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Regulators working to ensure reliability sans Aliso Canyon; DOI in the dark on vented, flared gas

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Regulators working to ensure reliability sans Aliso Canyon; DOI in the dark on vented, flared gas

Calif. regulators working to ensure energy reliability given Aliso Canyonimpacts

Californiaregulators are juggling a number of priorities in trying to ensure reliable electricityand natural gas service following the limitations placed on the Aliso Canyon naturalgas storage facility.

AlisoCanyon is the "leading gas resource" for Southern California, CaliforniaPublic Utilities Commission member Catherine Sandoval said July 24 during a discussionat the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners summer meeting inNashville, Tenn. The Los Angeles basin has about 9,800 MW of natural gas-fired generation.About 75% of the Los Angeles Departmentof Water and Power's gas-fired capacity is supplied by Aliso Canyonresources, as is about 70% of the gas-fired capacity controlled by the , Sandoval said.

A leakwithin the storage facility was capped in February, but the facility now holds justabout 15 Bcf of natural gas out of a capacity of more than 86 Bcf, Sandoval noted.In April, the ISO and other state officials warned California could face servicecurtailments and risk blackoutsbecause of the reduced natural gas availability.

DOI in the dark on amount of gas lost from federal lands, GAO finds

The U.S.Department of the Interior does not have a good handle on how much gas producersare venting and flaring on federal lands, the Government Accountability Office concludedin a report released July 21.

The DOI'sdata collection instructions are too unclear to get consistent methane emissionsestimates from oil and gas producers on federal lands, the GAO said. Lacking specificinstructions for how to estimate emissions, operators have been using inconsistentmethods. In some situations, operators rely on gas-to-oil ratios, while under othercircumstances, producers use equipment specifications and highly variable engineeringassumptions, the report noted.

Withsuch erratic data, the department cannot tell whether operators are minimizing theamount of gas they are wasting when producing on federally leased land, Congress'government watchdog agency concluded.

Maine PUC endorses utility contracts with pipelines, favors Access Northeast

Maineregulators have unanimously endorsed a plan that authorizes electric distributioncompanies to purchase capacity on natural gas pipelines serving the increasinglygas-dependent ISO New England Inc.region.

The MainePublic Utilities Commission in its July 19 decision ignored PUC staff and voted to allow ratepayer-supportedelectric utilities to enter into contracts with a regional pipeline operator ifneighbors Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island move forwardin supporting the regional plan as well. The commission in a 2-1 decision also endorsedSpectra Energy Corp'sAccess Northeast as the regional pipeline expansion project most likely to succeed.

The AccessNortheast pipeline and storage project,also backed by Eversource Energyand National Grid Group Plc,would upgrade the Algonquin Gas TransmissionLLC system and add regional liquefied natural gas storage assets inNew England to provide up to 925,000 Dth/d of gas deliveries. Dissenting CommissionerCarlisle McLean instead endorsed the PortlandNatural Gas Transmission System LP project over concerns that the useof gas storage by Access Northeast would invite lawsuits. A third contender, 's Northeast EnergyDirect pipeline project, was canceled in April.

Enbridge reaches $177M settlement with US agencies over 2010 oil spills

and related companiesagreed to pay $177 million in system upgrades, penalties and government costs relatedto two 2010 oil pipeline spills after reaching a settlement with the U.S. EPA andDepartment of Justice.

The companycommitted to spend $110 million to preventspills and make other improvements across almost 2,000 miles of pipelinesin the Great Lakes region,the EPA's announcement said.

Enbridgeis expected to implement an in-line inspection plan focused on preventing pipe breaches,intensify spill-prevention measures in Michigan's Straits of Mackinac, leak detection and controlroom capabilities, and improve spill response and preparedness, among other things.

North Dakota sues EPA to stop oil, gas industry methane emissions rule

NorthDakota has sued the U.S. EPA to stop the agency's recently finalized methane emissionsregulations on new and modified oil and gas industry sources.

The rulelimiting the sector's methane emissions goes beyond the EPA's authority and is an"abuse of discretion," the North Dakota attorney general's office saidin a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The petition,dated July 14, said the court should deem the rule unlawful and prevent its implementation.The methane rule, finalized in May, was the firstever to directly target methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.The regulation coversmethane emissions from hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells, as well as otherequipment and system leaks.