Jail Time for Bypassing Emissions Controls on Marcellus Trucks

In September 2018, MDN brought you the news that six men had been charged with conspiring to illegally alter emissions systems on 30+ trucks with heavy-duty diesel engines, trucks used to haul water and wastewater to and from Marcellus Shale wells (see 6 Charged with Bypassing Emissions Controls on Marcellus Trucks). All six eventually plead guilty (see Man Pleads Guilty to Bypassing Emissions Controls on Marc. Trucks). The wheels of justice grind sloooooowly. The first of the six to receive his sentence happened on Wednesday.
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Man Pleads Guilty to Bypassing Emissions Controls on Marc. Trucks

Last September MDN brought you news that six men had been charged with conspiring to illegally alter emission systems on 30+ trucks with heavy-duty diesel engines used to haul water and wastewater to and from Marcellus Shale wells (see 6 Charged with Bypassing Emissions Controls on Marcellus Trucks). The sixth and final man charged plead guilty yesterday in U.S. Middle District Court in Pennsylvania.
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H&H Bends Over Backwards to Reduce SWPA Well Pad Truck Traffic

Frac sand truck

Shale driller Huntley & Huntley (H&H), headquartered in Monroeville (Allegheny County), PA, leases land and drills in the Pittsburgh suburbs. They’ve picked a tough place to do business. The company works hard to win over residents who live near their shale drilling projects. The latest example is what H&H is doing to reduce truck traffic in Murrysville (Westmoreland County), PA.
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Dela. River LNG Export Dock Will Get Up to 360 Truck Trips/Day

Traffic on the Ben Franklin Bridge (Photo credit: Jeff Fusco, Philly Magazine

The propaganda drumbeat against a proposed LNG dock facility in New Jersey continues by Big Green. New Fortress Energy is building a natural gas liquefying plant in northeastern Pennsylvania. The LNG produced at the plant will get trucked to the bank of the Delaware River on the New Jersey side where New Fortress plans to build a pier allowing two ships at a time to dock and load the LNG. Here’s the latest line of attack against that plan: That loading facility *may* see up to 360 truck trips per day. Which is supposed to enrage area residents against the plan.
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WV Gov. Justice Blames Shale for Bad Roads, Wants Higher Taxes

WV Gov. Jim Justice

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is turning out to be a major disappointment. He’s pro-coal (because much of his personal fortune comes from coal), and increasingly anti-shale. The latest evidence is an attack on the shale industry claiming shale is responsible for the poor condition of roadways in the Mountain State.
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Vermont Considers Banning All New Gas Pipelines, Infrastructure

Must be something in the water in Vermont. They elect people to high office like crazy Bernie Sanders and Pat “leaky” Leahy. And now there is a serious effort to pass a bill that will result in a ban on any kind of new infrastructure that supports natural gas. No more new local gas utility pipelines to new housing developments, no more new hookups for businesses locating in the state, no new hookups for factories, farms–no nothing. The reason? An abject, irrational hatred of fossil fuels. This cancer of irrational thinking has got to stop.
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M-U Transload Facility in OH Getting Gas-Fired Power Plant 2021

Aerial view of the Long Ridge Energy Terminal from the Ohio River

In January 2018 MDN brought you news from the new owners of what is now called the Long Ridge Energy Terminal in Monroe County, OH (transloading facility) that they were moving forward “quickly” with plans to build a 485-megawatt Utica gas-fired electric plant. The plan was to have it online and running in 2020. That’s now been pushed back to late 2021.
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Marcellus LNG Export Plant in NEPA Will Generate Lots of Traffic

Last week MDN brought you the exciting news that New Fortress Energy is planning to build an LNG (liquefied natural gas) liquefaction plant in Wyalusing (Bradford County), PA (see Big News! Marcellus LNG Export Plant Coming to Landlocked NEPA). The $800 million plant will supercool and liquefy locally extracted Marcellus Shale gas and ship it first by truck, eventually by rail, to “customers in the U.S. as well as abroad.” The plant received initial blessing from the Wyalusing Town Planning Commission last week. But not all is butterflies and unicorns. At a planning commission meeting, a New Fortress Energy official revealed that the plant will generate 10-15 tractor trailer trips per hour–24/7/365. That’s a truck turning in to the facility once every 4-6 minutes–call it an average of one every 5 minutes.
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6 Charged with Bypassing Emissions Controls on Marcellus Trucks

We may not always agree with certain rules and regulations, but skirting or ignoring them is not an option. Especially not in the Marcellus industry. A small group of men (six so far) in Williamsport (Lycoming County), PA are accused of conspiring to illegally alter emission systems on 30+ trucks with heavy-duty diesel engines. The trucks belong to Rockwater Northeast of Canonsburg, a subsidiary of Rockwater Energy Solutions Inc. of Houston, Texas, used to haul fresh water and wastewater to/from Marcellus Shale wells being drilled. The men “tampered with and removed emission monitoring devices on trucks to reduce repair costs and maintenance down time.” Five of the six have already plead guilty, and a sixth was recently charged in the scheme. They all face jail time and stiff fines. Folks, this is not acceptable behavior for our industry…
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Blockchain: Explaining a Complex New Tech + Impact on O&G

We don’t know about you, but hardly a day goes by we don’t notice the word “blockchain” in the headlines. Increasingly that word is used in oil and gas news. We had some vague idea that blockchain has something to do with digital currency–using Bitcoin instead of dollars. Whatever Bitcoin is! So what could blockchain possibly have to do with oil and gas? As it turns out, blockchain the technology is much more than just a technology that makes digital currency possible. We spotted an article on the World Oil website about blockchain and took the opportunity to dig into this new tech sweeping the world by storm. Put simply, blockchain is an ironclad “way of tracking things.” Those things can be money (the earliest adopter of the technology), but also other things, like legal documents. The technology can also be used to guard against hackers breaking into a company’s network. Cybersecurity is often mentioned as a huge benefit of using blockchain in the oil and gas industry. Blockchain tech can protect against hackers breaking into a remotely controlled drilling rig, for example. Or breaking into a computer that controls shipments of goods and materials. Drilling companies have some of the most complex logistics operations in the world. They plan out drilling new shale wells up to a year in advance, coordinating it so that trucks hauling equipment (even the rig itself) arrive on the exact day they need to be there. And they coordinate deliveries of water and sand used in fracking–down to the day those deliveries need to arrive, figuring out how to get them shipped via train and truck. A year in advance! Can you imagine a hacker breaking into a network and screwing with that information? It could be economically catastrophic for the driller. Blockchain guards against it. Here’s more about blockchain and how it’s coming (fast) to the shale industry…
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Anti Fossil Fuel Zealots in Oneonta, NY Oppose CNG Terminal

A boatload of anti fossil fuel zealots from Cooperstown put down their wine glasses long enough to pack an auditorium in nearby Oneonta to bloviate against a sensible plan to build a CNG “decompressor” facility to accept trucks loaded with CNG during wintertime and summertime when area supplies of natgas get dangerously low. We wrote about the proposed facility, described as “a decompression station for compressed natural gas deliveries by truck to supplement resources” two weeks ago (see Oneonta, NY Wants to Build NatGas Decompressor for Short Supplies). In brief, here’s the issue: On really cold and really hot days there’s not enough natural gas in the region, and some large users of gas, like the local hospital and state university, actually have to stop using gas and switch to burning oil as a backup. It’s nuts. To overcome lack of clean-burning gas supplies, the local econ development people are trying to chase down grants to build a decompression station which would be used for maybe two weeks out of the entire year. Wednesday night the Oneonta Town Board held a hearing to get more details about the project. The loons from Cooperstown (i.e., Otsego 2000) turned out in force, some 100 of them, to protest the plan. Why? Because it’s a “fossil fuel.” What did the loons offer as an alternative to this sensible plan to truck in CNG only on days when it’s needed? They recommend “retrofitting old buildings to save energy” (i.e. throw on extra sweaters and turn the thermostat down), or switch to renewables. You know, solar and wind nirvana. What about when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow? Just do without. It’d only be for a few days at a time…
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Frack Sand Operation in SWPA is Leaking Sand into Nearby Community

frack sand

We spotted a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that concerns us. There is a transloading terminal in Stowe Township (Allegheny County, Pittsburgh area) that handles, among other things, frack sand. The facility has been there since 1969, so the neighbors can’t complain about stuff coming in by barge (or rail) and going back out by never-ending truck trips. You move to that area, you know what you’re getting. However, one thing the neighbors didn’t bargain for is sand–along roads, bridges, even inside on the furniture. Frack sand is super fine–very small–and acts like asbestos when it gets in your lungs. Not a good thing. OSHA has all sorts of rules for how to handle frack sand. And yet the sand in Stowe is leaking out of rail cars and trucks and ending up scattered throughout the nearby community of Stowe and McKees Rocks. The following story is written by Post-Gazette “reporter” Don Hopey–who is an anti-drilling propagandist. He spins whatever minor foible he can find in the shale industry into a major offense, a crime against the environment and humanity. However, in this case, the concerns Hopey writes about are warranted and should be addressed immediately…
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Crude Oil Truck Drivers Needed in Ohio Utica

While the Marcellus Shale play is mostly about natural gas, with some natural gas liquids in the southwestern part of the play, the Utica play in Ohio is a different story. Yes, a lot of natgas and NGLs get produced in the Utica, but the Utica also has a lot of oil coming out of the ground. Crude oil. Straight from the Utica/Point Pleasant rock layer. Something that hadn’t dawned on us (until now) is this question: How do Utica drillers get their crude to refineries? With natgas and even NGLs, it’s done mostly via pipelines. When’s the last time you heard about a “gathering pipeline” running to a well pad for crude oil? Yeah, never. So how do drillers get all that oil to refineries? They truck it. Another interesting factoid: those Pilot Flying J truck stops don’t only sell refined petroleum (diesel) to truckers, some of those operations also truck raw crude to refineries. The Pilot Flying J in Canton, OH is one such operation–and they currently have a shortage of truck drivers to haul Utica crude. It’s a “trucker’s market” right now. If you have a Class A commercial driver’s license with Hazmat (hazardous materials) and tanker endorsements, Flying J wants to talk to you, stat…
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EQT Uses Big Data to Improve Truck Safety

Trucks do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to the shale energy business. Water trucks and trucks hauling other materials and equipment make, we’re guessing, hundreds of thousands of trips per year throughout the Marcellus/Utica region. EQT is the largest natural gas producer in the country, following its purchase of Rice Energy last year. Trucks are a big part of what EQT does. This year alone EQT trucks will drive over 24 million miles! Safety on the roads is a “top priority” for EQT. How to accomplish better safety? Upgrades of equipment are one way EQT is tackling the safety issue. But there’s another intriguing way EQT is getting better at safety–with Big Data. EQT is using researchers from Carnegie Mellon University to gather and analyze a mountain of data from its truck operations, to figure out how to improve safety and save money. It’s working. Speeding, hard braking and other safety violations have fallen 44% since 2017…
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Fracking Acid Leaks from Truck in Ohio, Forces Brief Evacuation

A spill of hydrochloric acid on Monday in Weathersfield (Trumbull County), Ohio caused a brief evacuation of three hours for 23 homes and several businesses in the area. Nobody was hurt. The acid was stored in a tanker truck. The trucking company, Predator Trucking, is headquartered in Texas but maintains a regional operation in Weathersfield. Predator is a shale subcontractor hauling various liquids, including hydrochloric acid, used in fracking. The truck in question has two chambers that hold 2,500 gallons each. A valve became corroded on one of the chambers and while the truck was parked at the company’s facility, all 2,500 gallons leaked out. It created a vapor cloud and the concern was that it may shift, hence the evacuations, out of “an abundance of caution.” This accident points out one of the negatives of fracking. Oil and gas extraction is an industrial process that uses industrial chemicals hauled by trucks to drill sites. If a truck gets in an accident, or there is equipment failure, bad things can happen. But we hasten to add, in having observed and written about the Marcellus/Utica for nearly 10 years now, this is the first such incident we can recall of hydrochloric acid leaking. In other words, this type of accident is extremely rare. And thanks to the fast action of local first responders, there were no injuries. The acid was contained inside temporary dams, and soaked up with sand. The dirt the acid leaked into has been dug up and removed. Predator is now on the hook to pick up the cost–which no doubt will be considerable…
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Following Constitution Pipe Decision, NY Virtual Pipe Now Vital

1/24/18 Note: We have edited this post to be less incendiary and more respectful of the opposing viewpoint.

Yesterday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected a request by Constitution Pipeline to overrule the (very corrupt) New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation and allow construction of the pipeline to commence (see our lead story today: Death of the Constitution Pipeline? FERC Refuses to Overrule NY DEC). As we report in that story, Williams is not (yet) giving up the hope and dream of building the Constitution. However, given that tree clearing for the pipeline would have to begin now, and be done by the end of March (in order to save the bats–don’t ask), another year will go by before the Constitution could even begin construction. And it will take a year to build. That’s IF Williams prevails in court. In the meantime, businesses in New York State are DESPERATE to receive shipments of natural gas. Major employers in the Southern Tier of New York had planned to tap into the Constitution and use cheap, abundant, clean-burning Marcellus Shale gas from Pennsylvania, saving them money and lowering emissions. Without the Constitution, what can these employers do? Yes, they can leave the state (and some already have). But there is a solution. NG Advantage is planning to build a “virtual pipeline” in the Town of Fenton, on the outer edge of Binghamton, NY (Broome County). A virtual pipeline is a compressor plant (series of compressor plants) that grabs gas from a pipeline–in this case the Millennium Pipeline–and compresses it and loads it onto special tractor trailers that then deliver the gas to industrial customers like manufacturing plants, hospitals, and even small regional gas distribution systems servicing residential homes. NG’s project got derailed last year when a group of residents living nearby sued, stopping the project in its tracks (see Broome Virtual Pipe Project in Limbo, Fenton Board Refuses to Act). The residents claim three trucks per hour going through side streets will negatively alter the neighborhood. It’s bogus. NG is undaunted. They have patiently, calmly and repeatedly reached out to the community to answer questions and address concerns. NG has more than bent over backwards in an attempt to work with community. NG followed the judge’s directive and refiled the project with the Town of Fenton for a second time. There is a Fenton zoning board hearing at 6 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at the Port Crane Fire Department to consider NG’s refiled request. Residents who are opposed are already gearing up to pressure board members. Pro-gas folks need to show up in large numbers to show the zoning board there is support for this vital project. Let’s not let the other side win this one! Jobs in, indeed the future of, the Southern Tier depend on it…
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