FERC Stuck in Slow Mo – Late Approving PA to OH Risberg Project

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Seems to us like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) continues to drag its feet on Marcellus/Utica pipeline projects. Yes, our projects get approved, eventually–but not on the schedule FERC itself establishes. Case in point: RH energytrans’ Risberg Line–a 60-mile, $86 million pipeline from Crawford County, PA through Erie County and into Ashtabula County, OH. According to FERC’s own schedule, an OK for the project was due no later than Sept. 27 (see 60-Mile Pipeline from NW PA to NE OH Gets Favorable FERC Review). Didn’t happen. RH energytrans is being diplomatic, saying, “It may take a little longer than we might hope.”
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Risberg Pipe from NW PA to NE OH Plans Construction in October

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RH energytrans, which plans to build a 60-mile, $86 million pipeline from Crawford County, PA through Erie County and into Ashtabula County, OH, says they expect to begin digging for the new pipeline soon. RH officials told North Kingsville officials (Ashtabula County) last week that “construction could begin soon.” How soon? Early October, provided they get a final OK from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Last October MDN brought you details about the proposed Risberg Line pipeline project (see New 60-Mile Pipeline Proposed from NW Pa. to NE Ohio). The project will use approximately 32 miles of existing pipeline in an established Right of Way originating in the Meadville, PA area. Approximately 16 miles of new pipeline will be built in Pennsylvania and approximately 12 miles of new pipeline will be built in Ohio–meaning 28 miles of brand new “greenfield” pipeline needs to get built. In late June, FERC issued a favorable environmental assessment for the project (see 60-Mile Pipeline from NW PA to NE OH Gets Favorable FERC Review). A favorable EA is the penultimate step before FERC gives a final OK. That final OK is due no later than Sept. 27. Clearly RH believes they will get a final OK within the next two weeks, and they’re communicating with communities, alerting them construction is about to begin…
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Shell Cracker to the Rescue – Saving the Erie, PA Plastics Industry

The benefits of the mighty Shell ethane cracker now under construction in Beaver County, PA just keep multiplying. In April MDN brought you news that Penn State Behrend (in Erie County) had been tapped by the PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to be the “lead partner” with a $250,000 grant for developing business and market opportunities for the state related to the cracker (see Penn State to Help Create New Biz Opportunities from Shell Cracker). Erie County, where Behrend is located, is certainly not next door to the cracker. It’s two hours away! There are several other Penn State campuses closer to the cracker. So why was Behrend selected? In a word, plastics. “The strength of Erie’s plastics industry and the success of Penn State Behrend’s School of Engineering, which offers one of only six accredited U.S. plastics undergraduate programs, makes Erie of particular interest to DCED.” A new article says that the cracker will not only preserve the 4,300 plastics-related jobs in and around Erie, there’s reason to believe the plastics industry in Erie will “grow larger and stronger” because of the two-hours-away cracker. Again we ask the question, Why? Answer: Because buying plastics pellets from the Shell cracker two hours away is a whole lot cheaper (due to shipping costs) than buying plastics pellets from the Gulf Coast, as happens now. One would be justified in saying, Shell cracker to the rescue!…
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60-Mile Pipeline from NW PA to NE OH Gets Favorable FERC Review

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Last October MDN brought you details about the proposed $86 million Risberg Line pipeline project (see New 60-Mile Pipeline Proposed from NW Pa. to NE Ohio). The project will use approximately 32 miles of existing pipeline in an established Right of Way originating in the Meadville, PA area. Approximately 16 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Pennsylvania and approximately 12 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Ohio–meaning 28 miles of brand new “greenfield” pipeline needs to get built. Both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission are “cooperating agencies” and part of the environmental assessment (EA) review process, along with the lead agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Good news: FERC issued the EA on Friday (full copy below), and the project passes with flying colors. While this is not a final stamp of approval (which is due by Sept. 27th), when FERC issues a favorable EA, it’s almost certain they will approve the project…
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Short Pipeline from NW Pa. to NE Ohio May Not Get Done This Year

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Last October MDN brought you details about the proposed $86 million Risberg Line pipeline project (see New 60-Mile Pipeline Proposed from NW Pa. to NE Ohio). The project will use approximately 32 miles of existing pipeline in an established Right of Way originating in the Meadville, PA area. Approximately 16 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Pennsylvania and approximately 12 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Ohio–meaning 28 miles of brand new “greenfield” pipeline needs to get built. In early May, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said it will issue an environmental assessment (EA) for the project on or by June 29th (see FERC Review of Risberg Pipeline in NE OH/NW PA Coming June 29). Both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the PA Fish and Boat Commission are “cooperating agencies” and part of the EA review process. Following the EA, the clock will begin ticking and FERC will have until Sept. 27th to make a final decision about the project. The original timeline for the project, from the beginning, has been to have it all built and operating by the end of this year. The builder, RH energytrans, is now cautioning that may not happen. Why? Because one never knows with regulatory agencies like FERC and the Army Corps and the Boat Commission. Deadlines come and go and get extended. FERC says the dates they given are targets and not carved in stone. If everything happened as FERC laid out, RH says it would be a challenge, but they can probably get the job done this year. But if the deadline slips, all bets are off…
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FERC Review of Risberg Pipeline in NE OH/NW PA Coming June 29

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Last October MDN brought you details about the proposed $86 million Risberg Line pipeline project (see New 60-Mile Pipeline Proposed from NW Pa. to NE Ohio). The project will use approximately 32 miles of existing pipeline in an established Right of Way originating in the Meadville, PA area. Approximately 16 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Pennsylvania and approximately 12 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Ohio–meaning 28 miles of brand new “greenfield” pipeline needs to get built. Two school districts in Ohio where the pipeline will traverse agreed to reduce the amount of property tax the pipeline would need to pay by 75% over a 15-year period, a huge vote of confidence (see Update on Proposed 60-Mile Pipeline from NW Pa. to NE Ohio). We have an update on the project. On Tuesday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said it will issue an environmental assessment (EA) for the project on or by June 29th. Both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission are “cooperating agencies” and part of the EA review process. Following the EA, the clock will begin ticking and FERC will have until Sept. 27th to make a final decision about the project…
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Penn State to Help Create New Biz Opportunities from Shell Cracker

The Penn State campus in Erie County (called Penn State Behrend) has been tapped by the PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to be the “lead partner” for developing business and market opportunities for the state related to the mighty $6 billion Shell ethane cracker–currently under construction in Beaver County. Erie County where Behrend is located is certainly not next door to the cracker, not nearly as close as some other Penn State campuses. So why was Behrend selected? In a word, plastics. “The strength of Erie’s plastics industry and the success of Penn State Behrend’s School of Engineering, which offers one of only six accredited U.S. plastics undergraduate programs, makes Erie of particular interest to DCED.” According to DCED’s Denise Brinley, senior energy adviser, “Penn State Behrend can provide critical connections to research support, materials testing and a talent pipeline that will add value to this large-scale petrochemical investment and associated growth in the plastics sector.” Penn State is kicking in a $250,000 grant to their Energy University Partnership for oil and gas strategies, to help prime the pump…
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Update on Proposed 60-Mile Pipeline from NW Pa. to NE Ohio

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We have some progress to report, and a pair of public hearings coming up, for a pipeline project proposed to run from Meadville, PA area (Crawford County) and extend in a northwest direction to Ashtabula County, OH. Three weeks ago MDN brought you details about the proposed Risberg Line Project, to be built by RH energytrans (see New 60-Mile Pipeline Proposed from NW Pa. to NE Ohio). The project will use approximately 32 miles of existing pipeline in an established Right of Way originating in the Meadville, PA area. Approximately 16 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Pennsylvania and approximately 12 miles of new pipeline will be installed in Ohio–meaning 28 miles of brand new “greenfield” pipeline needs to get built. The new news that we’ve learned is that two school districts in Ohio where the pipeline will traverse have agreed to reduce the amount of property tax the pipeline would need to make by 75% over a 15-year period. That’s a huge vote of confidence. We also learn that around 100 Erie and Ashtabula county property owners have already signed easements to allow the pipeline across their property. While no pipeline project anywhere in the northeast has a smooth ride, this one certainly seems to be sailing right along. Perhaps the first test of whether or not anti-fossil fuel nutters will begin to oppose it will come at a pair of public hearings for the project–one on Dec. 5 in Conneaut, OH, and the other Dec. 6 in Edinboro, PA…
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Quirky Friday: What’s the Main Selling Point of Erie, PA Trailer Park?

It’s Friday and sometimes the impending weekend puts us in a quirky mood. And then we notice something that strikes us as quirky or interesting–and we pass it along. Such is the case with this story. UMH Properties, Inc. is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns and operates manufactured home communities in seven states throughout the northeast–trailer parks and modular home communities. UMH issued a press release yesterday to crow about buying yet another trailer park in Erie, PA for $3.8 million. Stick with us, there is a point. The main advantage/reason that UMH purchased this particular trailer park to add to their growing portfolio? It’s located in the Marcellus/Utica region, and because it’s located in prime shale country, they figure occupancy rates will remain high…
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PA Labor Unions Break Ranks with Dems to Support Shale Industry

Organized labor continues to roar its approval for fracking, pipelines and the shale oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania and beyond. Breaking ranks with its own anti-drilling Democrat Party in PA, Laborers International Union of North America (LUNA) with more than 20,000 PA members, wrote an editorial appearing in the Erie Times-News that supports expansion of fracking in PA as opposed to silly moratoriums and more restrictions proposed by the Democrat Party and their candidates for governor on down…
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Western PA/NY Pipeline Company Starts Separating NGLs for More $$

Anticipating that Marcellus and Utica Shale drilling will one day come to northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York, the owner of a pipeline system that services 6,500 older vertical wells in that area has just made an upgrade. EmKey Energy has just opened a new $10 million gas processing plant east of Union City, PA where five of EmKey’s underground pipelines converge. And here is the beauty and the brilliance. That new processing plant does nothing more than separate out natural gas liquids from the incoming stream of gas–NGLs that have been there all along but weren’t economical to separate. Now the plant separates butane, propane and ethane and sells them for bigger money than they would have been sold as part of the methane stream.

According to EmKey’s founder Oivind Risberg, the $10 million upgrade is profitable and doing well. But the real gravy train will arrive when shale drilling enters the area and his pipelines hook up to the deeper Marcellus and Utica Shale. That’s when the really big payoff will happen. Brilliant! Here’s more about EmKey’s “make good money now, but boatloads of it later when shale drilling arrives” strategy…
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Marcellus Gas to the Rescue: WNY Customers Avoid Step Price Jump

National Fuel Gas Company is a large, integrated energy company with its HQ in Buffalo, NY. They have operations spanning from upstream (Seneca Resources, a major Marcellus Shale driller) to midstream pipelines to a downstream utility company serving customers in western New York State and northwestern Pennsylvania. A story from the NFG utility company caught our eye today. NFG is putting the word out to its hundreds of thousands of customers that they might want to consider hopping on the budget plan–to spread out their winter heating bill payments. Why are NFG’s customers paying a lot more this winter to heat with natural gas? Simply because this is one of the longest and coldest winters we’ve had in decades.

The interesting part of the NFG “you ought to get on the budget plan” story is that, according to the company, it could have been a lot worse than it is. The price of NFG’s natural gas is steady and has not gone up. What’s helping to save western NY (and NWPA) gas customers from huge price spikes being experienced elsewhere? PA Marcellus Shale gas…
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Internet Company Invests in…Marcellus Shale?

An internet company–Worldwide Internet, Inc.–spent $5 million to acquire a 40% in Marcellus Shale property near Erie, PA. The company swapped some stock to make the purchase. It may seem kind of strange that an internet tech company would invest in a property specifically because it has Marcellus Shale drilling potential. But perhaps it’s not so strange when you consider Worldwide Internet develops technology for huge data centers (big server farms with lots of computers), and those data centers are increasingly powered by natural gas used to generate electricity.

This investment is “crazy like a fox” on Worldwide’s part, if you ask us. Here’s their brief press announcement:
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New Driller Targets Utica Shale in Erie County, PA

When you’ve been following both the Marcellus and Utica Shale going on five years, you figure you’ve seen about every driller’s name out there that’s targeting one or both of the plays. And then a new name comes along you haven’t seen before. Such is the case with Utica Resources Inc., a newly formed company (formed in 2011) targeting natural gas and oil in the Utica Shale play. The company, and their first batch of drilling permits, are located in–Pennsylvania! Not Ohio. Although Utica Resources’ headquarters in Oil City (Erie County), PA shares a border with Ohio.

Utica Resources has just drilled their first test well in Erie County. The well will be fracked later this month…
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NW PA Hose Company Expands, Hires 35 People for Marcellus Work

Yet another example of how the Marcellus and Utica Shale supply chain is putting people back to work–this time in northwestern Pennsylvania’s Millcreeek Township (Erie County). All-American Hose recently hired 25 full-time employees and 10 temps and has reopened a closed plant in the process. Why? To manufacture polyurethane hoses used in the Marcellus and Utica Shale…
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