Cuomo-Corrupted DEC Denies Permit for Williams NESE Pipe Project

A new fight is shaping up in the (crumbling) Empire State. Once again Andrew Cuomo, at the prompting of Big Green groups (corrupted by their big donations to his campaign war chest) has instructed his lackeys who run the Dept. of Environment Conservation (DEC) to reject a modest pipeline expansion proposal by Williams’ Transco Pipeline subsidiary. The project, which we’ve previously written about and are actively promoting, is called the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project (see Time to Support Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhancement Project). The project is meant to increase pipeline capacity and flows heading into northeastern markets. Transco wants to provide more Marcellus natural gas to utility giant National Grid beginning with the 2019-2020 heating season. National Grid operates in New York City, Long Island, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. There are a number of components to the project, but the key component, the heart of the project, is a new 23-mile pipeline from the shore of New Jersey into (on the bottom of) the Raritan Bay–running parallel to the existing Transco pipeline–before connecting to the Transco offshore. In a pattern we’ve seen before, the DEC claims, falsely, that an application for a state water crossing permit is “incomplete.” The DEC, like Lucy with her football in the old Charlie Brown cartoons, offers the promise that “if only” the pipeline company will submit a “complete” application THEN they will approve it. But just like Lucy with the football, when the company gets close, the DEC pulls it away yet again. Fool me once… The DEC used this same tactic to defeat the Constitution Pipeline project. It sure feels to us like “here we go again”…
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NEPA Hospital Building Marcellus-Fired Electric Plant

Concept drawing for Geisinger’s $18 million Central Utility Plant

A hospital in Wilkes-Barre, PA–the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center–has begun work on building a new $18 million Marcellus gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant. The new plant will cut the hospital’s energy consumption by 40% and save it around $1.5 million in energy costs annually. Cool! This is not the first time we’ve written about the trend among PA hospitals to build their own mini power plants, powered by natural gas. Last time we checked, in November, there were a dozen hospitals across the Keystone State that use CHP technology (see Lancaster Hospital Produces Its Own Electricity Using Marcellus Gas). Hospitals are not the only organizations that use CHP–universities, manufacturing plants and others use CHP too (see Website Connects Lenders/Borrows for Combined Heat & Power Projects). Here’s the news about the newest PA hospital to use CHP–an important new market for PA’s abundant, clean-burning Marcellus gas…
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Blue Racer Midstream: The Veins at the Heart of the Utica Shale

Blue Racer Midstream is a pipeline and processing plant company–a joint venture between Caiman Energy II and Dominion Energy–that owns several natural gas processing and fractionation plants, 570 miles of natgas gathering pipelines, and 151 miles of NGL and condensate pipelines in OH and WV. The company’s primary focus from the beginning has been on handling and processing “wet gas” in eastern OH, northern WV and western PA. Blue Racer processes and transports NGLs (natural gas liquids) to market by all means possible–pipeline, rail and yes, even barge (see Blue Racer Barges NGLs to Gulf Coast on the Ohio River). One of the NGLs, ethane, plays a big role for Blue Racer–present and future. It’s time for an update on Blue Racer Midstream, the veins at the heart of the Utica Shale…
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Will New WV Exec Order Speed Up Gas-Fired Power Plant Projects?

WV Gov. Jim Justice

Yesterday West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice issued a new Executive Order (EO)–the third of his tenure thus far. The new EO cuts through regulatory red tape and instructs all WV governmental departments that issue permits to prioritize “permits for projects of critical economic concern.” That would include permits for Marcellus/Utica Shale projects. The EO requires agencies to issue written reports to the permit applicant, the executive director of the state Development Office, and to the Governor, explaining why they haven’t gotten off their rear-ends and acted on a given critical permit. As we read about this interesting development, it immediately struck us that we hope the EO also affects the permitting process for new natural gas-fired electric plants. Last September WV Secretary of Commerce, Woody Thrasher, admitted publicly that his beloved state is unfriendly to new natgas-fired electric plant projects (see WV Sec Commerce Says State Unfriendly to Gas-Fired Power Plants). In a speech before state legislators, Thrasher said while Ohio has built 19 new gas-fired power plants, and Pennsylvania has built 22 new gas-fired power plants, WV has built NONE. Zero. Nada. Even though perhaps a dozen such projects have been proposed. The first sliver of light in that respect came in February of this year when finally the very first such project in WV was approved by the Public Service Commission (see Brooke County WV Power Plant Wins State Approval). So when we read about the new EO signed by Justice, our thoughts didn’t jump to permits for shale wells, our thoughts turned to permits stalled for new electric power plant projects–which use Marcellus/Utica shale gas…
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EIA: PA’s Natural Gas Production Hits New Highs Each Year

Our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, yesterday took a close look at natural gas production in Pennsylvania and how it has grown. A few interesting factoids: PA averaged a record high 15 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas production in 2017–3% higher than 2016. Most of PA’s natural gas production comes from the Marcellus Shale. PA production accounted for 19% of total U.S. marketed natural gas production in 2017. PA produces more natural gas than any other state except Texas. Several key pipelines have helped move some of PA’s enormous production to other markets. Here’s the insightful look at PA natgas production from expert number crunchers at EIA…
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FERC Launches Review of Its Process to Approve NatGas Pipelines

Government agencies, like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), share many of the same characteristics with business entities. For example, each has its own standard operating procedures (SOPs)–the rules that govern how that organization operates. In 1999 FERC adopted SOPs for how it reviews and decides on which pipeline projects it will approve, or not approve (called “Certification of New Interstate Natural Gas Pipeline Facilities – Statement of Policy”). Since 1999 FERC has operated pretty much the same way, taking into consideration certain factors, discounting or ignoring other factors, when approving pipeline projects. It’s time to update FERC’s SOPs. Last week FERC launched a review of its policies in reviewing pipeline projects and has invited the public to provide comments. Anti fossil fuel nutters have been the first in line, hoping to get FERC to adopt policies so strict no pipelines will ever again be approved. Antis have for years lied about FERC’s role in reviewing pipelines, calling the agency a “rubber stamp” approving 99% of the pipeline projects submitted. What antis don’t tell you is that FERC has provided negative feedback for many (most?) pipeline projects, causing the builder to either change the project plan or abandon it altogether. Under current SOPs pipelines either get built “the right way” according to FERC’s strict standards, or the project is withdrawn with no need to be rejected (hence the high “approval” rate). Here’s more background and context for what FERC may be looking to change about the way it approves pipeline projects…
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Mammoth Energy Wanders into Non-Shale Work in Puerto Rico

Oilfield services company (OFS) Mammoth Energy Services, headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, operates in both the Utica Shale and Permian Basin. Last time we checked in on the company was over a year ago. At that time MDN reported that Mammoth, a relatively new company formed in 2014, had bought itself a pair of sand mines (see OFS Mammoth Energy Buys Second Sand Co. to Keep on Frackin’). But something happened last year that escaped our notice. Mammoth is not only in the OFS line of work, they also do electrical transmission and distribution (“T&D”) work. Following last year’s disaster when Hurricane Maria devastated the Puerto Rico, Mammoth was hired to help rebuild the electric utility infrastructure on the island. The way we were alerted to Mammoth’s extracurricular activity in Puerto Rico was in spotting a Seeking Alpha investor article. The article (below) takes the approach that Mammoth’s stock value is overinflated by 50% due to the contract they have in Puerto Rico. The author says, rightly, that Mammoth is mainly an OFS company. He thinks when the Puerto Rico work is done, the underlying “weak” OFS customer base won’t be enough to keep Mammoth profitable. We don’t necessarily agree with his views about the company (although it wouldn’t hurt our feelings if Mammoth shed its T&D business). The author is an investor and is “short” on Mammoth, meaning he owns securities that bet on the price of Mammoth’s stock going down. The reason we bring you the following article is because it contains a lot of information about Mammoth–a still small but rapidly growing, and increasingly important, OFS company operating in our region…
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Other Energy Stories of Interest: Tue, Apr 24, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: FirstEnergy reaches agreement with creditors for bankrupt subsidiaries; Cheniere settles Sabine Pass LNG tank issues; Colorado energy, manufacturing pushes back on Boulder idiotic climate change lawsuit; gas growth in Okla.; the new EPA and why it drives radicals crazy; the most “hated” sector in the stock market – natgas; if solar and wind are so cheap, why is electricity so expensive?; appreciating fossil fuels on Earth Day; enviro protectionism run amok; the role of accurate weather forecasts in the energy industry; anti-energy policies at the World Bank; and more!
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