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Early end for GE gas plant approved; Wood Mackenzie sees more Gulf of Mexico M&A

Top News

California OKs early end for GE gas plant; big battery peaker planned

The California Energy Commission on Dec. 11 approved the premature decommissioning and demolition of General Electric Co.'s 10-year-old, financially struggling natural gas-fired Inland Empire Energy Center, a more than $500 million generating facility in Riverside County once heralded as the future of the global power sector.

As gas bans proliferate, 114 Calif. governments pass energy choice resolutions

Southern California Gas Co.'s efforts to combat a rising movement among cities to ban gas in new buildings has found support from a number of California communities.

Wood Mackenzie sees private equity pushing more Gulf of Mexico M&A

Opportunistic companies such as Talos Energy Inc. could acquire more assets in the Gulf of Mexico thanks to the desire of private equity firms to get out of the sector, Wood Mackenzie said.

Budget watchdog reports black-lung trust fund may owe taxpayers $15.4B by 2050

A self-proclaimed nonpartisan budget watchdog suggested that the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund's outstanding debt to the U.S. Treasury could reach $15.4 billion by 2050 due to the reduced coal excise tax rate on coal producers.


"Our goal is to reconcile the economy with our planet," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said after the commission unveiled a "European Green Deal," a slate of climate-related policy proposals that chart a wide-ranging roadmap to faster emissions cuts that includes a €100 billion funding mechanism to help Eastern European states that still rely heavily on fossil fuels transition to clean-energy resources.


* The California Energy Commission formed a committee to consider Microsoft Corp.'s application to build a new data center in San Jose that would include up to 99 MW of diesel-fired backup power.

* The Wall Street Journal obtained a study from the California Public Utilities Commission, done by the National Electric Testing, Research and Applications Center at Georgia Tech, which concluded that if PG&E Corp. continues replacement of its electric infrastructure at its current pace, the frequency of sustained power outages will double in 15 years.

* Baker Hughes Co. signed an agreement to purchase 100% of its Texas electricity from renewable sources, as part of its commitment to achieve net-zero carbon equivalent emissions by 2050.

* Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam proposed a $733 million budget fund for renewable energy and other low-carbon initiatives, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center. The budget proposal also removes language that has barred the Commonwealth from cutting carbon emissions by participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

* European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen plans to gather up to €100 billion to help developing and underdeveloped European Union nations to cut carbon emission from their generation portfolios, The Associated Press reported.

* The U.S. House of Representatives passed a package of bills aimed at helping coastal and Great Lakes communities and their economies remain resilient in the face of growing climate change-related impacts such as sea-level rise, extreme weather events and storm surge.

* Dan Brouillette was sworn in as energy secretary Dec. 11.

* The Arizona Corporation Commission rejected a proposal by utilities to set two-year contract terms for renewable projects, according to the Sierra Club. The commission instead voted to set the contract term at 18 years.

Natural gas

* Southwestern Energy Co. expects to see natural gas production growth in the single digits as it focuses on improving drilling efficiencies to be able to operate within cash flow during a prolonged period of low commodity prices, CEO Bill Way said in an interview with S&P Global Platts.

* Dominion Energy Inc. and Vanguard Renewables LLC formed a $200 million strategic partnership to develop projects that will aim to capture methane from U.S. dairy farms and convert it into renewable natural gas for U.S. consumers.

* The U.S. Bureau of Land Management received $10.8 million in proceeds from its Dec. 10-11 quarterly oil and gas lease sale of 123 parcels totaling about 123,258 acres.

* The Norwegian Oil and Gas Association expects oil and gas companies in the country to increase their investments to 194.6 billion krone in in 2020, an increase of 4%, Bloomberg News reported, citing a report by the lobby.


* Saudi Arabian Oil Co.'s shares surged another 10% at the Dec. 12 open, briefly surpassing the $2 trillion valuation sought by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

* Japan's industry and trade ministry and state-owned Japan Oil Gas & Metals Natl are among the leading contenders to acquire a stake in Russian company Rosneft's $157 billion Arctic project, The Financial Times reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.

* EnLink Midstream LLC shares spiked on news of producer customer Devon Energy Corp.'s joint venture with Dow Inc. to develop shale oil and gas acreage in Oklahoma's slumping STACK play, but midstream analysts and investors said the master limited partnership has more work to do before its equity value can more fully bounce back.

* Crude oil held in pipelines in the U.S. increased 64% to 124 million barrels in September, from 75 million barrels held in pipelines in March 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

* The International Energy Agency expects oil inventories to increase in the first quarter of 2020 despite production cuts by OPEC and allies in their latest meeting in Vienna, The Wall Street Journal reported.

* Shares of PETRONAS Dagangan Bhd., PETRONAS Gas Bhd. and MISC Bhd. jumped after parent Petroliam Nasional Bhd., or Petronas, sold certain of its stake in them, Bloomberg News.


* The owner of eastern Kentucky coal properties disputed the validity of American Resources Corp.'s bid for their leases in Cambrian Coal Corp.'s bankruptcy proceedings.

* Japan's environment minister Shinjiro Koizumi said on the sidelines of COP25 meeting in Spain that the even might raise awareness among Japanese people about the need to reduce coal dependency in the energy sector, Bloomberg News reported.

* Employment in the U.S. coal mining sector fell to 54,000 employees in 2018 from 92,000 in 2011 due to low demand for the fossil fuel, according to the EIA.


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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved tariff changes requested by the ISO New England designed to increase competition among transmission developers.

The day ahead

* The EIA natural gas storage report is 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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