WVDEP Reverses, Waives Water Permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline

Hold on or you might get whiplash. In March, the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) issued a federal water crossing permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP)–a $3.5 billion, 301-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA (see WV DEP Grants Mountain Valley Pipeline Water Crossing Permit). In June, a group of profoundly radical “environmental” organizations (Sierra Club, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Indian Creek Watershed Association, Appalachian Voices and Chesapeake Climate Action Network) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit against the WVDEP for doing their job issuing the permit (see Radicals File Lawsuit Against WV DEP for Approving MV Pipeline). Because of the pressure of that lawsuit, the WVDEP caved and reversed their decision in September, rescinding (called “vacating”) the permit for MVP (see Trouble for Mountain Valley Pipe: WV DEP Withdraws Water Permit). The WVDEP said they will “re-evaluate the complete application to determine whether the state’s certification is in compliance with Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act.” Just two weeks ago the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld WVDEP’s decision and granted the agency’s motion to invalidate the previous certificate they granted the project (see Court Backs WVDEP Move to Cancel Permits for Mountain Valley Pipe). Yesterday, in yet another 180 degree about face, WVDEP announced it has “lifted the suspension” of the MVP stormwater permit–and that the agency has decided to waive the permit, MVP has no need to get it before beginning construction. It appears newly-minted Gov. Jim Justice, still in his first year, put a branding iron to the backside of WVDEP. Hold on to your cowboy hat! MVP is on the way to getting built in the Mountain State…
Continue reading

Corp Raider Supports EQT/Rice Merger, but Lawsuit Still Looms

In something of a good omen ahead of a vote on Nov. 9 by shareholders of EQT and Rice Energy to approve a merger, one of two EQT-shareholding corporate raiders, D.E. Shaw, supports the merger. In point of fact, Shaw has not opposed the merger since it was announced in June. Shaw’s “issue” has been that the merged EQT/Rice should immediately split itself in two–into upstream (drilling) and midstream (pipelines). Shaw’s pressure seems to be one of the (main?) reasons why EQT moved up the timing to consider such a split (see Under Pressure, EQT Moves Up Timeline to Explore Splitting Co.). Last week EQT CEO Steve Schlotterbeck all but confirmed the company will split in two after a special committee formed to explore that option makes its final recommendation (see EQT CEO Signals Company Likely to Split in Two After Rice Merger). Evil corporate raider Jana Partners is still opposed to the merger and is fighting it tooth and nail. Jana may have some help. A flurry of lawsuits have been filed by shareholders opposing the merger–most of them going nowhere. However, one of the lawsuits, filed in Allegheny County Court, will go before a judge three days before the Nov. 9 vote. That lawsuit requests an emergency injunction against the vote. It’s possible the county judge could block the vote, giving Jana more time to whip up opposition…
Continue reading

UGI Buys NatGas Pipeline Gathering System in NE PA

UGI is a major utility company in Pennsylvania, providing natural gas and electric service to 700,000 Pennsylvania residents across the state. UGI, via its Energy Services subsidiary, operates natural gas storage facilities, compressor stations, LNG plants and local pipeline gathering systems. UGI operates several gathering systems in northeastern PA. Yesterday the company announced is has purchased an existing gathering system from Rockdale Marcellus for an undisclosed sum. The Rockdale gathering system consists of 60 miles of gathering lines–along with dehydration and compression facilities–located in Tioga, Lycoming and Bradford counties in northeast PA. The system was purchased, on paper, by UGI subsidiary Texas Creek, so the gathering system has been rebranded UGI Texas Creek. MDN has a map of the new system below…
Continue reading

Tetco’s Access South, Adair Southwest Pipes OK’d to Begin Service

In August 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a favorable environmental assessment (EA) for three Spectra Energy projects: Access South, Adair Southwest and Lebanon Express. The three are part of an expansion of the Texas Eastern Transmission (Tetco) pipeline (see FERC Approves 3 Spectra Energy Pipe Projects in Marcellus/Utica). The three are part of an expansion of the Texas Eastern Transmission (Tetco) pipeline, owned by Spectra Energy, which is now owned by Canadian midstreamer Enbridge. The combined projects will transport an additional 662,000 dekatherms per day (or 662 million cubic feet, or Mmcf) of Marcellus and Utica Shale gas from Pennsylvania to Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi. In December 2016, FERC issued a final approval (see FERC Issues Certificates for 3 Spectra Energy Pipe Projects in M-U). Since that time Spectra/Enbridge has been busy building. Lebanon Express, which was renamed Lebanon Expansion, went into service in August. Access South and Adair Southwest are now ready to begin flowing. On Tuesday, FERC gave Tetco permission to begin partial service on the two systems, which will begin pumping (for now) 416 Mmcf/d of Marcellus/Utica gas to new markets. Which will make Rice Energy and Range Resources happy–they’re the two companies reserving all of the increased capacity the upgrades will bring…
Continue reading

TransCanada Pipe Begins Lowball Shipping to Compete with Marc/Utica

Let the battle begin! TransCanada, one of Canada’s leading midstream/pipeline companies, cooked up a deal last year to pipe natural gas from Canada’s West Coast to the East Coast in order to fend off cheap supplies of Marcellus/Utica gas that will flow into Canada when/if the NEXUS and Rover pipelines get built (see TransCanada Pipe Drops Price 42% to Compete with Marcellus/Utica). TransCanada dropped their pipeline price to lure drillers by (theoretically) making it less expensive to get gas from Western Canada, some 2,400 miles away, than from the Marcellus, just 400 miles away. The original open season last year was a bust because TransCanada insists on a 10-year commitment (see TransCanada Plan to Lowball M-U Gas Using Canada Pipeline a Bust). TransCanada revived their plan in February. Although it looked almost like the same deal all over again with the same 10-year term and about the same price, TransCanada dropped a minimum amount to be shipped and is letting shippers opt out after five years under certain conditions. The changes worked (see TransCanada Says Plan to Lowball M-U Gas Worked, Shippers Sign Up). A bevy of regulatory approvals were required, the biggest being from the National Energy Board. The NEB finally gave their blessing in September (see Canadians Approve TransCanada Pipe Lowball Plan to Compete with M-U). Yesterday, on Nov. 1st, TransCanada said they began shipping western Canadian gas across the country at the new lowball prices…
Continue reading

H&H Drilling in Upper Burrell Gets Final Approval, Raucous Crowd

Normally when you read about a raucous crowd at a public meeting dealing with shale gas, it’s raucous because of misbehaving antis. This time the shoe is on the other foot. Huntley & Huntley has plans to drill four shale wells in Upper Burrell Township (Westmoreland County), PA. As MDN reported in June, a landowner in Upper Burrell filed an appeal against Upper Burrell’s zoning ordinance that allows drilling in rural, agricultural districts (see Westmoreland Zoning Challenge Heads to Court, Delays H&H Drilling). H&H plans to drill a well near where the woman lives, and she’s arguing such drilling will violate the state’s environmental rights clause and “devalue her property.” The case was supposed to go to township’s Zoning Hearing Board, but all of the (many) lawyers involved agreed to instead move it to county court, making the process faster and less expensive. The same woman then sued the town claiming the town’s very right to issue conditional use permits in agricultural-residential districts is unconstitutional (see Frivolous Lawsuit Delays H&H Drilling in Westmoreland County, PA). Even though legal wrangling may prevent a final outcome any time soon, the town is moving forward anyway. The Upper Burrell Planning Commission voted two weeks ago to approve H&H’s drilling plans, passing it back to the board of supervisors for a final sign-off (see H&H Drilling Plan for Upper Burrell Still on Pause, Some Progress). Yesterday the supervisors voted–in favor of approving the wells. Supporters of H&H’s plan far outnumbered those against at the meeting–and they made themselves heard…
Continue reading

Monroeville Responds to Court Challenge re Seismic Testing Ord

Monroeville, PA (Allegheny County, suburb of Pittsburgh) is hostile toward the shale industry and continues to display their hostility in court. In September, Monroeville Council voted to enact a super-restrictive seismic testing ordinance (see Monroeville, PA Passes Restrictive Seismic Testing Ordinance). The ordinance was meant to hassle Huntley & Huntley (H&H), which had wanted to conduct seismic testing in two rural areas of the municipality. The contractor doing the seismic work for H&H, Geokinetics, took Monroeville Council to court over their punitive seismic ordinance (see Monroeville Seismic Testing Ordinance Challenged in Court). In the complaint, Geokinetics said, “Monroeville’s intransigence is not motivated by any legitimate concerns for the health and safety of its citizens, but rather by its council’s concerns about November elections.” Claiming seismic testing will “potentially have a profound impact upon the environment,” the solicitor for Monroeville filed a rebuttal on Monday. The municipality is fighting an injunction of their junk seismic ordinance with wild claims that tapping the ground will damage the environment…
Continue reading

Sierra Club Lawsuit Against Cove Point, 2 Other LNG Plants Tossed

Yesterday a three-judge panel from the US District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out the Sierra Club’s petitions challenging Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) authorization of three LNG export projects: Dominion Energy’s Cove Point LNG in Maryland, Cheniere’s Sabine Pass LNG in Louisiana, and Cheniere’s Corpus Christi LNG in Texas. As we said in a post on Oct. 3rd: “The Sierra Club lawsuit against all three projects challenges FERC’s approval of them, arguing the plants negatively affect the environment and will make Mom Earth sick. While no one expects these lawsuits to go anywhere, you never know, which is why it’s important to keep an eye on it” (see Sierra Club in Court Oct 18 Against Cove Point, 2 More LNG Plants). We did keep an eye on it, and the good news is that not even the liberal judges on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals could stomach the nonsense coming from the odious Sierra Club…
Continue reading

OH Supreme Crt Considers Whether Landmen Need Real Estate License

In March MDN reported on a court case decided in Ohio’s Seventh District Court of Appeals that seems to say that at least some landmen in Ohio DO need to be licensed real estate agents, in order to get paid (see OH Court Rules Landmen Need to be Licensed Real Estate Brokers). Although the court decision was deep in the weeds with legalese, our takeaway was that if a landman is compensated via a commission for the deals he or she brokers, that person needs to have a real estate license. If the landman is paid “day rate”–that is, paid by the day by a drilling company to get deals signed no matter how many deals and no matter the value of the deals–that landman does not need a real estate license. At least that’s our understanding. However, the issue isn’t settled yet. The case decided in March, Dundics v. Eric Petroleum Corp., was appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court by those not happy with the outcome that some landmen will need a real estate license. The Supremes have just agreed to hear the case…
Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Nov 2, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: ODNR issues 6 Utica permits last week; Anti-shale & public health conf coming in Pittsburgh; Conestoga River temporarily blocked for Atlantic Sunrise construction; Murrysville Council delays action on compressor station; global warming prof from Stanford sues others who dare to disagree with him; confirmed – global temps for both water and air continue to cool; and more!
Continue reading