Goldboro LNG Export Plant on the Hunt for Marcellus Assets

Just last week MDN told you that Pieridae Energy has signed a labor agreement to build the Goldboro LNG export facility along the shore of Nova Scotia, Canada (see Update on Goldboro LNG – Labor Agreement Signed to Build). The U.S. Dept. of Energy approved the plant for exporting to non-free trade agreement counties in February 2016, an indication that Marcellus/Utica gas will flow to the plant (see Goldboro LNG Project Gets Final DOE Approval – Good for Marcellus). As we’ve previously pointed out, gas to feed this new export facility will likely come from the Marcellus/Utica via the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline. However, Goldboro can also get gas from TransCanada’s pipeline system–sourced from Western Canada. A Reuters story provides new details about Pieridae Energy’s plans for the project. Pieridae CEO Alfred Sorensen told Reuters the company is not just looking to buy gas on the open market, but looking to buy a driller or assets (leased acreage someone else is drilling on), to feed the plant. Pieridae is looking at both Western Canada AND in the Marcellus. The other tidbit we glean from the story is that the plant will cost on the order of $7.3 billion to build–the first time we’ve seen a number associated with the project…Continue reading

DEP Grants Air Permit for 2nd Gas-Fired Elec Plant Near Scranton

The largest (so far) Marcellus Shale-gas fired electric plant in Pennsylvania is currently under construction in Lackawanna County, PA (near Scranton). The Lackawanna Energy Center, being built in Jessup by Invenergy, will produce 1,480 megawatts of electricity. However, there is a second, smaller Marcellus-fired electric plant also in the works. Last October, MDN brought you the news that Archbald Energy Partners, a collaboration between Canada-based EmberClear Corp. and New Jersey-based DCO Energy, wants to build a plant in Archbald, PA (again, near Scranton) that will produce 485 megawatts of electricity (see 2nd NatGas Electric Plant Proposed for Lackawanna County, PA). The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced yesterday they have issued an air quality permit for the Archbald project. This is an important step in the process of building the plant. Although more permits will be needed, we’d say the major hurdles have now been crossed. Below is the DEP announcement, a copy of the full air quality permit issued (68 pages), and responses to comments from members of the community who complained about the project…
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DEP Appeals $4.5M Wastewater Leak Fine Against EQT to Supremes

There’s a reason hospitals and court rooms are frequently the settings for soap operas on TV–there’s always so much drama surrounding medicine and the law–the latter of which is our focus today. In January MDN reported what seemed like the final chapter in a long, drawn-out case between Marcellus driller EQT and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). In October 2014, the DEP fined EQT a whopping $4.53 million for a leaky wastewater impoundment in Tioga County, PA (see PA DEP Levies Biggest Fine Ever, $4.5M Against EQT). While EQT did not say there wasn’t a problem with leaks at the site, they did say the way the DEP calculated the fine is unreasonable and arbitrary. In fact, EQT says the DEP levied the fine and took EQT to court because a few weeks prior EQT had sued the DEP over a different matter–that is, sour grapes. EQT appealed the fine and the case all the way to the PA Supreme Court. In December 2015, the high court handed EQT a “procedural victory” by saying EQT has a point about the manner in which the DEP is calculating the fine (see PA Supreme Court Gives EQT “Procedural Victory” in $4.5M Fine Case). The Supreme Court sent the case back to a lower court, PA Commonwealth Court, for follow up work, and in January 2017, a three-judge panel ruled that the method the DEP currently uses to assess fines–by how many days pollution lingers, instead of by how many days the initial release of pollution lasted–is not legal nor common sense (see EQT Wins Court Case Against PA DEP re $4.5M Wastewater Leak Fine). The judges said such a method in fining, “would result in potentially limitless continuing violations.” Under the old way of calculating fines, the DEP was considering upping the fine on EQT to an insane $157 million. Calculating it under the new way will mean a fine of around $120,000. We thought with that ruling it was all done and dusted. Not so. The soap opera continued when the DEP appealed the Commonwealth Court panel’s ruling back up to the PA Supreme Court where the Supremes will consider it all over again. When you read the “friend of the court” brief just filed by those supporting the DEP in their case, it’s a Who’s Who of Big Green organizations and virulent anti-drillers–which tells you all you need to know about which side is in the right in the case of EQT v DEP…Continue reading

Turns Out OEPA & Columbus Dispatch Were Lying – Rover NOT Fined

Early last week MDN brought you the news that Energy Transfer’s Rover Pipeline project has been fined by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) for $431,000 for “18 incidents involving mud spills from drilling, stormwater pollution and open burning at Rover pipeline construction sites have been reported between late March and Monday” (see Ohio EPA Slaps Rover Pipe with $431K Fine for Spills, Other Issues). Based on OEPA’s report to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC then told Rover to stop any new horizontal drilling underground (see FERC Slaps Rover Pipeline with Stop Drilling Order). But at the end of last week, a spokeswoman for Energy Transfer told the ace reporters at Natural Gas Intelligence that Rover has NOT been fined by the OEPA (see ET Disputes Ohio EPA Action on Rover, Says there Is No $431K Fine), which led us to say in our opening: “Somebody somewhere isn’t telling the truth.” We now know who didn’t tell the truth: the OEPA and the Columbus DispatchContinue reading

ME2 Drilling Leaks 575 Gal of Bentonite Mud into Delco Creek

Sand bags placed to contain a leak of bentonite clay into Chester Creek. Credit: Middletown Coalition for Community Safety

When pipeline companies lay a pipeline–they dig a trench. But what happens when you come to a road, or a river, or a creek or another structure where you can’t just dig a trench? For those places, you drill horizontally underground–kind of like what shale drillers do. When drilling horizontally underground, the drill bit gets hot and needs to be cooled, so drilling “mud” is piped in to cool the bit as it chews away. Drilling mud for pipelines is, essentially, bentonite–a nontoxic clay. Bentonite is used to make shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and kitty litter. You’ve probably already used a product today that contains bentonite. Sometimes when drilling, the bentonite mud leaks out–traveling along cracks in the rock. It’s called an “inadvertent return” in the business. We call it a leak. Fortunately, bentonite can leak all day long and it doesn’t pollute anything. However, if enough of it leaks into a river, stream, or wetland (i.e. swamp), it can smother aquatic life. Poor little critters can’t breathe. And that’s not good. Such leaks are what have slowed down progress on building the Rover Pipeline in Ohio–where one such incident leaked 2 million gallons of drilling mud (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). A leak of 575 gallons of drilling mud into a creek is hardly worth mentioning, but it recently happened when Sunoco Logistics was drilling horizontally under the Chester Creek in Delaware County (near Philadelphia) for the Mariner East 2 pipeline project. According to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, not a single fish was killed in the leak…Continue reading

Murrysville, PA Drilling Ordinance – Anatomy of a Compromise

Westmoreland County, PA – click for larger version

Pennsylvania State regulations require a “setback” of 500 feet from the bore hole of an oil or gas well when it’s drilled. That means there can be no habitable structures (house, school, barn, etc.) within 500 feet of where the hole gets drilled. Last fall in Murrysville Township (Westmoreland County), the town council proposed a 1,000 foot setback–doubling the state requirement. Such a setback would eliminate much of any future drilling planned in the town. Public hearings were held and the Marcellus industry let it be known a lawsuit will follow if the town persists in such a restrictive setback ordinance. After much toing and froing, Murrysville Town Council approved a new ordinance on May 3–with a 750 foot setback from the edge of the well pad (not from the bore hole). It’s still quite restrictive, but apparently acceptable to the industry. Only one town council member (out of seven) voted against the new ordinance–an anti-driller…Continue reading

Time to Tear Down the DRBC’s Iron Curtain in Pennsylvania

Wikipedia: “The Iron Curtain was the name for the boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. A term symbolizing the efforts by the Soviet Union to block itself and its satellite states from open contact with the West and non-Soviet-controlled areas. On the east side of the Iron Curtain were the countries that were connected to or influenced by the Soviet Union.” There is an “economic Iron Curtain” in Wayne County, PA–a curtain imposed by the Delaware River Basin Commission, or DRBC (equivalent to the Soviet Union in our metaphor). The DRBC refuses to allow shale well drilling and fracking in the Delaware River Basin, while next door in the Susquehanna River Basin such activity has been going great guns for years. As we previously reported, one brave landowner in Wayne County is fighting, in court, to rip down the DRBC Iron Curtain (see Wayne Co. Landowner Welcomes Decision in Dismissed DRBC Lawsuit). Here’s an update on efforts to defeat the Evil Empire…Continue reading

Huntingdon Family Lawsuit Against ME2 Pipeline Fails, Game Over

You may recall our story about the daughter of a Huntingdon County, PA landowner, radicalized by Big Green groups (as evidenced by her association with well known protesters previously arrested), who took to a tree on her mom’s property in order to illegally stop crews working on tree clearing for the Mariner East 2 pipeline (see PA Anti Literally Goes Up a Tree to Stop Mariner East 2 Pipeline). It ultimately didn’t matter, because Sunoco came back and cut down the few trees they need to cut anyway (see Sunoco Tricks Radicalized Protester – Returns and Cuts More Trees). In December, the up-a-tree girl and her mom, with lawyers and backing by Big Green money, launched a final “hail Mary” pass by appealing a case to the PA Commonwealth Court, asking the court to stop the ME2 project by claiming it doesn’t have the right to use eminent domain (see Desperate Antis Try One Last Legal Maneuver to Stop Mariner East 2). Like so many other “hail Mary” desperation passes, this one never found the arms of a receiver. Yesterday the court turned down the appeal…Continue reading

Dem Candidate for NJ Gov Opposes PennEast, After He $upported It

Phil Murphy

There is a primary and general election later this year for the office of governor in New Jersey. Democrats are crawling all over themselves to try and win the nomination. All of them have made the PennEast Pipeline a campaign issue by opposing it (“I hate it”…”No, I hate it more!”). It is an appeal to the unhinged, radical environmental movement in the state–a movement that seems to have much more power than its size suggests it should. In what we find rather amusing (and disgusting, at the same time), the leading Democrat candidate, Phil Murphy, previously invested in the companies that are behind the PennEast Pipeline project. Now he says he opposes the pipeline…Continue reading

2017 Shale Gas Innovation Contest Winners Share $60K in Prizes

Envelope please! (No, this is not Warren Beatty, we have the correct envelope!) Each year the Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation & Commercialization Center (SGICC) runs a contest and awards a $20,000 prize to three companies ($60,000 purse) for the “best shale energy-oriented innovations, new product ideas, or service concepts that are either in the development stage or recently launched” in the Marcellus Shale. This year’s winners were recently announced: Frontier Natural Resources, Inc. won for commercializing the first small scale LNG facility in Pennsylvania, using natural gas from an adjacent gathering and compression facility. PetroMar Technologies, Inc. won for commercializing FracView™, a low-cost borehole imaging tool that takes high resolution pictures, even through drilling mud. And Sensor Networks, Inc. won for its product line of permanently installed battery powered ultrasonic sensors, providing remote, wireless data collection of critical pipe infrastructure wall thickness. Here’s the deets…Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, May 16, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Utica Shale adds another rig, Marcellus remains steady; heavy equipment apprentices train in PA; Cheniere offers $1 billion in notes; 3 important deadlines in Trump energy plan; concerns about reliability of natgas for electric generation overblown; OPEC needs to cut more; Mexico increasing US imports of natgas; and more!Continue reading