NC Republicans Hounding Dem Gov for Approving Atlantic Coast Pipe

There is a political mess brewing in North Carolina–a mess that has made for some strange bedfellows. Rabid anti-fossil fuelers are supporting Republicans in a bid to target NC’s Democrat governor because his administration granted a permit for Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) in the state. We first reported on this developing situation back in September (see Weird: NC Republicans Target Dem Gov for Supporting M-U Pipeline). The situation revolves around a special fund set up by Gov. Roy Cooper, some $57.8 million paid by Dominion, to be used for environmental reclamation projects. Republicans say it’s a slush fund and, using the power of the state legislature, they wrested control of the fund away from Cooper and gave the money away to schools. But Republicans aren’t content to let the matter rest. They now want an investigation into Cooper and the fund and how it got set up. If they’re not careful, they may end up un-approving the permit for the pipeline.
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Was NY Gov. Cuomo’s Fast-Track Approval of Gas-Fired Plant Legal?

In reading through the story we share below, we feel dirty. Like we need a shower. New York State is deeply, deeply corrupt–at the highest levels. As in Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And every now and again, that corruption spreads to otherwise good projects, like converting a small coal-fired electric plant to burn natural gas. The Greenidge Generation power station in Yates County, located along the shoreline of Seneca Lake in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate NY, is one such a project caught in the web of Cuomo’s corruption. Originally built in the 1930s, the operator of the plant, Atlas Holdings, wanted to convert it from burning coal to burning natural gas. After paying $120,000 to Andrew Cuomo’s campaign for reelection and more than $500,000 in payments to lobbyists, Atlas got a “fast track” approval and certain environmental exemptions from the Cuomo Administration. It’s a worthy project and should have been approved without such payoffs, but the project couldn’t get approved otherwise. Here’s the sordid story.
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Penn State Finds Chemical Clues to Marcellus Methane Migration

Dr. Terry Engelder

One of the ongoing issues used (misused) by those opposed to shale drilling is “methane migration”–the claim that drilling a shale well has led to, due to improper casing, widespread methane leaks getting into nearby water supplies. That was the claim made by Josh Fox in the fake documentary Gasland about Dimock, PA. The thing about methane migration is that most of the time it’s fixable. The other thing is that in a high number of cases, it’s not methane migrating from a shale well, but rather it’s naturally occurring leaks. Which makes sense. You drill shale wells where there’s a lot of methane! But how can you tell the difference between naturally occurring methane migration and methane migrating because of shale well activity? Some sharp researchers at Penn State University, including the “father of the Marcellus,” Dr. Terry Engelder, have just published a research study that can help.
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Ohio State Study Looks at 2 New Microbes in Shale Wells

Marinobacter

Over the past several years MDN has highlighted important research performed by Ohio State University with respect microbes (bacteria) living in shale wells. In a 2016 study, researchers dubbed a never-before-seen bacterial “lifeform” found in a Utica Shale well, Frackibacter. Having some fun, we labeled it a different name: Frackenstein (see Frackenstein! Researchers Find New Life Form in Fracked Utica Wells). The researchers kept at it and published another study along the same lines in 2017 (see Ohio State Research Finds Microbes in Utica Well May be Corrosive). Researchers said a different bacteria studied that appeared in multiple Utica wells (called Halanaerobium) may be a cause for concern, possibly corrosive to pipes and cement and toxic for workers. OSU researchers have kept at it and we now have a brand new study, titled “Members of Marinobacter and Arcobacter Influence System Biogeochemistry During Early Production of Hydraulically Fractured Natural Gas Wells in the Appalachian Basin” (full copy below). This time, several Utica and Marcellus wells were studied. What’s the upshot of this latest study?
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Dominion One Step Away from Closing on SCANA Merger

In January Dominion Energy announced a deal to buy out and merge in South Carolina-based SCANA Corporation (see Dominion Buys SCANA, Mulls Atlantic Coast Pipe Expansion into SC). SCANA is an energy-based holding company principally engaged, through subsidiaries, in electric and natural gas utility operations and other energy-related businesses. In other words, the local electric and gas company for much of South Carolina. When Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline gets built and expanded into South Carolina, it will flow Marcellus/Utica gas to SCANA customers–an important and huge new market for our molecules. Hence our interest in this merger. Dominion announced yesterday that North Carolina has now signed off on the merger, and all that remains is one final regulatory approval. Dominion expects the merger to be done this year.
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Roller Coaster Ride Continues – NatGas Price Spikes Up $0.43

We’re not going to continue to cover news about the price of natural gas each day, because the price goes up, then it goes down, then it goes back up…you get the idea. We will, however, bring you one more story today on the price of natgas, because of the ongoing wild swings in price. The fact that prices goes up and down is not mysterious and frankly, not noteworthy. What is noteworthy is the sudden and dramatic swings–called volatility in the business. Last Wednesday the NYMEX futures price for gas hit a four-year high, up 18% in a single day (see Price of NatGas Spikes to Highest Level in 4 Years – $4.84/Mcf). The very next day the price crashed, down 20% in a single day from the previous day (see Wild Ride – Price of NatGas Crashes Day After it Spikes, Down 20%). The price stayed “low” relative to the previous high for a few days, then spiked up again yesterday, going up 9% to close at $4.70/Mcf. Arctic cold weather is hitting the northeast, combined with somewhat low storage levels, leading to a bump up in price. What lies ahead over the next few days and months? One analyst believes we’ll see prices close to or even above $5/Mcf–tomorrow.
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Painting with a Broad Brush re Post-Production Deductions

Is the Marcellus/Utica industry giving itself a black eye with respect to post-production deductions? It’s always dangerous to paint with too broad of a brush. There are some drillers who don’t deduct post-production costs, and the landowners signed with them are happy as clams (we know some personally). But there are other drillers, perhaps under pressure by investors, perhaps from greed (as is said by those opposed to shale drilling) that are making profits on the backs of landowners. Regardless of motivation, it’s not right. The problem is, the media *does* paint with a broad brush and accuses the entire industry of behaving the same way. The following Charleston Gazette-Mail editorial is a perfect example.
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Energy Stories of Interest: Tue, Nov 20, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Natural-gas pipeline protesters take petition to C&O headquarters; Summit County approves natural gas pipeline emergency fund; U.S. shale firms offer $100 million to aid Texas, New Mexico; Natural gas price explosion bankrupts traders; Freezing temperatures could heat up natural gas prices; Pipeline paralysis: The left’s latest fossil fuel obstruction tactic; No penalties for 90% of pipeline blasts; Firm proposes new wells as New Brunswick muses about end to fracking moratorium; The oil price is now controlled by just three men; Saudi Arabia and the future of oil prices: Look to what robots will do, not what Trump tweets.
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