FERC Denies Rehearing on Mountaineer XPress 2 Yrs After Approval

The final bits of Columbia Gas Transmission’s Mountaineer XPress pipeline project (most of it located in West Virginia) went online just over one year ago (see FERC Says Rest of Mountaineer XPress Pipeline OK to Start Up). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project more than two years ago. At the time FERC approved the project, anti-fossil fuelers challenged the approval, as they do every single square inch of every single new oil or gas pipeline. We have to chuckle because FERC finally responded to antis’ request for a “rehearing”…on Wednesday. FERC turned them down more than two years after their objection was lodged.
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Some Mariner East 2 Construction Resumes During Lockdown

The confusion over whether or not the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project has (a) shut down all construction, except certain tidying up aspects at certain locations, or (b) has permission by the state to keep on building, is still not 100% settled. On Monday we told you that ME2 construction was in the process of ceasing under orders issued by Gov. Wolf (see Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction Shuts Down re COVID-19). However, the PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development granted a waiver to ME2 for certain activities.

3/27/20 UPDATE: As we suspected and have now confirmed with an unnamed (but highly reliable) source, the ME2 sites issued waivers to continue construction on Wednesday, March 25th were areas deemed necessary to continue work in order to protect the environment or the public. While there are numerous “sites” where activity has resumed, it represents less than 20% of total project sites. For example, places where there were open cut ditches or partially complete HDDs (underground horizontal directional drilling), the company requested and was approved waivers to restart construction–after an extensive review by the Wolf Administration.
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EEIA Files Brief with U.S. Supreme Court Supporting PennEast Case

The Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA), a non-profit representing people and businesses who work in the energy infrastructure supply chain, filed an “amicus curiae” (friend of the court) brief in support of PennEast Pipeline’s request to get the U.S. Supreme Court. PennEast has asked the Supremes to overturn a lower court decision that allows states like New Jersey to usurp federal authority by blocking PennEast, a FERC-approved pipeline.
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Williams Swallows Poison Pill to Prevent Company Takeover

Midstream (pipeline) giant Williams issued a press release last Friday to say they’ve just swallowed a poison pill. They don’t put it in those exact terms, but that’s what it’s called. The company’s board has adopted a “limited duration stockholder rights agreement.” Why? To fend off potential hostile takeover attempts from those who would buy up a significant number of shares of stock while the company’s share price is down due to the worldwide stock market crash over COVID-19 coronavirus concerns. Williams is not for sale and the company is certainly not to be found on the discount rack.
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Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction Shuts Down re COVID-19

As we told you last Friday, there was some confusion over whether or not construction of the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline, which is nearing completion, is included under Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s “stop work” order to prevent PA residents and workers from further spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus (see Is ME2 Pipe Construction Stopped Following Wolf COVID-19 Order?). Pipeline infrastructure and utilities are on the “life-sustaining” list, both in PA and as a directive from the federal government. However, “Utility Subsection Construction” was on the non-life-sustaining list–due to be temporarily shut down. ME2 construction continued after Wolf’s Thursday order. The confusion has now cleared, and yes, ME2 construction is in the process of ceasing.
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ME2 Pipeline Worker Charged with Falsifying Welding Records

A worker hired to x-ray welds on sections of the Mariner East 2 pipeline in southwestern Pennsylvania has been charged falsifying records, indicating that he performed the work when he didn’t. That’s a felony. According to one news account the worker, from Westmoreland County, PA, is expected to plead guilty and faces up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000. The good news is that Energy Transfer, the builder, discovered the deception and immediately reported it. ET reinspected all of the welds supposedly inspected by this worker.
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PA Sen. Dinniman Tries to Use COVID-19 to Block ME2 Work

PA Sen. Andy Dinniman

Rahm Emanuel (Democrat), former Mayor of Chicago and former Chief of Staff in the Bill Clinton White House, once famously quipped, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” That’s a pretty sleazy thing to say and a pretty sleazy way to behave. But there you go. Another Democrat, PA State Sen. Andy “Tony Soprano” Dinniman is adopting Emanuel’s sleazy strategy. Dinniman has been trying for over two years to shut down construction of Energy Transfer’s Mariner East 2 pipeline project (see Philly Dem Senator Tries to Shut Down ME2 Pipe Construction). He’s been completely unsuccessful. Now he’s trying to use the COVID-19 coronavirus scare to get the project stopped.
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Is ME2 Pipe Construction Stopped Following Wolf COVID-19 Order?

Yesterday Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued an executive edict that all “Non-Life-Sustaining Businesses” will close as of 8 pm last night. Notwithstanding the sleazy attempt by State Sen. Andy Dinniman to shut down construction of the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project by using the virus as an excuse (see today’s companion story), there appears to be some confusion as to whether or not ME2 construction is subject to Wolf’s edict to stop construction. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) refuses to tell ME2 to stop building. However, in Wolf’s list of what is “life-sustaining” and what isn’t, all construction, including “Utility Subsection Construction” is in the stop-work category. Is ME2 or isn’t it still actively under construction at this point?
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Marathon Petroleum Won’t Sell MarkWest Midstream Subsidiary

Marathon Petroleum, the parent company of MPLX (formerly called MarkWest Energy) announced some big changes last November. Namely, they caved to “activist” investors (we still call them corporate raiders) and their demands to split the company in three and dump the current CEO (see Partial Activist Victory: Marathon to Sell Speedway, CEO Retiring). The one thing the activists didn’t get was a commitment from Marathon to sell off the MarkWest/MPLX division. However, to keep the raiders happy, Marathon did commit to reviewing a sale of MPLX/MarkWest. The review is now done and yesterday Marathon announced not only will they keep MPLX/MarkWest, but the CEO of MPLX is also becoming the CEO of parent Marathon.
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New Fortress Convinces Jamaica to Use CNG for Bus Fleet

We continue to be impressed with New Fortress Energy and its aim to own as much of the LNG supply chain as possible. The company is building an LNG (liquefied natural gas) liquefaction plant in northeast Pennsylvania (see Work Continues to Clear Site for NEPA Landlocked LNG Export Plant). They plan to truck and use rail cars to get the Marcellus LNG to a new dock facility they plan to build on the New Jersey shoreline of the Delaware River (see DRBC Reconsiders New Fortress LNG/NGL Shipping Dock on Dela. River).
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Oil Price War: Halliburton Furloughs 3,500 in Houston

And so it begins. We’ve seen it before during oil and gas “down cycles.” Some of the first companies to lay off workers are the oilfield services (OFS) companies. Companies like Halliburton. It’s a yo-yo. Lay off a bunch of people (hundreds or thousands), and in a few years when things turn around, hire back a bunch. Some pejoratively call it boom and bust. We’re entering another serious down cycle with impending layoffs. Yesterday Halliburton announced a new twist. Instead of laying off thousands, the company will “furlough” some 3,500 workers. Here’s how it works…
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Marcellus/Utica Companies Switch to “Work from Home” Model

A number of Marcellus/Utica drillers and pipeline companies are taking action to slow and potentially stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Several companies (so far) have instituted mandatory work-from-home orders. Those companies include the Pittsburgh-based companies CNX Resources, Equitrans, and EQT Corp. By the time this is published more may have joined the list.
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PA DEP Schedules 3 Hearings on Permit Changes for ME2 Pipe

NOTE: These hearings have been canceled due to coronavirus concerns. Although the public hearings are canceled, individuals are still encouraged to submit comments about the proposed permit modifications and air plan approvals, as comments submitted for the record to DEP carry equal weight to those delivered in-person. Comments must be received by May 8, 2020, at 11:59 PM. Written comments should be mailed to the Waterways and Wetlands Program, 2 E. Main Street, Norristown, PA, 19401. Comments may also be submitted via email at [email protected] with the subject designating which modification request the comment is intended for.

It’s time to come out and support the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project at a series of three public hearings scheduled by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) in April near Philadelphia. That is if the hearings are actually held. DEP has scheduled one hearing in Delaware County (April 14) and two hearings in Chester County (April 15 & 16) on plans to issue the project state Chapter 102 (Erosion) and Chapter 105 (Water Encroachment) permits for construction in those locations.
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Ode to ME2: SWPA Resident Loves Sounds of Pipeline Progress

Drilling, whirring, humming, thumping, grinding, engines running, hammering, back-up warning beeps, banging, clanging. Those are the sounds of progress happening in Chester County, PA. Contrary to the griping and moaning mainstream media reports about those who live near Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline construction, the sounds of ME2 construction are music for at least one local resident because he knows about the economic prosperity this project will bring to the region.
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Ohio NGL Storage Permit Expires, Builder Says Project Still Alive

Mountaineer NGL Storage is planning to build an NGL (primarily ethane) storage operation in Monroe County, OH, located just across the river (and border) from West Virginia. Last summer David Hooker, president of Mountaineer and president of the parent company Energy Storage Ventures (located in Denver, Colo.) announced the project had received all necessary permits to begin construction, and that construction “could” begin by the end of March this year (see Mountaineer NGL Storage Says Construction Begins in OH 1Q20). One teeny tiny problem. One of the necessary permits needed for the project expired last week. What’s going on?
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