Shell Says Falcon Ethane Pipeline to Get Built in 2019

Click for larger version

Shell delivered some good news at the Northeast U.S. Petrochemical conference held earlier this week in Pittsburgh: The Falcon ethane pipeline will get built next year. It won’t actually flow ethane to the Shell cracker in Monaca until 2020 at the earliest–because the cracker plant itself won’t go online until 2020 at the earliest. The Falcon pipeline project is interesting for a number of reasons, the chief reason (for us) being: Shell didn’t use eminent domain for a single foot of the 97-mile, two-legged pipeline system. Shell negotiated with every landowner and got them to sign on the dotted line. Judging by the articles we’ve highlighted in the past, Shell paid landowners between $40-$75 per linear foot for a permanent easement (see Landowners Who Negotiate with Shell Ethane Pipeline Get More $). The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection conducted three public hearings on the project earlier this year, in preparation for issuing permits. Antis came out in force and behaved badly, as they typically do (see More of the Same at Final DEP Hearing for Shell Ethane Pipeline). Using no eminent domain, and in the face of Big Green opposition, the big news is that Shell says they will build the pipeline next year, right on schedule, which is good news indeed…
Continue reading

Federal Court Upholds Ohio Forced Pooling Law in Chesapeake Case

In 2015, landowners in Harrison County, OH who own 127 acres (the Kerns) filed a lawsuit alleging their property rights were about to be violated because Chesapeake Energy had filed a pooling request with the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) to pool (combine) the Kerns property with surrounding properties for shale drilling. The Kerns had not signed and do not want drilling under their land. Their neighbors do. Ohio has a law on the books that allows for “forced pooling” in cases when a majority of the surrounding land is leased but landowners with small positions refuse to sign. The Kerns resisted and fought the case all the way to Ohio Supreme Court, which rejected their claims. Chesapeake drilled and fracked three wells (on a neighboring property), which included drilling under the Kerns’ property. So the Kerns filed a new lawsuit in 2016, in federal court, claiming a “taking” of their property had occurred. The federal court has just ruled–against the Kerns. This was the first time a court case dealt directly with the constitutionality of Ohio’s unitization (forced pooling) law. The upshot: Ohio’s forced pooling law remains intact and in force…
Continue reading

2 Bills Affecting Utica Shale Head to Gov Kasich for Signature

OH Gov. John Kasich

A pair of bills recently passed the Ohio State legislature and have gone to Gov. John Kasich’s desk for his signature. Both bills affect companies in the oil and gas space, in particular those drilling in the Utica Shale. One bill, House Bill (HB) 430, tightens up the tax code, what is and what is not allowed as deductions for drilling companies. Ohio state auditors have taken advantage of unclear language to aggressively go after oil and gas companies over legitimate tax breaks they receive under Ohio law (to not pay taxes on equipment used directly in producing oil and gas). Lawmakers want to end the tax witch hunts by clearing up language. They did so back in 2016, but Kasich and Democrats successfully spun the issue as a “tax break” under which up to $264 million would have to be refunded to Big Oil. Total lie. But Kasich vetoed that bill and it died (see OH Gov Kasich Vetoed Misnamed ‘Tax Relief’ for Utica Drillers). The bill is back, in a different form, and sent to Kasich for a signature. Will he sign it this time? The second bill, House Bill (HB) 225, addresses the issue of plugging some of the estimated 600 orphan wells in the Buckeye State. HB 225 triples the amount of money set aside to cap orphan wells (money which comes from Ohio’s severance tax, paid for by oil and gas producers). The bill also “creates a more streamlined and efficient process for identifying and plugging” orphan wells. The amazing thing about HB 225 is that both Big Green groups and the drilling industry support it! We predict a quick signature on this one…
Continue reading

M-U Gas Now Travels to Dawn Hub in Canada via Rover Pipeline

Click map for larger version

Last Thursday, May 24, Energy Transfer Partners requested (frankly, begged) the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to approve final startup for the rest of Rover Pipeline not yet flowing–by June 1st. ET has contracts to honor and they promised shippers the full pipeline would be up and running by June 1st. ET requested permission to start up the “Majorsville Lateral, Supply Connector Line B, and Mainline B between CS1 and CS2 and between CS3 and the terminus,” along with a request to begin flowing on the “Burgettstown Lateral.” Note that some of the project has two pipelines, side by side (the Mainline and Supply Connector). ET asked that the second pipes in both cases be allowed to start up, along with the Majorsville and Burgettstown Laterals (see the map). ET got some of what it wanted–everything but permission to start up the laterals–yesterday from FERC. With the startup of Mainline B and Supply Connector B, ET says the Rover Pipeline project is now capable of flowing the full 3.25 billion cubic feet per day of natgas all the way to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada. The only “problem” remaining is to find enough gas to flow the full 3.25 Bcf/d. They won’t be flowing the full 3.25 Bcf/d until all of the laterals are brought online…
Continue reading

Ohio Antis Suffer Big Election Defeats in Youngstown, Statewide

On Tuesday the voters in Ohio once again roared their disapproval of anti-fracking candidates, and anti-fracking ballot measures. For the seventh time in a row, a radical anti-fossil fuel ballot measure was voted down in Youngstown, OH–by an overwhelming majority (56%). Even so, the hardened radicals behind the ballot measure promise to keep bringing it back until Hades freezes over. These radicals have already cost the taxpayers of Youngstown $188,000 to run the ballot measure. And yet they keep coming back. They fit Einstein’s definition of insanity. Statewide voters shot down the candidacy of anti-fossil fueler Dennis Kucinich, the man who pledged that if elected governor he would institute a total ban on fracking statewide (see Ohio Democrat Candidate for Governor Says He’ll Ban Utica Drilling). Ohioans saw right through that nonsense. Only 23% of Ohio’s Democrats voted for Kucinich in Tuesday’s primary–a total humiliation…
Continue reading

Univ of Cincinnati Utica Groundwater Study Finally Published!

From January 2012 to February 2015, researchers from the University of Cincinnati collected 180 groundwater samples in Eastern Ohio, from water wells located close to Utica Shale drilling activity. In early 2016, the lead researcher shared some high level results from the study. The preliminary results showed that fracking in areas where there are water wells doesn’t affect those wells (see Antis Not Happy with Results of OH Fracking Study They Funded). Two anti-drilling groups were the primary funders of the study–Deer Creek Foundation in St. Louis and the Alice Weston foundation from Cincinnati. The two groups immediately cut their funding when they heard results they believe they didn’t pay for (see Anti Groups Abruptly Cut Funding for OH Fracking Study). Since that time, no more of the study’s results have been released, for over two years! That is, until now. The full peer-reviewed study, titled “Monitoring concentration and isotopic composition of methane in groundwater in the Utica Shale hydraulic fracturing region of Ohio,” was published last week in the scientific journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. Summing up the results of the full study in the words of the researchers themselves: “We found no relationship between CH4 [methane] concentration or source in groundwater and proximity to active gas well sites.” And, “…our data do not indicate any intrusion of high conductivity fracking fluids as the number of fracking wells increased in the region.” Finally! An honest study using Big Green money, that Big Green tried to cover up and silence, is now available for the whole world to see…
Continue reading

FERC Allows Rover Pipeline Startup in Michigan, Close to 100% Done

An order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued yesterday allows Energy Transfer (ET) to begin full operations along the North Market Segment of the Rover Pipeline–a $3.7 billion, 711-mile natural gas pipeline that runs from PA, WV and eastern OH through OH into Michigan and on to Canada via the Vector Pipeline. On April 13 ET asked FERC for permission to start up service along another major chunk of it’s massive Rover Pipeline (see Rover Pipe Asks FERC for OK to Open New Segments in OH, MI). ET eagerly wants to begin service along a 100-mile segment of Rover in northwest Ohio on into Michigan. FERC has been approving ET’s April 13th request in dribs and drabs. With yesterday’s approval, the entire length of the Rover pipeline is now substantially operational. There are still a few places not yet in service, but ET says they are on track to have the project 100% operational by the end of June. When fully operational, Rover will flow 3.25 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of Marcellus/Utica gas, some it going all the way to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada. Currently Rover is capable of flowing 1.7 Bcf/d. With this new addition, we expect that number will jump considerably…
Continue reading

Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) Wants Feds to Regulate Fracking

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, Democrat from Ohio

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, Democrat from the 13th District in Ohio, signed up last week to co-sponsor a new bill called the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals, or FRAC, Act. In fact, all 61 co-sponsors of the bill were Democrat–no Republicans–which is a big, fat, red flag. A totally partisan bill. Democrats have been trying this trick since 2009. It’s nothing new. Supposedly the FRAC Act will require “transparency,” forcing frackers to disclose which chemicals are used in hydraulic fracturing. The thing is, drillers already disclose that information! What the FRAC Act is REALLY all about is federal regulation of the oil and gas industry by doing something that has never been done before: subjecting oil and gas drilling to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. We’re tired of revisiting this topic, but feel compelled to set the record straight because of this renewed attack on the industry. Fact: There is no “exemption” from the Safe Drinking Water Act for drillers–they never were under the Act to begin with! The U.S. Constitution vests the power to regulate oil and gas activity with the individual states–NOT with the federal government. What Ryan and his fellow libs are trying to do in forcing oil and gas under federal regulation is a bastardization of the Constitution–an erosion of states’ rights. Which is why Ryan needs to be voted out of office. Shame on him. He’s from one of the biggest stars in the shale firmament–the Ohio Utica. And yet he’s pushing to kill it. There’s nothing “common sense” about the FRAC Act, as Ryan claims. It’s all “nonsense.” Here’s the latest attack by Dems at the federal level, a group that wants to kill the shale miracle in this country…
Continue reading

BLM Blocks Eclipse from Completing Utica Well in Wayne Natl Forest

Melissa Hamsher, Eclipse Resources

Something pretty cool took place yesterday in Washington, D.C. MDN friend Melissa Hamsher, vice president for Health, Safety, Environmental and Regulatory with Eclipse Resources (headquartered in State College, PA), testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Resources Committee. Melissa has been a speaker on several panels MDN editor Jim Willis has moderated over the years at the annual Oil & Gas Awards Industry Summit in Pittsburgh. The uncool thing is what Melissa was in D.C. to testify about, which is that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), after auctioning off parcels in the Wayne National Forest (WNF), is now stopping Eclipse from drilling under those parcels. Eclipse had already bundled some of the BLM parcels they won at auction with neighboring private land, setting up a drill pad on private (not public) land when the BLM stepped in and stopped Eclipse’s first under-construction Utica well in WNF, claiming the BLM needs to conduct a “new environmental analysis” before drilling can continue. At every turn BLM, while pretending to act in good faith by conducting auctions of WNF land, has acted in bad faith to block Eclipse’s progress after winning those auctions. Melissa shined a bright light on the sleazy tactics used by BLM at a Congressional hearing exploring the “unfair weaponization of the National Environmental Policy Act”…
Continue reading

MarkWest Energy Settles EPA Air Pollution Case for $5.6 Million

NOTE: A previous version of this post reported a total price of $3.2 million, now changed to account for the addition of an extra $2.4M for required SEPs. See below.

Two MarkWest Energy subsidiaries, MarkWest Liberty Midstream Resources and Ohio Gathering Co., have been forced into signing a settlement of claims brought by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection over charges of releasing too much air pollution from facilities they operate throughout eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania in the Utica and Marcellus shale. The agreement signed yesterday by MarkWest calls for the company to spend $2.6 million to install and operate new technologies to minimize VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions at their facilities–19 major, standalone facilities and 273 smaller facilities. The company will also implement three supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) for an additional $2.4 million. In addition, MarkWest will pay the government a $610,000 fine (i.e. shakedown). Total cost to get the government of out their hair: over $5.6 million. The government claimed MarkWest had not applied for nor complied with necessary permits. But the real disaster, the thing that sent government bureaucrats into fits, is that MarkWest failed to file proper paperwork required under the Clean Air Act. However, the settlement didn’t all go the government’s way. In agreeing to the settlement, MarkWest “expressly denies and does not admit any liability to the United States or PADEP arising out of the conduct, transactions or occurrences alleged in the complaint,” which means antis can’t file frivolous lawsuits against MarkWest over air pollution…
Continue reading

Rover Pipeline Still Waiting on FERC to Start Up Michigan Segment

Last Friday, Energy Transfer Partners asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to start up service along another major chunk of it’s massive Rover Pipeline (see Rover Pipe Asks FERC for OK to Open New Segments in OH, MI). ET wants to begin service along a 100-mile segment of Rover in northwest Ohio and in Michigan. ET also asked for permission to start up a segment of Mainline B in Crawford and Wayne counties (OH). The 100-mile segment through Michigan, called the Market segment, completes the pipeline, connecting to the Vector Pipeline in Livingston County, Michigan, which will allow Utica/Marcellus gas to flow all the way to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada via Vector. In last Friday’s request, ET asked FERC to hurry it up because customers are desperate (our words) to get their Utica/Marcellus gas to market. ET requested a starting date no later than April 25–next Wednesday. Unfortunately there’s been no word, as of today, from FERC. The silence is deafening…
Continue reading

Mr. Bennett Goes to Washington – Former OOGA VP Joins Trump Team

One of “our own” (from the Marcellus/Utica industry) is heading to Washington, D.C. to work for the Trump Administration, in the Dept. of Energy. Shawn Bennett, formerly Executive Vice President for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, is heading to the swamp to become Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas. That is, Shawn will head up the office of oil and natural gas at the DOE. How cool is that?! We sincerely hope he doesn’t get infected with swamp fever and instead works hard to promote the many benefits of fossil fuels. We’re sure he’ll be a huge success! Here’s the official announcement…
Continue reading

Rover Pipe Asks FERC for OK to Open New Segments in OH, MI

Rover Pipeline Market Segment – click for larger version

On Friday Energy Transfer Partners asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to start up service along another major chunk of it’s massive Rover Pipeline. ET wants to begin service along a 100-mile segment of Rover in northwest Ohio and in Michigan. ET also asked for permission to start up a segment of Mainline B in Crawford and Wayne counties (OH). The 100-mile segment, called the Market segment, completes the pipeline as it connects to the Vector Pipeline in Livingston County, Michigan. ET says 99% of all pipeline for Rover is now in the ground and done. Some 83% of underground horizontal direction drilling (HDD) required to install small portions of the pipeline under creeks, rivers, bridges, roads, etc. is now done. It won’t be long now until Rover is done done. Here’s the latest great news that most of the rest of the pipeline is now ready to begin service…
Continue reading

Columbia Asks FERC to Approve OH/WV Buckeye XPress Pipe Project

Buckeye XPress Pipeline map – click for larger version

In January 2017, TransCanada’s Columbia Pipeline subsidiary launched an open season for the Buckeye XPress (BXP) pipeline project (see Columbia Pipeline Launches Open Season for New M-U Project). BXP will expand service along the Columbia Gas Transmission pipeline from Ohio (and PA and WV) to send even more Marcellus/Utica gas to the Gulf via the interconnection at Leach, Kentucky. Columbia launched a non-binding open season to gauge interest in the project, which will use looping and beefed up compressor stations to increase capacity another 700 million cubic feet (MMcf) per day along the existing pipeline Columbia pipeline system. The open season (time when shippers express interest and sign contracts) was a success. But these things take time. On March 26, a year and two full months after the open season, Columbia filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeking permission to build the project. The project includes building 66 miles of new pipeline to replace old pipeline in Ohio’s Vinton, Jackson, Gallia and Lawrence counties, as well as pipeline replacement in West Virginia’s Wayne County. Below is the lowdown on the BXP application…
Continue reading

Despite Opposition, NEXUS Pipe Will be Done & Running This Year

NEXUS route – click for larger version

NEXUS Pipeline, a $2 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline currently under construction running from Ohio through Michigan–eventually with a connection to the Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada. NEXUS got final approval for the project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last August, the first major pipeline to get approved following a newly restored quorum at FERC (see New FERC Quorum Votes Final Approval for NEXUS Pipeline). However, radical environmental groups have fought the project tooth and nail. CORN (Coalition to ReRoute Nexus, folks we call CORNballs), and the far-left Sierra Club, launched lawsuits and regulatory actions against the pipeline. The City of Green, OH initially blocked construction, but later cut a deal to allow the pipeline through the area ($7.5 million talks, see Antis of Green, OH Finally Face Reality – Will Allow NEXUS Pipe). While a few Green antis are attempting to force a referendum to reverse the deal struck by the city, pretty much all of the other opposition has thrown in the towel. We haven’t read/heard from the CORNballs (or Sierra Club) in months. And now, antis in Michigan are admitting defeat–they admit that NEXUS will get built and become operational this year…
Continue reading

MarkWest Building 6 New Processing Plants, 3 Fractionators in 2018

Attendees at yesterday’s Utica Midstream conference at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio got an earful about pipelines and processing plants. Perhaps the biggest news coming from the event (for us, anyway), is that MarkWest Energy, now part of Marathon Petroleum, plans to build another six natural gas processing plants and another three fractionation plants in the Marcellus/Utica THIS YEAR. MarkWest plans to spend a whopping $2 billion in the region this year! That’s in addition to building two new processing plants and three fractionation plants last year. A processing plant accepts raw hydrocarbons coming out of shale wells and separates out the methane from everything else–“cleaning up” the methane so it’s pipeline-ready. Fractionation takes what’s left after the methane is removed and separates those other hydrocarbons into their discrete molecules–ethane, propane, pentane, butane, etc. According to MarkWest, M-U moving butane to new markets will be a major focus this year. We also learn that MarkWest’s Sherwood facility (in WV) is now the fourth largest gas processing plant in the U.S.–and by the end of this year, it will be #1! In addition to MarkWest, there were a number of other top notch speakers at yesterday’s event, including Rick Simmers from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources. Rick mentioned in passing there’s a shale well pad in southeast Ohio with a whopping 28 wells on it. Below is a summary of what was said at yesterday’s event…
Continue reading