Northeast Energy Management Goes Bankrupt; Auctioning Rigs, Assets

It’s always sad when we have to report that a Marcellus/Utica-focused company goes out of existence. Northeast Energy Management, which operated under the name Northeast Energy with headquarters in Indiana, PA, claimed to be “a leader in tophole drilling in the Marcellus/Utica shale” and “a preferred contractor for many of the largest oil and natural gas exploration and production companies.” Perhaps it was, but it is no more. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court – Western District of Pennsylvania back in January of this year. As of yesterday the court ordered the company’s assets to be liquidated at auction. A live and online auction will take place next week, on Sept. 27, featuring two Schramm drilling rigs, Detroit Diesel engines with pipe handlers, trailer mounted and skid mounted air compressors, boosters, generators, accumulators, trailers and a variety of tractors, pick-up trucks, construction equipment and other drill site related equipment. Here’s the the details about the auction and how you can participate…
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Ohio EPA’s Craig Butler Goes Nuts, Demands $2.3M from Rover Pipe

From the day the first backhoe began digging in Ohio, it has appeared that Ohio EPA director Craig Butler has had a grudge against Rover Pipeline. We’re not saying Rover hasn’t had its fair share of environmental transgressions that need to be monitored and rectified. But Butler has been on a one-man mission to punish Energy Transfer, the builder, demanding (without legal authority) insanely high “fines” from ET Rover. At first it was $400,000. Then $900,000. Now Butler says ET owes the state $2.3 million! Butler is trying to draw in Ohio’s Attorney General into the confusion in order to shake down Energy Transfer and make them pay. Yesterday Butler held a conference call with the media (MDN wasn’t notified/invited) where he made wild allegations. What seems to have precipitated Butler’s media bender is a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Monday to allow ET to resume horizontal directional drilling (HDD) in most Ohio locations, after banning it for several months (see FERC Lifts Rover Horizontal Drilling Ban, Pipeline Work Resumes). On yesterday’s call Butler said, “I’m not overly happy that they’re [FERC] allowing them [Energy Transfer] to restart operations while we [Craig Butler, Ohio EPA] have outstanding issues.” Butler has issues all right. Butler is kind of drunk on his own power. It’s time for someone (maybe the AG?) to investigate Butler and find out if he’s colluding with Big Green groups. Is the OEPA short on money in its budget? Where does the revenue from such fines go? And on what statutory authority can OEPA levy a fine on a FEDERAL project? Inquiring minds want to know…
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Ohio EPA Grants Water Permit to NEXUS Pipe, “Learned” from Rover

At a staged media event yesterday, Ohio EPA director Craig Butler had no end of insults for Energy Transfer and their Rover Pipeline project, making wild claims that the company now owes the state $2.3 million in fines (see today’s companion story). However, at the same media event, Butler had faint praise for another project–NEXUS Pipeline. The OEPA issued a federal water permit for the project on Tuesday. NEXUS is a $2 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline that will run from Ohio through Michigan and eventually to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada. The project is co-owned by DTE Energy of Detroit and Spectra Energy (now part of Canadian company Enbridge). NEXUS got final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in August, the first major pipeline to get approved following a newly restored quorum at FERC (see New FERC Quorum Votes Final Approval for NEXUS Pipeline). At yesterday’s media circus, Butler said he and his agency have learned from their “mistakes” with Rover, and that NEXUS’ application includes much more detailed plans. Although OEPA likes the NEXUS paperwork, the agency is requiring more “contingency and storm water planning” from NEXUS as a condition of the permit…
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New MarkWest Processing Plant Approved by Smith Twp in SWPA

Smith Township, Washington, PA

In August MarkWest Energy (now part of MPLX) briefed Smith Township (Washington County, PA) officials on plans to build a new natural gas processing plant (see Update on MarkWest Processing Plant Proposal for Smith Twp). The project was first introduced last fall, but then went quiet until May of this year. MarkWest plans to initially building one cryogenic plant and one de-ethanizer at what it calls the Harmon Creek Complex. Eventually MarkWest wants to build four cryogenic plants and two de-ethanizers at complex. Smith officials understandably had questions and wanted certain things in writing before they would consider issuing a “conditional use” permit for the project. Apparently the questions got answered. On Monday, Smith supervisors voted 3-0 to approve the project. However, the backhoes are not firing up just yet. Before the project can get built, the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection must issue an air permit (GP-5) for the project. Anti fossil fuelers were not happy with Smith’s approval, claiming MarkWest has been hiding the full scope of the project…
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PA Gov. Wolf Visits NEPA to Barter for Marcellus Severance Tax

Hoping to pressure the Republican legislature to adopt a budget with a new severance tax, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (Democrat) visited two towns in northeast PA yesterday that are in the heart of Marcellus Shale country. One of those towns is the bucolic village of Tunkhannock, in Wyoming County. MDN editor Jim Willis visited Tunkhannock a few months ago to attend an Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline rally (see Atlantic Sunrise Pipe Rally: ‘Time to Kick Politicians in the Ass’). During his visit yesterday, Wolf said there has been progress in the budget talks, but things are stalled at the moment. The big point Wolf made, the reason for the visit, is that $1 million of state money promised to Tunkhannock to run gas lines in the area for local utilities to tap into abundant, local Marcellus gas is on hold because of the budget impasse. Wolf was dangling a $1 million carrot, implying that if the local yokels want that money to run new gas lines, they dang well better support his plan to pass the budget–a plan that includes a severance tax on the Marcellus. That’s how we read it. From Tunkhannock, Wolf traveled north to Montrose, in Susquehanna County, where he visited the Endless Mountains Hospital–a hospital largely built with Marcellus money from Cabot Oil & Gas. If Wolf’s severance tax had been in place, that hospital would not have gotten built…
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PennEast Pipe Files Water Permit Request with USACE, Antis Erupt

Click map for larger version

Last week PennEast Pipeline, a $1 billion, 118-mile pipeline from Luzerne County, PA to Mercer County, NJ, filed a request with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for water crossing permits (full copy below). PennEast has faced a series of legal challenges–in particular from virulent Big Green groups THE Delaware Riverkeeper (Maya van Rossum) and the New Jersey Sierra Club (Jeff Tittel). Somehow Big Green groups seem to have been able to exert undue influence over the New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection, which rejected granting water permits in June (see NJ DEP Rejects Water Permit for PennEast Pipeline – What’s Next?). However, PennEast continues to make progress. In April the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a favorable, final environmental impact statement for the project, which is typically a prelude to issuing a final go-ahead (see FERC Issues Favorable Final EIS for PennEast Pipeline Project). Earlier this year, in February, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection issued a water permit for the project, which is being challenged in court by Big Green groups (see PennEast Pipeline Gets 401 Water Quality Certificate from PA DEP). PennEast acknowledges the Army Corps will still need information from other government agencies before it grants a water permit–but that’s OK. PennEast is simply getting its ducks in row by filing now, which has antis like van Rossum and Tittel in a dither…
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Rich Homeowners in Philly Suburb Claim ME2 Work Stirring up Arsenic

Rich, snobbish homeowners in an “upscale” Philadelphia suburb development are asking an appeals court to stop Sunoco Logistics from building the Mariner East 2 pipeline through the edge of their high-priced development because, they claim, the digging is disturbing the dirt (which is what digging does) and disturbing the dirt is causing lead and arsenic to become dislodged. The lead and arsenic are supposedly in the dirt as a result of pesticides used when the land was an apple orchard. The claim is flat out BS–Barbara Streisand. The Andover Homeowners Association in Thornbury Township (Delaware County) is the same group that a few weeks ago acted like five year-olds by intentionally stepping over a painted line put there to protect them from a ME2 construction zone (see Philly Antis Step Over the Line (Literally) at ME2 Pipeline Site). Spoiled rotten children grow up to be spoiled rotten adults. Here’s the latest tactic to stop a pipeline from the gentry class–just because they don’t like how digging a pipeline makes their development look to the neighbors…
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North Carolina Fracking Commission Postpones First Meeting

In 2012 the North Carolina legislature cleared the way for the state to allow horizontal fracking of shale (see NC Law to Legalize (and Encourage) Fracking Advances). The law gave state officials two years to come up with rules and regulations to govern fracking in NC. Along the way a lawsuits were launched, slowing things down (see Judge Puts NC Fracking on Hold Pending Outcome of Lawsuit). The case got resolved in January 2016. However, even if a company wants to begin drilling, members of North Carolina’s Oil & Gas Commission, who would approve applications, have not been sworn in (see NC Fracking Remains in Limbo, 5 Yrs After Legislature Approved It). Nine commissioners were appointed by outgoing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican legislature–but new Gov. Roy Cooper (Democrat) refuses to swear in the commissioners and allow fracking to begin. One more Democrat who acts like a dictator. Where have we seen that before? No matter. The new Oil & Gas Commission isn’t waiting for Cooper. The Commission scheduled its first official meeting yesterday, in Sanford. Antis accused the agency of “going rogue” (they should talk!). However, at the last minute, on Tuesday, the Commission’s new chairman, Jim Womack, said the first meeting will be postponed until October or November, to give more time for state ethics officials to review economic disclosure statements of commission appointees for potential conflicts of interest. Looks like it will be six years before any fracking takes place in the Tar Heal State…
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Quebec Government Publishes Draft Utica Fracking Regulations

Although the primary focus of Marcellus Drilling News has always been on Marcellus and Utica Shale gas (and oil) as found in the northeastern U.S., the Utica Shale also underlies part of Canada’s Quebec province. And from time to time we highlight news concerning the Utica in Canada. There hasn’t been much news to highlight over the years since Quebec has had a moratorium on fracking at least as long as New York’s moratorium (NY’s ban as of today has been 9 years, 1 month and 29 days). But as we reported back in December, something of a minor miracle happened–the Quebec National Assembly voted to pass Bill 106, ostensibly to support Quebec’s “clean power plan” (see Fracking in Canadian Utica Shale Takes Big Step Closer to Reality). The bill includes a section that “lays out a framework for oil and gas development” in Quebec. Fracking will not begin immediately. The bill does, however, mean that new regulations will come along in 2017 and after that, it’s an almost certainty that fracking will begin. Those draft rules have finally been released (full copy of the 266-page document below), nearly 10 months later. Questerre Energy, which owns Canadian Utica leases in Quebec and has long lobbied get the government to allow Utica drilling, shares the good news that we have taken another step closer toward fracking in Quebec…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Sep 21, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: DRBC’s fracking ban is immoral AND illegal; ‘for sale’ sign out on Ultra Petroleum; OH rig count stays at 23; San Fran and Oakland go berserk, sue 5 oil companies for climate change; FERC holds first open meeting since quorum restored; Sen. Inhofe intros legislation to make FERC lead agency in pipeline approvals; US has way more natgas that estimates say; Big Oil gets greener, cuts emissions; Asian countries have big natgas reserves; and more!
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