Shell Focused on Single PA County, No New Drilling in Other Areas

Some big news about Shell’s plans for drilling and fracking in the Marcellus/Utica region came from this week’s DUG East conference in Pittsburgh. The Shell head of unconventional drilling in PA told conference goers that Shell’s shale drilling is currently focused on one county: Tioga County, PA. Shell has leases on 250,000 acres in Tioga and plans to spend $150 million to drill wells on four pads in 2018. That’s the focus for this year. According to MDN’s recently published Marcellus & Utica Shale Upstream Almanac, Shell also has assets (producing wells) in Bradford, Butler, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, and Potter counties–all in PA. The Shell rep said the company also owns leases in eastern Ohio, in the Utica, but there’s no current plans to drill in Ohio. Instead, they remain laser focused on PA–specifically Tioga County…
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Shell Says Falcon Ethane Pipeline to Get Built in 2019

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Shell delivered some good news at the Northeast U.S. Petrochemical conference held earlier this week in Pittsburgh: The Falcon ethane pipeline will get built next year. It won’t actually flow ethane to the Shell cracker in Monaca until 2020 at the earliest–because the cracker plant itself won’t go online until 2020 at the earliest. The Falcon pipeline project is interesting for a number of reasons, the chief reason (for us) being: Shell didn’t use eminent domain for a single foot of the 97-mile, two-legged pipeline system. Shell negotiated with every landowner and got them to sign on the dotted line. Judging by the articles we’ve highlighted in the past, Shell paid landowners between $40-$75 per linear foot for a permanent easement (see Landowners Who Negotiate with Shell Ethane Pipeline Get More $). The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection conducted three public hearings on the project earlier this year, in preparation for issuing permits. Antis came out in force and behaved badly, as they typically do (see More of the Same at Final DEP Hearing for Shell Ethane Pipeline). Using no eminent domain, and in the face of Big Green opposition, the big news is that Shell says they will build the pipeline next year, right on schedule, which is good news indeed…
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Industry Expert Says 3 More Crackers Coming to M-U

Last week the second annual Appalachian Storage Hub Conference convened at the Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh/Southpointe. As we pointed out in a post last week, the main topic of discussion was the $10 billion NGL/ethane storage hub (see Southpointe Event Focuses on M-U NGL Storage Hub). As big as the storage hub project is (and the news surrounding it), there was even bigger news coming from the event: 3 more ethane cracker projects for the Marcellus/Utica are likely to announce in the coming year! Tom Gellrich, principal of Top Line Analytics, talks to a lot of people. He’s an insider. At last week’s event, Tom shared some of his insights. He said PTT Global will commit to its previously announced cracker in Belmont County, OH, sometime this year. No real revelation there–we’ve been expecting such an announcement for the past two years. That’s one of three. Then Tom said the on again, off again Braskem/Odebrecht plan to build a cracker near Parkersburg, WV is on again and he expects an announcement to that effect in the next year. Wow! That’s two of three. And then Tom teased the crowd by saying there’s a THIRD project bubbling in the background. No details on who is behind it or where it will be located. Tom says to look for an announcement on this third cracker project by this time next year. Bonus: Tom believes Shell will take a hard look at building a new/second cracker right next to the first, after the first is completed (a fourth new cracker?). We have embarrassing riches of ethane crackers! Each one costing multiple billions of dollars to build…
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Who *Sells* the Most NatGas in the U.S.?

Who are the biggest natural gas sellers in the U.S.? You might be surprised to learn that the biggest sellers are not necessarily the biggest producers of natural gas. Oh, you might recognize some of the names of the top sellers (BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips). But others might be more of a mystery (Macquarie, Tenaska, Direct Energy). Would it surprise you to learn that BP (i.e. British Petroleum) is the #1 seller of natgas in the U.S., and has been for years? Last quarter BP sold 22.10 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas here in the colonies. That represents 18% of all natural gas bought and sold. Each quarter NGI (Natural Gas Intelligence) runs the numbers and publishes the list of 25 top natural gas marketers in the U.S. They recently published the first quarter 2018 list, which shows that for a second quarter in a row, overall volumes are up from the same quarter a year ago. Here’s the cool thing: NGI publishes the list absolutely free on their website! As we scan down the list of who sells (i.e. markets) the most natgas in the U.S., we can’t help but notice that many of them have operations in the Marcellus/Utica region…
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Shell Cracker Advertises First 40 Permanent Production Jobs

Although Shell has hired a few permanent workers for its mighty $6 billion ethane cracker complex currently under construction in Monaca (Beaver County), PA, the company has just (for the first time) posted a job notification for bulk hiring of permanent positions. The job notice, posted on the BrassRing HR website, provides a detailed job description for “Shell Production Operators” in Monaca–40 of them. The job includes, “monitoring, controlling, starting and stopping equipment (such as furnaces, pumps, compressors, etc.), conducting activities that pertain to unit operation, and taking corrective action when necessary to ensure that all unit conditions and operations are in compliance with safety, environmental, and operating policies and procedures.” In order to qualify, prospects must jump through a several hoops (mechanical aptitude tests). If selected, candidates will go through extensive training from now until the plant opens some 2-3 years from now. Here’s the deets, including the full job description…
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Shell’s PA Ethane Cracker Plant Gets a Name: Shell Polymers

If you’ve read MDN for any length of time, you know about a $6 billion ethane cracker plant being built by Shell in Monaca (Beaver County), PA–near Pittsburgh. The plant will chemically “crack” ethane, an abundant natural gas liquid (NGL) that comes out of the ground along with methane, creating polyethylene from the ethane. Polyethylene is, in essence, raw plastic. Manufacturers in the region and beyond will use the plastic pellets Shell will produce at the plant to create an unlimited variety products. Shell is a smart company. They’re as much a marketing company as they are an oil and gas producer and petrochemical manufacturer. They know the value of positioning and mind share. We hadn’t thought about it previously, but we always just thought of and called the project the “Shell cracker plant.” The plant now has a name: Shell Polymers. The name Shell Polymers has been around for a long time but had fallen out of use when Shell largely exited the plastics business. With the new cracker coming online in the next few years, it’s time to revive the Shell Polymers name/brand and apply it to the cracker plant, which is how the project was being pitched at the last week’s NPE2018 (formerly called the National Plastics Exposition) in Orlando, Florida…
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Penn State to Help Create New Biz Opportunities from Shell Cracker

The Penn State campus in Erie County (called Penn State Behrend) has been tapped by the PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to be the “lead partner” for developing business and market opportunities for the state related to the mighty $6 billion Shell ethane cracker–currently under construction in Beaver County. Erie County where Behrend is located is certainly not next door to the cracker, not nearly as close as some other Penn State campuses. So why was Behrend selected? In a word, plastics. “The strength of Erie’s plastics industry and the success of Penn State Behrend’s School of Engineering, which offers one of only six accredited U.S. plastics undergraduate programs, makes Erie of particular interest to DCED.” According to DCED’s Denise Brinley, senior energy adviser, “Penn State Behrend can provide critical connections to research support, materials testing and a talent pipeline that will add value to this large-scale petrochemical investment and associated growth in the plastics sector.” Penn State is kicking in a $250,000 grant to their Energy University Partnership for oil and gas strategies, to help prime the pump…
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More Workers Needed for Shell Cracker Plant, Unions Gear Up Training

Last Thursday Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV hosted an event called “Eye on Beaver County” in Beaver, PA–a celebration of Beaver and a discussion about the county’s future. An 11-member panel discussed the past, present and future of the county. The discussion, as you might imagine, quickly turned to Shell’s $6 billion ethane cracker, going up in Monaca even as you read this. A Shell rep and several reps from labor unions were on hand to discuss the manpower issue. The short version is this: Unions for carpenters, ironworkers, steamfitters, and heavy equipment operators need more members, more people to help build the facility. Like, now. The unions offer free training. No, the jobs are not permanent, but such jobs never are. They’re good, high-paying jobs and the jobs will last at least a few years. Plus you get bragging rights–“I helped build the Shell cracker plant.” Here’s how the discussion about the need for more cracker plant workers went at last week’s event…
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More of the Same at Final DEP Hearing for Shell Ethane Pipeline

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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

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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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More Pipes Needed in M-U; Antis Gear Up to Protest Shell Cracker

Charlie Schliebs

Speaking of yesterday’s Kallanish Energy “Crackers, Storage & Pipelines 2018” event at Southpointe (Pittsburgh), one of the speakers, Rick DeCesar from AECOM, said contrary to what you may read and hear, the Marcellus/Utica region needs MORE midstream and pipeline projects over the next five years. Lately it seems we’ve read countless stories that say if all of the existing projects that have been announced come online, there will be more pipeline capacity than gas to flow through it. In other words, we’ve overbuilt with pipelines. DeCesar disagrees. He maintains new projects are “desperately needed.” His company is putting its money where its mouth is, hiring new people, in anticipation of more pipeline projects. MDN friend Charlie Schliebs was moderator for the panel featuring DeCesar. Charlie also had some interesting, and disturbing, things to say. Namely, he warned attendees that antis are gearing up to fight “and perhaps be arrested” in a bid to block construction work on the Shell ethane cracker plant in Monaca, PA…
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PA DEP Schedules 3 Hearings for Shell Ethane Pipeline

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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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Shell Tries to Calm Troubled Ambridge Water Authority re Pipeline

Shell wants to build a 97-mile ethane pipeline to feed the mighty $6 billion cracker plant its building in Beaver County, PA. Shell chose not use eminent domain but instead negotiated with (paid big bucks for) rights of way along the pipeline’s path. Earlier this month additional details came out about the proposed project when the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) published an application from Shell for stream crossing permits. When the details became known, the Ambridge Water Authority (in Beaver County), an organization that oversees a reservoir that provides drinking water for ~30,000 people, expressed “strong opposition” to the route of the pipeline (see Ambridge Water Authority Strongly Opposes Shell Ethane Pipe Route). But wait. Didn’t Ambridge know the route back in October 2017, when Shell first filed an application for the project? Yes they did. 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 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.” Tuesday night the Authority held a regularly scheduled meeting. Shell sent along several officials to talk with members of the board, to try and calm the troubled waters at Ambridge, so to speak. Did it work? Not really…
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Shell Gives “Transformational” $1M Gift to Pa. Community College

Shell Chemicals this week announced the donation of a $1 million gift to the Community College of Beaver County (CCBC). The gift will benefit the school’s process technology program and will be used to construct a new Shell Center for Process Technology Education building. CCBC President Chris Reber called it a “transformational gift” and an “extraordinary investment.” The gift will ultimately help train students to work for Shell and other companies that will benefit from Shell’s ethane cracker plant (being built in Beaver County). This isn’t the first huge gift for the process technology program at CCBC. In December, the Allegheny Foundation donated $1 million toward the first phase of the program’s expansion. Shell’s donation will fund the second phase. Aside from the big $1M announcement, Shell also awarded $2,500 (each) scholarships to 13 students in the CCBC process technology program. Shell has really stepped up to the plate in SWPA. They are investing in local talent and local institutions…
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PA DEP Caves to Pressure, Extends Comment Period for Shell Pipeline

Once again, in what appears to be a pattern, the Pennsylvania State Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is caving to pressure from virulent anti-fossil fuelers. This time in regard to Shell’s proposed Falcon Ethane Pipeline project. 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). Last October Shell filed an application with the PA DEP for the PA portions of the pipeline, some 60 miles of the total system (see Shell Files PA Application for Ethane Pipe to Feed Cracker Plant). 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 (see PA DEP Invites Public Comment on Shell 60-Mile Ethane Pipeline). 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 folded, like a flimsy house of cards, and has now extended the comment period to April 17th along with three public hearings (circus freak shows), which will give the FracTracker faithful time to mount publicity and legal offensives to try and stop the project. If the pipeline doesn’t happen, work at the cracker plant stops. Which, of course, isn’t going to happen. But it illustrates the true aim of FracTracker and other virulent (way, way, WAY outside the mainstream) anti-fossil fuel groups…
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