Shell Ethane Pipe Construction in SWPA Allowed to Restart

Here’s a rum’un (Brit speak meaning “strange” or “odd”) if ever we’ve heard of one. Shell shut down construction activity a week ago at its mighty ethane cracker plant site in Beaver County, PA, sending nearly 8,000 people home (see Shell Shuts Down SWPA Cracker Plant Construction re COVID-19). There are still several hundred people on location to secure things and ensure no mischief is made while the other workers are away. However, work on Shell’s Falcon pipeline project, the pipeline that will feed ethane to the (now quarantined) plant, is allowed to continue as “life-sustaining” work under PA Gov. Tom Wolf’s order closing some businesses but keeping others open.
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800 “Insulators” Coming to Shell Ethane Cracker Site

Not this kind of insulator…

When we first read a headline about 800 “insulators” coming to the Shell ethane cracker in Monaca, PA, we immediately thought it meant some sort of electrical component–you know, the things you see along electric lines near poles? But no, the article was not about electric insulators, but about *people* call insulators–members of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers union.
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Imported Steel for Shell Ethane Pipeline Shows Up at Philly Port

Shell pipes being unloaded – click for larger version

All 97 miles of imported steel pipeline that will be used to construct Shell’s Falcon ethane pipeline project was offloaded at a Philadelphia port last month (10,996 pipes!), and is now loaded on trucks and on the way to the Pittsburgh region (some may have already arrived).
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Ambridge Water Authority Changes Tune re Shell Ethane Pipeline

Shell has calmed the troubled Ambridge waters–that is, the Ambridge Water Authority waters. Shell hit a snag with plans to build its Falcon Ethane Pipeline when the Ambridge Water Authority claimed construction of the pipeline under several streams feeding the Ambridge reservoir would endanger the drinking water for 30,000 people (see Ambridge Water Authority Strongly Opposes Shell Ethane Pipe Route).
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“Growing” Opposition to Shell Ethane Cracker Pipe from One Source

In June, Shell said that they plan to build their Falcon ethane pipeline in 2019 (see Shell Says Falcon Ethane Pipeline to Get Built in 2019). The pipeline won’t actually flow ethane to the Shell cracker in Monaca (Beaver County), PA until 2020 at the earliest–because the cracker plant itself won’t go online until 2020 at the earliest. The 97-mile, two-legged Falcon Pipeline is interesting because Shell didn’t use eminent domain. Shell negotiated with every landowner and got them all to sign on the dotted line. Yet we’re now hearing from Pittsburgh media that there is “growing” opposition to the project. Unless you’re a landowner with the right to stop it, or the Sierra Club with billions in the bank to launch frivolous lawsuits, there is no stopping this project, “growing opposition” or not. When you dig into the news, you will find the “growing” opposition seems to be coming from a single source–the Ambridge Water Authority.
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30-Story Quench Tower Set in Place for Shell Ethane Cracker

On Sunday, what will be the tallest and heaviest piece of equipment that’s part of the mighty $6 billion Shell ethane cracker in Monaca (Beaver County), PA was hoisted into place. It’s called a “quench tower” and it looks like a humongous silo. It’s 300-feet high, which translates into about 30 stories. One of the world’s largest cranes had to be reserved a year ago in order to do the lifting. It took all day, but by 3:30 pm, the quench tower was standing upright–yet another monument to the power of the Marcellus Shale.
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7 Green Groups Attack Shell Ethane Pipeline “Exemptions”

Seven radical green groups–Sierra Club, Clean Air Council (CAC), FracTracker Alliance, Earthworks, PennFuture, Breathe Project, Environmental Integrity Project–sent a protest letter last week to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection objecting to a request by Shell that its 97-mile Falcon Ethane Pipeline be granted certain air permit exemptions. Shell is asking the DEP to determine whether or not (hopefully not) any emissions coming from the pipeline would be “minor sources,” exempting the pipeline from certain permits. The rads are telling the DEP to deny that request, in an attempt to slow or even stop the project. With no ethane, Shell’s $6 billion cracker plant, currently under construction, can’t begin operation. Will the DEP do the right thing and ignore these nutters?…
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Small Group of Old Hippies Oppose Shell Ethane Pipeline

A small group boasting a big name, The Breathe Project, recently sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection proclaiming their opposition to Shell’s planned Falcon Ethane Pipeline–a 97-mile pipeline system with two “legs” that will feed Shell’s mighty ethane cracker plant now under construction in Monaca, PA. Right. So the DEP and Shell should simply give up on the $6 billion ethane cracker, which can’t operate without ethane to feed it–ethane that will flow through this pipeline. Of course the group’s opposition is for show, maybe for fundraising, and certainly not serious. The funny thing for us was in viewing a picture of some of the members of the group, standing around clutching signs that say SHELL FALCON PIPELINE with a big circle/slash through it. The group, when you look at them, is the geriatric squad. Old folks. In our opinion, they look like old hippies–people who likely protested the Vietnam War in the 60s and have now found their new reason for living–to defeat a small ethane pipeline. On Thursday a tiny protest of the Falcon Pipeline (under two dozen people) caught the interest of the Pittsburgh Business Times on a slow news day…
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Shell Ethane Cracker Gets Reprieve from Trump Steel Quotas

Shell ethane cracker plant under construction in Monaca, PA – so many cranes you can’t count them!

RINO Pat Toomey can rest easy–there will be no delays in building the $6 billion Shell ethane cracker near Pittsburgh. The Trump Administration previously slapped a 25% tariff (i.e. tax) AND quotas on imported steel coming from countries dumping steel in our markets, driving out our own steel industry. Last week Trump lifted the quota from steel coming from certain countries, including Brazil. Shell is getting steel they need for the cracker from Brazil. Indeed, Shell’s Brazilian steel is already sitting in a U.S. port, undelivered due to the quota (a limit on how much can be imported). Now Shell’s steel can get shipped to Pittsburgh and used by the army of people working there. But get this: Shell will still have to pay the 25% tariff/extra charge for their Brazilian steel. Toomey, an early and persistent Trump critic (and a DC swamp dweller), one of PA’s two U.S. Senators, recently claimed Trump’s quotas/tariffs would result in layoffs and delays at the cracker (see Sen. Pat Toomey Claims Trump Tariffs Will Delay Shell Cracker). With that barrier now gone, Toomey will have to find something else to criticize about Trump. How about his hair?…
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More of the Same at Final DEP Hearing for Shell Ethane Pipeline

Click map for larger version

For three nights in a row this week the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted hearings for Shell’s proposed Falcon ethane pipeline–a 97-mile pipeline system with two “legs” that will feed Shell’s mighty ethane cracker plant now under construction in Monaca, PA. We brought you a report from the first session, an eyewitness account from MDN friend Charlie Schliebs (see Shell Ethane Pipeline Hearing Draws Few Supporters, Many Antis). That session was predominantly populated with antis attempting to paint nightmare scenarios if the pipeline (and cracker) gets built. Last night was the third and final session–in Sewickley. Once again we have an eyewitness account, this time from MDN friend Katie Klaber, former president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition and currently managing partner at The Klaber Group and a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland (Pittsburgh branch). Katie is a consummate environmental professional–someone with a lifelong career in environment compliance and someone who served on the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee of the DEP for more than a decade. She knows a thing or two about projects like the Falcon because she’s seen a thing or two (to borrow from the Farmers Insurance commercials). When the audience realized that Katie was supporting the project (the only one of the first 18 speakers to do so), the hissing started. She and the next few speakers who supported the project were hissed by bad-behaving antis in the crowd, with some Mother F…ers thrown in by an especially outspoken attendee. Nice people, those antis…
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Shell Ethane Pipeline Hearing Draws Few Supporters, Many Antis

Click for larger version

Last night the first of three public hearings held by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection for the planned Shell Falcon Ethane Pipeline project was held in Monaca (Beaver County), PA. About 100 people turned up for the hearing, which lasted an hour and a half. No signs allowed. The only people who could speak had to register first. Of the 23 who did speak, 16 of them (including out-of-town movement antis) spoke against the project, while 7 people spoke in favor. The 97-mile Falcon Ethane Pipeline system has two “legs” that will feed Shell’s mighty ethane cracker plant. Shell is not using eminent domain for any of its leases for the pipeline. Every lease is negotiated and signed with individual landowners. Antis, in large part being organized and agitated by radical groups like FracTracker Alliance, are making a concerted effort to block the pipeline, hoping they can in turn stop the multi-billion dollar cracker plant currently under construction by blocking the pipeline that feeds it…
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PA DEP Schedules 3 Hearings for Shell Ethane Pipeline

Click for larger image

In February, MDN told you the Pennsylvania State Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) had caved to pressure from anti-fossil fuelers with regard to Shell’s proposed Falcon Ethane Pipeline project (see PA DEP Caves to Pressure, Extends Comment Period for Shell Pipeline). Shell is working on an ethane “pipeline system” with two “legs” to feed the mighty cracker plant being built in Monaca, Beaver County (see Shell Working on 94-Mile Ethane Pipeline to Feed PA Cracker). The DEP advertised an official comment period for the project on Jan. 20, giving interested parties until Feb. 20 to file their comments–an entire month. However, one month isn’t enough time for anti-drillers to marshal the faithful to try and sink the project. FracTracker Alliance, an anti-fossil fuel organization, colluded with other groups to put the word out to flood the DEP with demands to keep the comment period open. The DEP caved and extended the comment period to April 17th along with three public hearings (circus freak shows), to give the FracTracker faithful time to mount publicity and legal offensives to try and stop the project. The DEP has just announced the dates and locations for the three public hearings…
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Ambridge Water Authority Strongly Opposes Shell Ethane Pipe Route

Shell has had pretty smooth sailing with their proposed 97-mile Falcon ethane pipeline project–a pipeline that will feed the mighty $6 billion cracker plant Shell is building in Beaver County, PA. Shell did not use eminent domain but instead negotiated with (paid big bucks for) rights of way along the pipeline’s path. That process continues. There have been some grumblings here and there, particularly from Big Green groups. But all in all, there has been remarkably little opposition–that is, until now. Shell filed an application to build the Falcon project back in October (see Shell Files PA Application for Ethane Pipe to Feed Cracker Plant). On Jan. 20, Shell filed an application for federal stream crossing permits–something the PA State Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issues (see PA DEP Invites Public Comment on Shell 60-Mile Ethane Pipeline). Because of the stream crossing application, the Ambridge Water Authority (in Beaver County), an organization that oversees a reservoir that provides drinking water for ~30,000 people, is expressing “strong opposition” to the route of the Falcon pipeline. Wait a minute. Didn’t Ambridge know the route back in October, when Shell first filed? Yes. However, the stream crossing permit application reveals details either not in, or not obvious, in the original application–details that the pipeline will go under three streams that feed the Ambridge reservoir. That’s got the board up in arms. In a statement, the Water Authority said, “we will do everything in our power to try and have the pipeline relocated outside of our watershed and away from our main, and only, raw water line.” Whether or not there’s any legitimacy to their concerns, Shell now has a PR situation on its hands–the old “it’s going to poison our drinking water” canard that’s a favorite of those who oppose drilling and pipelines. It will be interesting to see how Shell handle’s this situation…
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Landowners Who Negotiate with Shell Ethane Pipeline Get More $

In February 2016, MDN exclusively broke the news that Shell had begun to sign leases with landowners for a 97-mile ethane pipeline (two branches) to feed their mighty cracker plant (see Exclusive: Shell Leasing Land for 2 Pipelines to PA Cracker Plant). Since that time we’ve tracked any news we could find that reveals what Shell is paying landowners in Beaver County (and elsewhere) for the right to run the ethane pipeline (called the Falcon Ethane Pipeline) across their land. So far, we’ve seen rates as high as $75 per foot, and as low as $43 per foot. We just spotted another mention. An extensive (and well written) article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interviews a number of landowners who have dealt with Shell, signing leases to allow the ethane pipeline across their land. The article opens with the story of a couple and their attempt to negotiate with Shell. If you play too hard to catch, Shell might route the pipeline around your land, onto your neighbor’s land instead. But sign too early, and maybe you’re leaving money on the table. It’s a fine line–causing stress and strain. In reading the article we really perked up when we read about Ed Bilik, founder of Greensburg-based Western Pennsylvania Gas Leasing Consultants. Ed was the first guy to sniff out the eventual path of the pipeline–which he did by knocking on doors to see where Shell landmen had already visited. Bilik eventually got 41 landowners to sign with him, allowing Bilik to help them with negotiations. According to Bilik, “Shell started out offering $40 per foot for the right to lay two pipelines.” Bilik would not say how much his clients eventually got from Shell, but he did say this: “We exceeded that [amount] multiple times,” meaning his clients got a whole lot more than $40/foot when they signed. Here’s a portion of this enlightening article…
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New Easement for Shell Ethane Cracker Pipeline Reveals Price Paid

Bit by bit, piece by piece, Shell is getting landowners in Beaver County, PA to sign easements for its 94-mile Falcon Ethane Pipeline–a pipeline with two “legs” that will feed Shell’s mighty ethane cracker plant. MDN exclusively broke the news in February 2016 that Shell had begun to sign leases with landowners for the pipeline (see Exclusive: Shell Leasing Land for 2 Pipelines to PA Cracker Plant). As we later learned, it’s “one” pipeline with “two” legs or branches. There were more easements signed in January (see Shell Leases More PA Properties to Build Ethane Pipeline), and again in May (see Another 7 Easements Signed for Shell’s Falcon Ethane Pipeline). The latest news is that Shell has acquired another 3,183 feet. What’s different this time, however, is that we know how much Shell paid to lease those 3,138 feet. We’ve not seen any mentions of payments in the past (Shell preferring to keep it private). We won’t keep you in suspense, the price paid works out to be $75 per foot…
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Big New Housing Complex Planned Near Shell Ethane Cracker

Positive economic signs continue to pop up with respect to Shell’s multi-billion dollar ethane cracker project in Beaver County, PA. Here’s the latest major economic impact from the project. A local developer has filed for a state grant to build a massive new housing project 2.5 miles from the cracker site. The new project calls for 450 housing units, retail space, a golf course, swimming pool and parking garage. What’s that? What happens after the cracker is built and the “temporary” workers, who would be living in this new complex for the next 5-10 years, leave? Great question! Answer: Turn it into a retirement community…
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