Victory! FERC Lifts Stop Work Order for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Once again, the forces of good have overcome the forces of evil–evil being the Sierra Club and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and their mission to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) from getting built. Yesterday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) lifted a previously issued stop-work order that had idled work along the entire 600+ mile ACP. The stop-work order came in early August after a federal court pulled permits for approximately 100 miles of ACP in response to a lawsuit filed by the anti-American Sierra Club and a few other groups, including the SELC (see Federal Court Stops Works on Some (All?) of Atlantic Coast Pipe). The Clubbers and their cohorts convinced the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn permits granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Park Service, granted to ACP to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway. The court, in rolling back ACP’s permits, told FERC they should shut down work on the entire project until this matter is resolved. A few days later, on August 10, FERC did just that (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Atlantic Coast Pipeline). Work has now been stopped for over a month, but yesterday FERC reversed its decision and told ACP they can resume work because last week both the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service revised and reissued the permits previously overturned by the court. Therefore, we’re all good now. Dominion (the builder) said construction will resume “immediately,” weather permitting…
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PBS Implies PA NatGas Pipelines Not Mapped – Fake News

An article appearing on the Pittsburgh’s PBS station WESA website is, in a phrase, fake news. The article boldly states in its headline (and text) that: “Only 11 Percent Of Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas Pipelines Are Mapped For The Public.” The implication, the slight-of-hand intended to mislead lazy readers, is that 89% of natural gas pipelines in PA are not mapped at all. That simply is not true. The second graf of the story says this: “There are three types of natural gas pipelines: large transmission lines, medium-sized gathering pipelines and small distribution lines that go to homes and businesses. Transmission lines are the only ones mapped and disclosed to the public by the federal government, and they make up about 11 percent of total pipelines. There are 89,296 total natural gas pipeline miles in the commonwealth; the vast majority are small distribution lines, but more than 1,105 miles worth are gathering pipelines.” Does that not overtly imply the “vast majority” of PA’s pipelines are not even mapped? Pennsylvania recently went through a major revision of the state’s 811 system. Not only are gathering pipelines to shale wells mapped and included in the 811 system, so too are gathering lines to conventional wells. The only pipelines not part of the 811 system are those that run to “stripper wells”–wells that produce barely a puff of gas and therefore there’s no danger if you do happen to hit one when digging. The state Public Utility Commission wants to include stripper well pipelines in 811 too (see PA PUC Wants to Expand 811 to Include Stripper Wells). Is there an *online* database where *anyone* (i.e. “the public”) can see all of those pipeline maps? Heck no! First, there’s no need. Second, do you want terrorists to know where every pipeline is buried? We didn’t think so. Before you dig, you call 811 and if there’s a pipeline in the area, someone comes out and marks it. Rest assured, almost all natural gas pipelines in PA ARE mapped (except those to stripper wells), illustrating yet again how PBS shades the truth and generates fake news…
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Pressure in Exploded Massachusetts Pipes 12X More than Normal

Last Thursday a major accident occurred 25 miles northwest of Boston when delivery pipelines owned by Columbia Gas (NiSource) in three communities exploded and caught fire at more than 80 locations (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured some 25 others. Local officials ordered over 8,000 residents and businesses in the three communities to evacuate–until Sunday. A major incident. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating. According to an NTSB spokesman, the early indicators are that a pressure sensor is the cause. Here’s what *may have* happened: A pressure sensor that controls how much gas is pumped through local pipelines was attached to a portion of a pipeline that was capped at both ends and closed off. The sensor detected little-to-no pressure, so it signaled the system to keep increasing the pressure, to flow more gas. The pressure eventually reached 12 times what it should have been, and the older cast iron and steel pipelines couldn’t take it, resulting in explosions and fires affecting more than 80 homes and businesses…
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EIA Sep ’18 Drilling Report: Shale Output Flies Past 73 Bcf/d

Each month when we bring you the latest U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) “Drilling Productivity Report” (DPR) we say the same thing: “We shattered another record.” And so it is again this month, with the DPR issued yesterday. The DPR is the EIA’s best guess, based on expert data crunchers, as to how much each of the U.S.’s seven major shale plays will produce for both oil and natural gas in the coming month. The Marcellus/Utica region (called Appalachia in the report) continues to see production go through the roof. For six months in a row Marcellus/Utica production grew at roughly one-third of a billion cubic feet–massive! EIA says in the coming month of October, M-U production will grow another 298 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d). Hey, it’s not a full one-third Bcf, but it’s close enough. The big news is that (a) M-U production will hit another new all-time high–of 29.4 Bcf/d of production; and (b) natural gas production for all seven plays will hit another new all-time high–of 73 Bcf/d. Run the numbers and you’ll see that M-U production is 40% of all shale gas production. Let’s not ignore shale oil production, which will go up another 79,000 barrels per day in the coming month across all shale plays to a record-breaking 7.6 million barrels per day. Month after month after month we keep breaking records…
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NETL Picks 2nd Morgantown Site for Additional Fracking Research

MSEEL test site in the Morgantown Industrial Park – click for larger version

Important research on fracking by West Virginia University (WVU) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, WV continues. Last year we told you that NETL and its Marcellus Shale Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (MSEEL) program are working on “mastering the subsurface”–learning what happens at the smallest level of fracturing shale, so they can improve recovery rates using new processes and materials (see NETL Morgantown Working on Breakthrough Shale Production Techniques). In addition to improving recovery, they’re also looking for ways to cut down on water use. Since there’s a fair bit of water already trapped in shale, NETL is experimenting with carbon dioxide foam as a way of using less water. They’ve even experimented with using natural gas itself to frack rock. Great work being done by NETL/MSEEL. So far that work has happened at one live, fracked shale gas well near Morgantown, drilled by Northeast Natural Energy. Now comes word that researchers are setting up a second test site, also in the Morgantown vicinity (Blacksville). As before, the aim “is geared toward improving gas recovery from horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing at sites throughout the region”…
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Is Certification Needed for Shale Producers? IES Says it Helps

Last week MDN told you that Southwestern Energy is participating in a program to get their gas “certified” (see Southwestern Sells 1st Certified “Responsible Gas” to NJ Resources). What is certified gas? Is that like “certified organic” fruits and vegetables? Actually, it is kind of like that. The Independent Energy Standards Corporation (IES) has launched what they call their TrustWell™ Responsible Gas Program certification program to certify that natural gas bearing that label is “responsibly developed.” Such a designation is meant to imply the company doing the extracting (Southwestern in this case) has followed certain guidelines and procedures to safeguard the environment. Certification is a marketing/public relations tactic to be sure. The question is, is it worth it? How much does it cost to become certified? What do you have to do to become certified? And ultimately, will such certification actually help you sell more of your gas? One thing is for certain, nutty antis won’t care–so if you’re trying to appease them with certification, you can forget it. Won’t work. But, there are others (more reasonable people) who may put stock in such a certification. Is it a trend? The next “big thing?” We don’t know. What we do know (or have) is an interview with Jory Caulkins, CEO of IES, talking about his organization’s new certification and what it can mean for drillers…
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Big Green Exposed: List of Liberal Foundations Donating $3.7B

From 2008 to 2016, liberal foundations forked over $3.7 billion (!) to rabid anti-fossil fuel groups. Much of that money went into suing fossil fuel companies (and the government), attempting to outlaw fracking and the extraction of oil, gas and coal. The money is given to groups like THE Delaware Riverkeeper, Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club and other odious bottom feeders. The media would have you believe it’s David vs. Goliath–David being these innocent little green groups, Goliath is Big Oil. It’s actually the opposite. We are fighting against a well-organized, well-funded campaign to end the use of fossil fuels. And now, finally, we have a tool to identify who is behind all that money. A new website called Big Green, Inc. lists the donors AND recipients of that $3.7 billion, money aimed at so-called climate change issues. Who’s on the list? All of the groups we’ve already identified, and groups we’ve written about for years, including the William Penn Foundation, Park Foundation, Sea Change Foundation, California billionaire Tom Steyer’s foundation, Google billionaire Eric Schmidt’s foundation, and others…
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Energy Stories of Interest: Tue, Sep 18, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: UGI announces executive management realignment to enhance execution of business strategy; Penalty is for emissions and other violations at Warren, PA refinery; California’s electricity dreams still need natural gas; EIA introduces interactive dashboard detailing natural gas storage activity; Rain for Rent owners weigh sale worth $1 billion; Honeywell acquires Ortloff Engineers, NGL processing technology; The case for fracking: Delays in decision costing Nova Scotians millions.
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