Baker Hughes Feb Rig Counts Rockets Skyward, Recovery Continues

The Baker Hughes rig count in the U.S. continued to be on fire in February. Whoops! Poor choice of words. The rig count continued its rocket ride. In January the average number of U.S. rigs was 683. In February, the count zoomed to 744, up 61 rigs in just a month. Each active rig translates into hundreds of jobs, both directly working at the rig and indirectly in services delivered to the rig and its workers. It also means more landowners will soon have royalty payments heading in their direction. When rigs are active, life is good. What about rig counts in the Marcellus/Utica? Total rig count went up another 3 rigs. Two of the rigs were added in WV (now 10), and one in PA (now 34). OH’s rig count remained the same (20 rigs) in February as January. Just 3 added rigs out of 61 means other shale plays (primarily the Permian and other oil plays) are where most of the rig action is happening. Here’s the full set of numbers, along with a pretty MDN chart showing the last 12 months of rig counts in the Marcellus/Utica…
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Shell Cracker Construction Starting Soon; Concrete Plants Ramp-up

One of our fun pastimes is speculating about when, exactly, the mighty Shell ethane cracker in Beaver County, PA will actually go online. In February, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said this: “We haven’t announced exactly when it will start up, but expect that to be not anymore this decade” (see Shell CEO Says PA Cracker Up & Running “Not Anymore This Decade”). What did the non-native English-speaking van Beurden mean? Your guess is as good as ours. Did he mean “by the end of this decade,” or “not by the end of this decade”? Our best guess is that the cracker won’t be operating until 2020 or 2021–that is, the latter meaning. We have some evidence to support that theory. Two concrete plants are due to begin construction any day now, being built by Champion Concrete. The two plants, which will manufacture all of the concrete used in the cracker, are scheduled to be completed and in operation by July. So concrete for the project begins to flow in July. The useful life of the two plants (for manufacturing concrete for the cracker) is three years. Three years from this summer will be the summer of 2020. Important note to supply chain businesses: as the concrete plants and construction activity ramps up, there’s opportunity to sell more of your goods and services to this enormous project. The number of workers at the site will steadily increase this year and next…
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Standing Rock Wannabes in Lancaster Threatened with $1K/Day Fines

Barn illegally hosting encampment

Two days ago MDN brought you the news that anti-fossil fuelers opposed to the Williams Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project are using the same (losing) playbook to oppose Atlantic Sunrise as they used to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline (see Protesters Try to Resurrect Failed ND Pipeline Fight in Lancaster). What is that playbook? Establish a protest “camp” where hundreds or thousands of “protesters” (i.e. paid activists) can assemble to “fight” the pipeline. When you get a bunch of lazy hippies together, you need some logistics–a place to stash food, water, toilet paper, condoms (whoops, did we say that out loud?). You also need a meeting hall. The antis in Lancaster found a sympathetic local landowner who is loaning them his barn–as a place to store things and for meetings. The problem is, the barn isn’t zoned as an “encampment” and meeting hall, and the local municipality is threatening to slap the property owner with a $1,000 per day fine if the illegal protest meetings being held in the barn aren’t stopped. Now. The antis, who see evil methane monsters behind every tree, claim “Somebody’s out to get us, we don’t know who”…
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Williams Keeps Pressure on PA DEP to Issue Atlantic Sunrise Permits

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Atlantic Sunrise in early February (see Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Gets Final Approval by FERC). Even though the project is approved, that’s not the end of the story. Regulatory work still remains, including approvals from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Construction of Atlantic Sunrise is scheduled to begin later this year, pending the receipt of these regulatory approvals. Williams is gently pressuring the DEP to hurry it up. Fortunately for Williams, the PA DEP is not like the corrupt New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In NY, the DEC caved to political pressure from Gov. Cuomo and denied Williams stream-crossing permits (a matter now in court, see Constitution Pipeline Case Goes to Court in 2 Weeks, Briefs Filed). In PA, the DEP will no doubt do its job and grant the permits. The problem is, they’re taking waaaaaaay too long to do it…
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Rover Pipeline Challenges FERC re Demolishing “Historic” House

On Feb. 3, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave its final approval to 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). Normally when FERC approves such a project, they issue a “blanket certificate” that allows the pipeline company to move forward with construction without getting “Mother May I?” permission for every step along the way. But FERC denied ET a blanket certificate for Rover. Why? Because Rover demolished a house that was under consideration for a national registry of historic homes, without first telling FERC (see Rover Pipeline in Hot Water Over Demolishing Historic House in OH). In May 2015, Rover purchased a house in Carroll County, OH, located near where the pipeline, and a compressor station for that pipeline, is due to run. Rover bought the house to use for offices for several Rover affiliate companies. After buying it, Rover determined the house was “ill-suited for its intended purpose” and decided to demolish it. Problem was/is, that house was under consideration to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. The house was not yet on the list of Historic Places, but was on a list of properties under consideration. FERC says Rover should have reported their decision to demolish the house, which has Rover in hot water with FERC and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. That’s why FERC didn’t issue a blanket certificate for construction of Rover. So ET and Rover have now filed for a rehearing, claiming FERC erred in not granting the blanket certificate…
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Proposed 13-Mile Pipeline in SW OH Under Review, DOPEs Oppose

Duke Energy Ohio, an LDC or “local distribution company” serves some half a million customers with natural gas in Ohio. The company has a ~12 mile pipeline to flow gas it needs to move from one point to another in Hamilton County (Cincinnati), the southwest corner of the state. The Duke pipeline has been around and in service since the 1950s. Duke needs to replace that pipe or some of the half million Duke customers won’t get natural gas any more. Because anything to do with “fracking” or “pipelines” has been so thoroughly bastardized by the media and anti-fossil fuel protesters, there was, of course, opposition to Duke’s plan. So Duke “listened” and has scaled back their plans. Instead of building a 30-inch gas pipeline running at 600 psi (pounds per square inch), the revised plan calls for a 20-inch pipeline running at 400 psi (see Duke Energy Modifies/Scales Back Plan for SW OH Pipeline). Duke proposed two potential routes, both of which are opposed by antis, including a group calling themselves NOPE–Neighbors Opposing Pipeline Extension. We’d call them DOPEs–Dummies Opposing Pipeline Extensions. Will these people volunteer to shut off the natural gas to their homes and businesses if the pipeline doesn’t get built?…
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PA DCED Sec. Promotes Wolf’s Marcellus-Killing Severance Tax

Dennis Davin, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), has been one of the loudest and most credible voices in the disastrous PA Gov. Tom Wolf Administration. Davin has done great work in promoting the Shell ethane cracker and the jobs/economic development it will bring to the state (see PA Econ Dev Secretary Hits Road to Promote Shell Cracker). Last year Davin let leak he’s hearing rumors of a possible second ethane cracker–for PA (see A SECOND Ethane Cracker Coming to Pennsylvania? Maybe!). Davin is a good guy with smart people around him. So it distressed us to read a column written by Davin in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer attempting to make the case for his boss’ disastrous severance tax–a tax that will literally kill all new Marcellus drilling in the state. We hope it was someone else that wrote the article and pushed it in front of Davin for his signature, because the column smacks of socialistic crap about how the severance tax is PA’s “fair share” of the Marcellus Shale boom. It’s nothing of the sort. The severance tax is a political payback to teachers’ unions for backing Wolf, which Davin surely knows…
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OH Anti Jailed, Pleads Guilty to 13 Felony Counts of Voter Fraud

One of the people behind the Big Green effort to pass a frack ban in Youngstown, OH (a measure that has now failed six times) has herself been arrested and has plead guilty to 13 felony charges of committing voter fraud. Rebecca Hammonds, a local organizer and employee of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, was sentenced to 180 days in jail this week after pleading guilty to 13 felony counts for false voter registration and election fraud in January. One of the charges had to do with her signing up dead people to vote. Do we need to say anything more about the dishonesty of the anti-drilling movement?…
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FirstEnergy Upgrading W PA Electric Grid, Some Benefit for Shale

FirstEnergy is one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. We’ve reported on a number of projects launched by FirstEnergy to assist the shale industry–running power lines to natural gas processing plants, etc. (see FirstEnergy Investing $100M in Electric Projects for WV Marcellus). FirstEnergy has just announced another $235 million of upgrades/investments in its West Penn service area. Some of those upgrades are targeted at serving the shale industry. But FirstEnergy is conflicted. Although it loves to help midstream companies and drillers by selling them electricity, it doesn’t like it when private, independent (and competitive) companies actually produce the electricity, from shale gas, that competes with FirstEnergy’s own electric supplies. In Ohio, FirstEnergy is attempting to get the state to re-regulate the electric industry to freeze out new natgas-fired electric plants (see OH Fight to Re-Regulate Electric Industry – Impacts on Shale). So although FirstEnergy professes its love of the shale industry, it’s a conditional love…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Mar 8, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: FERC certificates several new natural gas pipelines; Trump game changer that could turbocharge the shale gas industry; circumstances “just right” in today’s “Goldilocks” o&g market; shale industry scrambling to catch up to boom; will US lead the LNG pack; frack sand getting more expensive, and scarce; corporate raider takes over at CNX “oil train”; BP’s largest expansion year ever in 2017; and more!
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