ME2 Drilling at 2 Locations Near Altoona Shut Down for Leaks

In early March MDN reported that Sunoco Logistics’ underground horizontal drilling (HDD) work on its massive Mariner East 2 NGL pipeline near Philadelphia had resulted in several sinkholes developing (see 3rd Sinkhole Appears Near ME2 Construction in Chester County, PA). Yesterday we reported the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) had stopped ME2 HDD work in Lebanon County following a 50 gallon drilling mud leak (see ME2 Construction in Lebanon County Stopped for 50 Gal Mud Spill). And now, more trouble for ME2 HDD work. This time Sunoco’s work at two different locations in Blair County (Altoona area) has resulted in the DEP shutting down further HDD work at both sites. In one case, around 200 gallons of drilling mud leaked out where it wasn’t supposed to (called an “inadvertent return”)–into a wetland. In the other case, a drill pit overflowed and leaked diluted drilling fluid into the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River. Here’s the latest in Sunoco’s series of unfortunate events…
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Altoona’s Marcellus Gas-to-Liquids Plant Gets Canceled, For Now

cancelledWhile most Pennsylvania supply chain businesses are hanging tough during the current down cycle in drilling–the downturn has claimed at least one potential project in the Keystone State. It was with much fanfare and great hope in March 2013 that Marcellus GTL of Gilberton, Schuylkill County, announced it would build its first Clean Energy Center in Blair County, PA. The “gas to liquids” (GTL) project would cost $200 million to build and would convert PA Marcellus Shale gas into 84,000 gallons per day of regular gasoline and propane to be marketed locally as transportation fuel and for heating uses (see Altoona Area Getting $200M Marcellus Gas-to-Liquids Plant). The project was even promised a 7-year tax break (see Altoona Gas to Liquids Plant Will Qualify for 7-Year Tax Break). But sadly, Marcellus GTL recently told the Altoona-Blair County Development Corp the project has been “tabled” due to the low price of oil and the volatility of the market right now…
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PA Supply Chain Firms Hang Tough in Drilling Downturn

Businesses that part of the Marcellus Shale supply chain–providing goods and services to the drilling industry–have been impacted by the drop-off in drilling activity. However, the supply chain businesses located in the Altoona area of Pennsylvania have proved pretty resilient. Some are willing to “ride the wave” until the cyclical oil and gas industry picks up again, laying off very few if any workers. Some are branching out into other markets. And some provide goods and services that are still very much in demand, even in a “down” cycle for drilling. Some are even adding workers! Here’s a few examples of resilient south central PA businesses hanging tough in the current downturn, and how they do it…
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Chevron Selling 17K Marcellus Shale Acres, More Sales Coming

land for saleChevron, according to NGI’s Shale Plays Factbook, is the fourth largest acreage holder in the Marcellus Shale with some 700,000 acres. It appears Chevron is looking to sell off at least some of that acreage. MDN received an email notice (below) from EnergyNet, hired to broker a sale for two of what they say will be an eventual 12 tracks of Marcellus acreage that Chevron owns. The current two are located in Bedford, Blair and Cambria counties in Pennsylvania and represent just over 17,000 acres total. EnergyNet is accepting sealed bids on various tracks, some held by production, some not…
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Altoona Politicos Say 5% Severance Tax a Marcellus “Killer”

State Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., a Republican from Blair County (Altoona area) in Pennsylvania, had some tough words for incoming Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf: Forget about a 5% severance tax on the Marcellus industry. Eichelberger figures such a tax, while sounding “small” actually represents the snatch and grab of 50% of the profit companies now make in the state–and if you take away half of the profits they earn, most of them will stop drilling and leave. Hello! Anybody home at Democrat HQ? Anybody home at REPUBLICAN HQ? Are you listening?? Eichelberger is exactly right…
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Energy = Jobs in Blair County, PA – 50 New Jobs on the Way

It’s a pretty simple equation: Jobs = Energy. It also happens to be true. Makes for a great campaign slogan, which is why it was coined and continues to be used by Pennsylvania Tom Corbett. Yesterday Corbett announced another 50 new energy-related jobs are on the way in Blair County (Altoona area), courtesy of a new facility for a manufacturer of commercial service vehicles used in the Marcellus Shale…
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Altoona Hearing on Latest EPA Outrage: Redefining Clean Water Act

The latest breath-taking power grab attempt by the rogue and out-of-control federal Environmental Protection Agency was highlighted at a Congressional hearing held yesterday in Altoona, PA. The EPA wants to redefine which bodies of water fall under the 1972 Clean Water Act–so that the agency essentially would oversee not only “navigable waterways” but all waterways, usurping states rights in the process. It is, as Congressman Bill Shuster (from PA) said, more evidence of President Obama’s “imperial presidency”–by which he means Obama is grabbing power by force that is not his Constitutionally. The hearing yesterday was an attempt to point out the perils of the EPA’s latest overreach.

Shale drillers clearly understand the implications and at least one attended to voice concerns. According to CONSOL Energy, the new “guidelines” from EPA would add upward of $10 million per natgas pipeline they install due to the delays, paperwork and new hoops they will need to jump through. It is unnecessary and (in our opinion) unconstitutional…
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Marcellus Entrepreneur Donny Beaver: Silica Dust, Mud & Heck Out

Donny Beaver is a serial entrepreneur. He co-founded New Pig in the mid-1980s–a company that absorbs anything that leaks, drips, splatters or spills. In 2001 Donny founded what would become a series of exclusive fly fishing clubs/retreat centers called the HomeWaters Club across Pennsylvania. In January 2013 he co-founded and launched HalenHardy, which solves problems for the Marcellus (and by extension construction) industry. Donny would talk to Marcellus workers who frequented his HomeWaters Club and his natural curiosity landed him in a new venture to help solve problems for the industry.

First up was the excellent and award winning Mobile Air Shower by HalenHardy (MASHH) units that remove silica dust from workers in 30 seconds (see HalenHardy Wins Ben Franklin EHS Award for Silica Air Shower). Next up is a device that removes mud from boots in 30 seconds. And after that? Portable barriers that will keep people away from dangerous construction sites or emergency scenes–as in “keep the heck out,” a product called Heck Out. Perhaps Donny’s key insight, something all entrepreneurs should learn and tattoo on their hearts: “People don’t care about companies; they care about stuff that helps them.” Smart guy. He surrounds himself with talented, creative people. Really smart guy…
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Companies Flock to Blair County, PA to Serve Marcellus Industry

Blair County, PA (home of Altoona) doesn’t have active Marcellus or Utica Shale drilling. But that doesn’t mean the industry hasn’t been an economic boom for the county. Because it is located at the doorstep of wet gas drilling in southwestern PA, and not all that far from dry gas drilling in northeastern PA, Blair is quickly becoming supply chain central for the drilling industry. In May 2012 MDN told you about a new pump plant setting up in Blair to service the industry (see Altoona Scores a New Pump Plant for the Marcellus). According to the plant manager, 2013 was a banner year and they “exceeded all of our targets and projections.”

HalenHardy LLC, a company that created and manufactures an innovative mobile air unit to suck silica dust off workers’ clothes, opened in Blair in January 2013. HalenHardy won an award last September for their technology (see HalenHardy Wins Ben Franklin EHS Award for Silica Air Shower). They won a second award for their technology last week–at the Oil & Gas Awards (more on that this week, check back). A second Oil & Gas Awards winner has also set up shop in Blair County–Drill Baby Drill Staffing. Read on to learn about other companies that have located and are now flourishing in Blair County–companies aimed at providing products and services for the Marcellus Shale industry…
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Altoona’s Marcellus Gas-to-Liquids Plant Slightly Delayed

An update on a gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant to be built near Altoona, PA that will convert abundant and cheap Marcellus Shale gas produced in the area into diesel fuel. MDN told you in March that Marcellus GTL announced they will build a new GTL plant in the area (see Altoona Area Getting $200M Marcellus Gas-to-Liquids Plant). Plans called for construction to begin on the new facility by the end of this year.

The bad news is that construction on the new GTL plant will not begin by the end of this year. “Typical project optimism” is the explanation offered by Marcellus GTL’s executive VP Paul Hamilton. The good news? The project is still on and construction is now estimated to begin somewhere between April and June 2014…
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Altoona Gas to Liquids Plant Will Qualify for 7-Year Tax Break

Marcellus GTL announced a few weeks ago they plan to build a $200 million gas to liquids (GTL) plant near Altoona, PA that will convert natural gas into gasoline and propane (see Altoona Area Getting $200M Marcellus Gas-to-Liquids Plant). If they start building by the end of this year, the company will qualify for up to seven years of tax abatement. That’s a pretty powerful reason to get building…

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Altoona Area Getting $200M Marcellus Gas-to-Liquids Plant

Gas-to-liquids (GTL) plants appear to be catching on in the PA Marcellus Shale. Last September MDN told you about plans to build a GTL plant in Karns City, PA (western part of the state, see Chemical Manufacturer to Build Gas-to-Liquids Plant in PA). GTL plants convert natural gas to other products like diesel fuel and gasoline.

Last week, a company announced in Altoona, PA that they plan to build a GTL plant in Blair County (central PA). Marcellus GTL said they will build a new $200 million (!) GTL plant in Duncansville. While the plant is being built it will provide 120 construction jobs. After it’s built, the plant will provide 30 full-time permanent positions working at the plant, and 60 “secondary jobs” in the area as well. The Duncansville GTL plant will produce sulfur-free gasoline and propane.

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Altoona Scores a New Pump Plant for the Marcellus

Gardner Denver, a 150 year-old global manufacturer of industrial compressors, blowers, pumps, loading arms and fuel systems has a new manufacturing facility to add to the 40 it already owns around the world. The new 70,000 foot facility is located at Tipton, near Altoona, PA. The new plant will manufacture and repair pumps used in hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. Gardner Denver expects to employ 100 people at the new plant within a year.

But why locate the plant in Altoona, where there’s very little nearby drilling?

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PA Counties Band Together for Grant to Create Marcellus Jobs

A regional economic development group made up of officials from Blair, Cambria, Somerset, Huntingdon, Fulton and Bedford counties in Pennsylvania is asking the state for a $700,000 grant to help them help businesses located in the southern Allegheny region identify new business opportunities in the shale gas drilling industry. The group hopes that their geography, strategically located between PA’s northeastern and southwestern Marcellus gas fields, will bring new business to the area, and along with that new business, more jobs.

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