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Clouds gather over clean energy boom; Dominion, SCANA complete merger


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Clouds gather over clean energy boom; Dominion, SCANA complete merger

Top News

Clouds gather over clean energy boom in emerging markets

In Latin American capitals like Santiago, Lima and Buenos Aires, Enel SpA can "see the energy transition coming," Francesco Starace, CEO of the Italian energy giant, told investors in late November.

Canadian oil majors to boost spending, output in 2019 despite pipe storage

Canada's biggest oil companies are looking beyond government-mandated production cuts and a swamped export pipeline grid with 2019 spending plans designed to take advantage of an expected upturn in the industry.

US coal sector's credit health stabilizing on export opportunities

U.S. coal producers' credit quality has generally stabilized over the past two years as companies focus on shareholder returns and increased capital spending after many producers cleansed the debt from their balance sheets through bankruptcy restructurings.


"Given the fact that policy is being so greatly outpaced by technology, I would think that the only responsible course of action is to push the envelope of what's possible," said former Gov. Martin O'Malley.


* Dominion Energy Inc. and SCANA Corp. have completed their merger, forming a combined entity that serves 6.6 million electric and gas customer accounts and 800,000 competitive and regulated, last-resort natural gas customer accounts. Upon completion, each SCANA share was converted into 0.6690 share of newly issued Dominion Energy common stock, resulting to a transaction value of approximately $6.8 billion. Dominion also assumed about $6.6 billion of SCANA debt.

* NextEra Energy Inc. closed the acquisition of northern Florida electric utility Gulf Power Co., marking the completion of the three transactions it announced with Southern Co. last year.

* The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff asked the state Public Service Commission to reconsider its decision in the failed V.C. Summer nuclear expansion case, arguing that South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. "intentionally misled" regulators and started construction of the project in March 2015 despite warnings, The State reported.

* Separately, Santee Cooper sued SCE&G for alleged wrongdoings related to the abandoned V. C. Summer nuclear expansion project, The Associated Press reported. The SCANA utility "willfully and intentionally did not confront" Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC about its "failure to manage the project in ways that would be effective," the South Carolina-owned utility said in a court filing.

* Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. is seeking a rate increase of $77.6 million per year, or 4.4%, to recover $609 million in costs tied to environmental upgrades at the two coal-fired plants in Oklahoma.

* TerraPower LLC, a nuclear energy technology company backed by philanthropist and Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates, is unlikely to test its advanced nuclear reactor technology in China due to recent policy changes in U.S., Gates wrote in a Dec. 29, 2018, blog post.

* Both Asian onshore and offshore wind sectors are projected for major market development. China's onshore wind market alone is estimated to contribute a third of the roughly 200,700 MW of wind energy capacity to be installed worldwide from 2018 through 2020.

* The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities received three separate bids from Ørsted A/S, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind and Equinor for offshore wind projects in the state, the AP reported. Ørsted submitted bid for the the Ocean Wind project. Atlantic Shores Offshore is looking to build a project that could provide up to 2,500 MW. Equinor plans to build the Boardwalk project.

Natural gas

* Equitrans Midstream Corp. completed the acquisition of an additional 4.2% limited partner stake in EQGP Holdings LP from an investor group in private purchases, increasing its ownership of EQGP's outstanding common units to more than 95%.

* Malaysia's state-owned Petroliam Nasional Bhd., or Petronas, plans to expand its presence in Canada to meet the growing demand for natural gas in Asia amid a shift from coal to alternative sources of energy, the Financial Times reported.

* American Midstream Partners LP will not distribute cash to investors for the fourth quarter of 2018 after amending a credit agreement to reduce the pipeline company's pile of debt.

* North Dakota's Republican state Sen. Janne Myrdal is sponsoring legislation that would increase maximum penalty to $100,000 from $10,000 against people and organizations who "tamper with pipelines," The Bismarck Tribune reported.

* The top U.S. independent natural gas producers have more of their anticipated gas production for the year ahead hedged at lower prices than a year ago, S&P Global Market Intelligence found.


* ProPetro Holding Corp. said it completed its acquisition of pressure pumping assets of Pioneer Natural Resources Co. for a total consideration of $400 million.

* The board of directors of U.K.-based Faroe Petroleum PLC said Jan. 2 that based on an independent report, DNO ASA's offer to buy the company's assets is inadequate.

* Energy Transfer LP missed its year-end deadline to plant 20,000 tress along the Dakota Access oil pipeline's 359-mile route across North Dakota, the AP reported. The company planted about 8,800 of the required additional trees in 2018.

* Halliburton Co. named its President and CEO Jeff Miller chairman of the company's board of directors, effective Jan. 1, after Executive Chairman Dave Lesar retired Dec. 31, 2018.


* Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government on Jan. 1 began "rolling out a backstop price" on provinces that refuse to impose their own levies on carbon emissions, Bloomberg News reported. The government will impose a tax of C$20 per metric ton on large emitters and fuels effective April 1, 2019, and increase it annually by C$10/tonne until it reaches C$50/tonne in 2022.

* The surge in U.S. coal exports helped offset the lag in domestic coal demand through much of 2018, but as the year ends, some western coal producers are no closer to taking advantage of the seaborne market than they were a year ago.

* Nan Nan Resources Enterprise Ltd. will temporarily suspend mining operations at the Kaiyuan coal mine in China after its mining permit expired Dec. 31, 2018.


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Bankruptcy restructurings have continued for some in the sector. Thermal coal producer Westmoreland Coal Co. and metallurgical coal producer Mission Coal Co. LLC are both in the middle of bankruptcy reorganizations. But generally, U.S. coal companies have benefited by taking advantage of export markets.

New from RRA

* A Public Service Commission of Wisconsin final order issued Dec. 20, 2018, calls for Wisconsin Power and Light Co. to freeze electric and gas base rates at 2017 levels in 2019 and 2020.

The day ahead

* Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower 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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