Partial Activist Victory: Marathon to Sell Speedway, CEO Retiring

As MDN reported in early October, so-called “activist investors” Elliott Management and D.E. Shaw want Marathon Petroleum (parent of MPLX, otherwise known as MarkWest Energy) to split itself into three separate companies, and a couple of other large shareholders called for Marathon CEO Gary Heminger to be fired (see Major Investors Pressure Marathon Petroleum to Split into 3 Cos.). Heminger and board member Greg Goff politely but firmly told Elliott, Shaw, et al to, in essence, buzz off (see Marathon/MarkWest Tells Activist Investor Co. Will Not Split). Looks like someone has to eat their words.
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4th Circus Grills Dominion Lawyers About “Racist” Compressor Stn

Of all the issues that drives us crazy, this one is near or at the top of the list–the charge that building a low-emissions compressor station for Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) about an hour outside of Richmond, Virginia is “racist” because it will be built in a community founded by emancipated slaves following the Civil War. The so-called “environmental justice” issue.
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Gas Groups File “Friend of Court” Brief for PennEast Pipeline Appeal

In September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued a precedent-setting decision that disallows PennEast Pipeline from using the federally-delegated power of eminent domain to cross properties either owned by, or with easements granted to, the state of New Jersey (see Federal Court Rules PennEast Pipe Can’t Run Thru NJ State Land). It is not hyperbole to state that the decision has the power to shut down all future pipeline development in liberal states like New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and other locations. We’re not the only ones saying so.
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PA DEP Fines Equitrans $650K for SWPA Gas Storage Field Violation

Equitrans (nee EQT Midstream) owns a natural gas storage field in Greene County, PA, in the southwest corner of the state, called Swarts Field. Natural gas storage fields are an important, but often overlooked, part of the natgas ecosystem. Last December the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) threatened to shut down Swarts Field because of coal mining in the area, saying Equitrans had not properly mapped old/abandonded conventional gas wells in the area (see PA DEP Threatens to Close Equitrans Gas Storage Field in SWPA). The good news is the DEP threat is now over. The bad news is that Equitrans has to pay a $650,000 fine.
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OH Lawmakers Plan to Block Foreign Ownership of Power Plants

We’re still feeling the fallout of FirstEnergy’s sleazy campaign to keep their $1 billion ratepayer bailout in Ohio. Last week we told you about FirstEnergy’s Mafia-like tactics in attempting to block petitioners from gathering signatures to overturn House Bill 6 that hands FirstEnergy $1 billion (see FirstEnergy Uses Questionable Tactics Against Referendum Workers). Part of FirstEnergy’s strategy was to gather signatures on a competing petition–aimed at confusing residents. It is that petition that is the subject of this post.
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Williams Withdraws NESE Pipe Permit in NJ, Resubmit Soon

Williams has temporarily withdrawn three of four applications with the New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to build its Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline project. Just last month NJDEP gave Williams an extra month with the permits (see Williams Gets Extra Month to Refile NESE Pipeline Permits in NJ). Williams says it will refile the three permits “in the next few days.”
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PennEast Pipe Rejection May Lead to Service Denials & Blackouts

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo followed a blindly stupid political philosophy of anti-fossil fuelism by blocking the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline, with tragic consequences–thousands of potential natgas customers who cannot connect to the local utility. Is New Jersey heading for the same scenario under Gov. Phil Murphy? If the state rejects the PennEast Pipeline, that answer is a resounding YES. We’ve seen this movie before.
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PennEast Asks Full 3rd Circuit to Reconsider Bad Decision

The stakes are about as high as it gets: “The immediate disruption of the natural gas industry,” says PennEast Pipeline. We’re referring to a terrible decision in September by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that disallows PennEast from using the delegated power of eminent domain to cross properties either owned by, or with easements granted to, the state of New Jersey (see Federal Court Rules PennEast Pipe Can’t Run Thru NJ State Land). Earlier this week PennEast asked the Third Circuit to reconsider the decision, this time with all of the judges reviewing and voting instead of just three.
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FirstEnergy Uses Questionable Tactics Against Referendum Workers

All we can say is, shame on FirstEnergy. They hired people to block petition gatherers trying to get signatures for a referendum for the November ballot. The tactics used can only be described as bullying–sometimes physical. Workers are trying to get enough signatures on a petition to place a referendum on the November ballot. The referendum, if adopted, would overturn House Bill 6 which grants a $1 billion bailout to FirstEnergy’s economically failing nuclear power plants (see Ohio Nuke Bailout Law Means Fewer Natgas-Fired Electric Plants). FirstEnergy doesn’t want to give up that money.
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Marcellus Wastewater Plant in PA Extracts 1st Batch of Lithium

lithium chloride molecule

In March, MDN brought you the news that Eureka Resources, which owns and operates three centralized treatment/recycling facilities that process wastewater from the Marcellus Shale, announced a joint venture with MGX Minerals to use MGX’s high tech solution to recover lithium from Marcellus wastewater (see Eureka to Extract Lithium from Marcellus/Utica Wastewater). In September MGX’s equipment arrived on site in Bradford County, PA and installation began (see Marcellus Wastewater Plant in PA Gets Ready to Extract Lithium). Finally, the day is here! Last week the very first batch of lithium chloride was extracted from Marcellus brine wastewater.
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Mountain Valley Pipe Price Goes Up, In-Service Delayed Again

The last time Equitrans talked about the status of its 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline project (from Wetzel County, WV to Pittsylvania County, VA) was July, when the company said the cost for the project had ballooned to $5 billion and the in-service date delayed until mid-2020 (see Equitrans Wants to Remain Kissin’ Cousins with EQT; MVP 85% Done). Then the clown judges of the federal Fourth Circuit Court pulled a permit for the project, and FERC told the company to stop all construction (see FERC Shuts Down All Mountain Valley Pipeline Construction). Yesterday Equitrans issued a new update. The price has gone up…again, and the in-service date is delayed…again.
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Dominion Energy Sells 25% of Cove Point LNG for $2B

Yesterday Dominion Energy announced it has sold a 25% stake in the completed Cove Point, Maryland LNG export facility to Brookfield Asset Management for a cool $2 billion. Dominion completed the $4.1 billion facility in 2018. The share just sold to Brookfield values the facility at $8.22 billion. Holy smokes! Nice play–to double the value of your investment in not much more than a year after completing it. What will Dominion do with all that cash?
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US DOT Gets Serious About LNG by Rail – Publishes Proposed Rules

In April President Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) directing the Secretary of Transportation to write a new rule allowing specially constructed tanker cars for railroads (DOT-113 tank cars) to ship LNG, i.e., liquefied natural gas (see Here Come the “Bomb Trains” – Trump to Allow LNG by Rail). The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), has just issued a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” to move the process forward. Think of it as draft regulations to allow LNG by rail car.
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WSJ Editorial Board Blasts NY Gov. Cuomo for Bullying National Grid

A recent editorial written by the editors of the Wall Street Journal begins with this superb sentence: “New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has a habit of bullying others to cover for and fix his policy blunders.” It goes on to rip Cuomo to shreds for his bullying of National Grid, forcing the company to add new natural gas customers against its wishes because come wintertime, they may not have enough gas to service all customers in the Greater New York City/Long Island region. Why a moratorium on new customers? Because Cuomo denied National Grid a pipeline to supply the gas they need–the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline.
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Eurkea Gets $1.5M Grant to Expand Lithium from Wastewater PA Plant

Eureka Resources, which owns and operates a centralized treatment/recycling facility in Bradford County, PA to process Marcellus watewater, is getting a $1.5 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Projects grant to help the plant launch a high tech solution to recover lithium from Marcellus wastewater. Yes, lithium, like that used to manufacture rechargeable batteries.
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Another Small Mariner East Pipe Sinkhole Develops Near Philly

Sinkhole develops near soccer field (Credit: Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety)

Another sinkhole developed last Friday near Philadelphia related to underground drilling done to install the Mariner East 2 pipeline. The new sinkhole developed in Middletown Township (Delaware County), in Sleighton Park. Fortunately this latest hole was only about 18 inches in diameter, which is much better than a 15×15 foot hole that developed in September, also in Middletown Township (see Another Mariner East 2 Pipe Sinkhole Opens in Delaware County). However, the 18-inch hole fanned out to four feet wide and 30 feet deep underground. Sunoco immediately filled it with “flowable fill” (i.e. concrete)–to the tune of 48 yards of material.
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