Shell Pulls Out of Lake Charles LNG Project, Energy Transfer Stays

Is this the beginning of a pullback from LNG project? Scared of the impacts of the coronavirus and the price of oil crashing, Royal Dutch Shell is pulling out of a 50/50 joint venture partnership with Energy Transfer (ET) to build a new LNG export facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana. In corporate speak, Shell says, “This decision is consistent with the initiatives we announced last week to preserve cash and reinforce the resilience of our business,” and “the time is not right for Shell to invest.” Translation: We’re scared. And who can blame them? All of a sudden there are LNG cargoes sailing the oceans with no place to unload (see LNG Cargoes All Dressed Up with Nowhere to Go).
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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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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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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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Board Members, Management Snap Up Shares in Shale Companies

We always take it as a good sign when board members and upper management decide to buy up shares of the companies they operate. One might colloquially say they “eat their own dog food.” That’s what’s happening with at least some shale oil companies. Board members and upper management are buying shares of company stock because those shares are currently at super low prices, given the Saudi-Russia oil war and COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic scare. These people know that sooner or later the economy will straighten out and their company’s share prices will zoom skyward again–making them wealthy.
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5 Yrs Later Williams, ET Still Arguing over Botched Merger

In 2015 Kelsy Warren and his Energy Transfer Equity (now just Energy Transfer) company pursued Williams, wanting to merge Williams into its own operation. Williams initially fought ET tooth and nail, but in the end, cut a deal (see Williams Accepts ETE’s “Indecent Proposal” – Price Went Down $10B). Without recounting all the sordid details, ET 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. Believe it or not, lawsuits over that merger continue. ET says Williams CEO Alan Armstrong covertly worked to tank the deal. Williams says it was all ET’s fault and ET still owes it $410 million.
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PA PUC Fines Mariner East 1 $200K, Orders “Remaining Life” Study

In April 2017 (almost three years ago) the Mariner East 1 pipeline sprung a small leak and spilled 20 barrels (~840 gallons) of ethane and propane in Berks County, near Philadelphia. Sunoco Logistics Partners, builder and maintainer of the pipeline, shut it down and fixed it over the next several days. Yesterday the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission announced a “settlement” with Sunoco, to fine the company $200,000. Sunoco, as part of the settlement, must also conduct a “remaining life” study of the pipeline. After all, it is almost 90 years old.
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PA, Feds on Witch Hunt to Make Revolution Pipe Accident a Crime

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a leftist Democrat who wants to succeed Tom Wolf as governor, likes to investigate accidents related to the shale industry to see if he can turn them into crimes (see our lengthy list of stories here). Add one more to the list: Since last year Shapiro has been investigating the Revolution Pipeline blast in western PA for potential crimes. He now has company.
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PA DEP Issues Permits for ME2 Pipe Work in Blair, Perry Counties

In January the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) lifted a moratorium (in place for more than a year) on new construction permits for the Mariner East 2 pipeline project (see PA DEP Slaps Energy Transfer Again – $2M Fine re Mariner East 2). All new pipeline construction by Energy Transfer was on hold following a pipeline explosion in western PA in September 2018 (see Revolution Pipeline Near Pittsburgh Explodes – Home & Barn Destroyed). With the moratorium lifted, the DEP has just issued two of the first (maybe THE first) permits to allow construction on the final bits of ME2 to begin–in Blair and Perry counties.
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ET Update: Mariner East Loses Some NGLs to Mid-Con, Northern NY

Energy Transfer, a huge pipeline company that builds and maintains Marcellus/Utica pipelines including Rover and the Mariner projects, released its fourth-quarter and full-year 2019 update earlier this week. The company reports making the most profit it has ever made in its 25-year history–$3.6 billion in profit for 2019 (more than triple the $1.1 billion made in 2018). Although ET’s financial performance is impressive, it was comments made during the quarterly conference call with analysts about the Mariner East pipeline project that caught our attention.
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PA Court Turns Down Chester Co. Request to Block ME Construction

Score another victory for the Mariner East Pipeline project in southeast Pennsylvania. On Tuesday Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled against Chester County Commissioners and their attempt to obtain an injunction to stop construction of the Mariner East pipeline project. The petition fought to curtail open trench construction rather than horizontal directional drilling on two easements the county gave to the pipeline. Energy Transfer/Sunoco Logistics wants to change from using underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to instead use conventional bore or open trench technology on those easements, which would avoid more problems with HDD already experienced during construction.
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Time to Finish Mariner East 2 Pipeline Says SEPA Former Senator

In January the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) finally, after more than a year, agreed to lift a moratorium on new construction work for several Energy Transfer pipeline projects in the state, including the Mariner East 2 and 2X projects (see PA DEP Clears Way for ET to Complete Mariner East Pipelines). A few weeks later the DEP assessed a $1.95 million fine on the Mariner East 2 project (see PA DEP Slaps Energy Transfer Again – $2M Fine re Mariner East 2). Fine paid, permission granted…At least ET can restart work on ME2 now, right? Wrong.
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