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Tag Archive: Pittsburgh Business Times

  1. Marcellus/Utica Poised for Growth as Another Big Shale Play Slows Down

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    An expected drop over the next couple of years in the country’s hot crude oil and natural gas play, the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, will end up benefitting the Marcellus and Utica in the future, according to a natural gas executive.

    What has happened in the Permian has so far had a big impact here in Pennsylvania and the rest of Appalachia, which is the largest gas field in the country but doesn’t have the same output in crude oil. The mostly oil play has been booming over the last few years, and it has been throwing off natural gas and natural gas liquids in such quantities that it’s almost giving away natural gas and liquids. For natural gas producers in the Marcellus and Utica Shale, who are trying to make money off the gas produced here, the Permian associated gas has been dropping prices as well as competing for capital.

    But some projections show the Permian’s rapid growth may be declining — and the Energy Information Administration reported earlier in 2019 that year-over-year production growth has slowed from a peak in 2018. The Marcellus and Utica, for instance, continue to grow production. John Powell, SVP of marketing, supply and logistics for Crestwood Equity Partners LP, told the Marcellus Utica Midstream Conference on Thursday morning in downtown Pittsburgh, said that poses an opportunity after 2024 in Appalachia to provide for the natural gas liquids like ethane, propane and butane.

    “That gas is going to come from the Marcellus and Utica area,” said Powell. Crestwood Equity (NYSE: CEQP), a master limited partnership for midstream operations that has assets in the region, believes there’s pretty much enough pipeline capacity, with small exceptions, in the Marcellus and the Utica to handle the liquids that would need to be transported. But, Powell said, there might need to be more fractionation capacity – processing plants like MarkWest and Blue Racer Midstream — that processes natural gas into liquids.

    Despite a somewhat downbeat tone to the first day of the conference due to the immediate and near future term for natural gas producers and the midstream companies that take the gas from the field to market, Thursday’s sessions were more positive about the outlook. Presenters talked about challenges, including regulatory and activist. But they also said that the Marcellus and Utica midstream industry is likely to see growth with the use of ethane, a natural gas byproduct, as the raw feedstock for the Shell petrochemical plant in Beaver County as well as one proposed in Belmont County, Ohio, and potential other petrochemical plants that will spring up. And there’s also a potential to export more natural gas liquids to the rest of the world for future development. But the fast production growth has meant that there’s a lot of product that doesn’t have anywhere to go yet, said Jeff Pinter, EVP of NGL Liquids, a division of midstream provider NGL Energy Partners LP (NYSE: NGL).

    “The future is very bright. There’s a lot of demand coming … but we’re a little early on supply,” Pinter said.

    The main market for export in the future will be Asia, Pinter said. But those plants haven’t been built yet.

    And, said Wally Kandel, SVP of Solvay Specialty Polymers USA as well as a founding member of Shale Crescent USA, there are lots of opportunities to use the natural gas liquids here, either as polyethylene and polypropylene plants or in downstream manufacturing facilities.


    Article By Paul J. Gough, Pittsburgh Business Times

  2. First Look: West Virginia University’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute

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    Walking through the new WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute’s Innovation Center, you get the feeling you’re trodding into the future of the treatment of brain disorders and the scientific methods to improve human performance.

    One device, with only a handful in the world like it, delivers focused ultrasound from 1,000 different ultrasound emitters in a single helmet that is placed on the head. It has already been used by WVU Medicine doctors to successfully open the blood-brain barrier to allow for better treatment of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Another system has the patient puts on a multicolored cap with emitters and a handheld wand delivers transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat addiction and Alzheimer’s. And around the innovation center, there’s technology from souped-up gaming systems and virtual reality to a cryogenic chamber to speed workout recovery and a system that maps the nervous system, from head to toe.

    And that’s just scratching RNI’s surface.

    When the Rockefeller family and WVU Medicine envisioned the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, they sought a center that would draw leading experts in the fields of brain science and human performance as well as a place where cutting-edge treatments could be developed and deployed. That’s coming to fruition in the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, which opened officially earlier this year and has been breaking ground in the field. The finishing touches are being put on the Innovation Center, on the WVU Health System campus in Morgantown, West Virginia, where researchers are working and where patients will be welcomed for the latest advances.

    It’s a partnership between former U.S. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV and his family along with WVU Medicine and West Virginia University to bring together care, research and teaching centered in Morgantown but spreading all the way through WVU Medicine’s footprint. It’s led by Dr. Ali R. Rezai, a world-renowned neurosurgeon who has developed innovations to treat paralysis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other afflictions.

    And it’s that innovative spirit – and approach from many different specialities, as well as government and industry collaborations – that Rezai is bringing to bear at RNI.

    We’re always looking at rapid applications of new technology, and being one of the first in the world to do it,” Rezai said. “That’s one of our missions: Quickly deploy technology for patients.

    RNI and WVU Medicine have been in growth mode, part of a lot of building projects on the Morgantown campus. There are now 145 faculty, 73 residents and postdoctoral fellows and more than 700 clinic, research and administrative staff in four departments: neuroscience, neurology, neurosurgery and behavioral medicine and psychiatry. And there are several current and future RNI facilities. Beyond the Innovation Center, there’s also a neuro ambulatory and education center that is being built atop the nearby physician’s office center, the Erma Byrd Biomedical Research Center and a behavioral center at Chestnut Ridge. Then there’s also a brain and spine hospital that will be built in the parking lot behind the hospital.



    Article By Paul J. Gough, Pittsburgh Business Times