ME2 Pipeline Cuts Down PA Trees Vacated by Protesters

Bet you didn’t know that if a pipeline company waits until antis leave the treetops where they’ve been perched because of concerns about high winds, and then the pipeline company nips in early in the morning and cuts down those vacated trees (legally), it’s considered a “predawn timbering raid.” That’s the hilarious headline given to yet another anti-pipeline, anti-drilling article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, covering news about cutting down three trees on a property in Huntingdon County, PA. For the past two years the Gerharts have used illegal protest tactics to stall tree cutting on their property. Out-of-state Big Green radicals, along with the Gearharts’ own daughter, have lived on-and-off in the tops of three white pine trees, building magic tree houses so they can lay around and do whatever. The tree occupation has prevented Sunoco Logistics Partners from cutting the trees, which are in the path of the Mariner East 2 pipeline project. At daybreak on Sunday, April 8th, after observing the greenie weenies had left the night before scared of impending high winds, Sunoco snuck in and cut down the trees, much to the consternation of the Gerharts who called it a “underhanded and cowardly attack.” We call it funny! And smart. So much for the dedication of antis. They scamper down trees when it gets a tad windy up there–something to keep in mind…
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Rover Pipe Asks FERC for OK to Open New Segments in OH, MI

Rover Pipeline Market Segment – click for larger version

On Friday Energy Transfer Partners asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to start up service along another major chunk of it’s massive Rover Pipeline. ET wants to begin service along a 100-mile segment of Rover in northwest Ohio and in Michigan. ET also asked for permission to start up a segment of Mainline B in Crawford and Wayne counties (OH). The 100-mile segment, called the Market segment, completes the pipeline as it connects to the Vector Pipeline in Livingston County, Michigan. ET says 99% of all pipeline for Rover is now in the ground and done. Some 83% of underground horizontal direction drilling (HDD) required to install small portions of the pipeline under creeks, rivers, bridges, roads, etc. is now done. It won’t be long now until Rover is done done. Here’s the latest great news that most of the rest of the pipeline is now ready to begin service…
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PA DEP Report – Virtually No Methane Migration from Shale Wells

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) released the results of it’s industry-leading program to monitor oil and gas wells for methane (and oil and brine) migration–that is, for anything would impact groundwater. The Mechanical Integrity Assessment Program, as it’s called, is “the most rigorous routine well integrity assessment program to protect groundwater in the United States,” requiring quarterly inspections by operators of their wells. The DEP is in the process of releasing the results of those reports for the past four years–from 2014-2017. They’ve just released results for 2014 (full copy below). What did the DEP find? “[L]ess than 1 percent of operator observations indicated the types of integrity problems, such as gas outside surface casing, that could allow gas to move beyond the well footprint.” In other words, there is virtually no methane migration happening from shale (and conventional) natural gas wells because of good well casings and regular checks. It is hard to overstate how important these findings are. The DEP’s own evidence disproves wild claims that methane is migrating from shale wells everywhere, claims made by anti-fossil fuel radicals and a colluding media (see examples from StateImpact Pennsylvania). Below is the good news that there is virtually no methane migration happening in PA from Marcellus Shale wells…
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WV’s Severance Tax Rate at 5% is Already Too High; Don’t Raise It

It appears Pennsylvania is not the only state in the Marcellus/Utica region facing pressure to kill the drilling industry with high severance taxes. West Virginia is now facing a fight of its own. WV already has the highest severance tax among the three M-U producing states. Ohio’s effective severance tax rate is 1.3%. Pennsylvania’s effective severance tax rate (called an impact fee, roughly the same thing), works out to be around 2.9%. WV’s severance tax is an already-high 5%–yet in WV (like PA) teacher’s unions are pressuring politicians to raise the severance tax. In WV they want a boost to a “modest” 7.5%. It would make WV the highest severance tax in the lower 48 if it went to 7.5%. WV is rattled following an extended teacher strike, looking to prevent a future strike. While we’ve not read of any specific new proposals (bills) to increase the severance tax, folks from the drilling industry are worried enough that a past president of IOGAWV penned the following editorial on the topic…
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PA Supreme Court Takes a Close Look at Strippers…as in Wells

It’s always fun to talk about strippers here on MDN. Uh, stripper wells that is. Background: In 2012 Pennsylvania passed the Act 13 drilling law that includes an impact fee on wells targeting shale layers, including the Marcellus. Snyder Brothers, headquartered in PA, drills mostly conventional (vertical only) wells in southwestern PA. In 2011-2012 they drilled 45 vertical-only wells targeting the Marcellus. All 45 of the vertical-only wells were fracked. Initially those wells produced more than 90 thousand cubic feet per day (Mcf/day), but by December of the year in which they were drilled, the wells produced less than 90 Mcf/day. The way the 2012 Act 13 law is written, if a well produces less than 90 Mcf/day during “any” month it is considered a stripper well and exempt from paying the impact fee. The state’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) assessed the fee anyway because for 11 months the wells produced more than 90 Mcf/day, arguing the word “any” is not a get-out-tax-jail-free card. Snyder Bros. sued and after an appeal of the case, Snyder Bros. won the case in March 2017, exempting those wells from paying impact fees (see PA Court Says Snyder Bros Wells are Strippers, No Impact Fees Due). That sent the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) into a tizzy with claims the Act 13 impact fees are now in jeopardy. So the PUC appealed the case to the PA Supreme Court. The Supremes heard arguments in the case last Wednesday…
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Progress for UGI Energy’s LNG Peak Shaver in Bethlehem, PA

UGI LNG’s Temple I installation near Reading, Pa. with 3-million-gallon storage tank.

In February MDN reported that UGI is proposing a new LNG peak shaver for Bethlehem, PA. The project hit some early opposition, so UGI tweaked the design, keeping it alive (see UGI Energy Tweaks LNG Peak Shaver for Bethlehem, PA). An LNG peak shaver is a unit used for storing surplus natural gas, to have extra natgas on hand and ready during times of peak consumption during really hot summers or really cold winters. Sometimes your local gas utility will build and use a peak shaver (small LNG storage facility), so they don’t run out of natgas at a critical time, and to help with keeping prices lower by drawing down from storage if prices spike. Low prices make for happy customers. We’re interested in such facilities because of their potential as a new demand source for our plentiful gas supplies. UGI’s Bethlehem project includes building an 80-foot high LNG tank. Last week the Bethlehem Planning Board voted 3-0 to approve the tank, meaning more progress for the project…
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Other Energy Stories of Interest: Mon, Apr 16, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Pa. severance tax shibboleths; WV businessman makes no bones about his support for Mountain Valley Pipeline; can renewables take the place of fracking in New York; Tri-State Consortium transforms learners into earners in shale country; FERC approves pipe yards for Atlantic Coast in WV, NC; second shale revolution on horizon in the Permian; LNG pipeline reversals turn Louisiana gas market upside down; and more!
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