EQT Pays PA DCNR $874,200 to Lease Under Ten Mile Creek

This is a story that continues to bug us. The state of Pennsylvania, specifically the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), is grabbing money that we think belongs to private landowners. The DCNR has been, for years, claimed that under a centuries-old law that the state of PA “owns” the property under “navigable” waterways–including rivers and streams (see PA DCNR Publishes Lease Agreements for Deals Under Rivers/Creeks). We understand the state claiming the Delaware River, and maybe the Susquehanna River, is a “navigable” body of water. The DCNR uses the “navigable waterway” excuse to sign leases with drillers under much smaller waterways than the Delaware and Susquehanna–siphoning money that would have gone to landowners. A landowner might own the land on both sides of, say, Ten Mile Creek, as we’re sure happens. However, the land under Ten Mile Creek does not technically belong to them. In fact, certain long portions of the land under Ten Mile Creek are now leased to EQT, and EQT paid handsomely for it. The company leased 218.55 acres under Ten Mile Creek in Greene and Washington counties (southwestern PA) for $874,200, which works out to be exactly $4,000 per acre! Not to mention a whopping 20% royalty! That’s money that (in our opinion) should go to the landowners who own the land along the creek, not to the state. Until landowners sue or the legislature acts, the state will continue to pick the pockets of landowners who own land along PA’s waterways…
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PA Court Tells SWPA Town Can’t Restrict MarkWest Compressor Stn

Cecil Township

Cecil Township (Washington County, PA) is one of the original seven selfish towns that sued Pennsylvania over the 2012 Act 13 oil and gas law, a law that replaced a mishmash of local zoning ordinances governing oil and gas activity with one uniform, and fair, set of state regulations. Cecil and the other selfish towns won their case on appeal with the PA Supreme Court (see PA Supreme Court Rules Against State/Drillers in Act 13 Case). Although Cecil (and other towns) have been zealous in using their authority to zone out drilling and pipeline activity, sometimes they go too far, as Cecil has done. The PA Commonwealth Court ruled last Friday that Cecil exceeded their authority by “imposing a slew of conditions” (26 conditions!) on a proposed MarkWest Energy compressor station planned for the municipality, a plant first proposed back in 2010…
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W Pike Run Antis Want 1000′ Setback to Zone Out EQT Drilling

A debate is playing out in West Pike Run Township in Washington County, PA (near Pittsburgh) that we find interesting. A quick PA history lesson: Back in 2012 PA passed the Act 13 law to update oil and gas regulations to account for shale drilling. One of the updates was a uniform set of zoning requirements to protect residents and the environment. Unfortunately, seven selfish townships sued and eventually won (at the PA Supreme Court) challenging those regulations. So PA towns won the right to impose restrictions on drilling activities. In West Pike Run, the debate is over “setbacks”–how far does a well have to be from nearby structures, like homes and barns and businesses. State law imposes a minimum of 500 feet from the wellhead to an “occupied” structure–and 300 feet from the well to a body of water. In West Pike Run, antis want to up that number to 1,000 feet, which would effectively prevent any more drilling by EQT, the primary driller in the township. The town recently held a hearing on the proposed 1,000 foot setback, a hearing which has been continued to a future meeting on April 16…
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PA DEP Schedules 3 Hearings for Shell Ethane Pipeline

Click for larger image

In February, MDN told you the Pennsylvania State Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) had caved to pressure from anti-fossil fuelers with regard to Shell’s proposed Falcon Ethane Pipeline project (see PA DEP Caves to Pressure, Extends Comment Period for Shell Pipeline). Shell is working on an ethane “pipeline system” with two “legs” to feed the mighty cracker plant being built in Monaca, Beaver County (see Shell Working on 94-Mile Ethane Pipeline to Feed PA Cracker). The DEP advertised an official comment period for the project on Jan. 20, giving interested parties until Feb. 20 to file their comments–an entire month. However, one month isn’t enough time for anti-drillers to marshal the faithful to try and sink the project. FracTracker Alliance, an anti-fossil fuel organization, colluded with other groups to put the word out to flood the DEP with demands to keep the comment period open. The DEP caved and extended the comment period to April 17th along with three public hearings (circus freak shows), to give the FracTracker faithful time to mount publicity and legal offensives to try and stop the project. The DEP has just announced the dates and locations for the three public hearings…
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Rover Pipeline’s SWPA Burgettstown Lateral Ready for Startup

Click map for larger version

On Tuesday, Rover Pipeline (Energy Transfer Partners) sent an official request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asking for permission to begin service on one of the remaining legs of the pipeline not yet up and running as part of Phase 1 development. Rover wants to begin service on the Burgettstown Lateral by Feb. 26. The Burgettstown Lateral (see the map below) extends from Burgettstown (Washington County), PA through Hancock County, WV and into eastern Ohio, connecting to the main Rover Pipeline in Carroll County. The Burgettstown Lateral is 51.3 miles long and includes a compressor station in/near Burgettstown to push the gas along the entire length of the lateral. Rover still maintains they will have the entire Rover Pipeline network up and running by the end of March. There are still some areas in Ohio where they are working (drilling for a second pipeline under the Tuscarawas River), however, most of the work remaining to be done is in Michigan–Phase 2 of the project. When it’s all done, up and running, Rover will flow 3.25 billion cubic feet per day of Marcellus/Utica gas to the Midwest, Gulf Coast and Canada. Below is Rover’s request to “start me up” for the Burgettstown Lateral, along with a map of the lateral…
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Washington PA Prefers Dilapidated Bldg to “Transient” Shale Workers

There’s a real eyesore in downtown Washington, PA–a building that brings down the neighborhood. Even though the building is a blight for the entire area, it remains standing due to prejudice on the part of local residents, including a local Catholic church. There was a plan to renovate a former, run-down convent and turn it into a boarding house for Marcellus Shale workers in Washington, PA. We previously chronicled City Council’s opposition to the project (see Washington, PA Votes to Reject Marcellus Boarding House). We also chronicled the shameful opposition of Rev. William Feeney and the Immaculate Conception church across the street from their denomination’s abandoned convent–opposed to the plan because it might attract “transients” to the neighborhood (see Marcellus Prejudice on Display at Washington, PA Church). We were reminded by a recent letter to the editor in a Washington, PA newspaper that the abandoned convent is still there, still a blight, still an eyesore–bringing down the entire neighborhood. All because of prejudice…
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Paid Agitators Shut Down Traffic at Energy Co Offices Near Pittsburgh

One of the crazies protesting in front of Southpointe

Hey, it’s Thanksgiving break, woo hoo! Time for brainwashed college kids to break the law and claim they’re doing their civic duty by shutting down traffic in front of “evil” companies that are part of the Marcellus industry. A lawless mob of perhaps two dozen maleducated young people along with some old hippies (most of whom were from out-of-state, i.e. paid agitators) set up roadblocks and other elaborate structures in front of the Southpointe business park in Washington County, PA, near Pittsburgh. A variety of Marcellus-related companies have offices in Southpointe, including Range Resources, CONSOL Energy, Halliburton, and Chesapeake Energy. The malcontents’ complaint? They have a psychological disorder in which they irrationally hate fossil fuels, and by extension, those who extract and sell them. Even though the clothes on their bodies and the sneakers on their feet come from fossil fuels. And even though they woke up in homes and apartments heated by fossil fuels. And even though they arrived at the protest in vehicles powered by fossil fuels. And even though the signs they made and carried were made from fossil fuels. Yeah, totally nutso. The lawlessness went on for about four hours before local police finally ejected the last of the nutters. They had a chance to make their statement and disrupt legitimate, salary-paying and valued businesses for a while, all in the name of anarchy and mob rule–driven by abject hatred. We often wonder if this is how it felt during the rise of the Nazi Party in the 1920s…
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Smith Twp Votes Down Plan to Expand MAX Bulger Marcellus Landfill

In a disappointing development, the supervisors of Smith Township (Washington County), PA have voted to turn down MAX Environmental’s request to expand the Bulger landfill they operate in the town (see Marcellus Landfill in Washington Co. Seeks to Expand, Add TENORM). One of the primary customers for the landfill over the past 10 years has been the Marcellus industry–dumping drill cuttings (leftover dirt and rock from drilling) at the landfill. MAX intends to ask the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection for a permit to expand the Bulger facility by 21 acres. They also want to begin accepting technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials, or TENORM, from shale drillers. The first stop is, however, is to get local approval. The DEP wants to see local approval before they consider a state approval. Until now, the word coming from the supervisors is that they were duty-bound to approve the request, as long as “reasonable conditions” were made in the request. The town held several public hearings about the project. Apparently some local loudmouths got to the supervisors and spooked them. At a meeting last Thursday night the supervisors voted 3-0 against approving the request. MAX said they will wait to get the official document, expected today, before deciding on whether or not to litigate (an almost certainty)…
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Out with the Old – Part 2: EQT Sign Replaces Rice at HQ Building

On Monday, Rice Energy was merged into EQT, creating the largest onshore natural gas producing company in these United States (see Out with the Old: Rice Energy Sign Comes Down Day of EQT Merger). In that post we shared with you a short video taken by an MDN friend that showed a pair of cranes taking down the Rice Energy name from Rice’s (now former) headquarters building in Canonsburg, PA (just outside Pittsburgh). Another MDN friend sent us a pair of pictures (below), taken the following day, which show an EQT sign now fixed over top of where the Rice Energy sign once stood. Our second MDN friend also told us that all the parking lot signs at the facility have EQT stickers on them, covering over the Rice Energy name. As we said in our Tuesday post, EQT isn’t wasting any time making a statement: Out with the old, in with the new. EQT is firmly large and in charge. A few days after the merger and Rice is already a memory, starting to fade away…
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Marcellus Landfill in Washington Co. Seeks to Expand, Add TENORM

MAX Environmental has operated the Bulger hazardous waste landfill in Smith Township (Washington County), PA since 1958. One of the primary customers for the landfill over the past 10 years has been the Marcellus industry–dumping drill cuttings (leftover dirt and rock from drilling) at the landfill. Earlier this year, MAX sold itself to Altus Capital Partners–a private equity investment firm–for an undisclosed amount (see Pittsburgh-based MAX Environmental Purchased by Investment Firm). With the closing of the deal, MAX’s CEO/owner, William Spencer, rode off into the sunset and Bob Shawver was brought in as the new CEO. At first Shawver signaled the operation would move away from focusing on Marcellus customers. Then reality set in and plans changed (see MAX Enviro Not Walking Away from M-U, Wants to Expand PA Landfill). MAX intends to ask the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection for a permit to expand the Bulger facility by 21 acres. They also want to begin accepting technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials, or TENORM, from shale drillers. The first stop is, however, is to get local officials on board with their plans. Smith Township has held several hearings about the proposal and last night met to talk about it again. Smith’s attorney prepared a motion for town supervisors that includes 32 conditions before they town will grant an OK to MAX to expand the Bulger facility…
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American Energy Closes on “Tier I” Assets – Exclusive Details

Last week MDN brought you news about a relatively new company called American Energy Partners, Inc., based in Allentown, PA, and their subsidiary company Gilbert Oil & Gas (see American Energy Partners Invests in “Tier I” Marcellus Assets). AEP and subsidiary Gilbert said last week they had cut a deal to buy some “Tier I” assets in the Marcellus. However, there were no specifics. Yesterday AEP and Gilbert issued a new press release (below) to say the deal is now completed and they now own those Tier I assets. Again, no specifics. So MDN reached out to AEP to ask for further details. We got a response–which still does not name the seller, but does tell us how many Marcellus wells they bought, how much acreage is part of the deal, and in which Marcellus Shale county the assets are located. As far as we know, this is exclusive–nobody else has this information. We also have a thought on who the seller may be…
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Allegheny Comm. College Offers Free Scholarships for Cracker Jobs

Last week MDN told you that Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) is operating a program in process technology that leads to an associate’s degree as preparation for a job at Shell’s $6 billion ethane cracker plant, being built now in Beaver County (see Community College of Beaver County Preps Students for Cracker Jobs). Shell primed the education pump by offering 14 full-ride scholarships for the program. Not to be outdone by CCBC, Community College of Allegheny County is offering free tuition to Washington County residents, thanks to a $100,000 scholarship program that’s looking to build a cracker-ready workforce. Yikes! Yes, it does seem a bit odd to us that Community College of *Allegheny County* is offering free tuition to *Washington County* residents–but hey, it works for us. Students can get either a one-year mechatronics certificate, or a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The “Cracker Ready Grant” program is funded by the Remmel Foundation through PNC Charitable Trusts. Here’s the deets…
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MAX Enviro Not Walking Away from M-U, Wants to Expand PA Landfill

MAX Environmental has operated the Bulger hazardous waste landfill in Smith Township (Washington County), PA since 1958. One of the primary customers for the landfill over the past 10 years has been the Marcellus industry–dumping drill cuttings (leftover dirt and rock from drilling) at the landfill. Earlier this year, MAX sold itself to Altus Capital Partners–a private equity investment firm–for an undisclosed amount (see Pittsburgh-based MAX Environmental Purchased by Investment Firm). With the closing of the deal, MAX’s CEO/owner, William Spencer, rode off into the sunset and Bob Shawver was brought in as the new CEO. Shawver acknowledged it would have been “nuts” not to pursue business from the shale industry when it was going gangbusters, but Shawver said he would “retool” MAX–away from depending on the Marcellus industry. MAX will no longer be known and branded as a company in the oil and gas space. Shawver is rebranding the company, going after customers that are the region’s “traditional bread and butter”–manufacturing, industrial facilities and construction (see MAX Environmental Walks Away from Marcellus/Utica). Except reality has set in and plans have changed. MAX is applying for a permit to expand the Bulger facility by 21 acres, to continue doing what they are doing now. And what, you may ask, are they doing now? “Most of the residual waste MAX accepts now consists of drill cuttings from the Marcellus Shale industry.” Looks like MAX isn’t walking away from the Marcellus after all…
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New MarkWest Processing Plant Approved by Smith Twp in SWPA

Smith Township, Washington, PA

In August MarkWest Energy (now part of MPLX) briefed Smith Township (Washington County, PA) officials on plans to build a new natural gas processing plant (see Update on MarkWest Processing Plant Proposal for Smith Twp). The project was first introduced last fall, but then went quiet until May of this year. MarkWest plans to initially building one cryogenic plant and one de-ethanizer at what it calls the Harmon Creek Complex. Eventually MarkWest wants to build four cryogenic plants and two de-ethanizers at complex. Smith officials understandably had questions and wanted certain things in writing before they would consider issuing a “conditional use” permit for the project. Apparently the questions got answered. On Monday, Smith supervisors voted 3-0 to approve the project. However, the backhoes are not firing up just yet. Before the project can get built, the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection must issue an air permit (GP-5) for the project. Anti fossil fuelers were not happy with Smith’s approval, claiming MarkWest has been hiding the full scope of the project…
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Sprague Expands Fueling Footprint in Marc/Utica, Buys Coen Energy

Here’s a business you might not think about nor associate with Marcellus/Utica drilling–fuel deliveries. If you own a home and live outside of an urban area, you know all about fuel deliveries, because you likely either burn fuel oil or propane to heat your home. What you may not know is that drilling operations need a similar service–diesel fuel deliveries (mostly) at drill pads, to run the engines that generate electricity to run drilling and fracking operations. And fuel deliveries to trucking fleets, to keep the trucks moving. Perhaps an unglamorous part of the business–but vital nonetheless. Fuel deliveries run 24/7 in the oilfield, just like every other activity associated with drilling wells. Sprague Resources, founded in 1870 (not a typo!), is one of the largest independent suppliers of energy and materials handling services in the Northeast with products including home heating oil, diesel fuels, residual fuels, gasoline and natural gas. Sprague has just bought out Coen Energy, headquartered in Washington, PA. Coen pretty much does the same thing, but specializes in servicing the fueling (and storage) needs of Marcellus/Utica drillers. No financial details were included in the announcement, other than Sprague expects the addition of Coen to its company will result in an extra $7-$8 million of revenue per year. Here’s the news about one competitor gobbling up another in order to expand its presence in the Marcellus/Utica…
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