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Coal caucus chair sees opportunity; Gulfport Energy strikes $1.85B SCOOP deal

Top News

Eversource, Danish utility partner to build Mass. offshore wind project

One of the world's largest offshore wind developers, DONG Energy, is partnering with New England utility Eversource Energy to develop DONG's proposed Bay State Offshore Wind project off of Massachusetts in which Eversource has a 50% stake. In announcing on Dec. 14 the partnership to construct the offshore wind project, the companies disclosed that Eversource acquired a 50% ownership interest in the Bay State project.

Underground gas storage operators will have 1 year to follow new federal rules

Gas storage operators will have a year to implement a federal regulator's first set of rules governing underground storage fields, spurred by the multimonth leak at the Aliso Canyon facility in California. The interim final regulation, issued Dec. 14 by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, incorporates by reference two of the American Petroleum Institute's recommended standard practices.

Coal caucus chair bullish on opportunity, certainty under Trump

As the U.S. Congress moves to close for the year, the chairman of the Congressional Coal Caucus, Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., told S&P Global Market Intelligence that he is bullish about the chances to revive the beleaguered industry and, above all, deliver on the promise of sector jobs. "This is one of those black-and-white issues," McKinley said, referring to the choice between President-elect Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.


* President-elect Donald Trump added three new members to his strategic and policy forum, bolstering the panel's tech chops with Elon Musk of Tesla Motors Inc., Solar City and SpaceX; Uber Technologies Inc. CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick; and Pepsi Co. Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi.

* The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a rule that extends the maximum term of federal permits to kill a limited number of eagles via potentially harmful human activities, including operating a wind farm, to 30 years. However, the long-term permits will be closely re-evaluated every five years, the agency said.

* A federal appeals court lifted an injunction against Connecticut's participation in a three-state renewable mandate for distribution utilities. In a Dec. 12 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd District threw out the temporary hold preventing Connecticut regulators from approving contracts pursuant to a request for proposals for renewables issued in 2015 for Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

* A task force commissioned by the G20 has developed "widely adoptable" recommendations for helping businesses disclose climate-related financial risk and opportunities. "What gets measured better gets managed better," said Michael Bloomberg, who chairs the task force.

* PJM Interconnection LLC is confident that its 183,665 MW of electricity resources is enough to meet forecast peak demand of 135,548 MW this winter. "With the added strength of resources meeting the stricter Capacity Performance requirements, we are in a better position to handle the cold weather," Michael Bryson, PJM vice president for operations, said in a statement.

* Hawaiian Electric Co. Inc. plans to request its first base rate increase in six years as part of its rate review application, according to company President and CEO Alan Oshima. The company expects any change to take effect by the second half of 2017, at the earliest.

* The University of Notre Dame will assume the rights granted by FERC to the city of South Bend, Ind., to construct and operate a hydroelectric generation facility on a dam in the St. Joseph River, as part of a 50-year lease. Construction of the facility is expected to start in October 2017, and full operation is anticipated to begin in early 2019, according to a news release.

Natural gas/midstream

* Gulfport Energy Corp. reached a deal to acquire about 46,400 net surface acres in the core of the SCOOP play in Oklahoma from Vitruvian II Woodford LLC for $1.85 billion, consisting of $1.35 billion in cash and about 18.8 million in Gulfport shares privately placed to the sellers. The deal represents the company's entry into the SCOOP play, according to a news release.

* The developer of the Plaquemines LNG export project in Louisiana told FERC it plans to submit a formal application by year-end, though that schedule may change depending on the commission's comments on one of the developer's recent filings.

* Oil and natural gas exploration and production company Stone Energy Corp. and its subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas to pursue a prepackaged plan of reorganization, according to a news release.

* Royal Dutch Shell plc named Jessica Uhl to succeed Simon Henry as the company's CFO. Henry's term ends March 9, 2017. Uhl, an American citizen, is the executive vice president of finance for Shell's integrated gas business.

* Norway's Statoil ASA reached an agreement to sell its Kai Kos Dehseh oil sands projects in Alberta to Athabasca Oil Corp. for C$832 million, including a C$435 million cash consideration and a C$147 million payment for 100 million Athabasca common shares. The deal will help Statoil focus capital on core activities globally, including offshore Newfoundland, Statoil's executive vice president for development and production international, Lars Christian Bacher, said.

* Houston-headquartered Keane Group, a provider of integrated well completion services, filed for an IPO with a proposed maximum price of $287.5 million. According to the SEC filing, the company plans to trade in the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol FRAC.


* Environmental organizations in West Virginia worry that the U.S. EPA under President-elect Donald Trump will no longer protect their interests and are seeking to intervene in a court battle against Murray Energy Corp.

* Joseph Main will leave the top post at the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration when President-elect Donald Trump takes office. Main, the assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, led the agency when the Upper Big Branch coal mine exploded in 2010.

* According to a new securities filing, Peabody Energy Corp. must file its plan of reorganization by Dec. 21.


* A bearish start to the trading week Dec. 12 has cast doubt over the ability of the natural gas market to maintain the previous week's upside breakout above $3.675/MMBtu resistance, causing traders to begin position-squaring before year-end. After making an overnight low Dec. 14 at $3.444/MMBtu, January natural gas futures rebounded by midmorning and were quoted 4.5 cents higher at $3.519/MMBtu.

* Power prices at the daily markets could vary Thursday, Dec. 15, as predominantly declining demand forecasts for the close of the workweek collide with support from the gas side. Gaining 6.6 cents in the prior session, front-month January 2017 natural gas futures were slightly lower overnight ahead of the Thursday open.

* Following a finish 6.6 cents higher at $3.540/MMBtu, January 2017 natural gas futures attempted gains but pulled back overnight ahead of the Thursday, Dec. 15, open, in positioning ahead of the midmorning release of the weekly storage report expected to show an impressive withdrawal from stocks.

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* The pace of regulatory activity remains fairly active, with about 87 electric and gas rate cases pending in 35 states and a few merger reviews and other proceedings being conducted across the U.S.

* On Dec. 14, the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority issued a decision authorizing United Illuminating Co. a $57.4 million, three-step electric distribution rate increase comprised of a $43 million increase effective Jan. 1, 2017, an $11.5 million increase effective Jan. 1, 2018, and a $2.9 million increase effective Jan. 1, 2019.


"Some of the basic NASA earth science is like that first domino. If you take it away, it's like knocking over that domino and all these other agencies and programs all the way down to people making decisions on their iPhones," said Brenda Ekwurzel, a senior climate scientist and director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The day ahead

* Enbridge Inc. and Spectra Energy Corp. will separately hold special meetings of stockholders at 3 p.m. ET to vote on their proposed merger.

* TerraForm Power Inc. will hold an investor call at 4:30 p.m. ET to discuss fourth-quarter 2015, full-year 2015 and first-quarter 2016 results.

* 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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