Offer to Relocate Families Near ME2 Sinkholes; ME1 Down Until May?

Sinkhole in Chester County, PA

Sunoco Logistics Partners (aka Energy Transfer Parnters) has had its challenges in constructing the twin Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipelines across Pennsylvania. In March, MDN told you that underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work in Chester County had led to a third sinkhole developing in that area (see 3rd Sinkhole Appears Near ME2 Construction in Chester County, PA). For most of its length, ME2 is being built next to the existing ME1 (Mariner East 1), a liquids pipeline originally built in 1931. The third sinkhole in Chester County exposed a portion of ME1, leading to the state Public Utility Commission “temporarily” shutting down ME1 on March 7 (see PA PUC Shuts Down Mariner 1 Pipeline Due to Mariner 2 Sinkhole). ME1 would be, according to Sunoco, out of commission for “10 to 14 days.” Nearly a month later it’s still not running and until the state Dept. of Environmental Protection gets solid answers about the sinkholes, it won’t restart. It now looks like ME1 won’t be operational again until May. ME1’s closure has put several shippers, primarily Range Resources, in a bind (see Range, CNX Look for Alternatives to ME1 Pipe Following Shutdown). Sunoco needs to conduct geotechnical studies near the sinkholes to get answers that will allow it to resume work. So, Sunoco has offered to temporarily relocate five families living near the three sinkholes–for up to six weeks–while it conducts tests of the area…
Continue reading

PA Supreme Court Axes DEP $4.5M Fine in EQT Tioga Wastewater Leak

EQT had to take their case all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but in the end, the company was victorious over a wildly overinflated $4.53 million fine levied by the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a leaky wastewater impoundment in Tioga County dating back to 2014 (see PA DEP Levies Biggest Fine Ever, $4.5M Against EQT). While EQT did not say there wasn’t a problem with leaks at the site, they did say the way the DEP calculated the fine was unreasonable and arbitrary. In fact, EQT says the DEP levied the fine and took EQT to court because a few weeks prior EQT had sued the DEP over a different, unrelated matter (i.e., sour grapes on the part of the DEP). EQT appealed the fine and the case all the way to the PA Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments last November (see PA Supreme Court Hears Arguments in EQT Wastewater Leak Case). Last Wednesday the PA Supremes ruled (5-2) in favor of EQT, saying that the DEP’s levied fine was excessive and that the DEP misinterpreted language in the 1937 Clean Streams Law…
Continue reading

New Video of Burning XTO Well in Belmont County; EPA’s Wild Claim

XTO well in Belmont County, OH

As we reported on Tuesday, it has now been over a month since a Utica Shale well being drilled by XTO Energy Belmont County, OH exploded and caught fire (see XTO Well Explosion in Ohio Still Under Investigation Month Later). A variety state and federal agencies are investigating to see what went wrong. Still no guesses or theories. However, lack of hard data isn’t stopping the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from making a wild, off-the-cuff claim that the well leaked 100 million cubic feet of methane into the atmosphere per day until it was capped (see Exploded XTO Well in Belmont County Finally Capped After 20 Days). What does the EPA base that claim on? Nothing. It’s a guess. EPA officials were at the scene of the exploded well shortly after it exploded–but they never took any measurements. Why measure when you can guess? XTO is pushing back against the EPA’s wild guess. Below we have more on the EPA’s guesswork, and a just-released video of the burning well, taken from the air on the day the well exploded…
Continue reading

ME2 Drilling at 2 Locations Near Altoona Shut Down for Leaks

In early March MDN reported that Sunoco Logistics’ underground horizontal drilling (HDD) work on its massive Mariner East 2 NGL pipeline near Philadelphia had resulted in several sinkholes developing (see 3rd Sinkhole Appears Near ME2 Construction in Chester County, PA). Yesterday we reported the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) had stopped ME2 HDD work in Lebanon County following a 50 gallon drilling mud leak (see ME2 Construction in Lebanon County Stopped for 50 Gal Mud Spill). And now, more trouble for ME2 HDD work. This time Sunoco’s work at two different locations in Blair County (Altoona area) has resulted in the DEP shutting down further HDD work at both sites. In one case, around 200 gallons of drilling mud leaked out where it wasn’t supposed to (called an “inadvertent return”)–into a wetland. In the other case, a drill pit overflowed and leaked diluted drilling fluid into the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River. Here’s the latest in Sunoco’s series of unfortunate events…
Continue reading

XTO Well Explosion in Ohio Still Under Investigation Month Later

On Feb. 15, XTO Energy was drilling a Utica Shale well on the Schnegg well pad near Captina Creek (York Township, Belmont County, OH) when they “lost control” of the well and it exploded and caught fire (see XTO Energy Utica Well Explosion in Belmont County – 100 Evacuated). Fortunately no one was injured. It took XTO 20 days to get the well capped so it would stop venting methane into the atmosphere (see Exploded XTO Well in Belmont County Finally Capped After 20 Days). It’s now 35 days from the initial explosion and XTO and state officials investigating the incident still don’t know why it happened. An XTO spokesperson updated Belmont Count commissioners last week on the aftermath of the explosion and how XTO is working hard to ensure area residents are well taken care of. Here’s the latest on the aftermath, and the ongoing investigation…
Continue reading

ME2 Construction in Lebanon County Stopped for 50 Gal Mud Spill

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has just shut down further drilling for the Mariner East 2 Pipeline project at Snitz Creek in Lebanon County, PA because of a 50 gallon spill of non-toxic drilling mud. This isn’t the first time the DEP has stopped underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work at Snitz Creek. Last November they did the same thing for a piddly 1 gallon spill (see PA DEP Shuts Down ME2 Drilling in Lebanon, PA for 1 Gal Mud Spill). In the parlance of today, leaking 50 gallons of drilling mud into Snitz Creek is a nothing-burger. Biased reporters like those at PBS StateImpact Pennsylvania make it out to be the environmental crime of the century. There’s more environmental damage from overfilling a gas tank at the local Sheetz that spills two gallons of gasoline onto the pavement than there is from spilling 50 gallons of non-toxic kitty litter (or toothpaste, or lipstick) into Snitz Creek. But there you go. Sunoco voluntarily reported the incident, and was promptly shut down at that site until further notice. Meanwhile, a few weeks ago a farmer in nearby Lancaster County spilled 100,000 gallons of manure into two creeks–with zero consequences. Why didn’t the DEP shut down the farm?…
Continue reading

PA PUC Shuts Down Mariner 1 Pipeline Due to Mariner 2 Sinkhole

3rd sinkhole opens up in Chester County, PA

Sunoco Logistics Partners (aka Energy Transfer Parnters) has had its challenges in constructing the twin Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipelines across Pennsylvania. Earlier this week MDN told you that underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work in Chester County has led to a third sinkhole developing in the area (see 3rd Sinkhole Appears Near ME2 Construction in Chester County, PA). For most of its length, ME2 is being built right next to ME1 (Mariner East 1), a liquids pipeline originally built in 1931. ME1 now flows 70,000 barrels a day of NGLs like propane to Marcus Hook, PA. The third sinkhole has exposed a portion of ME1. That is, bare steel pipeline was uncovered due to the sinkhole. Not good. That situation led to the PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) slapping ME1 with an emergency shut down order yesterday…
Continue reading

Exploded XTO Well in Belmont County Finally Capped After 20 Days

On Feb. 15, XTO Energy was drilling a Utica Shale well on the Schnegg well pad near Captina Creek (York Township, Belmont County, OH) when they “lost control” of the well and it exploded and caught fire (see XTO Energy Utica Well Explosion in Belmont County – 100 Evacuated). Fortunately no one was injured. Some of the ~100 people from the nearby 30 homes who were evacuated finally felt safe enough to return home–some 10 days later (see Neighbors of Exploded XTO Well in Belmont, OH Finally Return Home). However, not all of them returned home. Some did not want to return until the well is capped. We’re happy to report the well is finally, after 20 days, now capped. In order to cap it, workers first had to flare the well (burn off excess gas)–which happened Tuesday. XTO’s #1 priority now that the well is capped is to get those displaced back into their homes…
Continue reading

Nor’easter Blows Train with NatGas Pipelines Off Track in SEPA

Click for larger version

A mighty nor’easter storm blew up from the south and hit the Mid-Atlantic and northeast states late last week. The storm prevented your faithful MDN editor from flying home for 36 hours, due to some 20 inches of snow in the Greater Binghamton area. In other states, the storm didn’t manifest as snow but instead as torrential rain and high winds. In fact, a story we spotted related to the storm was so unusual (and connected to our industry), we thought we would highlight it. We’re suckers for a good train story. The East Penn Railroad, a “shortline” train operating 109 miles of track in southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware, had two of their freight cars blown off the tracks by the high winds from the nor’easter. There were reported wind gusts reaching 60-70 miles per hour. The cars blown off the tracks carried materials being used for natural gas pipeline construction…
Continue reading

XTO Well Blowout in Belmont County, OH Still Leaking 2 Wks Later

Two weeks after an XTO Energy well in Belmont County, Ohio exploded (not hurting anyone, blessedly), the neighbors have moved back–all but four homes closest to the pad. However, the well remains uncapped. Although it’s an unfortunate event that has caused a major upset for around 100 people, one Belmont County commissioner waxed philosophical by saying, “accidents happen.” What’s the latest on this accident and the cleanup effort by XTO?…
Continue reading

XTO Exploded Belmont Well Still Not Capped, Neighbors Stay Away

Last Thursday XTO Energy was drilling a Utica Shale well on the Schnegg well pad near Captina Creek (York Township, Belmont County, OH) when they “lost control” of the well and it exploded and caught fire (see XTO Energy Utica Well Explosion in Belmont County – 100 Evacuated). As we reported yesterday, most evacuees were allowed to return home, with just a few still not able to access their homes (see Most Evacuees Return Home After XTO Well Explosion in Ohio). However, we’ve since that time, we’ve learned that although evacuees were allowed to return home (and some did, to check on things/grab items), none of them stayed overnight in their own homes. Why? The well is still not capped. And as long as it’s not capped and continues to “spew” methane into the air, residents don’t feel safe. Can’t say that we blame them. We wouldn’t want to be in the vicinity either. The latest news is this: Power was restored to the area yesterday, but since the power has been out since last Thursday, you can imagine the condition of refrigerators and freezers in those homes where power was off. XTO has pledged to replace all fridges and freezers, and compensate residents for the cost of food lost, from having the power turned off. There’s still no estimate on when the well will be capped (a damaged crane has to be removed first)…
Continue reading

Most Evacuees Return Home After XTO Well Explosion in Ohio

As we reported yesterday, last Thursday XTO Energy was drilling a fourth Utica Shale well on the Schnegg well pad near Captina Creek (York Township, Belmont County, OH) when XTO “lost control” of the well and it exploded and caught fire (see XTO Energy Utica Well Explosion in Belmont County – 100 Evacuated). We have an update. Most of the evacuees have now returned to their homes (a few still have not). Also, the well is still not capped, meaning “unknown quantities” of methane are leaking into the air. Which, judging by most press accounts, is a greenhouse gas environmental catastrophe. Actually, it’s nothing of the sort. The amount of gas a single well vents into the atmosphere until it’s capped doesn’t even move the needle on the faux global warming scale. Frankly, it’s laughable. No, we’re not laughing at this accident/disaster. Far from it. We thank God nobody was hurt. It should not have happened. And yes, the well needs to be capped–quickly–which XTO and the company hired to do it (Cudd Energy Services) are working hard to do. We’re just providing balance to the “methane leaking from this uncapped well is the end of the world” narrative so prevalent–even in local news outlets. Here’s the latest update on what’s happening at the Schnegg well pad…
Continue reading

XTO Energy Utica Well Explosion in Belmont County – 100 Evacuated

Last Thursday XTO Energy was drilling a fourth Utica Shale well on the Schnegg well pad near Captina Creek (York Township, Belmont County, OH) when XTO “lost control” of the well and it exploded and caught fire. There were 24 people working at the well pad at the time. Fortunately, none of them were injured. Following the explosion and fire, 36 nearby homes and farms (around 100 people) were evacuated. So far the evacuees have not been allowed to return, although that may change today. XTO is putting them up at nearby hotels in St. Clairsville, Moundsville and Wheeling. Crews have worked to try and keep the brine gushing from the well from reaching Captina Creek. XTO hired Wild Well Control to put out the fire (which happened quickly). XTO has also hired Cudd Energy Services to cap the well. Three wells on the pad that were producing have been shut down for the time being. Below is the chronology of the explosion and aftermath, as it happened. This story is still unfolding, now five days later…
Continue reading

Utica Pipeline Explosion in Noble County, OH Affects Natl Output

Seneca Lateral pipeline fire – Noble County, OH

On Wednesday around 2:30 am in the morning, a section of 24-inch pipeline that runs from the MarkWest Energy natural gas processing plant in Noble County, OH and the Rockies Express (REX) pipeline (also in Noble County) exploded and caught fire. The Noble County Emergency Management Office says it happened about three miles north of Summerfield, Ohio, near Ohio State Routes 513 and 379. Fortunately, no one was injured. Neighbors heard the explosion and saw a glowing night sky. The only damage was to some nearby trees. That short segment of pipeline is known as the Seneca Lateral, owned by Tallgrass (owner of REX Pipeline). Tallgrass is investigating the cause of the accident. Believe it or not, that one pipeline and the gas it flows from the MarkWest plant to REX, carrying it to the Midwest, has caused the entire national output of natural gas to decrease by an estimated 2%, according to Reuters. A single small pipeline can actually move the needle on output! Right away the Sierra Club jumped into the story with a wild claim that the pipeline was not properly reviewed before regulators signed off on it. Typical headline-grabbing propaganda from the Clubbers. Here are the details we could find about the explosion/fire…
Continue reading

Analysts Speculate Rover Pipe Will be Delayed Following FERC Order

Yesterday MDN brought you the news that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has slapped a stop work order on underground horizontal direction drilling (HDD) for Rover Pipeline at the site crossing under the Tuscarawas River (see FERC Stops Rover Drilling Near River After 200K Gal Mud Disappears). There is tough geography in that area. In April 2017, Rover lost approximately 2 million gallons of nontoxic drilling mud at that location, mud which leaked out of the hole and onto the ground (see Rover Pipeline Accident Spills ~2M Gal. Drilling Mud in OH Swamp). That accident caused a shutdown of all Rover HDD work in Ohio. Work eventually resumed (last year). Work at the Tuscarawas location didn’t resume until last December (see FERC Gives Rover OK to Resume All HDD Work, Incl. Tuscarawas River). But now Rover has lost another ~200,000 gallons of drilling mud in the Tuscarawas borehole. Hence the FERC order. Energy Transfer Partners, the builder of Rover, maintains the entire Rover project will be completed by the end of March. Given the new stop work order with no apparent resolution in sight for how ET plans to overcome the problems at Tuscarawas, industry analysts are now speculating that Rover will not be done by the end of March, as advertised…
Continue reading