Leach XPress Goes Online; FERC Approves Mountaineer & Gulf XPress

In mid-December MDN told you that the Leach XPress project–some ~160 miles of new natural gas pipeline and compression facilities in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle which will flow 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky (hence the name)–would go online January 1st (see Leach XPress Starting Up Jan 1 – Marc/Utica Gas Heading to the Gulf!). And indeed it did! TransCanada, the owner of the project, announced Leach XPress is now online and flowing Marcellus/Utica gas to Kentucky. And from Kentucky, the gas flows south–some it all the way to the Gulf Coast via the Rayne pipeline. TransCanada also announced that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has just issued final approvals for two more Columbia Pipeline-related projects: Mountaineer XPress and Gulf Xpress. Both projects will carry significant volumes of Marcellus/Utica gas to new markets. Mountaineer XPress will build 170 miles of new pipeline to flow 2.7 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day of natural gas from existing and future points of receipt along or near the Columbia pipeline system–most of it located in West Virginia (see Details on Columbia Pipeline Mountaineer XPress Pipeline Project). At 2.7 Bcf/d, Mountaineer XPress is the second largest (by volume) new pipeline project for the Marcellus/Utica region–second only to Rover’s 3.25 Bcf/d pipeline. Gulf XPress consists of building seven new midpoint compressor stations along the existing Columbia pipeline system in Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi, with the aim of moving an additional 875 million cubic feet (MMcf) of Marcellus/Utica gas per day southward, to the Gulf Coast region. Here’s the details, along with a copy of the FERC approval, for these two important projects…
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New Town Board Tries to Stop Nearly-Done Gas-Fired Plant in Jessup

Just yesterday MDN warned you about a group of antis who had seized political control in the Pennsylvania borough of Jessup, where Invenergy is nearing completion of the state’s largest natural gas-fired electric generating plant (see PA’s Largest NatGas-Fired Elec Plant Near Scranton Nears Startup). True to form, no sooner than the antis were sworn in, they began to throw up roadblocks to completing the Lackawanna Energy Center project. As we explained yesterday, Invenergy has filed a request with Jessup to use the borough’s sewer system to dispose of up to 56,600 gallons of “wastewater” (heated water) per day. The first thing the new board did was to hire a radical, far-left attorney (who also represents the odious Delaware Riverkeeper) to “review” Invenergy’s request. It’s a total sham. Jessup’s new Council President, Gerald Crinella, lied through his teeth when he said, “What we’re looking to do is have an expert look at it and say, ‘What other options are available?’ What are the pros and cons of them? What are the costs associated with them?” The aim of hiring the Riverkeeper attorney is to STOP this project and has nothing to do with being extra careful. Council is supposed to vote by Jan. 15 on Invenergy’s request to use the sewer system in order for the project to remain on track. The yesterday decided to ask Invenergy to delay the Jan. 15 date–the classic first move antis always make. First delay, then deny. We predict a lawsuit will swiftly be filed by Invenergy, who will be ready to start the plant up in February…
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Mountaineer NGL Wants to be THE Appalachian Storage Hub

When the topic of NGL (natural gas liquids) storage comes up with respect to the Marcellus/Utica region, there are two separate and distinct projects mentioned: A massive, $10 billion ethane/NGL storage hub with no specific location identified as yet (but West Virginia often named), and the much smaller Mountaineer NGL storage hub proposed for Monroe County, OH. Recently none other than the U.S. Dept. of Energy issued an NGL primer to call attention to the need for a large NGL storage hub (see DOE Publishes NGL Primer for Marcellus/Utica, Pushes NGL Storage). The Mountaineer project was mentioned in the DOE report. We’ve written plenty about Mountaineer NGL, located just across the river (and border) from West Virginia (see our Mountaineer NGL Storage stories here). What do we know about the proposed Mountaineer NGL Storage project? The Colorado company behind the project plans to spend up to $500 million to build it; some 20 drillers have expressed interest in contracting with the facility to store ethane; and both the nearby PTT Global cracker plant project (if it gets built) and the under-construction Shell cracker plant are both interested in connections to the facility. In November, we learned there is a construction delay until mid-this year (see Yet Another Update on Stalled Mountaineer NGL Storage Proj in OH). We are on record having previously said this: “Could the Mountaineer NGL Storage project end up being THE main NGL project for the entire region, being touted by so many? No. But it is an important project–one of the key pieces of the NGL storage puzzle that will serve our region.” It appears Mountaineer may not agree with our take. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Business Times, Mountaineer makes it clear they want to be THE NGL storage hub for the Marcellus/Utica region. Instead of building a huge $10B project from the start, Mountaineer’s strategy is to grow slow but steady–responding to market conditions along the way. Mountaineer says that’s how it was done in Texas, and that’s how they believe it can (and should) be done in our region…
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Big Green Says ME2 Pipe Violating Settlement; DEP Turns Up Heat

Sunoco Logistics Partners continues to feel the heat over their construction of the Mariner East 2 (ME2) natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline project. Most of the heat comes from underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD)–drilling holes to install pipelines under structures like roads and streams, in places where you can’t just dig a trench. The problem is that sometimes the mud used to cool the drill bit for HDD work “leaks” or disappears into cracks and crevices, and sometimes the drilling mud ends up coming back to the surface. It’s called an “inadvertent return.” Bear in mind that drilling mud is otherwise known as bentonite–a nontoxic clay mixture. Bentonite is the same chemical compound used to make kitty litter, toothpaste and all sorts of cosmetics. It’s totally safe for the environment–unless you spill a lot of it and smother little critters like salamanders and fishies. Several Big Green groups sued to stop ME2’s HDD work last year. In August, Sunoco “settled” that lawsuit. The terms of the “settlement” called for Sunoco to reevaluate and resubmit plans for HDD drilling at 47 locations for review by the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Since that time more spills have occurred, and keep occurring (see Sunoco Continues to Rack Up ME2 Drilling Mud Spill Violations). Sometimes a spill is a few gallons–literally a nothing, but it must be reported anyway. Sometimes a few hundred gallons gets spilled–again, not a threat to the environment. But sometimes the spills are in the thousands of gallons–and that does begin to be a problem. Because of the ongoing spills, a Big Green group (part of the original lawsuit) is now demanding the PA DEP shut down all further HDD work. They admit their aim is to “shut down the entire project”–not just HDD drilling. While the DEP isn’t ready for such a drastic measure, the DEP is turning up the heat on Sunoco. Here’s an update…
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Dynacorp Energy & Energes Merge to Form EnerCorp Sand Solutions

Energes, an an oilfield services company providing flowback, well testing and sand management services, has just sold off its Oilfield Solutions subsidiary to Dynacorp, a Canadian designer and manufacturer sand filtration, sand cyclonic, and flowback equipment, for an undisclosed amount. The two private companies, both with a presence in the Marcellus/Utica region, are merging to form a new company: EnerCorp Sand Solutions. EnerCorp will be “a leading provider of sand management products and technologies for the oil and gas industry” according to the official announcement. Dynacorp, the company doing the buying, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intervale Capital, an energy services investment firm based in Houston, Texas. We previously wrote of another company snapped up by Intervale, back in June (see Pro Oil & Gas “Recapitalizes” with PE Firm Intervale Capital). Here’s the news of this “new” oilfield services player, with a big emphasis on sand…
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Murrysville PA Approves Dominion Plan to Expand Compressor Stn

Dominion recently received an important approval from Murrysville, PA (Westmoreland County) Council to expand the existing JB Tonkin compressor station. The expansion is part of Dominion’s Supply Header Project, a $500 million project of approximately 38 miles of natural gas pipeline and modified existing compression facilities in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The project will provide natural gas supplies to various customers, including (most importantly) the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) Dominion plans to begin building this year. Some residents resisted the approval voicing concerns about noise. As part of the approval, Dominion agreed to conduct a post-construction noise survey, even though technically they don’t have to. Here’s an update on the Murrysville approval of this important piece of what ultimately will feed ACP…
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OH State Converts Shale Gas into Methanol with No CO2 Emissions

Clever researchers at Ohio State University have figured out a way to convert shale gas into products like methanol and gasoline–all while *consuming* carbon dioxide. That is, the process yields zero CO2 emissions (which will thrill global warming believers). Of course the process converts one fossil fuel into another, and just because it’s called “fossil fuel” the warmers still won’t be happy. Whatever. This is exciting new technology with big potential. Not only does the conversion not emit any CO2, it actually *uses* CO2 from outside sources–sopping up some of that over-abundant CO2 that comes from cow burps (and flatulation). The same researchers have also figured out how to use a chemical reaction to “transform” coal into electricity (without burning the coal). Pretty heady stuff. We’d almost call it alchemy! Here’s the lowdown…
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Weatherford Sells U.S. Fracking Business to Schlumberger for $430M

Schlumberger is the world’s largest oilfield services (OFS) company. Weatherford International is the world’s fourth largest OFS company. They both have operations in the Marcellus/Utica region. We’ve posted a number of stories about Weatherford’s financial troubles–and seemingly inevitable march toward bankruptcy (see our stories here). However, Weatherford got a reprieve from its much larger competitor. In March 2017, Schlumberger and Weatherford announced they had formed a joint venture called OneStim, “to deliver completions products and services for the development of unconventional resource plays in the United States and Canada land markets. The joint venture will offer one of the broadest multistage completions portfolios in the market combined with one of the largest hydraulic fracturing fleets in the industry” (see Schlumberger Throws Weatherford a Lifeline, Challenges Halliburton). However, in December, Weatherford signaled they want to/need to sell off parts of the company in order to claw their way out of a $7.9 billion debt hole (see Weatherford Looks to Sell Off Pieces of the Business). First on the chopping block? The JV with Schlumberger. Weatherford announced in late December that instead of a joint venture with Schlumberger, they’re just going to sell their U.S. pressure pumping and pump-down perforating assets to Schlumberger for $430 million in cold, hard cash. In other words, Weatherford has just exited the fracking business in the U.S….
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Jodie Foster has Fracking on the Brain

Vapid Hollywood stars and starlettes are always amusing. They often display their total ignorance in very public ways. Thing is, they’re stupid and they don’t even know it. They fall prey to their own publicity, thinking that because millions of people know who they are and love them (for their acting abilities), that gives them above average intelligence. The latest Hollywood dumb dumb to make a fool of herself is Jodie Foster. In a recent interview, Foster trash-talked the current trend of big budget superhero movies. She calls them the cinematic equivalent of fracking. Foster doesn’t even know what fracking is, or that the clothes she wore while uttering such inanities are the result of fracking. Or that the plastic microphone she spoke into was created as a result of fracking. Or that the jets she flies on, the Hollywood mansion she lives in, etc. etc. are all a result of fracking. What a glittering jewel of colossal ignorance is Jodie Foster…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Jan 3, 2018

We have a really big “best of the rest” today – stories that caught MDN’s eye over the break that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Lawyer asks PA Supreme Court to ride roughshod over Commonwealth Court; Atlantic Coast Pipeline inched closer in 2017; power plants bloom even as electricity prices wilt; the U.S. just burned the most natural gas–ever; Gulfport Energy gets a new COO; cold temps test natgas market; Jim Cramer’s energy picks for 2018; are longer laterals the best option; OPEC deal didn’t stop Russia from record oil production in 2017; and more!
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