PA PUC Begins Geologic Testing Near ME1 Sinkhole

A couple of developments to share with you about the Mariner East 1 NGL pipeline which has been completely shut down since Jan. 21 when a new sinkhole appeared in Chester County exposing a few feet of the bare pipe (see New Mariner East 1 Sinkhole Appears, PA PUC Shuts Down Pipeline).
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Delayed ME2 Pipeline Cost PA a $675M Plastics Plant + 1K Lost Jobs

Braskem USA, headquartered in Philadelphia had a decision to make in 2016: Locate a new polypropylene plant in their own backyard, at the Marcus Hook refinery site on the outskirts of Philly–or locate it in Texas. They picked Texas because not enough NGLs (propane) were flowing to Marcus Hook due to delays (caused by Big Green lawsuits) in the Mariner East 2 pipeline.
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East Coast Dominates LPG Exports via Philly’s Marcus Hook

According to RBN Energy, “U.S. production of natural gas liquids is projected to increase by 17% this year, and by another 10% in 2020.” NGLs cover a variety of hydrocarbons. Two NGLs, propane and butane, are further classified as LPG–or liquefied petroleum gas. Of the four “smaller” LPG export facilities here in the U.S., two-thirds of all exported LPGs last year came from one–Energy Transfer’s Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia.
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Sunoco Fined $225K for Small Leak on ME1 Pipeline in 2017

The Mariner East 1 pipeline sprung a small leak and spilled 20 barrels (~840 gallons) of ethane and propane in Berks County, near Philadelphia, on April 1 (see Mariner East 1 Sprang a Small NGL Leak Near Philly, on Apr 1). Sunoco Logistics Partners (i.e. Energy Transfer), builder and maintainer of the pipeline, shut it down and fixed it over the next several days. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), which oversees regulation of the pipeline, has just (a year and a half later) “requested” Sunoco pay $225,000 for violating various state and federal regulations. It was an $11,250 per barrel spill.
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Appalachian NGL Storage Hub Enters Phase 2 – Built in 2-3 Years?

Last week MDN friend and ace reporter Rick Stouffer from Kallanish Energy hosted a one-day event in Pittsburgh called “Kallanish New Horizons: Appalachin Basin.” One of the speakers was Denise Brinley, senior energy advisor for the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development. She addressed the topic of an NGL (ethane) storage hub. We’ve written a number of posts on what was originally billed as a $10 billion project, to be located somewhere in the Marcellus/Utica region–most likely West Virginia (see Is the Appalachian NGL Storage Hub Close to Reality?). Brinley tossed out some numbers last week that are different from (contrary to) numbers we’ve seen in the past. For example, she says the facility will cost $2.5 billion to build, not the $10 billion number we’ve seen quoted so often. She also said said such a facility will open in 2-3 years, which is the first time we’ve seen any potential time frame pegged for building it.
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DOE Reports Gives Full-Throated Support for Appl. NGL Storage Hub

Continuing on the topic of the NGL storage hub that is today’s lead story (see Appalachian NGL Storage Hub Enters Phase 2 – Built in 2-3 Years?), a number of politicians previously lobbied the U.S. Department of Energy to study the issue of if, and where, a natural gas liquids (NGL) storage hub should be located. Namely, West Virginia’s two U.S. Senators, Shelly Moore Capito and Joe Manchin, were behind the request for a DOE study (see WV’s US Senators Lead the Charge to Build $10B NGL Storage Hub). The hope was/is that DOE would find justification (and throw government backing) behind a proposed $10 billion NGL storage hub project. Yesterday the DOE issued their report to Congress, titled “Ethane Storage and Distribution Hub in the United States” (full copy below). Here’s something really cool for us at MDN HQ: Marcellus Drilling News is referenced (quoted) twice in the report!
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Open Season – for Mariner East Pipelines?!

We spotted a notice from Energy Transfer, the company building (via its Sunoco Logistics Partners unit) the Mariner East pipeline projects, that seemed odd to us. It was an open season announcement, a time when companies can “sign on the dotted line” to reserve capacity along any of the three pipelines–Mariner East 1 (ME1), Mariner East 2 (ME2), or Mariner East 2X (ME2X). ME1, a repurposed gasoline pipeline built in the 1930s, has been up and running since 2016. ME2 & 2X are due to go online any day now. ME2 and 2X (built side-by-side) are about two years behind schedule. Normally a pipeline company won’t dig one shovelful of dirt or lay an inch of pipeline until/unless customers have already signed up during an open season. And yes, all three pipelines have had open seasons and have signed-up customers eager to use them. So what’s with this new open season? We think we know.
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New NGL Pipeline in Clarion County, PA Ready to Go Online

We pride ourselves on keeping close tabs on the market. Yet somehow the construction of a smallish NGL (natural gas liquids) pipeline gathering system in western PA slipped by us. The pipeline is now built and the builder, Stonehenge Energy Resources, is putting the “finishing touches” on the Stonehenge Laurel – Clarion Pipeline System before it goes live. The pipeline will connect to Laurel Mountain Energy’s wells in Clarion County and collect up the NGLs (things like ethane and propane) from those wells and flow it neighboring Butler County where the NGLs will hitch a ride via Energy Transfer’s Revolution Pipeline system to Washington County, PA where they will get cleaned up and separated.
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Energy Transfer 3Q18: Mariner East 2 Pipeline Online by Christmas

Yesterday the muckety-mucks from Energy Transfer (ET) held a conference call with Wall Street analysts to discuss the company’s third quarter 2018 update. Inevitably on such calls there’s talk about what’s coming up in addition to what happened in the previous quarter. ET is a big midstream (pipeline) company. Among their projects are the mighty Rover Pipeline, which reaches from Pennsylvania, West Virgina, and eastern Ohio all the way into Michigan, and the Mariner East 2 Pipeline, which runs from eastern Ohio all the way through Pennsylvania to the Philadelphia area. Rover flows natural gas, ME2 (and ME2X) will flow NGLs, mainly ethane and propane. According to Tom Long, ET’s Chief Financial Officer, ME2 will be up and running sometime this quarter. Since the end of this quarter is around Christmastime, we prefer to think of ME2 as a Christmas present for Marcellus/Utica drillers.
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Kinder Morgan Cancels UMTP – Utica Marcellus Texas Pipeline

Once again it seems environmentalists in Kentucky have won–stopping yet another NGL (natural gas liquids) pipeline. On Wednesday Kinder Morgan, one of (perhaps the) largest pipeline companies in North America, announced it is canceling plans to convert part of its Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) that currently flows natural gas from the Gulf Coast to the northeast, to reverse the pipeline and flow natural gas liquids (NGLs) from the Marcellus/Utica region to the Gulf Coast. The project, called Utica Marcellus Texas Pipeline (UMTP), would have cost $4 billion. Instead, Kinder says it will still seek to reverse a big portion of TGP, but will instead flow M-U natgas south, instead of NGLs.
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Petrochemicals & Shale – Joined at the Hip (IEA Report)

On numerous occasions we’ve pointed out the lunacy of the “keep it in the ground” gang–those who believe we should end the use of all fossil fuels as soon as possible. Why can’t we do it? For many reasons. Here’s just one: petrochemicals. Did you know that all sorts of products you use every day–things like plastics, fertilizers, packaging, clothing, digital devices, medical equipment, detergents and tires–come from oil and gas? Without oil and gas, we’d quickly descend back into the Stone Age, living short, brutish lives. That point was driven home in a new report titled “The Future of Petrochemicals” (full copy below), part of an International Energy Agency (IEA) series that shines a light on “blind spots” in the global energy system.
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Turning Ethane into Plastics – A Primer for Anti-Fossil Fuelers

Without natural gas, modern life as humans know it would cease. And no, that’s not hyperbole or bluster. And yet, non-thinking anti-fossil fuel protesters refuse to acknowledge that basic truth. We spotted an excellent article in Forbes that outlines the vital importance of shale gas (specifically the ethane that comes as part of shale gas extraction). We love the straightforward simplicity of the article in describing how the shale ecosystem works–and how it touches on virtually every aspect of our modern existence.
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Opposition to Kinder Morgan NGL Pipeline Plan Builds in Kentucky

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What is it about Kentucky? Is everybody in the Bluegrass State allergic to NGL (natural gas liquids) pipelines? Another government official, this time the mayor of Lexington, is the latest (in a long list) to oppose Kinder Morgan’s plan to convert part of their Tennessee Gas Pipeline to flow NGLs–called the Utica Marcellus Texas Pipeline (UMTP) project.
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MarkWest Plans to Build New Marcellus/Utica NGL Pipeline

Yesterday MarkWest Liberty NGL Pipeline, a subsidiary/part of MarkWest Energy (now MPLX since being bought out and merged into Marathon Petroleum in late 2015), announced plans to build a new NGL pipeline. MarkWest Liberty launched a binding open season for the new pipeline–a time when drillers can sign on the dotted line to reserve capacity along the new pipeline. The new NGL pipeline is a bit different than other NGL pipelines in the Marcellus/Utica. It will pick up NGLs from several of MarkWest’s gas processing plants in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and cart the NGLs to fractionation facilities owned by MarkWest in PA and Ohio, where those NGLs will get separated into their discrete hydrocarbon components. Let us explain it this way: Step One is that the gas comes out of the ground. But it’s not all just methane–there’s a number of other hydrocarbons (natural gas liquids, or NGLs) mixed in with it, things like ethane, butane, propane, pentane. The raw mix goes to a cryogenic processing plant where the methane (i.e. natural gas) is separated out and sent on its way to market via pipelines like Rover and Rockies Express and others. Step Two: The NGLs need further separating. That’s what a fractionation plant does. This new pipeline from MarkWest Liberty (the Marcellus unit of MarkWest) will cart the mixed bag of NGLs to fractionation facilities. After being separated into component parts, the components can then be sold. Which fits with MarkWest’s prior statements that in 2018 they would focus on creating new markets for Marcellus/Utica NGLs, butane in particular (see MarkWest Building 6 New Processing Plants, 3 Fractionators in 2018). So, which processing plants will the pipeline connect to, and which fractionation plants? The announcement does not say, and there is no PDF document available with the details, at least not publicly. For that, you need to contact MarkWest directly. We do, however, have a map of MarkWest’s facilities…
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