Shell Ethane Pipe Construction in SWPA Allowed to Restart

Here’s a rum’un (Brit speak meaning “strange” or “odd”) if ever we’ve heard of one. Shell shut down construction activity a week ago at its mighty ethane cracker plant site in Beaver County, PA, sending nearly 8,000 people home (see Shell Shuts Down SWPA Cracker Plant Construction re COVID-19). There are still several hundred people on location to secure things and ensure no mischief is made while the other workers are away. However, work on Shell’s Falcon pipeline project, the pipeline that will feed ethane to the (now quarantined) plant, is allowed to continue as “life-sustaining” work under PA Gov. Tom Wolf’s order closing some businesses but keeping others open.
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FERC Denies Rehearing on Mountaineer XPress 2 Yrs After Approval

The final bits of Columbia Gas Transmission’s Mountaineer XPress pipeline project (most of it located in West Virginia) went online just over one year ago (see FERC Says Rest of Mountaineer XPress Pipeline OK to Start Up). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project more than two years ago. At the time FERC approved the project, anti-fossil fuelers challenged the approval, as they do every single square inch of every single new oil or gas pipeline. We have to chuckle because FERC finally responded to antis’ request for a “rehearing”…on Wednesday. FERC turned them down more than two years after their objection was lodged.
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Some, Not All M-U Pipeline Projects, Affected by COVID-19 Virus

We’ve been following the story of whether or not work on the Mariner East 2 pipeline project in Pennsylvania can continue during the current lockdown and order issued by Gov. Tom Wolf to cease all “non-life-sustaining” activity, including construction work on pipelines not yet in service (see Some Mariner East 2 Construction Resumes During Lockdown). Is you is or is you ain’t still building it? It seems *some* ME2 work continues–work to tidy up existing construction sites. However, there are other new pipeline construction projects that serve the Marcellus/Utica being built–both in PA and elsewhere. What about those projects? Are they all shut down? As it turns out, the answer is NO. Some pipeline project work continues even during the coronavirus crisis. Here’s a rundown…
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Some Mariner East 2 Construction Resumes During Lockdown

The confusion over whether or not the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project has (a) shut down all construction, except certain tidying up aspects at certain locations, or (b) has permission by the state to keep on building, is still not 100% settled. On Monday we told you that ME2 construction was in the process of ceasing under orders issued by Gov. Wolf (see Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction Shuts Down re COVID-19). However, the PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development granted a waiver to ME2 for certain activities.

3/27/20 UPDATE: As we suspected and have now confirmed with an unnamed (but highly reliable) source, the ME2 sites issued waivers to continue construction on Wednesday, March 25th were areas deemed necessary to continue work in order to protect the environment or the public. While there are numerous “sites” where activity has resumed, it represents less than 20% of total project sites. For example, places where there were open cut ditches or partially complete HDDs (underground horizontal directional drilling), the company requested and was approved waivers to restart construction–after an extensive review by the Wolf Administration.
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EEIA Files Brief with U.S. Supreme Court Supporting PennEast Case

The Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA), a non-profit representing people and businesses who work in the energy infrastructure supply chain, filed an “amicus curiae” (friend of the court) brief in support of PennEast Pipeline’s request to get the U.S. Supreme Court. PennEast has asked the Supremes to overturn a lower court decision that allows states like New Jersey to usurp federal authority by blocking PennEast, a FERC-approved pipeline.
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COVID-19 Crisis Slams the Brakes on Anti-Fossil Fuel Shenanigans

If there’s a silver lining in this tragic COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, this may be it: Radicals who want to deny everyone the right to use fossil fuels with their unending campaigns of protests and legal actions are pretty much stopped in their tracks. They can no longer make mischief to block pipelines and shale drilling and the use of natural gas by ordinary citizens (via municipal bans). The virus has stopped most court cases, public hearings, and even the right to assemble and protest. Antis are apoplectic and scared that pipeline and drilling projects will get approved and move forward because antis can’t bully public officials and courts into bending to their twisted anti-fossil fuel views.
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Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction Shuts Down re COVID-19

As we told you last Friday, there was some confusion over whether or not construction of the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline, which is nearing completion, is included under Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s “stop work” order to prevent PA residents and workers from further spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus (see Is ME2 Pipe Construction Stopped Following Wolf COVID-19 Order?). Pipeline infrastructure and utilities are on the “life-sustaining” list, both in PA and as a directive from the federal government. However, “Utility Subsection Construction” was on the non-life-sustaining list–due to be temporarily shut down. ME2 construction continued after Wolf’s Thursday order. The confusion has now cleared, and yes, ME2 construction is in the process of ceasing.
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ME2 Pipeline Worker Charged with Falsifying Welding Records

A worker hired to x-ray welds on sections of the Mariner East 2 pipeline in southwestern Pennsylvania has been charged falsifying records, indicating that he performed the work when he didn’t. That’s a felony. According to one news account the worker, from Westmoreland County, PA, is expected to plead guilty and faces up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000. The good news is that Energy Transfer, the builder, discovered the deception and immediately reported it. ET reinspected all of the welds supposedly inspected by this worker.
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PA Sen. Dinniman Tries to Use COVID-19 to Block ME2 Work

PA Sen. Andy Dinniman

Rahm Emanuel (Democrat), former Mayor of Chicago and former Chief of Staff in the Bill Clinton White House, once famously quipped, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” That’s a pretty sleazy thing to say and a pretty sleazy way to behave. But there you go. Another Democrat, PA State Sen. Andy “Tony Soprano” Dinniman is adopting Emanuel’s sleazy strategy. Dinniman has been trying for over two years to shut down construction of Energy Transfer’s Mariner East 2 pipeline project (see Philly Dem Senator Tries to Shut Down ME2 Pipe Construction). He’s been completely unsuccessful. Now he’s trying to use the COVID-19 coronavirus scare to get the project stopped.
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Is ME2 Pipe Construction Stopped Following Wolf COVID-19 Order?

Yesterday Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued an executive edict that all “Non-Life-Sustaining Businesses” will close as of 8 pm last night. Notwithstanding the sleazy attempt by State Sen. Andy Dinniman to shut down construction of the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project by using the virus as an excuse (see today’s companion story), there appears to be some confusion as to whether or not ME2 construction is subject to Wolf’s edict to stop construction. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) refuses to tell ME2 to stop building. However, in Wolf’s list of what is “life-sustaining” and what isn’t, all construction, including “Utility Subsection Construction” is in the stop-work category. Is ME2 or isn’t it still actively under construction at this point?
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COVID-19: Biz Continuity Plans Pay Off for Pipelines, Utilities

The oil and gas marketplace is often described as being divided into three sectors: upstream, midstream and downstream. Upstream is drilling and producing, midstream is processing and transporting (basically pipelines), and downstream is end-users of all types–converting oil and gas into various products and/or delivering it to end-users. The COVID-19 coronavirus has the power to affect any and all three areas. However, the midstream and downstream (in particular pipeline companies and utility companies) do not expect this insidious virus to affect their operations. Why? It’s called business continuity planning.
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EQT Cuts Capex Another $75M, Cancels 15% of Pipeline Contracts

Yesterday EQT, the nation’s largest natural gas producing company, issued a press release to update investors and the marketplace on a couple of important issues. First, the company has sliced off another $75 million in previously-planned spending for 2020. The company now plans to spend $1.075 – $1.175 billion on drilling and other expenses this year. Second, the company “has entered into an agreement with a third-party to permanently release firm transportation obligations of approximately 400 MMcf/d, or approximately 15% of EQT’s current portfolio.” Translation: EQT was able to cancel 15% of the contracted pipeline capacity they had, lowering expenses.
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PA DEP Issues Adelphia Gateway Pipe 401 Water Certificate

Adelphia Gateway is a plan to convert an old/existing 84-mile oil pipeline stretching from Northampton County, PA through Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester counties, terminating in Delaware County at Marcus Hook, into a natural gas pipeline–flowing Marcellus gas to southeast PA. Roughly half of the pipeline was previously converted and already flows natgas. In December the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued final approval for the project (see FERC Issues Final OK for Southeast PA Adelphia Gateway Pipeline). In March 2019 Adelphia filed a request with the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection for a federal Clean Water Act 401 permit to cross streams and wetlands. The DEP finally issued the 401 permit this past week.
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PA DEP Schedules 3 Hearings on Permit Changes for ME2 Pipe

NOTE: These hearings have been canceled due to coronavirus concerns. Although the public hearings are canceled, individuals are still encouraged to submit comments about the proposed permit modifications and air plan approvals, as comments submitted for the record to DEP carry equal weight to those delivered in-person. Comments must be received by May 8, 2020, at 11:59 PM. Written comments should be mailed to the Waterways and Wetlands Program, 2 E. Main Street, Norristown, PA, 19401. Comments may also be submitted via email at [email protected] with the subject designating which modification request the comment is intended for.

It’s time to come out and support the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project at a series of three public hearings scheduled by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) in April near Philadelphia. That is if the hearings are actually held. DEP has scheduled one hearing in Delaware County (April 14) and two hearings in Chester County (April 15 & 16) on plans to issue the project state Chapter 102 (Erosion) and Chapter 105 (Water Encroachment) permits for construction in those locations.
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Ode to ME2: SWPA Resident Loves Sounds of Pipeline Progress

Drilling, whirring, humming, thumping, grinding, engines running, hammering, back-up warning beeps, banging, clanging. Those are the sounds of progress happening in Chester County, PA. Contrary to the griping and moaning mainstream media reports about those who live near Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline construction, the sounds of ME2 construction are music for at least one local resident because he knows about the economic prosperity this project will bring to the region.
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US Senate Confirms James Danly as New FERC Commissioner

James Danly

Last October President Trump nominated Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) attorney James Danly as the third Republican commissioner for FERC (see Trump Selects FERC Attorney James Danly as New Commissioner). Because the Democrats stall and delay anything they can to harass President Trump, a vote to confirm Danly didn’t happen by the end of last year, so Trump resubmitted Danly’s name a second time in January. The good news is that three Democrat Senators joined all the Republican Senators and yesterday voted 52-40 to confirm Danly as the newest FERC commissioner.
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