Natural Gas NOW Picks of the Week – April 14, 2018

natural gas now - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

Natural Gas NOW readers pass along a lot of stuff every week about natural gas, fractivist antics, emissions, renewables, and other news relating to energy.

UK Solar Farms Pull in More Cash from Subsidies than Selling Electricity

The false notion that solar is getting close to natural gas in terms of financial feasibility is belied by this news from Britain; solar farms get more cash from subsidies than the electricity they sell:

Britain’s biggest solar farms receive more cash from green subsidies than from selling the electricity they produce, figures reveal.

Energy producers were encouraged to start solar farms with generous handouts funded by a ‘green levy’ on taxpayers’ bills.

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But many of them now make the majority of their cash from the subsidy – instead of the electricity they produce.

The total subsidy provided to all generators of solar electricity last year is estimated to be about £1.2billion…

Treasury officials have stopped new deals being made with solar farms in a bid to stop hemorrhaging huge amounts of cash.

Andrew Coumo, of course, is now pursuing the same failed policy in New York, which is surprising to no one who knows anything of Corruptocrat or New York State political correctness.

Unlike Tony Ingraffea, DEP Report Shows Gas Wells Do Have Integrity

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) just came out with a report  showing unconventional (shale gas) wells, contrary to everything Tony Ingraffea has been saying for the last several years, enjoy integrity. That is to say they don’t leak gas.

Unconventional and conventional operators are required to inspect wells on a quarterly basis for structural soundness to ensure that gas migration is prevented, leaks are managed, and groundwater is protected. They inspect wells for:

  • Leaks outside the surface casing, which is the outermost casing layer around the well, designed to protect groundwater;
  • Leaks outside the intermediate casing, which is the well casing intended to facilitate safe drilling of most shale gas wells to the depth where gas is found;
  • Gas flows or pressures inside and outside the production casing, which is the deepest casing layer in the well;
  • Escaping fluids (oil, gas, and saltwater); and
  • Severe corrosion.

DEP reviews operators’ submitted data for potential problems and violations.

A comprehensive analysis (including file audits and independent site verification) of data submitted in 2014 showed that less than 1 percent of operator observations indicated the types of integrity problems, such as gas outside surface casing, that could allow gas to move beyond the well footprint. The movement of gas or other fluids beyond a well footprint has the greatest potential to result in environmental concerns.

“Less than 1 percent” actually means 0.48% in the case of unconventional wells as the following table from the report illustrates:

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Take that, Tony!

New England Faces ‘Horror Story’ of Expensive Power

Pennsylvanian Robert Powelson, one of the new members of FERC is given to speaking a lot of truth, especially when it comes to New England:

New England is struggling to keep the lights on as it pursues aggressive clean energy goals, a dilemma that is so troublesome that the region’s power grid operator warns of blackouts if something doesn’t change.

“I am getting nervous in New England,” said Robert Powelson, a Republican commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees wholesale power markets, during a recent event hosted by the American Council on Renewable Energy. “It is almost like a horror story.”

The story is complicated, but its impact is not: Residents living in the six New England states face the highest electricity rates in the country, 56 percent above the national average.

Yet, lawmakers and regulators have repeatedly rejected projects, from wind and water power to natural gas pipelines, that could ease the situation…

Natural gas emits less carbon pollution than coal and is seen as a “bridge” to an era when renewable energy sources take over. But New England struggles to import enough natural gas from areas that produce it, such as the Marcellus shale formation in the Appalachian states, especially during the winter because of a lack of sufficient pipelines.

The region was forced to use dual-fuel power plants to burn carbon-laden oil for electricity during January’s deep freeze, known as the “bomb cyclone,” using about 2 million barrels. That’s more than twice the oil burned in all of 2016, according to ISO New England, the operator that runs the region’s power grid.

The strain was so bad that the French energy company Engie, which owns the Everett liquefied natural gas import terminal near Boston, imported LNG from Russia.

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“The bottom line really is demand for natural gas is growing faster than the infrastructure to deliver natural gas,” Chris Lafakis, the head energy economist at Moody’s Analytics, told the Washington Examiner. “When you don’t have enough of it, goods start costing more than it should. In terms of consumers, it raises electricity prices. Economics have driven the industry to natural gas in a big way. So, it’s a great fuel to use, but we need to be able to deliver it cheaply and reliably.”

Experts, regulators, and grid operators have called on policymakers in New England to permit the construction of more pipelines, or other energy infrastructure, such as transmission lines…

But politicians in New England have opposed large projects, even ones that promise to bring cleaner energy sources, because of worries from constituents about harming tourism and property values, and concerns about enshrining further use of fossil fuels by building long-lasting pipelines

Major proposed natural gas pipelines have been shelved, including Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct and Spectra’s Access Northeast, due to financial and political challenges.

New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee rejected the Northern Pass power line project in February, which would import cheap, zero-emission hydroelectric power from Quebec to New England.

The decision split New England states. Leaders in Massachusetts had hoped to rely on Northern Pass, and hydropower more broadly, to meet its aggressive clean energy goals.

Meanwhile, the company behind a planned offshore wind farm off Cape Cod in Massachusetts late last year gave up on the nearly two-decade fight to bring it to life, saying it is better off developing other forms of energy where there would be less opposition.

Powelson says investing in natural gas pipelines would allow for states to more easily transition to cleaner fuel sources.

“Renewables have to be a part of the conversation,” Powelson told the Washington Examiner in an interview. “Are we building coal plants in New England? That’s not going to happen. I respect that… But we need to have adequate resources in the meantime in order to support these markets, and in order to support new entry into these markets.”

The only thing Powelson didn’t say is this; New Englanders, especially Bay Staters, are spoiled children. They’re PC brats and NIMBYs who don’t want anything at all happening near them or anything happening at all that might conflict with their self-righteous political ideology. They’re also largely nose-in-the-air Bostonians who don’t know crap about energy and couldn’t care less about depending on Russiands for their heat.

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2 thoughts on “Natural Gas NOW Picks of the Week – April 14, 2018

  1. Like many interpretations of statistics, the bragging about the small number of wells with gas well leaks behind casing is misleading. Even a small number of leaking wells can result in contamination of aquifers or surface leaks. It is no comfort to one that is affected by one such leak to know that the leak is only one among many wells that did not leak. It is best to shoot for no such leaks and to quickly and effectively repair any leaks that are detected before any significant effects from the leaks are in evidence. It is, perhaps, better to look at the statistics of how many leaking wells resulted in contamination, how the contamination was cleared and how many leaks were shut off, preventing any ill effects of such leaks.

  2. The problem with this reporting is that “any gas detected” counts as a “leak” and it is likely that most of those are best described as “slow seeps barely detectable” like maybe 1 cc/minute. Using the generic term “leaks” without any idea of “rate” is grossly misleading, and is readily abused by the anti-carbon zealots.

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