Daily Hampshire Gazette, Opinion:
"On the trail of the natural gas shell game"
By RUDY PERKINS
AMHERST — We’re in the middle of a natural gas shell game. First the gas is overabundant there. Then the gas is short here.
Now the gas is being sent over there. Better watch closely the hands of the guys moving the shells to move the gas — like Kinder Morgan / Tennessee Gas Pipeline, Spectra Energy, Pieridae Energy, Liquefied Natural Gas Limited / Bear Head LNG and Repsol / Saint John LNG.
Last fall, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources launched a study that asserted the state could face a gas shortage of 0.6 to 0.9 billion cubic feet per day, on a few peak demand days a year, between 2020 and 2030. Kinder Morgan, and its subsidiary, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., have pointed to such New England shortages as justification to build more pipeline into Massachusetts. Their proposal, the “Northeast Energy Direct” pipeline, would move up to 2.2 billion cubic feet of gas a day from the Marcellus shale gas fields of Pennsylvania, to the Dracut junction with the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline (M&NP) that connects to the Atlantic coast of Canada.
The Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline has been bringing gas south from Canada to New England, but — watch closely now — gas shipping companies are now counting on reversing the flow of the M&NP from Dracut to take gas from New England north to Canada.
If we don’t have enough gas pipeline into New England to meet our current gas needs, why would the M&NP be reversed to take gas away from New England?
The answer may lie in a growing stack of gas export applications filed by foreign energy companies planning to take Marcellus gas out through Dracut north on the M&NP to Canada, for shipment overseas from new Canadian liquefied natural gas export terminals. Based on these filings, the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and other pipelines planned to deliver American gas to the doorstep of the M&NP, appear to fit into these LNG exporters’ plans, even if some of the Kinder Morgan project’s gas might come our way.
Last fall, there was a lot of talk of gas shortage in Massachusetts, about how we had to build more pipeline to get more gas into Dracut or the lights and the heat might go out in the Commonwealth.
But while talk of gas shortage here was being used to sell pipeline proposals to New Englanders, a Canadian natural gas firm, Pieridae Energy, was quietly putting the finishing touches on an Oct. 24 export application to the U.S. Department of Energy for shipping natural gas from Dracut north through the M&NP, up to a proposed LNG export terminal in Goldboro, Nova Scotia, to be loaded on ships for sale overseas.
And not just a little gas out for export. No, 0.8 billion cubic feet of gas per day, about what the Department of Energy Resources estimates we could be missing on peak demand days in a few years time.
Keep your eyes sharp on those shells.
Here’s what Pieridae told the DOE: “The natural gas ... is intended to be exported from the US and imported into Canada via the M&N [Maritimes & Northeast] Pipeline . . . connecting Dracut, Massachusetts to ... Halifax, Goldboro [Pieridae’s LNG export location], and Point Tupper, Nova Scotia.”
Pieridae added: “Although the present capacity of these facilities is not sufficient to accommodate the full volume of exports for which Pieridae US is seeking authorization, M&N US and other third parties have announced various projects to construct or expand pipeline infrastructure for the purpose of transporting natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica producing regions to customers in northeastern US and eastern Canada.”
Pieridae listed some of those pipeline construction projects that could help move gas from the Marcellus shale fields to customers (like Pieridae’s LNG export terminal) in eastern Canada, including, you guessed it: the Kinder Morgan / Tennessee Gas Pipeline Northeast Energy Direct Project.
That’s not a total surprise.
Last September, Kinder Morgan told FERC: “Potential Atlantic Canada customers [for the Northeast Energy Direct Project] include ... liquefied natural gas (‘LNG’) export projects.” Pieridae isn’t the only company hoping to move Marcellus shale gas through the M&NP to Canada for LNG export abroad.
On Nov. 6, Bear Head LNG Corporation applied to Canadian authorities for a license to bring 1.3 billion cubic feet a day of gas from the U.S. into Canada through the M&NP, or from other import points if they become accessible. The gas would be piped on to a proposed Bear Head LNG export terminal near Point Tupper, Nova Scotia, for shipping to international markets. Bear Head LNG is owned by the Australian company, Liquefied Natural Gas Limited.
On Feb. 25, Bear Head made a parallel export application to the U.S. Department of Energy. In it, Bear Head noted that Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct project would “transit gas from the Marcellus Shale region to the Dracut Hub in Massachusetts” and that new Canadian demand for Marcellus gas (like the Bear Head project, apparently) is “bolstering the need for additional New England pipeline expansion projects.” Didn’t follow the shells and the possible path of the gas? Here it is again: on new or expanded pipelines from the Marcellus to Dracut, then on the reversed M&NP pipeline from Dracut to Canada, then onto LNG tankers and headed abroad.
Bear Head attached an assessment of its export impact on the New England gas market where the base case assumed that Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, and Spectra Energy’s proposed “Atlantic Bridge” and “Access Northeast” gas pipelines, would all be built and operating by 2018, a year before the Bear Head export terminal would come on line, tapping gas through the M&NP. How convenient.
But the shipload of would-be LNG exporters hoping to use Tennessee Gas Pipeline and/or Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline connections to move Marcellus gas to Canada for export doesn’t stop there.
A couple weeks ago, Saint John LNG Development Co. Ltd. applied to Canadian regulators to import about 0.7 billion cubic feet a day of gas from the U.S. through the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, or such other import points as may become accessible, and to export the gas to international markets through a proposed LNG export facility in Saint John, New Brunswick. Saint John LNG is indirectly owned by the Spanish firm Repsol.
As Saint John LNG told Canadian regulators: “In the case of feed gas supply from the United States, gas would be procured from producers in the Appalachia [read: Marcellus shale region] and transported to Dracut or Beverly, Massachusetts via expansions or extensions of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline and/or Algonquin Gas Transmission systems. From Dracut, the gas would be transported on [the] Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline” to the Canadian border and then on to Saint John’s proposed LNG project in New Brunswick for export.
So, where’s the gas in the proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline / Kinder Morgan pipeline going?
Look again. Maybe we haven’t been watching those shells closely enough.
An update from the director of MassPLAN:
A few months ago, MassPLAN retained energy and regulatory attorney Richard Kanoff, of the Boston-based firm Burns & Levinson LLP, to assist in our efforts to stop the proposed Kinder Morgan NED project. Mr. Kanoff served as an assistant attorney general for Massachusetts specializing in energy matters. His experience encompasses all aspects of energy law, with a focus on renewable energy in recent years. He has been involved in numerous proceedings before FERC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and has also appeared before the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission.
Almost immediately after retaining Mr. Kanoff, we learned that one of the utilities that is seeking to purchase capacity on the pipeline, Liberty Utilities in New Hampshire, had filed for approval of its "precedent agreement" with Kinder Morgan at the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission. Precedent agreements with customers such as Liberty are what FERC looks at to determine whether there is a "need" for the pipeline.
We reached out to allies in New Hampshire and formed a new nonprofit, the Pipe Line Awareness Network for the Northeast, Inc. Just yesterday the NHPUC issued an order allowing PLAN for the Northeast to intervene in the precedent agreement proceeding.
This is hugely important because we are now able to use legal and technical experts to question the business case that Liberty and Kinder Morgan are making for this pipeline. This comes at a time when Kinder Morgan has just confirmed that it has not secured any more customers for the pipeline than were lined up last summer (although their carefully worded press release made it seem as if they had new customers). They are teetering on the edge of commercial viability for the project.
We are definitely having an impact.
PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO THIS EFFORT.
Please spread the word that the legal proceedings will be costly -- and every dollar will help and be used wisely.
Information on how to donate is available at massplan.org/donate -- checks can be made out to our fiscal sponsor, BEAT, with MassPLAN in the memo line, and mailed to Berkshire Environmental Action Team, 29 Highland Avenue, Pittsfield, MA, 01201.
Your support and all of your efforts to help stop the pipeline are deeply appreciated.
Kathryn R. Eiseman, Director
Massachusetts PipeLine Awareness Network
StopNED Coalition would like Open House Feedback!
We have created a feedback form to consolidated input about open house experiences. Having all of this data in one place will help us find inconsistencies in the answers people were given by Kinder Morgan, and help prepare for scoping hearings.
Thanks for any feedback you provide — whether you found something you heard surprising, troubling, or dubious. – Katy Eiseman & Cathy Kristofferson for the StopNED Coalition Landowner Outreach Team
Fill out feedback form on MassPLAN's website...
NE Young Adult Friends (Quakers)
Invitation to Join Pipeline Pilgrimage
The New England Young Adult Friends (Quaker) Climate Working Group invites you to join us in a pilgrimage along the route of the proposed Kinder-Morgan methane pipeline in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
- From last year's "Rolling March" along the pipeline route.
We must reduce atmospheric CO2 levels below 350 ppm immediately and that to do so requires an immediate phase out of fossil fuel use. Given this reality, the further expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure makes no sense. Every dollar invested in energy must be spent building renewable sources, like Cape Wind, instead of pipelines and power plants for fracked gas.
We are called to witness with our own eyes this pipeline route, to walk its length and to fathom the changes that must be made. We walk praying for clarity, determination and boldness to take the necessary next steps. We walk acknowledging that we do not yet possess the inner resources to live our lives fully into the reality that our scientific understanding of the climate crisis calls us to. We walk creating a community of climate dissidents, understanding that we need each other in these challenging times. We walk bringing public focus to the immorality of perpetuating the status quo, and to a genuine hope for a different future.
We invite you to join us to bear witness to the power of God in our lives to make a way out of no way, to move from what is dead and past to what is alive and new. This is a time for needed renewal and transformation. This season is one to roll away the stone and to see what new life may move among us.
The pilgrimage will be a 12-day walk from Pittsfield, Massachusetts along the 143 mile proposed pipeline route to Dracut, Massachusetts beginning April 1st. It will be Quaker-led and open to all, with opportunities for Worship, for meeting local community members working to stop the pipeline, and for fellowship.
We hope you will consider joining us. To find out more about the route, to sign up to walk, or to contact us visit our website!
»» Sign up to walk or lend logistical support for this endeavor!
Visit our Upcoming Events Page
for the latest meetings, presentations and actions
PIPELINE PILGRIMAGE • MASS ACTION AT FERC
SATURDAY — MARCH 7, 2015 — Ayer, MA
— Stop NED Fundraiser and Fun Night Out!
Music by The Yardsale Rejects
Dinner Buffet Compliments of Grumpy Chef and Lucia's Tavola
Door Prizes - T-shirts - LawN Signs
Take A Selfie With The Traveling Pipeline Trailer of Truth
6:00 - 11:30 PM
Markoh's on Main
43 W Main ST.
Order tickets via Eventbrite:
MONDAY — MARCH 9, 2015 — Greenville, NH
— COME SEE THE STEPHEN WICKS VIDEO, "You Don't Hear Much About THIS". Learn what having a compressor station in or near your town would be like. Be able to make an informed decision. Have the opportunity to listen, watch, learn, and ask questions!
Greenville Elementary School
16 Adams St,
Greenville, New Hampshire
SUNDAY — MARCH 15, 2015 — Greenfield, MA
— Stop the Pipeline, Go Green Fundraiser. Musicians and local artists including Court Dorsey, Pat & Tex, Richard Chase and Moonlight & Morningstar along with others will provide entertainment. There will be a silent auction, light refreshments and other events. Residents of Athol, Erving, Orange, Royalston, Warwick and other towns came together a year ago to form No. Quabbin Pipeline Action (NQPA) to stop the proposed 36" pipeline project. NQ Pipeline Action will continue to work on stopping the proposed pipeline and work for alternative solutions in the coming months. The proposed pipeline is still planned for Warwick, Northfield, Erving, Montague and other Franklin County towns.
Join with others for a good time and to help raise funds to support continuing work to stop the proposed pipeline. For more information call Lisa at 978-790-7352 or see www.northquabbinenergy.org/wordpress.
To benefit the NQ Pipeline Action group.
Now donations may be made to Millers River Watershed Council - "pipeline" ( 100 Main Street, Athol, MA 01331).
2:00 - 5:00 PM
14 Court St., Greenfield
SUNDAY — MARCH 15, 2015 — South Hadley, MA
— Project Native Environmental Film Festival. The Festival will bring a full day of environmentally themed films to the Pioneer Valley.
For those fighting the fracked gas pipelines, Jane Winn of Berkshire Environmental Action Team will be speaking briefly at the final film of the day, Groundswell Rising, which shows at 4:30 pm. Groundswell Rising has many similarities with the grassroots uprising against the fracked gas pipelines in our area. She will be available before and after the film to answer questions about the fight to stop the pipelines in Massachusetts.
For show times and details, see the Festival's Website.
South Hadley, MA
SUNDAY — MARCH 15, 2015 — Boston, MA
— "Local Environmental Action 2015″ is a great opportunity to join community leaders, environmental advocates and activists from across New England for an exciting day of skills training, networking, and inspiration. Go to: www.localenvironmentalaction.org
Curry Student Center
FRIDAY — MARCH 20 — West Cummington, MA
SATURDAY — MARCH 21, 2015 — HARTFORD, CT
— Nonviolent direct action and affinity group building workshop. This training will cover the history of nonviolent direct action, introduce some of the roles and skills needed to carry out direct actions and prepare people to organize affinity groups to carry out actions.
This training is being organized by FANG: Fighting Against Natural Gas. While FANG currently has a campaign underway to stop a major pipeline expansion in New England and would love your support - this training is also open to anyone who wants to use these skills to fight for justice as part of other campaigns.
If you plan on attending, please take a moment to complete the official registration form: http://bit.ly/1wRY8aR
9:30am - 5:00pm
Charter Oak Cultural Center
21 Charter Oak Ave
WEDNESDAY — APRIL 1-12, 2015 — Along the pipeline route
— Pipeline Pilgrimage, The New England Young Adult Friends (Quaker) Climate Working Group invites you to join us in a pilgrimage along the route of the proposed Kinder-Morgan methane pipeline in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
»» Learn more here.
WEDNESDAY — APRIL 22, 2015 — Albany, NY
— Earth Day 2015 Rally and ACTION, “It’s a Crime to Poison Us: End all Fossil Fuels – Renewables Now!” Family Friendly - Powerful Speakers - MUSIC - ACTION!!!
» Read More and SIGN ON HERE
We also encourage those that cannot make the trip to Albany to participate in SOLIDARITY ACTIONS or Create one of your own – we will post your event on our site.
11:00 AM - 8 PM
West Capitol Park
MAY 21-29, 2015 — Washington DC
— MASS ACTION AT FERC, a week of direct action at FERC Headquarters, organized by Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE).
»» Learn more here.
By Jack Guerino
Cheshire Asks Kinder Morgan For Information Presentation
|The Selectmen are hoping to set up informational sessions with Kinder Morgan and its opponents before the town votes its position on the controversial natural gas pipeline.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Kinder Morgan officials are willing to do a presentation on its plans for a natural gas pipeline — but only if they don't have to share the floor.
Selectman Robert Ciskowski told the board Tuesday that he had recently contacted Kinder Morgan to see when it could send a representative to give a presentation.
Cheshire would like to set up an informational meeting to inform residents before they hold a nonbinding referendum in the spring.
Ciskowski said Kinder Morgan will give a 15-minute presentation followed by a question-and-answer period, but asked that no oppositional groups be allowed to present alongside. Ciskowski said he would rather have both viewpoints represented.
"If we are going to do a presentation, I don't think we are really going to get the real picture if Kinder Morgan just does 15 minutes and then questions," he said. "I would really recommend that we push them to let someone else present so we can really give the voters both sides of this."
He said Kinder Morgan also asked that the meeting be held like a Selectmen's meeting so people could be "reined in" if need be.
"Right now they don't really want competition," Ciskowski said. "They said they don't want a debate forum, and I am guessing they have done that before and it didn't work out to well for them."
READ MORE ...
EXCERPTED FROM MARCELLUS DRILLING NEWS:
Kinder Morgan Fails to Sign Up
New NED Customers in Last 8 Months
Friday, March 6 — Yesterday Kinder Morgan announced they have contracts in hand for “anchor” shippers to use 500,000 dekatherms of capacity on the proposed new Northeast Energy Direct (NED) Project.
The interesting thing about yesterday’s announcement from Kinder Morgan is that there’s really nothing new in it! Other than the fact that they now have the officially signed agreements in hand. MDN brought you the same news about the same shippers signing up in the original open season last August (see Kinder Signs up New Customers for MA Pipeline, 63% of Capacity). Kinder continues, according to the announcement yesterday, to try and sign up more shippers. So the real news–for us–is that since August, Kinder hasn’t signed up any other new shippers, even though they’ve been trying to…
Here’s what Kinder said last August:
The Berkshire Gas Company, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation, Liberty Utilities (EnergyNorth Natural Gas) Corp., National Grid, Southern Connecticut Gas Corporation and three other LDCs.
And here’s what they said yesterday about those who have signed up:
National Grid, 186,963 Dth/d; Liberty Utilities, 115,000 Dth/d; Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, 114,300 Dth/d; and Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation, Southern Connecticut Gas Corporation, The Berkshire Gas Company, The City of Westfield Gas & Electric Light Department and others.
Same list, except we now know the name of one of the local utilities (called LDCs or Local Distribution Companies), which is Westfield Gas & Electric Light Department.
They also said this yesterday:
TGP is continuing to negotiate with potential shippers on the NED Project, including electric distribution companies (EDCs) and others, and expects to announce additional commitments at a later date.
Does lack of any new customers signing up in the last eight months signify trouble?
» Entire article available by subscription at Marcellus Drilling News
» Entire article available for free (by pasting "Kinder Morgan Fails to Sign Up New NED Customers in Last 8 Mos" into Google Search). THIS LINK should put it at the top of the list.
As New England freezes, natural gas stays cheap
Twelve months ago, tumultuous weather in the U.S. Northeast caused record natural gas price spikes and forced some power plants to shut for lack of fuel as power producers scrambled to outbid each other for scarce supplies.
This February, the region has shivered through the coldest weather in 81 years, yet gas prices are a fifth lower than a year ago after power generators, learning lessons from last winter, stocked up on extra oil and gas from domestic and overseas sources before the weather turned cold.
New England's power grid operator, ISO New England, provided incentives to encourage generators to lock in oil and gas supplies early, offering an end-of-season cash payout to cover any excess costs from unused fuel supplies, among other things. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) was also included in the program for the first time this year.
"Both the region's power grid and its resources have been operating well this winter, even through the arctic cold, and the winter reliability program has been a big part of that because it helped ensure that resources had fuel to operate when we needed them," said Lacey Girard, ISO New England spokeswoman.
To be sure, the amount of gas in storage nationwide this winter is 42 percent higher than last winter due in part to near record production mostly from shale gas fields, which has erased the kind of panic premium baked into last winter's gas prices.
Still, experts say there has been a marked difference in purchasing behavior this year that has dampened price volatility.
"Many generators signed up for the winter reliability program, even though compensation wasn't as high as last year, and other generators that didn't sign up, nonetheless kept their fuel stocks high to mitigate their own risks," said David Gaier, spokesman at power generator NRG Energy Inc.
That preparation paid off in February in particular.
"It's the coldest February in a lifetime for much of the U.S. Northeast," said MDA Operational Meteorologist Steven Silver.
Thomson Reuters Analytics said demand for gas in the U.S. Northeast averaged 23.3 billion cubic feet per day so far in February compared with 19.8 bcfd last February and a 30-year average of 18.2 bcfd.
Despite the brutal cold, however, natural gas prices have fallen.
READ MORE ...
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