Recent Stories

SGKH Parent Organization, Center for Energy Policy and Management, Hosts Students to Learn About Energy

About 20 local high school students visited Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) June 28 to tour the Clark Family Library as part of the W&J Center for Energy Policy and Management’s (CEPM) Living Energy Laboratory, supported by the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund. The CEPM is the parent organization for the Shale Gas Knowledge Hub. The students are part of a summer lifeskills class in the Upper St. Clair School District. During their visit, they took part in an interactive discussion about where energy comes from including a discussion of energy sources (coal, natural gas, and renewables).

Impact of the Impact Fee: PA IFO Releases 2018 Impact Fee Figures

Pennsylvania’s Independent Financial Office has released a report summarizing the performance of the impact fee in 2018. The report, which is released annually, discloses revenue figures generated from impact fee collections, as well as explaining the formula used to calculate the fee. Additionally, the IFO discusses its projections for revenues in the next calendar year.

Rail Traffic Linked to Chemical Production

While natural gas is not considered a chemical, it is a
feedstock for the chemical industry. Natural gas is used to make chemical such
as ethaline, propylene, and methanol – which are all chemicals that are widely
used in manufacturing to create items that we use on a daily basis. Chemicals derived from natural gas tend to be manufactured near
supplies. While Beaver County, PA has an ethane cracker plant currently under construction,
there are other local chemical producing plants utilizing natural gas. According to the AAR, the chemical/energy hubs near the Ohio River Valley,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are already the third largest
chemical production markets served by railroads; this is before Shell’s ethane
cracker plant begins production.

Pennsylvania Takes Steps to Strengthen Gas Liquids Pipeline Safety Rules

The PUC on June 13 announced it is considering two separate rule-making proposals involving safety of pipelines carrying petroleum products and other hazardous materials.

The first is seeking public comment on an advance notice of rulemaking order to be considered in making potential changes to comprehensive safety regulations. The areas that may be addressed include a number of subjects that were problems with the Mariner East II pipeline, which was built across the state, but also resulted in spills, water damage, several shutdowns, and fines.

The second proposal would require that pipeline public utilities would be required to file annual reports of a pipeline’s service life, capital investment plans and other financial reports.

Regulation and Oversight of Pipelines Carrying Natural Gas Liquids

Regulators and legislators are taking a new look at regulation of the pipelines that carry highly valuable gas liquids from the fracking fields of North America to the processing facilities and refineries that convert these liquids into plastics, fuels, and chemical products.

Wasted Energy: Texas’ Surplus of NG Emphasizes Need for Pipeline Infrastructure

Texas is home to the second-largest natural gas producing shale basin in the United States: the 86,000 square mile Permian basin. Though second in natural gas production, it is the top oil-producing shale formation in the nation, producing 8.52 million barrels of shale oil daily. While still operating as a top shale gas producer, the industry has shifted its focus to oil, wasting natural gas in the process.

District Attorneys go to Court to Block Flow of Contaminated Gas Drilling Leachate to Treatment Plant

Two Western Pennsylvania district attorneys in May took the unusual step of going to court to block a Westmoreland County landfill from sending water contaminated with gas drilling waste to a nearby treatment plant. The contaminated water, known as leachate, from the
Westmoreland Sanitary Landfill, is primarily precipitation that soaks through the landfill contents, picking up contamination. It is collected and piped to the Belle Vernon Municipal Authority’s treatment plant, and then discharged into the Monongahela River, which is a source of drinking water for residents in
four counties.

West Virginia Court Rulings Highlight Evolving Law on Property Owner Rights

Two recent decisions by the West Virginia Supreme Court
illustrate the evolving legalities over the rights of property owners near gas
drilling operations. In a ruling issued June 5, the court unanimously ruled that
EQT trespassed when it drilled wells on property owned by two Doddridge County
residents to access gas reserves on neighboring properties. While the company had a lease that entitled it to drill for
gas beneath their property, it did not have permission to enter the land to
build a new well pad to take the gas from thousands of acres of adjoining land. Unconventional gas well development involves drilling horizontal
wells deep into the earth, which then are turned laterally and can stretch out
a mile or more. After drilling, a process called hydraulic fracturing is used
that involves pushing fluids and sand under high pressure into the well to
fracture or “frack” the Marcellus Shale layer and allow the gas stored in it to
be released.

The Petrochemical Industry is Increasing Efficiency and Cutting Costs

Most people who have passed through Beaver County have seen the construction of Shell’s massive ethane cracker plant. The $6 billion facility that turns natural gas into various chemicals, such as plastics building block ethelyne, spans 340 acres and boasts two of the world’s largest cranes. The Beaver cracker is the first built outside of the south in two decades, but future cracker plants could use lessons learned in the south to make construction more efficient. Cracker plants are extensively capital and labor-intensive
projects. Depending on its size, a cracker plant can cost anywhere from $1
billion to more than $11 billion to build, with total costs often dwarfing
estimated costs.

Impact of the Impact Fee: PA IFO Releases 2018 Impact Fee Figures

Pennsylvania’s Independent Financial Office has released a report summarizing the performance of the impact fee in 2018. The report, which is released annually, discloses revenue figures generated from impact fee collections, as well as explaining the formula used to calculate the fee. Additionally, the IFO discusses its projections for revenues in the next calendar year.

Rail Traffic Linked to Chemical Production

While natural gas is not considered a chemical, it is a
feedstock for the chemical industry. Natural gas is used to make chemical such
as ethaline, propylene, and methanol – which are all chemicals that are widely
used in manufacturing to create items that we use on a daily basis. Chemicals derived from natural gas tend to be manufactured near
supplies. While Beaver County, PA has an ethane cracker plant currently under construction,
there are other local chemical producing plants utilizing natural gas. According to the AAR, the chemical/energy hubs near the Ohio River Valley,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are already the third largest
chemical production markets served by railroads; this is before Shell’s ethane
cracker plant begins production.

Pennsylvania Takes Steps to Strengthen Gas Liquids Pipeline Safety Rules

The PUC on June 13 announced it is considering two separate rule-making proposals involving safety of pipelines carrying petroleum products and other hazardous materials.

The first is seeking public comment on an advance notice of rulemaking order to be considered in making potential changes to comprehensive safety regulations. The areas that may be addressed include a number of subjects that were problems with the Mariner East II pipeline, which was built across the state, but also resulted in spills, water damage, several shutdowns, and fines.

The second proposal would require that pipeline public utilities would be required to file annual reports of a pipeline’s service life, capital investment plans and other financial reports.

Regulation and Oversight of Pipelines Carrying Natural Gas Liquids

Regulators and legislators are taking a new look at regulation of the pipelines that carry highly valuable gas liquids from the fracking fields of North America to the processing facilities and refineries that convert these liquids into plastics, fuels, and chemical products.

Wasted Energy: Texas’ Surplus of NG Emphasizes Need for Pipeline Infrastructure

Texas is home to the second-largest natural gas producing shale basin in the United States: the 86,000 square mile Permian basin. Though second in natural gas production, it is the top oil-producing shale formation in the nation, producing 8.52 million barrels of shale oil daily. While still operating as a top shale gas producer, the industry has shifted its focus to oil, wasting natural gas in the process.

District Attorneys go to Court to Block Flow of Contaminated Gas Drilling Leachate to Treatment Plant

Two Western Pennsylvania district attorneys in May took the unusual step of going to court to block a Westmoreland County landfill from sending water contaminated with gas drilling waste to a nearby treatment plant. The contaminated water, known as leachate, from the
Westmoreland Sanitary Landfill, is primarily precipitation that soaks through the landfill contents, picking up contamination. It is collected and piped to the Belle Vernon Municipal Authority’s treatment plant, and then discharged into the Monongahela River, which is a source of drinking water for residents in
four counties.

West Virginia Court Rulings Highlight Evolving Law on Property Owner Rights

Two recent decisions by the West Virginia Supreme Court
illustrate the evolving legalities over the rights of property owners near gas
drilling operations. In a ruling issued June 5, the court unanimously ruled that
EQT trespassed when it drilled wells on property owned by two Doddridge County
residents to access gas reserves on neighboring properties. While the company had a lease that entitled it to drill for
gas beneath their property, it did not have permission to enter the land to
build a new well pad to take the gas from thousands of acres of adjoining land. Unconventional gas well development involves drilling horizontal
wells deep into the earth, which then are turned laterally and can stretch out
a mile or more. After drilling, a process called hydraulic fracturing is used
that involves pushing fluids and sand under high pressure into the well to
fracture or “frack” the Marcellus Shale layer and allow the gas stored in it to
be released.

The Petrochemical Industry is Increasing Efficiency and Cutting Costs

Most people who have passed through Beaver County have seen the construction of Shell’s massive ethane cracker plant. The $6 billion facility that turns natural gas into various chemicals, such as plastics building block ethelyne, spans 340 acres and boasts two of the world’s largest cranes. The Beaver cracker is the first built outside of the south in two decades, but future cracker plants could use lessons learned in the south to make construction more efficient. Cracker plants are extensively capital and labor-intensive
projects. Depending on its size, a cracker plant can cost anywhere from $1
billion to more than $11 billion to build, with total costs often dwarfing
estimated costs.

Study Gauges American Attitudes Toward Natural Gas Exportation

A study published in the September 2018 edition of the
journal Energy Policy examined public opinion of natural gas exports in the
United States. Authors Johnathan J. Pierce, Hilary Boudet, Chad Zanocco, and
Megan Hillyard used polls to ask a variety of questions regarding natural gas
exportation. The study found that nearly a majority of respondents supported
exporting natural gas. When asked whether the respondent supported or opposed
exporting natural gas from the United States, 48.9 percent either strongly or
somewhat supported, while 34.3 percent strongly or somewhat strongly opposed. The researchers accessed a sample of 1,042 people from
across the United States using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, or MTurk, online
polling service.