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Wildfires dominate electric utility focus; EIA projects coal export decline


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Wildfires dominate electric utility focus; EIA projects coal export decline

Top News

Wildfires, robust capital plans dominate electric utility focus in Q4

Electric utilities in the U.S. are funneling billions of dollars into infrastructure to support long-term earnings growth amid the push for cleaner and smarter energy choices.

Another oil shock could stun Saudi Arabia more than US, experts say

American shale oil production has become such a global force that a debate at a major industry conference was not how much any potential price shock would damage the United States but how much it would hurt Saudi Arabia.

EIA projects decline of coal exports, production this year and next

The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects coal exports will slide this year and next after providing welcome relief for U.S. producers in 2018, while projecting that domestic production will also decline.

Oil, gas likely to stay major fuels for years, but producers need to spend more

Despite increasing renewable energy in recent years and an ongoing push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, oil and natural gas are likely to remain a major part of the world's energy mix for the next at least 15 years, veteran industry observer and long-time Hess Corp. CEO John Hess said March 11.


"We're in one of those boom periods in the sector where there is a lot of cheap capital and infrastructure needs. That pairing leads to some significant capital spending budgets for almost every utility right now," Morningstar Research Services LLC analyst Travis Miller said on electric utilities' plans to pour billions of dollars into infrastructure to support long-term earnings growth amid the push for cleaner and smarter energy choices.


* District attorneys for Napa, Humboldt, Sonoma and Lake Counties in California have decided not to file criminal charges against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in relation to the October 2017 wildfires in Northern California.

* Following the New Mexico state Senate's passage of a bill to increase the state's renewable portfolio standard from 20% to 50% by 2030, the state House of Representatives on March 12 also approved the bill, which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is expected to sign into law.

* The Alberta Electric System Operator's proposed electricity capacity market design could result up to C$1.4 billion in additional costs for consumers, the Calgary Herald reported, citing consumer groups and key players in the sector.

* Some Maryland lawmakers gave a skeptical reception to a proposal to set a carbon pollution charge, calling the idea well intended but asserting that it could end up hurting residents and businesses in the state.

* In his $25 billion budget proposal, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is asking legislators for $300,000 to study the state's potential for offshore wind, according to Energy News Network.

Natural gas

* Freeport LNG Development LP should be ready to ship its first export cargo in July, at the beginning of the 2019 hurricane season and nearly two years after flooding from Hurricane Harvey helped cause a delay for the Texas facility.

* The Colorado state Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that would overhaul regulation of the state's oil and gas industry, The Denver Post reported.

* "From shale to scale," technology has the ability to drive efficiency and performance in shale drilling in the Permian Basin and elsewhere, Chevron Corp. Chairman and CEO Mike Wirth said March 12 in Houston at CERAWeek by IHS Markit.

* A Michigan judge upheld a recent state law allowing for the creation of a new authority to oversee construction and operation of a tunnel that would house a replacement segment for Enbridge Inc.'s Line 5 oil pipeline, The Detroit News reported.

* Adam LNG has been the only vessel that left for China in 2019 from Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Sabine Pass export terminal in Louisiana, Reuters reported, citing shipping data.

* The Oklahoma House approved a bill that would give mineral rights owners the right to sue municipalities which establish permitting requirements that bar them from developing assets for oil and gas operations, The Oklahoman reported.

* Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has opened an investigation into Energy Transfer LP's Mariner East 2 NGL pipeline. The case was referred by the Delaware County district attorney, Shapiro said in a tweet.


* U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said it is unclear if there is commercial interest in drilling in U.S. Arctic waters, but said regulators should keep the option open for producers.

* The EPA is proposing to allow year-round sale of gasoline blended with up to 15% ethanol. The agency is also proposing to modify elements of the renewable identification number compliance under the renewable fuel standard program to enhance transparency in the market and deter price manipulation.

* Private equity's flexibility, coupled with insufficient federal government support, drove investment firm Carlyle Group LP and the Port of Corpus Christi to team up on a proposed export terminal that would bring the world's biggest crude tankers to the U.S. Gulf Coast, representatives from both parties said.

* Royal Dutch Shell PLC wants the Trump administration to tighten methane emissions rules for the oil and natural gas industry, according to Reuters.

* The passage of U.S. legislation that would allow lawsuits to be filed against OPEC for price fixing would not be in the best interest of the country or the industry as a whole, an OPEC official said on the sidelines of CERAWeek by IHS Markit on March 12.

* Six oil companies submitted bids in Ecuador's oil auction, including Russia's Zarubezhneft and the United States' Flamingo Operating, Reuters reported.


* The U.S. Labor Department secretary's office filed a limited objection to Mission Coal Co. LLC's Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plan, calling on the company to include a provision to pay for claims incurred but not yet reported under its self-funded health plans.

* Hallador Energy Co. raised its 2019 sales guidance to 8.2 million tons from 7.3 million after its subsidiary Sunrise Coal Co. LLC contracted 12 million tons in additional coal sales from 2019 to 2022.

* U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler is encouraging foreign customers to buy American oil, coal and natural gas because it is "cleaner" than those from other countries.


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The U.S. is seeing growth of energy storage capacity, particularly storage technologies colocated at power plants, to integrate a growing amount of renewable energy resources into the grid.

New from RRA

* A Michigan Public Service Commission administrative law judge recommended on March 6 that the PSC authorize DTE Electric Co. a permanent increase in electric rates of $113.7 million, or 2.3%.

The day ahead

* The U.S. Energy Information Administration petroleum status reports is due out today.

* Early morning futures indicators pointed to a mixed opening for the U.S. equity markets. To view more SNL equity market indexes, click here. To view more SNL Energy commodities prices, click here.

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