Antis Apoplectic at Sight of Steam Coming from NY Power Plant

Do the anti fossil-fuel foes in Orange County, NY still not get it? Do they not understand a new gas-fired power plant is about to go online? Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) is building a legal, legitimate, safe, low-emissions electric generating plant in Wawayanda. The plant is almost done and is now preparing for commissioning. This is the same facility Manhattanite Hollywood star James Cromwell (with a summer home in the area) has protested over the past few years (see our stories here). This is the same facility that will be fed by a 7.8-mile natural gas pipeline that connects to the Millennium Pipeline, being fought tooth and nail by Andrew Cuomo’s corrupt Dept. of Environmental Conservation (see NY DEC Asks Court to Toss FERC Order re Millennium Pipe Project). One fact remains: the plant is built and it will go online–soon. Last Friday crews were cleaning in the plant, using low-pressure steam to clean the piping in advance of the commissioning/start-up process. Some of the steam (water vapor, H2O) escaped into the air and area antis were prostrate on the ground, seized with fear that the plant had started operating and was using oil to power it. Antis are still in 100% complete denial that the plant is about to start up–within WEEKS. An area newspaper ran a story which unintentionally made the antis look foolish–frightened at the site of water vapor (i.e. steam)–referring to the steam as “plumes.” The story magically disappeared from the newspaper’s website a day later–but not before we grabbed a copy…
Continue reading

PHMSA Issues Notice of Probable Violation to ME2 Pipeline in Ohio

In early January, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) 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 (see PA DEP Caves to Big Green Pressure, Stops All Work on ME2 Pipeline). No further digging of trenches, and no more underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work can be done “until Sunoco can demonstrate that the permit conditions can and will be followed.” The concern is that ME2 work is violating multiple permits, regulations and court-ordered restrictions. However, not ALL work was stopped. As we learned a week later, the DEP does not control and regulate everything–only the parts where dirt is moved (see Work on Mariner East 2 Continues Following “Stop Work” Order). There’s still work being done, like welding pieces of pipeline together, even today. Often overlooked in the ME2 project is the small part of the pipeline that crosses the border into Ohio. The PA DEP’s stop work order (and regulatory authority) does not extend there. The pipeline in Ohio is regulated by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Just coming to light now is a “Notice of Probable Violation” for ME2 in Ohio, issued by PHMSA on Jan. 11th. A PHMSA inspector noticed scrapes, coating damage and a “gouge” that extended into the pipe wall. Chance are none of it makes a hill of beans worth of difference. However, given the pipeline will flow “flammable” natural gas liquids (primarily ethane and propane), anything but a 100% standard of perfection gives antis an excuse to call for a halt to the project, both in Ohio and in PA, which they’re doing…
Continue reading

Analysts Speculate Rover Pipe Will be Delayed Following FERC Order

Yesterday MDN brought you the news that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has slapped a stop work order on underground horizontal direction drilling (HDD) for Rover Pipeline at the site crossing under the Tuscarawas River (see FERC Stops Rover Drilling Near River After 200K Gal Mud Disappears). There is tough geography in that area. In April 2017, Rover lost approximately 2 million gallons of nontoxic drilling mud at that location, mud which leaked out of the hole and onto the ground (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). That accident caused a shutdown of all Rover HDD work in Ohio. Work eventually resumed (last year). Work at the Tuscarawas location didn’t resume until last December (see FERC Gives Rover OK to Resume All HDD Work, Incl. Tuscarawas River). But now Rover has lost another ~200,000 gallons of drilling mud in the Tuscarawas borehole. Hence the FERC order. Energy Transfer Partners, the builder of Rover, maintains the entire Rover project will be completed by the end of March. Given the new stop work order with no apparent resolution in sight for how ET plans to overcome the problems at Tuscarawas, industry analysts are now speculating that Rover will not be done by the end of March, as advertised…
Continue reading

WV Senate Bill Allows Counties to Assess “Impact Fees” on O&G

A newly introduced bill in the West Virginia legislature–Senate Bill (SB) 295–appears to give WV counties the power to impose their own “impact fee” on the oil and gas industry. We say appears because the words “oil” and “gas” never appear in the bill–but those words do appear in a newspaper article discussing the bill. WV counties are in a bind. In PA, counties and towns get a healthy stream of revenue from PA’s “impact fee” (equivalent of a severance tax). When drilling comes to town roads get a lot of heavy truck traffic. Public services of all kinds–police, fire, government buildings–see more use. PA’s impact fee helps with those things. In Ohio, towns sign RUMAs with drillers–Road Use Maintenance Agreements. But in WV, the tax money counties did receive from the oil and gas industry was reduced in 2011 when the state legislature granted discounts to companies spending more than $50 million in the state. Want to fix or build a new road to handle traffic? Good luck! Enter SB 295 which (again) appears to grant counties the ability to assess certain fees, including an “impact fee,” on certain companies in order to assist with things like building and fixing roads. Here’s what we could find about SB 295…
Continue reading

PA DEP, DCNR on Hot Seat to Defend Budget Surpluses

Last September, amidst a heated state budget battle in Pennsylvania (where the phrase “severance tax” was on the lips of every Democrat and RINO in Harrisburg), a group of PA House Republicans did the hard work Gov. Tom Wolf and his cronies in the legislature refused to do: They figured out how to fund a wildly overspent budget without raising a single tax (see PA House Introduces Balanced Budget with NO Severance Tax). How did House Republicans do it? They looked at state agencies hording money, with a plan to relieve them of their surplus. When Republicans went looking, they found even the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) have been squirreling money away, unused in some of their programs. The House Republican plan from last September was not adopted, but elements of it were included in the final budget. The final budget, passed in October, instructs Gov. Wolf to reallocate $300 million from surpluses at various state agencies–from the agencies of his own choosing–as part of the “funding” for this year’s budget. The House Appropriations Committee held a meeting yesterday to question DCNR Sec. Cindy Dunn and DEP Sec. Pat McDonnell about the use and operation of special funds under their purview–to see if there’s a bit of surplus there that can be used for the state budget. Here’s how it went…
Continue reading

SWPA Antis Breathe New Life into Old Zoning Lawsuit

In November 2015 MDN reported on a zoning court case in Westmoreland County, PA (see 3 Western PA Antis Weigh Appeal of Court Ruling in Zoning Case). Three ladies brought a lawsuit against Allegheny Township because the town approved a permit for CNX Gas–to drill a well on a farm owned by John and Anne Slike. Since the farm is about 1,200 feet from where the ladies live, they objected. The legal argument is interesting. They use the Robinson case decision (Act 13) which ruled that towns have the right to limit/restrict drilling based on zoning ordinances–as long as there’s at least one zone where drilling can take place. The problem (for antis) is that sometimes towns decide the other way–to allow drilling in any zone with a special use permit. The door swings just one way for antis–no drilling. At any rate, we thought the case was long over with. But it’s not. The ladies and their fractivist lawyer appealed. The case is now in Commonwealth Court and, according to an article, because of a recent PA Supreme Court decision, new life has been breathed into the case. The antis are celebrating…
Continue reading

Low Turnout for Philly DRBC Frack Ban Hearing, Antis Dominate

Philadelphia is the sixth most populous city in the United States, with over 1.5 million residents. And yet *maybe* 120 people turned out yesterday for a Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) hearing on their proposed plan to permanently ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin. A pair of hearings were held earlier this week in rural northeast PA–in Waymart–where the turnout was upward of 150 people! Judging from the wild claims by green groups like THE Delaware Riverkeeper that thousands (millions!) of people don’t want fracking in the river basin, you’d think more than maybe 120 people would turn up for a hearing in a city like Philly. Could it be not all that many people in southeast PA give a hoot about fracking in two northeastern PA counties? That thought crossed our minds as we read the accounts of those who showed up at yesterday’s meetings in Philly. Yes, antis outnumbered those in favor of fracking, but that’s to be expected in Philly. Here’s a recap of yesterday’s meetings…
Continue reading

FTS Intl Finally Ready to Launch IPO a Year Later, Seeks $230M

FTS International is the largest private (not publicly traded stock) well completion company in North America. In 2015 FTS fracked EQT’s ginormous Scotts Run 591340 dry Utica well in Greene County, PA producing an initial production (IP) of 72.9 million cubic feet of natural gas per day (see Private Company Fracked EQT’s Monster Utica Well, Working on More). That well is still the reigning champion for highest initial production. In February 2016, FTS sold off their sand hauling business and laid off over 40 people (see FTS Intl Fires All Drivers & Mechanics in Sand Hauling Business). FTS euphemistically called it “adjusting head count.” If you’ve ever been “adjusted,” you know how it lousy it feels. We mentioned that FTS is the largest *private* well completion company in North America. In February 2017, FTS announced it would launch an initial public offering (see FTS Intl, NA’s Largest Private Well Completion Co, Going Public). Since that time–nothing. But the long wait is now over. Earlier this week FTS announced they launched their IPO. The company is floating 15.2 million shares of common stock looking to raise in the neighborhood of $230 million…
Continue reading

EIA Predicts Natural Gas Prices in 2018 & 2019 Will be “Flat”

The price of natural gas is a complicated subject. First, “the price” is never just “the price.” Many people look to the NYMEX or Henry Hub spot price as “the price.” Indeed, most of the financial contracts for natural gas are based on the Henry Hub price. However, as we’ve written many times over the years, gas is bought and sold at hundreds of points along major interstate natural gas pipelines. The price at one place on a pipeline, like the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Zone 4 in northeastern Pennsylvania, is vastly different from the Henry Hub. Price is dependent on many factors–supply and demand to be sure. But also weather. Weather is probably the biggest influencer of natgas prices. Why? The warmer (or colder) it is, the more natural gas is used to cool or heat homes and businesses. The more demand, the higher the price. Conversely, the less demand, the lower the price. Henry Hub is a useful yardstick and the most-watched natural gas price in the world. Our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, recently published their Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). In the STEO, EIA predicts the price of natural gas at Henry Hub will remain relatively flat both this year and next year. This year (2018), EIA says the average price of gas at Henry Hub will be $2.88 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf). Next year? EIA says the price will average $2.92/Mcf. The average price of gas at Henry Hub for all of 2017 was $2.99/Mcf. Bottom line: The price of gas is a bit depressing for gas drillers for the foreseeable future. Here’s EIA’s reasoning…
Continue reading

Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Fri, Jan 26, 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: Chevron gives $630,000 for workforce dev programs in PA, WV, OH; PA Senate meeting to consider resolution to end state forest drilling moratorium; re-write of Oil & Gas Act for conventional drillers; Range Resources stock price plunges after 5-year outlook released; highlights from WV IOGA winter meeting; New England to lean more on natgas as coal ends in 2025; cold weather heats up natgas market; they aren’t drilling shale wells like they used to; an unsolvable natural gas dilemma; and more!
Continue reading