Shell Pays Varying Amounts for Ethane Pipe Easements – Latest

MDN has been tracking the prices paid by Shell to landowners to run an ethane pipeline under their land to feed the might cracker plant the company is just now beginning to build in Beaver County, PA. Why? So landowners in Beaver (and other locations) have a useful metric for judging the offers they receive. To be fair, a company that wants to run a local gathering pipeline across someone’s land will pay a lot less than Shell is willing to pay–given you can’t move the cracker plant. Interstate pipelines will likely pay something less too. But still, we find it interesting and useful to know what Shell is up to in Beaver. We don’t have a lot of data points, yet. In June, we learned that Shell paid roughly $75 per foot for 3,138 linear feet of pipeline space in Greene Township (see New Easement for Shell Ethane Cracker Pipeline Reveals Price Paid). In July, Shell paid ~$43/foot for 2,675 linear feet of pipeline space (see Latest Amount Shell Paid for Ethane Pipeline Easements Goes Down). We now have two more data price points to share with you…
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CORNballs Get Cornier – Say They’ve Been “FERC’d” re NEXUS Pipe

The CORNballs of Ohio are not happy campers in their quest to try and shut down the $2 billion, 255-mile NEXUS interstate natural gas pipeline that will run from Ohio through Michigan and eventually to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada. CORN stands for Coalition to Reroute NEXUS. CORNballs is what we affectionately call the group–as a way of pointing out their nutty real purpose, which is to try and shut the NEXUS project down. Their aim has nothing to do with “rerouting” and everything to do with shutting it down. In May 2017, the CORNballs revealed their true colors when they filed a lawsuit in federal court in Akron, OH (see CORNballs Strike Again, File Lawsuit to Stop NEXUS Pipeline). As part of that lawsuit, lawyers for the CORNballs filed claims the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) acted illegally during the approval process (see CORNballs Accuse FERC of Illegally Approving NEXUS Pipeline in OH). As we said at the time, “Good luck with proving that in court.” NEXUS filed a motion to dismiss this frivolous case, based on the fact the federal court in Akron doesn’t have jurisdiction, and earlier this week that is just what happened. The court said they don’t have jurisdiction to consider the lawsuit. The news seems to have hit the CORNballs pretty hard. They’re not only upset about the court decision, but also about the U.S. Senate performing their Constitutional duty by voting to confirm two new commissioners for the federal agency that approves projects like NEXUS–the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). One CORNball quipped they’ve been “FERC’d”…
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One of Nation’s Largest NatGas Microgrids Coming to Philly Navy Yard

We’re starting to see more and more news about natural gas-fired microgrids, used for “peaking”. Microgrids are small electric generating plants, most often powered by natural gas. They usually produce a few megawatts of electricity. The concept of “peaking” means that during times of high electricity demand, these small microgrids kick on and produce electricity to help meet the demand. Although New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t want fracking in the Empire State, he’s in the midst of paying for 11 microgrids throughout the state–all of them using natural gas, mostly fracked gas from Pennsylvania (see NY Building Not Just One, but Eleven (!) NatGas-Fired Micogrids). These microgrids are an important new market for Marcellus/Utica Shale gas. So we perked up when we spotted a story about and press release from Ameresco, headquartered in Massachusetts, that is building a new 6-megawatt microgrid for peaking electricity at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. It will, according to Ameresco, “anchor one of the largest private microgrids in the United States.” Although the announcement doesn’t say, we’re 99.99% sure the gas that will feed it will come from PA’s Marcellus Shale. In addition to the microgrid in Philly, Ameresco also announced a contract in northeast PA, with Luzerne Community College (Wilkes-Barre) to replace 21 outdated electric-resistance heating Roof Top Units (RTU), Heating and Ventilation Units (H&V), and Air Handling Units (AHU) with 21 new, natural gas-fired RTU’s and AHU’s. Yep, you read that right–dumping electric units for natgas units. How “cool” is that? (Pun intended)…
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FERC Quorum Restored; New Chairman; List of Stalled Pipe Projects

Neil Chatterjee – New (temporary) FERC Chairman

A bunch of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) news to report. On Tuesday, FERC commissioner nominee Neil Chatterjee was sworn in, bringing the voting tally to two (of five). Yesterday, nominee Rob Powelson was sworn in, bringing the vote tally to three of five–which is now a quorum. Hooray! There are some $50 billion worth of pipeline and electric projects on hold due to lack of a voting quorum at FERC. Those projects, many of them in the Marcellus/Utica, will not move forward. In addition to the new quorum, President Trump named Chatterjee as the new (and temporary) chairman of FERC. The chairman drives the agenda and sets up the votes, so it makes sense for Trump to pick one of his own to fill the position. That means existing chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur (Democrat), who has been temporary in the position since January, will now resume her role as just a “regular” FERC commissioner. Why is Chatterjee only temporary? Because Trump has announced he wants another nominee, energy lawyer Kevin McIntyre, to become the chairman once the Senate has approved him. In an interview, Chatterjee observed this has been the first time in FERC’s 40 year history that the group has been without a quorum. Below we update you on the news, and bring you the complete list of pending pipeline projects that need a vote by FERC’s new quorum…
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No Objections at Columbus Hearing on Lordstown NatGas Elec Plant

It looks like the trouble Vienna Investments tried to make for Clean Energy Future in wanting to build a second natural gas-fired electric generating plant in the same office park where the first is being built (near a building owned by Vienna) has amounted to nothing. Bupkis. The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) held a public hearing at the local high school in July, to accept public comments on the second power plant (see Investment Firm Opposing Trumbull Energy Center Slinks Out of Mtg). Residents from around the community turned out in force–to support the project. More than 200 people crammed the auditorium (standing room only). Two representatives from Vienna Investments (attorneys) were registered to speak, but when their names were called, they “retreated” from the room. A second and final public hearing was held yesterday in Columbus, OH, before an administrative law judge. Nobody turned up to talk against the project. In fact, on Wednesday, Vienna withdrew their original objection to the second plant. End of story. The second plant will now get built, once the state approves it…
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PA House Beginning to Cave on Severance Tax? Maybe…

MDN has covered the ongoing budget debate in Pennsylvania for months. The PA Senate and House are controlled by Republican majorities–but not necessarily conservative majorities. The Republicans fell into a trap set by the Democrats. They passed a ~$32 billion budget with only enough revenue to pay for $30 billion–meaning there’s a $2 billion gap that needs to be filled. Instead of doing the adult thing–cut spending–they decided to allow more spending and figure out how to pay for it “later on.” Later on came, and of course pressure intensified to punish a single industry–natural gas–in order to make up the shortfall. At the end of July MDN brought you the sad news that Republicans in the Senate sold out and voted for a severance tax (see Traitorous PA Senate Republicans Pass Severance Tax Bill). Now the House remains. Will they sell out too? Under the leadership of Speaker Mike Turzai, we had hoped it would not happen. But a comment made yesterday by House Majority Leader Dave Reed has us wondering. Reed said higher taxes on energy sources used by homeowners, like natural gas, telephone, etc. (called a gross receipts tax) is going nowhere fast. However, as for a Marcellus Shale severance tax, Reed indicated they may deal. Although not an exact quote, one news source said Reed expressed this sentiment in his remarks yesterday: “A tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction, which was in the Senate revenue package and projected to raise about $108 million in the current budget year, could come into play in a compromise plan.” The compromise appears to be if Republicans can get Democrats to privatize state liquor sales and/or legalize video gaming terminals, they would be willing to throw the Marcellus industry under the bus with a severance tax. Nice people, those House Republicans. Let’s hope it’s only Reed who feels that way…
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EXCO Resources 2Q17: Still No M-U Drilling, but Considering It

EXCO Resources was once a sizable player in the Marcellus. They still have 184,000 net acres in the Marcellus, with 124 horizontal Marcellus wells drilled and in production. However, EXCO, as we pointed out a year ago, has abandoned the Marcellus at this point (see EXCO: No Marcellus Drilling in 2015/2016, NYSE Threatens Delisting). The company flirted with bankruptcy for some time. In the end, they effectively turned over control of the company to its creditors (see EXCO Issues 2.7M Shares of New Stock in Lieu of Paying $23M). Earlier this week EXCO released its second quarter 2017 update. In souring the report and a transcript of the conference call, we found that EXCO continues to ignore the Marcellus/Utica. Production in our region for EXCO decreased year over year, because they haven’t drilled any new wells. Because prices have gone up somewhat, the company says they’re keeping a close eye on our region and they may decide to begin drilling again. Maybe. They also said the company is “evaluating plans to participate in appraisal wells with another operator to further evaluate the potential of the [Utica] formation.” So they may decide to fool around with the Utica. Maybe. Here’s the EXCO update…
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LNG Exports + Gas-Fired Electric + Cold Snap = Higher NG Prices

Everyone wants to know where the price of natural gas will go in the future. Ask one analyst, and he/she will tell you it’s going lower. Another? Staying where it is–for a long time. And yet another will tell you the price just HAS to go higher. Of course “the price” of natural gas is not just one price. Most people refer to the benchmark Henry Hub price, used for trading futures contracts on the NYMEX exchange. All other prices where gas is bought and sold are somehow compared to or even connected with the price of gas at the Henry Hub. We spotted a speculative post on the Seeking Alpha investor’s website from someone we often read, Andrew Hecht, muses that he thinks the price of natgas is heading higher. He makes a convincing case. We boil it down and simplify it to this: an increase in LNG exports, of which we wrote about yesterday (see US Exports Now 2.4% of NatGas Production, Heading for 11% in 2019 //marcellusdrilling.com/2017/08/us-exports-now-2-4-of-natgas-production-heading-for-11-in-2019/), plus scads of new natgas-fired electric plants coming online, which we write about all the time, plus a cold snap across the country, but particularly in the northeast, would necessarily drive natural gas prices at the Henry Hub and other locations MUCH higher. Is he right?…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Aug 11, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Will shareholders vote ‘yes’ on EQT/Rice merger?; no drilling mud reached Canton, OH water supply; Utica Shale counties show highest income growth in OH; Bowling Green charter amendment to ban fossil fuel infrastructure in trouble; judge tells Vermont AG to hand over email in anti-Exxon case; Indians want Dakota pipeline shut down; EPA casts doubt on climate change threat; NYT admits faking climate change article; cronyism rampant in Obama Energy Dept.; shale oil breakeven price is $50; ‘Keep it in the Ground’ is not the green option; and more!
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