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

Cyber Attack Hits Pipeline Computer System, Rover Pipe Affected

We’ve read warnings about the potential for cyber (computer) attacks on the U.S. energy industry for several months. We understand how such an attack might affect a nuclear plant, or perhaps the electric grid. Screw up the computers managing and running a nuke plant or a significant portion of the electric grid and you have a class-one serious situation on your hands. However, we didn’t really think about pipelines. Did you know that pipeline networks, like electric grids, are monitored and controlled by computers and those computers can be compromised? We have to admit it was not on our radar screen. But that has now happened–and it affects not only pipeline systems in other parts of the country, but right here in the Marcellus/Utica. Energy Transfer Partners uses a third party service called Energy Services Group to manage all of its pipelines–a massive nationwide network. Energy Services provides EDI (electronic data interchange) services that reportedly cut costs and increases the speed with which companies exchange documents that used to be paper-based. Documents like those used in buying and selling natural gas at various trading hubs along major pipelines. On Monday, Energy Services was attacked electronically, knocking the service out of commission until further notice. Note that gas flowing through pipelines has not been affected. The affected computers don’t turn valves on and off. However, the ability to know who’s gas is flowing through the pipeline (who bought and who sold) has been slowed–on all of ET’s pipelines, including the newly-minted Rover Pipeline…
Continue reading

Yale Study Claims Ohio Utica Fracking Causes STDs

What a shame that a university with one of the best reputations in the world, Yale, has sunk this low–to pedal yet another so-called study that claims where there is fracking in the Ohio Utica, there’s also a higher incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like gonorrhea and chlamydia. This isn’t the first “fracking causes STDs” study. Antis have issued these “studies” for years (see MDN coverage here). This latest study by Yale “researchers” was published in an online journal with no standards, PLOS ONE. Other bought-and-paid-for anti-fracking “science” has been published by the PLOS ONE research-mill (see a list of other fake studies bashing shale appearing in PLOS ONE). PLOS ONE is a favorite place to publish research that can’t meet the rigorous review process of real journals. Here’s the latest substandard anti-drilling “research” from the Yale School of Public Health…
Continue reading

OH Legislators Propose Bill to Allow Frack Brine to Deice Roads

The shale industry produces a lot of water. You read that right. The industry not only *uses* a lot of water (roughly 5 million gallons per well for fracking), it also *produces* a lot of water. Some 80% of the water used in fracking never comes back out of the ground–it seeps into the ground and stays there. However, there is naturally occurring water from the depths–from far below what we think of as “the water table” that sits a few hundred feet down. When you drill a hole in the ground a mile, or two miles down–there’s water down there too. It’s super-salty (full of minerals), which is why it’s called brine. In the industry the phrase used to describe this naturally occurring water is produced water. And it comes out long after fracking is over and done. It comes out for years–decades even. Drillers have to dispose of it somehow. The preferred method is to recycle it and use it for other drilling. When brine is recycled and the minerals (i.e. salt) is removed, the salt can be put to good uses, like spreading it on roads during the winter. Antis paint a scary picture of environmental holocaust in using “fracked salt”–but it’s nonsense. A bipartisan bill in Ohio is getting fresh attention, a bill that will allow for the sale of “fracked” brine for deicing roads in the Buckeye State during winter…
Continue reading

PA Extends Tri-State Shale Coalition Agreement with OH & WV

Let’s be honest. Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia compete against each other, fiercely, to attract business to their respective states. However, in 2015 the three states agreed to lay aside their competitive natures when it comes to shale and cooperate (pool resources) for things like marketing and promotion, workforce development, transportation/infrastructure and research (see PA/OH/WV Agree to Stop Competing, Begin Cooperating on Shale). The governors of the three states signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2015 to cooperate on shale issues. Two of the three governors are now different (in OH and WV). However, the three states have just re-signed the original statement from 2015, extending another three years to Dec. 31, 2021. Which is a good thing…
Continue reading

WV DEP Orders Rover Pipe to Stop Construction for Violations

Rover Pipeline is in hot water again. This time it’s not Captain Craig “Ahab” Butler from the Ohio EPA, but the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection. In a letter just released publicly (dated March 5), WVDEP slapped Rover with a “cease-and-desist” order, stopping all construction of Rover in the state, because of inspections in February that found 14 violations of water pollution regulations. The violations occurred in Doddridge, Tyler and Wetzel counties. Violations ran the range of leaving trash behind at construction sites to improper perimeter controls (no erosion devices installed) to failure to clean up the roads they used. In addition to trouble in WV, Rover is also facing new issues in both Ohio and Pennsylvania. In February heavy rains in the region caused “slippage issues” where the pipeline is being installed. Rover filed a report with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week to say it has eight crews working to correct slippage issues at six locations along its 51-mile Burgettstown Lateral. Here’s the latest on WV shutting down Rover, and Rover’s work to fix slippage issues…
Continue reading

ODNR Proposes New Spacing Rules for Shale & Conventional Wells

Yesterday the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management, posted draft rules for changing well spacing for both conventional and Utica Shale wells. The new rules, which the public can comment on now (comments due by April 10th), will establish new minimum distances horizontal shale wells may be drilled from the boundaries of drilling units and new minimum distances from other horizontal wells. In our quick read of the proposed regs, it looks like shale wells must be drilled at least 400 feet from the drilling unit boundary line. There is no required minimum between shale wells drilled on the same pad as part of the same drilling unit. Below are the proposed regs from ODNR…
Continue reading

OH Utica Production 4Q17: Ascent Tops in Gas, Eclipse Tops in Oil

The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) has just issued production numbers for the fourth quarter of 2017. Production was up for both natural gas AND oil, as it was in the third quarter (see OH Utica Production 3Q17: Ascent Res. Dominates Top Producers). Utica natgas production saw a gigantic percentage increase–up 38% over the same period last year. Oil production was up a healthy 16% over the previous year’s 4Q. However, when looking at the full year, Ohio’s Utica oil production was lackluster in 2017–down 9% from 2016. Natgas production for all of 2017 was up 24% in 2017 compared to 2016. Which drillers dominated natural gas production, and which dominated oil production, in 4Q17? We have the answers…
Continue reading

Fake Ohio Landowner Groups Launch Misinformation Campaign

Ohioans are wising up to the misleading information being pedaled by radical anti-fossil fuelers. MDN warned you last month that “Keep It In the Ground” activists have launched a new, deceptive campaign in their holy mission to end the use of fossil fuels–fake landowner coalitions (see Warning to Ohio Residents: Beware Fake Landowner Coalitions). The same people behind Food & Water Watch, Food and Water Action, the Sierra Club and other Big Green groups are launching faux coalitions in Ohio with the aim of stopping Utica drilling. They have two new recruits to help them in their holy mission: Earthworks and Congressman Dennis Kucinich. You may recall that Kucinich is running for governor in Ohio and said if he’s elected he will stop all new oil and gas development in the state (see Ohio Democrat Candidate for Governor Says He’ll Ban Utica Drilling). Nobody gives Kucinich a snowball’s chance in Hates of actually getting the Democrat nomination–but then again, crazy Bernie Sanders almost got the Dem nomination for president. One never knows…
Continue reading