Dela. Riverkeeper Pressures DRBC to Revoke ME2 Pipe Permit

Here’s the latest strategy in THE Delaware Riverkeeper’s ongoing war against fossil fuels, and against natural gas pipelines in particular: Pressure the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to revoke a permit granted by the agency to the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project on the flimsy basis that ME2 has “violated” the conditions of the permit. Frankly, we didn’t even know the DRBC had issued a permit for ME2. After all, ME2 is a state-permitted project and does not come under federal authority. We doubt the DRBC has legal authority to issue a permit for the project–but if no one challenges them, their authority stands. ME2 probably thought it easier to just get the permit and not squabble over it. According to Big Green mouthpiece PBS StateImpact Pennsylvania, the DRBC is actually considering Riverkeeper’s request. The problem with this latest strategy by Riverkeeper is that DRBC’s executive director, Steve Tambini, is so weak, he may fold like a cheap deck of cards and actually do it. Tambini, who has been a major disappointment since taking over from the ultra-leftist Carol Collier, seems happy to take his marching orders from Riverkeeper. We have to wonder if this latest strategy will bear fruit. A scary proposition. But Riverkeeper isn’t content to try and scuttle ME2 by pressuring the weak DRBC as its only strategy. Last week the DRBC filed a “groundbreaking” lawsuit against the ME2 project in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, meant to stop the project by court order…
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TransCanada Says Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Back Online in July

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. A section of the pipeline exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). TransCanada (and their Columbia Gas Transmission subsidiary) is working feverishly to get the pipeline back online. As of last Friday, the Stagecoach-LXP meter, which ties into the Strike Force South gathering system station, was back up and flowing, up to 190 million cubic feet per day (see Part of Leach XPress Pipe Up and Running Following Explosion). The company told shippers earlier this week they expect to have the full 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline back online “early in July.” Still no word on what caused the explosion, although a stray comment we read leads us to speculate…
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Mountaineer Plans Pipe Expansions in WV Panhandle “Every Year”

Eastern Panhandle Expansion – click for larger version

In 2017, Mountaineer Gas launched its Eastern Panhandle Expansion pipeline project–a project to deliver natural gas via local distribution channels to a new industrial facility in Berkeley County, WV, and to provide gas to other local businesses and residents in the Tri-State area. Mountaineer’s pipeline expansion will be fed by a 3.5-mile Columbia Gas pipeline due to run under the Potomac–which is being fought vigorously by anti fossil-fuelers. There are three phases to the Eastern Panhandle Expansion project: Phase One runs a 22.5-mile, 10-inch-diameter steel pipeline from Morgan County to Martinsburg; Phase Two includes a loop to Charles Town (Jefferson County); and Phase Three will build a four mile segment of pipeline into Martinsburg. The West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection approved the Eastern Panhandle Expansion in February (see WV DEP Issues Permit for Mountaineer Gas Pipeline in Eastern WV), and work on Phase One began in March (see Mountaineer Gas Begins Work on Morgan County, WV Pipeline). According to an article just published, work on Phase One was initially delayed because of heavy rainfall in April/May (but is now going well), and Phase Two is planned to begin in the first or second quarter of 2019. The interesting thing (for us) is a comment from Mountaineer VP Thomas Westfall, who said this: “Over the next 20 years, we will have a lot of additional interest [in gas service in the Tri-State area], and we will be proposing expansion projects in this area every year.” Meaning Phases One, Two, and Three are only the beginning, which is sure to drive the antis bonkers…
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Cunningham Energy Focuses on Shallow Horizontal Oil Wells in WV

Cunningham Energy is a small oil driller based in West Virginia. In 2015, Cunningham struck oil in the Big Injun sandstone formation in Clay County, WV (see Cunningham Strikes Oil in West Virginia’s Big Injun Territory). In 2016, Cunningham announced they would target another shallow formation, the Weir Sand formation, a few layers below the Big Injun (same group of rocks called the Mississippian system), once again looking for oil (see Cunningham Using Horizontal Drilling to Target Weir Sand in WV). Cunningham issued a press release two days ago to announce that its Lions Paw 4-Well Pad, in Clay County, is now producing at a rate of 10,000 plus barrels of oil per month. Normally we don’t cover news from conventional drillers, but Cunningham is interesting for a few reasons. While the rock layers Cunningham targets are layers typically targeted by conventional oil drillers, the lines are beginning to become blurred between conventional and unconventional. Cunninghamton targets shallow layers using horizontal drilling, and they drill increasingly longer laterals. Yet they don’t frack their wells. Correction: They do frack! Cunningham sent us an email to let us know they do use fracking on their shallow, horizontal wells. Is this conventional? Or unconventional? Perhaps we should invent a new word to describe it: biconventional. Drilling with elements of both conventional and unconventional. Here’s the Cunningham announcement that existing wells are pumping oil with impressive numbers. The release also mentions Cunningham’s plans to drill more shallow horizontal wells in both Clay and Kanawha counties this year…
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Shell Says Falcon Ethane Pipeline to Get Built in 2019

Click for larger version

Shell delivered some good news at the Northeast U.S. Petrochemical conference held earlier this week in Pittsburgh: The Falcon ethane pipeline will get built next year. It won’t actually flow ethane to the Shell cracker in Monaca until 2020 at the earliest–because the cracker plant itself won’t go online until 2020 at the earliest. The Falcon pipeline project is interesting for a number of reasons, the chief reason (for us) being: Shell didn’t use eminent domain for a single foot of the 97-mile, two-legged pipeline system. Shell negotiated with every landowner and got them to sign on the dotted line. Judging by the articles we’ve highlighted in the past, Shell paid landowners between $40-$75 per linear foot for a permanent easement (see Landowners Who Negotiate with Shell Ethane Pipeline Get More $). The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection conducted three public hearings on the project earlier this year, in preparation for issuing permits. Antis came out in force and behaved badly, as they typically do (see More of the Same at Final DEP Hearing for Shell Ethane Pipeline). Using no eminent domain, and in the face of Big Green opposition, the big news is that Shell says they will build the pipeline next year, right on schedule, which is good news indeed…
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Shale Brewing Opens Brewpub Near Canton, OH

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? We reported in January that the company has continued to grow their distribution network as far away as the PA and WV border (see Ohio Utica Shale Beer Expands Distribution to WV, PA). We’ve heard that if you look hard enough, you might even find a bottle Shale Brewing beer in Pittsburgh. We’re hoping Roughneck Red will become the official beer of MDN. Shale Brewing is on the grow again. The brewery has relocated from downtown Canton to nearby Jackson Township, and last night debuted a new brewpub with nine (!) beers on draft…
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INGAA: US/Canada Needs to Spend $44B/Year on Pipelines Thru 2035

A newly published study by the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) Foundation is raising eyebrows. The study, titled “North America Midstream Infrastructure through 2035” (full copy below), says the United States and Canada together will need to invest a total of $791 billion, or an average of $44 billion per year, from 2018 to 2035, to build new natural gas and oil pipelines (and associated infrastructure). That is some serious cash! The study makes certain assumptions, like this one: “Because production costs are relatively low in the Marcellus and Utica compared with production costs elsewhere, the study anticipates both production and infrastructure needs related to natural gas will be focused in the U.S. Northeast.” Meaning a lot of the money to build pipelines will go to our region. And this: “The study estimates about 25 billion cubic feet per day of new capacity to move Marcellus and Utica supplies to consumers and export facilities through 2035.” Whoa! According to the updated EIA Drilling Productivity Report issued on Monday, the Marcellus/Utica region will produce 28.9 Bcf/d of natural gas in July. Another 25 Bcf/d on top of that (essentially doubling current production) means by 2035 our region will produce over 50 Bcf/d of natgas. Incredible! No wonder we need more pipeline investment. Here’s an overview, along with a copy of the full study…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Wed, Jun 20, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Collusion between RFJ Jr. & former NY AG to assassinate Exxon; the tech behind building Shell’s $6B ethane cracker; OPEC has a “second shale dilemma”; Mass. Senate passes insane 100% renewable bill; fixes for Permian gas takeaway problems; shale producers warn China tariffs will hit energy exports; NGL growth rose faster than natgas growth!; world is becoming more dependent on “riskier” U.S. shale says Dallas Fed chief; UPS ignores electric, invests in CNG; corporate raider Carl Ichan victorious in SandRidge takeover; EU/China/Canada snubs U.S. at faux climate summit; and more!
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