NY State Court Denies Northern Access Pipe Eminent Domain

Another bump in the road for National Fuel Gas Company and their Northern Access Expansion pipeline project. Not a major hurdle. Not an apocalypse. Not the end of the line. A bump. The Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court (in NY, Supreme Court is a low court, one step up from county court), overturned the decision of the lower Supreme Court granting NFG the power of eminent domain to build Northern Access, a project not scheduled to get built until 2022. The attorney who won the case against NFG proclaimed without eminent domain, “The pipeline is dead.” We say he’s dead wrong.
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Game On: NFG Accepts US EPA “Methane Challenge”

We’re not much of a fan of the federal Environmental Protection Agency–especially the agency under the jackboots of the Obamadroids. The Obama years saw egregious abuses and wild new regulations that tried to stamp out the fossil fuel industry. In March 2016, we told you about a new “voluntary” program set up by the Obama EPA called the Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program (see Dominion & NiSource Bow Down to Lord Obama, Worship the EPA). The program is aimed at trying to reduce the amount of so-called fugitive methane escaping into the atmosphere from oil and gas sources (never mind far more methane escapes into the atmosphere from the agriculture industry than oil and gas, such facts just get in the way of partisan politics). We’re still not sure we like the program, but it has (at least for now) remained voluntary. NFG, National Fuel Gas Company, with all five of its subsidiary companies, has just signed on to the program–to prove their dedication as good stewards of environmental resources.
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NFG 4Q18: Production Higher, Northern Access Pipe Slips to 2020

Last week National Fuel Gas Company (NFG), which operates drilling subsidiary Seneca Resources and pipeline subsidiary Empire Pipeline, issued its fourth quarter 2018 (everyone else’s 3Q18) update. Via Seneca Resources, NFG drills wells in northcentral and northwestern PA. Via Empire Pipeline, they build and maintain hundreds of miles of pipelines in PA and New York, where the company is headquartered. NFG operates a utility (gas and electric) company in addition to Seneca and Empire. A lot of spinning plates to watch. But they do a great job. Much of the focus of the update was on the upstream–on Seneca Resources. According to CEO Ron Tanski, in 2019 more than half of the company’s capital expenditures will go for Seneca’s drilling program. Seneca has and will continue to operate three drilling rigs, with plans to expand production by 24%.
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NY Antis Gear Up to Oppose Zero-Emission Compressor Stn

As we reported in March, Empire Pipeline, the midstream (pipeline) subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Company, filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build two new compressor stations along the Empire Pipeline–one in Tioga County, PA, the other in Ontario County, NY (see Empire Pipe Plans 2 Compressors in PA & NY to Move Marcellus Gas). Without building any new pipeline, the addition of these two compressor stations will allow an extra 205,000 dekatherms per day (205 million cubic feet/day) of PA Marcellus gas to flow through the Empire Pipeline system. The project, called Empire North Project, will provide much-needed natural gas for Upstate NY and Canada. It will also connect to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, so who knows? Maybe some Marcellus molecules will find their way into New England too. Anti-fossil fuelers in NY are ramping up to oppose the project. Nothing new about that, unfortunately. The thing is, the proposed compressor station in Ontario County will have zero (yes, zero) emissions. It will use electricity instead of diesel or natural gas or other fuels–so there’s no smoke stack and absolutely nothing going into the atmosphere. Completely benign. And yet, because the compressor station will flow more “fracked gas” from PA flow through the pipeline, irrational nutjobs are opposing it. Talk about stupid. These people will protest and oppose an emissions-less compressor station that helps flow more natural gas, but they won’t actually give up their own natural gas! They won’t stop grilling with natural gas. They won’t stop heating and cooking with natural gas. They won’t stop cooling with natural gas. They won’t stop buying clothes and shoes made, in part, from natural gas (plastics). No. Everyone else has to do those things–not these ignorant, wine-tasting snobs from the Finger Lakes who want to block this emissions-less compressor station…
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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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NFG/Seneca: Pursuing Plan B for Blocked NY Pipeline Project

Last Friday National Fuel Gas Company (NFG), headquartered in Western New York State which operates drilling subsidiary Seneca Resources and pipeline subsidiary Empire Pipeline, issued its second quarter 2018 (everyone else’s first quarter) update. Via Seneca Resources, NFG drills wells in northcentral and northwestern PA. Via Empire Pipeline, they build and maintain hundreds of miles of pipelines. NFG wants to add to their pipeline portfolio by building the Northern Access Pipeline–a $455 million project with 97 miles of new pipeline along a power line corridor from northwestern PA up to Erie County, NY. Northern Access would allow Seneca to drill new wells in an area currently pipeline “constrained.” However, Northern Access construction has been blocked by the corrupt NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (see Cuomo’s Corrupt NY DEC Blocks NFG Northern Access Pipeline Permit). During a conference call with analysts on Friday, NFG CEO Ron Tanski outlined what we call Plan B for the Northern Access. Yes, NFG still wants to build Northern Access, but they now have an alternative. NFG recently signed an agreement with Williams’ Transco Pipeline to flow 300 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of Seneca natural gas to Transco Zone 6 markets. Transco is talking with other shippers before it files to expand the existing pipeline–a project that would not be online until late 2021. If by some miracle NFG could get the corrupt DEC to change its mind and authorize Northern Access, that project would be online in 2020. Other interesting bits of news coming from last week’s update: Seneca plans to drill Utica wells on some of its existing Marcellus well pads. Seneca added a second drilling rig in 2017, and plans to add a third rig any time now…
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Empire Pipe Plans 2 Compressors in PA & NY to Move Marcellus Gas

Click image for larger version

Empire Pipeline, the midstream (pipeline) subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Company (based in Buffalo, NY), earlier this month filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build two new compressor stations along the Empire Pipeline–one in Tioga County, PA, the other in Ontario County, NY. Without building any new pipeline, the addition of these two compressor stations will allow an extra 205,000 dekatherms per day (or 205 million cubic feet/day) of PA Marcellus gas to flow through the Empire Pipeline system. The project, called Empire North Project, will provide much-needed natural gas for Upstate NY and Canada. It will also connect to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, so who knows? Maybe some Marcellus molecules will find their way into New England too. The gajillion dollar questions is, will the Andrew Cuomo-corrupted NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation try to stop this project as they have just about all other Marcellus-to-NY projects?…
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NFG Quarterly Update: Seneca Could Drill More, if Pipeline Gets Built

Last week National Fuel Gas Company (NFG), headquartered in Western New York State which operates drilling subsidiary Seneca Resources and pipeline subsidiary Empire Pipeline, issued its first quarter 2018 (everyone else’s fourth quarter 2017) update. Via Seneca Resources, NFG drills wells in northcentral and northwestern PA. Via Empire Pipeline, they build and maintain hundreds of miles of pipelines. NFG wants to add to their pipeline portfolio by building the Northern Access Pipeline–a $455 million project with 97 miles of new pipeline along a power line corridor from northwestern PA up to Erie County, NY. Northern Access would allow Seneca to drill new wells in an area currently pipeline “constrained.” However, Northern Access construction has been blocked by the corrupt NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (see Cuomo’s Corrupt NY DEC Blocks NFG Northern Access Pipeline Permit). NFG CEO Ronald Tanski gave an update for the Northern Access project on an analyst call. Tanski indicated the company engaged in a two-pronged strategy: one is a pending court case, NFG sued the DEC; the other strategy involves a request with FERC to overturn the DEC’s decision. No definitive word on when either/both will happen. In the meantime, Seneca Resources must “focus on drilling and completing wells where we have adequate take away capacity or the ability to lock in firm sales.” Which means Seneca could be drilling a lot more were it not for Cuomo blocking the Northern Access pipeline. Seneca continues to operate 2 drilling rigs. Below are portions of the analyst phone call and the complete quarterly update for NFG…
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NFG and NY DEC Go At It in Federal Court Over Pipeline Rejection

Last week lawyers for National Fuel Gas Company and the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) were in federal court doing battle over the DEC’s arbitrary and capricious rejection of an important Marcellus pipeline project. Three years ago NFG proposed and filed to build the Northern Access Pipeline project–a $455 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. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted final approval for the project in February of this year (see NFG’s Northern Access Pipe in NY/PA Gets FERC Approval). However, in April of this year, the DEC ruled against granting the project stream crossing permits, effectively killing it, at least for now (see Cuomo’s Corrupt NY DEC Blocks NFG Northern Access Pipeline Permit). In April, NFG sued the DEC in the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn the denial (see NFG Sues NY DEC in Fed Court re Northern Access Pipe Rejection). That case was argued last week before a panel of three judges from the Second Circuit…
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NFG 3Q17: Delayed Northern Access Pipe No Closer to Resolution

Last week National Fuel Gas Company, headquartered in Western New York State with drilling subsidiary Seneca Resources and pipeline subsidiary Empire Pipeline, issued its fourth quarter (everyone else’s third quarter) 2017 update. In the accompanying analyst phone call, CEO Ronald Tanski blamed the delay of the Northern Access Pipeline project (delayed by the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation) for lower earnings than the company would have otherwise realized. Thanks, business UNfriendly NY! You may recall in July NFG filed a lawsuit against the DEC for arbitrarily rejecting the project (see Northern Access Pipeline Court Case Further Threatens NY DEC). On the analyst call, Tanski said the case, filed in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (in NY), will hold oral arguments on Nov. 16th. Tanski also said it’s “anyone’s guess” when NFG will get an answer about the project–either from the lawsuit or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). On the drilling front, Seneca Resources produced 40.4 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe) last quarter, up a tiny 1% from the same quarter a year ago. After hedging, Seneca got $2.91 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) for their gas–not too shabby. Below is the full update for NFG for last quarter (remember they also have a huge utility business, in addition to drilling and pipelines), along with excerpts from the analyst call and the latest slide deck…
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Constitution, NFG Pipes to Seek FERC Relief from NY DEC Tyranny

Yesterday we told that you history has been made–the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has broken the back of the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) by overturning the DEC’s decision to block a short pipeline Millennium wants to build to a power plant in Orange County (see History Made! FERC Overrules NY DEC on Millennium Pipe Permit). The DEC has also blocked federally-approved pipeline projects in two other cases–the Constitution Pipeline, a $683 million, 124-mile pipeline from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY carrying Marcellus gas (a Williams project), and the Northern Access Pipeline, a $455 million project includes building 97 miles of new pipeline along a power line corridor from northwestern Pennsylvania up to Erie County, NY, to carry Marcellus gas northward (a National Fuel Gas Company project). Given Millennium’s success in having FERC overrule NY DEC, one would think these other two projects would also file requests with FERC for the same thing. According to Reuters, NFG already has filed such a request, and Williams is about to…
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NFG Tells Court Constitution Decision DNA to Northern Access Case

Yet more drama and intrigue in National Fuel Gas Company’s (NFG) lawsuit against the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Three years ago NFG proposed and filed to build the Northern Access Pipeline project–a $455 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. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted final approval for the project in February of this year (see NFG’s Northern Access Pipe in NY/PA Gets FERC Approval). However, in April of this year, the DEC ruled against granting the project stream crossing permits, effectively killing it, at least for now (see Cuomo’s Corrupt NY DEC Blocks NFG Northern Access Pipeline Permit). NFG sued the DEC in the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn their denial (see NFG Sues NY DEC in Fed Court re Northern Access Pipe Rejection). A similar court case was filed by the Constitution Pipeline against the DEC with the 2nd Circuit. The court ruled against the Constitution and for the DEC on August 18 (see Court Rejects Constitution Pipe’s Case Against NY DEC; Now What?). Predictably, the office of NY’s corrupt Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, filed a letter with the 2nd Circuit (copy below) saying, in essence, the Constitution case is just like this one, so the court should rule the same way: against NFG and for the DEC. However, a few days after that, NFG’s attorneys filed their own letter (copy below) pointing out the fallacy in the previous letter. NFG says the Constitution is very narrow, and in fact ultimately supports the NFG case against the DEC…
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NFG Asks FERC for Speedy Re-hearing to Bypass NY DEC re Pipeline

There’s been an interesting twist in the saga of National Fuel Gas Company’s (NFG) Northern Access Pipeline project. The $455 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. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted final approval for the project in February of this year (see NFG’s Northern Access Pipe in NY/PA Gets FERC Approval). Shortly after, NFG filed a request with FERC (in March) to bypass the New York Cuomo-corrupted Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) because the DEC was dragging its feet on a decision to grant stream crossing permits for the project (see Gutsy: NFG Asks FERC to Cut NY DEC Out of Pipeline Approval). Needless to say, the DEC didn’t like it. In April of this year, the DEC ruled against granting the project stream crossing permits, effectively killing it, at least for now (see Cuomo’s Corrupt NY DEC Blocks NFG Northern Access Pipeline Permit). After DEC’s denial, NFG sued the DEC in the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn their denial (see NFG Sues NY DEC in Fed Court re Northern Access Pipe Rejection). OK, now is where it gets interesting. A similar court case was filed by the Constitution Pipeline against the DEC with the 2nd Circuit. The court ruled against the Constitution and for the DEC on August 18 (see Court Rejects Constitution Pipe’s Case Against NY DEC; Now What?). We’re sure NFG can see the writing on the wall for their lawsuit. So NFG has gone back to FERC and their request filed back in March that FERC bypass the DEC and go ahead and grant permission anyway. NFG made a motion for an “expedited request” by FERC last week. What if FERC agrees and overrules the DEC? And what if they don’t?…
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NFG 2Q17: NY Pipeline Holdup Causes Shift to More Utica Drilling

Last week National Fuel Gas Company, headquartered in Western New York State with drilling subsidiary Seneca Resources and pipeline subsidiary Empire Pipeline, issued its third quarter (everyone else’s second quarter) 2017 update. NFG produced 567 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of natural gas last quarter, a 6% increase over the same quarter a year ago. NFG realized an average price of $2.94 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf), up $0.08 per Mcf from the prior year. Compare that with Antero’s hedged average of $3.41/Mcf (see today’s story about Antero 2Q17). NFG CEO Ronald Tanski had some interesting remarks with respect to the company’s stalled Northern Access Pipeline project. As you may recall, the Andrew Cuomo New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is blocking Northern Access, like they blocked the Constitution Pipeline and a tiny spur project for the Millennium. Because NFG’s Northern Access project is stalled, they are shifting their budget and drilling further west, to do Utica drilling in locations where there is already pipeline infrastructure. So this is yet another case of the NY screwing up Marcellus drilling PA that would otherwise be happening. Landowners in PA can thank NY Gov. Cuomo for screwing them over. Tanski also mentioned the court case for Northern Access, and that FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) may step in and overrule the NY DEC, as is now being considered in the Constitution Pipeline case (see today’s lead story). Here’s the update from NFG…
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Northern Access Pipeline Court Case Further Threatens NY DEC

NY DEC is on legal precipice

A new threat against the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s authority over pipeline projects is coming from yet another federal court. Last month MDN brought you the huge news that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Millennium Pipeline against the NY DEC for delaying a decision to authorize a 9-mile pipeline Millennium wants to build from their main pipeline to an under-construction natgas-fired electric plant in Orange County, NY, called the Valley Lateral Project. Which may, at first blush, seem like a defeat. It was anything but a defeat. The justices, in their decision, said that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the right and responsibility to step back in and issue the water crossing permits themselves, overruling the NY DEC, if FERC so chooses (see DC Court Tells Millennium FERC Can Override NY DEC Pipeline Delay). A second court case in a different federal court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, is now progressing. That case was brought by National Fuel Gas Company in April against the NY DEC for a similar reason: delay and denial of federal 401 stream crossing permits for NFG’s Northern Access Pipeline project (see NFG Sues NY DEC in Fed Court re Northern Access Pipe Rejection). That case is now advancing and the lawyers for NFG are quoting the decision from the Millennium case as precedent for a ruling by the 2nd Circuit Court that the DEC cannot arbitrarily stop a federally-permitted pipeline project…
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NFG’s Northern Access Pipeline Wins Eminent Domain Case…in NY!

Talk about mixed signals. In April, MDN brought you the sad (and angering) news that once again Gov. Andrew Cuomo has caved to political pressure and instructed the Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to deny stream crossing permits for National Fuel Gas Company’s (NFG) Northern Access Pipeline project (see Cuomo’s Corrupt NY DEC Blocks NFG Northern Access Pipeline Permit). Not long after, NFG filed a lawsuit against the DEC for their arbitrary, capricious and politically-motivated denial of the permits (see NFG Sues NY DEC in Fed Court re Northern Access Pipe Rejection). Meanwhile, another series of court cases has been working its way through NY’s court system–eminent domain cases against a few holdout landowners who refuse to allow the Northern Access Pipeline across their properties. Some 97% of all landowners along the proposed route have signed easements with NFG, but there’s always a few holdouts. Last Thursday one of those holdouts lost in New York Supreme Court in Cattaragus County. (Don’t be confused, in NY, “Supreme Court” is just one level up from county court. The state’s highest court is called the Court of Appeals.) Camp Duffield in Cattaraugus County lost its court case against NFG, and consequently is now being forced, by court order, to submit to the pipeline–when and if it gets built. And that’s the conundrum. The courts obviously recognize NFG’s right, under a FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) order to build the pipeline. But the Cuomo-corrupted DEC does not…Continue reading