Court Tosses Sierra Club Challenge to MV Pipe Work in VA

The Sierra Club has struck out in its attempt to stop construction of Mountain Valley Pipeline (an EQT Midstream project) in Virginia. Yesterday the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the VA State Water Control Board did not err in finding MVP would not unreasonably harm streams and wetlands with its construction activities. This is a MAJOR court victory for MVP and begins to clear away some of the doubt cast by other recent court decisions (see Court Cancels Permits for Mountain Valley Pipe on Fed Land). In a strange twist, the same court (the Fourth Circuit) ruled differently concerning the same pipeline project (MVP). The feds ruled “no” to permits issued on federal land in Virginia, but “yes” to permits issued everywhere else Virginia. The pulled permits for MVP on federal land only affect 3.5 miles of pipeline. Everywhere else (at least in Virginia) MVP is good to go…
Continue reading

WV Grandma Sits in 1971 Ford Pinto to Block MV Pipe Work

Click for larger version

This is one of those “you can’t make this stuff up” stories. A 64 year-old retired school teacher from West Virginia (want to know what’s wrong in this country? look at the people teaching our kids) somehow got assistance from someone to drag and then hoist an old, bombed-out, non-functioning 1971 Ford Pinto up into the air, suspending it on blocks, sticking it in front of work being done to construct the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Monroe County, WV. With grandma sitting in it. The car and signs hung in the area had spray-painted slogans like, “defend what you love,” “resist all pipelines,” and “this is our home.” In other words, the woman is an old hippie, trying to relive the glory days of Vietnam protests. She succeeded in blocking work for a few hours–until police arrested her and carted her away. These people just get more bizarre every day…
Continue reading

WV Close to Starting Construction on First Natgas-Fired Plant

For years Energy Solutions Consortium (ESC) has been trying to build several natural gas-fired electric plants in West Virginia, but have been prevented from doing so by Big Coal lawsuits. We recently wrote about this issue, naming names (see OVJA Exposed as Front for Murray Energy Blocking Gas-Fired Plants). It’s understandable that coal doesn’t want to give up its virtual monopoly on electric generation in the Mountain State. Some 95% of all electricity produced in the state comes from coal-fired plants. Last year then-WV Sec. of Commerce Woody Thrasher observed that Ohio has built 19 new gas-fired power plants, and Pennsylvania has built 22 new gas-fired power plants, while WV has built NONE. Why not? Because of Robert Murray, CEO and founder of Murray Energy, one of the largest independent coal mine operators in the U.S. Bob Murray is using a front organization called Ohio Valley Jobs Alliance (OVJA) to file a blizzard of frivolous lawsuits that have kept all new gas-fired plant projects from being built in WV. The best chance ESC has in building its first gas-fired plant is in Harrison County. Only one roadblock remains–an OVJA challenge to the project’s air permit previously granted by the West Virginia Air Quality Board. Kind of ironic that Big Coal is challenging an air permit for far-cleaner-burning natural gas. Coal pollutes the air way more than natural gas. The WV Supreme Court hears challenges to these kinds of permits. The paperwork has been filed with the high court. Once the court accepts and hears the case, which ESC thinks will be early fall, and the air permit is upheld, the first shovel of dirt will fly to build the $880 million Harrison County Power Station. An ESC rep recently updated Harrison County officials and labor union members about the status of the project…
Continue reading

Chesapeake Energy 2Q18: $2B Utica Deal Last Major Asset Sale

CHK stock – Click for larger version

Chesapeake Energy released its second quarter 2018 update yesterday, and hosted a conference call with investor/analysts. Some of the big talk revolved around Chessy’s recent announcement it is selling its Ohio Utica assets for $2 billion (see Stop Press: Chesapeake Sells ALL of its Ohio Utica Assets for $2B). While that announcement last week caused Chesapeake’s stock price to pop up, yesterday’s announcement that the company lost $40 million in 2Q18 caused stock prices to go back down. CEO Doug Lawler put a good spin on the news, and indeed there is reason to be optimistic. The company is moving in the direction of profitability. Lawler said the $2B sale of Ohio Utica assets will be used to pare down the company’s $9+ billion debt. He also said the Utica sale is the last major asset the company will sell in its bid to reduce outstanding debt. So what will they do to further reduce the company’s high debt? Lawler said, “Going forward, organic production growth, exploration, strategic acquisitions and portfolio management” will get the job done. As we’ve previously noted, Chesapeake is in the midst of converting itself from primarily a gas-drilling company to primarily an oil-drilling company. Doug is betting the ranch on oil. Below is an overview of yesterday’s update, a copy of the full update, and some excerpts of interest from the conference call…
Continue reading

Dominion Energy 2Q18: Cove Point, SCANA, ACP & More

There is a LOT going on at Dominion Energy that impacts the Marcellus/Utica region. Yesterday Dominion posted its second quarter 2018 update and held a conference call with investors to discuss what happened during 2Q18, and what to expect in coming quarters. Discussed on the call: (1) The Cove Point LNG export plant went online in 2Q18 and so far has shipped 19 cargoes of LNG–60 billion cubic feet of gas! (2) The $1.3 billion Greensville County, VA gas-fired electric plant is 95% built and will go online later this year. (3) The Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Supply Header Project is under construction and on track to be online by fourth quarter of 2019. (4) The SCANA Corporation merger is moving along, and a big decision from a judge is coming by Aug. 7 about whether or not SC can unilaterally force SCANA to lower electric rates by 15%. If the judge tosses that law and the 15% price reduction is out, the merger is in. If the price reduction stays, the merger is (our conclusion) questionable. Yeah, there’s a lot going on. Below are excerpts from the quarterly conference call, the full 2Q18 update, and the latest slide deck…
Continue reading

Texas Crane Company Buying Marcellus/Utica Crane Company

TNT Crane & Rigging, headquartered in Houston, TX, has just purchased itself a major presence in the crane/rigging market in the Marcellus/Utica. TNT announced on Tuesday it is “merging with” (i.e. buying out and merging in) Allison Crane & Rigging, located in Williamsport, PA. When you read these kinds of announcements you’re never quite sure who is buying whom. But it became clear in this announcement. TNT, which is a “portfolio company” of (i.e. majority owned by) First Reserve, a BIG private equity investment firm, owns and operates 700 cranes in 44 different branch offices across North America. Allison operates 30 cranes. That’s how we know who bought whom. Here’s the news that TNT and Allison figure they’re better together…
Continue reading

EQT Uses Big Data to Improve Truck Safety

Trucks do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to the shale energy business. Water trucks and trucks hauling other materials and equipment make, we’re guessing, hundreds of thousands of trips per year throughout the Marcellus/Utica region. EQT is the largest natural gas producer in the country, following its purchase of Rice Energy last year. Trucks are a big part of what EQT does. This year alone EQT trucks will drive over 24 million miles! Safety on the roads is a “top priority” for EQT. How to accomplish better safety? Upgrades of equipment are one way EQT is tackling the safety issue. But there’s another intriguing way EQT is getting better at safety–with Big Data. EQT is using researchers from Carnegie Mellon University to gather and analyze a mountain of data from its truck operations, to figure out how to improve safety and save money. It’s working. Speeding, hard braking and other safety violations have fallen 44% since 2017…
Continue reading

Energy Stories of Interest: Thu, Aug 2, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Shale gas saving PA on energy costs; Earthworks’ failure highlights perception vs reality in OH; CELDF back to selling bill of goods in Columbus; why does Geisinger continue to advance fractivist junk science?; shale reality check; Trump’s vision for world energy dominance under threat; gas prices will remain low for foreseeable future; 7 things to know about EPA’s Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler; Rick Perry says U.S. net energy exporter in 18 months; Mexico to commit fracking suicide with ban; and more!
Continue reading