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Fossil fuels target energy poverty; SoCalGas reaches Aliso Canyon settlement

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Essential Energy Insights, April 2021

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Fossil fuels target energy poverty; SoCalGas reaches Aliso Canyon settlement

Top News

Fossil fuels target energy poverty, climate in new PR push

A new campaign from a group of fossil fuel industry representatives will aim to sell coal, gas and oil as a technology-friendly solution to global energy poverty that is already entrenched in the day-to-day lives of much of the developed world.

SoCalGas reaches $119.5M government settlement for Aliso Canyon leak

Sempra Energy utility Southern California Gas Co. reached a $119.5 million settlement with state and local government bodies in California over the leak at the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility.

Iran sanctions, Permian squeeze to push oil prices up 10%, Continental CEO say

The combination of new U.S. sanctions on Iranian crude oil and the inability of Permian Basin producers to get more production to market will drive world crude prices at least 10% higher, shale oil billionaire Harold Hamm told analysts on his company's earnings conference call Aug. 8.

As federal climate action stalls, Md. governor charts own course

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency May 27 after a downpour and subsequent flooding wiped out businesses in Ellicott City, a tourist town in the Baltimore area. Coming just two years after a prior storm devastated the area, the latest extreme weather caused about $21.7 million in damages to Howard County and highlighted the efforts by Hogan, a moderate Republican, to respond to climate change impacts — even if it means breaking from climate skeptics in his own party.

Quoted

"The picturesque miner with a dented lunchbox and blackened face may glorify the industry's industrial past, but it reinforces the perception that coal is dangerous and dirty and that it has no role to play in a digital age, driving a clean knowledge-based economy," Luke Popovich, former spokesman for the National Mining Association, said at an American Coal Council conference that salvaging coal's image will require accepting climate change as an issue that needs to be addressed.

Power

* Southern Co. management on Aug. 8 framed a $1.1 billion pretax loss as a bitter but necessary pill to swallow to keep up momentum at the over-budget, behind-schedule Alvin W. Vogtle Nuclear Plant nuclear plant expansion.

* An administrative law judge with the Oregon Public Utilities Commission rejected a Sierra Club challenge to PacifiCorp's designation of information in its coal analysis as "protected" and ruled that the "redacted information in the coal analysis is non-public information that has been kept confidential" with the commission's general protective order.

* The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has finalized new regulations that would replace strong federal standards to curb emissions from power plants in the state, according to a news release from the Sierra Club.

* U.S. prosecutors dismissed the bribery and fraud charges against former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce, his wife, water company owner George Johnson and lobbyist Jim Norton after a mistrial, The Associated Press reported.

* South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. has cleaned up almost 2.7 million tons of coal ash and dirt from a coal ash pond at the Wateree power plant and aims to complete the task by mid-2019, the Charlotte Observer reported.

* Ohio coal producer Murray Energy Corp. said it has provided legal representation and financial support to residents fighting an offshore wind project because it is concerned their voices would not be heard otherwise.

* Ørsted A/S agreed to acquire U.S. wind developer Lincoln Clean Energy LLC from global infrastructure investment manager I Squared Capital and management shareholders. The deal has a total enterprise value of $580 million.

Natural gas

* Sempra Energy formed a new operating group for its North American infrastructure businesses encompassing its Mexican and LNG operations.

* The independent oil and gas driller Apache Corp. and Kayne Anderson Acquisition Corp. are launching a publicly traded company initially valued at about $3.5 billion in West Texas' Permian Basin to house Apache midstream assets.

* EQT Corp. appointed CFO Robert McNally as the company's next president and CEO, effective after the separation of its natural gas upstream and midstream businesses is complete.

* Diamondback Energy Inc. agreed to acquire all leasehold interests and associated assets of the Midland Basin-focused producer Ajax Resources, LLC for $900 million in cash and $345 million worth of Diamondback common shares.

* A Dominion Energy Inc. unit told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that construction can continue as authorized on the 1.5-Bcf/d Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline.

Oil

* The energy market changes Mexico's incoming president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, proposed could have negative implications for U.S. refiners, according to a recent research note from Morningstar.

* The U.S. Bureau of Land Management intends to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement for oil drilling and fracking on approximately 400,000 acre of public lands and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estates in California.

* Canada would see annual returns excluding debt costs of about C$1 billion per year from its purchase of Kinder Morgan Inc.'s Trans Mountain pipeline, even if an expansion project is delayed or goes over budget, according to a filing related to the C$4.5 billion sale of the crude-carrying network.

* The Army Corps of Engineers said it needs three more weeks complete an environmental study of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, as it had to receive new information it received from Energy Transfer Partners, L.L.C. and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the AP reported.

Coal

* China fired back in its growing trade dispute with the U.S., announcing 25% tariffs on $16 billion worth of American exports, including coal, oil products and liquefied petroleum gas.

* U.S. cargoes carrying 335,000 tonnes of coal are set to reach China on time to avoid the new 25% Chinese trade tariffs on U.S. goods, Reuters reported. The vessels are carrying $30 million worth of coal.

* Natural gas prices are likely to climb above $3/MMBtu this fall and coal inventories are projected to end the year at 105 million tons, according to a prominent U.S. coal analyst.

ChartWatch

SNL Image

The Pacific Northwest had lower hydropower production than historical averages in July, as warm and dry conditions prevailed in the region.

New from RRA

* In a notice of intent filing submitted with the Kentucky Public Service Commission on Aug. 1, Duke Energy Corp. subsidiary Duke Energy Kentucky Inc. indicated that it will file a gas distribution rate case on or around Sept. 7.

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.

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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