PA DEP Caves to Big Green Pressure, Stops All Work on ME2 Pipeline

We suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has caved to intense pressure from a cabal of Big Green groups and has told Sunoco Logistics Partners to suspend all work on the $2.5 billion Mariner East 2 (ME2) NGL pipline–from one side of the state to the other. Just yesterday MDN told you about the mounting pressure on the DEP to halt ME2 work, particularly work on underground horizontal directional drilling (see Big Green Says ME2 Pipe Violating Settlement; DEP Turns Up Heat). The shrill voices of Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf’s left flank were so shrill he couldn’t ignore them any longer, hence this action. The DEP in its order said construction will be halted, “until Sunoco can demonstrate that the permit conditions can and will be followed.” So there’s no particular time frame for when Sunoco can resume work–it will be up to the arbitrary gut feeling of the DEP. However, DEP does offer some criteria for when construction may be able to resume. Work can resume IF Sunoco satisfies the terms outlined in DEP’s order, including, but not limited to: (1) Address all impacts to private water wells in Silver Spring Township, Cumberland County; (2) Identify all in-progress or upcoming construction activities and detail the specific Chapter 102 and Chapter 105 permit under which the activity is authorized; (3) Submit a detailed Operations Plan outlining additional measures and controls to minimize inadvertent returns. In essence, the DEP is saying Sunoco has willfully violated the permits (and previous settlement) in constructing ME2, and they (DEP) have had enough. The DEP’s action immediately throws thousands of pipeline workers out of jobs across the state–thank you Tom Wolf and DEP. Big Green groups, including the odious Clean Air Council of Philadelphia, pounced on the DEP announcement, saying the agency should not just suspend construction, but CANCEL it. That has been their aim all along. These pressure groups want to stop the ME2 project cold. End it. Kill it. Finish it off. The DEP isn’t ready to grant that particular wish–yet. However, the suspension is certainly not good news for the project nor for thousand of families who will now have to make do with unemployment checks…
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It’s Time We Stop Missing the Point About the Mariner East Pipes

Yesterday the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection suspended all work on the Mariner East 2 NGL Pipeline project (see today’s lead story, PA DEP Caves to Big Green Pressure, Stops All Work on ME2 Pipeline). The project has been vigorously opposed by antis in the greater Philadelphia area from the beginning. Their opposition stems from a deeper philosophical preference to end the use of fossil fuels. Last September, MDN editor Jim Willis had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Garland Thompson at the Shale Insight event in Pittsburgh. Garland, who lives in Philly, has written for the Career Communications Group of publications, including US Black Engineer & Information Technology, Hispanic Engineer & IT, and their siblings Woman of Color and Science Spectrum, for many years. He’s covered the shale revolution for those publications since 2008–before MDN began writing about it! Jim had an interesting conversation with Garland, about the need to educate folks, particularly the folks in the greater Philly area, about the benefits of pipelines. Springboarding on yesterday’s news, Garland has written a great opinion piece pointing out that opposition to the Mariner East pipelines (plural) is misguided and shortsighted. Garland builds a case for why everyone in the Philly region should want to see these important projects get built…
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Appalachian NGL Storage Hub Gets Serious with DOE Loan Guarantee

Just yesterday MDN told you that Mountaineer NGL Storage wants to be THE main ethane/NGL storage hub for the Marcellus/Utica region (see Mountaineer NGL Wants to be THE Appalachian Storage Hub). There has long been talk of a major, $10 billion regional NGL storage hub. But until know it’s been just that–talk. A major hub is now much more of a possibility. Last June West Virginia’s U.S. Senators, Shelley Moore Capito (Republican) and Joe Manchin (Democrat), introduced Senate Bill 1337–the “Capitalizing American Storage Potential (CASP) Act”–a bill that would make a regional ethane storage hub (hopefully built in WV) eligible for the Department of Energy’s Title XVII loan guarantee program (see WV Sens. Capito & Manchin Introduce 2 More Ethane Storage Hub Bills). The bill didn’t go anywhere, but the intention of the bill certainly did. Yesterday it was announced that the DOE has invited those promoting the regional ethane storage hub to submit “Part II” of the application for a Title XVII loan guarantee of $1.9 billion. There’s a lot to unpack in the announcement below. First, the regional storage hub has an official name: The Appalachia Storage & Trading Hub (first time we’d read of it). Second, the project has an official backer: the Appalachia Development Group, LLC (or “ADG”). Third, ADG previously filed Part I of the application with the DOE, back in September. Fourth, since the DOE has invited ADG to supply Part II of the application, that implies Part I from September was/is approved. Fifth, $1.9 billion is far short of the eventual cost bandied about of $10 billion–but it can certainly get this project off the ground and running. And sixth, this is NOT a loan from the government, it is a guarantee. Someone else would make the loan, but the full faith and credit of the United States would back it up, in case of default. A Title XVII loan guarantee makes it much easier to find a loan…
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DOE Spending $8M on Research to Evaluate Nora Field in SW VA

Yesterday the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of six projects to receive approximately $30 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development in unconventional oil and natural gas recovery. One of the six projects is for the Appalachian region (Marcellus/Utica area). DOE is chipping in $8 million and another $3.1 million is coming from other sources for a total of $11.1 million to study “the resource potential for multi-play production of emerging unconventional reservoirs in the Nora Gas Field of southwest Virginia.” That’s the first we’ve heard of the Nora Gas Field. Turns out the Nora field, located mainly in Dickenson County, VA, has a lot of conventional and coalbed methane gas wells. The research project will determine if the gas locked away in the Nora might be accessed with horizontal fracking. The project will also look at “novel completion strategies for lateral wells in the unconventional Lower Huron Shale” and the “resource potential of the Cambrian Rogersville Shale.” In other words, this research may well lead to active shale drilling in the Old Dominion State…
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CONE Midstream Gets a New Name: CNX Midstream Partners

CONE Midstream is, or rather was, a pipeline joint venture between CONSOL Energy and Noble Energy (“CO” from CONSOL and “NE” from Noble Energy), formed in the summer of 2014 to service wells drilled as part of CONSOL & Noble’s drilling joint venture (see CONSOL & Noble Energy Form New Marcellus Midstream Company). Following Noble’s exit from the Marcellus last year, they began to shop their 50% share of CONE, and thought they had found a buyer in Quantum Energy Partners–for $765 million. However, as we reported in December, that deal hit a snag (see Noble’s 50% CONE Midstream Sale in Trouble – Shopping Deal to CNX). Not long after, CNX Resources (formerly CONSOL Energy) issued a press release to announce they had cut a deal to buy Noble’s 50% CONE share–for $305 million, which is 60% less than of the deal price Noble previously worked out with Quantum (see CNX to Buy Noble’s 50% Share of CONE Midstream for $305M). Two bits of news to share with you regarding the CONE deal: (1) the deal is now done, and (2) CNX Resources has renamed CONE Midstream to be CNX Midstream–which should not be a surprise since the NE part of CONE is now gone, and since the CO part changed its name. Here’s the news…
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Still a Few Openings for Free Training for M-U Pipeline Jobs in SWPA

In November MDN brought you details about a 100% FREE training program for those interested in a career building pipelines in the Marcellus/Utica region (see 4-Wk FREE Training Program Helps Unemployed Get M-U Pipeline Jobs). The first batch of students to successfully complete the training (classes held each Wednesday), graduate today! Following graduation is a job fair with potential employers who are ready, willing and eager to hire those new graduates. A next section of the 4-week program begins next Wednesday at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s campus in the Northpointe Technology Center (Armstrong County, PA). Believe it or not (we don’t know how this can be true), there’s still a few open spots. Each section is limited to 20 students. If you are interested and live somewhere within driving distance of Armstrong County, what are you waiting for? We have the details of how to enroll for FREE in this training course–a course worth $3,500…
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FERC Launches Review for for Transco “Gateway Expansion Project”

In November Williams filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to upgrade certain facilities in New Jersey along Williams’ mighty Transco Pipeline (see Williams Files FERC Appl for Transco “Gateway Expansion Project”). The $85 million project, called the Transco “Gateway Expansion Project,” will flow an extra 65,000 dekatherms per day (or 65 million cubic feet) of natural gas to a couple of utility companies that have already signed on the dotted line as customers. The upgrades include a new compressor unit at Transco’s existing Compressor Station 303 in Essex County, NJ, a new valve and electric transformer also in Essex County, and equipment upgrades at a metering station in Passaic County, NJ. Both PSEG Power and UGI Energy Services have signed up to receive the extra gas–to be distributed to their customers in the region. On Tuesday FERC announced it has launched an environmental review of the project–the first step in approving such a project. FERC is accepting comments on the project through February 2nd…
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Dominion, MVP File to Dismiss VA-WV Lawsuit Against Pipe Projects

In September a group of 57 gentry landowners in Virginia and West Virginia, backed by an out-of-state Big Green group, sued the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in an attempt to gut the 80-year old Natural Gas Act that gives FERC the right to grant eminent domain for pipeline projects (see VA, WV Landowners Sue FERC re Pipelines, Seek to Gut Natural Gas Act). Specifically, the colluding landowners oppose Dominion’s $5 billion, 594-mile natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina, and EQT’s $3.5 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline project, a 303-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA. The frivolous lawsuit, titled BOLD ALLIANCE, et al. v. FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION, et al., was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It claims the landowners’ property is a “taking” not properly compensated under the U.S. Constitution. Yesterday two important parties to the lawsuit–Dominion (representing Atlantic Coast Pipeline) and Mountain Valley Pipeline–filed a motion to dismiss the case. They have a strong argument. Why dismiss? Because the gentry landowners filing the lawsuit have ignored United State laws, which specifically state that (a) ONLY FERC has jurisdiction over the projects and decisions about whether or not they can get built, (b) if a supposedly aggrieved party disagrees with FERC’s decisions, they must first file for a rehearing, and if FERC still refuses, then (c) the supposedly aggrieved party can file a lawsuit ONLY with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The suers (Bold Alliance) did file for a rehearing and FERC has not yet ruled on the rehearing. Bold Alliance tried to sidestep the law by moving forward with a lawsuit prematurely. However, the really big no-no is that they filed in U.S. District Court for DC, NOT the Court of Appeals for DC. Big difference. We see no other choice for the judges in U.S. District Court but to dismiss the case since Bold Alliance should not have brought the case in their court in the first place…
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New England Can “Thank” NY Gov. Cuomo for Sky High NatGas Prices

As we pointed out earlier this week, New England now has the dubious distinction of paying the highest prices for natural gas–in the world (see New England’s Lack of Pipelines = Most Expensive Gas in the WORLD). The recent cold snap, which continues, has made natgas in New England about as valuable as gold. As we pointed out in our post, New Englander’s have nobody to blame but themselves and their uber-liberal, lefty, know-nothing leaders. Except maybe there is someone else who shares at least some of the blame–New York’s corrupt Democrat governor, Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo not only banned fracking (which screws all New Yorkers), he’s also blocked important pipeline projects through NY that would connect Marcellus gas supplies to New England (screwing New Englanders). So New Englanders can blame themselves AND blame Gov. Cuomo. Forbes writer David Blackmon does a masterful job in laying the blame where it belongs–at the feet of Prince Andrew…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Thu, Jan 4, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye over the break that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Cabot O&G boosts dividend 20%; federal repeal of fracking regs has little to no effect on PA; brutal cold to plunge natgas storage levels way below normal; deep freeze creates heating squeeze; polar blast may lead to late-winter shortages of natgas; America may become king of oil for the world in 2018; crude oil price surges past $61/barrel; China’s largest shale gas field production hits record high in 2017; and more!
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