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PG&E claims key victories in bankruptcy case; Ohio shale oil, gas tick up in Q3

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'Light at the end of the tunnel': PG&E claims key victories in bankruptcy case

Embattled California utility Pacific Gas and Electric Co. claimed a pair of pivotal victories in its suddenly fast-moving bankruptcy restructuring process together with its parent company, PG&E Corp., when a federal judge late Dec. 17 approved major settlements with wildfire victims and insurance companies, totaling $24.5 billion.

Ohio well explosion leaked more gas than estimates said, satellite data shows

A 2018 explosion at an Ohio natural gas well owned by an Exxon Mobil Corp. subsidiary spewed significantly more methane than the company initially estimated, according to an analysis of satellite images.

After 2 flat quarters, Ohio shale oil and gas volumes tick up in Q3

After two quarters of flat production growth, Ohio's shale wells showed a 9% uptick in oil, gas and NGL volumes in the third quarter as Gulfport Energy Corp. returned to active drilling in the state and pint-sized Montage Resources Corp. punched above its weight, racking up a 48% volume gain over the same quarter of 2018.

IEA: Global coal demand to remain stable through 2024

Global coal power generation is expected to decline in 2019, but that is unlikely the start of a lasting trend as demand for the fuel will remain stable due to rising demand in India and other Asian countries offsetting declines in the United States and Europe, wrote the International Energy Agency in its latest analysis of coal markets.


"Each one of us should be personally embarrassed. This has been a show," April Green, chair of the board of directors of Florida municipal utility JEA, said during a meeting in which the board moved to terminate Managing Director and CEO Aaron Zahn, who was a key driver behind the utility's ongoing solicitation for alternative ownership structures, including potentially privatizing the company.


* Clean energy groups bemoaned a compromise tax extenders deal that congressional lawmakers agreed to early Dec. 17, saying the legislation does not do enough to support technology for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

* Credit and risk-management practices in the organized power markets are due for a fresh look, the Energy Trading Institute said in a filing urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to convene a technical conference and rulemaking process to update regulations adopted a decade ago.

* Xcel Energy Inc., Black Hills Colorado Electric, Colorado Springs Utilities and Platte River Power Authority announced that they will join the Western Energy Imbalance Market, the California ISO's reliability coordination service in the Western U.S.

* EU member states on Dec. 18 agreed on a common classification system to define climate-friendly investments, which lawmakers say will unlock billions of euros in investments to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050.

* The Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District ruled in favor of the Grain Belt Express Transmission line project, after landowners and the Missouri Farm Bureau had contested the state Public Service Commission's judgement to allow power lines to run across private property, Missourinet reported.

* A group of officials in 12 states under the Transportation and Climate Initiative revealed a proposal to cut carbon emissions from cars and trucks in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic jurisdictions, with the states expected to sign a final memorandum of understanding in the spring of 2020, so that the program can be operational by 2022.

* TransAlta Corp. increased its free cash flow guidance to between $350 million and $380 million, from the previous range of $300 million to $340 million, primarily attributing the increase to the strong performance of its energy marketing segment in the fourth quarter.

Natural gas

* Rounding out its goal to become a U.S. oil growth business, Devon Energy Corp. agreed to sell its assets in the Barnett Shale to an affiliate of Kalnin Ventures LLC's investment vehicle BKV Oil & Gas Capital Partners LP for $770 million.

* Pennsylvania is moving forward to regulate methane emissions from the state's shale gas industry, according to a Dec. 17 news release from Gov. Tom Wolf's office.

* Commitments from Appalachia's natural gas producers to slow drilling activity already appears to be bringing gas output down, with December production levels likely to register their first monthly decline since May.

* Dominion Energy Inc. reiterated that it expects the controversial Atlantic Coast gas pipeline project to come online in early 2022 despite the possibility of an unfavorable federal court decision on a key U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit, Reuters reported.

* The U.S. Senate on Dec. 17 passed legislation to impose sanctions on companies building the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 underwater pipeline project that will transport Russian natural gas to Germany, Reuters reported, adding that it is unclear whether the move would impact the pace of the project's construction.


* China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and private equity firm EIG Global Energy Partners have made nonbinding offers to acquire the 166,000-barrel-per-day Gabriel Passos Refinery located in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, Reuters reported Dec. 17, citing three people with knowledge of the matter.

* The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority approved Equinor ASA's environment plan for exploratory oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight, representing the second of four approvals needed before it can start drilling.

* The Canadian government made efforts to take advice from indigenous groups around its expansion plans for the Trans Mountain oil pipeline project, Reuters reported Dec. 17, citing federal lawyer Dayna Anderson in court proceedings, who said there was "no conspiracy" in securing the project's approval.

* Even though crude production has been on the rise in the last seven years, the intensity of methane emissions in the Permian Basin dropped 64% over the given period, Bloomberg News reported Dec. 17, citing a report by Texans for Natural Gas, the Permian Basin Petroleum Association and the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.

* Oilfield service companies Pumpco Energy Services Inc. and Stewart & Stevenson EMDSI LLC are laying off a combined 60 employees in Dallas and Houston, respectively, the Houston Chronicle reported.


* Several House Democrats are seeking to halt new coal, oil and gas lease sales for a year to force federal agencies to create a plan to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from public lands and waters by 2040.

* Standard Chartered PLC said it will cease financing for three coal-fired power plants in Southeast Asia amid mounting global pressure on banks to stop financing fossil fuel-based power projects, Reuters reported Dec. 18.


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S&P Global Market Intelligence estimates that about 1,000 MW per year of new renewable energy capacity will be needed in New Jersey to meet the state's Clean Energy Act targets through 2030, including 770 MW per year of wind. The state boasts one of the fastest-growing renewable portfolio standard targets in the Northeast U.S. and recently raised its offshore wind target to 7,500 MW by 2035.

New from RRA

* The Michigan Public Service Commission recently voted to approve a settlement agreement authorizing SEMCO ENERGY Gas Co. a $19.9 million increase in gas base rates, about half what the utility initially requested.

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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