Rice Brothers Attempt to Take Over EQT, Install Toby as CEO

“Well, the EQT situation is a total mess.” So began a super secret email to MDN from a highly-placed source we implicitly trust. Not long after receiving that email, we spotted a press release from the Rice brothers, Toby and Derek, who along with their other two brothers, previously founded and built Rice Energy into a major Marcellus/Utica operator. The Rice brothers sold their company to EQT last year for $8.2 billion (see EQT Buys Rice Energy in $8.2B Deal, Becomes #1 Gas Producer in US). As part of the deal, the boys took 80% of their compensation in the form of EQT stock. The Rice boys now say EQT and its stock performance ain’t doin’ so hot. They (the Rice boys) think they have the solution. The solution is to install Rice leadership at EQT. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate head fake? Sell your company to a much larger company, creating the the largest natgas producer in the U.S.–then take it ALL over. A reverse takeover. Dan Rice III didn’t raise stupid boys.
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FERC Approves PA to OH Risberg Pipeline to Begin Construction

Click for larger version

FERC has finally come out of its funk. At least with respect to the RH energytrans Risberg Line project. We have been waiting and waiting and waiting to bring you this exciting news: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given final approval for the Risberg Line project to begin construction! Risberg is a 60-mile, $86 million pipeline from Crawford County, PA through Erie County and into Ashtabula County, OH. According to FERC’s own schedule, an OK for the project was due no later than Sept. 27, which didn’t happen. In October, RH energytrans was diplomatic and said, “It may take a little longer than we might hope” (see FERC Stuck in Slow Mo – Late Approving PA to OH Risberg Project). The folks at RH are far more patient than we are. Their patience has paid off. On Friday, FERC pulled the trigger and sent final approval. RH says construction will begin “by the end of this year,” which is now just over two weeks away.
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2 Workers Injured Working on Mariner East 2 Pipe Near Pittsburgh

Pipeline Inspection Gauge

Two workers were injured, one seriously, when a “pig” they were operating at a section of the nearly completed Mariner East 2 pipeline (near Pittsburgh, in Westmoreland County) accelerated and hit them late Sunday. What’s a pig? It stands for Pipeline Inspection Gauge–a device used inside a pipeline for cleaning, inspection and maintenance, and fluid batching. A pig is pushed along the inside of the pipeline by the flow of liquid or gas or (in this case), air. A pig launching station is used to insert the pig into a pipeline using a series of valves and hatches. The pig is pushed through the pipeline by the fluid/gas/air to the pig receiving station. We don’t have all the details for how this accident happened. What we know is that two workers, a man and a woman, were operating the pig when it hit them. Both were taken to the hospital. The woman was later released, but the man sustained a broken arm and is still hospitalized.
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First Domino Falls: Judge Grants PennEast Pipe Eminent Domain

It certainly seems as if the deck has been stacked against the PennEast Pipeline project, a $1 billion, 120-mile natgas pipeline that will stretch from northeast PA to the Trenton area of New Jersey. As we pointed out in November, DTE Energy’s NEXUS Pipeline, a 255-mile pipeline from Columbia County in Ohio to Southern Michigan, received its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval around the same time PennEast did, about a year ago. NEXUS is already built and flowing, PennEast hasn’t turned the first shovelful of dirt yet. It’s been a real battle for PennEast (see The War to Build PennEast Pipeline Continues). However, things are finally beginning to look up. Last week a federal judge granted PennEast its first approval in a string of eminent domain cases, giving PennEast the right to enter and survey a property in Carbon County, PA. Mixing our metaphors, last week’s decision is the first domino falling, with the rest sure to follow.
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Virginia AG Sues Mountain Valley Pipeline re “300 Violations”

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a liberal Democrat, has filed a lawsuit against Mountain Valley Pipeline alleging the project has violated Virginia environmental regulations some 300 times. You know, things like workers throwing candy wrappers and cigarette butts on the ground. The AG filed the lawsuit “on behalf of Department of Environmental Quality Director David Paylor and the State Water Control Board.” Since when does allegedly violating certain low-level regulatory standards become a matter of concern for a state attorney general? Apparently AG Herring doesn’t have enough to do. His action smacks of political persecution, no? Someone trying to curry favor with radical leftists in order to launch his own bid for governor some day? That’s exactly what’s going on. Yet another Democrat abusing his office to feather his own political nest. Disgusting.
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Virginia’s Biggest NatGas-Fired Power Station Goes Online

Greensville County Power Station (click for larger version)

In March 2015, Dominion announced plans to build the State of Virginia’s largest natural gas powered electric generating plant, in Greensville County, VA (see Virginia’s Largest Electric Plant to be Powered by Marcellus Gas). The $1.3 billion state-of-the-art natural gas-fired electric generating station generates 1,588 megawatts of electricity. Construction began in June 2016 (see Dominion Begins Building Virginia’s Biggest NatGas Power Station). And finally on Saturday, Dec. 8, the plant went online. Dominion’s own 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (when completed) will provide cheap, abundant, clean-burning Marcellus/Utica Shale gas to power it. Until Atlantic Coast is up and running, where will the gas come from to power it? We couldn’t find confirmation on the source of gas that feeds it now–but we’re guessing it’s Marcellus gas, making this a hugely important new market for our gas.
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Elba Island LNG Won’t be Fully Online Until “End of 2019”

Elba Island LNG

Elba Island LNG, situated along the Georgia coastline near Savannah, was originally due to begin operations now, in the fourth quarter of 2018 (see Elba Island, Ga. LNG Export Startup Delayed to 4Q18). But in October Kinder Morgan, the builder and owner of the project, delayed the startup until first quarter of next year (see Elba Island, Ga. LNG Export Startup Delayed (Again) – Now 1Q19). Elba Island will be the second LNG export facility along the East Coast, after Cove Point in Maryland. As we previously noted, Elba is quite a bit smaller than Cove Point. Whereas Cove Point, which has been up and running since March, can take in and liquefy up to 3.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas, Elba Island will be able to liquefy up to 350 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d)–just 10% of Cove Point’s capacity. In a post on the U.S. Energy Information Administration website yesterday, we learned that Elba will *begin* operation in early 2019, but it won’t be *fully* up to speed until the end of 2019.
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Energy Stories of Interest: Tue, Dec 11, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Antero Resources appoints Paul Korus to Board of Directors; NY Attorney General seeks to sink Exxon climate appeal; Sunoco pushes Pa. PUC to ax pipeline shutdown bid; After bitter fight in Minnesota, gas plant debate moves to Wisconsin; Summit Midstream announces senior management changes; After active duty, veterans find new purpose in the oil and gas industry; Buybacks: Why pipeline companies should invest in themselves; The oil and gas situation: A time for setting records; Natural gas perspectives before this winter ends; As the U.S. pushes fossil fuels at COP24, protesters howl – but allies emerge, too.
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MDN Website Problems

A quick note to let you know that the Marcellus Drilling News website experienced some problems last Friday following a software upgrade. Those problems–things like pages not loading correctly, potential login issues–are not yet fully resolved. We are working (hard) to get them fixed. If you notice strange issues today and possibly tomorrow, please be patient! We are working to get it resolved. – Jim Willis, Editor

4th Circus Blocks Permit, Stops All Work on Atlantic Coast Pipe

The judges at the Fourth Circuit (i.e. Circus) Federal Court of Appeals are at it again, micromanaging and making life miserable for Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The clowns of the Fourth Circus on Friday put a hold on a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that allows the pipeline to get built through areas with so-called endangered and threatened species. FWS determined the impacts to such species would be minimal. Big Green groups, including the radical Sierra Club, filed a lawsuit and in response to that lawsuit, to give the lawsuit time to play out, the clown judges suspended the FWS permit–effectively shutting down all work along the 600-mile project, even though the so-called “sensitive” species (four of them) are found along just 100 miles of the project. It’s not the first time the clowns have interfered (see 4th Circus Court Blocks Some Atlantic Coast Pipe Work in WV).
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Contractor Sues EQT $1.9M for Refusing to Pay for Spill Cleanup

Yet more intra-industry snipping to report (o&g companies suing o&g companies), this time between EQT and a contractor the company hired to clean up a spill (for $1.9 million) who says EQT never paid. EQT Gathering hired InterCon Construction to drill and install replacement pipeline in Indiana County, PA. InterCon did the work. During construction, InterCon experienced an “inadvertent return” (drilling mud leaking out on the surface where it’s not supposed to). InterCon fixed the issue, finished their work, and left. Triad Engineering was also involved in the project. The leak later returned. EQT asked InterCont to return and clean it up, which they did (for a price). According to court documents, EQT sued Triad for not properly sealing a bore hole, leading to the “new” leak. Yet EQT is refusing to pay InterCon for the cleanup, inferring they were to blame.
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12 Landowner Lawsuits Filed Against NEXUS, Contractor in Ohio

A lawyer representing 12 Ohio landowners has filed separate lawsuits on behalf of each landowner against NEXUS Pipeline and a contractor NEXUS used to build the pipleline–Michels Corp. The lawyer says he plans to file more lawsuits in the coming weeks. According to the attorney, the lawsuits aim to hold NEXUS and Michels “accountable for specific damages they’ve caused,” and to prevent future pipeline builders from “trampling on the rights of property owners.” The charges vary, but include allegations of pumping water and silt onto farms without permission from the owners, destroying topsoil and crops (without compensation), failure to repair damaged drain tiles, and more.
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Liens Against ME2 Pipeline Landowners Near Philly Dismissed

That was fast. Last week we reported that lawyers for a Mariner East 2 (ME2) subcontractor, United Piping Inc., had filed liens against the property of three landowners near Philadelphia because the ME2 contractor they worked for, Welded Construction, had declared bankruptcy and couldn’t pay them. And since ME2 builder Sunoco Logistics (along with Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline builder Williams) withheld payments from Welded, forcing it into bankruptcy, United figured they would extract their pound of flesh from landowners. Which, as we said, is outrageous and wrong (see Bankrupt Pipeline Contractor Leads to Liens Against PA Landowners). A day after that story broke, the companies involved (namely Energy Transfer, on behalf of Sunoco Logistics) got it resolved.
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PA Residents Sound Off Against Adelphia Pipe at DEP Hearing

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection held a public hearing last week for the Adelphia Gateway project, a plan to convert an old oil pipeline stretching from Northampton County, PA through Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester counties, terminating in Delaware County at Marcus Hook, to instead pump natural gas (see Oil Pipeline Near Philly to be Converted to Flow Fracked NatGas). It was pretty easy to predict that the hearing would elicit negative feedback, based on previous stories of residents unhappy with the location of a planned compressor station (see Update on Adelphia Gateway – Converting Oil Pipeline to Flow NatGas). And sure enough, many who spoke at the hearing were not happy.
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Northeast PA Railroad Traffic Surges Due to Marcellus Shale

We love a good railroad story–always have, always will. And here’s a great railroad story. The freight trains in northeastern Pennsylvania will this year, once again, set a new record. Last year the Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad, which operates 85 miles of track in Lackawanna and Monroe counties, hauled 8,572 carloads. This year they will fly by that number, to a new record. Why? Mainly due to frack sand used by Linde Corp, which supplies sand to drillers in the region. Translation: Drilling picked up again in 2018 in northeastern PA.
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Energy Stories of Interest: Mon, Dec 10, 2018

The “best of the rest”–stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: Smell and noise from Lackawanna Energy Center worries residents – DEP says it’s vapor and steam; Everett sets meeting on PGE proposal in Loyalsock Creek valley; Natural gas service mostly restored to Merrimack Valley; November U.S. natural gas prices increased beyond previous market expectations; Energy affordability must be a top concern for newly elected; OPEC and allies agree to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day; Rural Ontario may soon tap into natural gas; Europe needs more U.S. liquefied natural gas.
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