PA Gov Wolf Floats Plan to Fix DEP Slow Drilling Permits: Hike Fees

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. House Republicans recently introduced a series of five different bills to help address DEP’s chronic delays (see PA House Advances “Fix DEP & Other Agencies” Plan with 5 Bills). No doubt feeling the pressure from the legislature, PA Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday introduced his own plan. Whereas the plan floated by legislators would allow third parties to assist with the backlog, Wolf’s plan is different. In a nutshell, Wolf wants to allocate more money to the DEP so they can hire more help–not third parties. Yeah, that’s the answer! More government. (Yes, we’re being sarcastic.) And what magic pocket will Wolf pull the money from to pay for an increase in head count at DEP, especially since Wolf can’t balance a budget to save his life? Why, from the pockets of the shale industry, of course. Wolf proposes boosting the $5,000 fee drillers now pay when filing to drill a new shale well to $12,500–a 250% (2.5x) increase. You want that permit on time for a change? It’ll cost you, buddy…
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After Months of Delay, Atlantic Coast Pipe Gets NC Water Permit

Atlantic Coast Pipeline path through North Carolina – click for larger version

On Friday, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a federal stream/water crossing permit for Dominion’s $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and slice through the midsection of North Carolina, almost to the border with South Carolina. The permit comes more than a year and a half after Dominion and their partners filed an application for it. It is the final “biggie” permit required to construct the project in NC. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved ACP last October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). West Virginia previously issued a water crossing permit for the project, and Virginia recently granted a conditional approval for its water crossing permit. NC was the last domino to fall, and now it has. However, the project is still not out of the woods in NC just yet. First, the DEQ attached all sorts of extra requirements to the water permit they issued. Second, even though a water/stream crossing permit is the biggest and most important permit, NC continues to delay the project by withholding other permits (see NC Continues to Delay Atlantic Coast Pipe, Rejects Part of Erosion Plan). Friday’s water permit issuance was, however, a very positive development–a signal that the rest of the permits although delayed, will be forthcoming. Dominion said it will begin construction in NC (and VA and WV) this year, and finish the project sometime in 2019…
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Ohio Democrat Candidate for Governor Says He’ll Ban Utica Drilling

Congressman Dennis Kucinich

Congressman Dennis Kucinich from Ohio, who is running for the nomination to be the Democrat candidate for governor in this fall’s election, has always been a crackpot. A nutjob. Flaky. Ranging out there on the far-left fringe. But he’s also never been taken too seriously. Folks like him. He’s amiable. Not, perhaps, as hardcore as some on the left. That is, until now. In a speech last Thursday in Columbus to unveil his first official policy statement as a candidate, Kucinich said if he’s nominated and wins the governor’s chair (fairly unlikely, but then, you never know), he will use his executive powers as governor to end drilling for natural gas and oil in the state. He also said he would direct the state police to look for out-of-state wastewater haulers transporting brine to Ohio’s injection well sites–and have the police turn them around and send them packing. As for all those Utica Shale landowners who signed leases, what about royalties they will never see and signing bonuses they will never pocket? Don’t worry, Dennis will “work to ensure that landowners who have leased land for drilling would receive a separation fee and all royalties they are due.” Kucinich’s first policy statement for his gubernatorial campaign is a far-out, really wacko (certifiably insane) anti-fracking manifesto (full copy below). Everyone is likely to discount his words as, “That’s just Dennis, you know how he talks. He doesn’t stand a chance of winning.” However, we encourage Buckeye State voters to take him seriously–take him at his word. And make sure he doesn’t win the nomination (or the governorship). His election to the governor’s chair would be an economic disaster for the state and for the Utica Shale industry…
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Ohio Utica Shale Beer Expands Distribution to WV, PA

In December MDN told you about a small-but-growing brewery in Canton, OH started by shale co-workers who had “a passion for easy drinking brews” (see Ohio Utica Gives Rise to…Beer?! Introducing Shale Brewing Co.). The Shale Brewing Company produces microbrews with names like “Cold Rolled Ale” and “Roughneck Red.” How cool is that?! You can add two more new beers to the Shale Brewing lineup: Coffee Cream Stout and Deep Driller Porter (we love the creativity of these guys). The company now has 150 accounts and distributes their beer as far away as the PA and WV border. We understand if you look hard enough, you might even find a bottle in Pittsburgh. We’re hoping Roughneck Red will become the official beer of MDN ;-). Here’s an update on Shale Brewing and their continuing expansion…
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#1 New Source of Demand for M-U Gas: Electric Power Plants

According to MDN’s favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), natural gas production in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia is growing faster than demand. Lately the Marcellus/Utica is producing 42% of all the natural gas produced by the nation’s seven largest shale plays (see EIA Jan ’18 Drilling Report: M-U on Fire, Up 1/3 Billion Cubic Ft). If you add together all natgas production sources (conventional and unconventional), M-U produced 27% of the entire nation’s natgas supplies in 2017–up from 2% in 2008. It is astonishing! But Houston, we have a problem. There still aren’t enough pipelines to carry our gas to other markets, where there is demand. And we in the M-U region don’t have enough of our own demand to keep up with the ever-growing supply. Although populations grow gradually over time, the fact remains the amount of gas used to heat and cool households, and businesses, and the amount of natgas used by industrial customers, remains pretty constant over time. It may grow a little, but not nearly as much as supply is growing, which keeps the price of natgas in our region in the basement. There is a ray of sunshine though. EIA says, “Almost all of the recent growth in natural gas consumption in these [M-U] states has been in the electric power sector.” Our observation/point: the power generation space and the shale drilling space are now bosom buddies–joined at the hip. Electric generation is a critical new market for our gas–about the only new market with the capacity to sop up meaningful portions of our ever-expanding supply…
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Deep Well Services Completes 575 Marcellus/Utica Wells in 2017

Deep Well Services (DWS) is a “snubbing” oilfield services company headquartered in Pennsylvania. DWS operates a special kind of drilling rig (“snubber”) that allows the company to drill existing wells already under pressure further out, inserting pipe into a working well, or retrieving pipe from a well, without shutting down the well. It’s called snubbing and it’s a specialized, delicate operation. DWS is one of a handful that performs the service in the Marcellus/Utica. DWS unveiled its newest state-of-the-art snubbing rig–a “fifth-generation” rig, in December (see Deep Well Services Introduces 5th Generation Snubbing Rig for M-U). DWS is a Marcellus/Utica success story–a company born and bread right here in our midst, in 2008. Starting from nothing, the company now employs 200 people and has plans to keep expanding in 2018 and beyond. In 2017, DWS worked on/finished 575 wells, including 229 Utica wells and 346 Marcellus wells. They now hold 30-40% of the snubbing market in the entire M-U region. DWS worked on the current world’s longest-ever onshore shale well drilled–Eclipse Resources’ Outlaw C11H. DWS is a company to watch. Here’s an update on what they’ve done, and what they plan to do…
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Canada Rejects Discounted Rates for U.S. Shale Gas to New Brunswick

Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline map – click for larger version

The Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline (M&NP) runs from Goldboro, Nova Scotia through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to the Canadian – U.S. border near Baileyville, Maine. The pipeline continues through Maine and New Hampshire into Massachusetts where it connects with the existing North American pipeline grid at Dracut, Massachusetts. It used to be that offshore natural gas from Nova Scotia fed the pipeline, which ran from north to south. But those offshore fields are running low, and the Marcellus/Utica appeared. These days the M&NP runs from south to north–at least part of the system does. One of M&NP’s big customers is Irving Oil, with a refinery and cogeneration (natgas-fired) power plant in Saint John, New Brunswick. Irving is an M&NP customer. However, another pipeline company offered to build a new pipeline to feed Irving Oil’s operations with natural gas, at discount. M&NP said that’s crazy. They want to keep Irving as a customer, so they cut a deal with Irving to import natural gas from the U.S. (in all likelihood, Marcellus/Utica gas), flowing the gas from the Maine border to St. John and Irving’s operation there. The only thing standing in the way is the Canadian National Energy Board (NEB)–which is kind of like our own Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The deal offered by M&NP requires NEB approval because it lowers the toll (fee charged) and changes directions to import/flow U.S. gas to Irving. Last week the NEB rejected M&NP’s plan, saying the plan is “premature” because the Maritimes region is facing a period of uncertainty. It is not clear (to the NEB) where natural gas will ultimately come from, and what the market actually needs. Offshore? Canadian fields? Import from U.S.? It’s not yet clear how it will all shake out. So the NEB turned down M&NP’s request. What happens now?…
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Swamp Fights Back: NRDC Gears Up to File Multiple Lawsuits vs EPA

Big Green leftists HATED President Richard Nixon (frankly, they hate any/every Republican before and since). They hated Nixon even though he created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Did you know that Nixon created the EPA? And now the EPA’s first-ever Secretary, William Ruckelshaus (a card-carrying member of the swamp dweller’s club) is criticizing current EPA Sec. Scott Pruitt for returning the EPA to its roots–to clean up superfund sites and target polluters. Pruitt has pledged to roll back EPA’s cancerous expansion under Obama, with its wild attempt to regulate anything and everything under the excuse of trying to prevent man-made global warming. Why are we not surprised that a has-been like Ruckelshaus is criticizing Pruitt? Ruckelshaus isn’t the only swamp dweller who hates Pruitt (and yes, hate is the accurate word to use). The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), one of the worst of the worst so-called environmental groups, recently said it is gearing up to launch dozens (!) of lawsuits against the EPA and Pruitt. NRDC is part of the Washington, D.C. swamp. It seems the swamp doesn’t like getting drained and is fighting back. That’s OK. President Trump loves a good fight. It’s about time somebody took the fight to unelected, Big Government-loving nongovernmental organizations like NRDC. Rather than taking something away, Trump and Pruitt are trying to return the EPA to its original mandate. Make no mistake. At it’s core this is a fight about fossil fuels. Big Green disastrously wants to kill the use of fossil fuels–NOW. Here’ a look at how the swamp is fighting back against Trump’s efforts to drain it…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Jan 29, 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: Natgas-fired power plants on the rise in PA; PA Senate Dems introduce bill to cut mythical global warming by 30% by 2025; the TX fracker that cracked the shale code; challenges in funding U.S. shale boom 2.0; NYC Mayor de Blasio admits he’s trying to destroy the fossil fuel industry; DOE Sec. Rick Perry says U.S. shale will not hurt global prices in 2018; and more!
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