Dakota access protest 2016-17 horse pen

File photo of the Dakota Access protest. Legal troubles with Energy Transfer's Rover Pipeline have the Standing Rock Sioux Tribes renewing their calls to shut down Dakota Access. 

Energy Transfer faces a securities class action in New York federal court, filed by an investor who says the company downplayed its liabilities from a Federal energy Regulatory Commission investigation into the Rover Pipeline spill. FERC has proposed a fine of $40 million in connection with the inadvertent 2017 release of 2 million gallons of drilling mud, which ultimately reached the ground surface and flowed into a nearby, protected wetland.

Testing by the Ohio EPA found petroleum hydrocarbons in the drilling mud consistent with diesel fuel.

FERC’s investigation concluded that Rover had intentionally and routinely included diesel fuel and other toxic substances and unapproved additives in the drilling mud during its horizontal drilling operation under the Tuscarawas River in Stark County, Ohio to combat drilling difficulties, and keep up with drilling progress demands.

FERC also concluded that the company failed to adequately monitor the right of way at the site of the HDD Operation and that the company improperly disposed of the inadvertently released drilling mud that was contaminated by diesel fuel and hydraulic oil.

“I have long said that the Commission will remain vigilant in ensuring that the holder of a certificate of public convenience and necessity is in full compliance with every condition of that certificate,” Chairman Glick said. “I commend the Office of Enforcement staff for taking this important step to ensure the Commission has a full record in this matter.”

Energy Transfer Partners and Rover have 30 days to respond to the show-cause order released by FERC. After that, the Commission’s enforcement staff get 30 days to replay to Rover’s filing.

The incident adds fuel to ongoing legal disputes surrounding the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota, with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to include details about Energy Transfer’s environmental record on other pipelines that cross High Consequence Areas in a court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has continued to call for the shut down of the Dakota Access Pipeline while the EIS is conducted. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently paused the release of its draft EIS to meet with Standing Rock Sioux to discuss their concerns with the EIS.

Energy Transfer makes deal with China Gas

Energy Transfer also signed a 25-year agreement with China Gas Holdings subsidiary China Gas Hongda Energy trading.

Energy transfer all supply .7 million tonnes of LNG per annum to China Gas on a free-on-board basis. The price will be indeed to the Henry Hub benchmark, plus a fixed liquefaction charge. The agreement is for 25 years, with first deliveries expected as early as 2026.

“This LNG SPA signed with Energy Transfer LNG, which is the first long-term contract of China Gas, strengthens our existing portfolio for the import of LNG, and will further enable China Gas to reliably and securely meet our natural gas customers’ needs. It is also an important step along the path to realizing China’s carbon peaking and carbon neutrality goals,” said Yalong Qi, General Manager of China Gas Hongda Energy Trading Co., LTD.

Energy Transfer President Tom Mason, was equally pleased with the deal.

“China Gas is a premier natural gas distribution company in China, and we are pleased to enter into this 25-year LNG offtake agreement with them,” said Tom Mason, President of Energy Transfer LNG. “This SPA brings our total amount of LNG contracted from our Lake Charles LNG export facility to nearly 6.0 mtpa and is an important step towards our goal of reaching FID later this year.”

North Dakota DEQ gets $2.5 million EPA grant

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a Performance Partnership Grant of $2.53 million to the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality.

North Dakota will use the funds for delegated program activities, quality assurance, as well as regional and national data bases for environmental programs.

These address clean air, clean water, hazardous and solid wastes, drinking water, underground storage tanks, underground injection controls and radon.

The PPG grant allows the state greater flexibility to address its environmental priorities while simultaneously improving overall environmental performance, saving administrative dollars, and strengthening the state’s partnership with EPA.

API leads industry groups in urging Biden to act on stalled offshore leasing

The American Petroleum Institute, Consumer Energy Alliance, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and more than 80 trade groups representing a diverse cross section of American industries are urging President Joe Biden to act on policies supporting U.S. energy security and increasing domestic production of natural gas and oil.

In a letter to Biden, the groups also urged the Biden administration to implement a new five-year program for federal offshore leasing as soon as possible.

“For the U.S. to continue to be an energy leader into the future, smart and effective energy policies are needed today. However, your administration’s policies have often hindered domestic producers’ ability to deliver on this growing demand. Oil and natural gas leasing on Federal lands and waters has essentially stopped, despite court orders, and while DOI has taken steps to complete and implement the next 5-year Program, there will be an unprecedented gap between the current and next 5-year Program,” the letter states.

The letter follows on testimony from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland last month, in which she confirmed the Department of the Interior is far behind in its review and implementation of a five-year program, and will not have a new plan in place when the current program expires on July 1.

Offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico is 15 percent of natural oil and gas production. That production also has a lower carbon foot print than elsewhere int he world, the groups pointed out.

Without a five-year program in place, no new offshore leases can be sold.

“We are at a critical time where a lack of federal action and regulatory uncertainty may discourage companies from making the multi-billion-dollar investments needed to develop offshore resources in the U.S. and ensure the long-term viability of a lower-carbon national strategic asset,” the letter states. “If the door closes to new U.S. production, investment dollars will instead flow abroad to more active basins to the detriment of American workers, energy consumers, and the environment.”

The complete letter is online at https://tinyurl.com/5vfy8mnu.

North Dakota biofuel producers, refiners get $17.2 million

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced six grants totaling $17.22 million for biofuel facilities in North Dakota.

The funds came from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act, which passed the legislature in 2020.

The recipients include:

$6,777,977 to Hankinson Renewable Energy in Hankinson

• $4,562,256 to Midwest Energy Group in Underwood

• $4,259,723 to Red Trail Energy in Richardton

• $1,334,512 to Tharaldson Ethanol Plant I in Casselton

• $288,063 to Red River Biorefinery in Grand Forks

LIFT grant awarded to novel geothermal project

Terracoh Development, a Bismarck company developing an underground carbon dioxide sequestration storage process with the option of adding geothermal green electricity production at the site has been awarded a $748,790 LIFT grant from North Dakota.

The company is located in the western part of the state.

“The LIFT Committee continues to meet monthly to review applications and award funding,” Commerce Head of Investments and Innovation Shayden Akason said. “The innovation loan fund currently has over $6 million remaining to be awarded this biennium. Eligible companies may apply at belegendary.link/LIFT.”

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