Eastern Shore Will Get More Marcellus Shale Gas from Northeast

Jim Willis
Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)


The Eastern Shore will get more Marcellus Shale gas soon. FERC has just approved another pipeline upgrade project that will send gas south with the geese.

Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company (ESNG), a subsidiary company of Chesapeake Utilities Corporation, filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Sept. 2018 to build 19+ miles of new pipeline and new meter and delivery stations in Kent and Sussex counties in Delaware, and Wicomico and Somerset counties in Maryland, to carry more PA Marcellus natural gas to locations in Delaware and Maryland. Last Thursday FERC granted final approval for the project.

ESNG, headquartered in Dover, DE, operates a network of natural gas pipelines in the Delmarva (Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) region. We’ve reported on a number of their previous projects (see our stories here).

We have to confess the Del-Mar Energy Pathway Project that ESNG filed in September 2018 escaped our notice until May 2019, when FERC issued a favorable environmental assessment for the project (see Del-Mar Energy Pathway Pipe Gets Favorable FERC Enviro Assessment). We like to keep track of these projects because they flow more Marcellus gas from Pennsylvania to new markets.

The Del-Mar Energy Pathway Project, by building small new pipeline segments in several locations, along with upgrading or building new meter and delivery stations, will flow an extra 14,300 dekatherms per day (14.3 million cubic feet per day, not all that much) of natural gas to new customers. The project will cost roughly $37 million to build and the target in-service date is second or third quarter of 2020.

Here is FERC’s final approval, which came by a vote of 2-1 in favor. The one dissenting vote was Richard “Dick” Glick, a hardened leftist Democrat who votes against all (we’re not kidding, ALL) new gas pipeline projects. He said the project doesn’t take into account mythical man-made global warming impacts.

Eastern Shore

Editor’s Note: Jim’s comment about Dick Glick might seem harsh but it’s fair. Glick responded to this project the same way he has been responding to all of them – thoughtlessly and politically. He says his FERC colleagues aren’t adequately studying global warming impacts, but he ignores what they do say. The environmental assessment points out the absurdity of trying to detail global warming impacts of a pipeline:

The Project would result in direct and downstream GHG emissions and would contribute to global increases in GHG levels. GHG emissions from construction and operation were included in table 10 and discussed in section 7.5, respectively as CO2e. The Project would transport a total of 14.3 million cubic feet per day of firm transportation capacity. As discussed in section A.2 of this EA, Eastern Shore would deliver the majority of this volume to local distribution companies to serve residential end-user growth and to meet demand in Delaware. A total of 2.5 million cubic feet per day of natural gas would be delivered to Valley Proteins, Inc. (Valley Proteins), a rendering company, for off-peak use to support new energy efficient natural gas boilers at its plant. Although the specific Valley Proteins plant was not identified in Eastern Shore’s application, and therefore the permitted air emissions from the plant is not searchable, the downstream burn for the volume of gas transported to Valley Proteins was calculated by FERC staff, and would result in annual emissions of 50,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. This calculation represents the upper bound of emissions because it assumes the gas would be burned 24 hours a day, every day of the year. This figure represents a 0.38 percent and a 0.09 percent increase in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in Delaware and Maryland, respectively, and a 0.0009 percent increase at the national level (EIA, 2018; EPA, 2018d). Currently, there is no universally accepted methodology to attribute discrete, quantifiable, physical effects on the environment to the Project’s incremental contribution to GHGs. Similarly, it is not currently possible to determine localized or regional impacts from GHG emissions from the Project or from end-use combustion of the natural gas transported by the Project. Absent such a method for relating GHG emissions to specific resource impacts, we are not able to assess potential GHG-related impacts attributable to this Project. Additionally, there is no widely accepted standard, per international, federal, or state policy, to determine the significance of the Project’s GHG emissions. Therefore, without the ability to determine discrete resource impacts, we are unable to determine the significance of the Project’s contribution to climate change.

Trying to estimate global warming impacts of shipping gas to the Eastern Shore, in other words, is a farce. The pipeline is but infrastructure and only indirectly involved anyway. Fossil fuels would likely be consumed regardless of the pipeline and be much more carbon intensive than natural gas, so how is FERC supposed to conclude the project might not be highly beneficial vis-a-vis global warming. Moreover, the operative word in global warming is “global.” The suggestion something that, at worst, might involve a 0.0009 percent increase in fossil fuel combustion at the national level could have a global impact registers 10 on the lunatic fringe scale for fear-mongering. 

Glick knows all of this, of course. That’s why Jim’s assessment of him is fair. Send him to the Eastern Shore and let him work in that rendering plant. 

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