PA Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Briggs “Rule of Capture” Case

This is big news that will impact nearly every landowner and shale driller in Pennsylvania. In April, MDN brought you the news that Pennsylvania Superior Court had handed down a decision (known as the “Briggs” case) that has the power to greatly restrict, perhaps even stop, Marcellus drilling in PA (see PA Superior Court Overturns “Rule of Capture” for Marcellus Well and PA “Rule of Capture” Case has Power to Limit Marcellus Drilling). The issue, in brief, is that a PA Superior Court decision disallows using the age-old principle called the “rule of capture” when it comes to shale drilling and fracking in PA. Southwestern Energy successfully argued in a lower court that the odd crack here and there that may slip under a neighbor’s property from fracking is permissible. The neighboring landowner, not signed with Southwestern, appealed that decision to Superior Court and won. Southwestern then appealed the case to the PA Supreme Court and the court has just announced it will hear the case. How will this affect nearly every landowner, signed or not, in shale regions of the state?
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WV Surface Owners Accuse EQT of Selling Wells Should be Plugged

The West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization (WVSORO) is making some big accusations against EQT (perhaps other drillers too) in saying that EQT, which once owned thousands of conventional oil and gas wells in the state, is selling those wells to companies that may go out of business and therefore will not be able to properly plug those wells as they reach end-of-life and no longer produce. Specifically, WVSORO mentions the recent sale by EQT of its WV conventional assets to Diversified Gas & Oil. In June, MDN brought you the exclusive news that Diversified had purchased EQT’s Huron Shale assets in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia for $575 million (see Diversified Gas & Oil Adds to Conventional Assets in KY, VA, WV). In October they did it again, announcing a deal to buy out Core Appalachia for $183 million, which includes ~5,000 producing wells (90% of production is natgas) and 1.3 million acres in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia (see Diversified Gas & Oil Buys Core Appalachia for $183M). WVSORO’s charge is that Diversified is buying those wells intending to never plug them when they’re exhausted. WVSORO is asking the state to deny transferring those wells from EQT to Diversified.
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Desperation: 7 Philly Antis Ask PA PUC to Stop ME1, Block ME2

Seven antis from Greater Philadelphia, with money and lawyers from Big Green groups backing them, on Monday asked the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to shut down Mariner East 1 pipeline (which has operating for more than a year), and to block the startup of Mariner East 2 pipeline. The chutzpah of these people is breathtaking. To put it in perspective, Chester and Delaware Counties, which is where the seven antis hail from, has a combined population of 1,083,989 people (as of 2017). Seven people represents .0006% of the population. Meaning 99.999% of the population either don’t care, or are not against these pipeline projects. Both ME1 and ME2 carry natural gas liquids (NGLs)–meaning ethane and propane–from the western side of PA across the state to Delaware County and the Marcus Hook refinery. From the very beginning there have been a committed few (with the help of Big Green) fighting the ME2 project every inch of the way. They’ve thrown everything they have at it–multiple lawsuits, pleas to regulatory agencies, legislative hearings, illegal protests–you name it, they’ve done it. This latest action appears to be a last gasp, “Hail Mary” attempt at convincing a regulatory agency to stop both pipelines. Which isn’t going to happen.
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Update on Adelphia Gateway – Converting Oil Pipeline to Flow NatGas

Adelphia Pipeline route – click for larger version

One year ago, in November 2017, MDN shared the exciting news that an old oil pipeline stretching from Northampton County, PA through Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester counties, terminating in Delaware County at Marcus Hook, had been purchased by a subsidiary of New Jersey Resources and will get converted to flow Marcellus natural gas to the greater Philadelphia region (see Oil Pipeline Near Philly to be Converted to Flow Fracked NatGas). The project/pipeline is called the Adelphia Gateway. In January of this year, NJ Resources filed an official application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to convert the existing pipeline to flow natural gas, and add various facilities, like meter stations and a compressor station (see Adelphia Gateway Pipeline Near Philly Files with FERC). The compressor station is planned for a residential neighborhood in Bucks County. The neighbors are most definitely not happy.
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Norfolk Pipeline Foes Pay Former NTSB Execs to Bash Project

Source: The Virginian-Pilot (click for larger version)

We previously brought you news about Virginia Natural Gas’ (VNG) “Southside Connector” project, a 9-mile pipeline from Norfolk, VA to Chesapeake, VA that VNG says will fill a gap between two main supply lines, essential to meet growing natural gas demand in the Chesapeake area. The final 2,000 feet of pipeline needs to be installed under a river and shipyard located on the bank of a river. The shipyard owner adamantly opposes the pipeline and has launched an all-out campaign to stop it (see The Fight to Install Last 9 Miles of 200-Mile Pipeline in VA Beach). The shipyard owner and foes of the project recently paid to get support from the former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
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Dominion Hires FBI Division Chief as Chief Security Officer

Security at energy companies is no longer an afterthought, no longer an annual “audit” that’s done to ensure you have good policies in place. It’s now something that must be actively managed day-to-day. Threats come in all sizes and types, from nutty pipeline protesters who tip over into violence, to Russian and Chinese hackers looking to screw with our electric grid and steal our secrets. Knowing this, Dominion Energy, a huge company with its fingers in many energy pies–from pipelines to electric generation (wind, solar, natural gas, nuclear) to local electric and gas delivery (utility company)–has just hired the former FBI division chief for Richmond, Va. as its new Chief Security Officer–a newly created role in the company. Our prediction: You’ll see more CSOs in the future.
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This Thanksgiving, We Thank Fossil Fuels

Happy Thanksgiving! MDN is taking both Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday off. While you’re taking time to be thankful for your friends, family, food, drinks, and other luxuries, take a moment to say THANK YOU to the resources that make this holiday so wonderful: fossil fuels! Below is a new video from our friends at Clear Energy Alliance. Watch it (under 4 minutes) to learn just how much oil, natural gas, and coal bring to the table during the holiday season–and every other day of the year.
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Energy Stories of Interest: Wed, Nov 21, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Construction manager gives update on Shell cracker plant in Beaver County; Gas power plants fuel PA economy; Buy natural gas producers to play the dramatic rally in natgas prices; Gov. Charlie Baker proposes legislation on natural gas safety practices; BC pipeline outage disrupts western U.S. winter gas prices and flows.
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