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Perry regrets calling for DOE demise; Court affirms Blankenship's conviction

European Energy Insights February 2021

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Perry regrets calling for DOE demise; Court affirms Blankenship's conviction

Top News

Saying he's prepared for new job, Perry regrets calling for DOE's demise

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a U.S. Senate panel that he is committed to modernizing the country's nuclear stockpile, promoting "energy in all forms" and enhancing grid security if confirmed to lead the U.S. Department of Energy.

Even if reopened, Aliso Canyon lacks the gas to maintain reliability, study says

Almost a year after a major gas leak was plugged, California regulators said the region's gas supplies may not recover in time to prevent shortages even if the Aliso Canyon underground gas storage field reopens soon.

Court to coal operators: Safety costs should not be balanced against profit

A federal appeals court ruling affirming the conviction of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship spells out that those at the top of an organization are subject to penalties, including incarceration, to deter prioritizing production over safety.

Power

* Calling the issuance "flawed in its conclusions and premature in its timing," FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur dissented from a new policy statement aimed at ensuring that the full capabilities of electric storage resources can be realized.

* Canada's National Energy Board granted conditional approval to the Lake Erie Connector transmission line after finding that the ITC Holdings Corp.'s proposed high-voltage line is unlikely to have "significant adverse" environmental impacts. The line will be buried under Lake Erie and will transfer power between Ontario and Pennsylvania, according to a news release.

* FirstEnergy Corp. announced Jan. 19 that it reached an agreement to sell four competitive natural gas plants in Pennsylvania and its ownership in a Virginia hydroelectric plant to a subsidiary of LS Power Group affiliate LS Power Equity Partners III LP.

* The transition team of President-elect Donald Trump has prepared a list of energy- and environment-related policies for a quick action, including measures to undo the Obama administration's policies concerning cross-border pipelines and social cost of carbon, sources told Bloomberg News.

* Canada-based Hydrostor Inc. and its partners are preparing to compete in a $1 billion U.S. peak power market to replace decommissioned coal-fired power facilities of at least 100 MW across the U.S., Reuters reports. "We are now by far the lowest cost storage solution, we can be built at scale, we've got our partnerships in place and we're going to start marketing it here in the next month or two," Hydrostor CEO Curtis VanWalleghem was quoted as saying.

Natural gas/midstream

* FERC approved a pair of major Columbia Pipeline Group Inc. projects to transport Appalachian natural gas supplies to Midwest and Gulf Coast markets. A Jan. 19 certificate order granted authorization for the Leach XPress and Rayne XPress projects.

* SK Group Inc. affiliate SK E&S Co. Ltd. imported 66,000 tonnes of shale gas from Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Sabine Pass facility in Louisiana earlier this month, a move that marks South Korea's first gas import from the U.S., sources told Reuters reports.

* JP Energy Partners LP will hold a special meeting on March 7 for its unit holders to vote on the proposed merger with American Midstream Partners LP, according to a news release. Unit holders of record Jan. 30 will be entitled to vote on the deal, which is expected to close shortly after the meeting ends.

* Keane Group Inc. expects to raise up to $508.4 million from its initial public offering of 26,760,000 shares at $19 apiece. Of the total, the company is offering 15.7 million shares and the selling shareholders are offering about 11.1 million shares. The Houston, Texas-based company is a pure-play provider of integrated well completion services in the U.S., according to a company release.

* Amy Barrette and Jeremy Mercer joined Blank Rome LLP as partners in the energy, environment and mass torts practice group. They joined the firm from Norton Rose Fulbright where their practices were focused on complex commercial litigation for upstream oil and gas companies, according to a news release.

* The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard are investigating a natural gas and condensate leak at Kinetica Partners LLC-operated pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico. The operator estimated the spill volume to be roughly 752 gallons, or 17.9 barrels, at the time of report, according to a press release.

Coal

* A group of coal miners drove through the night from Ohio to Washington, D.C., to attend Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's Jan. 18 confirmation hearing to lead the U.S. EPA, hoping he could offer some relief to coal country.

* The government of Colombia is in talks with stakeholders to resolve all issues blocking the expansion of the Cerrejon coal operation near the country's Caribbean coast after a court recently endorsed a decision to halt works to divert a river near the mine, Bloomberg News reported. The planned expansion will allow the mine boost output to over 90 million tons of coal this year from about 88 million tons in 2016, Columbia's Mines and Energy Minister said. Cerrejon is jointly owned by BHP Billiton Group, Glencore Plc, Anglo American Plc.

* The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri rejected a request by Peabody Energy Corp. shareholders to appoint an official equity committee in the company's restructuring, Reuters reports. The shareholders led by hedge fund Mangrove Partners had called for the creation of the committee in a bid to recover case-related money from the company and help craft a reorganization plan.

Commodities

* La Niña is expected to shift to a neutral pattern by February and should continue this trend through the first half of the year, according to a recent diagnostic discussion from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, weather patterns across the U.S. are still likely to be affected by the weakened La Niña.

* After ending the prior session up 6.6 cents at $3.368/MMBtu, February gas futures recoiled overnight ahead of the Friday, Jan. 20, open, as traders begin shrugging off the latest bullish inventory data in favor of lackluster midrange fundamentals. The contract tumbled to a $3.272/MMBtu overnight low and was last seen 9.3 cents lower on the session at $3.275/MMBtu.

* Power dailies could end the workweek on a mixed tenor Friday, Jan. 20, as forecasts for generally rising demand coming off the weekend run against renewed losses at the natural gas futures complex. Gaining 6.6 cents in the previous session, February natural gas futures were aimed lower in the overnight session early Friday.

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New from RRA

* RRA rate case data indicates that ROE authorizations for 2016 are slightly below those of 2015. The average ROE authorized for electric utilities was 9.77% in rate cases decided in 2016, compared to 9.85% in 2015. There were 42 electric ROE determinations in 2016, versus 30 in 2015.

* On Jan. 19, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission voted unanimously to adopt rate case settlements for FirstEnergy Corp.'s Pennsylvania operating subsidiaries. The black box settlements provide for electric distribution base rate increases aggregating to $273.2 million.

Quoted

"I certainly hope that there aren't coal operators out there acting like Don Blankenship." Former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin told S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The day ahead

* Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher 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.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7:30 a.m. ET. Some links may require registration or a subscription.