PA DEP Fines Cabot $99K for Paperwork Violations, Air Emissions

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is picking on Cabot Oil & Gas–or more properly, shaking them down for some cash. Yesterday the DEP announced it had reached an “agreement” with Cabot whereby Cabot will pay the DEP $99,000 “for air quality violations related to equipment at natural gas wells throughout Susquehanna County.” But that’s not all, Cabot failed to file some paperwork–a far more egregious violation for the DEP: “Cabot failed to submit complete compliance demonstration reports for 20 gas wells.” Bad, bad Cabot. Here’s news of the DEP’s latest shakedown of a company that has (so far) invested over $4.6 billion in a single northeast PA county…
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Belmont OH Family Sues Summit Midstream for Mud Spill Near Home

Summit Midstream Partners was drilling underneath a road and a creek in Belmont County, OH on Oct. 19 to install a pipeline when they experienced an “inadvertent return” (i.e. leak) of drilling mud into the creek. If you’ve read MDN for any length of time, you will have read about other such instances by other companies. Because we constantly have new readers, we post the following explanation, which will sound like a broken record for long-time readers: Drilling mud is bentonite, a form of non-toxic clay also used to make kitty litter, cosmetics and toothpaste–among many, many other consumer products. The only threat posed by a spill of bentonite is that enough of it spills to clog the gills of fish or smother little critters like salamanders. That’s it. Think about taking half a dozen bags of kitty litter to a creek nearby and dumping them all in. It’s nothing. No pollution. We’d certainly rather not have any such accidents–but the reality is, they sometimes happen. That’s why non-toxic bentonite is used. The Ohio EPA stepped in and cited/fined Summit for the spill. Fair enough. But that’s not what this story is about. This story is about a family that lives near the spill. They hated Summit’s “loud” drilling before the spill, and now are using Summit’s spill and cleanup work (some of it happening in their front yard) as an excuse to sue Summit, hoping to score big bucks. Good luck with that…
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DEP: No Contamination from 63K Gal. Inflection Energy Brine Spill

Around 63,000 gallons of treated brine (naturally occurring, very “salty” water that comes out of a well long after it’s drilled) spilled in an accident at an Inflection Energy well pad in Eldred Township, Lycoming County, PA in mid-November (see 63K Gal. Brine Spill at Inflection Well Pad in Lycoming County). Inflection blamed a contractor and operator error for the spill, which happened after an already-full tank was overfilled. Some of the brine reached a nearby unnamed creek that flows into the Loyalsock Creek. In a followup to that story, tests done since the spill on eight private water wells close to the Inflection well pad show no contamination. Zero. We’re still waiting on test results for four other wells. The tanks holding the brine (that overflowed) have been removed from the well pad. No contamination was found in the Loyalsock or in the Susquehanna River, which the Loyalsock empties into. It’s never a good thing to have a spill like this, but the good news is that there is no lasting environmental impact from it. Here’s an update on the November spill and its cleanup…
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More of Rover in Eastern Ohio Coming Online in Time for Star Wars

The mighty Rover Pipeline project marches on toward 100% completion, even though the Ohio EPA is doing its best to stop it (see Rover Ignores Shrill Ohio EPA, Asks FERC to Continue HDD Drilling). Because of previous issues with underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) first put the brakes on Rover, then later eased off the brakes, but still keeps Rover on a tight leash, preventing Rover from moving at the faster pace they’d like move at. Especially with respect to work in eastern Ohio. Rover is a $3.7 billion, 711-mile natural gas pipeline that (will eventually) run from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and on to Canada. A large portion of the pipeline, designated Phase 1A, began flowing natural gas on Sept. 1st (see Big Portion of Rover Pipeline Now Up & Running – Thru Most of Ohio). However, Phase 1B work in eastern OH and WV, which will feed more Marcellus/Utica gas to the main part of the pipeline, has been stymied by slow HDD work. At least some of 1B is now ready to begin. Yesterday Rover asked FERC for permission to begin service on three lateral pipelines totaling nearly 62 miles, and to start up three compressor stations and seven metering stations–in Ohio’s Noble, Monroe and Harrison counties. Rover is asking FERC to hurry it up so they can begin service by next week, in time for the Star Wars: The Last Jedi premier on Dec. 14…
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WV Gov Justice Says China Investment Specifics are “Confidential”

We are STILL shaking our head in disbelief at the news from early November that China has signed a “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) to invest $83.7 billion (with a “b”) in a single U.S. state–West Virginia (see China Agrees to Invest Amazing $83.7 BILLION in WV Shale, Petchem). Since the signing ceremony in China, part of President Trump’s Asian trade mission, we have not had many specifics about where, when and how that money will get spent in the Mountain State. We have read rumors that a pair of natural gas-fired electric plants may be among the first projects, and that some of those billions may help fund a natural gas liquids (ethane) storage hub, and maybe even a cracker plant (see More on that Massive $83.7B Chinese Investment in WV Shale/Petchem). But since that time, very few details have been shared. During a press conference yesterday WV Gov. Jim Justice talked about the deal. Perhaps responding to those who still disbelieve, Justice said the Chinese are “deathly serious” about the deal and investing in WV. He even said they may invest more than the promised $83.7 billion! Justice also said he can’t reveal details about where/when/how the money will get invested because of a “confidentiality agreement,” which we find rather odd. We understand not tipping your hand too early with specifics, but this situation of a virtual information blackout about where a single penny of the money will get spent smacks of China’s well-earned reputation for secrecy. It’s unfortunate we don’t know more about the deal and what will get funded. It leads some to maintain a healthy skepticism that the promised funds will indeed get invested in WV…
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15 of 23 Lancaster Pipeline Protesters Plead Guilty or No Contest

In October MDN told you about 23 radicalized protesters who tried to block access to equipment being used to construct the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in Lancaster County, PA–on property owned by a sect of Catholic nuns whom we call Sisters of the Corn (see Lancaster Pipeline Protesters ‘Do the Hokey Pokey’ & Get Arrested). The protesters began singing the Hokey Pokey as they waited to turn themselves around into a set of handcuffs. The 23 finally got their day in court yesterday (the wheels of justice grind slowly). Out of the 23 arrested, 13 pleaded “no contest”–which means they neither dispute nor admit they committed a crime. The 13 were sentenced to pay a $100 fine (not nearly enough) and perform 10 hours of community service (not nearly enough). It was a slap on the wrist. Of the 23, another 2 pleaded guilty and have entered a “first time offenders” program which means after they pay a fine and perform community service, the charges will get dropped–as if they never committed the crime they did commit. Which leaves the final 7, who all entered a plea of “not guilty” with the stated purpose of holding a show trial where they can bleat and blat and carry on for the media. So said the clattering Malinda Clatterbuck, one of the organizers of the illegal protest. If they are found guilty, they can be sentenced to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Below we have all of the names of the criminals (and alleged criminals), minus one name withheld because a parent actually dragged his or her 16 year-old to the protest. That case is in juvie court…
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FERC Frustrates Kentucky Radicals Seeking to Stop TGP Pipe Reversal

What’s in the water in Kentucky? Seems to be a state full of anti-drilling, anti-pipeline nutters. Kentucky has been responsible for killing at least one pipeline, the Bluegrass Pipeline that would have flowed Marcellus/Utica NGLs (natural gas liquids) all the way to the Gulf Coast (see Bluegrass Pipeline Aborted Before It was Born – RIP). That project would have involved laying 200 miles of new pipeline through Kentucky, and wealthy horse farms would have none of it. Kinder Morgan is making a run at a similar project–but this time the pipeline is already in the ground. Kinder Morgan, as we previously reported, is working on a project to convert 964 miles of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, part of which runs through Kentucky (KM Plans to Convert Tennessee Gas Pipeline to Flow M-U NGLs South). Kinder wants to reverse the flow of TGP, which currently sends natural gas from the Gulf Coast to the northeast, turning it around and sending natural gas liquids from the Marcellus/Utica to the Gulf Coast. The first step in the process was recently approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (see FERC Advances Plan to Reverse Part of TGP to Haul M-U NGLs to Gulf). Antis in Kentucky have their bluegrass knickers in a twist over FERC’s action. They’ve filed a request for “rehearing” of FERC’s decision, which is the first step in a process that will end up in court. First the aggrieved party must request a rehearing. If FERC denies the request, the antis (using Big Green money) then file a lawsuit in federal Appeals Court to try and stop FERC from continuing to approve the project. Normally FERC has 30 days to decide on a rehearing, however, they have a little tactic they call a “tolling order” which allows them to extend the amount of time to make a rehearing decision–indefinitely. FERC has pulled out the tolling order card and played it with the TGP project–and that has the Kentucky nutters fuming…
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Deep Well Services Introduces 5th Generation Snubbing Rig for M-U

Deep Well Services (DWS) is a “snubbing” oilfield services company headquartered in Pennsylvania. DWS operates a special kind of drilling rig (snubber) that allows the company to drill existing wells already under pressure further out, inserting pipe into a working well, or retrieving pipe from a well, without shutting down the well. It’s called snubbing and it’s a specialized, delicate operation. DWS is one of a handful that performs the service in the Marcellus/Utica. DWS has just unveiled its newest state-of-the-art snubbing rig–a “fifth-generation” rig, built for the deeper, longer, and higher pressure wells Marcellus/Utica drillers are now drilling…
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Marcellus/Utica Monster Drives Most Growth in US NatGas Production

The number crunchers have been crunching away at our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration. And what have they found in crunching shale-related numbers? The Marcellus/Utica (i.e. the Appalachian region) is a monster. In 2012 the M-U produced a cumulative 7.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas production. Now, in 2017, it’s producing 23.7 Bcf/d. That’s triple the volume in just five years! No other shale play comes close. When you look at the EIA chart (below) you easily see that Appalachia, the Marcellus/Utica, is THE big kahuna of shale plays…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Dec 5, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Lawyer says Marcellus Shale is back; crucial Virginia pipeline votes coming in next 2 weeks; don’t count on a Utah shale boom following Trump’s announcement; Liberty Utilities looks to bring in more natgas for NH via pipeline; NAACP report attacking o&g backed on repackaged talking points; energy production up, pipelines can’t keep up; game on for gas capture tech; Perry and Saudi leaders talk; and more!
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