Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV

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This is not the kind of news we like to share–but it’s important. A newly installed pipeline–that went online in January–experienced an explosion and huge fireball, in Marshall County, WV. TransCanada’s Leach XPress project–some 160 miles of new natural gas pipeline and compression facilities in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle which flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky (hence the name), went online January 1st (see Leach XPress Goes Online; FERC Approves Mountaineer & Gulf XPress). Leach XPress is part of the Columbia Gas Transmission system. From Leach, KY, the gas hitches a ride on TransCanada’s Rayne XPress pipeline to the South and Gulf Coast. A portion of Leach XPress, this brand new, “best-in-class” pipeline (so said TransCanada’s CEO in January), exploded and caught fire at 4:15 am yesterday in Moundsville (Marshall County), WV, sending flames hundreds of feet into the air. Fortunately no one was injured. Some nearby residents fled their homes. Most of the pipeline is now shut down, curtailing 1.3 Bcf/d (out of the 1.5 Bcf/d) of gas volumes “indefinitely.” Here’s what we know (and don’t know) about the accident…
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Country’s Biggest NatGas Power Plant Breaking Ground in OH Oct-Nov

In April 2016 MDN told you about the Guernsey Power Station–a new Utica/Marcellus natural gas-fired electric generating plant proposed for Guernsey County, OH (see New Utica-Powered Electric Plant Proposed for Guernsey County, OH). Apex Power Group at that time said they want to build a large 1,100 megawatt plant in Valley Township–producing enough electricity to power 1 million homes. Apex said construction is targeted to begin in 2018 and the plant will go online in 2020. At the end of December 2017, Apex and joint venture partner Caithness Energy filed a pre-application for the project–and the application showed they no longer want to build an 1,100 megawatt plant, but instead a whopping 1,650 megawatt plant (see Planned OH Utica-Powered Electric Plant Goes from 1,100 to 1,650 MW). That’s the biggest natgas-fired electric plant we’ve heard of so far–anywhere. A record-holder! We spotted an article in the local Daily Jeffersonian (Cambridge, OH) that says Apex is on track to break ground this coming October/November, which is fabulous news, although that time frame is delayed from a previously announced May start…
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Lebanon County Judge Rules ME1 is Public Utility, Pump Stn OK

This story stretches back four years. In November 2014, MDN told you about anti-drillers in Lebanon County, PA who had succumbed to shiny object syndrome and transferred their irrational hatred of fossil fuels from the Williams Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project to the already-in-the-ground but getting repurposed Sunoco Logistics Mariner East 1 pipeline (see New Target for Lebanon, PA Antis: Mariner East Pipeline). As part of converting ME1 from an oil pipeline to flow natural gas liquids, including propane and ethane, from western PA to the Philadelphia area, some 31 pump and valve stations needed to be built–one of them in West Cornwall in Lebanon County. Three local residents and an anti-drilling group called Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County filed an appeal with the zoning board to force the town to rescind permits they granted to allow the pump station. In May 2015, the West Cornwall Township Zoning Hearing Board declared the appeal “moot”–meaning denied (see Antis’ Zoning Appeal re Mariner East Pump Stn in Lebanon “Moot”). The antis decided to throw good money after bad and appealed the matter to Lebanon County Court of Common Pleas (i.e. county court). Finally, after years, the judge in the case backed ME1 over the antis, delivering his decision earlier this week. The judge ruled that ME1 is exempt from certain local zoning restrictions because it is (yes), a “public utility.” Which should not surprise anyone. Just last week the U.S. Supreme Court said the same thing when it refused to hear an eminent domain case for ME2, a different but closely related pipeline (see U.S. Supreme Court Lets Stand Eminent Domain for ME2 Pipeline). Like ME2, ME1 is a public utility. So say all the courts…
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Richmond, VA Police Train to Handle Anti-Pipeline Protests

A faux religious group calling itself the Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice (IACJ) is mad that this past Tuesday 27 agencies (many of them police departments) from across the Richmond, VA metro region trained together for a large-scale civil unrest opposing pipelines. Which is totally realistic. The IACJ, a Virginia-based nonprofit 501(c)(3), says it was organized for “supporting resistance to the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline.” Community organizers. Anarchists who refuse to follow the rule of law. That the police in the greater Richmond area are preparing to deal with them is smart. IACJ calls it, “American fascism, state violence, late stage capitalism, state repression.” We call the IACJ not only anti-capitalist, but anti-American. They are the fascists, in the truest sense of the word…
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Southpointe Event Focuses on M-U NGL Storage Hub

Yesterday the second annual Appalachian Storage Hub Conference convened at the Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh/Southpointe. Topic A (and B and C) was the proposed $10 billion NGL storage hub, which we’ve written about in the past (see our stories here). When you drill for one hydrocarbon, like natural gas (methane), you inevitably get other hydrocarbons coming out of the ground along with it. In southwestern PA, the northern panhandle of WV, and eastern OH, those other hydrocarbons are NGLs–natural gas liquids–including ethane, propane, and butane. NGLs are key to the petrochemical industry. Ethane can be chemically “cracked” to produce ethylene, or raw plastics. Shell is building a $6 billion ethane cracker in Monaca (Beaver County), PA, near Pittsburgh. A second ethane cracker is likely to get built in Belmont County, OH–by PTT Global Chemical. Manufacturing companies then locate near the crackers so they can use the ethylene pellets created by the crackers in their own manufacturing processes. It’s all connected. And right in the center of it, at the nexus, is the ability to store ethane and other NGLs. Without storage, you have to immediately use the NGLs as soon as they are produced. Which doesn’t often happen. There is a mismatch–a delay between the time NGLs are produced and the time they are needed at the plant for cracking/processing. A storage hub addresses that issue and makes everything work. A storage hub is so critical that an entire one-day event was organized to talk about it…
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Who *Sells* the Most NatGas in the U.S.?

Who are the biggest natural gas sellers in the U.S.? You might be surprised to learn that the biggest sellers are not necessarily the biggest producers of natural gas. Oh, you might recognize some of the names of the top sellers (BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips). But others might be more of a mystery (Macquarie, Tenaska, Direct Energy). Would it surprise you to learn that BP (i.e. British Petroleum) is the #1 seller of natgas in the U.S., and has been for years? Last quarter BP sold 22.10 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas here in the colonies. That represents 18% of all natural gas bought and sold. Each quarter NGI (Natural Gas Intelligence) runs the numbers and publishes the list of 25 top natural gas marketers in the U.S. They recently published the first quarter 2018 list, which shows that for a second quarter in a row, overall volumes are up from the same quarter a year ago. Here’s the cool thing: NGI publishes the list absolutely free on their website! As we scan down the list of who sells (i.e. markets) the most natgas in the U.S., we can’t help but notice that many of them have operations in the Marcellus/Utica region…
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Frack Gel Now Made from 4 Grocery Store Products

The fracking revolution continues to revolutionize itself. Last time we checked, the #1 most visited article on MDN (by far) was this one, from 2010: List of 78 Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid in Pennsylvania. A LOT has changed since 2010. Fracking chemicals have become more “green” in recent years. Antis claim fracking uses “dangerous” chemicals in large quantities. How about this? Nowadays, fracking gel can be made from four items you can pick up at the local grocery store: guar gum, milk of magnesia, Visine original eye drops, and distilled white vinegar. That’s it! We’ve come a long way since 2010…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Fri, Jun 8, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Southern Tier Solar Works threaten local pro-gas advocate; OH Utica permits pace slows in April; geologist says Ohio Valley most profitable region for petchem plants; U.S. shale oil too waxy?; OPEC’s stumbling; can U.S. play swing producer with higher oil prices?; by backing coal and nuclear, Trump is shunning natgas; U.S. chemical industry has big advantage thx to shale gas; Schumer calls for tighter restrictions on crude-by-rail; and more!
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