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Tom.jpg?resize=75%2C95Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


The Marcellus Shale Coalition has twice told the DRBC its fracking ban is foolish but yesterday wrote a critical letter showing the evidence is against it.

Dave Spigelmyer is a stand-up guy and he’s on our side. His organization delivered a compelling sets of legal arguments against the DRBC’s proposed fracking ban in its written testimony. Dave then appeared at the House State Government Committee to support landowners and drive home the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s position. Now, he’s written to the DRBC to tell them the physical evidence is also stacked against their foolish political maneuver.


Two commissions with the same governing majority and no excuse for not knowing natural gas development and fracking is safe.

Here’s the text of the letter Dave just sent to the DRBC (emphasis added):

The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) was formed in 2008 and is comprised of approximately 220 natural gas producing, midstream, transmission, and supply chain members who are fully committed to working with local, county, state, and federal government officials and regulators, to facilitate the development of the natural gas resources in the Marcellus, Utica, and related geological formations. Our members represent many of the largest and most active companies in the natural gas industry, as well as the suppliers and contractors who work with the industry.

On March 29, 2018, the MSC submitted comprehensive comments to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) on the above-referenced proposed rulemaking. Since this submittal, two noteworthy academic studies have been released, each independently finding little-to-no impact on groundwater resulting from natural gas development. On May 22, 2018, researchers with the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania released a study entitled, “Big Groundwater Data Sets Reveal Possible Rare Contamination Amid Otherwise Improved Water Quality for Some Analytes in a Region of Marcellus Shale Development.” This study examined naturally-occurring levels of methane in the Marcellus Shale area, reviewed over 11,000 groundwater samples throughout the Marcellus Shale region, and documented improved groundwater quality in rural areas that have seen significant unconventional shale gas activity. A copy of this study is enclosed.

Additionally, on June 13, 2018 researchers with the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut released a study entitled, “Methane in groundwater before, during and after hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale.” This study sampled nearby water well supplies before, during and after unconventional natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, and attributed any rising levels of methane to natural variability, not to shale-related activities. Researchers determined that natural variability is “potentially a lot greater than previously understood.” A copy of this study is enclosed.

The MSC and its member companies believe it is incumbent upon the DRBC to take note of these studies, their findings, and to consider this information in its deliberations and decision-making concerning the above-referenced proposed rulemaking.

Thank you for your attention in this matter. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

The original letter, together with enclosed studies and footnotes, may be found here. The significance of this letter is that it comes from the Marcellus Shale Coalition and can’t be ignored. If it came from me or most others readers, it would be dismissed as late testimony, but the MSC is too big and too important to ignore. The Commission members will learn of it and realize it confirms exactly what the SRBC studies have shown with respect to surface water quality, namely, this:


What the SRBC water quality studies show and the DRBC has ignored, despite have the same governing majority of members.

What’s also interesting is that minority members of the House State Government Committee, when confronted with the SRBC reality, tried to dismiss it with a Delaware Riverkeeper talking point, arguing that a subsequent USGS study had somehow debunked this claim. What the USGS actually said, as all academic studies do, is that more study (and, not coincidentally, more money for academia) was needed, particularly of groundwater. Well, as Dave Spigelmyer says, now they have it.

The post Marcellus Shale Coalition Puts DRBC on Notice the Evidence Is Against It appeared first on Natural Gas Now.

OPEC announced this afternoon its members will target 100% compliance with its 1.2 million barrels per day (MMBPD) reduction agreement — actually increasing daily production by 600,000 Bbls, since the cartel chopped an extra 600,000 BPD in May, Kallanish Energy reports.

The 14-member group analyzed oil market developments since the organization’s last meeting in Vienna at the end of November, and reviewed the outlook for the remainder of 2018, during its 174th OPEC conference, after a week of speculation a deal would be reached at all.

“The oil market situation has further improved over the past six months, with the global economy remaining strong, oil demand relatively robust, albeit with some uncertainties, and with market rebalancing evidently continuing,” said OPEC President Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, at a Friday afternoon press conference.

A collective agreement was indeed doubtful given Iran’s voiced opposition to OPEC’s proposal to boost oil output by 1 million barrels per day (MMBPD) beginning in July. After Iran softened its stance, a deal was reached, but the market is waiting on specifics.

The secretive announcement doesn’t say how much production will be raised by, nor sets individual allocations to each member. Al Mazrouei said the issue of overcompliance has been resolved with this decision to continue the agreement till year-end, maintaining the compliance level at 100%.

He avoided placing a number on the approved increase and told the press to make their own calculations, while giving them his assurance “there will be no negative surprises” and that each country will comply appropriately.

The member countries went home without an official quota/allocation of how much they could produce, with Al Mazrouei suggesting it’s “challenging” to work on individual basis

The joint monitoring committee will continue to do its job and ensure production is capped at 1.2 MMBPD from OPEC. The non-OPEC participants will decide tomorrow how much of their 600,000 BPD cut will be maintained.

The release of the barrels will be done by those members who have spare capacity such as Saudi Arabia, with 2 MMBPD of excess capacity. Production will also be met by OPEC’s newest member, the Congo.

Joseph F. Barone

Global benchmark Brent crude fell more than 2% on June 21 ahead of a meeting of OPEC, where producers were expected to boost output to stabilize prices. OPEC, however, was struggling to agree on raising output, with Saudi Arabia warning of supply shortages and price rallies but Iran holding out against a deal at the group’s meeting on June 22. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said he still believes OPEC cannot reach a compromise decision.

17d9481.jpg?resize=75%2C85Jim Willis
Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)


The Delaware Riverkeeper is forcing an issue with respect to DRBC authority and may (one hopes) come to regret it as others are forced to challenge both.

Here’s the latest strategy in THE Delaware Riverkeeper’s ongoing war against fossil fuels, and against natural gas pipelines in particular: Pressure the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to revoke a permit granted by the agency to the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project on the flimsy basis that ME2 has “violated” the conditions of the permit. Frankly, we didn’t even know the DRBC had issued a permit for ME2. After all, ME2 is a state-permitted project and does not come under federal authority.


We doubt the DRBC has legal authority to issue a permit for the project–but if no one challenges them, their authority stands. ME2 probably thought it easier to just get the permit and not squabble over it. According to Big Green mouthpiece PBS StateImpact Pennsylvania, the DRBC is actually considering Riverkeeper’s request.

The problem with this latest strategy by Riverkeeper is that DRBC’s executive director, Steve Tambini, is so weak, he may fold like a cheap deck of cards and actually do it. Tambini, who has been a major disappointment since taking over from the ultra-leftist Carol Collier, seems happy to take his marching orders from Riverkeeper.

We have to wonder if this latest strategy will bear fruit. A scary proposition. But Riverkeeper isn’t content to try and scuttle ME2 by pressuring the weak DRBC as its only strategy. Last week the DRBC also filed a “groundbreaking” lawsuit against the ME2 project in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, meant to stop the project by court order.


DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini

PBS StateImpact “reporter” (propagandist) Jon Hurdle is Riverkeeper’s go-to guy to get their spin out. Here’s Riverkeeper’s dictation to Hurdle, which he dutifully regurgitated as an “article” on the StateImpact site:

The environmental group Delaware Riverkeeper Network issued a rare call to an interstate water regulator to withdraw its permit for Mariner East, saying the pipeline project has violated permit conditions on drilling and water pollution in the basin.

DRN urged the Delaware River Basin Commission to suspend its docket, or permit, that was issued in December 2015 for the Sunoco pipeline project to run through 23 municipalities in the southeastern Pennsylvania portion of the basin.

Sunoco has said the project is more than 95 percent complete and will be operational by the end of the third quarter.

In a letter to DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini on June 15, DRN said Sunoco had violated the docket by changing the number of horizontal directional drilling locations without notifying DRBC and by releasing water pollutants that contravened permits issued by other state and federal agencies, including Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Sunoco, a unit of Energy Transfer Partners, has released drilling fluid and sediment-laden storm water into the waters of the basin in dozens of incidents, violating Pennsylvania water-quality standards, and the conditions of state permits, which in turn violates the DRBC docket, DRN said.

“In light of the severe and ongoing violations of the DRBC docket and the significant harm being inflicted on water resources of the basin, we are urging you to exercise your authority to suspend this docket and undertake a thorough review of the project,” the letter said.

Neither Sunoco nor the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance, an advocate for Mariner East, responded to requests for comment.

The letter listed 19 instances of storm water discharges in six counties and 10 spills of drilling mud in seven counties in support of its request. The incidents are based on DRN’s independent research, said the group’s head, Maya van Rossum, but some may overlap with incidents reported by DEP, which has issued 58 notices of violation to Mariner East since May 2017, most recently on June 15, according to the DEP website.

Van Rossum said she did not recall another time when DRN asked DRBC to suspend its docket on any project.

Peter Eschbach, a spokesman for DRBC, said he was not aware of the regulator suspending a docket for any project at any time over the last decade.

Suspension would mean halting the project, he said. “Effectively, the docket holder would have to stop work on the docketed project,” he said. “It is not something we take lightly.”

Eschbach said DRN’s request is being considered by Tambini, and representatives of the governors of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and New York, plus the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, that make up the commission. He had no estimate for when a decision would be made…


In DRN’S letter, not all of the violations are in the Delaware River basin, and so fall outside of DRBC’s jurisdiction, but were included in the letter to show a “pattern of behavior,” van Rossum said.

Van Rossum argued that DRBC’s credibility would be hurt if it doesn’t take enforcement action.

“If they don’t enforce their own docket, then what is the value from the public’s perspective, of them issuing dockets?” she said.

Given the many violations in the project’s 17-month construction history, the request to DRBC could have been sent earlier, but van Rossum said its timing now reflects the availability of time and resources rather than any attempt to win the support of at least two environmentally proactive Democratic governors – New Jersey’s Phil Murphy and New York’s Andrew Cuomo.

“This was an important stone that has been left unturned,” she said.

Sunoco has said the multibillion-dollar Mariner East 2, the first of two pipelines in the project, will be completed by the end of September. It will carry propane, ethane and butane some 350 miles from the Marcellus Shale of southwest Pennsylvania and Ohio to a terminal at Marcus Hook near Philadelphia where most of it will be exported for overseas petrochemical manufacture.


Maya van Rossum

A copy of Riverkeeper’s “request” (i.e. demand) to DRBC to pull ME2’s permit can be found here.

As we mentioned in our opening comments, Riverkeeper is also working on another strategy to try and defeat, once and for all, the ME2 project. Hurdle, once again taking dictation from his overlords at Riverkeeper, breathlessly “reports” that THE Delaware Riverkeeper has filed a “groundbreaking” lawsuit against Sunoco Logistics Partners and ME2 for violating federal clean water laws. (Yawn.) This is more of the same. A waste of the court system. Read about it here if you’re interested.

Hey IRS–when are you going to investigate the William Penn Foundation and other financial backers of the rabidly partisan and political Delaware Riverkeeper? Riverkeeper gets to file lawsuit after lawsuit, using lawyers paid for with money by William Penn–and yet Riverkeeper and William Penn get to keep their tax-exempt status. A clear violation of the tax code.

Editor’s NoteLike Jim, I was surprised the DRBC had even been involved with the Mariner East pipeline. Why? Because a pipeline is quite obviously not a water project and Mariner East doesn’t cross the Delaware. The DRBC, ever power-hungry, apparently decided some time ago it could regulate pipelines and pragmatic pipeline companies, more desirous of securing approvals from whomever than fighting back, decided not to make an issue of it. They got the approval the Commission asserted was required, so there was no incentive to litigate whether, for example, the Commission actually had such authority.

Things have now changed. The Delaware Riverkeeper is effectively forcing the issue, which may well lead to Mariner East or others finally challenging the Commission’s authoritarian overreach. The DRBC, too, may also be forced to defend its stretch of the terms “projects,” much the same it was in the Wayne Land & Mineral Group’s still pending lawsuit against the DRBC with respect to gas well pad regulation. Defending the idea pipelines are water projects is not something the DRBC wants to have to do right now and the Delaware Riverkeeper could get a result it very much won’t want, a court decision narrowing, rather than expanding, DRBC authority. Wouldn’t that be a delightful irony?

For more great articles on natural gas development every single business day, subscribe to Marcellus Drilling News using this convenient link.

The post Delaware Riverkeeper Asks DRBC to Stop Mariner East; Will It Regret It? appeared first on Natural Gas Now.

U.S. independent oil company Halcón Resources Corporation has decided to reduce its rig count in July due to “significant” decline in its oil price realizations Halcón Resources Corporation, Kallanish Energy reports.

The firm said on Tuesday it will reduce its operated rig next month from four to three because of lower near-term realized oil prices in the Midland market. CEO Floyd Wilson said the company will decrease its cash flow outspend and still be able to generate substantial near-term production growth with three rigs running.

“With widening MidCush differentials, we have seen our recent oil price realizations decline significantly,” he said. “We expect to have a substantial portion of our oil on pipe to the Gulf Coast by the second half of 2019 which should result in our receiving a premium to WTI based on current forward prices, net of transport fees.”

Halcón has started hedging Gulf Coast pricing differentials to ensure the company receives a premium to WTI pricing once it begins sending oil to the Gulf Coast. It’s currently in “advanced negotiations” to secure 25,000 barrels per day (BPD) of firm capacity on an undisclosed pipeline to the Gulf Coast, to be in service by H2 2019.

“The agreement isn’t expected to include any minimum volume commitments or similar obligations,” the firm added.

Through current MidCush hedges, which include April hedge monetization proceeds, Halcón will receive a $3.90/Bbl discount to WTI on 8,000 BPD of production for the second half of 2018, and a $0.03/Bbl premium to WTI on 12,000 BPD for the first half of 2019. The firm is also hedging based on Maggelan East Houston and WAHA prices.

“Between now and when we get our oil to the Gulf Coast, we have a good portion of our projected oil production hedged with MidCush basis hedges,” noted Wilson. “We continue to evaluate options to potentially monetize some or all of our Halcón Field Services infrastructure assets and will comment further on this process as appropriate.”

The Delaware Basin-focused producer expects its second-quarter production to be in the range of 13,000-14,000 BPD as per guidance. The impact of the reduced rig activity will be disclosed in the company’s next earnings release.

Joseph F. Barone

Tom.jpg?resize=75%2C95Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


Holland Township, New Jersey proves there is no free lunch when it comes to energy. Attempting to address energy needs with anything but reason never works.

Our friend and guest blogger, Jim Willis, over at Marcellus Drilling News, has his ear closer to the ground than anyone I know and regularly picks up stories outside the mainstream of gas industry news. One of those, from Monday of this week, was about a potential new natural gas fueled power plant in Holland Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, of all places. He related the details from a NJ Spotlight article focusing on the appearance of Phoenix Energy Center, LLC before the Township Planning Board to discuss the possibility of a new 600 MW power plant at an old industrial site along the Musconetcong River. Could it be? Yes, indeed, because this municipality is slowly learning energy choices aren’t as simple as fractivists have been asserting.

NJ Spotlight, of course, is financially supported by the William Penn Foundation, so news from this source, like that from StateImpactPA, is fractivist-leaning (using the same reporters in some instances). It channels Sierra Club bully Jeff Tittel’s message in this instance and suggests PennEast Pipeline opposition by Holland Township could somehow present an obstacle:

Probably one of the biggest hurdles facing the project is the Musconetcong’s designation as a C1 stream, a classification that includes an anti-degradation policy to protect the water from any deterioration in quality, according to Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

Typically, power plants require huge amounts of water, which is then discharged at higher temperatures into a nearby waterway. “It’s a C1 stream,’’ Tittel said. “There can’t be any measurable change in water quality.’’

At the planning board meeting, consultants for the company indicated the plant would withdraw up to 5.4 million gallons of water a day from wells or from the river, and discharge more than 1.5 million gallons into the river daily, according to Tittel, who was at the meeting.

There is a nearby pipeline belonging to Elizabethtown Gas that might supply the fuel needed to run the plant, although that connection could pose a problem. Elizabethtown is one of the sponsors of the controversial PennEast pipeline, a 120-mile conduit between Luzerne County, PA, that would end in Mercer County. Holland Township opposes the pipeline.

The idea PennEast opposition presents an obstacle to approval of a plant is politically naive, of course. The plant would pay huge amounts of property taxes or similar payments in lieu of taxes, probably enough to significantly lower other taxes. Does anyone imagine Holland Township isn’t going to seriously consider the proposal under those circumstances? Of course not, and that’s why Jeff Tittel is worried. Likewise, the fact there can’t be any measurable change in water quality is hardly news, as power plants would typically have to meet the highest standards for stream discharges and can do so.

What’s especially interesting in this case, though, is this; Holland Township is not that big a fan of solar and wind. When I read the NJ Spotlight article, I decided to do some research of my own by checking the Township’s online meeting records and see what the planning board minutes might have revealed. The May 14, 2018 minutes (most recent published) offered no more than this:

Discussion took place about one of the old mills becoming a power generating station with cooling water being discharged into the Musconetcong River.

So, I checked further and learned Holland Township has had some experience with solar and wind energy as well, having approved two solar projects and enacted regulations allowing small wind energy systems. The township has also done an update to its Farmland Preservation Plan and the April 9, 2018 included a draft prepared by its Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC). While solar and wind are Jeff Titell’s standard answer to how New Jersey should meet its future energy needs, the township has adopted a much more skeptical stance, as is obvious from these excerpts:

Proliferation of Solar Farms

Within the Township solar facilities are permitted as principal and accessory uses in certain zones…

Since the 2010 plan, two applications have been approved for solar facilities. The first site is known as Garden Solar located on Spring Mills – Little York Road. The application was filed in September of 2011 and heard between November 2011 and January 2012. The Applicant was approved to construct two solar arrays that are not connected to each other in March of 2012. The second is known as the Mill Road Solar Project, located at 10 Mill Road. This application was filed in January 2016. On November 14, 2016 the application was deemed completed. Public hearings occurred in January, February and May of 2017. The Board approved the application and memorialized the resolution in June of 2017. The site consists of Block 2, Lot 1.02 (abandoned paper mill buildings) and Block 4, Lot 1 (farm fields). The Applicant was approved to construct a solar farm facility consisting of three distinct solar arrays on the site, generating 8.9 megawatts…


A 9.9 MW solar system in Howell, NJ that will, in reality produce less than a third of that and consumes as much land as a gas plant with a real capacity of 200 ± times much power.

It should be noted that in 2009 the State passed legislation that added “wind, solar or photovoltaic energy facility(ies) or structure(s)” as inherently beneficial uses. The statute also permits renewable energy facilities on parcels of 20 or more acres owned by the same entity in all industrial zones.

In October of 2012, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued a Solar Siting Analysis…

The report provides two categories – sites preferred by the Department for Solar Development and sites not preferred by the Department for Solar Development. Page 5 commences the discussion of preferred sites, which are summarized below:

 Existing impervious surface
 Properly capped/closed landfills and remediated brownfields
 Landfills requiring proper closure and brownfields requiring remediation
 Barren and disturbed uplands

Sites not preferred by the Department for Solar Development are as follows:

Agriculture – Agricultural lands provide important and economically valuable ecosystem services including stormwater retention, preservation of soil and water resources, wildlife habitat, and carbon sequestration. … A solar project could potentially damage agricultural land, impede or reduce the productive agricultural capacity of the land for future use, and displace wildlife habitat.”

Natural and/or protected lands – “Solar projects on natural and/or protected lands such as forest, wetlands, flood hazard areas, wildlife habitat, open space, historic lands, etc. are also not preferred.”

…In reviewing any future solar applications, the AAC encourages the Planning and Zoning Board to refer to this guidance document in evaluating the site(s) selected by the developer.

The AAC is concerned about the impact solar facilities will have on the Township’s view sheds as well as the impact to farmland soils where these arrays are installed.

Wind Energy

In May of 2010 the Township Committee adopted Ordinance 2010-14, which permits small wind energy systems as conditional uses in the Limited Industrial Park District. There are 13 conditions. The maximum tower height is 120 feet. The Ordinance also permits small wind energy systems as an accessory use to a permitted farm that encompasses 20 or more contiguous acres within the Limited Industrial Park District. Small wind energy systems are also permitted as an accessory use to an agricultural use on at least 20 acres in the R-1 and R-5 Residential Districts.

As noted in the section above, wind energy facilities have been determined by the State to be inherently beneficial uses.

The AAC has expressed concern about the potential development of wind energy in the future. The Committee is apprehensive about the potential view shed impacts to what is otherwise a bucolic landscape.

The same document also raised concerns about the PennEast Pipeline (all non-issues in the real world) but that was to be expected. What might be surprising to some is Holland Township’s concern with the “proliferation of solar farms” and wind energy for some of the same reasons, mostly aesthetic. If preserving bucolic landscapes is the goal, we might ask how a solar or wind farm could possibly be less visually impactful than this pipeline near my home:


But, the bigger point is that energy choices, like doing anything else, involves tradeoffs and, as Tony Ingraffea learned to his regret in Ithaca, renewables are no easier to sell to NIMBYs than gas projects. The same people who oppose pipelines and power plants also oppose solar and wind when it’s tried on any scale.

Moreover, solar and wind are far more visually impactful and far more more land consuming per MW of energy produced than almost anything else. Holland Township has merely confirmed what I know from my professional experience in reviewing these projects for municipalities. Those opposed to gas also oppose solar and wind anywhere near their own properties, regardless of the worthiness of the project or their own previous statements supporting solar and wind elsewhere.

What Holland Township is learning, like so many others, is that there are no free energy lunches, despite everything Jeff Tittel and friends have told them. Energy production, like anything else, has impacts. We’ll see what happens with this proposed power plant. I can only imagine the opposition from Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Delaware Povertykeeper, who virtually runs the New Jersey Highlands Council, after all.

The post Holland Township Illustrates Renewables No Easy Substitute for Gas appeared first on Natural Gas Now.