Leach XPress Pipe 100% Back Online Following June Explosion

TransCanada’s Leach XPress is a 160-mile natural gas pipeline (and compression facilities) located in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle. Leach XPress flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky–hence the name. The pipeline went online January 1st, and a section of it exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). What caused the explosion? TransCanada (aka Columbia Pipeline) said it was a “slip”–what we call a landslide (see Columbia Says Landslide Caused Leach XPress Explosion/Fire in WV). The good news is that the 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline is now fully fixed and back online, as of Sunday, although it’s not yet flowing at full capacity. According to Genscape, pipeline “nominations” (reservations to move gas) were at 1.15 Bcf yesterday. That will likely increase in the coming days, back to full capacity. One comment about this story caught our eye–something we’d not seen or heard before: Columbia told the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) there are six other spots along the pipeline that are “areas of concern” based on soil conditions, steep slopes or indications of slips (i.e. landslides)…
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WV Gov. Justice Perpetrating an Injustice on NatGas Developer

Steven B. Hedrick

In June MDN told you about a controversy swirling around Steven B. Hedrick, CEO of Appalachia Development Group and also CEO of the non-profit Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center, or MATRIC (see Manufactured Controversy re $10B NGL Storage Hub Proponent). Hedrick, in his role as CEO of Appalachia Development Group, has led an effort to get a $10 billion NGL storage hub established in Appalachia–most likely in West Virginia. It’s a huge amount of money, will take cooperation from multiple states and will require multiple sources of funding to make it all happen. Hedrick has led the effort. Both of WV’s U.S. Senators, Shelley Moore Capito (Republican) and Joe Manchin (Democrat) have worked on behalf of this project and have had words of high praise for Hedrick and his efforts. And then, “out of the blue” last month comes an attack on Hedrick from the Charleston Gazette-Mail. We now know why–the attacks were instigated by WV Gov. Jim Justice. Which makes us scratch our head. What in the world is Justice thinking? Why would he attack the one person who is key to the state attracting a project (and investment) equivalent to two cracker plants? What is Justice smoking?…
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$83.7B Chinese Investment in WV Shale & Petchem Still Alive?

Chinese yuan

Is China’s $83.7 billion investment in West Virginia’s shale and petrochemical industries, announced last November, on hold or not? In early April, when the current “trade war” with China began to heat up, we said this with respect to the deal China signed to invest $83.7 billion in West Virginia shale and petrochemicals: “However, if a trade war does develop, it would be foolish to not think those investments (withholding them) will be used against us.” (see Will Trade War with China Affect $83.7B Investment in WV Shale?) In June at the Northeast U.S. Petrochemical Construction Conference in Pittsburgh, our fears (and prediction) were confirmed. Chinese officials were due to attend the event and announce the first round of investments in WV. However, Brian Anderson, director of the West Virginia University Energy Institute, said given the trade war now on with China, the officials elected to stay home instead. Anderson said, “The pending trade war has put this project in jeopardy” (see Trade War Puts $83.7 Billion Chinese Investment in WV on Hold). But what’s this? Anderson now appears to have changed his tune. He recently told a reporter, “In terms of the development process, we continue to move forward…We’re even working on the next potential visits by officials and team members, so it’s not just the high-level executives, but development teams.” Hmmm. Which is it? Is the deal in jeopardy or moving forward?…
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Columbia Says Landslide Caused Leach XPress Explosion/Fire in WV

TransCanada’s Leach XPress is a 160-mile natural gas pipeline (and compression facilities) located in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle. Leach XPress flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky–hence the name. The pipeline went online January 1st, and a section of it exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). TransCanada (their Columbia Gas Transmission subsidiary) is working hard to get the pipeline back online by “mid-July” (see Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Won’t be Online Until Mid-July). What caused the explosion? That’s been the burning question (no pun intended) since it happened. A stray comment we spotted seemed to indicate it may have been a faulty welding job. But apparently such is not the case. Columbia has told federal regulators that a landslide is the cause of the leak and explosion…
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Where is Production Increasing (& Decreasing) in Marcellus/Utica?

Natural gas production in the U.S. has rocketed skyward in just the past few weeks. According to the experts at RBN Energy, “the abruptness and sheer strength with which production has surged” has “taken the market by surprise.” Gas production rose in every region of the country, but it rocketed in one region in particular. Yep, in the Marcellus/Utica. When you look at how much our region was producing on June 7, and then again on June 28, the difference in just those three weeks is astonishing. Production of natgas soared and was 600 million cubic feet per day higher on June 28 than three weeks prior. Amazing! But production did not increase in every area of the Marcellus/Utica region. In one area, production decreased. Below you’ll find out where production went up, and where it went down in the M-U in June…
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OVJA Exposed as Front for Murray Energy Blocking Gas-Fired Plants

Enough is enough. It’s time to name names and put an end to blocking new gas-fired electric plants planned in West Virginia. WV has a long, proud history as a coal producer. According to West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney, some 95% of the electricity produced and used in the Mountain State comes from coal-fired plants. However, natural gas burns cleaner than coal, and frankly, natgas is now cheaper than coal. Yet WV still has not permitted or allowed a single new gas-fired plant to be constructed. Last year then-WV Sec. of Commerce Woody Thrasher observed that Ohio has built 19 new gas-fired power plants, and Pennsylvania has built 22 new gas-fired power plants, while WV has built NONE. Why not? Because of Robert Murray, CEO and founder of Murray Energy, one of the largest independent coal mine operators in the U.S. Bob Murray is using a front organization called Ohio Valley Jobs Alliance (OVJA) to file a blizzard of frivolous lawsuits that have kept all new gas-fired plant projects from being built in WV. Drew Dorn, Director of ESC Harrison County Power and President of Energy Solutions Consortium (the company that has filed to build several new gas-fired plants in WV), points out Murray’s hypocrisy on the shale issue, by saying: “Murray Energy is trying to kill thousands of jobs on these projects. Murray Energy has made huge amounts of money off of natural gas in rights-of-way and other means, but when it comes to West Virginia natural gas making electricity, the company is trying to achieve through the courts what it could not through the marketplace.” The gloves are now off and it’s time to fight back–to get gas-fired plants built in WV. It’s time to “out” Bob Murray for the obstructionist he has become, and to expose him for the economic damage he’s causing…
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Army Corps Engrs Reinstates MVP Permits for 4 WV River Crossings

In May, the radical Sierra Club claimed a victory in temporarily stopping construction work of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) at four river crossings in West Virginia (see Army Corps Engineers Suspends MVP Permit for River Crossings). The Sierra Club and a mishmash of other radicalized green groups filed a motion asking the Fourth District U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to suspend a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that allows MVP to construct the pipeline across streams and rivers in the Mountain State. The Clubbers’ tortured logic was this: When constructing the pipeline across a river, the stated standard (according to the permit) is that construction can take no longer than 72 hours. MVP says it will need longer when constructing the pipeline across four rivers–Elk, Gauley, Greenbrier and Meadow. Therefore (say the Clubbers), MVP is in violation of the general permit issued by the Corps and that means ALL (not just those four rivers) construction should be stopped, immediately. The Corps said they had reviewed the standards and at that point (in May) rescinded the permit as it applies ONLY to those four rivers, NOT to any locations. The Corps has just reissued the permit in question, tweaked to allow MVP more time. That’s the new news and the good news. However, in June the Fourth District Court agreed with the Clubbers and for now, has stopped construction at all 591 stream crossings the pipeline traverses in WV (see Sierra Club Succeeds in Delaying MVP Project in WV via Court Order). So even though the underlying reason the case was brought in the first place, that construction will take longer at four crossings (out of 591) is now resolved, the court order is still in place preventing work at any of the crossings in WV…
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Blue Wolf Goes Hunting – Extreme Plastics Merging with Mustang

Extreme Plastics Plus (EPP) has been manufacturing and installing well pad liners since 2007. Pad liners protect the ground from accidental spills of frack wastewater and chemicals used during the drilling process. Located in Fairmont, WV, EPP’s customers are in the Marcellus and Utica Shale region. In order to expand, EPP raised an undisclosed amount of investment money from Hastings Equity Partners in 2013 (see WV Well Pad Liner Company Gets Shot of Investment Money to Grow). However, a few years later the market turned down and EPP fell on hard times, eventually filing for bankruptcy (see WV Oilfield Services Co. Extreme Plastics Files for Bankruptcy). In late 2016, MDN told you that Blue Wolf Capital Partners was on the hunt for bargains and had offered a “stalking horse” bid to purchase EPP out of bankruptcy. Blue Wolf landed its prey, buying the company’s assets out of bankruptcy in December 2016 (see Blue Wolf Stalks and Rescues Extreme Plastics from Bankruptcy). According to Blue Wolf, EPP would exit bankruptcy with a debt-free balance sheet and in the pole position for an eventual oil and gas market recovery. Blue Wolf has gone hunting again and this time found Mustang Energy Services, another pad liner company. Blue Wolf announced earlier this week it has orchestrated a merger between EPP and Mustang. The combined companies (no word yet on which name, if either, they will use), have customers in eight states and counting. Here’s what happens when Blue Wolf goes hunting…
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Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Won’t be Online Until Mid-July

Leach XPress Pipeline explosion/fire on June 7

TransCanada’s Leach XPress project–some 160 miles of new natural gas pipeline and compression facilities in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle which flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky (hence the name)–went online January 1st. A section of the pipeline exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). Still no word on what caused the explosion, although the investigation seems to be centered on a welded seam. TransCanada (and their Columbia Gas Transmission subsidiary) is working hard to get the pipeline back online. The company told shippers in mid-June they expected to have the full 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline back online “early in July” (see TransCanada Says Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Back Online in July). That’s not going to happen since it’s now early July. Last Friday, Columbia pushed back the date to “mid-July,” due to challenges in getting everything remediated and fixed because of heavy rain in the area. Meanwhile, the drillers using Leach continue to find other ways to get their gas to market…
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EQT Confirms Sale of Huron Shale to Diversified for $575M

MDN exclusively brought you the news, on June 19, that Diversified Gas & Oil had purchased EQT’s Huron Shale assets in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia for $575 million (see Diversified Gas & Oil Adds to Conventional Assets in KY, VA, WV). At that time, Diversified did not disclose who it had purchased the assets from. MDN provided a guess, but that guess proved wrong. Within an hour of posting about the sale, an MDN tipster confirmed for us the seller was EQT, which we subsequently updated, providing the MDN audience with the inside skinny. On Friday, June 29, EQT issued a press release (below) confirming that yes, it was they who had sold the acreage/assets, including nearly 12,000 wells with 200 million cubic feet per day of natural gas production, to Diversified. The deal also includes 2.5 million acres of leases and some 6,400 miles of gathering pipelines. What we didn’t know about the deal (until now) is that it includes 8 field offices and 250 employees. Here’s the EQT announcement with full details of the deal…
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Anti Group Sues WVU to Disclose Details of $83.7B China Deal

Appalachian Mountain Advocates, a far-left, radical anti-drilling organization that some media outlets refer to as a simple “nonprofit law firm,” has filed a lawsuit against West Virginia University to force the university to hand over privileged and secret communications concerning the deal WV struck with China to invest $83.7 billion in the state, in the shale and petrochemical industries. As you may recall, that deal was announced last November (see China Agrees to Invest Amazing $83.7 BILLION in WV Shale, Petchem). The particulars of the “deal” have never been announced–other than the top line number of $83.7 billion in investments. In fact, the “deal” was called a “memorandum of understanding” (MOU), which we said at the time: “[the deal] signed in China yesterday is a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU). It’s a handshake–a gentleman’s agreement. And sometimes those agreements disappear. So this is far from a done deal.” In early December, following calls to disclose the deal, WV Gov. Jim Justice said the specifics are confidential (see WV Gov Justice Says China Investment Specifics are “Confidential”). So now, here comes a Big Green group trawling for trash–attempting to use (abuse) anything they can to make trouble for the shale industry. They hope if they can get their hot red hands on emails to and from the Red Chinese, they can fabricate a mountain out of a mole hill…
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WV’s US Senators Lead the Charge to Build $10B NGL Storage Hub

A recent article in the left-leaning Roll Call (official publication for Washington, D.C. swamp dwellers) attempts to paint the Trump Administration as out of step with the people he wants to help in West Virginia. The article says Trump’s strategy to prop up failing coal and nuclear plants is an attempt to boost coal mining jobs in WV, but is running counter to the state’s strategy of embracing the natural gas industry. Perhaps they have a point. However, what’s most interesting about the article is not the ginned up conflict between Trump and WV, but how the article spotlights WV’s two U.S. Senators–Republican Shelley Moore Capito and Democrat Joe Manchin–and their continuing role in trying to make a $10 billion NGL (mostly ethane) storage hub facility become a reality. The storage hub will be a jobs magnet with some estimates that it will create more than 100,000 new jobs in the state. The storage hub will also draw manufacturers looking to locate near ethane crackers, as a source for plastics used in their manufacturing process. Capito, in her comments, attempts to gloss over the rivalry between coal and natural gas, saying “all those rivalries have gone by the wayside.” Er, a, we beg to differ. But leaving aside the coal v. natgas focus of the article, we found two very interesting items. (1) The Dept. of Energy loan guarantee that would cover $1.9 billion of the estimated $10 billion cost to build it is a much bigger deal that we had realized. Why? Because any project that wins such a guarantee has gone through a rigorous review process. Winning such a guarantee is like conferring a triple A rating on the project for others who will consider investing in the project. It gives them confidence that the project has been thoroughly vetted and is low risk. (2) Manchin, in speaking with DOE Sec. Rick Perry, is using an interesting and novel argument to convince Perry the storage hub is a good thing to do. Manchin said when hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, it knocks out petrochemical industry there, with a cascading effect across the U.S. Cracker plants (fed by the storage hub) in the northeast, are not susceptible to hurricanes. So Manchin’s pitch to Perry is this: Keep the Gulf Coast crackers cooking for products to export to other countries, but let’s build the storage hub (and crackers) in the northeast, so our country’s petchem industry isn’t adversely affected by a major hurricane…
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Sierra Club Succeeds in Delaying MVP Project in WV via Court Order

The insidious and well-funded Sierra Club has scored another temporary legal victory in stopping Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) construction throughout West Virginia. One month ago we reported that the Clubbers had claimed a temporary victory in stopping construction work of MVP at four river crossings in WV. At that time (in May), the Clubbers and a mishmash of other radicalized groups filed a motion asking the Fourth District U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to suspend a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that allows MVP to construct the pipeline across streams and rivers in the Mountain State (see Army Corps Engineers Suspends MVP Permit for River Crossings). The Clubbers’ tortured logic was this: When constructing the pipeline across a river, the stated government standard is that construction can take no longer than 72 hours. MVP says it will need longer when constructing the pipeline across four rivers–Elk, Gauley, Greenbrier and Meadow. Therefore (say the Clubbers), MVP is in violation of the general permit issued by the Corps and that means ALL (not just those four rivers) construction should be stopped, immediately. The Corps said they had reviewed the standards and have (for now) rescinded the permit as it applies ONLY to those four rivers, NOT to any other locations. However, the Fourth District Court ruled late last week that construction at all 591 stream crossings the pipeline traverses must now be immediately stopped until the court farts around and considers the full lawsuit brought by the radicalized Clubbers. Enough of this nonsense!…
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TransCanada Says Exploded Leach XPress Pipe Back Online in July

TransCanada’s Leach XPress project–some 160 miles of new natural gas pipeline and compression facilities in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia’s northern panhandle which flows 1.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas all the way to Leach, Kentucky (hence the name)–went online January 1st. A section of the pipeline exploded and burst into flames on June 7 (see Leach Xpress Pipeline Explodes in Marshall County, WV). TransCanada (and their Columbia Gas Transmission subsidiary) is working feverishly to get the pipeline back online. As of last Friday, the Stagecoach-LXP meter, which ties into the Strike Force South gathering system station, was back up and flowing, up to 190 million cubic feet per day (see Part of Leach XPress Pipe Up and Running Following Explosion). The company told shippers earlier this week they expect to have the full 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline back online “early in July.” Still no word on what caused the explosion, although a stray comment we read leads us to speculate…
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Mountaineer Plans Pipe Expansions in WV Panhandle “Every Year”

Eastern Panhandle Expansion – click for larger version

In 2017, Mountaineer Gas launched its Eastern Panhandle Expansion pipeline project–a project to deliver natural gas via local distribution channels to a new industrial facility in Berkeley County, WV, and to provide gas to other local businesses and residents in the Tri-State area. Mountaineer’s pipeline expansion will be fed by a 3.5-mile Columbia Gas pipeline due to run under the Potomac–which is being fought vigorously by anti fossil-fuelers. There are three phases to the Eastern Panhandle Expansion project: Phase One runs a 22.5-mile, 10-inch-diameter steel pipeline from Morgan County to Martinsburg; Phase Two includes a loop to Charles Town (Jefferson County); and Phase Three will build a four mile segment of pipeline into Martinsburg. The West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection approved the Eastern Panhandle Expansion in February (see WV DEP Issues Permit for Mountaineer Gas Pipeline in Eastern WV), and work on Phase One began in March (see Mountaineer Gas Begins Work on Morgan County, WV Pipeline). According to an article just published, work on Phase One was initially delayed because of heavy rainfall in April/May (but is now going well), and Phase Two is planned to begin in the first or second quarter of 2019. The interesting thing (for us) is a comment from Mountaineer VP Thomas Westfall, who said this: “Over the next 20 years, we will have a lot of additional interest [in gas service in the Tri-State area], and we will be proposing expansion projects in this area every year.” Meaning Phases One, Two, and Three are only the beginning, which is sure to drive the antis bonkers…
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Cunningham Energy Focuses on Shallow Horizontal Oil Wells in WV

Cunningham Energy is a small oil driller based in West Virginia. In 2015, Cunningham struck oil in the Big Injun sandstone formation in Clay County, WV (see Cunningham Strikes Oil in West Virginia’s Big Injun Territory). In 2016, Cunningham announced they would target another shallow formation, the Weir Sand formation, a few layers below the Big Injun (same group of rocks called the Mississippian system), once again looking for oil (see Cunningham Using Horizontal Drilling to Target Weir Sand in WV). Cunningham issued a press release two days ago to announce that its Lions Paw 4-Well Pad, in Clay County, is now producing at a rate of 10,000 plus barrels of oil per month. Normally we don’t cover news from conventional drillers, but Cunningham is interesting for a few reasons. While the rock layers Cunningham targets are layers typically targeted by conventional oil drillers, the lines are beginning to become blurred between conventional and unconventional. Cunninghamton targets shallow layers using horizontal drilling, and they drill increasingly longer laterals. Yet they don’t frack their wells. Correction: They do frack! Cunningham sent us an email to let us know they do use fracking on their shallow, horizontal wells. Is this conventional? Or unconventional? Perhaps we should invent a new word to describe it: biconventional. Drilling with elements of both conventional and unconventional. Here’s the Cunningham announcement that existing wells are pumping oil with impressive numbers. The release also mentions Cunningham’s plans to drill more shallow horizontal wells in both Clay and Kanawha counties this year…
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