FERC Lets MVP Restart Work on 25% of Pipe; MVP Lays off ‘Thousands’

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has had a change of heart–sort of–with respect to their stop-work order issued to Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). We previously told you that on August 3, FERC told MVP to stop all construction prompted by an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacating permits issued for the project as it crosses 3.5 miles of Jefferson National Forest in West Virginia and Virginia (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). In a letter to FERC this past Tuesday, MVP asked FERC to reconsider and allow them to restart construction for at least part of the pipeline. FERC agreed and partially lifted the stop-work order a day later, on Wednesday. The new order allows MVP to work on the project for 77 of its 303 miles–about 25%. However, in a sad announcement, MVP said because so much of the project remains (for now) idled, it is laying off 50% of the workers who had been working on it. It’s estimated that around 6,000 people are employed directly or indirectly on the project, which means “thousands” (perhaps as many as 3,000 people) are now out of work–thanks to the Sierra Club and their lawsuit. Hey, how many jobs has the Sierra Club created? What’s that? NONE?! And how many jobs has the Sierra Club destroyed? We’d estimate it to be in the tens of thousands. MVP also announced that due to the ongoing work stoppage and delays, the project completion and in-service date has now slipped to the end of next year–an additional nine months. It’s a sad day indeed…
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PA DEP Gives ME2 Pipe OK to Restart Construction Near Philly

Work on the Mariner East 2 and 2x pipelines in West Whiteland Township, Chester County (near Philadelphia) stopped in May following a Public Utility Commission (PUC) administrative law judge’s highly questionable ruling (see Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice). The PUC overruled the judge in early August, allowing most work to restart in West Whiteland–in all but four locations (see PA PUC Allows ME2 Pipeline Work to Restart Near Philly). The remaining four locations involve underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work that has led to sinkholes. Yesterday the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection announced they have reviewed two of the four remaining locations and say revised plans submitted by Sunoco Logistics Partners (the builder) look good to them. That is, Sunoco can restart construction in those two locations as soon as the PUC gives them the go-ahead. The DEP is now reviewing the final two locations. Seems as if we’re fighting for every single inch to finish this project…
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Atlantic Coast Pipeline Asks FERC to Lift Stop-Work Order

Borrowing a chapter from EQT and their Mountain Valley Pipeline project, Dominion Energy has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to lift a stop-work order for its 600+ mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project. On Tuesday MVP sent a letter to FERC requesting the agency lift it’s stop-work order for them (see Mountain Valley Pipe Asks FERC to Lift Stop Work Order). A day later, yesterday, ACP did the same thing. Last week a federal court pulled permits for approximately 100 miles (of 600 miles) for ACP in response to a frivolous lawsuit filed by the anti-American Sierra Club (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Atlantic Coast Pipeline). The Clubbers convinced the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn permits granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Park Service, granted to ACP to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway. The court, in rolling back ACP’s permits, told FERC they should shut down work on the entire project until this matter is resolved. Last Friday FERC did just that. Yesterday Dominion politely asked FERC to ignore the court and lift the ban for those portions not part of the actual court order. Dominion got some moral support from West Virginia’s congressional delegation in their effort. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, along with Rep. David McKinley wrote a letter to FERC asking the agency to lift the stop-work order for both ACP and MVP…
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Mountain Valley Pipe Asks FERC to Lift Stop Work Order

EQT Midstream and its partners in the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project are trying to convince the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to lighten up and reconsider lifting most of a stop-work order for the entire 303-mile pipeline project. In a 7-page letter to FERC yesterday, Matthew Eggerding, EQT Midstream’s top lawyer, outlined his company’s case for allowing them to restart work on most of the pipeline. Two weeks ago FERC ordered MVP to shut down all construction for the entire project following a court case that overturned permits for a tiny, 3.5-mile section of the project as it runs through the Jefferson National Forest (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). In delivering its stop-work order, FERC said while it expects the two federal agencies involved (U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management) to quickly rework and reissue the permits overturned by the court, they (FERC) don’t know when that will happen and so in the meantime, just shut it all down. MVP is asking them to reconsider. What happens if FERC doesn’t reconsider and MVP stays shut down until the court gives the OK for reissued permits? According to EQT’s incoming CEO Rob McNally, “that would certainly put the first-quarter [2019] timing in jeopardy.” Meaning all bets are off…
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Cabot, Seneca, Chief Ramp Up Production for Atlantic Sunrise

According to a report from BTU Analytics, the top three shippers who will soon flow natural gas along Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline (ASP)–Cabot Oil & Gas, Seneca Resources and Chief Oil & Gas–have “nearly doubled” their rig counts over the past few months leading up to the imminent startup of ASP. The pipeline is due to go online any day now–by the end of August (see Genscape Confirms Atlantic Sunrise Pipe Ready to Flow in August). Cabot has reserved 1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of the 1.7 Bcf/d capacity of the new ASP. One third of Cabot’s 1 Bcf/d (350 million cubic feet per day, MMcf/d) will flow to Dominion’s Cove Point LNG export plant in Maryland–heading for Japan. Another 500 MMcf/d of Cabot’s gas will go to Washington Gas via ASP–meaning northeast PA Marcellus molecules will help heat, cool and power D.C. swamp dwellers. Joy. Here’s the great news that a single pipeline is stirring up a lot more drilling in northeastern PA…
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Antis Still Can’t Come to Terms They Lost NY AIM Pipe Case

Big Green antis thought they could stop the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline project–an expansion of the existing Algonquin pipeline system designed to carry 342 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to New England states that badly need the gas. On March 3, 2015 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final approval for the project. Construction began in 2015 and, following extreme opposition from New York State over a small portion of the project near the Indian Point nuclear plant (which will shut down in a few years anyway), AIM finally went online in late 2016. In what has become a typical pattern, Big Green groups asked FERC to rehear their decision to approve AIM, FERC refused, and Big Green then filed a lawsuit in federal court. But two weeks ago the federal court told the antis “no,” crushing their efforts to roll back the expanded pipeline (see DC Circuit Court Denies Anti Request to Rehear AIM Pipe Approval). That should be the end of the matter. There’s no place left to go, court-wise, except maybe (one in a million odds) to the U.S. Supreme Court. Yet the antis, still disbelieving they’ve lost, are threatening to pursue it legally. Some unstable people just can’t let go…
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FERC Approves Transco Pipeline Expansion in New Jersey

Click for larger version

Last Friday, before Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Rob Powelson left the building for the last time, FERC approved a small but important expansion of the Williams Transco Pipeline in New Jersey, called the Rivervale to South Market project. We first told you about the Rivervale project last year when Williams filed an application for it with FERC (see New Project Seeks to “Uprate” Transco Pipeline in Northern NJ). The Rivervale project will expand the mighty Transco pipeline in northern New Jersey to deliver an extra 190 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of low-carbon, clean-burning Marcellus Shale gas to markets in northern NJ and New York City. The project calls for “uprating” a little over 10 miles of pipeline (same pipeline with more pressure and more gas), and adding a half mile of new looping pipeline–which is more than enough to set off the whackadoodles at the NJ Sierra Club. One of two Democrat FERC commissioners, Richard “Dick” Glick, voted in part against approving the project because he says it will lead to more global warming. Typical lib Dem. Here’s Williams’ good news announcement, and a copy of FERC’s 46-page approval…
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FERC Rejects PennEast Pipe Rehearing Request – Antis Sue

Elvis – song & dance

Last Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied a rehearing request by radical enviro groups with respect to the PennEast Pipeline project. That is, FERC said “we’re sticking with our original decision to approve the project.” In January, FERC voted 4-1 to approve the $1 billion, 120-mile natgas pipeline that will stretch from northeast PA to the Trenton area of New Jersey (see FERC Grants Final Approval for PennEast Pipe – Real Battle Begins). FERC Commissioner Richard “Dick” Glick voted against the project claiming it will lead to more man-made global warming. But the other Dem FERC Commissioner, Cheyl LaFleur, voted to approve it–at least in January. In Friday’s “order on rehearing” LaFleur flipped and said she’s had second thoughts about the project. She voted “in part” to rehear the original decision. Glick voted to rehear. Bottom line: both LaFleur and Glick want to kill the PennEast project. That’s the upshot of Friday’s FERC communication. Unfortunately FERC Commissioner Rob Powelson has abandoned us and we will now face a 2-2 deadlock on key decisions like this one for the foreseeable future–because Senate Democrats will block a vote on a new, third, Republican member of the Commission until after the November election. Thanks Rob. The radical anti groups that filed the rehearing request–THE Delaware Riverkeeper (aka Maya van Rossum) and the NJ Sierra Club (aka Jeff Tittel)–immediately filed lawsuits with the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The antis could only take their case to court once FERC had denied a rehearing request. That’s the song and dance routine we must go through on the way to fighting to build every square inch of any new pipeline project in the northeast. Pipeline company files application, FERC approves, radical groups request a rehearing, rehearing denied, lawsuit filed. That’s the formula that plays out over and over again. Below is a copy of FERC’s approval along with details about antis filing their lawsuits…
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Is MVP Still Under Construction Following FERC Stop-Work Order?

We spotted something that seemed a bit odd to us. In a story about pipelines in WV and the challenges they face, EQT said they continue to engage in some construction activities for Mountain Valley Pipeline, even though the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently ordered them to stop all construction on the project until further notice (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). At least, that’s what EQT appears to be saying. Background: The radical Sierra Club convinced the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to overturn permits issued by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that allows EQT Midstream’s 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline to cross 3.5 miles of Jefferson National Forest in West Virginia and Virginia (see Court Cancels Permits for Mountain Valley Pipe on Fed Land). Even though 3.5 miles is like 1% of the entire MVP project, FERC told MVP to “cease immediately” *all* construction activities along the *entire length* of the pipeline, until the permit issue for Jefferson National Forest is resolved. And yet, an EQT spokesperson told a WV reporter, “Various construction activities have been happening along the route, include construction of compression facilities, tree felling, trenching, welding, stringing of pipe.” Did she mean those things happened *until* FERC told them to stop? Or they’ve continued to happen *after* FERC told them to stop? We report, you decide…
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FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Atlantic Coast Pipeline

As MDN predicted last week (see Federal Court Stops Works on Some (All?) of Atlantic Coast Pipe), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, following a ruling by a federal court that vacated (withdrew) permits for work being done on Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), has told Dominion to quit working on all of the pipeline everywhere. At least until this current legal mess, created by the Sierra Club, can be sorted out. It was an easy prediction to make. FERC did the same thing with Mountain Valley Pipeline when the same court pulled permits for a piddly 3.5 miles of pipeline as it crosses the Jefferson National Forest (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA) . In ACP’s case, the court pulled permits for work on 100 miles of pipeline (out of 600 miles). Dominion said in a statement that they’re already working with the two agencies that had issued various permissions overturned by the court, and Dominion expects the matter will be resolved quickly so that the final in-service date is not moved. As a reminder, the Sierra Club convinced the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn permits granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) granted to ACP to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway. However, the rolled-back permits affect some 100 miles of work. The court, in rolling back ACP’s permits, told FERC they should shut down work on the entire project until this matter is resolved. On Friday FERC did just that…
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Williams Finally, After Years, Buys Out Williams Partners Subsidiary

Williams, after years of saying it would so, finally bought out and merged in its Williams Partners MLP subsidiary. The on-paper $10.5 billion merger happened last Friday. Williams originally planned to do this in May 2015 in a deal worth $13.8 billion (see Williams is Buying Out Williams Partners Subsidiary for $13.8B). Shortly after Williams’ announcement, Kelsy Warren and his Energy Transfer Equity company pursued Williams, wanting to merge Williams into its own operation. The ETE distraction caused Williams to put a merger with Williams Partners on hold. Williams initially fought ETE, but in the end cut a deal (see Williams Accepts ETE’s “Indecent Proposal” – Price Went Down $10B). Without recounting the all the sordid details, ETE got cold feet and left Williams at the alter, and Williams sued (see Merger Turns Sour: Williams Sues ETE/CEO Kelcy Warren). The merger never happened, and near as we can tell, the lawsuits over the aborted attempt to merge still are not fully resolved. In the end, Williams remained a standalone company. Williams CEO Alan Armstrong not only survived the botched ETE attempt to take it over, he also survived an attempted board of directors coup against him not long after the merger went bust (see Half of Williams Board, Including 2 Corporate Raiders, Quit). Armstrong is a survivor and Williams is now doing great. Last Friday’s merger of the MLP Williams Partners into the Williams C Corporation is proof of that. In the end, the deal cost Williams (C Corp) stockholders $10. 5 billion (see FERC Tax Decision Forces Williams to Restructure – No More MLP). Here’s the news that Williams is now, finally, all under one umbrella…
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Franklin County, VA Landowners Lose Round #1 to Stop MV Pipe

A federal judge turned down a request by six Franklin County, VA landowners to shut down construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in their area. The six claim that work being done by MVP is leading to soil erosion–that storm water runoff has resulted in mountains of mud ending up on their property. The legal argument is “trespass” for failing to do the work correctly, thereby leading to an intrusion on their property. The judge denied the request. However, the judge did not toss out the entire lawsuit–only a request for a preliminary injunction. The lawsuit itself will continue. Not that it makes much of a difference. All work on MVP is currently stopped anyway (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). There’s no need for a preliminary injunction if there’s no work happening. Here’s the story of six ticked-off landowners not happy with how MVP is doing work in their area…
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FERC Approves New Connection to Rover Lateral, but Not the Lateral

Yesterday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted a “certificate of public convenience and necessity” (i.e. official approval) for Rover Pipeline to spend $4.7 million to build a new meter station along Rover’s Burgettstown Lateral. The new meter station, to be located in Jefferson County, OH, will connect a pipeline gathering system built and maintained by Utica Gas Services LLC, connecting the gathering system to Rover. The new connection will flow 350 million cubic feet per day of Utica Shale gas into the Rover pipeline system. But here’s the thing: FERC has not yet given Rover permission to begin flowing gas along the Burgettstown Lateral. FERC is playing hardball, withholding permission for Burgettstown and three other laterals until Rover (i.e. Energy Transfer) gets restoration work done along certain portions of the project (see FERC Continues to Block Rover Laterals Until Restoration Work Done). Obviously FERC is planning to let Burgettstown and the other laterals go online, it’s just a matter of time. But FERC is using the laterals (withholding startup) as leverage to make Rover do what it said it would do. Below is more information about UGS-Crawford Meter Station, as it’s called, and FERC’s approval of it…
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Deep Well Services Introducing “Generation 6” Rigs for M-U

Deep Well Services, a Marcellus/Utica-born company that specializes in “snubbing” work (completing those super-long laterals you read about), sold itself this past April (see Deep Well Services Sells Itself to Houston PE Firm White Deer Energy). Deep Well announced a deal to be bought out by Houston private equity firm White Deer Energy. No, Deep Well and the expert team of 220 who work there now are not going anywhere. The company, headquartered in Zelienpole, PA, is staying put–same workers, same management team. But the new “owner” (perhaps we should say funder) will make it possible for Deep Well to hire more people, and enter other markets, including the Texas Permian oil play. Deep Well has long been known for its technological innovations. They’ve worked on the four longest on-shore lateral wells drilled–in the world. One of the laterals they drilled is 20,800 feet long (almost 4 miles). Incredible! Deep Well issued a press release to announce they’re doing it again. The company is currently building three new “Generation 6” rigs, to be used in the Marcellus/Utica and in the Permian. What’s new and different and better about a Gen6? “…the 300K Hydraulic Completion Units include features such as a quick-pick design and slip interlock system. The 15K PSI-rated units have 10,000 foot-pound rotaries.” Whatever that means. We’re sure some of our sharp MDN readers know exactly what it means and why it’s cool. For us, the news is that Deep Well is at it again, pushing the boundaries of technology, making it possible to drill already incredibly long shale wells even longer…
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Big News: FERC Overrules NY DEC to Approve Northern Access Pipe

Finally, a New York pipeline story with a happy ending. On Feb. 3, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a long-delayed project–National Fuel Gas Company’s (NFG) Northern Access 2016 pipeline project (see NFG’s Northern Access Pipe in NY/PA Gets FERC Approval). The $500 million project includes building 97 miles of new pipeline along a power line corridor from northwestern Pennsylvania up to Erie County, NY. The project also calls for 3 miles of new pipeline further up, in Niagara County, along with a new compressor station in the Town of Pendleton. Although FERC granted permission to build it, the State of New York, specifically the state’s Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC), arbitrarily and capriciously tried to block it (see Cuomo’s Corrupt NY DEC Blocks NFG Northern Access Pipeline Permit). We’ve seen this movie before. NFG, in no mood to screw around with the Cuomo-corrupted DEC, filed a motion asking FERC for a “reconsideration and clarification” on the role of the DEC in reviewing the project (see Gutsy: NFG Asks FERC to Cut NY DEC Out of Pipeline Approval). On Monday, FERC ruled on that request, ruling in NFG’s favor and against NY DEC. FERC said the DEC took longer than the one year they have under law to issue their rejection, therefore, FERC itself is issuing the water permits. In other words, FERC just struck a blow against corruption in New York State…
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Federal Court Stops Works on Some (All?) of Atlantic Coast Pipe

In a pattern that has become obvious, and disturbing, the radicalized Sierra Club has once again prevailed in shutting down work on a second mammoth pipeline project–Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–by concentrating their legal arguments at one small, specific point of the project. This happened with Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). As we reported yesterday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) told MVP to stop work on the entire project, at least for now (see FERC Shuts Down ALL Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV, VA). The Sierra Club convinced the without-experience-in-the-oil-and-gas-industry judges of the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn permits granted by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to build MVP across 3.5 miles of Jefferson National Forest, on the border of WV and VA. This time, with ACP, the Sierra Club convinced the Fourth Circuit to overturn permits granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) granted to ACP to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway. However, the rolled-back permits affect more of ACP than MVP–about 100 miles of work out of 600+ miles. The court, in rolling back ACP’s permits all but told FERC they need to shut down work on the entire project until this matter is resolved. The court can’t order FERC to do so, but they strongly cautioned FERC that they should do so. Since FERC stopped work on MVP, it stands to reason they will do it with ACP too. So lightening has now struck twice, and it’s not good. Dominion maintains they will continue to build ACP except for those areas where the Fourth Circuit has rolled back permits. In other words, they’ll keep building it in North Carolina and some locations in WV. All eyes are now on FERC. We hate to say this, but our guess is that FERC will shut down the entire ACP project, for now. It’s virtually the same scenario as MVP which FERC elected to shut down. Why would this project be any different?…
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