Small Marcellus Well Pad Fire in Somerset PA Leads to Evacuations

This is the second day in a row we’ve had to bring you news of a fire at a Marcellus Shale well site. Yesterday we told you about a fire at an EQT well pad in Marshall County, WV (see Fire at EQT Well Pad in Marshall County, WV). That fire started in gas processing equipment near the well. Like yesterday’s WV news, today’s news of a fire in Pennsylvania also concerns equipment being used at the well pad–NOT a fire in the actual well itself nor anything to do with drilling or fracking. The well pad in question is the first location where Marcellus wells were drilled in Somerset County–a decade ago. Yesterday a fire ignited around 9 am at the Menhorn well pad, owned by Xtreme Energy. The fire “was in a flange next to the cooling tower” at the well pad. The fire was out within an hour. Nobody was injured, although firefighters did evacuate four nearby homes (eight people) just to be safe. The all-clear was given by 10:30 am. The state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is on the site and a preliminary report concludes “the equipment associated with the well failed and caught fire, but the wellhead was not on fire.” Here’s the details as we have them…
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ECA Sells Marcellus/Utica Assets to ArcLight Capital – Shareholders Shafted

Greylock Energy CEO Kyle Mork

Big news concerning Energy Corporation of America (ECA), a privately owned company founded in 1963 with corporate headquarters in Denver, CO. The company owns (or rather owned) and operated approximately 4,600 (mostly vertical) wells, 5,000 miles of pipeline, and leases more than 1 million acres in North America–most of it in Appalachia. We spotted a press release yesterday that says ArcLight Capital has acquired substantially all of ECA’s natural gas production and pipeline assets. But here’s where it gets interesting. ArcLight has set up a subsidiary called Greylock Energy, which will own the assets–all of the ECA natgas/pipeline assets will go to Greylock. The former CEO of ECA, Kyle Mork, will become the CEO of Greylock. Many (most?) of top management from ECA will become part of Greylock. The existing ECA palatial headquarters building we told you about back in 2014 (see ECA’s New Regional HQ in Charleston: More WV Drilling on the Way?) will become the new HQ for Greylock. In other words, it’s all still ECA, but there’s a new nameplate on the door. So what really happened? What happened, according to an MDN source, is that ECA did something akin to what we’ve seen a number of times before: they converted debt into equity (ownership) and shafted existing shareholders out of millions of dollars. Except in this case we’re not sure ECA actually had large debts. There’s no way to know since it’s a private company. But the pattern is the same. ECA gave the keys to new owners, leaving the previous owners (i.e. shareholders) standing on the curb…
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DRBC Drops Permanent Frack Ban Bomb – Public Hearings in January

We knew it was coming. We told you back in September that the obsequious members of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) will slavishly obey their radical environmental masters by voting to move forward with a permanent ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin (see DRBC Votes Tomorrow on Permanent Frack Ban Resolution). The final ban language/regulation was dropped like a bomb yesterday by the DRBC. In dropping their bomb, the DRBC said (with no proof) that fracking “poses significant, immediate and long-term risks” to the waters in the basin. Then they declared, by fiat, that “High volume hydraulic fracturing in hydrocarbon bearing rock formations is prohibited within the Delaware River Basin.” Of course the Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit may have another take on that (see DRBC Lawyer Nearly Faints 2nd Time When Questioned by Fed Judges). What happens now? Aside from the lawsuit cooking in the background to challenge the DRBC’s jurisdiction over fracking, the bureaucrats will hold a series of four public hearings in two locations–i.e. circus freak shows–where THE Delaware Riverkeeper herself and others will make pompous jerks of themselves and try to drown out landowners who want to express opposition to this injustice. Below we have a copy of the proposed regulation the lawless DRBC intends to adopt by fiat early next year, the list of public hearings (pro-gas needs to show up in force!), and reaction from antis and the industry…
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PA DEP Signals Onerous New GP-5 & 5A Methane Regs Coming 1Q18

Yesterday the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued “draft final language” for the proposed General Permit 5A (GP-5A) and the revised General Permit 5 (GP-5)–regulations that supposedly will cut down on fugitive methane from escaping from drill pads and pipelines. The onerous regulations were originally prompted by bullying from the Obama Environmental Protection Agency. Even though EPA pressure has disappeared under President Trump, PA Gov. Wolf still intends to push forward with these onerous and unnecessary regulations. Unnecessary? Really Jim? Yes, really. See our companion story today that a new Penn State study has found very small amounts of methane escape from Marcellus well pads and pipelines (see Penn State Study Finds Very Little Methane Leaks from Shale Infra.). Makes no difference. Wolf is set on this course and will attempt to ram it through, to win brownie points with his unhappy enviro left supporters, ahead of next year’s election. The DEP held a webinar yesterday to discuss this latest version of GP-5 & 5A, and lay out a timeline (early next year) for adopting it…
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Penn State Study Finds Very Little Methane Leaks from Shale Ops

Methane (i.e. natural gas) is often made out to be a bogeyman by radical environmentalists. They’d have you believe a single molecule wafting into the air will cause global warming and make Mom Earth fry. It’s bunkum. However, the fairy tales we grow up with exert a strong control over us later in life. The hew and cry of so-called environmentalists is that extracting natural gas leads to fugitive methane in the atmosphere–and fugitive methane diminishes the benefits of using natural gas. Some quacks like Cornell professors Tony Ingraffea and Robert Howarth actually say burning dirty coal is better than extracting and using clean-burning natural gas (see Geriatric Duo Howarth & Ingraffea Want NY to Stop Using NatGas). So how much methane actually escapes during the process of drilling and extracting and pipelining the gas? Take a wild guess. Maybe 5% wafts into the stratosphere? Or perhaps 2-3%? What about 1%? If only 1% of the gas extracted was lost in the extraction/transportation process, that would be pretty darned good in our book. Penn State researchers, using a grant by the federal Dept. of Energy, set out to answer the question of how much methane is escaping. They did a study in northeast PA, using data from stationary towers and airplanes flying over gas operations. The study, titled “Quantifying methane emissions from natural gas production in north-eastern Pennsylvania” (full copy below) found that methane leakage rates from natural gas wells and other infrastructure in the Northeast Marcellus Shale are roughly 0.4 percent of production. You read that right! A measly four-tenths of one percent of all production is lost. Statistically speaking–zero…
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NC Plays “Death by a Thousand Questions” with Atlantic Coast Pipe

North Carolina has a Democrat governor. The state Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is an executive branch agency. So it’s no surprise to learn that the DEQ has turned antagonistic toward Dominion’s $5 billion, 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. In October the DEQ rejected the plan submitted by Dominion for the pipeline project, claiming the erosion and sediment control plan is not up to snuff (see NC DEQ Rejects Plan for Atlantic Coast Pipeline – What’s Next?). Since that time Dominion has been back and forth with the DEQ. On Wednesday the DEQ sent Dominion a fourth round of questions. Dominion has 30 days to respond, and the DEQ another 60 days after that to respond to the response. Bingo, another 90 days gone, just like that. What this appears to be is “death by a thousand cuts,” or in this case, “death by a thousand questions”…
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Philly Dems Claim Shale Industry “Pollution” Targets Blacks

This is truly outrageous and disgusting. We feel filthy just having to read and report on this news–filthy because of the outright falsehood of the preposterous allegation. Did you know that pollution can now target people based on their race? That’s what the idiotic State Rep. Donna Bullock (Democrat from Philadelphia), along with the radical Moms Clean Air Force and Defend Our Future groups said at a presser yesterday. They claim that “toxins from the oil and gas industry disproportionately impact African-American families throughout Pennsylvania.” They cite a faux report from the National Association for the Advancement of [Liberal] Colored People (NAACP) that claims “African-Americans are exposed to 38 percent more polluted air than their white counterparts” because of the oil and gas industry. Utter rubbish. “Hey, I’m a pollution molecule floating around and if I see a black person, I’ll just zoom right into that person’s nostrils–but I’ll leave the white folk alone.” You see how absurd this is? The NAACP claims more black people live near oil and gas operations than white people–although they offer no data to back up the claim. And because they live closer, that means they’re “polluted” more than others. Again, rubbish. When will someone stand up to such insane claims and demand these people resign and slink away in shame?…
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New System Allows 100% Reuse of Frack Wastewater in Marcellus Test

Researchers with Halliburton and EQT have created a new friction reducer, testing it in three Marcellus wells. What’s a friction reducer? It is a chemical substance used to reduce the amount of friction water (or other liquids) encounters in a pipe. Lots of water (and recycled wastewater) is pumped down the bore hole to frack a Marcellus well–upward of 5 million gallons. About 20% of that water comes back out of the hole and is recycled and used again for more fracking. The problem is, the wastewater has a lot of minerals in it, i.e. it’s super “salty.” In order to keep recycling and using the wastewater to frack more wells, typically fresh water has to be added because as the wastewater gets more salty, it encounters more friction along the pipe. So a friction reducer is needed to keep the liquid flowing fast along the pipe. The innovation–the breakthrough that Halliburton has pioneered–means that drillers won’t have to add fresh water to recycled wastewater for fracking. They can now use 100% recycled wastewater with no fresh water added. Even as the wastewater is reused again and again, getting more salty, it can still be used without mixing in fresh water…
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FERC Acting Chairman Vents About Big Green Groups Blocking Pipes

FERC Acting Chairman Neil Chatterjee

You know why Donald Trump is so popular out here in “flyover country,” where there are real, hard-working Americans? Because he’s not afraid to speak his mind. He doesn’t bother with appearances and inside-the-Beltway decorum where swamp dwellers never say what they really mean or think. Trump just says it–Tweets it, says it in speeches, in meetings. We love it! And we think more people in government should behave like Trump and just say what they really think. It looks like we have someone doing just that–a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) member, no less! Acting Chairman of FERC, Neil Chatterjee, had the temerity to tell the truth at an industry meeting yesterday. Chatterjee said that national enviro groups (antis) are using the legal system to delay approval of natgas pipeline projects. Er, a, OK. There’s really no mystery there. No revelation. No speaking out school. But the very fact that he said it has enviro antis up in arms–that he dared to simply utter the truth. Reuters is all concerned because uttering such truths is “rare for a regulator”–like maybe we should check Chatterjee to see if he has a fever. Since some of the worst of the worst–the Sierra Club and 350.org–have been repeatedly suing FERC (dozens of lawsuits!), it stand to reason (says Reuters), Chatterjee is talking about (gasp) those very groups! Ding ding ding ding. Give that Reuters reporter a prize. Chatterjee does, however, see a silver lining to all of these lawsuits: “Ultimately, lengthier approvals mean projects are better able to withstand legal challenge.” And that just ticks off the radicals all the more…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Dec 1, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Underground coal fires do not pose a threat to Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline; OH company sees major uptick in business from shale; Rover donates money to local first responders; WVU, NETL collaborating on important shale project; US LNG exports hit record high in November; U.S. shale drilling picks up in September; OPEC extends production cuts another 9 months; today’s poor need MORE oil, natgas & coal; natgas outlook for 2018; and more!
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