EQT Pays $394K for Acid Mine Leak in Mon River Following HDD Work

On January 29, 2017, EQT used underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to drill a hole under State Route 136 in Allegheny County, PA, to install a water pipeline. As they were drilling, using what we now know was an out-of-date map, EQT hit an abandoned coal mine full of water, and four million gallons of acid mine drainage (AMD) leaked into the Monongahela River. EQT worked hard and fast to stop the leak (stopping it two days later) and set up a system to prevent any further leaks. Now, nearly two years later, it’s time to pay the piper. EQT just agreed to a fine of $294,000 for violating the Clean Streams Law, and payment of an additional $100,000 to the Clean Streams Foundation to provide for maintenance, operation, and replacement of a system to keep AMD from leaking at the site in the future.
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New M-U Pressure Pumping Co. Starts Up in Pittsburgh

Yet another Range Resources alumnus is now working for someone else–himself. Matt Curry, a chemical engineer and Pittsburgh native who used to work for Range, along with Chris Combs, who’s worked for a number of drilling services companies in Texas, co-founded Praetorian Energy Solutions, a “pressure pumping and pumpdown services” headquartered in Canonsburg, PA. The company, launched earlier this year, is (so far) working in the Eagle Ford Shale play in Texas–because that’s where they bought their equipment. That equipment will be heading north soon to operate in the Marcellus/Utica. What is a pressure pumping/pumpdown company?
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Range Resources Helps Save Pretty Butterflies in SWPA

Can fracking save butterflies? According to California University of Pennsylvania’s Supervisor of the Fish & Wildlife, you betcha. You heard how important “pollinators” are, right? We immediately think bees when we hear the word pollinator. But monarch butterflies, a species whose population has dropped 90% since 1990, is also a important pollinator. In places across southwestern PA habitats for the monarch have disappeared, long before shale drilling showed up. Range Resources is helping replant vegetation that monarchs love. And it’s having a big impact. Range’s efforts are not just “throw a few seeds here and there” for publicity. Range is working hard and “willing to do it right.”
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Plum Injection Well Hearing Draws Solid Opposition

Earlier this year the federal EPA approved a new injection well for Plum Borough in Allegheny County, PA (see Federal EPA Approves Permit for Plum, PA Wastewater Injection Well). Although federal approval is necessary, so too is state approval. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) held a public hearing Monday night to elicit input. Around 60 people showed up. All 17 who spoke at the hearing were against the proposed injection well.
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Acting EPA Admin. Wheeler to Keynote Shale Insight in Pittsburgh

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler

Here’s some exciting news! The keynote speaker at this year’s Shale Insight 2018 event in Pittsburgh will be Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. MDN editor Jim Willis has attended every annual Shale Insight except for the very first one, going back years. Unfortunately he won’t be attending this year’s event to hear Wheeler in person. However, many MDN readers live in western PA and eastern OH, and if you do, and if you can make it, we encourage you to attend! This year’s event is pushed back a bit from the usual September into October–Oct. 23-25. Wheeler is speaking on the 24th in the morning. Here’s the details…
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Allegheny LibDem Wants to Throttle Fracking with Lease Database

Why can’t liberal Democrats, for once, just be honest about their intentions and motivations? A liberal Democrat who sits on the Allegheny County (PA) Council, Anita Prizio, is floating a plan that requires drillers to provide information on their oil and gas leases (shale AND conventional) in digital format to the county recorder of deeds. The supposed aim is to create an easy-to-access database/registry showing which land has been leased and which has not. We won’t lie (unlike lib Dems)–such a registry would be worth its weight in gold to many people, including landowners, other drillers/competitors, but most of all to antis who want to make trouble. Why do we say Ms. Prizio has ill-intent, even though she claims she has no ulterior, anti-drilling motive? Because she’s floating this plan for a lease registry at the prompting of radical leftist and anti-driller Doug Shields, from the odious group Food & Water Watch. Before joining FWW, Shields was himself a Pittsburgh Councilman for 20 years–lobbying for a total frack ban on more than one occasion (see Pittsburgh Councilman Doug Shields Lobbies to Get Drilling Ban Added to City’s Charter). Prizio’s connection to Shields is the tip-off that this is not some innocent proposal, but instead yet another case of collusion between lib Dems and Big Green. Follow the money…
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Center for Responsible Shale Development has NOT Folded Its Tent

Correction: MDN received the following statement on 9/11/18 from CRSD board member Chevron Appalachia to let us know that the organization is still alive and exploring a path forward for the future: “CRSD remains focused on its core mission of collaborating with a diverse group of stakeholders to drive continuous environmental performance improvement in shale gas operations throughout the Appalachian Basin. As was announced in a statement earlier this year, CRSD retained the services of the Meridian Institute to help it develop a long-range strategic plan that would enable the organization to build on the successes achieved in its first five years. The Board of CRSD is continuing its work with Meridian to finalize its long-term plan and will have more to announce once that effort is complete.” – Trip Oliver, Chevron Appalachia

It appears that the Center for Responsible Shale Development (CRSD) is, for all intents and purposes, no more. CRSD began life as the CSSD, the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, back in March 2013 (see Important: Drillers & Enviros Form New Group, Launch Cert Program). The original CSSD was a closely guarded secret until it was unveiled. The organization was the creation of a few hand-picked people from both industry and the environmental movement working together to see if there is any common ground on which both sides can agree that shale development would be safe, sustainable AND affordable. The members worked hard for over a year and finally hammered out a set of 15 standards that if a driller (or midstream company or contractor) would meet, they would get a stamp of approval from both the industry and environmental groups as being a good goobie–a safe and “responsible” driller. We were somewhat skeptical from the start, but later relaxed our skepticism. One of the participants helping to birth the group was Bobby Vagt, at that time president of the Heniz Endowments. Because of his involvement, Mamma Teresa Heinz Kerry fired him (see Bobby Vagt Out as Pres of Heinz Endowments – Fracking Connection?). There’s zero tolerance for reaching across the isle for Big Green radicals like Mamma Teresa. Other enviros who dared to participate were blackballed by the radical environmental movement. The CSSD soldiered on, despite several enviros leaving the fold, and awarded its first-ever certification in September 2014 to Chevron (see CSSD Bestows First Certification for Sustainable Drilling: Chevron). In the end, another three companies sought and received certification: Shell, CONSOL Energy (now CNX Resources) and EQT. It looks like you can’t fund a certification program with just four applicants. In April of this year, the renamed CRSD lost its executive director, Susan LeGros. The CRSD website has since removed the staff page and according to an industry source, the organization has folded its tent and is no longer in operation. Which we think is a shame…
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Pittsburgh Utility Experiments with NatGas Fuel Cells in Homes

An intriguing concept: What if you could generate your own electricity for your own home–without big, ugly solar panels plastered on your roof, or without an unsightly (and loud) wind mill stuck in your yard? What if all you need is a natural gas pipeline connected to your home. What’s that? You don’t want to contribute to man-made global warming by *burning* natural gas? No problem. This nifty little invention, called a fuel cell, uses natural gas in a *chemical* reaction to create electricity. These types of fuel cells have been around for a while, but what’s new is that they are now getting good enough to be commercially viable. Peoples Natural Gas, the largest natural gas distribution company in PA, providing natural gas service to approximately 700,000 customers in western PA, West Virginia, and Kentucky, has cut a deal with a Westmoreland County fuel-cell manufacturer to put 100 test systems in customer’s homes to create electricity at home. It’s an experiment. If all goes well, more will be deployed. Remember when cable companies first began offering internet access, then telephone access? Yeah, electric utilities and electric generators might want to look over their shoulder. They may get some serious competition! If natgas fuel cells ever take off for the residential market, demand for natural gas would be ginormous. Hence our interest. Is this technology anywhere near mainstream yet? No. But let’s keep a close eye on this potential new market for Marcellus/Utica gas. It may happen sooner than you think…
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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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Marcellus/Utica Pipe Maker BENEFITS from Trump Tariffs

Contrary to the doom and gloom predictions that the hothead and dangerous Donald Trump, by imposing tariffs on Europe and China, is creating a “trade war” that is going to sink the U.S. and world economies–the facts show otherwise. Even the mighty American Petroleum Institute has been lobbying and complaining loudly that Trump’s tariffs will hurt the oil and gas industry. Except, it isn’t happening. At least not in the Marcellus/Utica. In fact, the opposite is happening! Dura-Bond, a company that manufactures steel welded pipes in McKeesport, PA, is *benefiting* from the tariffs. M-U pipeline companies are now buying Dura-Bond’s pipes instead of foreign imports. Dura-Bond is investing, like crazy, in the McKeesport facility in order to use the plant to manufacture smaller, midstream pipe. That ain’t supposed to happen! These words are sure to grate on a lot of people’s nerves (and we LOVE saying them): THANK YOU President Trump!…
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PennFuture Tries to Bully Pittsburgh Airport re Gas Royalties

As is so often the case, radical Big Green groups, like PennFuture, attempt to intimidate (i.e. bully) by using threats of legal action, those who dare to use and (gasp) enjoy the monetary benefits of shale drilling. In early 2013 the Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County, PA signed a deal with CONSOL Energy (now CNX Resources) to lease 9,000 acres surrounding the airport for natural gas drilling (see $50M Check in the Mail: Pittsburgh Airport Lease a Done Deal). The airport received a $50 million signing bonus and the promise of 18% royalties on anything produced and sold. The first wells began to flow natural gas for the first time exactly two years ago, in July 2016 (see CONSOL’s First Pittsburgh Airport Wells Begin to Flow NatGas). So far, for 2016 and 2017, the airport has received a grand total of just over $16 million in royalty payments and another $857,000 from other fees. Yikes! The airport uses the revenue “to reduce airline rates and charges and for capital expenditures…at the Airport.” So along comes the Big Green bullies from PennFuture, threatening to sue the airport if it doesn’t use the money for what PennFuture wants it used for. Yeah, the money does not belong to PennFuture, but that doesn’t stop this rogue “nonprofit” from throwing its weight around and making demands. PennFuture is telling the airport the money MUST be used to “further the interests of citizens under the environmental rights amendment.” Whatever that means. PennFuture told the airport, in a nasty letter, that the airport is in violation of Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Our advice to the airport: Tell PennFuture to take a hike in the vast PA outdoors…
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PA DEP Notifies Shell of “Technical Deficiencies” with Ethane Pipe

Shell delivered some good news at last week’s Northeast U.S. Petrochemical conference in Pittsburgh: The Falcon ethane pipeline will get built next year (see Shell Says Falcon Ethane Pipeline to Get Built in 2019). The pipeline 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 97-mile consists of “two legs,” with about half of the pipeline located in PA, the other half in OH. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) 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). No matter. The pipeline will get built. But not without jumping some hurdles first. On June 1, the DEP issued three letters identifying what it calls “serious technical deficiencies” in Shell’s pipeline plan, for townships in three different counties along the pipeline’s PA route. Shell maintains this type of notification is “common” in the permitting process, and is committed to working with the DEP to address any issues of concern…
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Presbyterians Vote to Divest from Fossil Fuels – Yet Keep Using Them

Liberal Presbyterians in Pittsburgh, along with their comrades from New York, have succeeded in pressuring a once-great denomination, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), into adopting a proposal that forces the denomination to divest from all investments in fossil fuel companies, and instead invest in so-called renewable energy companies. The measure says divestment is “the beginning of a faithful response to the devastating and urgent reality of climate change.” The leaders of the divestment movement within the denomination say investing in fossil fuels is the moral equivalent of investing in tobacco, alcohol and gambling. And yet the very same people and the very same denomination refuse to lead by example. They don’t force their churches to quit using “devastating fossil fuels” to heat and cool their buildings. They don’t demand parishioners quit driving fossil-fuel powered automobiles to church. And they certainly don’t refuse tithes and offerings from those who work at evil fossil fuel companies (nor do they prohibit contributions from fossil fuel companies). Just a tad hypocritical?…
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Anatomy of an M-U Shale Startup: Tier 1 Rental and Distribution

One of the bits of news we love to cover is when a new business starts up for the express purpose of servicing the Marcellus/Utica industry. Having started our own company–Marcellus Drilling News–we know a little bit about the challenges one faces in launching a new business. But nothing on the scale of launching a business that ends up employing dozens, even hundreds, of people. When we see that happening, we have deep respect and admiration. In 2014, Frank Catroppa, a serial entrepreneur, rolled the dice and launched Tier 1 Rental and Distribution LLC, based in Robinson (Allegheny County), PA. Tier 1 provides trucking and related gas drilling services to the shale industry. Not long after the business began, the shale recession hit with many drillers pulling back from new activity. How did Mr. Catroppa weather the downturn, having just started a new company? And how is the company doing now? The story (below) certainly doesn’t chronicle everything that goes into starting and maintaining a company aimed at selling goods and services to the Marcellus/Utica industry, but it does provide some great insights into timing, confidence, and the sheer guts it takes to believe in your ideas. Tier 1 is an inspiration for others considering whether or not to launch a product/service aimed at our industry…
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Anti Group Stirs Up Pittsburghers Against Fracking, (Ab)Uses Kids

We always find it deeply disturbing when a group of anti-fossil fueulers, like the innocent-sounding (but very radical) Moms Clean Air Force, pushes little kids in front of the cameras, getting them to hold protest signs in a sleazy attempt to play on people’s sympathy. That’s what happened yesterday in the Pittsburgh suburb of Indiana Township (Allegheny County). Hey, knock yourself out if you want to show up and protest and make some noise. But don’t bring the kids along. Don’t put your guilt trip on the kids, making them protest something they frankly don’t even understand. Don’t implant them with your irrational fears. We find it disgusting…
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9 More Seismic Testing Devices Stolen in SWPA, 6 Were Returned

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Somebody in southwestern Pennsylvania has sticky fingers. In March MDN reported that someone(s) in SWPA had stolen nine seismic testing nodes in Westmoreland County (see Whoops! Stolen Seismic Testing Nodes in SWPA have Tracking Devices). The seismic testing devices were legally placed in various locations by Geokinetics, hired by Huntley & Huntley to map what’s below the surface in preparation for drilling shale wells. Geokinetics let it be known that if the devices were not returned by March 26, the perps would be hunted down and prosecuted. Oh! And did we tell you that each device has a GPS tracker in it, so Geokinetics can locate the devices whenever they want? We now have a second case of sticky fingers. Stupid is as stupid does. Geokinetics reports another nine units were lifted, this time in Monroeville (Allegheny County). Once again the word has gone out: Return them now, by April 16th, or you will be found and prosecuted. Six of nine have already been returned…
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