The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Equitrans LP's request to abandon by sale its Sunrise Pipeline facilities currently under construction to newly created affiliate Sunrise Pipeline LLC, which was formed by Equitrans owner EQT Corp. [CP12-32]. FERC found that Equitrans' proposed abandonment of the Sunshine facilities is permitted by the "public convenience and necessity." FERC approved the Pittsburgh-based company's Sunrise Project in July 2011 (see NGI, Aug. 1, 2011). When completed, the $272 million project would supply the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states with up to 313,560 Dth/d of Marcellus Shale gas. The Commission approved Equitrans' request to lease the Sunrise facilities, which would go into effect when it transfers the facilities. FERC also granted a request for pregranted abandonment and amended certificate authority to terminate the lease agreement when it ends in 15 years and to permit Equitrans to "reacquire ownership in fee of the Sunrise facilities."
Peregrine Keystone Gas Pipeline LLC has abandoned plans for a gathering system in the Marcellus Shale of southwest Pennsylvania, the final chapter in the efforts of three companies that had sought public utility status for projects in the state. "The reduced natural gas activity in Pennsylvania has resulted in Peregrine revising the schedule and scope of its planned facilities in the proposed service area," the Midland, TX-based company said in a filing with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC). "Continuing with this matter at the present time would be a waste of the time and resources of those involved with this proceeding." Peregrine had sought public utility status to build a $16.2 million gathering system through Greene, Fayette and Washington counties to serve affiliate Arrington Oil & Gas LLC and other producers. Last year Laser Northeast Gathering Co. LLC abandoned its efforts to have a proposed gathering system in northeast Pennsylvania classified as a public utility (see Shale Daily, Sept. 19, 2011). Pentex Pipeline Co., which had also sought public utility status, withdrew its application late last year.
Truthland, a documentary film produced by the Independent Petroleum Association of America's Energy In Depth in response to the anti-hydraulic fracturing (fracking) Gasland film, was scheduled to have its first official screening on Sunday (June 16) as part of an Ohio Oil and Gas Association event in Columbus, OH. "The truth is that Gasland is mostly hot air," the narrator of Truthland says in the trailer for the new film. The 34-minute film includes interviews with more than a dozen energy and environmental experts, including former Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger, Pennsylvania State University Professor of Geosciences Terry Engelder and Red River Watershed Management Institute Director Gary Hanson. Truthland was funded by natural gas companies, but none of the people interviewed were paid for their time or participation, according to the filmmakers. "The only thing they were asked to do was tell the truth as best they knew it, and however they saw it," they said. Truthland is available online at www.truthlandmovie.com.
The Permian Basin is in the "early innings" of an oil and natural gas renaissance that promises to be technology-driven, according to a report by financial services company U.S. Capital Advisors. Rig activity is projected to increase as much as 50% to more than 700 in the next few years, which could be the biggest rig count increase of any U.S. basin, said Cameron Horwitz, the director of exploration and production research who authored "Permian Basin: Renaissance in the Desert." He projected that current natural gas production declines will be turned around, stabilizing at 4.4 Bcf/d, and natural gas liquids output is set to grow by 50,000 b/d, reaching a peak of nearly 600,000 b/d in 2018.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has vacated its certificate authorization for Cheniere Energy's Corpus Christi LNG LP to build an import-only liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and associated pipeline, citing the failure of the company to move forward with construction since the project was approved [CP04-37]. The company's Corpus Christi Liquefaction LLC is planning to build an export/import LNG terminal at the site where it had proposed to erect the import facility (see NGI, Dec. 19, 2011). Cheniere expects to file an application by August.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is considering revisions to the rules covering air quality permits for oil and gas handling and production facilities in the Barnett Shale. The rules revisions would remove Archer, Bosque, Clay, Comanche, Coryell, Eastland, Shackelford and Stephens counties from being covered under the rules based on an evaluation of population and oil/gas facility densitywithin the counties. The proposed revisions are to be published in the Texas Register. A public meeting is planned on July 10 at the TCEQ Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Office, 2309 Gravel Drive, Fort Worth, TX.
The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) has established a board-level task force to tackle issues related to growing power demand for gas. The task force, led by Dominion Energy CEO Gary Sypolt, is to engage stakeholders that include regulators, operators, reliability organizations, the media and the public, INGAA said. "Given this enhanced role for natural gas, the industries, regulators and other stakeholders must work together to provide a reliable and cost-effective system for the additional natural gas transmission infrastructure required," said Sypolt.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed Substitute SB 315, an energy bill that creates rules for hydraulic fracturing and makes regulatory changes within five state agencies. The bill strengthens rules for wastewater disposal through injection wells and calls for operators that violate safety and environmental laws to face mandatory daily fines. Operators also will be required to share all chemical information on drilling fluids, take water samples within 1,500 feet of proposed horizontal wells, and disclose proposed water sources for drilling and completing wells. The rules wouldwork in tandem with a set of well construction rules agreed to by the state's Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review in May.
The Shaw Group Inc. and Exelon have launched a project with emissions control technology provider NET Power LLC to demonstrate a potential zero-emissions process on a 25 MW natural gas-fired plant over the next three years. During the four-phase demonstration Shaw intends to take a 50% interest in NET, which claims that its new technology has the potential to benefit power producers, consumers, energy security and the environment. The technology is based on what Shaw called "a high-pressure, supercritical carbon dioxide oxyfuel power cycle" that may be able to produce cost-effective electricity with "little or no" emissions. Exelon would have options to develop the first full-scale commercial plants when the demonstration project is complete.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has granted $4.5 million to support technology development to crack ethane more cheaply and efficiently. The $54 million grant to LyondellBasell would be used to develop catalyst-assisted technology to produce ethylene and cut emissions of greenhouse gases. The company is working with Quantiam Technologies Inc. and BASF Qtech Inc. in a three-part program over the next three years, which would build upon earlier generation ethane and naphtha-fed catalytic coating technology for steam crackers developed by BASF Qtech. The estimated cost share for the project in addition to the DOE grant is $2.2 million.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said the dunes sagebrush lizard (DSL) will not be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act after New Mexico and Texas officials voluntarily agreed to provide a combined 650,000 acres in 11 counties, or about 88% of the DSL's habitat, as protected habitat. The states also agreed to minimize other impacts on the lizard, including off-road vehicle traffic, wind and solar development, and increased predation caused by development. The 11 counties that comprise the DSL's range are Andrews, Cochran, Crane, Gaines, Ward, Winkler and Yoakum in Texas, and Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Roosevelt in New Mexico. According to the Texas Oil & Gas Association (TXOGA), 1 million b/d of oil production in Texas -- one-fifth of the nation's domestic oil production -- could have been shut in had the DSL been listed.
National Fuel Gas Midstream Corp., a unit of National Fuel Gas Co., (NFG) said its Trout Run Gathering System in Lycoming County, PA, now is delivering gas to an interconnect with Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC (Transco) with initial output from four ells operated by NFG subsidiary Seneca Resources Corp. Trout Run consists of 25 miles of mostly 20-inch diameter high-pressure pipeline, associated facilities and the Transco interconnection, with capacity exceeding 450 MMcf/d.
ATP Oil & Gas Corp. filed a lawsuit claiming that it lost more than $68 million when the federal government "improperly and illegally" suspended offshore drilling in the wake of the April 2010 Macondo well blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and "unlawfully delayed" permits to the company even after the moratorium was lifted. The defendants named in the case -- the Department of the Interior (DOI), the former Minerals Management Service, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM), Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and former BOEM Director Michael Bromwich -- breached a series of oil and gas leases for submerged lands on the Outer Continental Shelf, ATP said in the lawsuit (cv 12-00379), which was filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC. "The consequences of the moratoria and, following the moratoria, the delays in acting on permits to conduct deepwater operations, lie at the heart of ATP's claims in this case," the Houston-based company said in court documents.
Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary Scott Angelle applauded the recent work of state lawmakers on energy and economic development in the most recent legislative session, which adjourned June 4, including passage of "a compromise plan for dealing with issues arising in remediation disputes involving oil and natural gas production sites," referring to the so-called legacy lawsuit issue (see NGI, May 28). Other legislation enacted included regulation of ultra-deep oil and natural gas wells drilled at 22,000 feet or more below surface; existing fluid disclosure requirements imposed on operators performing hydraulic fracturing well stimulation; and monitoring and coordination responsibilities of the state's Ground Water Resources Commission in conjunction with the Office of Conservation, to include both surface and ground water as the Water Resources Commission.
University of Pittsburgh researchers have issued "Understanding the Marcellus Shale Supply Chain," a study to help regional businesses understand potential direct and indirect opportunities in the Marcellus Shale. "The study was undertaken to help companies better understand the various components of the shale industry and to examine the macroeconomic forces that impact the supply and demand of the industry," said Shaun M. Seydor, associate director of the university's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration's Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence. "The study goes beyond the physical drilling." The report identified the most successful businesses within the supply chain as having excellent safety records and strong balance sheets, as well as being responsive and flexible.
South Carolina political leaders are looking to the offshore for revenues from oil and natural gas drilling, proposing bills in the U.S. Senate and House to allow state officials to approve leasing off the South Carolina shore. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), backed by Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), are proposing the South Carolina Offshore Drilling Act. Under the bill, no drilling would be allowed for the first 10 miles off the South Carolina coast, but the area from 10 to 50 miles offshore would be designated an opt-in zone. The state, with the approval of the governor and legislature, could make these areas available for leasing, deciding the exact offshore location where the zone begins (10 miles off the coast, 12 miles, 15 miles, etc.) before leases are issued. Under the legislation, 50% of the revenues would be returned to the federal government for deficit reduction, 37.5% would go to the state of South Carolina, and 12.5% would be directed to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Obama administration's five-year (2012-2017) plan for oil and natural gas leasing in the Outer Continental Shelf, would not allow leasing off the Atlantic or Pacific coasts. It does, however, provide for seismic studies off the Mid and South Atlantic coasts.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a favorable environmental assessment to Dominion Transmission Inc.'s Allegheny Storage Project to expand its storage system in Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania [CP12-72]. The project would provide storage services of up to 125,000 Dth/d and transportation service of 115,000 Dth/d in the four states. Dominion Transmission, a subsidiary of Richmond, VA-based Dominion, has called on FERC to issue a certificate by December so it can begin construction by April 2013 and place the facilities in service by November 2014. The $115 million project calls for the construction of a 16,000 hp Myersville Compressor Station and a 30-inch diameter suction and discharge pipeline in Frederick County, MD; a 3,550 hp Mullett Compressor Station and associated pipeline facilities in Monroe County, OH; and the installation of replacement pipeline facilities and ancillary equipment at the existing Sabinsville Storage Station in Tioga County, PA. The additional gas storage and transportation capacity associated with the project has been fully subscribed by Washington Gas Light, Baltimore Gas & Electric and Peoples TWP LLC, according to Dominion.
North Carolina Senate Bill 820, the Clean Energy and Economic Security Act, which would legalize and begin regulating hydraulic fracturing, has passed the North Carolina House of Representatives and is to briefly to the state Senate before being sent to Gov. Bev Perdue for her signature. SB 820 calls for creating a nine-member oil and gas board and would establish a moratorium on fracking until mid-2014.
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