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"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
                                           — US Senator Susan Collins, 2012 Jun 21


Latest News

2013 September 17

New England

Spectra, Northeast Utilities Propose $3B Fix for New England Gas Supply Woes — Natural Gas Intelligence [Paid subscription]

Spectra pipelinesSpectra Energy Corp. and Spectra Energy Partners (Spectra) along with Northeast Utilities on Tuesday launched their Access Northeast project, a $3 billion expansion intended to address supply reliability issues and spiking prices for natural gas in the New England market. Mainly, the project would target gas-fueled power plants and their peak-day gas demands.

Access Northeast would enhance Spectra's Algonquin and Maritimes pipeline systems, using existing pipeline routes. The project would be scalable and be capable of delivering more than 1 Bcf/d to serve the region's "most efficient" power plants and meet increasing demand from heating customers, the project partners said.

Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co's Northeast Energy Direct Project has been attracting interest from local distribution companies in the region, according to the Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (KMP) pipeline. Northeast Energy Direct is offering capacity scalable from about 800,000 Dth/d to 1.2 Bcf/d, or ultimately up to 2.2 Bcf/d, depending upon final customer commitments, KMP has said. Tennessee on Monday made its request at FERC to use the Commission’s prefiling process.

Analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. said Tuesday they think the Spectra-Northeast project “has [a] clear advantage” over the Tennessee project as it would make use of existing right-of-way for its entire length, while Tennessee would follow a partially greenfield route. KMP spokesman Richard Wheatley told NGI in an email that Spectra’s project “has no effect on the Northeast Energy Direct project.”

Historically, New England's pipeline capacity has been built for average daily usage while relying on supplemental facilities for high-demand times. Spectra and Northeast Utilities said they will partner with interconnecting pipeline and regional storage facilities to enhance grid reliability at peak demand times and augment existing pipeline facilities within existing right of ways.

The project is seen as a complement to Spectra Energy's previously announced Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) and Atlantic Bridge projects. The AIM expansion will begin to de-bottleneck the pipeline system by winter 2016-2017, helping to enhance reliability and reduce natural gas price volatility in New England. AIM is underpinned by long-term commitments from gas utility companies across southern New England. Atlantic Bridge's proposed in-service date is in November 2017, and it is expected to be similarly supported by gas utilities. Access Northeast will provide additional firm supplies, delivered directly to power generators. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]

Webmaster's comment: Downeast LNG is betting on Tennessee Pipeline — the least environmentally friendly pipeline expansion project.

Northeast & Midwest

Fines and jail time follow dumping fracking wastewater in violation of the Clean Water Act (Aug 6) — Safety Litigation

An Ohio federal judge sentenced the former owner of an oil and gas services contractor to 28 months in jail and ordered him to pay a $25,000 fine for dumping fracking wastewater in violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The defendant had pled guilty to one count of making an unpermitted discharge for ordering an employee to discharge the fracking wastewater more than 30 times over a three-month period at a facility in Youngstown, Ohio, which had fifty-eight 20,000-gallon tanks of the wastewater. The defendant had faced the potential maximum of three years in prison and more than $1 million in fines. The employee, who had also previously pled guilty, received three years’ probation at his March sentencing. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]

Gulf of Mexico

Gulf LNG submits operations update to FERC (Sep 4) — LNG World News

Gulf LNG Liquefaction Company and its affiliates submitted an activities report to FERC regarding the August pre-filing environmental review operations for the proposed LNG export terminal at Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Report states that the biological/wetlands and cultural surveys as well as geotechnical investigations were completed during the month.


United States: Socio-economic impact analysis of Alaska LNG project (Sep 4) — Mondaq

NERA was retained by Locke Lord LLP to conduct an analysis of the market and macroeconomic impacts of a proposed Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas (AKLNG) project. The AKLNG project is proposed as a single integrated and interdependent project for the export and sale of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in foreign commerce. The proposed project would include the construction of a natural gas liquefaction and export terminal on the south central coast of Alaska, a natural gas pipeline from the liquefaction plant to the North Slope region of Alaska (NS) and a gas treatment plant and associated pipelines connecting to upstream fields. The study thoroughly analyzes the natural gas market and macroeconomic impacts that the AKLNG project could potentially have on both Alaska and the U.S. as a whole.

Proceeding with the AKLNG project and exporting LNG would lead to lower natural gas prices in Alaska and the U.S. as a whole.

In addition to the reductions in natural gas prices, the benefits of the increased supplies of natural gas brought to market by the AKLNG project include eliminating reliance on imported natural gas to make up for ultimate declines in Cook Inlet production, additional revenues from LNG exports, and increased availability of natural gas for expansion of natural gas intensive industries. Even with the increased levels of natural gas demand in Alaska driven by LNG exports, lower prices, and greater economic growth, we find that our assumed levels of natural gas reserves and resources are sufficient to meet and exceed additional consumption needs in both scenarios.… [Colored & bold emphasis added.]

Webmaster's comment: One wonders how NERA concluded that exporting LNG from Alaska to non-US markets would lower natural gas prices in the lower 48 states. Other federally-sponsored reports indicate that exporting LNG from the lower 48 states will result in a rise in domestic natural gas prices.

NERA claims that the project would eliminate "reliance on imported natural gas." According to the US Energy Information Agency's U.S. Natural Gas Imports & Exports by State, Alaska is not, and has not been, a natural gas importer.

PDF fileEighteenth report to Congress on progress made in licensing and constructing the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline (Aug) — FERC

No progress has occurred since the last report on a project bringing Alaskan natural gas from the Alaskan North Slope to Lower 48 state markets. However, the Commission is ready to move forward to the next step in its NEPA process when the Alaska LNG Project submits a request to enter the Commission’s pre-filing process.

British Columbia

Digby Island being considered as site for LNG export terminal (Sep 4) — Northern View, Prince Rupert, BC

Filings from Aurora LNG, which signed an exclusivity agreement for land at Grassy Point, indicate the company is considering locating its terminal either near Lax Kw'alaams or on the southeast portion of Digby Island right at the entrance of the Prince Rupert harbour.

Anti-LNG banners ordered removed from Britannia Beach bluffs (Sep 4) — Pique, Whistler, BC

A Britannia Beach resident has been asked to remove anti-LNG banners, which he hung from the rock bluff near Highway 99, by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD).

As far as Fulber is concerned he followed all necessary protocols to hang them by including the Squamish First Nation in the decision to put the signs up. The bluffs are on unceded Squamish land, he contends.

According Fulber, on Aug. 28 the emergency program director of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) showed up at his door to serve a notice requesting he take down the banners.

So far, Fulber is refusing to remove the signs on several grounds including that he got permission from the Squamish Nation.

United States

Shale oil drillers deliberately wasted nearly $1 billion in gas, harming climate (Sep 4) —

In Texas and North Dakota, where an oil rush triggered by the development of new fracking methods has taken many towns by storm, drillers have run into a major problem.

…[I]nstead of losing money on pipeline construction [to ship the resulting natural gas], many shale oil drillers have decided to simply burn the gas from their wells off, a process known in the industry as “flaring.”

It's a process so wasteful that it's sparked class action lawsuits from landowners, who say they've lost millions of dollars worth of gas due to flaring. Some of the air emissions from flared wells can also be toxic or carcinogenic. It's also destructive for the climate – natural gas is made primarily of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and when methane burns, it produces more than half as much CO2 as burning coal.

A new report from Earthworks finds that drillers in North Dakota alone have burned off over $854 million worth of gas at shale oil wells since 2010, generating 1.4 billion pounds of CO2 in 2013 alone. The 1.4 billion pounds of CO2 produced by flaring equal the emissions from 1.1 million cars or light trucks – roughly an extra 10 cars' worth of emissions per year for every man, woman and child living in the state's largest city, Fargo (population 113,000).

Flaring at shale oil wells is now so common that satellite images of the largely rural state at night are dotted with what appear at first to be major metropolises but are instead the flares burning round-the-clock in the Bakken shale drilling patch.

Nonetheless, the EPA has decided to consider air emissions from each shale well, pipeline compressor or other piece of equipment individually when deciding whether there's enough pollution for federal regulators to get involved – meaning that even though the Eagle Ford's wells collectively pollute more than multiple oil refineries, the flaring escapes federal oversight. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]


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