PA DEP’s New Air Regs Would Exempt 80% of Conventional Wells

Last week MDN told you about onerous new regulations being proposed by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) to cut down on supposed methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions coming from *existing* oil and gas wells and pipelines (see Pa. DEP Jumps the Gun with Proposed New Emissions Regs). In our initial reporting on the proposed new regulations, one bit of information escaped our attention: Most of PA’s conventional wells (80% or more) will be exempted from these new rules. And PA’s conventional wells reportedly account for more than 50% of supposed methane emissions. There are approximately 80,000 active conventional oil and gas wells in PA, and about 10,600 active shale gas wells in PA.
Continue reading

Raining on Gov. Wolf’s Parade – No Scientific Basis for Cap & Trade

Last week MDN told you that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, liberal Democrat, is seriously considering a bizarre cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emission reduction program to eliminate carbon emissions from major sources by 2052 (see PA Gov. Wolf Seriously Considers Marcellus-Killing Cap & Trade). The program is meant to eliminate fossil fuel production and use, including Marcellus Shale production. A couple of authors, one a 35+ year geologist, the other a senior fellow with the Commonwealth Foundation, took note and co-authored a devastating article appearing on The Daily Caller that punctures cap-and-trade in general, and Wolf’s dalliance with it in particular. Wolf invoked the argument that this year has been far rainier than normal in PA, which must, of course, be due to man-made global warming. The co-authors use actual, real data on rain conditions and amounts to completely obliterate Wolf’s arguments–making him look like the fool he is.
Continue reading

Pa. DEP Jumps the Gun with Proposed New Emissions Regs

We told you that yesterday the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) was meeting to unveil proposed new regulations to cut down on so-called fugitive methane emissions from existing well pads and pipelines (see Proposed New O&G Emissions Regs Will Disadvantage PA Drillers). They met and released a draft of onerous new regulations that focus more on reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions than they do fugitive methane–but the result is still the same: Force drillers and pipeline companies to spend bazillions of dollars to produce a teeny tiny improvement in emissions. The Marcellus Shale Coalition said, “Rather than creating more regulatory uncertainty [with these new regs at this time], it would be prudent for DEP to delay any regulatory proposals until federal rules are finalized,” pointing out the fact that federal rules are not yet finalized. In other words, Wolf’s DEP is jumping the gun.
Continue reading

New Shale Permits Down in PA & OH as Winter Begins

An analysis by Argus Media shows the number of new permits issued to drill in the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale was down 42% in November 2018 over the same time a year ago. Drilling in Ohio’s Utica Shale was down 26% in November vs. a year ago. Yet one overpowering fact remains: Production in both states is UP over a year ago! How do you explain it? Each year drillers get better at what they do–they get more gas from drilling fewer wells. Longer laterals, more sand, improved fracking techniques–it all adds up to more production with less drilling. Our region is also still working down our DUC (drilled but uncompleted) wells inventory, which means less drilling. And winter cold has set in, early. Yeah, less drilling means fewer jobs and fewer opportunities to sell goods and services to drilling companies. But watch for the permit numbers to start going up again (our prediction). Why? Because with pipelines which recently went online and new pipes due to go online, the price our gas is fetching has dramatically increased–and that means the willingness of M-U drillers to drill new wells will increase too.
Continue reading

Proposed New O&G Emissions Regs Will Disadvantage PA Drillers

The liberal PA Gov. Tom Wolf administration continues to tinker with (i.e. destroy) the Marcellus miracle in the Keystone State. In August the Wolf Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) finally, after years of work, implemented onerous new regulations to cut down on so-called fugitive methane emissions from new drilling and pipelines (see PA Harms Drillers, Pipelines with Over-Strict Methane Rules). Existing well pads and pipelines are now in Wolf’s crosshairs. The DEP has, for some time, considered requiring new regulations to further reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions at existing oil and gas sites. The DEP recently released a draft of those regs, and is meeting TODAY to discuss the new proposed regulations (see PA DEP Releasing Expensive New O&G Emissions Reg). The question is, since the federal EPA is “relaxing” the standards on which these onerous new PA standards are based, will PA, by adopting these new standards, make itself uncompetitive against other shale drilling states? PA DEP Sec. Pat McDonnell seems to think so.
Continue reading

Big Loss for Big Green – PUC Judge Won’t Shut Down ME1 & 2 Pipes

Big Green forces who pinned their hopes of stopping the Mariner East 1 and 2 pipelines on a rogue PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) administrative law judge had those hopes dashed yesterday. In May of this year, Elizabeth Barnes, PUC administration law judge, unilaterally ordered Sunoco Logistics Partners to “cease and desist all current operation, construction, including drilling activities on the Mariner East 1, 2 and Mariner East 2X pipeline” in West Whiteland Township in Chester County, PA (see Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice). The judge also shut down all operations of the currently operating Mariner East 1 across the entire state. Barnes’ closure of ME1 and ME2 was later overturned by the full PUC (see PA PUC Overrules Lib Judge – Mariner East 1 Returns to Service and PA PUC Allows ME2 Pipeline Work to Restart Near Philly). In early December, a ginned up “emergency relief petition” was aired before Barnes. Same deal. Antis want to shut down ALL of the Mariner East projects–permanently. Barnes was the judge hearing the “testimony” of the antis, along with a vigorous defense by Sunoco. Apparently she learned her lesson. Yesterday Barnes rejected the emergency petition.
Continue reading

PA Gov. Wolf Seriously Considers Marcellus-Killing Cap & Trade

On November 27, a variety of Big Green groups including the Clean Air Council, Widener University Environmental Law and Sustainability Center, eco(n)law LLC and 61 others submitted a “rulemaking petition” (407-page plan) to the Pennsylvania Environment Quality Board requesting the Board and PA Gov. Tom Wolf establish a cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emission reduction program to eliminate carbon emissions from major sources by 2052. It’s a bizarre plan, meant to eliminate fossil fuel production and use, including Marcellus Shale production. The kicker is that Wolf is actually thinking about doing it. Hey PA residents–still glad you reelected Wolf?
Continue reading

Bankrupt Pipeline Contractor Leads to Liens Against PA Landowners

Ambulance-chasing lawyers for a Minnesota-based subcontractor (United Piping Inc.) have filed a lien against some of the landowners where Mariner East 2 (ME2) crosses, claiming the landowners may have to pay them because the contractor, Welded Construction, can’t. The lawyers are using a little-known law in Pennsylvania that dates to 1901 to make their claim. This is seriously screwed up. You may recall we previously told you that Williams, disputing work Welded Construction had done for them in building the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, refused to pay $23.5 million, causing Welded to declare bankruptcy (see Williams Withholds Payment Forcing Pipeline Builder into Bankruptcy). What we didn’t know, until now, is that Sunoco Logistics Partners, builder of the ME2 pipeline, also withheld payments to Welded. United Pipeline says because of Welded’s bankruptcy and failure to pay them (because Williams and Sunoco withheld payments), they (United) now have the right to go after landowners for that money. This is nuts!Continue reading

PA Supreme Court Upholds ME2 Right to Use Eminent Domain

One of the ways anti-fossil fuel groups have tried to stop the Mariner East 2 Pipeline project is by tying it up in court. Various lawsuits have been filed going back years. One litigant, a Big Green group headquartered in Philadelphia, the so-called Clean Air Council, has tried repeatedly to get the courts to deny ME2 the right to use eminent domain in cases where landowners refuse to cooperate (see Clean Air Council’s Strange War Against Mariner East Pipeline). CAC argued that ME2 is not a “public utility” and therefore not entitled to the use of eminent domain. That argument flamed out. In May, PA’s Commonwealth Court ruled that yes, ME2 is a public utility entitled to use eminent domain if it needs to (see PA Court Rules ME2 Pipe has Power of Eminent Domain, Period). CAC had one last card to play, taking the case to the PA Supreme Court. They played it, and lost.
Continue reading

By the Numbers – Shale Drilling “Still Strong” in PA & OH

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued 269 permits for Marcellus (and possibly a few Utica) shale wells in October and November. The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) issued 22 permits in the Utica/Point Pleasant shale play in October, and 11 permits in November (as of Nov. 17). That’s over 300 new shale wells between the Marcellus and Utica in the most recent two months–a strong showing. Farm and Dairy, a 100+ year-old publication serving the rural communities of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, recently tabulated the permit numbers for western PA and eastern OH, down to the county level. Here’s what the numbers show.
Continue reading

Penn State Guide to Marrying Marcellus Gas with Renewables

Penn State’s Dept. of Architectural Engineering recently released a guide for those interested in “conceiving, developing and financing ‘hybrid’ fossil fuel and renewable energy systems.” The guide, titled “CHP-Enabled Renewable Energy in Microgrids in Pennsylvania: A Guidance Document for Conceiving Feasible Systems” (full copy below) outlines systems to provide on-site, natural-gas-fueled electric and thermal (e.g. hot water or steam) energy generation (combined heat and power, or CHP) in combination with renewable energy resources such as solar photovoltaic arrays and battery storage systems. The target audience for such systems are owners of commercial and industrial buildings, multi-family buildings, hospitals, food processors and large users of steam or hot water; commercial, institutional and industrial parks and campuses; and municipalities and rural co-op organizations.
Continue reading

PA Natural Gas Production Hits Another All-Time High in 3Q18

Yesterday the PA Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released their latest quarterly Natural Gas Production Report for Jul-Sep 2018 (full copy below). It shows natgas production rose an amazing 18.5% compared to the same period last year. The report also shows the number of producing wells is up 10.4% from last year. Total natural gas production volume was 1,567.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf), and the number of producing wells in 3Q18 was 8,917 (of which 8,431 were shale wells). The biggest news is that once again 3Q18 saw the highest quarterly production of natural gas in the state–ever. This is the eighth quarter in a row there has been an increase in production. Two-thirds of the state’s natural gas production consistently comes from four counties: Susquehanna, Washington, Greene and Bradford.
Continue reading

PA Shale Water Company Hiring 125 New Employees

This is the kind of news we love to share! Keystone Clearwater Solutions, which was once majority owned by Rex Energy until they sold it to American Water Works in 2015 (see Rex Energy Sells Keystone Water Subsidiary to American Water Works), is hiring. And boy are they hiring! Keystone needs to hire 125 people, from truck drivers (most of the positions) to mechanics to technicians to supervisors. Keystone offers “complete water management solutions” to the shale industry, from the development and operation of surface water intakes to the operation and maintenance of water pipeline systems, pipeline construction projects, and water transfer services. Keystone is holding interviews across PA, OH and WV in December to fill the open positions. Christmas came early!
Continue reading

DEP Issues 4th Update to PA’s Bizarre Climate Action Plan

Every three years the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection is required, by state law, to produce an update to the state’s so-called Climate Action Plan. The fact that they have such a plan boggles the mind–a plan to address global warming (the operative word being “global”) from one state. To be fair, a number of states and even large cities also have such plans. These plans are all arrogant nonsense. No entity, especially not a single state, can do a darned thing to affect the temperature of Mom Earth, but they pretend they can. And they use the existence of such plans as a manipulative political tool to force policy changes that inflict great economic harm on their citizens–all in the name of saving the planet. They’ve brainwashed our children into believing we’ll die if we don’t give up fossil fuel use. The DEP recently released their triennial update, and it’s as crazy as ever.
Continue reading

Williams Unveils “Leidy South Project” to Expand Transco in PA

It’s the birth of a brand new pipeline expansion project. Several weeks ago Williams pre-filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to make certain upgrades (all of them in Pennsylvania) to its mighty Transco Pipeline. The upgrades include replacing smaller pipeline with larger pipeline in some areas, adding “looping” in other areas, and upgrading four compressor stations. The changes will flow an extra 582 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of Marcellus gas from northeast and southwest PA to “growing demand centers along the Atlantic Seaboard.” Williams is holding two (of four) open houses next week to discuss the project. Below are details about the project and a copy of Williams’ FERC pre-filing application.
Continue reading

PA DEP Releasing Expensive New O&G Emissions Reg

The liberal PA Gov. Tom Wolf administration continues to tinker with (i.e. destroy) the Marcellus miracle in the Keystone State. In August the Wolf Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) finally, after years of work, implemented onerous new regulations to cut down on so-called fugitive methane emissions from *new* drilling and pipelines (see PA Harms Drillers, Pipelines with Over-Strict Methane Rules). Don’t worry, *existing* well pads and pipelines are now in Wolf’s crosshairs. On a different but parallel track, the DEP has, for some time, considered requiring new regulations to further reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions at oil and gas sites (see PA DEP Considers Rule Reducing/Eliminating VOC Emissions for O&G). The DEP has just released a draft of those regs, and will hold a meeting to discuss the new proposed regulation on Dec. 13.
Continue reading