppose Atlantic Sunrise as they used to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. They claim, falsely, that the pipeline will disturb ancient Indian burial grounds and other hogwash about disturbing archaeological sites. As we’ve previously reported, local antis in Lancaster County, PA aided and abetted by national Big Green groups hope to recreate the disaster of Standing Rock, ND in Lancaster County, PA (see PA Anti Hopes to Bring Standing Rock Disaster to Lancaster County). As we reported last week, most of the funding for their troublemaking is coming from a British cosmetics company nobody ever heard of (see Cosmetics Firm, Church Fund Anti “Camps” Against Atlantic Sunrise). Just in case the general reading public is too stupid to understand that Lancaster is the new Standing Rock, they’ve painted “Welcome to the Stand” (channeling Standing Rock) on the side of a barn near where the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline is due to run. And they openly admit, even trumpet the fact, that “Standing Rock is the playbook” they are using. That is, they seek anarchy and lawlessness as their preferred means to bully other people into doing something they want done…
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CONSOL Energy Hires Big Banks to Help it Sell Rest of Coal Assets

This is a story that MDN has been watching for years–the transformation (metamorphosis, really) of CONSOL Energy from, at one time, a 100% coal-producing company into a 100% natural gas-producing company. In February MDN reported on the company’s announcement in February to either sell or spin-off the remaining coal assets it owns–this year (see CONSOL Energy 4Q16 Update – Plans to Shed Rest of Coal in 2017). It’s not just words. Bloomberg is reporting that CONSOL has hired two huge banks, Credit Suisse and Bank of America, to begin shopping the coal assets CONSOL still owns to potential buyers…
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Antis Find Solace in Bay’s Final Pot Shot at FERC

Norman Bay, formerly of FERC

Anti-fossil fuel groups adamantly opposed to new pipeline projects are finding solace, and perhaps legal assistance, in the remarks made by former Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Norman Bay. There were three FERC Commissioners, the minimum required to vote on projects, until Bay left. Why did he leave? When Bay (a Democrat) joined FERC, he was promoted by Barack H. Obama to be the Chairman of the Commission, displacing Cheryl LaFleur (another Democrat) from her role as Chairman. LaFleur didn’t let Obama’s decision affect her–she stuck around and kept working. When Donald Trump took office, he decided, which is his prerogative, to elevate LaFleur to be Chairman once again, “demoting” Bay to regular old Commissioner. Bay immediately resigned in a huff. Thing is, Bay’s resignation was calculated to do maximum damage to current pipeline projects under review, most of them in the Marcellus/Utica. On his last day in office, along with a flurry of FERC approvals, Bay issued a statement as part of one of the approvals that FERC should “analyze the environmental effects of increased regional gas production from the Marcellus and Utica” shale regions (see FERC Commissioner Norm Bay Targets M-U on Way Out the Door). Now, anti-fossil fuel lawyers are using his words to help make their case against authorizing pipeline projects…
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Dominion Foundation Awards $110,000 in OH Community Impact Grants

Each year utility and midstreamer Dominion East Ohio awards grants to community organizations across the Buckeye State, where it operates. A great program. Each year (in recent memory) the awards have totaled over $100,000. This year is no different. Last week Dominion East Ohio presented $110,000 in grants to 12 winning community organizations in its 22nd annual Community Impact Awards competition. Here’s who won…
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Northeast Oil & Gas Awards – List of 2017 Winners

Each year the Oil & Gas Awards recognize organizations operating responsibly and supporting the communities they operate within. Now in their 5th year, the Oil & Gas Awards are judged by over 100 senior industry professionals. A gala ceremony was held last Thursday in Pittsburgh to announce the winners. Below is a complete list of the 2017 winners, by category. Congratulations to all of the finalists and winners!…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Mar 6, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Cracking Appalachia’s ethane code; opponents of Maryland frack ban make their voices heard; did shale producers really get lean and mean – or just take advantage of low prices; U.S. shale production growing at “unprecedented rate”; Cheniere Energy gets new $750M loan; Greenpeace admits to lying about companies, under oath; and more!
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