Energy Corp of America Fined $1.7M for Drilling Violations in PA

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has just collected a whopping $1.7 million fine from Energy Corporation of America (ECA) for violations at 17 well sites in Cumberland, Jefferson, and Whiteley Townships in Greene County, and Goshen Township in Clearfield County. ECA’s violations? “Failure to properly contains fluids in onsite pits, unauthorized discharge of industrial waste into groundwater, unauthorized disposal of residual waste, failure to restore the pits and well sites, and operating solid waste storage, treatment, and transfer facilities without permits.” Pretty serious stuff. Essentially, ECA (according to DEP) was sloppy in how they handled flowback and brine, using open pits to store it long after their use was outlawed under new Chapter 78a regulations were adopted. Spills from those pits contaminated a water well of one nearby resident. It’s interesting to MDN that as you read the consent order (full copy below), not only is ECA listed, but also “Greylock Production.” You may recall our news from late last year that ECA reorganized itself under a new name–Greylock Energy–shafting existing shareholders in favor of a new investor, ArcLight Capital (see ECA Sells Marcellus/Utica Assets to ArcLight Capital – Shareholders Shafted). The fine was assessed against and paid by ECA and Greylock jointly, confirming our conclusion that ECA had simply changed the nameplate on the door to Greylock…
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Sad Day: EXCO Resources Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

You can’t say we didn’t warn you. In early November MDN told you that a “turnaround expert” hired two years ago to help EXCO Resources dig its way out of a deep hole had resigned and left (see EXCO Resources Heading for Bankruptcy, Turnaround Expert Resigns). At that time the company itself warned it “may be forced to seek protection from creditors under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.” And so they have. On Monday EXCO filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. EXCO has 184,000 net acres in the Marcellus, with 124 horizontal Marcellus wells drilled and in production. However, as we pointed out in early 2016, EXCO has abandoned new drilling the Marcellus/Utica–at this point. Based on language in their bankruptcy announcement (below), it seems likely EXCO is right now shopping their Marcellus (as well as other) assets. Amazingly, the company struck a deal for a new $250 million cash infusion from lenders to aide them through the bankruptcy/sale process. We just don’t understand high finance. Here’s news about the EXCO announcement, along with a copy of the official announcement…
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EIA Jan ’18 Drilling Report: M-U on Fire, Up 1/3 Billion Cubic Ft

Yesterday our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), issued our favorite monthly report, the Drilling Productivity Report (DPR). The DPR is the EIA’s best guess, based on expert data crunchers, as to how much each of the U.S.’s seven major shale plays will produce for both oil and natural gas in the coming month. The numbers are AMAZING. Natgas production continues to be on fire (poor metaphor, but the only thing we can think of)–especially here in the Marcellus/Utica region, which is labeled “Appalachia” in the report. EIA predicts production in the Marcellus/Utica will soar another 377 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d), which is more than one-third of a billion cubic feet (!), between January and February. Incredible! What’s even more incredible: Marcellus/Utica production, predicted to be 26.8 Bcf/d in February, represents 42% of all shale natural gas production in the U.S. Our region is a MONSTER natural gas producer. Here’s the latest DPR with the amazing news…
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Rover Refutes Ohio EPA Claim of 146K Gal. Spill @ Tuscarawas River

Yesterday we brought you the news that the Ohio Dept. of Environmental Protection (OEPA) had made claims, in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), that Rover Pipeline’s restart of underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) near the Tuscarawas River had resulted in a second large spill of drilling mud–146,000 gallons (see OEPA Continues to Hunt Rover Pipe, Claims 2nd Spill Near River). OEPA claims to have spies that told them that while drilling 146,000 gallons of drilling mud had disappeared “down hole.” That typically means the mud will reappear somewhere on the surface. OEPA does not regulate the Rover project–it is a FERC/federally regulated project. And that frosts OEPA’s director, tattletale Craig Butler. Except this time it appears OEPA was mistaken, or perhaps acting on bad information. According to a statement by Energy Transfer, builder of Rover, there has been no “release” or “spill” of drilling mud a second time at the Tuscarawas River site…
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Lancaster Nuns Demand “Religious Freedom” Trial re Pipeline

A group of radicalized Catholic nuns whom we refer to as Sisters of the Corn are demanding a trial on the grounds of “religious freedom” in an effort to block Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline from crossing their land in Lancaster County, PA. The order of nuns, called Adorers of the Blood of Christ, have tried several strategies to derail Atlantic Sunrise. One of stunts they pulled, in league with a radical Big Green group, is to stick a few wooden park benches in the middle of a corn field that they own (leased to a local farmer), calling it a “chapel” (see Catholic Nuns Use Radicals to Build Chapel in Path of PA Pipeline). Which is why MDN dubbed them “Sisters of the Corn.” The heck of it is that the Sisters use natural gas to heat an old folks home they operate at the same address! Talk about religious hypocrisy. The Sisters used the chapel-in-the-corn as an excuse to sue the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) over their approval of Atlantic Sunrise on the grounds that running the pipeline through their corn field violates their religious freedom (see Lancaster Nuns Sue FERC to Stop Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline). A federal judge in Reading, PA dismissed the frivolous lawsuit in September (see Fed Judge Tosses Lancaster Nuns’ Freedom of Religion Lawsuit re ASP). The Sisters, using Big Green lawyers, have just appealed the dismissal, hoping they can find a liberal judge somewhere, anywhere, to hear the case…
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Ohio Continues to Drag Feet Approving Mountaineer NGL Storage

We’ve written plenty about Mountaineer NGL Storage hub project proposed for Monroe County, OH, located just across the river (and border) from West Virginia (see our Mountaineer NGL Storage stories here). What do we know about the proposed 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 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). Why the delay? The delay is because of regulators in Ohio. There is no one agency charged with reviewing and issuing permits for the entire project–it involves three OH agencies. There also seems to be an issue with one of the agencies, the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR), becoming comfortable with storing NGLs in a salt cavern (done all the time in other locations). ODNR is dragging its feet, and members of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) are beginning to publicly voice their dissatisfaction with the delays…
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PA House Advances “Fix DEP & Other Agencies” Plan with 5 Bills

As part of the Pennsylvania Senate’s misguided and mangled budget bill last year, Republicans managed to slip in fixes to the state Dept. of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) chronic delays in issuing permits related to shale drilling (see PA Senate’s “Olive Branch” of “Relaxed Regulations” for Drillers). Unfortunately the fixes came out before the final budget passed. Problems remain for Marcellus drillers. Delays are long in the Keystone State when it comes to permits for shale wells. The problems NEED to get fixed, now. In early January, PA House Rep. Greg Rothman introduced a standalone bill to address the problem (see Bill Introduced to Fix PA DEP’s Extreme Delays Issuing Permits). Rothman’s bill, House Bill (HB) 1959, would give certified third parties the right to review and force the DEP to issue permits when/if the DEP can’t get off it’s duff and do it in a timely manner. Not long after Rothman’s bill was introduced, a second bill was introduced, by State Rep. Brian Ellis (see New Bill Would Force PA DEP to Work WITH the Marcellus Industry). Ellis’ bill, HB 1960, is called the “State Agency Regulatory Compliance Officer Act” and will create a new Regulatory Compliance Officer position in each state agency, including the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). The new Compliance Officer would have the authority “to block an agency from imposing fines and penalties for violations and to rewrite the policies under which fines and penalties are imposed.” The aim of the bill is to force all PA state agencies (including the DEP) to work *with* the people and companies they regulate, rather than play gotcha. Those two bills, plus three more, are part of a suite of bills being offered by the PA House “Common Sense Caucus.” The Caucus, headed by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, released a report yesterday called the 2017-18 Regulatory Overreach Report (full copy below). The report gives examples of egregious regulatory overreach and proposes five bills, including HB 1959 and HB 1960, to fix the problem. Note the Caucus is not just picking on DEP with this proposed fix–they ambitiously want to make all state agencies work better…
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Illegal Shipment of LNG Coming to Boston has Huge CO2 Footprint

This story continues to grate on our nerves–the fact that mainstream media is covering up a MAJOR scandal. What scandal? The scandal of Russian LNG banned from the U.S. coming to the U.S. (to Boston) because it was offloaded in the UK and reloaded on a different ship, to “whitewash” the gas (see Confirmed: LNG Coming to Boston on Jan 22 is Illegal Russian Gas). To make matters worse, the gas, from the sanctioned Russian Yamal LNG facility in the Arctic, has a massive CO2 footprint relative to LNG produced elsewhere (for those like who care about such things, like mainstream liberal media). And yet mainstream liberal media (i.e. fake news) totally ignores the story. We’d go so far as to say they are covering it up. Not here on MDN! Nick Grealy, a Brit who contributes articles to our friends at Natural Gas Now, has written an article delving into the sordid details of Russian gas coming to Boston–and how mainstream media in the UK has totally ignored the story. Nick uncovers some great information that continues to make our blood boil…
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Fake Study Finds Shale Gas Not “Sustainable” for Electric Production

A new “research study” was recently published that, per the usual routine, is generating false headlines that leave a false impression. The study is called “Sustainability of UK shale gas in comparison with other electricity options: Current situation and future scenarios,” published in the so-called journal, Science of The Total Environment. Here’s an example of a headline it’s generating in fake mainstream news: “Shale gas is one of the least sustainable ways to produce electricity, research finds” (Phys.org). We’ve seen that headline or variations of it in a number of publications. The narrative being spun by anti-fossil fuelers in quoting the study is this: “You know how shale gas has taken over as king of producing electricity–well you should ignore all of its benefits (clean burning, less polluting, cheaper) and instead use renewables because shale gas isn’t really sustainable and all that great after all.” That’s the upshot of the study, and the stories about the study. Just one teeny, tiny problem: The “research” is fake. Fraudulent. A heaping pile of doo-doo. The so-called researcher concocted his own biased set of criteria on which to judge various forms of electricity generation sources, and then declared shale gas flunks the test. Once again, fake research based on a twisted, biased worldview that says all fossil fuels are evil…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Wed, Jan 17, 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: PA drilling continues momentum in new year; OOGA looking for new executive VP; Range Resources donates $75K to Washington County; Enerplus announces 4Q Marcellus production numbers; U.S. oil and gas so hot they’re running out of workers; GOP looks to overhaul natgas, utility laws; Hess cutting hundreds of workers thx to pressure from corporate raider; Canadian natgas industry a “sad story”; and more!
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