Peaceful Protest, Sure. Eco-Terrorism, NO.

An Inside Sources article by retired U.S. Army General James ‘Spider’ Marks makes an important point: energy infrastructure sabotage is dangerous.

Recent news has shown us the downfalls of interfering with the construction and operation of large scale energy projects. Marks notes a number of recent events that have endangered or harmed environmental activists including:

  • Millions of dollars in damages to the Dakota Access Pipeline
  • 114 killed in Mexico when illegally tapping a natural gas pipeline
  • A series of Canadian bombing targeting pipeline infrastructure in 2008 and 2009
  • $500,000 in arson damages to the Mountain Valley Pipeline

Natural gas pipelines, for whatever reason, seem to be most frequently targeted.

Not only do these attackers put their lives on the line they also interfere with the energy grid at large. In 2016 a group of vandals known as the Four Necessity Valve Turners coordinated a break in of a secure facility to turn off valves controlling pipeline oil flow resulting in a security alert being issued by PHMSA, the nation’s leading pipeline regulator.

Actions like these are highly illegal but the disguise of “environmental activism” serves as a get out of jail – or avoid jail altogether – free card. Pennsylvania has also been victim to these action.

Activist groups like the Mama Bear Brigade or Philly Anti-Capitalists have irresponsibly chained themselves to heavy machinery, baited wild animals onto construction sites and damaged private property. Each of these puts their own and others’ lives at risk and should rightly result in jail time – Ellen Gerhart can attest.

Let’s not conflate peaceful activism with the eco-terrorism that is being pushed and OK’ed across the country, it harms not helps.

Peaceful Protest, Sure. Eco-Terrorism, NO.

An Inside Sources article by retired U.S. Army General James ‘Spider’ Marks makes an important point: energy infrastructure sabotage is dangerous.

Recent news has shown us the downfalls of interfering with the construction and operation of large scale energy projects. Marks notes a number of recent events that have endangered or harmed environmental activists including:

  • Millions of dollars in damages to the Dakota Access Pipeline
  • 114 killed in Mexico when illegally tapping a natural gas pipeline
  • A series of Canadian bombing targeting pipeline infrastructure in 2008 and 2009
  • $500,000 in arson damages to the Mountain Valley Pipeline

Natural gas pipelines, for whatever reason, seem to be most frequently targeted.

Not only do these attackers put their lives on the line they also interfere with the energy grid at large. In 2016 a group of vandals known as the Four Necessity Valve Turners coordinated a break in of a secure facility to turn off valves controlling pipeline oil flow resulting in a security alert being issued by PHMSA, the nation’s leading pipeline regulator.

Actions like these are highly illegal but the disguise of “environmental activism” serves as a get out of jail – or avoid jail altogether – free card. Pennsylvania has also been victim to these action.

Activist groups like the Mama Bear Brigade or Philly Anti-Capitalists have irresponsibly chained themselves to heavy machinery, baited wild animals onto construction sites and damaged private property. Each of these puts their own and others’ lives at risk and should rightly result in jail time – Ellen Gerhart can attest.

Let’s not conflate peaceful activism with the eco-terrorism that is being pushed and OK’ed across the country, it harms not helps.

New York State neglects natural gas infrastructure, now pays the price

A recent op-ed featured in the Wall Street Journal serves as an important warning of the costs accrued from stonewalling energy production and neglecting energy infrastructure projects.

New York State, which consists of part of the Marcellus Shale formation, is now facing potential energy shortages as a symptom of policies intended to neglect homegrown energy. A recent announcement from Consolidated Edison, a New York City energy utility provider, closed applications for natural gas connections beginning in mid-March. The decision comes on the back of policy prescriptions from the state’s Governor.

Though one company’s announcement may seem inconsequential neglecting the natural gas industry has had noticeable consequences for the state’s economy.

New Yorker drillers produced some 150 million cubic feet of natural gas a day in 2008. Since then natural gas production in the state has dropped so drastically because of policymakers actions that the Energy Information Administration – a government energy oversight agency – has stopped reporting the state’s natural gas production.

Diminished natural gas production has its costs. Not only is the state facing an energy shortage but two-thirds of natural gas consumed in New York is produced in Pennsylvania which employees 106,000 in the industry in Pennsylvania creating $247 million in gas related fees for the state’s government.

Let New York State serve as an example of the costs of neglecting energy infrastructure. Natural gas brings visible benefits to communities by creating jobs, tax revenue, and contributing to the nation’s growing energy sector. Pennsylvania must continue to pave the way for natural gas.

Safety Responders Execute Appropriately

Local Pennsylvania news outlets and environmental activists were up in arms this week over a reported butane leak at the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex though they have all missed a key point: plant employees and responders with hundreds of hours of safety trainings responded and executed their duty to ensure public safety perfectly.

For those unfamiliar, the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex traditionally processed crude oil from Texas but was recently converted to process natural gas liquids from the Mariner East pipeline system as well as serving as a distribution hub for refined products.

The Borough of Marcus Hook Facebook page broke news of the butane leak but noted that no evacuations were needed and temporary road closures were only taken as a best practice precaution. Safety responder quickly concluded that the leak was contained and no additional safety measures were required.

PPR encourages all Pennsylvania residents to acknowledge the due diligence the energy industry abides by, especially concerning public safety. Additionally, PPR applauds safety responders for remaining steadfast in their obligations to us all.

PA State Senator Dinniman Clumsily Tells One Side of the Story

Pennsylvania State Senator Andy Dinniman is in the news again. The pipeline opponent has turned his sights away from the Mariner East project to critique Pennsylvania’s energy industry efforts to push for projects.

Sen. Dinniman suggested in a Daily Local News article that the pipeline lobby runs rampant in Harrisburg as evidenced by their spending from 2012 and onward. In return, local activist groups praised the politician for “helping shine a light” on lobbying expenditures in the capital.

However, the senator’s words are painfully tone deaf and highlight what appears to be a short or selective memory. Sen. Dinniman is not so quick to own up to using taxpayer money to fund a frivolous lawsuit against energy producers in the state with an activist law firm that has represented other pipeline opponents.

Energy producers are cornered into increased and likely unnecessary lobbying expenditures because of ideological anti-pipeline rhetoric purported by Sen. Dinniman and co. who refuse to accept multiple risk assessments, judicial rulings, and regulator assurances of pipeline safety.

Local Media Trust Ideologue – Not Expert – With Geological Advice

News of a small sinkhole in West Whiteland Township in Chester County has captured the attention of local residents and media throughout southeast Pennsylvania though mostly as an opportunity to disparage the Mariner East 1 and 2 projects.

In an article titled “Another sinkhole appears in Chester County neighborhood, exposing Mariner East pipeline” The Inquirer incorporated a number of perspectives for insight, though some sources seem more questionable than others.

Energy Transfer, the parent company for Mariner East 1 and 2, released the following statement that was circulated in the article “We are working in coordination with the Pennsylvania PUC’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement and its consultants to perform activities to ensure the area remains stable. It is too early to know additional details at this time.”

Additionally the Bureau of Investigation concluded that “No injuries were reported, no one was evacuated, public safety was not affected, and the pipeline was not damaged,”

Eric Friedman, spokesman for local pipeline opposition group Del – Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, was quoted calling the land’s geological makeup “unstable.” Friedman mistakenly conflates “topography” and “geology,” specifically the “karst topography” that exists in Southeast Pennsylvania.

A layman passing as technical experts as Mr. Friedman continually does, are not credible sources of information. Mr. Friedman’s preference is more to muddy the water and spread faulty information, which does the community a disservice. Public safety is the top priority of infrastructure developers, regulators, and local communities alike and always will be.

Northeast Next to Boon Pending Infrastructure

The northeast’s critical pipeline infrastructure is sparsely strewn about the region and lacks full capability to provide for the region. With its large, and growing population, as well as its proximity to huge domestic reserves like the Marcellus and Utica shale reserves the northeast is poised for pipeline expansion. A Petrochemical whitepaper takes a look at the landscape for 2019 and 2020-2025 and the unique advantages and challenges the region presents. What is certain is that the northeast’s energy potential is yet to be fully realized and a robust natural gas industry could fulfill energy and economic needs for the region.

Northeast advantages:

  • The northeast is strategically located amongst numerous natural gas reserves including the Marcellus and Utica shale reserves and is also relatively close to the Rogersville reserves, sizes of which industry experts are not yet sure.
  • Manufacturing markets are abundant in the Midwest, East Coast, and Canada.
  • The scale of natural gas pipeline and power plant projects will guarantee significant employment opportunities throughout the region.
  • Ethane rejection can be avoided because of the northeast’s capabilities to make use of ethane.

Northeast and Ethane:

When transporting natural gas many pipeline companies and operators must burn off ethane in the gas stream to fuel the resources’ movement towards its destination because of lacking ‘hubs’ to connect supply and demand points. The northeast already has a number of these hubs and a viable ethane market. Industry experts anticipate an increase in the production and monetization of ethane thanks to these capabilities. Additionally, experts see the northeast’s use of ethane as an opportunity to kick start the proliferation of ethane utilities across the nation. The northeast has the chance to benefit from and create an energy trend.

Tri-State Shale Agreement

The Tri-State Shale Agreement, comprised of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, was extended through 2021 for the states to work together to develop shale and natural gas resources afforded to them through the Marcellus and Utica shale reserves.

With more than 70% of North American plastics customers within a 700-mile radius of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania prioritizing development in this area is key to long-term success. It seems that the states themselves recognize that no matter where central development takes place it will be a boon for the entire region. This agreement has done a good job at pushing actual cooperation and its extension into 2021 is an encouraging sign.

Employment Impact

Recently announced and commissioned projects have opened a magnifying lens on the employment opportunities associated with such large projects. Some of the most recent announcements include a Shell Cracker in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, a PTT Global Chemicals plant in Belmont County, Ohio and a Braskem location in Wood County, West Virginia.

If the aforementioned projects move forward and go on to produce as estimated researchs anticipate 25,000 direct jobs, 45,000 indirect jobs and 32,000 payroll induced jobs. Three projects alone could create 100,000 jobs and nearly $6 billion in payroll.

Since 2010 333 shale – related projects have been announced and cumulatively valued at $202 billion. It is obvious that these undertakings can give any region a facelift.

Infrastructure Updates

To ensure that projects like these are feasible and transportation of natural resources is guaranteed the report acknowledges updates that need to be made to the current transportation methods. Delivered costs are often dependent on location and logistics, which have increased thanks to reliance on rail transportation particularly in the northeast.

To overcome expense challenges the northeast must prioritize pipelines for delivery which should help ease some of the communication, forecasting, and timing troubles industry members have noted.

Conclusion

Northeast natural resources remain largely under-utilized. While the opportunities being realized throughout the other regions of the country are certainly worthy of celebration the energy industry must realize just how fickle some opportunities can be. To advance the United States’ energy agenda the northeast must be utilized like the rest of the country. Critical infrastructure must continue to be a priority for the local, state and federal governments.

Mariner East 2 Enters Operation Before New Year

On December 29th Energy Transfer announced the completion and operationalization of its Mariner East 2 pipeline. The 350 mile pipeline facilitates natural gas liquid transport from the Marcellus and Utica shale reserves in Ohio, West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in Delaware County, PA.

The multi-year project has made significant contributions to the Pennsylvania economy. An impact study by EConsult Solutions estimated more than 9,500 construction jobs per year were created for the project. In Pennsylvania alone the $9.1 billion construction costs resulted in $2.7 billion of associated earnings for communities and locals, according to the study.

Mariner East 2 is the second component in the larger ‘Mariner East’ pipeline system that hopes to help Pennsylvania realize its full energy potential. Mariner East 2 will allow for increased transport capacity, now totaling 345,000 barrels a day in conjunction with the Mariner East 1 line.

For Pennsylvania at large the completion of the Mariner East 2 pipeline signifies a critical step for Pennsylvania towards leading the nation’s push to energy independence. It is precisely projects like the Mariner East 2 pipeline that bring safe and sustainable energy to the state alongside long-term economic prosperity. The Pennsylvania Pipeline Review looks forward to the continued success of natural gas and its critical infrastructure components.

West Goshen Risk Assessment Breakdown PT. 2

Following yesterday’s blog  discussing the outstanding safety and quality of the 12 inch supplemental line temporarily being used to transport natural gas liquids through West Goshen Township focus will be turned to the emergency preparedness Sunoco has committed to in West Goshen and throughout the Mariner East pipeline project.

For those that missed part one, Richard Kuprewicz, President of Accufacts, found that “Sunoco meets and exceeds the requirements of federal pipeline safety regulations. These additional precautions reflect the level of respect that transporting such materials in a HCA should require in a prudent pipeline operation. Accufacts thus concludes that the 12-inch Repurpose Project spanning WGT meets or exceeds the prudent technical approaches commensurate with the safe transportation of HVL.” After reviewing information provided by Sunoco.

Regulatory Oversight:

Pipeline operators and builders are subject to strict regulation. Federal and state entities oversee the construction and operation.

At the federal level the Department of Transportation, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA, a subsection of the Department of Transportation dedicated to pipelines). These agencies ensure interstate pipelines meet all national standards that they themselves set.

As determined by the Pennsylvania legislature, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is responsible for directing and enforcing safety standards for “pipeline facilities and to regulate safety practices of certificated utilities engaged in the transportation of natural gas and other gas by pipeline.”

The combination of federal and state oversight creates a network of pipeline experts that work together to ensure pipeline companies are held to and encouraged to surpass the highest standard of safety.

Compliance in West Goshen:

After review Kuprewicz found that Sunoco prepared the 12 inch supplemental line in complete compliance with federal and state regulations. This includes installing automatic valve shuts offs, as well as remote and manual capabilities.

Kuprewicz continued, offered: “Since it had been some time since I had reviewed this system, this was discussed in detail with Sunoco as it relates to the 12inch project.  It is my opinion that Sunoco has provided prudent design and installation of safety equipment to assure timely and automatic system shutdown.  The control room operator can also manually initiate an automatic shutdown of the pipeline system at any time.

It is obvious that Sunoco has incorporated layers of protection into their pipeline systems, especially the Mariner East project. The supplemental line benefits from mechanical capabilities as well as human monitoring and input in the unlikely case it be needed.

Like the official Mariner East 1 and Mariner East 2 pipelines the West Goshen supplemental line makes use of the same computer monitoring system that continuously checks for leaks. For maximum safety “The computer system when triggered can automatically and quickly shut down pumps and close mainline isolation valves.  As in the previous Mariner East projects, an independent non-automatic additional leak detection system will be employed across the 12-inch pipeline intended to assist control room personnel in identifying possible lower rate pipeline releases, who then can intervene to initiate pipeline shutdown and isolation.

Conclusion:

Though the Accufacts study focuses on the supplemental line in West Gosh Township the safety measured shared with what will be a temporary line in the Mariner East pipeline system shows the diligence and attention to detail Sunoco has committed to throughout the project to maximize public safety. This fact should not be overlooked.

West Goshen Risk Assessment Breakdown Pt. 1

A risk assessment conducted by Accufacts Inc., using industry sensitive information from Sunoco, was recently released and presented to the public. The study specifically evaluated potential risk from the 12-inch supplemental line being used to move natural gas liquids eastward between portions of Mariner East 2 and Mariner East 2X through West Goshen Township.

The assessment found: “As discussed further below, the 12-inch pipeline meets or exceeds federal pipeline safety regulations for HVL liquid transmission pipeline service.” Reiterating what Sunoco and Energy Transfer have long guaranteed about their natural gas pipelines.

Methodology:

Accufacts specializes in technical and safety evaluation and planning for pipeline siting, design, operation, maintenance, emergency response, and regulatory requirements. The firm has previously been retained to conduct risk assessments in Pennsylvania. Accufacts worked alongside the West Goshen Township legal team and Sunoco to draw up a Nondisclosure Agreement so that corporate specifics about the pipeline could be accounted for in their study. Accufacts admitted that pipeline differences such as diameter factor into risk and deemed industry specifics necessary to complete a thorough assessment.

Supplemental Line Facts:

  • 24 miles of an existing 12-inch line will be used to interconnect a western portion of ME 2 and an eastern segment of ME 2X, which is 16 inches in diameter.
  • End destination is the Sunoco Marcus Hook facility
  • The supplemental line does not use any pump stations
  • Will carry 150 to 160 MB/D of butane or propane liquids

Pipeline Integrity and Safety Measures:

Accufacts notes that though the pipeline was installed in 1937 of seamless Grade B steel the risk of cracking or a loss of pipeline integrity is overstated. In fact, the report provides the following: “As mentioned in previous reports, pipe steel, even pipe steel manufactured over 80 years ago, does not age or wear out like some older materials such as cast or wrought iron that can be “age” sensitive. Pipe steel has essentially an infinite life if properly maintained and operated within its design parameters, and periodically assessed as to its integrity.

Pipe age is a poor risk predictor and many of the nation’s older pipes are more resilient to hydrostatic testing because of safety factors during manufacturing.

Accufacts concluded that Sunoco went above and beyond the standard safety measures required by state and federal regulators through the use of hydrostatic testing and ‘smart pigs’ – devices used to scan the integrity of the inside of pipelines. Additionally, another round of hydrostatic and ‘smart pig’ tests were run for added certainty.

As an added layer of security Sunoco has agreed to convert the manual valve station controlling the supplemental line to be compatible with remote functions and like Mariner East 1 and 2 an automatic pipeline shutdown feature has been incorporated. All of these measures sum to show the township, and broader state of Pennsylvania, that safety and security are the top priority.

Conclusion:

Richard Kuprewicz, the President of Accufacts, signed off on the report officially determining the supplemental line through West Goshen Township to be safe and that “Sunoco meets and exceeds the requirements of federal pipeline safety regulations. These additional precautions reflect the level of respect that transporting such materials in a HCA should require in a prudent pipeline operation. Accufacts thus concludes that the 12-inch Repurpose Project spanning WGT meets or exceeds the prudent technical approaches commensurate with the safe transportation of HVL.