FERC Finally Approves 2 Key Rover Pipeline Laterals, Sept 1 Start

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) game of hardball with Energy Transfer over the Rover Pipeline has finally paid off. For months FERC has refused to allow four Rover laterals–feeder pipelines to shuttle gas from where it’s produced into the main Rover pipeline–to start up (see FERC Plays Hardball with Rover – Refuses to Certify 4 Laterals). The reason? ET has not, according to FERC, lived up to its word on restoration work. Things like smoothing over the dirt and replanting grass and other vegetation over top of the buried pipeline. Earlier this month ET assured FERC it would have the majority of restoration work done on two key laterals–the Burgettstown Lateral in southwestern PA, and the Majorsville Lateral in the northern panhandle of WV–by the end of this month (see FERC Continues to Block Rover Laterals Until Restoration Work Done). With recent evidence that ET is indeed living up to its word, last Thursday FERC gave ET permission to start up both the Burgettstown and Majorsville Laterals on Sept. 1. The majority of the restoration work will be done by this Friday, Aug. 31. However, there will still be some odds and ends after that (addressing “ground movement areas) that will go on through December. That leaves two final laterals–the CGT (Columbia Gas Transmission) and Sherwood Laterals, still not online. This is a prime example of FERC playing hardball, contrary to the “rubber stamp” antis claim FERC is for pipeline companies…
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Partial Victory for PA Drillers re DEP Chapter 78a Drilling Regs

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has handed PA drillers a partial victory in their quest to block onerous new drilling regulations, part of something called Chapter 78a. In October 2016, after five years in the making, PA adopted new shale drilling regulations (see PA’s New Chapter 78a Drilling Regs Go into Effect Oct 8). Although the regs were ready at the end of the Gov. Tom Corbett Administration, Corbett fumbled the ball and the regs didn’t get adopted, which left them vulnerable to the incoming left-leaning Tom Wolf Administration. Wolf’s people mangled the regulations under the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) Dictator/Secretary John Quigley, who got fired over unethical collusion with Big Green groups. Some of the good stuff remained, but onerous new elements were introduced. The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), which represents PA’s biggest shale drillers, filed an appeal in Commonwealth Court to block the most onerous aspects of the new regulations (see Marc. Shale Coalition Files Lawsuit to Block PA Chapter 78a Regs). In December 2016, the DEP escalated the case by asking the PA Supreme Court to undo the block on those regulations imposed by the lower Commonwealth Court. Last October the Supremes heard oral arguments in the case, and in June of this year the Supremes ruled to not undo the block on DEP’s onerous regs–but instead bumped the case back down to Commonwealth Court to let the matter play out there (see PA Supreme Court Upholds Block on DEP Chapter 78a Drilling Regs). Last week Commonwealth Court struck down provisions in Chapter 78a (f) and (g) defining “common areas of a school’s property and playgrounds,” and “species of special concern” as public resources under Act 13. While we didn’t get 100% of what we wanted, we got maybe 95%–at least for the two provisions in sections (f) and (g). Other parts of the lawsuit are still under consideration by Commonwealth Court. Here’s the deets on this important victory for Marcellus drillers…
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PTT Decision on Ohio Cracker Announced in Next “Month or So”

Sometimes you spot an innocent, off-the-cuff remark that’s not really part of the intended story–but has huge meaning. Such was the case when we spotted a story quoting Ohio House of Representatives member Andy Thompson (Republican, 95th District covering Carroll, Harrison and Noble counties, and portions of Washington and Belmont counties). Thompson, who (to his credit) is not running for reelection after four terms [NOTE: a sharp MDN reader emailed to say Mr. Thompson was term-limited out and could not run again], gave a speech at the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association last week in St. Clairsville. In his remarks, Thompson talked about the work of Shale Crescent USA, an economic development organization formed a few years ago to encourage business growth in the Ohio Valley based on low natural gas prices that allow manufacturers to operate more efficiently–with easy access to half the population of the United States and Canada. Although Thompson’s focus was not on the PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker project potentially planned for Belmont County, he had some VERY interesting remarks about that project and others like it…
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Dominion Buying a Piece of Competitive Mountain Valley Pipeline

Here’s some dots that we’ve not seen anyone else connect. There are two competing pipeline projects that generally run along the same route to shuttle Marcellus/Utica gas to the southeastern U.S. One project is EQT Midstream’s Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), which runs 303 miles from West Virginia into southern Virginia. MVP is facing a court case that’s idled three-fourths of the project, leading to a layoff of “thousands” of workers (see FERC Lets MVP Restart Work on 25% of Pipe; MVP Lays off ‘Thousands’). The other project is Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), a 600+ mile pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina, almost to the border with South Carolina. ACP is currently idled because of a similar court case (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Atlantic Coast Pipeline). Both EQT and Dominion believe the court order and FERC’s directive is only a temporary setback. Both believe their projects will be completed sometime next year. Here’s where it gets interesting. Although MVP has not officially filed with FERC (yet), they do plan to expand from the current termination point in Pittsylvania County, VA another 70 miles into North Carolina (see Mountain Valley Pipeline Launches Plan to Expand 70 Miles into NC). That new portion of MVP is called the Southgate project. Last week PSNC Energy, based in North Carolina, purchased a 30% share in the MVP Southgate project. PSNC is a subsidiary of South Carolina-based SCANA Corp. Sound familiar? Dominion Energy is right now in the process of closing a deal to buy/merge in SCANA Corp. (see FERC Approves Dominion Energy/SCANA Merger – Deal Still Alive). Ergo, Dominion is buying a 30% stake in its primary competitor to flow Marcellus/Utica gas south…
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EQT Searches for Indians Before Building Freshwater Pond in SWPA

EQT signed a lease with a landowner in Washington County, PA back in 2007 that allows the company to drill and/or develop surface property–building things like a freshwater (NOT wastewater) pond that can be used for nearby drilling. The landowner’s daughter, who either doesn’t understand drilling (or more likely does understand but doesn’t like it) claims there is an unmarked, single grave somewhere on the property (presumed to be an Indian), using that claim to stop EQT’s work on building the water pond. EQT is patiently playing along, waiting for–even paying for and assisting with–an archaeological dig to see if the grave and other Indian remains can be located. So far, nothing has been unearthed–except for a lot of hot air…
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WV Teachers Get Greedy, Want to Boost Already-High Severance Tax

We’ve written, forever, about the quest by Pennsylvania’s teacher’s unions (most of them in the Philadelphia area) who want to raid the coffers of Marcellus drillers via a confiscatory severance tax slapped on top of an existing impact tax slapped on top of corporate income taxes. You can never have too many taxes in education-land. That’s the only way they get paid. Neighboring states like Ohio and West Virginia already have a severance tax. It’s hard comparing apples to apples, but essentially PA drillers pay a bit more than OH drillers, but a whole lot less than WV drillers. The severance tax in OH is 1.25%. In WV the severance tax is a whopping 5%. And yet, amazingly, the teacher’s unions in WV are now clamoring to boost the severance tax even more! They want to boost the tax by 2.5% to 7.5%–which would kill the Marcellus/Utica industry in the state. It would be a death sentence. The West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA) is on the case, pushing back against this lunacy…
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EPA Proposes “Affordable Clean Energy” Plan to Replace Obama CPP

One more piece of the Obama “legacy”–the onerous, wildly unpopular Clean Power Plan (CPP) that assassinates coal powered energy and mortally wounds natural gas in favor of so-called renewable sources of energy–is now history. Well, it will be history after a few more years of legal wrangling. Let’s say the CPP is well on its way to the garbage can of history, where it belongs. The CPP (see The Many Flaws with President Obama’s Clean Power Plan) will be replaced by a new plan released last week by the federal EPA called the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule. Instead of Big Brother dictating what power sources an individual state can and can’t use, ACE empowers states, promotes energy independence, and facilitates economic growth and job creation. “The ACE Rule would restore the rule of law and empower states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide modern, reliable, and affordable energy for all Americans,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. Hmmm, maybe we’re beginning to warm up to swamp-dweller Wheeler after all. If he can pull this off, we’ll feel better about leaving him as head of the agency…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Mon, Aug 27, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: PA Auditor General DePasquale resurrects old claims of DEP problems; Carnival Cruise to park LNG liner at Canaveral; the next big bet in fracking – water; US natgas supplies & price, again; FERC outsources to help with LNG inspections; US natgas exports go up with new pipes into Mexico; Venezuela to flow gas to Trinidad for liquefaction; Aramco IPO halted; why worry about Russia’s Nord Stream 2; natgas prices in Europe surge; and more!
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