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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Webasto – Saving Marcellus/Utica Trucks Big Money and Time

Winter has arrived here in the Marcellus/Utica. Keeping a truck idled for hours at a time–just to keep it warm or to get it warmed up before driving–is a waste of money. It’s also harmful to the environment (lots of nasty diesel emissions). There is a better way–the Webasto way. Webasto designed and manufactures an ingenious solution, a tiny little device like a motor, that will heat up the fluids in a truck, meaning you don’t have to start it minutes and hours ahead of time just to warm it up. They even have a device that will keep the cabin warm–without running the truck’s engine! How clever is that? MDN is delighted to bring our audience a new sponsor/advertiser: Webasto. Never heard of it? You may actually have one of their systems in your equipment and not even realize it. They’re responsible for the technology behind Engine-Off heating solutions–improving driver comfort and engine performance for all types of vehicles. Webasto was founded in 1901 in Germany and remains headquartered there. However, it is truly an international company, with operations around the world, including here in the U.S. There are a number of subsidiaries and divisions within the company. The part of the company that has become an MDN sponsor manufactures technologies, like heaters, used in big trucks (see it here).

Obviously not all MDN readers are interested in technology that keeps trucks warm in the winter. But there are a number of trucking companies, and fleet managers, who subscribe to and read MDN. Companies that work in the Marcellus/Utica region. We have some information you need–information that will (a) save you BIG money, (b) improve your environmental record, and (c) lower maintenance costs for your trucks…
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XNG Virtual Pipeline Defends Itself Against Antis in Otsego Co. NY

Earlier this year Xpress Natural Gas (XNG) spent $18.6 million to build a “virtual pipeline” facility in Susquehanna County, PA that employs ~90 people and loads up to 100 compressed natural gas (CNG) tanker trucks each day with PA Marcellus gas, for deliveries to customers across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states (see Major CNG Virtual Pipeline Coming to Susquehanna County, PA). Many of XNG’s trucks (40 per day) head up Interstate 81, catch Interstate 88 in the Binghamton area, and keep on going, eventually arriving in Herkimer County where the trucks unload the gas into the Iroquois Pipeline. Iroquois gets up to 50 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) from XNG’s trucks, using it for resale to customers further on down the pipeline in New York and New England (see XNG Virtual Pipe Delivering 50 MMcf/d of PA NatGas to NY Pipeline ). However, some residents in Upstate NY, in Otsego County (we suspect the same anti-fossil fuel nutters who lobbied to ban fracking and ban new pipelines) are up in arms with XNG’s daily truck trips. In order to shave miles and money from having to use Interstate 90 (NY Thruway with big tolls), XNG instead leaves I-88 and uses several state highways, routing the trucks through small towns. An eyewitness who lives along the route emailed MDN back in September said, “these [XNG drivers] are very considerate to the speed limits in the small towns they go through, I think these drivers are well disciplined…(maybe disciplined is not the right word) and the trucks are very quiet.” However, a group of antis turned up at a meeting last Thursday night in Otsego County to gripe and moan about the truck traffic. They don’t want fracking. They don’t want pipelines. And now they don’t want trucks hauling natural gas coming past their front door. Maybe they should just quit using all fossil fuels themselves and begin living like cavemen again?…
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Twin Eagle Sand Enters Marcellus/Utica with WV Transload Facility

Twin Eagle Resource Management, headquartered in Houston, TX, bills itself as a provider of wholesale energy and midstream services throughout North America. Twin Eagle also serves the upstream (drilling market) via a number of transloading facilities to ship and store frac sand. Currently Twin has five facilities, serving: Central Eagle Ford (Elmendorf, TX), South Eagle Ford (Laredo, TX), Powder River Basin (Douglas, WY), Permian Basin (Big Spring, TX), and DJ Basin (Evans, CO). You can now add a sixth facility–a frac sand transloading facility in Bridgeport, WV, to service the Marcellus/Utica region. Last week Twin Eagle Sand Logistics (Twin Eagle subsidiary) announced a deal to buy an existing frac sand terminal in Bridgeport from Process Transloading Bridgeport. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. “Transloading” is a simple concept. It means you ship the sand in via railroad, or barge, unload it, store it, and then load it onto trucks which haul it to well pads where it gets used to frack shale wells. Let’s give a hearty welcome to the latest entrant into the Marcellus/Utica supply chain! Here are the particulars of the Bridgeport facility…
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XNG Virtual Pipe Delivering 50 MMcf/d of PA NatGas to NY Pipeline

Iroquois Gas Transmission is not waiting for the Constitution Pipeline to get built–they’ve found a way around it. At least for some of the supply they hopped to get from the Constitution. Iroquois is a 416-mile interstate natural gas pipeline extending from the U.S.-Canadian border at Waddington, NY, through New York State and western Connecticut to a terminus in Commack, NY (Long Island), and from Huntington (on Long Island) to the Bronx, NY. It is an important pipeline in the Empire State. Iroquois was in line to receive some of the 650 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of natural gas the Constitution would flow from northeast PA to Schoharie County, NY, where the Constitution would connect to both the Iroquois and Tennessee Gas Pipeline. We’re not sure how much of the 650 MMcf/d Iroquois was supposed to get, but right now and for the foreseeable future, they’re getting nothing, thanks to a corrupt governor who has corrupted New York’s environmental agency which has denied the Constitution a necessary permit to build. Iroquois has found a way to replace at least some of that volume–by trucking it in. That is, a “virtual pipeline” which is now feeding the Iroquois, and in-the-ground pipeline. Usually it’s the other way around! Iroquois is getting up to 50 MMcf/d from Xpress Natural Gas (XNG), which is trucking the gas from a facility in northeastern PA (Susquehanna County). Here’s a story you’ll read first (perhaps only) on MDN–of how a virtual pipeline is now feeding an interstate pipeline in New York State with fracked gas from Pennsylvania…
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2nd Approval for Virtual Pipeline in Broome County Not Assured

As we reported last week, a Broome County, NY judge ruled yesterday that the Town of Fenton (Binghamton area) Planning Board did not take a hard enough look at environmental and traffic issues related to their approval of NG Advantage’s plan to construct a facility in the town to compress and load natural gas onto tractor trailers for delivery to regional customers who desperately need the gas–what is called a “virtual pipeline” (see Judge Rules Against Broome Virtual Pipe, NG Advantage to Try Again). The judge’s ruling delays the project for months at least. NG must now resubmit the project for approval by the Fenton Planning Board. Before doing that, NG must first conduct a full environmental impact study and an aquifer study. Even with environmental studies, don’t expect the locals, who appear to have very closed minds, to accept the outcome. That much was clear at a Fenton Planning Board meeting last night. Residents packed the small meeting room to voice their displeasure with the project. Until now the project has enjoyed overwhelming support by the Planning Board and Town of Fenton officials. However, that may be changing. Town of Fenton Supervisor Dave Hamlin said there is “no certainty” that NG’s new, second application will get approved by the Fenton Planning Board…
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Crestwood’s Orange County, NY Rail NGL Terminal Opens Sept 6

Crestwood concept drawing for rail terminal in Orange County, NY – click for larger version

In February MDN told you we had made a discovery in reading through Crestwood Equity Partners (formerly known as Crestwood Midstream) quarterly update: the company is “developing a greenfield rail-to-truck NGL terminal in Montgomery, NY that will increase propane supply reliability across the Northeast markets” (see Crestwood Building Rail-to-Truck NGL Terminal in Orange County, NY). The terminal will come from “multiple producers in the Marcellus and Utica regions.” At that time, Crestwood was in the process of building the terminal, which will handle propane, in Orange County, NY–not far from New York City. Given NY’s allergy to any project related to fossil fuels, we found the news quite incredible. Something even more incredible: the terminal is done and the grand opening will happen next Wednesday, Sept. 6th…
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Midstreamer E2 Energy Gets Major Investment from Tailwater Capital

E2 Energy Services, which operates numerous natural gas processing facilities in the Marcellus/Utica, has just recapitalized “through an equity commitment from Tailwater Capital.” MDN first heard of E2 back in October 2014 when EnLink Midstream transferred ownership (“dropped down”) its investment in E2 Appalachian Compression, LLC and E2 Energy Services, LLC from one EnLink corporate entity to another (see EnLink Midstream’s Primary Focus in the Marcellus/Utica is…). EnLink, at least in 2014, owned a majority interest in E2–so we consider E2 a subsidiary of EnLink. Now comes word that a private equity investment company, Tailwater Capital, has committed a big slug of money, although we are not given the amount. When a company like E2 “recapitalizes” that typically means the company is swapping debt (bonds and notes) for equity (stocks). The announcement from E2 does not share the exact nature of the recapitalization. Below is the announcement, along with a list of E2’s assets and operations in the Marcellus/Utica region…
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Shell Cracker Plans to Build Truck Facility in Washington County

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Please note: Thanks to MDN reader Todd S. from Washington County, PA for correcting our map/distance from the Starpointe Business Park to the cracker plant location in Monaca, PA. Our previous Google map showed an incorrect distance (46 miles). It is actually ~28 miles. The story below has been corrected to reflect it.

It looks like Shell is going to build a trucking dispatch operation for its ethane cracker–but it won’t be located anywhere near the cracker site. The new trucking facility will be located in Washington County, PA–a half hour away. MDN was one of the first to announce Shell’s final investment decision to build an ethane cracker plant (that we now know will cost $6 billion) in Beaver County, PA (see Breaking: Shell Pulls the Trigger, PA Ethane Cracker is a Go!). A lot has happened at the site, situated on a former zinc smelting plant site in Monaca, PA. Shell built a new access road for trucks accessing the site–a concrete bridge overtop an adjacent highway–even before the final investment decision (see Shell Begins Building Bridge to PA Cracker Plant Site). Shell leased a huge office building and parking lot near the site (see Shell Leases 76,000 Sq Ft Office Space Near Cracker Plant Site). Shell even leased part of a nearby mall parking lot, for workers to park there (see More Evidence that the Shell Ethane Cracker Plant in PA is a Go). Everything we’ve seen thus far seems to be activity in and around Monaca–in Beaver County. That is, until now. A meeting yesterday of the Washington County (PA) Board of Commissioners hinted that Shell is about to build a facility there. Yesterday the commissioners voted to approve a new 31-acre development with a “90-bay distribution center and trucking dispatch operation” at Starpointe Business Park, in Hanover Township. The resolution contained this language in describing the project: “…to construct a two-unit building for Shell.” County officials and Shell officials won’t confirm a thing, but it seems pretty likely Shell is planning to build a big trucking facility in the business park, which is (by our calculations) about 28 miles and a half hour from the cracker site…
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