Penn State to Help Create New Biz Opportunities from Shell Cracker

The Penn State campus in Erie County (called Penn State Behrend) has been tapped by the PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to be the “lead partner” for developing business and market opportunities for the state related to the mighty $6 billion Shell ethane cracker–currently under construction in Beaver County. Erie County where Behrend is located is certainly not next door to the cracker, not nearly as close as some other Penn State campuses. So why was Behrend selected? In a word, plastics. “The strength of Erie’s plastics industry and the success of Penn State Behrend’s School of Engineering, which offers one of only six accredited U.S. plastics undergraduate programs, makes Erie of particular interest to DCED.” According to DCED’s Denise Brinley, senior energy adviser, “Penn State Behrend can provide critical connections to research support, materials testing and a talent pipeline that will add value to this large-scale petrochemical investment and associated growth in the plastics sector.” Penn State is kicking in a $250,000 grant to their Energy University Partnership for oil and gas strategies, to help prime the pump…
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More of the Same at Final DEP Hearing for Shell Ethane Pipeline

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For three nights in a row this week the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted hearings for Shell’s proposed Falcon ethane pipeline–a 97-mile pipeline system with two “legs” that will feed Shell’s mighty ethane cracker plant now under construction in Monaca, PA. We brought you a report from the first session, an eyewitness account from MDN friend Charlie Schliebs (see Shell Ethane Pipeline Hearing Draws Few Supporters, Many Antis). That session was predominantly populated with antis attempting to paint nightmare scenarios if the pipeline (and cracker) gets built. Last night was the third and final session–in Sewickley. Once again we have an eyewitness account, this time from MDN friend Katie Klaber, former president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition and currently managing partner at The Klaber Group and a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland (Pittsburgh branch). Katie is a consummate environmental professional–someone with a lifelong career in environment compliance and someone who served on the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee of the DEP for more than a decade. She knows a thing or two about projects like the Falcon because she’s seen a thing or two (to borrow from the Farmers Insurance commercials). When the audience realized that Katie was supporting the project (the only one of the first 18 speakers to do so), the hissing started. She and the next few speakers who supported the project were hissed by bad-behaving antis in the crowd, with some Mother F…ers thrown in by an especially outspoken attendee. Nice people, those antis…
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Shell Ethane Pipeline Hearing Draws Few Supporters, Many Antis

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Last night the first of three public hearings held by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection for the planned Shell Falcon Ethane Pipeline project was held in Monaca (Beaver County), PA. About 100 people turned up for the hearing, which lasted an hour and a half. No signs allowed. The only people who could speak had to register first. Of the 23 who did speak, 16 of them (including out-of-town movement antis) spoke against the project, while 7 people spoke in favor. The 97-mile Falcon Ethane Pipeline system has two “legs” that will feed Shell’s mighty ethane cracker plant. Shell is not using eminent domain for any of its leases for the pipeline. Every lease is negotiated and signed with individual landowners. Antis, in large part being organized and agitated by radical groups like FracTracker Alliance, are making a concerted effort to block the pipeline, hoping they can in turn stop the multi-billion dollar cracker plant currently under construction by blocking the pipeline that feeds it…
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M-U Could Support 8 Crackers – Why Don’t Companies Build More?

Tom Gellrich, founder of Top Line Analytics–a consultancy focusing on downstream shale gas development like ethane crackers–spoke Wednesday at Kallanish Energy’s “Crackers, Storage & Pipelines 2018” event at Southpointe. He had some interesting things to say. Among them: The Marcellus/Utica region has enough ethane to easily support up to eight ethane cracker plants–plants the size of the massive Shell cracker being built now in Monaca (Beaver County), PA. So far only Shell has pulled the trigger and begun to build such a plant. PTT Global Chemical, based in Thailand, is actively considering (and likely) to build a second regional cracker plant in Belmont County. So the multi-billion question is this: Why aren’t more companies building crackers in our region, given the abundance of cheap ethane? Gellrich had some thoughts on that…
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PTT Global Ohio Cracker Grows to $10B Project w/New Partner

With much fanfare, yesterday a press event was held in Columbus, OH to make an official announcement of what we already know: that South Korea’s Daelim Chemical, a subsidiary of Daelim Industrial, is now a partner with PTT Global Chemical in the Belmont County ethane cracker project. We previously brought you that news on Feb. 1 (see PTT’s “Big Announcement” – Gets a New Partner for Belmont Cracker). OH Gov. John Kasich along with officials from PTT and Daelim held a presser yesterday to officially announce the partnership, but also to announce that PTT has pulled the trigger on buying more land for the project–a positive sign. There was also talk by all three that the size of the project has grown. Plans are now that the project will cost $7.5-$10 billion to build, and it will have the same daily capacity as the Shell cracker now under construction in PA–using up to 100,000 barrels of ethane per day to make ethylene (raw plastic). Disappointingly, there was no “final investment decision” (FID) announcement. However, Kasich said he is “very hopeful” all three will be back, soon, to make an FID announcement…
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PA DEP Schedules 3 Hearings for Shell Ethane Pipeline

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In February, MDN told you the Pennsylvania State Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) had caved to pressure from anti-fossil fuelers with regard to Shell’s proposed Falcon Ethane Pipeline project (see PA DEP Caves to Pressure, Extends Comment Period for Shell Pipeline). Shell is working on an ethane “pipeline system” with two “legs” to feed the mighty cracker plant being built in Monaca, Beaver County (see Shell Working on 94-Mile Ethane Pipeline to Feed PA Cracker). The DEP advertised an official comment period for the project on Jan. 20, giving interested parties until Feb. 20 to file their comments–an entire month. However, one month isn’t enough time for anti-drillers to marshal the faithful to try and sink the project. FracTracker Alliance, an anti-fossil fuel organization, colluded with other groups to put the word out to flood the DEP with demands to keep the comment period open. The DEP caved and extended the comment period to April 17th along with three public hearings (circus freak shows), to give the FracTracker faithful time to mount publicity and legal offensives to try and stop the project. The DEP has just announced the dates and locations for the three public hearings…
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WV’s Northern Panhandle Sits in the Shale Catbird Seat

The Northern Panhandle of West Virginia is doubly blessed. The Panhandle is four counties: Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and Marshall. Some add a fifth–Wetzel County. The first four counties in the list sit in a slice of real estate located between Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Panhandle currently produces 38% of WV’s natural gas production, and nearly 70% of its oil production. That’s the first blessing–good rock sits under those counties. The second blessing is the panhandle’s location between PA and OH. On one side, sitting just a few minutes away, is the mighty Shell ethane cracker plant, currently under construction in Monaca (Beaver County, PA). On the other side, also just a few minutes away, sits the proposed PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker site in Dilles Bottom (Belmont County, OH). The second blessing is this: many petrochemical and manufacturing companies will build, even relocate, their operations to take advantage of the raw materials that will come from both cracker plants. And guess where many of them will choose to locate? Yep–right smack in the middle, which is where the Northern Panhandle happens to be–sitting in the catbird seat…
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Ambridge Water Authority Strongly Opposes Shell Ethane Pipe Route

Shell has had pretty smooth sailing with their proposed 97-mile Falcon ethane pipeline project–a pipeline that will feed the mighty $6 billion cracker plant Shell is building in Beaver County, PA. Shell did not use eminent domain but instead negotiated with (paid big bucks for) rights of way along the pipeline’s path. That process continues. There have been some grumblings here and there, particularly from Big Green groups. But all in all, there has been remarkably little opposition–that is, until now. Shell filed an application to build the Falcon project back in October (see Shell Files PA Application for Ethane Pipe to Feed Cracker Plant). On Jan. 20, Shell filed an application for federal stream crossing permits–something the PA State Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issues (see PA DEP Invites Public Comment on Shell 60-Mile Ethane Pipeline). Because of the stream crossing application, the Ambridge Water Authority (in Beaver County), an organization that oversees a reservoir that provides drinking water for ~30,000 people, is expressing “strong opposition” to the route of the Falcon pipeline. Wait a minute. Didn’t Ambridge know the route back in October, when Shell first filed? Yes. However, the stream crossing permit application reveals details either not in, or not obvious, in the original application–details that the pipeline will go under three streams that feed the Ambridge reservoir. That’s got the board up in arms. In a statement, the Water Authority said, “we will do everything in our power to try and have the pipeline relocated outside of our watershed and away from our main, and only, raw water line.” Whether or not there’s any legitimacy to their concerns, Shell now has a PR situation on its hands–the old “it’s going to poison our drinking water” canard that’s a favorite of those who oppose drilling and pipelines. It will be interesting to see how Shell handle’s this situation…
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Landowners Who Negotiate with Shell Ethane Pipeline Get More $

In February 2016, MDN exclusively broke the news that Shell had begun to sign leases with landowners for a 97-mile ethane pipeline (two branches) to feed their mighty cracker plant (see Exclusive: Shell Leasing Land for 2 Pipelines to PA Cracker Plant). Since that time we’ve tracked any news we could find that reveals what Shell is paying landowners in Beaver County (and elsewhere) for the right to run the ethane pipeline (called the Falcon Ethane Pipeline) across their land. So far, we’ve seen rates as high as $75 per foot, and as low as $43 per foot. We just spotted another mention. An extensive (and well written) article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interviews a number of landowners who have dealt with Shell, signing leases to allow the ethane pipeline across their land. The article opens with the story of a couple and their attempt to negotiate with Shell. If you play too hard to catch, Shell might route the pipeline around your land, onto your neighbor’s land instead. But sign too early, and maybe you’re leaving money on the table. It’s a fine line–causing stress and strain. In reading the article we really perked up when we read about Ed Bilik, founder of Greensburg-based Western Pennsylvania Gas Leasing Consultants. Ed was the first guy to sniff out the eventual path of the pipeline–which he did by knocking on doors to see where Shell landmen had already visited. Bilik eventually got 41 landowners to sign with him, allowing Bilik to help them with negotiations. According to Bilik, “Shell started out offering $40 per foot for the right to lay two pipelines.” Bilik would not say how much his clients eventually got from Shell, but he did say this: “We exceeded that [amount] multiple times,” meaning his clients got a whole lot more than $40/foot when they signed. Here’s a portion of this enlightening article…
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UTOPIA has Arrived! KM OH Pipe Flowing Ethane to Canadian Cracker

UTOPIA Pipeline route – click for larger version

In January 2016, Kinder Morgan (KM) committed to building the UTOPIA (Utica To Ontario Pipeline Access) pipeline, a 12-inch ethane pipeline that will run ~240 miles across the state of Ohio where it will connect with another pipeline and flow ethane all the way to a cracker plant in Canada (see Kinder Morgan Ready to Move Forward with UTOPIA East Pipeline). However, all was not utopia with UTOPIA–some Ohio landowners got a bumble bee in their bonnet and refused to deal. KM first sued them using eminent domain, then decided to alter the route instead and signed leases with more reasonable landowners (see UTOPIA East Pipe Re-Routes Around OH Antis, Drops Eminent Domain). Last June, KM’s vice president of public affairs, Allen Fore, said UTOPIA was under construction and due to go online in January 2018 (see UTOPIA NGL Pipeline Under Construction, Should be Online Jan 2018). And so it has! Yesterday KM announced UTOPIA is up and running and flowing ethane from the Utica/Marcellus all the way to a cracker plant in Canada…
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PA DEP Invites Public Comment on Shell 60-Mile Ethane Pipeline

Falcon Ethane Pipeline proposed route – click for larger version

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is taking a close look at Shell’s proposal to build an ethane pipeline to feed the $6 billion cracker plant now under construction in Beaver County, PA. In fact, the DEP wants public input on the ethane pipeline–by Feb. 20th. Brief history: In February 2016, MDN brought you exclusive news that Shell had begun approaching landowners in Beaver County to get them to sign easements for two ethane pipelines to feed the mighty cracker plant they plan to build in the county (see Exclusive: Shell Leasing Land for 2 Pipelines to PA Cracker Plant). At that time Shell had still not fully committed to building the cracker–something they finally did in June 2016 (see Breaking: Shell Pulls the Trigger, PA Ethane Cracker is a Go!). NGI’s Shale Daily broke a story in August 2016 that shed new light on the project–news that Shell is working on an ethane “pipeline system” with two “legs” to feed the cracker, confirming the tip we received in February (see Shell Working on 94-Mile Ethane Pipeline to Feed PA Cracker). Last October Shell filed an application with the PA DEP for the PA portions of the pipeline (see Shell Files PA Application for Ethane Pipe to Feed Cracker Plant). The DEP is now considering those portions–some 60 miles running through the state. Here’s how you can comment on/support the project…
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Mercer County, PA Gears Up to Benefit from Shell Cracker

“One word: Plastics” (The Graduate) – Mercer County, which is two counties and 50 miles north of Beaver County (located along the border with Ohio) is making plans now for how their county to grab some of the “low hanging fruit” that will appear when the Shell ethane cracker in Beaver County goes online in the early 2020s. You read that right. NOW is the time for counties in the region to make plans and set those plans in motion to attract some of the numerous businesses that will set up shop to be close to the cracker plant. Mercer County officials recently attended a forum where the topic was ancillary development that will happen because of the cracker plant. What is the low hanging fruit that will magically appear with the cracker? Manufacturing–and the jobs that go with it. In particular, manufacturing and jobs in the plastics industry. A regional trade organization–Penn-Northwest Development Corp.–is planning to hit the plastics industry trade shows this year. Penn-Northwest is working with counties like Mercer to help them market themselves to plastics manufacturers…
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Ohio Continues to Drag Feet Approving Mountaineer NGL Storage

We’ve written plenty about Mountaineer NGL Storage hub project proposed for Monroe County, OH, located just across the river (and border) from West Virginia (see our Mountaineer NGL Storage stories here). What do we know about the proposed project? The Colorado company behind the project plans to spend up to $500 million to build it; some 20 drillers have expressed interest in contracting with the facility to store ethane; and the nearby PTT Global cracker plant project (if it gets built) and the under-construction Shell cracker plant are both interested in connections to the facility. In November, we learned there is a construction delay until mid-this year (see Yet Another Update on Stalled Mountaineer NGL Storage Proj in OH). Why the delay? The delay is because of regulators in Ohio. There is no one agency charged with reviewing and issuing permits for the entire project–it involves three OH agencies. There also seems to be an issue with one of the agencies, the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR), becoming comfortable with storing NGLs in a salt cavern (done all the time in other locations). ODNR is dragging its feet, and members of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) are beginning to publicly voice their dissatisfaction with the delays…
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Pittsburgh Presbyterians Call for Stop to Shell Cracker Construction

It’s always a shame–in fact it grieves us–to see once-great Christian denominations succumb to a worldly rather than spiritual purpose and mission. It’s sad to see the modern day version of a golden calf erected in place of God. It’s happened again–this time with the Presbyterian denomination in Pittsburgh. An “umbrella group for 140 Presbyterian churches” in Allegheny County are calling on Shell to stop construction of their $6 billion ethane cracker plant project about 25 miles from Pittsburgh. That’s right–just stop now, throwing thousands of people out of work (not very Christ-like) and throwing away the $1 billion+ Shell has already spent on the fully vetted, fully permitted, fully discussed (for years) project. Why do the Presbyterians want work on the cracker plant stopped? Because the plant will produce “plastic products that have been linked to the death of animals and the diminishment of fragile natural habitats.” Yep. The Presbyterians are now anti-plastic. The very keyboard they typed up their tripe on is, of course, plastic. As was the computer and monitor they used, the chair they sat in, the clothes on their bodies and sneakers on their feet–all come from the plastics the Shell cracker plant will produce. Just for icing on the global warming cake, the Presbyterians are also demanding their denomination divest any of their considerable investments from companies remotely related to the fossil fuel industry. It seems that the golden calf of global warming has now replaced God in the Pittsburgh Presbyterian denomination. And yes, we do grieve over that…
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PTT Global Chemical Officially Delays Cracker Decision Until 2018

PTT Global Chemical, based in Thailand, continues to delay a final investment decision (FID) regarding their much-ballyhooed ethane cracker project in Belmont County, OH. In April 2015, PTT announced they are interested in building a ~$5 billion ethane cracker plant complex in Belmont County, OH (see It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site). In May 2016, a story in the Bangkok Post said the final investment decision (FID) will definitely come in 2017. In December 2016, Belmont County officials said the FID would come by the end of March this year (see OH Cracker Final Decision Coming Soon, Site Now Cleared & Ready). But in February, PTT said the FID won’t come until “late 2017,” which is “several months later than we originally announced” (see PTT Global Delays Final Investment Decision for OH Ethane Cracker). Two weeks ago a PTT representative said the company will make some sort of an announcement “by the end of the year” (see PTT Global Final Decision re Belmont Cracker Plant Late Again). We now have the announcement: “PTTGC America will have a significant update that will demonstrate momentum for this project early in 2018. We thank all Ohio and Belmont County partners for their support, and we wish you a happy holiday season.” So the big announcement is that there will be another big announcement in “early 2018.” Yeah, we’re becoming irritated at being teased that the decision is just around the corner…
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PTT Global Final Decision re Belmont Cracker Plant Late Again

An MDN reader recently asked us, “Hey, what’s up with the Belmont County, OH ethane cracker? We haven’t read anything in a while.” You haven’t read anything on MDN, nor anywhere else, because there’s been nothing to read. PTT Global Chemical, based in Thailand, announced in April 2015 they are interested in building a $5 billion ethane cracker plant complex in Belmont County, OH (see It’s Official: Belmont County Chosen as POSSIBLE Cracker Plant Site). In May 2016, a story in the Bangkok Post said the final investment decision (FID) will definitely come in 2017, but they called the decision “delayed.” PTT disagreed with that assessment, saying a decision coming in 2016 or 2017 is not “delayed” (see PTT Global Says Belmont, OH Ethane Cracker NOT Delayed). In December 2016, Belmont County officials said the FID would come by the end of March this year (see OH Cracker Final Decision Coming Soon, Site Now Cleared & Ready). But in February, PTT said the FID won’t come until “late 2017,” which is “several months later than we originally announced” (see PTT Global Delays Final Investment Decision for OH Ethane Cracker). It’s pretty “late” in 2017, wouldn’t you say? A company representative says the company will make some sort of an announcement “by the end of the year,” but that’s all he will say. It certainly doesn’t seem as if an FID is in the cards in the next three weeks…
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