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Years of methane studies show data gaps; Constitution Pipeline vows to fight permit rejection

Q2: U.S. Solar and Wind Power by the Numbers

Essential Energy Insights - September 17, 2020

Essential Energy Insights September 2020

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Years of methane studies show data gaps; Constitution Pipeline vows to fight permit rejection

Put together, years of methane studies show gaps in data, technology

Methaneemissions data has improved materially in recent years, but numerous studies havealso revealed gaps in understanding and technology, ICF International said in aguide to the literature.

The report,issued April 26, compared and synthesized 75 studies on methane emissions from thegas industry, along with the U.S. EPA's greenhouse gas inventory. It concluded that,by and large, emissions from the industry have declined since 1990, especially relativeto the volume of gas produced.

However,the gas system is much more challenging to evaluate than, say, a power plant, wherethe stack is the main emissions source and there is a relatively accurate understandingof how many are operating, Joel Bluestein, a senior vice president at ICF, saidat an April 26 roundtable discussion.

Constitution Pipeline vows to fight 'inaccurate' NY permit rejection

ConstitutionPipeline Co. LLC said it will use "all available options" to fight NewYork's denial of a key permit for its natural gas pipeline project, saying the state'sEarth Day decision was based on politics.

"Webelieve [the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's] stated rationalefor the denial includes flagrant misstatements and inaccurate allegations, and appearsto be driven more by New York state politics than by environmental science,"the project sponsors said in an April 25 joint statement.

The projectsponsors said they remain committed to building the gas transportation link betweenthe northern Marcellus Shale region and the U.S. Northeast. Constitution PipelineCo. is owned by subsidiaries of WilliamsPartners LP, Cabot Oil& Gas Corp., PiedmontNatural Gas Co. Inc. and WGLHoldings Inc. The developers would like to put the 125-mile pipelineproject in service in the second half of 2017.

EPA: 'Nothing is off the table' for regulating methane during Obama term

The U.S.EPA's Janet McCabe was adamant April 27 that the administration is moving as aggressivelyand methodically as it can to address climate change.

McCabe,the EPA Office of Air and Radiation's acting assistant administrator, emphasizedthat the administration's approach to regulating methane emissions from existingoil and gas sources must be based on facts and able to withstand legal challenges. She dismissed intimations thatthe EPA is using a multiphase information-collection request on the subject as away to forestall writing rules limiting methane output from existing industry equipment.

Whilethe accuracy of methane emissions data has improved by leaps and bounds in the pastcouple of years, the emissions data itself is not enough, she said at a BloombergGovernment event in Washington, D.C.

NEB stretches TransCanada Energy East pipeline decision to 2018

The NationalEnergy Board has set an extended timeline to reach a decision on 's C$15.7 billion EnergyEast project in March 2018, nine months before the 4,600-kilometer line was supposed to be in service.

In additionto consideration by the board, known as the NEB, a decision by Canada's federalgovernment will not come for at least three more months as the environment departmentconducts a separate review of the project. The NEB based its timeline on an anticipatedrevised filing of TransCanada's project application in mid-May, the regulator saidin an April 26 statement on its website.

TransCanadafiled its first application in what is a legislated 15-month process in October2014. Since then, changes in route, design and government have pushed the timelineout and pushed the project's costup by an estimated C$3.7 billion. The line would carry 1.1 million barrels per dayof oil sands crude from Alberta to a port and refinery in New Brunswick and deliveroil to refineries in Quebec along its route.

NEB approves C$7.5B Enbridge Line 3 replacement, upsize

Canada'snational energy regulator has given a green light to Enbridge Inc.'s Line 3 replacement project, which would seethe pipeline company replace and upsize a conduit from Alberta's oil sands regionto the U.S. border.

Billedas the largest project in the Calgary, Alberta-based company's history, the C$7.5billion project would see the 1,031 miles of pipe replaced between Hardisty, Alberta,and Superior, Wis. The National Energy Board, or NEB, approved the Canadian portionof the line, which would connect Hardisty with a pumping station in Gretna, Manitoba.The U.S. portion of the line, which begins across the border from Gretna in Neche,N.D., requires separate approvals.

Enbridgeis making separate applications for segments of Line 3 between the southern Manitobacommunity of Cromer and Neche. The company said it is doing the replacement forreliability reasons, although it is also boosting the line's capacity to 760,000barrels per day from 390,000 bbl/day by increasing the diameter of the pipe to 36inches from 34 inches and raising line pressure. The project is expected to be completedby 2019.

Sierra Club sues regulators over approval of New Jersey Natural Gas pipeproject

The NewJersey Sierra Club is again suing state regulators over the approval of a gas project,this time New Jersey Natural Gas Co.'sSouthern Reliability Link pipeline.

The environmentalgroup on April 25 announced the suit against the New Jersey Board of Public Utilitiesand the New Jersey Pinelands Commission for having approved the pipeline. The lawsuitargues that the approval was invalid and did not adequately consider whether the28-mile pipeline would destroyenvironmentally sensitive land. About a third of the pipeline's length is slatedto fall within the Pinelands National Reserve.

The NewJersey Sierra Club also suedstate regulators in January over similar issues related to a gas pipeline projectfrom South Jersey Industries Inc.subsidiary South Jersey Gas Co.

Colo. PUC dismisses Black Hills utility's plan to buy natural gas reserves

The ColoradoPublic Utilities Commission dismissed BlackHills Colorado Gas Utility Co. LP's application to acquire natural gasreserves, saying the plan is a "serious risk to [taxpayers]."

The PUCvoted 3-0 in favor of the motion, saying in an April 27 statement that the subsidiary failedto produce enough evidence about the plan's short- and long-term costs.

The motionto dismiss Black Hills Colorado's application was filed by the state Departmentof Regulatory Agencies' Office of Consumer Counsel.