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Congress braces for energy policy gridlock; Midstream stocks end '18 in tailspin


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Congress braces for energy policy gridlock; Midstream stocks end '18 in tailspin

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US Congress braces for energy policy gridlock in 2019

Democrats' hopes to address climate change and cut the country's dependence on fossil fuels the 116th U.S. Congress will hit likely resistance from Republicans, but they may still be able to provide more support for renewable energy.

Analysts expect Permian growth in 2019 despite low prices, pipeline issues

The Permian Basin may be one of the world's most prolific hydrocarbon plays, but the independent producers drilling in West Texas will face some tough decisions in 2019.

Midstream energy stocks end 2018 in tailspin as oil slumps, market doubts linger

The biggest North American midstream oil and gas companies were stung at the stock market in the fourth quarter of 2018; all but one of the top 10 companies experienced double-digit percentage decreases as the price of crude oil plummeted and uncertainty lingered about the sector's fiscal habits.

FERC Commissioner and former Chairman Kevin McIntyre dies

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Kevin McIntyre died Jan. 2 after having been diagnosed with a brain tumor in the summer of 2017.

Mission Coal submits bankruptcy reorganization plan that would dissolve company

Mission Coal Co. LLC finalized a bankruptcy reorganization plan that, if approved by a federal court, will dissolve the company.


"Production in the Permian will continue to increase in 2019, potentially by a million barrels per day or even more," said Raymond James Analyst Muhammed Ghulam, noting that despite low prices, many expect spending and production in the Permian Basin to continue to surge.


* Idaho regulators denied Canada-headquartered Hydro One Ltd.'s proposed $5.3 billion acquisition of Avista Corp., saying Hydro One's lack of independence from the province of Ontario "dictates our decision to reject the proposed merger."

* Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke denied a Washington Post report that alleges Zinke lied to investigators who are probing into his travel, political activity and potential conflicts of interest, The Associated Press reported. Citing three anonymous sources, the Post reported that investigators "came to believe Zinke lied to them" and the matter was referred to the U.S. Justice Department.

* Three insurance companies Allstate Insurance Co., State Farm and USAA sued Pacific Gas and Electric Co. over billions of dollars in claims tied to the California Camp Fire, The Sacramento Bee reported.

* The Trump administration could delay the replacement process for deceased FERC member Kevin McIntyre until June when Democratic Commissioner Cheryl Lafleur's term expires, Bloomberg News reported.

* The U.S. Senate approved President Trump's nominee William McIntosh to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of International and Tribal Affairs, The Hill in Washington, D.C., reported. McIntosh will replace Jane Nishida, who led the office on an interim basis since 2017.

* Environmental groups filed a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S. EPA for not being able to enforce air quality standards in Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah, and Pinal County, Ariz.

* FERC is taking a closer look at San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s proposed transmission rates, which would boost the utility's return on equity in part to account for wildfire risks.

* South Jersey Industries Inc. sold 49.2 MW of additional solar sites across Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts for total net consideration of about $65.5 million. The divestitures are part of South Jersey Industries subsidiary Marina Energy LLC's agreements to sell its portfolio of solar energy assets to an entity managed by Goldman Sachs Asset Management for about $350 million.

Natural gas

* Williams Cos. Inc. received the go-ahead from FERC to begin full service on the 475,000-Dth/d Gulf Connector pipeline expansion project designed to feed natural gas to two LNG export terminals on the Texas coast: Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Corpus Christi terminal and the Freeport LNG Development LP terminal.

* Drilling opponents are preparing to press Colorado Gov.-elect Jared Polis "to put on hold all pending and new permit applications" for oil and gas projects in the state for the next nine months, The Denver Post reported.

* Oil and gas industry representatives see recently released fugitive emissions rules in Wyoming as straightforward to comply with, but environmental advocates would like to see more stringent standards in place.

* The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is reportedly "generating invoices" for nearly 17 gas companies to pay the unpaid state impact fees after the state Supreme Court's reinstated an order by the PUC that required oil and drillers to pay annual impact fees if their production exceeds 90,000 cubic feet per day for even one month of the year, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported.


* S&P Global Ratings reduced its price assumptions for both Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude through 2020. The rating agency expects Brent prices to average $55/bbl and WTI prices to average $50/bbl for through the end of 2020, a decrease of $10/bbl for previously projected 2019 prices and $5/bbl lower than previous 2020 projections.

* An affiliate of ArcLight Energy Partners Fund V put in a new bid to buy the debt-laden midstream energy partnership American Midstream Partners LP.

* The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded contract to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corp. to deepen and widen the Corpus Christi ship channel project, the Houston Chronicle reported. Upon completion in 2022, the project would support "two-way traffic of supertankers" capable of carrying up to 2 million barrels of crude oil and refined products per shipment.

* Canada's benchmark heavy crude blend jumped 14% in the first day of 2019 trading as government-enforced production cuts in Alberta took effect.


* Operations were recently suspended after a roof collapse at the underground Donkin coal mine in Nova Scotia, owned and operated by Kameron Collieries ULC, a Cline Group LLC subsidiary.

* Navajo Nation Council Delegate Benjamin Bennett withdrew a bill that would have sought the council approval for a federal charter for Navajo Transitional Energy Co. to acquire the Navajo coal-fire plant and Peabody Energy Corp.'s Kayenta coal mine, the AP reported.

* Total U.S. coal production for the week ended Dec. 29, 2018, increased 7.1% year over year to 11.4 million tons from 10.6 million tons, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.


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Prices for renewable energy credits varied at major markets during the week ended Jan. 3.

New from RRA

* Regulatory activity snowballed in December 2018, with a plethora of rate case filings and decisions taking place during the month. In addition, several major events occurred regarding state-level merger activity.

* The pace of utility nonrate case proceedings remains active nationwide. The revenue requirement implications of the 2017 federal tax reform continue to garner considerable attention from state and federal regulators.

The day ahead

* The Baker-Hughes rig count report and the EIA natural gas storage and petroleum status reports are due out today.

* 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.

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