Ohio EPA to Hold Air Permit Hearing for PTT Cracker Nov. 27

PTT Global Chemical announced in April 2015 they want to build a $6 billion ethane cracker plant complex in Belmont County, OH (see It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site). Since that time, PTT has purchased land, paid $100 million to get the cracker facility designed, and repeatedly said a final investment decision (FID) is imminent. It’s been imminent for more than two years now. Belmont County officials recently said the decision is coming “by the end of this year” (see Belmont, OH Leaders Say PTT Cracker Decision Coming This Year). But we’ve read comments by others who say the decision won’t happen until sometime next year (see Rumblings that PTT Will Once Again Delay OH Cracker Decision). We finally have some signs of life that a decision is, indeed, coming soon.
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NTSB: Columbia Gas Unlicensed Engineer Error Led to Mass. Tragedy

Ever see a someone’s name listed on a business card or in a directory, and there’s a “PE” after his or her name? Know what that means? It means Professional Engineer. To get a PE, an engineer must complete a four-year college degree, work under a Professional Engineer for at least four years, pass two intensive competency exams and earn a license from their state’s licensure board. The engineer who drafted plans for NiSource Columbia Gas to replace gas mains about 25 miles north of Boston, in Lawrence, MA, didn’t have a PE after his name. And the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says it was his fault that when the gas main was replaced, the old main still had sensors that detected low pressure and kept pressurizing (overpressurizing) the gas system that led to multiple explosions and one person dying, 25 injured, and 8,000 residences and business still without natural gas service some two months later.
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Wild Ride – Price of NatGas Crashes Day After it Spikes, Down 20%

Yesterday MDN brought you the news that the price of the NYMEX natural gas futures contract closed (on Wednesday) at a four-year high, up 18% (see Price of NatGas Spikes to Highest Level in 4 Years – $4.84/Mcf). We said this in our closing comments: “We maintain the jump in prices is due to psychology more than reality. If traders believe there’s about to be a shortage, they react. In a sense, they panic. And the cycle feeds itself. Until the prices come crashing back down in a few days or weeks.” It took exactly one day. Yesterday the same futures contract (the price of gas at the Henry Hub) closed down $0.80 to $4.04/Mcf–a 20% drop! The day before it went up 18%, next day, down 20%. Day before was the biggest one-day increase in 14 years, yesterday the biggest one-day decrease in 15 years. Help! Let us off this roller coaster!
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Va. Air Pollution Control Bd Delays ACP Compressor Station Vote

If there’s one more black person living in a given rural community than white, and if a pipeline company wants to put a compressor station in that community as the best location to push gas through the line, the very act of building that compressor station in that community is racist. That’s the horse manure being pedaled in Buckingham County, Va. Last week the State Air Pollution Control Board held two days of public hearings where antis, detecting they may lose the battle to stop a compressor station for Dominion Energy’s 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, trotted out their so-called “environmental justice” argument. Last Friday the board decided to delay a vote on whether to approve the compressor station, until their meeting on Dec. 10.
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B&V 2019 Natural Gas Report: LNG Ramps Up, More Infra. Needed

The annual Black & Veatch “Strategic Directions: Natural Gas Report” (full copy below) explores the complexities and market dynamics impacting today’s natural gas landscape. As the world continues to invest in the adoption of so-called renewable energy options, the outlook for natural gas has never been more positive. You read that right! More renewables = more investment in natural gas. Shifts in the global energy market are influencing gas production and transportation, altering the volume of supply. Developers, who know a good opportunity when they see it, are investing heavily in liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefaction capacity. But more infrastructure and pipeline capacity will be needed to continue to support the growth in LNG, especially as Asian markets continue to migrate away from coal in an effort to meet environmental goals. This report explores how complex geopolitics will impact upstream, midstream and downstream operations, while global forces reshape the industry across the board.
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Price of NatGas Spikes to Highest Level in 4 Years – $4.84/Mcf

From even a cursory glance at news over the past 24 hours it would be hard to miss the stories blaring the trumpets that the price of natural gas closed at a 4+ year high yesterday (NYMEX futures price closed at $4.84/Mcf), and that the price jumped an amazing 18% in a single day–the biggest jump in 14 years! The primary reason, according to news reports and interviews with traders, is low stockpiles (low storage) combined with short-term weather forecasts for colder weather in the northeast. Indeed, as we write this (sitting in Binghamton, NY), we await the arrival, in a few hours, of an early winter snowstorm of proportions usually not seen until the dead of winter. Some 3-7 inches of snow on the way, more in the higher elevations. The system will affect most northeastern states. Crank up the gas heat! The bazillion dollar question is: How long will the price of gas stay “high”–by which we mean over $3.25/Mcf?
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NatGas Prices in PA Catching Up with Rest of Country

Since our lead story today is about the spike up in the price of natural gas (see Price of NatGas Spikes to Highest Level in 4 Years – $4.84/Mcf), we thought it fitting to bring you a related story that caught our eye–on the price of natgas in Pennsylvania. For years PA, especially the dry gas northeast, has been plagued with some of the lowest natural gas prices in the U.S. Why? Prolific production and not enough pipelines to get all that production to higher-paying markets. The situation is changing, rapidly. Prices in the northeast Marcellus are catching up with the Henry Hub price in southern Louisiana, thanks to multiple pipelines coming online. What does it all mean for Pennsylvanians?
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FERC Approves Rest of Columbia WB XPress Pipe for Startup

In early October the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted TransCanada permission to begin service on part of its Columbia WB XPress pipeline project, the “Western Build” portion of the project (see FERC Approves Columbia WB XPress Pipe for Partial Startup). The good news is that yesterday FERC granted permission to start up the rest of WB XPress, the “Eastern Build.” The $900 million WB XPress project is located in West Virginia and Virginia and expands capacity along the Columbia Gas Transmission (CGT) pipeline system by 1.3 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), linking Marcellus gas supplies to new markets. The whole WB XPress enchilada is now ready to let it flow.
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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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The War to Build PennEast Pipeline Continues

It’s been almost a year since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted final approval for the PennEast Pipeline project, a $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). DTE Energy’s NEXUS Pipeline, a 255-mile pipeline from Columbia County in Ohio to Southern Michigan, received its FERC approval around the same time. NEXUS is already built and flowing, PennEast hasn’t turned the first shovelful of dirt yet. What’s going on?
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Virginians Save $11B in 10 Years Thx to Fracked Shale Gas

Residents of Virginia have benefited in a major way from an abundance of cheap, clean-burning shale gas. How much benefit? Try $11 billion of money went directly into the pockets of Virginia residents and businesses over the past 10 years thanks to low-priced natural gas–fracked gas, coming from the Marcellus/Utica. Industry group Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) has just published a new report that shares the good news (full copy below). You may recall not long ago CEA published a similar study for Pennsylvania (see PA Consumers Save $30B Over 10 Years Thx to Marcellus Shale), and West Virginia (see WV Consumers Saved $4B Over 10 Years Thx to M-U Shale). Now it’s VA’s turn. Even though VA doesn’t extract shale gas, they still enjoy its benefits!
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Accident Kills Rig Worker on Shell Well Pad in Tioga County, PA

Middlebury Township, Tioga County

This news is a couple of weeks old, but we’ve only just happened across it while researching another story. On the morning of October 27, Mark Jones, an employee of Deep Well Services, was working at a Shell rig site in Tioga County, PA when “a large piece of equipment fell on him, pinning him to the platform 65 feet in the air where he was standing.” The blunt force trauma, hitting him in the head, killed him. We are always saddened to read of such accidents. Here is the one and only story we could locate describing what happened:
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EQT Tries to Gut WV 1982 Minimum Royalty Law for Flat Rate Leases

EQT certainly isn’t following Dale Carnegie’s advice on How to Win Friends and Influence People. Just the opposite, as the company continues to squeeze every last penny it can out of landowners’ pockets who hold old “flat rate” leases in West Virginia. We’ve reported on EQT’s efforts to overturn WV’s Senate Bill (SB) 360, passed earlier this year and signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice (see EQT Still Fighting WV Minimum Royalty Law for Flat Rate Leases). That law disallows post-production deductions for flat rate leases, ensuring landowners receive a minimum 12.5% royalty. In April, EQT sued to overturn the original law, from 1982, on which SB 360 rests–the law that guarantees a 12.5% royalty. Get rid of the original law, and the later law (disallowing deductions) disappears too.
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EQT Pays $394K for Acid Mine Leak in Mon River Following HDD Work

On January 29, 2017, EQT used underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to drill a hole under State Route 136 in Allegheny County, PA, to install a water pipeline. As they were drilling, using what we now know was an out-of-date map, EQT hit an abandoned coal mine full of water, and four million gallons of acid mine drainage (AMD) leaked into the Monongahela River. EQT worked hard and fast to stop the leak (stopping it two days later) and set up a system to prevent any further leaks. Now, nearly two years later, it’s time to pay the piper. EQT just agreed to a fine of $294,000 for violating the Clean Streams Law, and payment of an additional $100,000 to the Clean Streams Foundation to provide for maintenance, operation, and replacement of a system to keep AMD from leaking at the site in the future.
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EIA Oct ’18 Drilling Report: Shale Gas Output Up 1 Bcf/d – Again!

We’re speechless–and that doesn’t happen often. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) monthly “Drilling Productivity Report” (DPR) said that in October the country’s seven major shale plays would produce an amazing, all-time high of 73 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas production (see EIA Sep ’18 Drilling Report: Shale Output Flies Past 73 Bcf/d). Last month, EIA said that in November shale gas output would rise a dramatic 1 Bcf/d to 74 Bcf/d (see EIA Oct ’18 Drilling Report: Shale Gas Output Up Another 1 Bcf/d). And now, it’s happened again! EIA issued the the latest DPR yesterday and said that in December, shale gas output will go up ANOTHER 1 Bcf/d, to 75 Bcf/d.
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Natural Gas with Zero Emissions? This Will Give Antis Heartburn

Natural gas-fired electric generating plants are a big deal. They burn far more efficiently, and pollute way less, than either coal or oil plants. Yet anti-fossil fuelers still hate them because, well, they burn a fossil fuel. And that means they put carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air. And ya know, CO2 is going to make Mom Earth fry “someday.” Whatever. But what if you could capture all of the CO2 and use it/channel it somewhere else, so it didn’t escape into the air? And what if you could ensure that no methane (CH4) escaped either? What if you had a truly zero-emissions natural gas-fired electric generating plant? Such a thing IS possible, and three investors, including Exelon (Fortune 100 electric generating company) is betting on this new technology as the future of electric generation. The question is, will antis shed their prejudice and embrace this new technology?
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