Part of Leach XPress Pipe Up and Running Following Explosion

Leach XPress explosion location – click for larger version

Last Thursday MDN reported that TransCanada was working to restore partial service to the Leach XPress Pipeline (see TransCanada Working to Restore Partial Service on Leach XPress Pipe). Leach XPress only came online in January. The pipeline experienced an explosion and fire on June 7 (see Leach XPress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). Most of the 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of Marcellus/Utica gas flowing through the pipeline was stopped. As of Friday, the Stagecoach-LXP meter, which ties into the Strike Force South gathering system station, was once again flowing, up to 190 million cubic feet per day. Which means Monroe and Belmont counties (OH) are now reconnected and flowing. As for the rest of the pipeline and its various metering stations, it’s all still shut down with no word on when it will be repaired and back online. There’s still no word on what caused the explosion in the first place…
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FERC Denies Rehearing Request for Mountain Valley Pipe 3-2

In May MDN told you that Big Green groups were successful in getting the U.S. District Court of Appeals for D.C. to force the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to either move forward with, or reject a rehearing request on their decision to approve the Mountain Valley Pipeline (see Fed Court Forces FERC to Decide on MVP Rehearing, No More Delays). MVP a $3.5 billion, 301-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA–to move Marcellus/Utica gas south. Last Friday FERC obeyed the court and voted 3-2 against rehearing their previous decision to approve the project. Yes, the two Democrat Commissioners voted to rehear the decision–meaning they want to stop MVP. The two Dems have been co-opted by Big Green and Big Democrats and now apparently don’t/won’t think for themselves. It’s a scary proposition for “someday” when Dems regain the White House and can once again pack FERC with a majority–which will stop any new pipeline projects cold. Scary thought. At any rate, FERC’s Republicans made powerful and persuasive arguments for why the original decision to approve MVP was/is correct and doesn’t need to be revisited. Bottom line: Big Green is no doubt at the courthouse even as you read this filing a lawsuit against FERC and their decision. They could not file the lawsuit prior to a rehearing denial by FERC. Now that FERC has told Big Green to buzz off, a lawsuit to try and stop MVP is 100% certain to follow…
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PA PUC Overrules Lib Judge – Mariner East 1 Returns to Service

As MDN predicted, yesterday the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) voted to overturn a previous action by liberal administrative law judge, Elizabeth Barnes, to shut down the Mariner East 1 (ME1) pipeline (see Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice). ME1 is back up and running. All five PUC members supported returning ME1 back to service. However, three of the five PUC members agreed with Judge Barnes’ decision to temporarily shut down work on the Mariner East 2 pipeline project in West Whiteland Township (Chester County). Two of the five PUC members wanted all of Barnes’ ruling to be overturned. The reporting on this is somewhat confusing. PUC Chairwoman Gladys Brown put forward a motion to (a) turn ME1 back on, and (b) keep ME2 in West Whiteland stopped, for now, pending more information from Sunoco Logistics. The vote was 3-2 in favor of Brown’s motion. The 2 voting against it did so because it didn’t go far enough (they wanted ME2 construction to resume). So although the vote was 3-2, all 5 of the members wanted ME1 back on. That’s the real nub of the news–the subtlety that’s missed in most media reports. The 3-2 “split decision” that’s being reported is the decision to overrule Barnes on ME1, but keep her ruling intact (for now) on ME2. The PUC has ordered Sunoco to provide more information in the next 20 days: inspection and testing protocols, emergency response plans, and copies of safety training curriculum for employees and contractors. The PUC will then reconsider whether or not to allow ME2 work to resume in West Whiteland. But here’s the thing: Work on the rest of the 300+ mile pipeline continues everywhere else in the state–everywhere but West Whiteland. Overall, yesterday’s PUC action was a crushing defeat for PA State Sen. Andy “Tony Soprano” Dinniman (Democrat) and his Big Green cronies who want to assassinate the entire ME1 & ME2 projects by focusing on one small area…
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Green, OH Won’t Allow Nov. 6 Vote to Nix NEXUS Pipeline Deal

In February the City of Green, OH (Summit County), finally faced the reality that NEXUS Pipeline–a $2 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline that will run from Ohio through Michigan and eventually to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada–will come through their paradise (see Antis of Green, OH Finally Face Reality – Will Allow NEXUS Pipe). Green hired a high-priced Cleveland law firm to try and scuttle the NEXUS project (see Green, OH Paying Lawyers $100K to Fund Stop NEXUS Crusade). In the end, everyone has their price. For Green, the price was $7.5 million and 20 acres of land that sit next to an existing city park. While Green antis in city government hate the idea of the pipeline getting built at all (especially Green’s anti-pipeline mayor), the writing was on the wall. They would lose and they knew it. To save face, the mayor negotiated a deal with NEXUS that city council voted to accept. However, the mayor and city council’s actions didn’t sit well with some of the more radical elements in Green. The rads launched a petition campaign to put a referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot on whether or not the city should settle with NEXUS. The city says the signed settlement is an administrative action, not subject to a popular vote. The rads say otherwise. In a bold move, even though the rads have enough signatures to put the referendum on the ballot, the city has refused to allow the it to appear on the ballot. Which will surely send the radicals into orbit. It’s shaping up to be a battle between left and lefter…
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Lycoming County Residents Oppose Loyalsock Creek Gathering Pipe

Pennsylvania General Energy drills in several PA counties, including Lycoming County in the north central of the state. According to the just-published Marcellus & Utica Shale Upstream Almanac 2018, PA General Energy is the fourth-largest producing driller in Lycoming County, with 103 producing wells and 42.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas production in 2017. PA General Energy wants to drill more wells. Those wells will need a gathering pipeline connected to them. Current plans for a pipeline have it running along a portion of the Loyalsock Creek, and that has some folks in the area up in arms. Yesterday at a county commissioners’ meeting, residents voiced their opposition to PA General Energy’s pipeline plans. A company rep at the meeting tried to assuage concerns. The Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper has offered to be an “unbiased party” to “facilitate discussions between the company and those who reside along the creek.” You know what we think of so-called Riverkeepers who claim to be THE voice of a river…
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TransCanada Working to Restore Partial Service on Leach XPress Pipe

We told you last week that Columbia Gas Transmission’s Leach XPress Pipeline, which only came online in January, experienced an explosion and fire in Marshall County, WV (see Leach XPress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). Most of the 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of Marcellus/Utica gas flowing through the pipeline is now stopped, which has caused shippers (drillers) to find alternatives, including Energy Transfer’s Rover, Tallgrass’ Rockies Express (REX), EQT’s Equitrans, and Enbridge’s Texas Eastern Transmission (Tetco) pipelines to flow gas out of the region (see Other Pipelines Pick Up Slack for Exploded Leach XPress). Although a fix for the exploded portion of Leach XPress is likely months away, TransCanada, the owner of Columbia and the Leach pipeline, is working on a plan to quickly restore part of the pipeline to service in southeastern Ohio–which would reconnect Monroe and Belmont counties to the pipeline…
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WV DEP Fines Rover Pipe $430K for Water Pollution Violations

Rover Pipeline (Energy Transfer Partners) has agreed to pay a $430,030 fine to the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection for water pollution violations related to construction activities for the pipeline. The “consent order” was dated May 15 but not released to the public until Tuesday of this week. The proposed deal is now open for public comment until July 13. Rover received 18 notices of violation and 2 cease-and-desist orders dating back to April 2017. Most of the violations relate to failure to control erosion and for allowing sediment water to leak out of construction areas. WV DEP has not yet signed (officially accepted) the order, but it certainly appears to be a done deal. Here’s the news and a copy of the consent order…
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Eversource Looks to Reactivate Access Northeast Pipe Project in NH

In May MDN reported that a recent New Hampshire Supreme Court decision *may* breathe new life into a New England natural gas pipeline project believed to be dead (see NH Supreme Court Decision Puts New England Pipe Back in Play). The Access Northeast pipeline project would cost ~$3 billion and would connect four different pipeline systems: Texas Eastern, Algonquin Gas Transmission, Iroquois and Maritimes & Northeast. One of the backers is Eversource (formerly called Northeast Utilities), a utility company that desperately needs the gas that would flow through the upgraded system. Eversource had filed a rate case in New Hampshire requesting permission to pass along some of the cost of the pipeline to its electricity customers–because they will directly benefit from the pipeline delivering gas to electric power plants operated by Eversource. NH refused, and it was that refusal that was overturned by the State Supreme Court. The new news is that Eversource has withdrawn their original request because they are about to submit a brand new request for the same thing–and this time NH will have to approve it. Bottom line: The Access Northeast project appears to have rekindled to life, at least in NH…
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Despite Court Ruling, Atlantic Coast Pipeline Continues Construction

In May MDN told you that the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had invalidated (vacated) a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that allows Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to accidentally kill a few bats and bumble bees (classified as endangered) as it builds the massive $6.5 billion, 600-mile project from West Virginia to North Carolina (see U.S. Fourth Circuit Court Vacates Key Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipe). The Sierra Club and several other radical, far-left groups were behind the court case that led to the decision. However, as it turns out, the decision doesn’t really hurt the project all that much. The vacated permit isn’t so “key” after all. Of the 600 or so miles of pipeline getting built, the vacated permit from Fish and Wildlife only affects about 10 miles of pipeline (see Only 10 Miles of Atlantic Coast Pipeline Affected by Court Ruling). The radicals are back, not happy that only 10 miles of pipeline is idled for now. In a “but, but, but, but, but” request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the antis argue FERC should shut down the whole enchilada–because they don’t like having just 10 miles shut down. Meanwhile, Dominion keeps up steady-and-sure construction of the project. It’s getting built, even as you read this…
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Big Green Fail – MVP Permission to Cut Trees in VA Until July 31

Big Green protesters with names like “Ink,” “Sprout,” “Red,” “Nutty,” “Fern” and “Decard” illegally sat in the tops of trees (or on poles) in Virginia as a tactic to prevent Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) from cutting trees along the path of the pipeline. Some of them sat up there for a few days, some for a few weeks, and some for months. Eventually they all came down, as of early June (see All MVP Tree-Sitting Protesters have Now Dropped Back to Earth). The protesters had hoped to “run out the clock” for MVP to cut the trees. Because of threatened and endangered species (primarily bats that roost in trees), MVP was supposed to have all of the trees along the pipeline’s path cut by March 31. The protesters thought if they could forestall tree cutting until after that deadline (a deadline that was previously extended), they could stop progress and give their Big Green brethren more time to litigate the pipeline out of existence before the tree cutting window reopens in late fall. We’re more than happy to report the protesters’ effort to stop MVP tree cutting failed. Why? Because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has just extended the time frame to cut those trees until July 31. All of that sitting for nothing…
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ME2 Work in Lebanon, PA Halted for Spilling a Single Cup of Mud

A single cup of drilling mud, bentonite, is nothing. It is beyond nothing. Bentonite is the clay-based compound used to make toothpaste, lipstick and kitty litter. It is completely non-toxic–it goes on and in the human body! And yet when underground drilling work restarted at Snitz Creek in Lebanon County, PA for the Mariner East 2 pipeline project, a single cup of drilling mud (bentonite) came out where it wasn’t supposed to (in the creek), so once again the whole shebang was shut down. Which we find crazy. What’s next–shutting down drilling when a tablespoon of drilling mud comes out? A teaspoon? Look, we get it. There have been other spills at Snitz Creek (see ME2 Construction in Lebanon County Stopped for 50 Gal Mud Spill). If a cup comes out, maybe it will be followed by a gallon coming out. And if a gallon comes out, maybe 10 gallons or even 50 gallons will follow. Immediately halting all underground horizontal directional drilling used to install the pipeline under Snitz Creek is an “abundance of caution” thing. But come on! So what if 10 or even 50 gallons comes out? It’s bentonite and its non-toxic! Spilling 50 gallons of the stuff in the creek is like spilling 10 bags of kitty litter in the creek. A few fish and salamanders might die. So what? That’s the price of progress. Here’s the crazy news that a single cup of drilling mud has once again stopped ME2 work in Lebanon County at Snitz Creek…
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Platts: Marcellus/Utica has Too Much Pipeline Capacity

Luke Jackson – Platts

The LDC Gas Forum Northeast conference in Boston began yesterday and goes through tomorrow. One of the speakers yesterday was Luke Jackson, a Platts Analytics senior energy analyst. MDN editor Jim Willis heard Luke a couple of years ago at Platts’ Benposium event (see Jim’s Notebook: Benposium East Predicts Future for Oil/NatGas). Smart guy. Last year we posted analysis by Luke which said drillers will have to hurry up and drill more in order to fill up the pipelines that would soon be going online (see Platts: M-U Drillers Need to Double Rigs to Fill Pipelines in ’17). Luke returned to his theme of “not enough gas to flow through all those new pipelines” in his talk yesterday at LDC Gas Forum. Luke said there’s a growing gap between how much is getting produced and the amount of pipeline space to cart it away. He said that gap may grow to be an excess capacity of 10 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) by late 2019. Ouch! Let’s get drillin’! Also talking yesterday was Meera Bagati, manager of market analysis for NextEra Energy Resources, who addressed LNG exports and how exports may affect the Marcellus/Utica region…
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Construction Begins for 14-Mile Pipe to Feed Berks Gas-Fired Plant

Birdsboro pipeline route – click for larger version

Ladies and gentlemen–start your bulldozers! It’s time to begin building a 14-mile natural gas pipeline from the Texas Eastern Transmission (Tetco) mainline in Rockland Township, to a natural gas-fired power plant under construction in Birdsboro (Berks County, near Philadelphia). EmberClear Corp. is a Canadian-based company that builds and operates natural gas-fired electric generation plants in North America. In 2015, EmberClear filed an application to build a new 488-megawatt natural gas-fired electric plant in Birdsboro, in Berks County, near Philadelphia (see New NatGas-Fired Electric Plant Coming Near Philadelphia). In April 2017, two different Japanese companies, Sojitz Corporation and Tokyo Gas, each purchased a one-third share ownership of the Birdsboro Power project (see Japanese Now Own 2/3 of Marcellus-Powered Electric Plant in SEPA). We call the Birdsboro Power a “Japanese-owned” project, which it is, but in reality EmberClear is still the company building and operating it. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued permits for the Birdsboro project in March of this year, and the project is now under construction (see PA DEP Issues Permits for Japanese Gas-Fired Elec Plant in SEPA). In order to operate, the plant will need gas. It will get its gas from the Tetco pipeline 14 miles away, via a dedicated pipeline. Construction has begun on the pipeline. Or rather, preliminary construction–clearing trees, etc. It will only take a few months to complete the pipeline project…
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Other Pipelines Pick Up Slack for Exploded Leach XPress

Leach XPress fire

As we told you last week, Columbia Gas Transmission’s Leach XPress Pipeline, which only came online in January, experienced an explosion and fire in Marshall County, WV last Thursday (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). It’s early days yet, but so far, no word on what may have caused the explosion and resulting fire. The problem is that most (if not all) of the 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of Marcellus/Utica gas flowing through the pipeline is now stopped. What do shippers do? They find alternatives. And so they have. A Reuters article reports that shippers have cut deals with Energy Transfer’s Rover, Tallgrass’ Rockies Express (REX), EQT’s Equitrans, and Enbridge’s Texas Eastern Transmission (Tetco) pipelines to flow their gas out of the region. Below is the article highlighting the alternate routes shippers are using, along a second article speculating (in the absence of any hard facts) about what may have caused the explosion…
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Columbia Sues WV Landowners for Delaying Mountaineer XPress Work

It’s one thing for a landowner (or Big Green supporter, sometimes one and the same) to oppose a pipeline project by protesting, asking politicians to get involved, writing to regulatory agencies, etc. We have a great American tradition of free speech. Go for it. But it’s quite another thing to “harass, intimidate and interfere” with work crews in an area by screaming at them and shooting your “large caliber gun” near where they’re working. Columbia Gas Transmission is currently building the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline, a $2 billion, 170-mile pipeline that will flow 2.7 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day of natural gas from existing and future points of receipt along or near the Columbia pipeline system–most of it located in West Virginia (see Details on Columbia Pipeline Mountaineer XPress Pipeline Project). At 2.7 Bcf/d, Mountaineer XPress is the second largest (by volume) new pipeline project for the Marcellus/Utica region–second only to Rover’s 3.25 Bcf/d pipeline. It is a big and important project. And yet, a single couple whose land the pipeline does NOT cross can delay the entire project with threats and intimidation and interference. That’s the charge Columbia has made in court. On April 30, Columbia sued a couple in Doddridge County who live near an active construction site for Mountaineer XPress, claiming their hostile actions toward workers have caused a delay for the entire project–and that’s costing Columbia big bucks. Columbia wants to ask a jury to extract some of that lost revenue from the hostile couple as compensation. Lesson: Your (hostile, threatening) actions have consequences, and may cost you money…
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Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV

Click image for larger version

This is not the kind of news we like to share–but it’s important. A newly installed pipeline–that went online in January–experienced an explosion and huge fireball, in Marshall County, WV. TransCanada’s Leach XPress project–some 160 miles of new natural gas pipeline and compression facilities in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle which flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky (hence the name), went online January 1st (see Leach XPress Goes Online; FERC Approves Mountaineer & Gulf XPress). Leach XPress is part of the Columbia Gas Transmission system. From Leach, KY, the gas hitches a ride on TransCanada’s Rayne XPress pipeline to the South and Gulf Coast. A portion of Leach XPress, this brand new, “best-in-class” pipeline (so said TransCanada’s CEO in January), exploded and caught fire at 4:15 am yesterday in Moundsville (Marshall County), WV, sending flames hundreds of feet into the air. Fortunately no one was injured. Some nearby residents fled their homes. Most of the pipeline is now shut down, curtailing 1.3 Bcf/d (out of the 1.5 Bcf/d) of gas volumes “indefinitely.” Here’s what we know (and don’t know) about the accident…
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