PA ‘Environmental Justice’ Session Brings Out Handful of Activists

Last December the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) said it would go on a “listening tour” in early 2017, to focus on so-called environmental justice–whatever that is (see PA DEP to Conduct ‘Listening Tour’ for ‘Environmental Justice’). The DEP finally set up a schedule for its listening tour, which began yesterday in Greene County (see PA DEP Conducting “Listening Tour” for “Environmental Justice”). Our take: “environmental justice” means asking poor people if they’ve been abused by the oil and gas industry in any way–and if they have a beef, the DEP will “do” something about it. Yesterday’s first session in the tour was interesting for several reasons. For one, just a handful of people turned out–a maximum of 30 in the crowd. For another, the po’ folk didn’t bother coming. It seems only radical activists bothered to turn up, claiming to represent the abused, repeating the same tired, old lies they always repeat…
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Ultra Petroleum Does Bankruptcy Right, Exits with Higher Value

Ultra Petroleum, based in Houston, TX, is an independent exploration and production (E&P) company mainly focused on drilling in the Green River Basin of Wyoming. Ultra also drills for oil in the Uinta Basin/Three Rivers area in Utah. In addition, Ultra maintains a position in the Pennsylvania Marcellus shale with leases on 184,000 gross (91,000 net) acres–no small amount. They aren’t currently drilling on their Marcellus acreage, but it’s a good bet they will at some point. One year ago, in April 2016, Ultra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy (see Ultra Petroleum (with 184K Marcellus Acres) Files for Bankruptcy). Shareholders tried to get an official equity committee approved to protect their interest, but that effort failed when the trustee denied the motion. So equity holders (i.e. stockholders), with the aid of Ultra’s management (who happen to be stockholders themselves), adopted a new strategy: wait them out. Management asked for an extension to file their bankruptcy plan, which would put a plan filing date out to spring of this year (see Ultra Petroleum Trying to Force Debtholders to Deal re Bankruptcy). Ultra didn’t want to go the way so many other oil and gas companies have gone–by wiping out existing shareholder’s stock value and handing the keys of the company to the debtholders. Ultra’s strategy was to use time against debtholders as a tactic to force them to the table to deal. It worked. In November 2016, Ultra announced a deal supported by a full two-thirds of outstanding debtholders and plans to move forward (see Ultra Petroleum Gets 67% Debtholders to Agree to Bankruptcy Plan). Ultra announced yesterday it has emerged from bankruptcy, raising nearly $3 billion to pay back creditors and floating 195 million shares of new stock. The company is worth more today than when it entered bankruptcy. Talk about engineering a turnaround! Ultra shows other E&Ps how to do a bankruptcy “right”…
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FERC Wants More Info, Route Tweaks from Atlantic Coast Pipeline

One of the oft-repeated lies we hear from anti-fossil fuelers against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is that the agency “never” rejects a pipeline proposal, and “hasn’t in 20 years.” The conclusion, according to liemeisters like THE Delaware Riverkeeper, is that FERC is simply a “rubber stamp” for “big oil and gas”–not to be trusted and (preferably) shut down. That’s the kindergartenish meme they pedal to unthinking, left-leaning enviro lapdogs (their followers), who believe them. But you and I know the truth. This is that truth: FERC picks over pipeline projects with a fine-tooth comb. When FERC finds something they don’t like, they respond back to the project builder with “suggestions” about route changes, construction guidelines, request for more information, etc. If the project builder decides to disregard FERC’s “suggestions,” the builder runs the risk of having the project rejected. So they change it. It is an ongoing negotiation. What if FERC demands something really wacky? The project builder will push back, but in the end, what FERC wants, FERC gets. Period. And so it is with Dominion’s $5 billion, 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. Atlantic Coast is winding its way through the FERC regulatory process. Last week was the deadline for filing comments on FERC’s draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project. On Tuesday, FERC sent Dominion a 36-page letter (full copy below) regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, identifying 100 areas of concern with the “suggestion” that minor route changes and workspace reductions would button up most issues. You can bet your bottom dollar Atlantic Coast Pipeline will bend over backwards to make those adjustments. This is how adults handle things…
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Texas Gas Asks FERC for Extra 2 Yrs on Northern Supply Access Proj

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Texas Gas Transmission (TGT) is a big pipeline network owned and operated by Boardwalk Pipeline Partners. Originally built from the Louisiana Gulf Coast to the upper Midwest, the purpose of the pipeline system was to supply Illinois, Indiana and Ohio with natural gas. Then the Marcellus/Utica Shale happened and TGT needed to change strategies. Through a series of projects, TGT made the pipeline system bidirectional, so it could flow gas from the Marcellus/Utica to points south, going as far as the Gulf Coast. One of the primary projects to accomplish that objective is called the Northern Access Supply Project, which first landed on our radar in Sept. 2015 (see Northern Supply Access Proj. Expands OH to Gulf Pipeline Capacity). Northern Access Supply was authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in March 2016 to “construct a new compressor station in Hamilton County, Ohio and make modifications at eight existing compressor stations in, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana in order to enable Texas Gas to provide an additional 384,000 million British thermal units (“MMBtu”) per day of firm transportation service primarily in a north-to-south direction on Texas Gas’s system while maintaining Texas Gas’s current ability to flow gas south-to-north.” FERC gave TGT two years to get the work done (deadline March 2018). While some of the work has been done, not all of it has–and now TGT is asking for more time–an additional two years (to March 2020) to complete the project. Why? Because one of shippers contracted to use 100,000 MMBtus of that capacity (or 26% of the increased capacity) has filed for bankruptcy and can’t fulfill its commitment. So TGT wants to delay the final work until it has more customers for the other 100,000 MMBtus of capacity…
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Small Utica-Fired Electric Plant Coming to Ohio State U Campus

A bit of good news which is sure to drive insane snowflakes on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus over the edge of the cliff. Engie, a multinational electric utility company headquartered in France, recently won a contract to provide energy to Ohio State University for the next 50 (!) years. On the heals of that announcement, Engie has announced a potential plan to build a 60-megawatt Utica gas-fired electric power plant right on the campus of OSU. It will be the first-ever electric plant located on campus. Talk about gall! Doesn’t Engie know that OSU’s precious snowflakes (lib kiddies that hate fossil fuels) will melt?! That their precious sensitivities will be mortally offended? We’re waiting for the storm that’s about to be unleashed with the news of the new plant. Grab some popcorn and enjoy the entertainment…
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OH Injection Well that Caused OH Earthquakes Shutting Down Forever

In late December 2011 a 4.0 earthquake hit the Youngstown, OH area. It was the latest in a string of quakes that began in March 2011, shortly after a wasterwater injection well went online–the Northstar #1 well. In March 2012 the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) made a determination that indeed, it was the Northstar well that caused the quake–due to its location over an active fault (see ODNR Finds Youngstown Injection Well Caused Earthquakes). When you force liquid of any kind deep into the ground and into a fault (gigantic crack running through the rock layers), that liquid acts like grease allowing the rock layers to slip and slide, causing an earthquake. It’s a rare occurrence, at least in Ohio. Without recounting the entire sordid story, ownership of Northstar #1–originally owned by D&L Energy, whose owner was found guilty of illegal wastewater dumping unrelated to the injection well–the current owner has filed an application to permanently, and for all time, plug and close Northstar #1…
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OH Lawsuit Tries, Fails to Stop Mariner East 2 Pipeline

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The Mariner East 2 (ME2) Pipeline has always been a story about Pennsylvania. Almost always. ME2 is actually two pipelines, laid side by side, that are meant to carry natural gas liquids (propane and butane) from southwestern Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio all the way across PA to the Philadelphia area–terminating at the Marcus Hook refinery/terminal. Most (not all) of the NGLs are exported to other countries. And therein lies the bone of contention. ME2 was granted status as a public utility and with it, the right to use eminent domain to force landowners to allow the pipeline across their property. Some landowners resisted, and (with help from anti groups) sued, repeatedly, claiming there is no public benefit from NGLs that get exported to other countries. They do have a point. So ME2 built four “off ramps” in PA–points where propane and butane will be purchased and used locally, which helps justify the public utility/eminent domain claim. Until now we’ve always read about lawsuits against ME2 originating in PA, where 95% of the pipeline will be built. However, there was a vigorous challenge to ME2 in Ohio on the same grounds–that ME2 is not in the public interest. That lawsuit argued, among other things, there are no “off ramps” in Ohio where the NGLs will be sold and used. However, a lower court and then an appeals court didn’t buy that argument and ruled against the landowner and in favor of ME2. That case appears dead, but it was appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court (no decision yet on hearing the case). This post will catch you up on the arguments for and against ME2 and its claim to be a public utility with the right of eminent domain in Ohio…
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Rover Works w/Farmers to Ensure Field Access During Construction

We previously highlighted a video that shows the massive project underway to construct the Rover Pipeline (see Video of Rover Pipeline’s Massive & Complex Construction in OH). Truly impressive feat of engineering. Rover cuts through a lot of farm land–as evidenced on that video. So what happens when the pipeline is cutting through a farmer’s property, and the farmer needs to drive his tractor and other equipment from one side of the construction to a field on the other side? Out of luck? Screwed? Too bad, so sad? Nope. Rover, like other responsible pipeline companies, is working with farmers to ensure they can get to where they need to go during pipeline construction. In some cases Rover will install “trench plugs” over the trench, and in other cases “timber mats”…
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PA DEP Fines Butler County Gathering Pipeline $185K for Erosion

MDN spotted an announcement issue by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) stating they’ve assessed a $185,000 fine on the Constellation Pipeline and its builder EM Energy (i.e. EdgeMarc) for a series of violations when building the pipeline in 2014-2015. That sent us digging. We don’t recall a Constellation Pipeline (and we’ve been writing MDN since 2009). What is the pipeline? Where, in PA, is it located? What is its purpose? We think we found most of the answers…
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Voice Support for Atlantic Sunrise @ PA DEP Event Apr 19

For months MDN has encouraged its readers to get behind and support Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project–a $3 billion, 198-mile pipeline project running through 10 Pennsylvania counties to connect Marcellus Shale natural gas from northeastern PA with the Williams’ Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County. In February the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave its final seal of approval for the project (see Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Gets Final Approval by FERC). But such approvals are never the last word in the complex world of building pipelines. In addition to FERC’s approval, Williams still needs permits from the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The DEP moves like a glacier, but finally they are holding their first public hearing on the project. The hearing will deal specifically and only with a compressor station in Lycoming County, PA. The hearing is scheduled for April 19 (next Wednesday) in Jersey Shore, PA. You KNOW the antis will launch an all-out assault at the meeting. It is important for those of us who support Atlantic Sunrise to also attend and offer words of support for the compressor station, and the project. Williams has a special form (click here) where you can register your intent to attend…
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MDN Will Not Publish on Good Friday

As we have in previous years, MDN will not publish tomorrow (Friday) in observance of Good Friday and the Easter holiday. We hope you enjoy this blessed time of year! We’ll be back on Monday to catch you up on any stories breaking on Friday.

– Jim Willis, Editor

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Apr 13, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Jefferson County, OH natgas production grows 587%; Ohio DNR issues 15 permits for southern Utica; anti group PennEnvironment fined by PA ethics commission; natgas moratorium in Mass. nears resolution; US shale back on the upswing; the de-electrification of the US economy; Keystone Pipeline could net $44M a day in tax revenue; and more!
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