Price of NatGas Doubles in NEPA – Thanks to Atlantic Sunrise Pipe

The evidence continues to pour in that the addition of Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, a 200-mile greenfield pipeline from northeastern to southeastern PA where it joins the Transco Pipeline, is having a dramatic and ongoing effect on natural gas prices in northeastern PA. As in, the price drillers get for their gas has doubled. Atlantic Sunrise went online in early October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Sunrise for Startup! Pipe Opens Sat. Oct. 6). The main shipper on Atlantic Sunrise is Cabot Oil & Gas. But Cabot isn’t the only shipper, and not the only beneficiary, of higher prices. Seneca Resources and Range Resources are also shipping gas on Atlantic Sunrise, and reaping the price benefits.
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Mariner East Defends Itself Before Same Judge Who Once Blocked It

In May of this year, Elizabeth Barnes, an administration law judge for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), 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 (Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice). The judge also shut down all operations of Mariner East 1 across the entire state, ruling that she was “enjoining Respondent from operating Mariner East 1.” It was a breathtaking display of arrogance and seizure of power that does not belong to her. 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). Last week 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. Did she learn her lesson the first time?
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Annual Survey Shows O&G Investors Prefer Places Other than M-U

Each year (for the 12th year running) the Canadian-based Fraser Institute surveys petroleum industry executives and managers (256 of them for 2018) asking them their opinions on the barriers to investing in exploration and production in various geographies across the globe. That is, what makes them more likely or less likely to spend money drilling in a particular location? The Global Petroleum Survey (full copy below), tallies the survey responses and ranks each geography from most desirable place to invest, to least desirable. Last year West Virginia was ranked as the fifth most desirable place to invest (see Survey Indicates O&G Investing in WV More Attractive than PA or OH). This year? WV didn’t even make the survey!
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Justice Served: Former PA AG Kathleen Kane Goes to Jail

It takes a loooong time for the wheels of justice to turn, but (usually) turn they do. In 2016 Kathleen Kane, former Pennsylvania Attorney General who prosecuted and persecuted others, particularly in the gas drilling industry, was convicted of committing perjury (i.e. lying under oath) about leaking privileged grand jury information in a case unrelated to gas drilling. She was, in October 2016, sentenced to jail (see PA’s Anti-Drilling AG Kathleen Kane Sentenced to Jail for Perjury). But so far, she hasn’t served a single day of her sentence. That all changed yesterday when Kane began serving a 10-23 month sentence.
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PA Supreme Court Gives Drillers Victory in Chapter 78a Regs Case

In August, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court handed PA drillers a partial victory in their quest to block onerous new drilling regulations, part of something called Chapter 78a (see Partial Victory for PA Drillers re DEP Chapter 78a Drilling Regs). This issue involves an effort by the liberal Gov. Tom Wolf administration to impose onerous new regulations on the Marcellus industry, costing lots of money with virtually no environmental benefits. The Marcellus Shale Coalition, on behalf of the industry, fought back and won in Commonwealth Court. The state Dept. of Environmental Protection appealed the case to the PA Supreme Court, and yesterday the Supremes quashed the appeal–said they refuse to hear it. Meaning the decision by the Commonwealth Court stands. The Marcellus industry won, and the DEP lost.
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Energy Transfer’s Rover, ME2 Pipes Rack Up 800+ Violations

Reuters has published a “hit piece” against Energy Transfer (ET) and two of its recent big pipeline projects–Rover Pipeline (in Ohio & Michigan), and Mariner East 2 Pipeline (in Ohio and Pennsylvania). Reuters is usually more balanced than, say, Bloomberg with these types of articles. Reuters usually doesn’t go out of its way to denigrate the industry. The article evaluates the number of permit violations issued for both projects. Together that number exceeds 800. Is that a lot? Reuters says they’ve analyzed “four comparable pipeline projects” and found an average of 19 violations per project (or 38 for two projects). So yeah, 800 vs. 38 sure sounds like a lot to us.
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PA Says Forget Amazon’s 50K Jobs, We’ve Got Shale & 100K Jobs!

Both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were in the running to become Headquarters 2 (HQ2) for online shopping behemoth Amazon. But neither got it. They both bent over backward, forward, and sideways, wined and dined Amazon people, and in general did everything they could short of bribery to attract Amazon to their respective cities. In the end, Amazon decided to split HQ2 between New York City and a suburb of Washington, D.C. Now that the distraction of pursuing Amazon is gone, a couple of energy industry players in Pittsburgh say it’s time to focus again on reality. Amazon offered 50,000 jobs to the winner(s) of HQ2. The PA Marcellus industry offers 100,000 jobs that pay way more, IF we hurry to capitalize on it. So says Morgan O’Brien, president and CEO of Peoples Natural Gas, and Stacey Olson, president of Chevron Appalachia.
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First Responders Ready for ME1/ME2 Emergencies, If There Are Any

Last week MDN told you about seven anti-fossil fuelers in the Philadelphia area who have filed a request with the PA Public Utility Commission requesting the PUC shut down both the Mariner East 1 pipeline, which has been flowing since 2016, and Mariner East 2 pipeline, which is about to go online any day now (see Desperation: 7 Philly Antis Ask PA PUC to Stop ME1, Block ME2). Why shut them down now? Because, the antis say, Sunoco Logistics (the builder) hasn’t done a proper job of preparing those who live near the pipelines to prepare for a rare (almost never happens) emergency. What their request, and mainstream media, doesn’t reveal is this: Sunoco formed the Mariner Emergency Responder Outreach (MERO) program years ago and has (so far) trained some 2,350 firefighters, police officers, emergency medical service providers, municipal emergency management officials, and other public safety personnel. How much more prepared can any community be? We’re delighted to bring you a guest post today responding to concerns about pipeline safety–specifically about ME1 & 2 safety.
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Treating PA’s Acid Mine Drainage & Frack Wastewater Together

Pennsylvania has had a seriously bad problem with acid mine drainage for years–water that washes through old/abandoned coal mines that comes back out heavily laden with minerals that make it acidic and a danger to the environment. More recently, with the shale revolution, PA has also found itself with an abundance of shale wastewater–most of it “produced” water that comes from deep in the earth (not surface drinking water), also laden with all sorts of minerals. Both acid mine water and shale wastewater are not easy to treat. Some sharp kids and their professors at the University of Pittsburgh got the bright idea to combine the two together, and treat them together, at the same time. Why? Because they have opposite amounts of barium and sulfates. Combine the two and you can more easily remove the nasty stuff via “precipitation.” How cool is that?
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New Fortress Energy Building Second PA LNG Export Facility

Earlier this month MDN brought you the exciting news that New Fortress Energy (NFE) is planning to build an LNG (liquefied natural gas) liquefaction plant in Wyalusing (Bradford County), PA in order to export Marcellus gas (see Big News! Marcellus LNG Export Plant Coming to Landlocked NEPA). The $800 million plant will supercool and liquefy locally extracted Marcellus Shale gas and ship it first by truck, eventually by rail, to “customers in the U.S. as well as abroad.” NFE recently filed a Securities and Exchange Commission document called an S-1. In that filing, we learn some dynamite news: NFE is working on a *second* Pennsylvania LNG facility! Not only that, but they have plans to build another 5-10 such facilities over the next five years–although we don’t know if all of those will be in the Marcellus/Utica. Something else we learned in the S-1 is how NFE plans to export the LNG they produce in Wyalusing to other countries.
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PA Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Briggs “Rule of Capture” Case

This is big news that will impact nearly every landowner and shale driller in Pennsylvania. In April, MDN brought you the news that Pennsylvania Superior Court had handed down a decision (known as the “Briggs” case) that has the power to greatly restrict, perhaps even stop, Marcellus drilling in PA (see PA Superior Court Overturns “Rule of Capture” for Marcellus Well and PA “Rule of Capture” Case has Power to Limit Marcellus Drilling). The issue, in brief, is that a PA Superior Court decision disallows using the age-old principle called the “rule of capture” when it comes to shale drilling and fracking in PA. Southwestern Energy successfully argued in a lower court that the odd crack here and there that may slip under a neighbor’s property from fracking is permissible. The neighboring landowner, not signed with Southwestern, appealed that decision to Superior Court and won. Southwestern then appealed the case to the PA Supreme Court and the court has just announced it will hear the case. How will this affect nearly every landowner, signed or not, in shale regions of the state?
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Desperation: 7 Philly Antis Ask PA PUC to Stop ME1, Block ME2

Seven antis from Greater Philadelphia, with money and lawyers from Big Green groups backing them, on Monday asked the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to shut down Mariner East 1 pipeline (which has operating for more than a year), and to block the startup of Mariner East 2 pipeline. The chutzpah of these people is breathtaking. To put it in perspective, Chester and Delaware Counties, which is where the seven antis hail from, has a combined population of 1,083,989 people (as of 2017). Seven people represents .0006% of the population. Meaning 99.999% of the population either don’t care, or are not against these pipeline projects. Both ME1 and ME2 carry natural gas liquids (NGLs)–meaning ethane and propane–from the western side of PA across the state to Delaware County and the Marcus Hook refinery. From the very beginning there have been a committed few (with the help of Big Green) fighting the ME2 project every inch of the way. They’ve thrown everything they have at it–multiple lawsuits, pleas to regulatory agencies, legislative hearings, illegal protests–you name it, they’ve done it. This latest action appears to be a last gasp, “Hail Mary” attempt at convincing a regulatory agency to stop both pipelines. Which isn’t going to happen.
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Penn State Finds Chemical Clues to Marcellus Methane Migration

Dr. Terry Engelder

One of the ongoing issues used (misused) by those opposed to shale drilling is “methane migration”–the claim that drilling a shale well has led to, due to improper casing, widespread methane leaks getting into nearby water supplies. That was the claim made by Josh Fox in the fake documentary Gasland about Dimock, PA. The thing about methane migration is that most of the time it’s fixable. The other thing is that in a high number of cases, it’s not methane migrating from a shale well, but rather it’s naturally occurring leaks. Which makes sense. You drill shale wells where there’s a lot of methane! But how can you tell the difference between naturally occurring methane migration and methane migrating because of shale well activity? Some sharp researchers at Penn State University, including the “father of the Marcellus,” Dr. Terry Engelder, have just published a research study that can help.
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Is Shell Pulling Out of Pennsylvania Marcellus?

Is Shell (or SWEPI, formerly known as Shell Western E&P Inc.) leaving its Pennsylvania Marcellus drilling program behind? You may recall we posted a story in June quoting Tonya Williams, general manager for Appalachia with Shell, as stating (during her talk at the DUG East event in Pittsburgh) that Shell plans to spend $150 million to drill wells on four pads in 2018, all of it in Tioga County (see Shell Focused on Single PA County, No New Drilling in Other Areas). Although Shell has wells and acreage in 10 Pennsylvania counties, Tioga is the focus for this year. Barley two months later, in early August, MDN received a note from a trusted reader saying that Shell is pulling out, ending its Marcellus program and sending their personnel to Texas. Frankly, we were skeptical.
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NatGas Prices in PA Catching Up with Rest of Country

Since our lead story today is about the spike up in the price of natural gas (see Price of NatGas Spikes to Highest Level in 4 Years – $4.84/Mcf), we thought it fitting to bring you a related story that caught our eye–on the price of natgas in Pennsylvania. For years PA, especially the dry gas northeast, has been plagued with some of the lowest natural gas prices in the U.S. Why? Prolific production and not enough pipelines to get all that production to higher-paying markets. The situation is changing, rapidly. Prices in the northeast Marcellus are catching up with the Henry Hub price in southern Louisiana, thanks to multiple pipelines coming online. What does it all mean for Pennsylvanians?
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Study: Marcellus Drilling Doesn’t Affect Brook Trout All That Much

Trout Unlimited (TU), previously outed as an anti-fracking organization (see Trout Unlimited, Other Groups Outed as Radical Green Groups), is promoting a research study recently authored by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) titled “Brook trout distributional response to unconventional oil and gas development: Landscape context matters” (full copy below). TU believes the study offers proof that fracking hurts brook trout. We scanned the study and came to the opposite conclusion. Using a count of the number of certain kinds of trees in a given habitat as a proxy for how well trout will do, or not do, the study concludes that there is some minor degradation in brook trout habitat when drilling comes to town. But only in places where the habitat had already been damaged by other non-drilling activities.
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