MarkWest’s Washington, PA Processing Plant Plans Reactivated

In October 2016, MDN reported that electric company FirstEnergy had begun construction of a new electric substation in Washington County, PA to provide electricity to “support two natural gas processing facilities being developed in the area” (see Work Begins on $40M Electric Substation in W PA to Help Marcellus). At the time we speculated that at least one of the beneficiaries would be MPLX’s MarkWest Energy subsidiary. We were right. Not long after, NGI’s Shale Daily reported that one of the projects to be served by FirstEnergy’s new substation will be the MarkWest Harmon Creek Complex, a new processing plant that would be built to process natgas for Range Resources (see MarkWest Building New Processing Plant in Washington County, PA). But then all went quiet, when the project went on “indefinite hold.” The hold is now over. MarkWest officials recently attended a Smith Township planning commission meeting (where it will get built) to discuss the project which is now front and center once again. According to MarkWest, plans call for initially building one cryogenic plant and one de-ethanizer. Eventually MarkWest wants to build four cryogenic plants and two de-ethanizers at the Harmon Creek Complex…Continue reading

Local Lancaster Businesses Ready to Profit from Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

When (not if) the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline begins construction this summer in Lancaster County, PA, area businesses plan to take advantage of the economic boon that will arrive along with some 250 workers who will build it. Atlantic Sunrise is 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. Construction in Lancaster County will last approximately nine months and is projected to inject $75 million in the local economy. What kinds of businesses will benefit? Some include “housing, rental equipment, food sources, welding supplies, waste disposal, construction material, security, fuel, water trucks, concrete services, buses and transportation, auto repair, laundry services, drain tile work and hauling services.” And that’s only some of the services needed. Campgrounds are another business expected to experience a big uptick in demand. According to Williams spokesman Christopher Stockton, “We are encouraging all our construction contractors to utilize local service providers as much as possible.” That’s good news for local businesses. Here’s how local businesses in Lancaster County (and elsewhere) can sign up to get their piece of the Atlantic Sunrise action…Continue reading

Epsilon Energy: “Focused” on Marcellus, Buying Land in Anadarko

From time to time we check in on Canadian driller and midstream company Epsilon Energy. Epsilon, you may recall, had a shareholder rebellion in 2013 and threw out the sitting board of directors (see Shareholder Rebellion at Epsilon Energy – New Board as of Today). Epsilon CEO Michael Raleigh announced at the time that the company had embarked on a turnaround strategy of focusing on the Marcellus Shale–less than a year after saying they would scale back in the Marcellus (see Epsilon Energy Makes “About-Face” on Marcellus Drilling). Epsilon was and remains a very small player in the Marcellus, but the Marcellus is the company’s entire focus. At least that’s what they say. Epsilon did not drill any new new Marcellus wells in 2016. They spent just $300,000 on capital expenditures for all of 2016, and that was money spent on the Auburn Gas Gathering system in northeast PA (they own a 35% interest in the system). What about 2017? Epsilon plans to spend $1 million in capex in the Marcellus–half of it “for the ongoing development of the midstream system” (i.e. the Auburn system) and the other half to complete four Marcellus wells previously drilled (see Epsilon Energy’s Marcellus Budget Inches Up to $1M in 2017). Epsilon recently issued its first quarter 2017 update. It shows the company spent just $100,000 on capital expenditures during 1Q17–most of it on the Auburn Gas Gathering system. Revenue was up for the quarter–from $5.6 million in 1Q16 to $8 million in 1Q17. One thing we found somewhat incongruous with their “focus on the Marcellus” statements: the company recently raised money in an “over-subscribed Rights Offering” to “continue building our land position in the Anadarko Basin.” The Anadako is located in Oklahoma and Texas, nowhere near the Marcellus…
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Dela. Riverkeeper Loses Another Court Case Against Marcellus Pipe

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit slapped down THE Delaware Riverkeeper in yet another crushing defeat for the virulent anti-fossil fuel organization (and mouthpiece for the William Penn Foundation, its main funder). Even though Williams’ Transco Leidy Southeast expansion project went online some 18 months ago, Riverkeeper sued the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) some 14 months ago over its approval of the project (see Dela. Riverkeeper Sues FERC Again – Over Leidy Pipeline Expansion). Leidy Southeast was/is 30 miles of additional pipeline segments laid next to existing pipe, called loops, in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, along with upgrades at several compressor stations. The project bumped up the capacity of the mighty Transco pipeline by an extra 525,000 dekatherms of natural gas per day–enough natural gas to serve 2 million homes. The project means more Marcellus gas now flows south to new markets. Riverkeeper claimed FERC should not have approved the project until PA had issued federal 401 stream crossing permits under the Clean Water Act. It was a “procedural” objection. That is, Riverkeeper claimed FERC did things out of order and should be, we don’t know, shut down? Punished? Flogged? Prevented from doing it ever again? Riverkeeper also went after PA and NJ after they issued the 401 certificates, saying they shouldn’t have. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals (in Philadelphia) rejected that argument last August (see Court Rejects Dela. Riverkeeper Case Against PA DEP Pipe Approval). The new news is that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has now rejected Riverkeeper’s case against FERC. The justices said FERC is free to approve projects prior to states issuing 401 certificates because a project approval still doesn’t mean the project will get built–unless the states DO issue those 401 certificates. It all sounds rather complicated to follow. The short version is this: Delaware Riverkeeper lost yet another court case against a pipeline project…
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PA Manufacturers’ Assoc: NatGas Demand Going up 40% Next 10 Yrs

Yesterday the 11th “Think About Energy” Briefing was held at Misericordia University, near Wilkes-Barre, PA. The session aimed to provide an update on the economic and environmental benefits of PA natural gas, and was organized/sponsored by Borton-Lawson, Cabot Oil & Gas, UGI Energy Services, UGI Utilities, and Williams, in conjunction with ACT for America and the Back Mountain Chamber of Commerce. About 100 people attended. Carl Marrara, vice president of government affairs for the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, had this to say: “The demand for natural gas is expected to increase by 40 percent over the next decade, and even more in Pennsylvania.” He said that more natural gas is needed by PA manufacturers, but slow pipeline infrastructure approvals by “government officials” are “holding up growth.” MDN friend Bill desRosiers of Cabot Oil & Gas was the moderator and master of ceremonies. Other speakers included: Abe Amorós of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), Mike Atchie of Williams, and Larry Godlasky of UGI Energy Services. Although it was a gas-friendly crowd, the session wasn’t, however, without a touch of controversy. One anti showed up–a math professor from Luzerne Community College–and left in a huff when the audience told him to shut up and sit down during the Q&A portion…
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Dealing Honestly with Issue of Eminent Domain for Pipelines

Life is messy and complex. Nowhere is that more true than with the issue of using eminent domain to “condemn” a property, forcing the landowner to allow a pipeline company to cross the property with a decades-long (often extending past the lifetime of the current landowner) lease on the land. Sometimes landowners just don’t want a pipeline. We get it. MDN’s extended family owns rural property (a small farm), so we understand the objections. What if you plan to one day build a new barn in an area where a pipeline is set to run? No can-do. However, pipelines that cross a field or a pasture are (mostly) fine–you can grow back hay and grass and a few years after a pipeline is in the ground, you have use of that land again. You can even plant crops over top of a pipeline. Even though the presence of a pipeline can yield a number of benefits, money for the landowner being the chief benefit, there are drawbacks. But let’s put a different hat on. What if 9 out of 10 landowners along a pipeline’s route in a particular town have signed and welcome the pipeline, but one landowner smack in the middle of the others objects? And what if there’s no feasible re-routing to be done? Should the 9 suffer because of the actions of the one? Tough question. And what about all of the people who will benefit from the gas flowing through the pipeline? Should they suffer because one landowner objects? Again, tough question. For us, property rights are sacrosanct. You don’t tell me I can’t allow a pipeline or drilling–and I don’t tell you that you must allow it. What’s fair is fair. How do we resolve these issues?…
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No LNG Peakshaver for Maine – PUC Declines to Fund Project

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently declined to help fund a new LNG peakshaving facility in the state, concluding it would not reduce consumer natural gas and electricity prices. Er, a, what’s an LNG peakshaver anyway? Good question! According to industrial engineering company Fives, “LNG peak shaving units are used for storing surplus natural gas, so as to be able to meet the requirements of peak consumption later during the different seasons. Gas distribution companies and local administrations use this application to be more flexible in their consumption of natural gas. Thanks to these Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) peak shaving units, they will be able to face periods of peak consumption during cold winter times and extreme summer heat. Peak shaving can also be used to keep natural gas prices from soaring during periods of high gas consumption.” That helps. They are small LNG plants that kick in when demand for natural gas exceeds supply. There are 44 such peakshaving tanks at 29 locations in the northeast. Last September the Maine legislature authorized the PUC to spend $25 million on leasing capacity at a peakshaving plant, if they could find the right plant to do it. A number of projects were submitted, and the PUC said nyet–they don’t like any of them and don’t think a peakshaver will be needed going forward…Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, May 25, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: PJM capacity auction reflects impact of cheap Marcellus/Utica gas; Vinton County, OH quake probably not fracking-related, state says; grant for CNG trucks in Trumbull County; what Chesapeake is cooking up in the Haynesville Shale; how American shale drillers flipped OPEC’s script; infrastructure for affordable energy; has Strategic Petroleum Reserve outlived its usefulness?; ‘gas apocalypse’ looms amid power plant construction boom; OPEC considers cutting production again; and more!Continue reading