FERC Rejects Trump DOE Plan to Favor Coal & Nukes re Electric Grid

On September 29, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) directing the agency to complete action on a “Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule”–ostensibly within 60 days. The proposed rule Perry proffered, sometimes referred to as the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR), would put in place regulations that favor electric generating plants powered by coal and nuclear. That is, it would allow unprofitable ventures to pass along new costs, making them profitable–in the name of protecting the electric grid. The theory Perry (and by extension President Trump) subscribe to is that if the free market drives out coal and nuke plants, the electric grid would be “vulnerable” to far fewer sources to power it. If coal and nukes are all but gone, and all of sudden there’s a natural gas shortage, or prices spike for natural gas, it would endanger the electric supply in this country. On one side of the argument are those who believe the free market sometimes needs a helping hand (via regulation), and on the other those who believe the free market will sort it all out and we are not vulnerable. The incoming/new chairman of FERC, Kevin McIntyre, asked for an extension so he and another new FERC member could take a little time to do a proper review (see Kevin McIntyre Sworn in as 5th FERC Commissioner, New Chairman). The review is done and yesterday all five FERC commissioners voted unanimously to reject Perry’s Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule. However, as a consolation prize, FERC launched an effort to formally canvas electric grid operators, compelling them to respond with details of their plans for grid resiliency. It’s a small bone to coal and nuclear, but a bone nonetheless…
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DRBC Schedules More Freak Shows on Proposed Frack Ban Regulation

In September, MDN told you that the obsequious members of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) had slavishly obeyed 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 by DRBC staff on Nov. 30 (see DRBC Drops Permanent Frack Ban Bomb – Public Hearings in January). 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.” However, they also said (in the fine print) that water from the Delaware River Basin can be used by frackers in other locations–which sent antis like THE Delaware Riverkeeper into apoplectic shock. The DRBC announced they would allow public comment, via written communication, through Feb. 28. They also planned four public hearings (i.e. freak shows) to allow antis the opportunity to parade before the microphones and make jerks of themselves (we’ve seen it many times). Antis said three months wasn’t enough time to crank up the form letter machine nor is it enough freak show opportunities (see Enviros Tell DRBC Not Enough Freak Shows Scheduled on Frack Ban). True to form, the DRBC has, once again, caved to the only constituency they listen to: anti-drillers. Yesterday the DRBC announced they will extend the public comment period from Feb. 28 to Mar. 30, and they will add another two freak show public hearings to the roster…
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Williams Marcellus Buildout Leads to Record Transco Pipe Volumes

Transco Pipeline Map – click for larger version

Williams’ Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line (Transco) is the largest natural gas pipeline (by volume pumped) in the United States. Transco and its various branches stretch from the Texas Gulf Coast all the way to New York City. As MDN previously reported, Transco completed five important expansion projects in 2017: Gulf Trace, Hillabee Phase 1, Dalton, New York Bay, and Virginia Southside II (see Transco Pipeline Update: 5th Expansion Done, More Coming 2018). Because of those expansions, Transco flowed a record-breaking, all-time high of 15.58 million dekatherms (15.58 billion cubic feet, or Bcf) of natural gas in a single day–on Jan. 5, 2018. That’s approximately 20% of all the natural gas consumed in the entire country on that day. Amazing! Two more important expansion projects that are part of the Transco system are due to complete construction and go online in 2018: Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline and Garden State Phase II. Atlantic Sunrise will feed 1.7 Bcf/day of Marcellus Shale gas from northeastern PA into the Transco system, moving it south. As an interesting aside, Cabot Oil & Gas will provide 1 Bcf/d out of the 1.7 Bcf/d on Atlantic Sunrise when it’s completed (see FERC Approves Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline! Cabot Grabs More Capacity). Here’s the Williams statement about their recent Transco record-breaking day…
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New Study Says Mariner East 1 & 2 will Deliver $9B to PA Economy

In February 2015, Philadelphia-based economic consulting firm Econsult Solutions released a study looking the potential economic impact of the Mariner East 1 & 2 projects, concluding the two project together would result in $4.2 billion coming to Pennsylvania (see New Study: Mariner East 1 & 2 Pipelines Mean $4.2B Windfall in PA). However, projects like Mariner East change over time. Econsult revisited and revamped their original study to reflect those changes. Know what they found? ME1 & ME2 together will result in over $9 billion of economic impact in PA! How could it be that much? Just consider, the two projects together will have created 57,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs between 2014 and 2019 (9,500 jobs annually) with earnings of $2.7 billion impacting multiple industries. And that’s just the jobs piece of the puzzle! Although total economic impact will exceed $9 billion, the pipeline will continue to generate revenue for PA state coffers for years into the future, via taxes and by feeding the petrochemical industry in the Philadelphia area. It’s not $9B total–it’s $9B initially. Sadly, the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection last week halted all work on Mariner East 2, delaying the economic benefits of the project in PA (see PA DEP Caves to Big Green Pressure, Stops All Work on ME2 Pipeline). Let’s hope ME2 resumes work quickly. In the meantime, we have a copy of Econsult’s new report below, along with comments by antis who ignore the hard science in front of their faces that the Mariner pipelines are a bonanza for PA…
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Minuteman Seeks Justice Against Kathleen Kane & PA AG’s Office

One of the companies in the Marcellus industry targeted for extinction by Pennsylvania’s former Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, was Minuteman Environmental Services (see PA’s Anti-Drilling AG Charges Minuteman with Enviro Crimes). Minuteman was a Pennsylvania company serving the shale industry with several different businesses. In 2014, Kane orchestrated what can only be called a terror attack on Minuteman and its owner Brian Bolus and his family (see Minuteman Enviro Says PA AG Office “Terrorized” Family Members, Filing Lawsuit). Kane’s vendetta against Minuteman was one of the most egregious examples of her abuse of power while she was AG. Kane’s attack on this small business literally drove it out of existence–they finally went bankrupt. One of the charges Kane used against the owner of the business, Brian Bolus, is that he illegally added his mom and dad to the health insurance plan for the company, even though they were not employees. Fantastically, Kane went after mom and dad, charging them with health care fraud! That charge, along with other charges, were dropped in 2016 (see Former PA AG Kathleen Kane’s Vendetta Against Marcellus Co Over). In fact, out of the original 83 charges (56 charges being felonies), 81 of the charges have been dropped. The final two charges–misdemeanors (barely above a traffic ticket in the pecking order), go to trial this month and will (hopefully) also be dropped. It has taken four, long, years for Bolus and Minuteman to be exonerated legally. During that time, Kane herself was tried and convicted for committing perjury–a felony–and removed from office (unrelated to the Marcellus industry). Kane and the AG’s office caused extreme harm to Brian Bolus and his family–reputationally, and economically. Nothing can ever make up for the years and loss of reputation and forcing a company to go bankrupt, throwing hundreds of people out of jobs. However, there is *something* can be done. Bolus has filed a lawsuit (copy below) against Kane and the AG’s office and some of the people in the AG’s office that maliciously targeted him and his company. He’s demanding a jury trial–to help right the extreme wrong that’s been done…
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Dominion Buys SCANA, Mulls Atlantic Coast Pipe Expansion into SC

Last week we noticed the large merger/acquisition by Dominion Energy in buying South Carolina-based SCANA Corporation. We didn’t think much of it at the time. SCANA is an energy-based holding company principally engaged, through subsidiaries, in electric and natural gas utility operations and other energy-related businesses. In other words, the local electric and gas company for much of South Carolina. Dominion is a big company with many operations–they are a pipeline company, an electric generating company, and a utility company (like SCANA). The merger makes sense–Dominion gets to grow and add more customers to its utility business. We didn’t think there was a tie-in with the Marcellus/Utica region, which is why we haven’t (until now) brought you the news about Dominion’s $7.9 billion all-stock purchase of SCANA. However, there is a big potential connection to the Marcellus/Utica. You may recall we brought you news in early December that Dominion and their partner in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project Duke Energy are considering expanding the original ACP to more locations in North Carolina, AND expanding the pipeline into South Carolina (see Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s Future Plans: Expand in NC & SC). Dominion is now openly saying that the SCANA purchase makes it more likely they will push to expand ACP into SC–meaning even more Marcellus/Utica gas could be flowing to Dixie…
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NY Moves Forward with Fracked Gas Microgrid in Middle of Albany

Last May, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to construct a new “state-of-the-art, locally-sourced mini-power grid” that will connect to the statewide electric grid but will also be able to operate independently, to power the Empire State Plaza in Albany–a complex of buildings in downtown Albany housing much of New York State government (see NY Gov Cuomo Building New Fracked Gas Elec Plant to Power Albany!). The energy-efficient microgrid, which will be powered by fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania, will supply 90% of the power for the 98-acre downtown Albany complex, and is expected to save the Plaza more than $2.7 million in annual energy costs. The project will also remove more than 25,600 tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere each year – the equivalent of taking more than 4,900 cars off the road – supporting New York’s goal to reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels. In an emergency, it can power a shelter for Albany residents. As we pointed out at that time, Cuomo building a fracked-gas-powered microgrid is just about the ultimate in hypocrisy. He blocks fracking in NY, and he even blocks the pipelines needed to flow gas from PA into NY. But hypocrisy doesn’t bother Lord Cuomo. The project is on track to select a contractor by the end of March, and begin construction by the end of this year. The plan is to have the new natgas-fired microgrid up and running by the end of 2019…
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PA DEP Adopting New Rules for Gas Wells Located Near Coal Mines

In December, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) released “interim final technical guidance” (i.e., new regulations) for drilling Marcellus Shale natural gas wells in areas where there is longwall coal mining. Sometimes drillers want to lease and drill under coal mines. Since coal mines sink large holes in the ground, there are existing guidelines in place for how closely an oil/gas well can be drilled on or under a coal mine–guidelines put in place in 1957. As a result of legislation passed in 2011 called Act 2, a review was conducted to see if the standards for oil/gas drilling near coal mines might be modified, allowing such drilling to happen in conditions not currently allowed. A study was performed and in January 2017 the DEP rejected that study–preferring to keep a default ban on any drilling under coal mines for the time being (see PA DEP Rejects Revisions to Regs re Drilling Near Coal Mines). Since that time the DEP has continued to work on the issue and has now produced guidelines it thinks can safely allow shale drilling under coal mines, at least in certain circumstances. The DEP issued their interim final guidelines back in December and will accept public comment until Jan. 31 of this year. After that, the DEP will make final tweaks and slap a “done” sticker on it. We have a copy of the interim guidelines below, which may affect some of our shale drilling subscribers…
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Fracker Keane Group Doubles Line of Credit from $150M to $300M

Frackers are in big demand. However, it takes a lot of cash to operate a fracking business. Keane Group is a Texas-based oilfield services company that provides fracking, wireline and top-hole air drilling services to oil and gas companies in the Marcellus/Utica as well as several other major basins. Keane has just doubled its line of credit and can now tap up to $300 million in cold, hard cash–if it needs it. In January 2016, Keane announced they were buying out Canadian-based Trican Well Service for $247 million (see Oilfield Serv. Co. Keane Group Buys Trican Well Service for $247M). The expansion tripled Keane’s fracking capacity and gave it access to proprietary new technology. The buyout, and Keane’s hard work, bore fruit. In December 2016, the privately-held company announced it will go public with an initial public offering (IPO) of stock, hoping to raise $287.5 million with the IPO (see Oilfield Services Co. Keane Group Floats $288M IPO). Then in May 2017, Keane announced it is expanding again, buying out fracker RockPile Energy Services for $284.5 million (see Fracker Keane Group Continues Expansion, Buys RockPile Energy). Keane continues to do well and has proven to its bankers that the company has enough assets to warrant an increase in their line of credit…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Jan 9, 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: Dominion donates $1 million to charity; NY town to vote on law banning wind energy development; Woody Thrasher gets West Virginian of the Year award for China deal; what happens when you don’t build natgas pipelines?; six months later Dakota Access Pipe proves its value; still a shortage of frac services in shale; energy sector predictions for 2018; the “great crew change” coming in O&G; and more!
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