Massive Explosion, Fire at Philadelphia Refinery

PES fire

Last Friday around 4 am there was a series of three explosions and a massive fire at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) Refining Complex, the East Coast’s oldest and largest oil refinery. It took fire fighters until Saturday afternoon to extinguish the blaze. The main concern was that if the fire reached a tank of hydrofluoric acid used in the refining process it would be released as hydrogen fluoride (a poison), affecting nearby residents. Fortunately that didn’t happen. The thing about the story that caught our attention is that propane and butane (potentially sourced from the Marcellus) are what fed the fire.
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Ohio Says PTT Cracker Will Get Built – Bechtel Confirms EPC Contract

Last Thursday and Friday, MDN attended the Northeast Petrochemical Conference & Exhibition in Pittsburgh. There were a number of interesting stories coming from the event that we will chronicle this week. However, there was one bit of breaking news from the event: Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals Senior Project Manager of Pennsylvania Chemicals, Paul Marsden, made official what we previously shared as a rumor–that Bechtel has been selected as the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contractor to build the PTT cracker plant complex, when and if a positive final investment decision is made. According to a number of sources, that decision will get made this year.
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Maryland Asks Fed Court to Dismiss Lawsuit Questioning Pipe Rejection

A month ago Columbia Gas Transmission was forced to haul the State of Maryland into court over the state’s refusal to grant an easement to drill a tiny 3.5-mile pipeline under the Potomac River (see Columbia Gas Sues Maryland to Allow Pipeline Under Potomac). Earlier this week Maryland’s anti-fossil fuel Attorney General, Brian Frosh, asked the federal court to dismiss the lawsuit.
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Oilfield Service Companies Keane and C&J Energy Merging

Two oilfield service (OFS) companies, C&J Energy Services and Keane Group, have announced a “merger of equals” in which the two will combine into one with using an all-stock merger. Both C&J and Keane have operations in the Marcellus/Utica region. Both companies previously merged with or bought out other companies. This certainly seems to be a trend with OFS companies.
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Patterson-UTI Looking to Sell Off its Fracking Division

Speaking of oilfield services (OFS) companies that are the result of mergers and acquisitions, for a number of years MDN tracked the monthly rig count for Patterson-UTI Energy as a proxy for rig count health in general and rig count health in the Marcellus/Utica in particular. Patterson operates many rigs in the M-U region. In April 2017, Patterson bought out and merged in Seventy Seven Energy, which was the spun-off former Chesapeake Oilfield Operating company (see Patterson-UTI Energy Completes Merger with Seventy Seven Energy). Because of a slow-down in drilling, Patterson is now looking to sell off its pressure pumping (i.e. fracking) business.
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MVP Swaps Land to Feds in Deal to Cross Appalachian Trail

Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a 303-mile pipeline from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA (now 80% built), may have just found a way to eliminate one of the last remaining obstacles to completing the project. Although MVP’s solution will delay completion and cost more money. In a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission made Monday, Equitrans (builder of MVP) announced a deal with the U.S. Department of the Interior to swap ownership of land over which some of the Appalachian Trail travels in return for the right to drill under the Trail.
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ET Appeals PA DEP Order on Revolution Pipeline to Enviro Court

Energy Transfer continues to squabble with the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) over the fate of the still-closed Revolution Pipeline in western PA. In May the DEP issued an order to Energy Transfer, builder of Revolution, to “identify and restore or mitigate all streams and wetlands that it illegally eliminated or altered during the construction” of the pipeline (see PA DEP Claims Energy Transfer Illegally Damaged Streams, Wetlands). DEP claims ET “illegally” eliminated at least 23 streams and changed the length of another 120 streams.
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NESE Pipeline Emissions LOWER than None-Pipeline Alternatives

It’s time to smoke out irrational fossil fuel haters and use their own science against them. National Grid has just released a study (full copy below) commissioned with researchers from M.J. Bradley & Associates that shows there are FEWER so-called greenhouse gas emissions from using the proposed Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline to New York City than by using alternatives being pushed by New York State–alternatives like heat pumps. You read that right. LESS emissions by using a pipeline than the so-called “green” alternatives. If that doesn’t beat all.
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PA PUC Launches “Safety Review” for Liquids Pipes – Antis Rejoice

Pennsylvania antis from the Philadelphia area who don’t want pipelines running through their neighborhoods (NIMBY types) have beat the drums of war so loud and for so long, they’ve finally begun to intimidate the non-partisan, shouldn’t-be-intimated PA Public Utility Commission (PUC). The PUC last Thursday launched a “major review of its safety regulations for hazardous liquids pipelines” in response to pressure from Mariner East 2 pipeline foes. It’s sad to see a government body cowed by a few loudmouthed troublemakers.
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NC DEQ Denies Water Permit for MVP Southgate, Claims Lack of Info

Somebody’s lying–and our money is that the North Carolina Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) are the liars. The DEQ recently denied a federal Section 401 Water Quality Certification permit (issued under the federal Clean Water Act) for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) Southgate project, claiming MVP has not provided information it needs to properly evaluate the project. MVP says it’s bent over backward and forward to give DEQ everything it needs.
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MarkWest, Contractor Fined $98K for SWPA Gas Plant Explosion

In mid-December there was an explosion at a MarkWest Energy natural gas processing plant in Chartiers (Washington County), PA, injuring four people (see MarkWest Plant Explosion in Washington Co. Injures 4; 1 Critical). Unfortunately one the workers later died (see Sad Postscript: Man Dies of Injuries from MarkWest SWPA Explosion). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated the incident and has just fined MarkWest and a contractor (that employed the workers) a cumulative $98,508.
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DRBC Approves New Fortress LNG/NGL Shipping Dock on Dela. River

Yesterday, over the shrill objections of THE Delaware Riverkeeper, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) approved a plan put forth by New Fortress Energy to build a $96 million 1,600-foot-long pier on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River at the former DuPoint dynamite factory site. The purpose of the pier? To dock and load two ships at a time–loading them with either LNG (liquefied natural gas) and/or NGLs (natural gas liquids, like propane, butane and ethane).
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Gas Group ONE Future Scores Important New Member: Williams

It’s always better for an industry, like the oil and gas industry, to self-regulate rather than wait for the heavy hand of the government to do it. Case in point: There’s a coalition of upstream (drilling), midstream (pipeline) and downstream (utility) companies that formed an industry group called ONE Future, begun back in 2014. The aim of the group is lower methane emissions across all aspects of the natural gas infrastructure system nationwide to emit (lose into the atmosphere) no more than 1% by 2025. The group began with eight members and today has 17. Many of the members have major operations in the Marcellus/Utica. ONE Future’s newest member is pipeline giant Williams.
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Dominion “Very Confident” Atlantic Coast Pipe WILL Get Built

Dominion Energy has laid 35 miles (so far) of the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project that will run from West Virginia to North Carolina to bring Marcellus/Utica gas to the South. However, the project has been stalled for months due to multiple lawsuits brought by colluding Big Green groups. We recently told you about a whispering campaign that says Dominion may abandon the project (see Whispers Begin that Dominion May Abandon Atlantic Coast Pipeline). According to Dominion’s senior VP of gas transmission, the whisperers are wrong.
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Equitrans: Grenade-Throwing Sierra Club Won’t Stop MVP Project

All pipeline projects of any kind now get lying, smearing resistance from far-left organizations like the odious Sierra Club. Equitrans Midstream’s 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA is no exception. Equitrans held its annual meeting yesterday in Pittsburgh. Topic A for shareholders is the status of MVP. Equitrans’ top brass had some interesting comments about the project and its detractors.
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Tardy Test Results Not Enough to Block Weymouth Compressor in Mass.

Anti-fossil fuelers in Massachusetts who are desperate to block a federal (and state) approved compressor station from getting built in Weymouth, MA continue to use a mix-up at the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (over air sample test results) as an excuse to bully the DEP into reversing its decision to grant a permit for the project. The DEP, to its credit, is not caving to the pressure.
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