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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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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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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Trade War Puts $83.7 Billion Chinese Investment in WV on Hold

You can’t say we didn’t warn you. 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.” (Will Trade War with China Affect $83.7B Investment in WV Shale?) At yesterday’s 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.” Add to the trade war the fact that WV Gov. Jim Justice just fired the guy who built the relationships and negotiated the $83.7 billion deal, Commerce Sec. Woody Thrasher (see WV Commerce Secretary Who Brokered $83B China Deal…Fire), and it doesn’t bode well for China’s billions of investment. The Chinese are using their announced investment as an economic weapon against the U.S. Which points out the folly of relying on investments from your enemies to prop up your economy. Make no mistake: China is an enemy of the United States. However, there’s one thing the Chinese are not retaliating against, and indeed something they want more of: U.S. LNG…
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Manufactured Controversy re $10B NGL Storage Hub Proponent

Steven B. Hedrick

There’s a new (manufactured) 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. What’s that? You’re not familiar with that name? Hedrick, in his role as CEO of Appalachia Development Group, has led an effort to get a $10 billion NGL (primarily ethane) 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 (one could argue they’ve worked on behalf of Hedrick) and have had words of high praise for Hedrick and his efforts. But the Charleston Gazette-Mail, working in tandum with the left-leaning ProPublica, has decided Hedrick needs to be taken down a notch or two. In a recent article, the Gazette-Mail tries to paint Hedrick as having a big conflict of interest and bilking taxpayers for a trip. Hedrich was a member of the delegation that visited China last year when then-Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher got China to sign a mammoth $83.7 billion deal to invest in shale and petrochemicals in WV (see China Agrees to Invest Amazing $83.7 BILLION in WV Shale, Petchem). The Gazette-Mail article says Hedrick went on the taxpayer-funded trade mission not to represent WV, but on his own behalf, attempting to get Chinese investment that would somehow benefit him (Hedrick) personally. No doubt he was trying to get the Chinese interested in investing in the $10 billion storage hub. We would expect nothing less! But that attempt has now been twisted into a narrative that Hedrick was trying to benefit himself rather than WV…
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WV Commerce Secretary Who Brokered $83B China Deal…Fired

Former WV Commerce Secretary – Woody Thrasher

MDN had a call from a good friend yesterday sharing some earth-shattering news–at least earth-shattering for West Virginia (and possibly the entire region). WV Secretary of Commerce Woody Thrasher has been fired. Thrasher took over as Commerce Secretary in January 2017 as part of the new Gov. Jim Justice Administration. Thrasher is “the guy” most responsible for putting together the massive $83.7 billion deal for China to invest in WV shale and petrochemicals (see China Agrees to Invest Amazing $83.7 BILLION in WV Shale, Petchem). It was the relationships established by Thrasher that led to that deal. So what happened to Thrasher? Why was he fired? It has nothing to do with the China deal (more on why he was fired below). However, we have to ask the tough question that no one else is asking out loud: With Thrasher gone, is the China deal now in jeopardy? The Justice Administration currently appears to be in disarray…
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WV DEP Fines Rover Pipe $430K for Water Pollution Violations

Rover Pipeline (Energy Transfer Partners) has agreed to pay a $430,030 fine to the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection for water pollution violations related to construction activities for the pipeline. The “consent order” was dated May 15 but not released to the public until Tuesday of this week. The proposed deal is now open for public comment until July 13. Rover received 18 notices of violation and 2 cease-and-desist orders dating back to April 2017. Most of the violations relate to failure to control erosion and for allowing sediment water to leak out of construction areas. WV DEP has not yet signed (officially accepted) the order, but it certainly appears to be a done deal. Here’s the news and a copy of the consent order…
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WV Teachers Want Higher Severance Tax – For Themselves

No wonder the teachers in Philadelphia think that the money in drillers’ pockets actually belongs to them. Because in neighboring West Virginia, it does! At least some of the money. WV held its final public hearing (#21) as part of a statewide “listening tour” about how the state should fix (i.e. pay for) its insurance program for public employees. Most of the speakers at the 21 complain-fests were teachers. Their #1 preferred solution to “fixing” (paying for) better benefits is to boost the severance tax on natural gas higher than the current 5% (already one of the highest rates in the country). Such an increase would, of course, kill new drilling. And sooner or later previously drilled wells on which current severance tax revenues are based wind down, leaving teachers back at square one, with no extra money to pay for better insurance plans. Here’s more on the story of WV teachers looking to take money out of the pockets of a single industry, in order to grab other people’s hard-earn money for themselves…
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WVU to Research Fracking Effects on Cardiovascular Health

Building and operating a fracking site can emit some airborne particles. But scientists don’t fully understand how many, and how these particles may impact human health. Do drilling operations for unconventional wells emit a lot or a little in the way of particles? And do those particles affect human health? Travis Knuckles, assistant professor at the West Virginia University School of Public Health, has received $450,000 from the National Institutes of Health to investigate these questions. Knuckles will attempt to answer the question, Does fracking impact cardiovascular health–for workers and for those living nearby? We applaud real research efforts like this one…
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Utica Shale Beginning to Get More Love in PA and WV

The Utica Shale is starting to get more love. No, not in Ohio where the play is already well-loved, but in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Although it’s always been known that the Utica underlies the Marcellus and in fact covers a larger geography than the Marcellus, drillers have not targeted the Utica nearly as much outside of OH. Why? Because it’s nearly twice as deep as the Marcellus and costs more to tap it. The Marcellus is roughly a mile below the surface, and the Utica roughly two miles below. However, there is renewed interest in the Utica in PA and WV in 2018. Most of the Utica wells drilled in PA have, so far, been drilled by Hilcorp. JKLM is targeting the Utica in Potter County. SWEPI (Shell) has drilled a few Utica test wells, as has EQT, CNX and others. Most recently CNX and Seneca Resources mentioned targeting the Utica in their quarterly updates. Throw it all in the mix and what it spells is more Utica drilling on the way in what has, until now, been largely Marcellus country…
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