PTT Awards Belmont Cracker Engineering Contract to Bechtel

PTT has awarded the contract to build the Belmont, OH ethane cracker to Bechtel. At least, that’s the rumor swirling around. We have to say right up front, this information has not yet been announced and therefore is not 100% verified–but we’ve talked to a highly placed industry source and we believe it to be accurate. Below we offer insight into why we believe this information is accurate, and why PTT has not yet made their official final investment decision (FID) announcement, and when they might do so…
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Wolf Caves on Severance Tax – Admits He Won’t Get It Passed

Yesterday Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf spoke at a Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon, where Wolf tried to fleece business owners and managers into thinking he’s on their side. (Nice try, but no cigar.) Wolf said he thinks the state will have an on-time budget this year, because he doesn’t plan to drag it out for months and months as he has in the past. Wolf did not mention the severance tax during his talk before the Chamber, but in discussions following his talk, Wolf “acknowledged…that he is unlikely to secure it [a severance tax] in his first term amid resistance by House Republican leaders.” This is huge! Wolf is admitting defeat, throwing in the towel–that he won’t get the tax, at least not this year. However, before we jump up and down to rejoice, know this: Wolf believes he’s going to win reelection, and then he intends to go after the severance tax again–with a vengeance. Which is why it’s so important that he not win a second term. But if he does win (perish the thought!), a Republican-controlled House remains our only firewall against a Marcellus-killing severance tax intended to raise billions for Philadelphia teachers’ unions…
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Penn State Study: Water Quality IMPROVES in Heavily Drilled Areas

Good news for the Marcellus industry, which is bad news for Big Green (Sierra Club, Earthworks, Food & Water Watch, NRDC, EDF, THE Delaware Riverkeeper, et al): A new independent study by Penn State University has just been published that shows groundwater is getting cleaner (!) in the most heavily drilled areas of the Marcellus. You read that right. “The most interesting thing we discovered was the groundwater chemistry in one of the areas most heavily developed for shale gas – an area with 1400 new gas wells – does not appear to be getting worse with time, and may even be getting better,” said one of the authors of “Big Groundwater Data Sets Reveal Possible Rare Contamination Amid Otherwise Improved Water Quality for Some Analytes in a Region of Marcellus Shale Development,” published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology. Talk about nuking the lies of Big Green when it comes to “water contamination”–one of the biggest and most-repeated lies they spin. A team of geoscientists and computer scientists used new data-mining techniques to study a huge dataset of 11,000 groundwater samples located near ~1,400 shale wells taken after drilling in Bradford County, PA. You may recall that the University of Cincinnati recently released a similar study focused on the Ohio Utica (see Univ of Cincinnati Utica Groundwater Study Finally Published!). These are real scientific studies, not the fake stuff put out by Big Green groups. Here’s more on the latest evidence that fracking is good for water, and good for the environment…
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Nicetown Claims “Environmental Racism” re Gas-Fired Plant

Bet you didn’t know that the environment has become racist. That’s the outrageous claim being made about Nicetown, PA (near Philadelphia). Big Green supporters in Nicetown are opposed to SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) plans to build a Marcellus gas-powered electric plant that would provide electricity to SEPTA’s northern Regional Rail lines and a bus garage (see Antis Plan to Shut Down Philly Transit Meeting re NatGas Powergen). The stated reason for their opposition is because the plant will burn an evil, nasty, vile “fossil fuel.” Yep, fossil fuel hatred syndrome. When the antis weren’t looking, Philadelphia Air Management Services (AMS) went ahead and issued the permit that allows SEPTA to move forward with the proposed natgas power plant, which will get built in Nicetown (see Antis “Shocked” Philly Approved Marcellus Power Plant for SEPTA). Nice. The AMS vote “came as a surprise” to the antis. It was their “last hope” to stop the plant. But they haven’t given up hope. Not yet. Antis are not only litigating to stop the plant, now they’re making wild accusations of “environmental racism.” Because the majority of residents are black, the accusation is that SEPTA is sticking the plant there, where it doesn’t matter if black people get polluted. Which is all nonsense. The reason SEPTA wants the plant in Nicetown is because that’s where they own a large bus garage/facility–the same facility they want to power with electricity from the plant! But “environmental racism” has such a great ring, and looks so good in a headline, it’s just irresistible for sycophantic media…
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Big Green Fail – MVP Permission to Cut Trees in VA Until July 31

Big Green protesters with names like “Ink,” “Sprout,” “Red,” “Nutty,” “Fern” and “Decard” illegally sat in the tops of trees (or on poles) in Virginia as a tactic to prevent Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) from cutting trees along the path of the pipeline. Some of them sat up there for a few days, some for a few weeks, and some for months. Eventually they all came down, as of early June (see All MVP Tree-Sitting Protesters have Now Dropped Back to Earth). The protesters had hoped to “run out the clock” for MVP to cut the trees. Because of threatened and endangered species (primarily bats that roost in trees), MVP was supposed to have all of the trees along the pipeline’s path cut by March 31. The protesters thought if they could forestall tree cutting until after that deadline (a deadline that was previously extended), they could stop progress and give their Big Green brethren more time to litigate the pipeline out of existence before the tree cutting window reopens in late fall. We’re more than happy to report the protesters’ effort to stop MVP tree cutting failed. Why? Because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has just extended the time frame to cut those trees until July 31. All of that sitting for nothing…
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WV Teachers Want Higher Severance Tax – For Themselves

No wonder the teachers in Philadelphia think that the money in drillers’ pockets actually belongs to them. Because in neighboring West Virginia, it does! At least some of the money. WV held its final public hearing (#21) as part of a statewide “listening tour” about how the state should fix (i.e. pay for) its insurance program for public employees. Most of the speakers at the 21 complain-fests were teachers. Their #1 preferred solution to “fixing” (paying for) better benefits is to boost the severance tax on natural gas higher than the current 5% (already one of the highest rates in the country). Such an increase would, of course, kill new drilling. And sooner or later previously drilled wells on which current severance tax revenues are based wind down, leaving teachers back at square one, with no extra money to pay for better insurance plans. Here’s more on the story of WV teachers looking to take money out of the pockets of a single industry, in order to grab other people’s hard-earn money for themselves…
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Quebec’s Utica Frack Ban Forces Junex to Merge with Cuda Energy

Last week the Canadian province of Quebec announced it plans to commit fracking suicide (see Quebec to Ban Utica Shale Drilling, Most Other Drilling Too). Quebec’s announcement is a virtual death sentence for oil and gas companies in the province. How? By saying they will ban shale fracking, and by making drilling standards so tight for everyone that even conventional drillers will have a difficult, almost impossible time. We are already seeing the results of Quebec’s announcement. And the result isn’t pretty. Junex, a driller headquartered in Quebec with 1 million leased acres in the St. Lawrence lowlands (where there is Utica Shale), has just announced it is selling out to/merging with Cuda Energy, headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. It was either sell out/merge, or go out of business. Thanks Quebec! You’re so “business friendly” (NOT). Quebec is quickly becoming a pariah among all the Canadian provinces, like New York State is on the other side of the border…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Wed, Jun 13, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Rig count hold steady in Ohio, but permits slow; PA Senate committee OKs bills demanding compensation from DRBC for frack ban, pipeline commission; Cheniere ready to fire up Corpus Christi LNG train 1; Permian problems force shale drillers to look elsewhere; pipeline to Mexico about to open; ignorance of history leads oil pundits astray; better oversight for pipeline cybersecurity; is zero carbon natgas the magical solution we’ve been searching for?; and more!
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