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Ariz. regulators vet retail competition; oil, gas firms dive harder than S&P 500


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Ariz. regulators vet retail competition; oil, gas firms dive harder than S&P 500

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Ariz. regulators take a fresh look at retail competition

Arizona utility regulators have once again resolved to examine the pros and cons of opening the state's retail electric monopolies to retail competition, a proposal that has been periodically considered, and each time rejected, since they first opened proceedings in 1994.

Oil, gas producers dive harder than S&P 500, but analysts see 2019 silver lining

The bear stalking the U.S. markets has chewed up oil and gas stocks in December, leaving Wall Street analysts looking for crumbs of hope amid a large drop in crude oil prices and the exploration and production stocks shackled to the commodity.

Gulf Coast becoming preferred destination for Texas crude

With oil producers in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale running up against steep price discounts at their usual trading hubs, pipelines coming in 2019 and beyond to serve these booming production areas areas are focusing on the Gulf Coast, with its access to export markets.

US coal sector on track to finish 2018 with fewer fatalities after 2017 spike

As 2018 comes to a close, the U.S. coal sector is on track to return to a trend of declining fatal accidents. The industry opened the decade with 48 fatalities in 2010, followed by 20 in each of the next three years.


"The collapse, while painful, couldn't have come at a better time as operators were in the process of setting spending plans for 2019. If this had happened in March or April, it may have taken longer for industry to respond as budgets would have just been approved and announced to the market," said analysts at energy investment bank Tudor Pickering Holt & Co., commenting on the late-year plunge in oil prices.


* The U.S. Congress approved bipartisan legislation to reform the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's fee collection process in a bid to enable the licensing of advanced nuclear reactors by increasing fee predictability, transparency and efficiency.

* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to keep Obama-era limits on mercury emissions from power plants but plans to incorporate changes to make it "harder to toughen" these standards in the future, Bloomberg News reported.

* The PJM Interconnection has its eye on closing a gap in its tariff and operating agreement that has prevented generators from recovering costs associated with a grid operator-directed switch to an alternative fuel or fuel source.

* El Paso Electric Co. selected proposals for 200 MW of utility-scale solar resources, 100 MW of battery storage and the addition of a 226 MW of gas-fired unit at the Newman facility, in response to a request for proposals for additional capacity to meet future generation needs. In addition, the company expects to pursue the purchase of 50 MW to 150 MW of wind and solar power to provide for fuel diversity and energy cost savings.

* California's electric grid operator is examining how to boost carrying capacities on major transmission lines to bring more electricity from the Pacific Northwest to displace gas-fired generation tied to the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Los Angeles County.

* Oil major Royal Dutch Shell PLC is aiming to double its annual green energy investments to $4 billion, Maarten Wetselaar, director of integrated gas and new energies told the Guardian in an interview. Wetselaar said the company would focus on buying clean energy firms and "avoid" acquisitions of traditional utilities that "might become irrelevant in a world of decentralized energy."

* Missouri regulators have set a public hearing for late January 2019 to consider Empire District Electric Co.'s plan to add 600 MW of wind energy capacity to its power generation portfolio.

* U.S. energy expenditures were down 9% year over year to $1.0 trillion in 2016 compared to 2015 due to lower energy prices, reflecting a decline for the fifth consecutive year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Natural gas

* Pipeline capacity bottlenecks may continue to frustrate Permian Basin shale drillers in 2019 because the supply glut of cheap natural gas is likely to "get worse and worse and worse as oil production grows and gas production grows alongside it," J.R. Weston, an analyst for Raymond James & Associates Inc., told The Wall Street Journal reported.

* Enbridge Inc. and Enbridge Income Fund Holdings Inc. completed an exchange of outstanding Enbridge Income Fund medium-term notes for the same amount of new Enbridge medium-term notes, as part of Enbridge's simplification of its corporate structure.

* Chesapeake Energy Corp. shares jumped 27% to close at $2.19 after Chairman Archie Dunham purchased more than $4 million worth of the company's stock, Bloomberg News reported.

* LNG shipments to Northeast Asian buyers surged to a record 20.5 million tonnes so far in December, up 5% from the previous monthly record of 19.5 million tonnes in January, Reuters reported, citing data from Refinitiv Eikon.


* Oil and gas exploration and production activity in Texas continues to grow for the second year in a row, with 1,020 oil and gas companies filing for 13,294 drilling permit applications through Dec. 26, the Houston Chronicle reported, citing data from the Railroad Commission of Texas. EOG Resources Inc. was the top Texas driller in 2018 with 556 permits requests filed, followed by Endeavor Energy Resources LP with 440 requests and Pioneer Natural Resources Co. with 405 applications.

* Texas natural gas production declined while oil output grew in October, the state Railroad Commission reported Dec. 20. The state's preliminary oil production was 75.6 million barrels in October, or 2.89 million barrels per day, up from 2.84 MMbbl/d in September.

* ConocoPhillips remained the only company to post a 3.9% gain on S&P's 500 Energy Index so far in 2018, with the remaining 29 energy companies on the index posting losses amid lower oil prices, Bloomberg News reported.

* Brazilian prosecutors have charged 42 people at state-controlled Petróleo Brasileiro SA, its pension fund Petros, as well as engineering and construction companies Odebrecht SA and OAS, with money laundering, corruption and criminal organization.

* Texas-based Ring Energy Inc. completed the acquisition of Tessara Petroleum Resources LLC from Carlyle Group LP in a deal valued at about $15.2 million. The acquisition adds 4,763 net acres to Ring Energy's assets.


* Westmoreland Coal Co. is seeking approval from a bankruptcy court to sell its Buckingham coal mine in Ohio to an as-yet-unformed holding company and give that company the opportunity to acquire 15 other mines.

* The former deputy administrator for coal mine safety and health with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration was recently selected to fill a new position within the agency.


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Over-the-counter Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon dioxide allowance prices were on the upswing in more active buying during the final full week of the month and the year.

New from RRA

* Following adoption of settlements, the Oregon Public Utility Commission authorized a rate increase for Portland General Electric Co., effective Jan. 1, 2019.

* Despite continuously shifting policy for distributed generation incentives, net metering remains one of the key programs driving deployment of small-scale solar in the US.

* Capital expenditures for electric transmission and distribution, or T&D, infrastructure for utilities in the RRA universe are projected to reach $51.55 billion in 2018 and increase slightly in 2019 to $53.12 billion.

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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Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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