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Solar market awaits new policy from China; US taking more Canadian heavy crude


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Solar market awaits new policy from China; US taking more Canadian heavy crude

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Whiplashed solar market awaits new policy from China

Less than six months after China roiled the global solar industry by restricting development in the sector's biggest market, a rebound is already on the horizon, executives of equipment manufacturers and raw-material producers said.

McNamee sworn in as FERC commissioner

Republican Bernard McNamee now is officially a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, having been sworn in Dec. 11 to fill the seat vacated by then-Commissioner Robert Powelson in August.

US taking more Canadian heavy crude despite pipeline crunch

U.S. imports of Canadian crude continued to grow in 2018 despite a pipeline capacity shortage that has led to an oil price rout, according to a report by researchers at IHS Markit.

Analysts: Coal producers to maintain focus on share buybacks over CapEx

Some large, publicly traded coal companies have focused on buying back their shares in recent quarters rather than expanding or building new mines in an uncertain market, and analysts expect that trend to continue despite increasing seaborne demand for their product.


"With the fragile global economy … if they were saying they were going to be cautious before, they may be even more cautious now," said Duane Dickson, Deloitte's vice chairman and U.S. oil, gas and chemicals leader, commenting that U.S. oil and gas producers will likely exercise caution in their production strategies and continue to reward shareholders in 2019.


* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers unveiled a new definition of federally protected waters Dec. 11 that would reduce the number of wetlands covered by the Clean Water Act.

* Southern Power Co. sold a noncontrolling interest in SP Wind Holdings II LLC to JPM Capital Corp., BAL Investment & Advisory Inc. and Wells Fargo Central Pacific Holdings Inc. for approximately $1.2 billion in tax equity. SP Wind owns a portfolio of eight operating wind facilities, according to a filing.

* The financial fate of troubled South Carolina utility SCANA Corp. could soon be decided by state regulators.

* A report from the Climate Action Tracker shows that the current climate policies of world nations are likely to lead to warming of 3.3˚C by 2100, above the Paris agreement commitment level.

* Hoesung Lee, chairman of United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is calling for immediate actions to control global warming and help prevent poor nations from enduring "irreversible" damages, The Associated Press reported.

Natural gas

* A tanker departed from Cheniere Energy Inc.'s liquefied natural gas terminal in Corpus Christi, Texas, carrying the first LNG export cargo from the facility and from Texas.

* Environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, filed a motion to intervene in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's proceedings about the Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate project in Virginia and North Carolina.

* Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Democrat Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner have come out in support of NextDecade Corp.'s planned Rio Grande LNG export terminal at the Port of Brownsville, which is facing strong opposition from environmental groups, the Houston Chronicle reported.

* The U.S. dry natural gas production is projected to average 83.3 Bcf/d in 2018, up 8.5 Bcf/d from 2017, according to Energy Information Administration. The agency expects gas production will continue to rise in 2019 to an average of 90.0 Bcf/d.

* The U.S. Bureau of Land Management offered 154,000 acres of public lands for oil and natural gas drilling in Utah. The sale was the agency's largest in Utah in more than a decade, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

* A Pennsylvania administrative judge on Dec. 11 declined to order an emergency halt to the operation and construction of Energy Transfer LP affiliate Sunoco Pipeline LP's Mariner East family of NGL lines delivering ethane and propane to a suburban Philadelphia terminal, denying the request of seven residents along the pipeline's route.

* Massachusetts state lawmakers are voicing concerns over natural gas companies' increased reliance on outside contractors for pipeline work, saying such practices compromise the safety of the state's natural gas system, The Associated Press reported. The lawmakers also questioned the independence of a consulting company hired by state authorities to evaluate gas safety statewide.


* The U.S. Energy Information Administration cut its price forecast for both Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude oil through the end of the year and into 2019 while maintaining its forecast that U.S. production will continue to soar to new highs.

* A coalition of conservation groups sued the Trump administration to prevent seismic airgun blasting for searching oil and natural gas deposits in the Atlantic Ocean.

* A four-well Middle Bakken pad in Marathon Oil Corp.'s Ajax area of the Williston Basin in Dunn County, N.D., achieved an estimated average 30-day initial production rate of over 2,400 barrels of oil equivalent per day, the company said.

* Enbridge Inc. plans to increase capacity of its mainline by about 100,000 barrels per day by mid-2019 and switch its main oil pipeline network to the one supported by long-term contracts in 2021 to help uplift prices, the Financial Post reported.

* The Michigan Legislature passed legislation would support Enbridge's plans to build a utility tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac to house a replacement for a segment of the company's Line 5 oil pipeline, the AP reported. The bill now heads to outgoing Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

* Energy pipeline giants Enbridge and Kinder Morgan Inc. are teaming up with the international logistics company Oiltanking GmbH to build a crude export terminal offshore Freeport, Texas, that will be able to load some of the world's largest oil tankers.


* While metallurgical coal exports from the U.S. often exceed thermal coal exports, the U.S. EIA projects that seaborne steam coal will outpace coking coal in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first half of 2019.

* The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is expected to vote in favor of a "no coal, no caveats" financing policy that would result to a drop in global financing for oil and coal projects, the Financial Times reported.

* Corsa Coal Corp. is forecasting a 33% growth in company-produced sales of metallurgical coal in 2019 in a market environment that it feels is supportive of continued investment in new mine operations.


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Secondary market prices for Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon dioxide allowances were aimed higher during the week ended Dec. 10 in the wake of the program's last auction of 2018.

New from RRA

* In a rate case filing tendered with the Kansas Corporation Commission on Dec. 10, in Docket No. 19-EPDE-223-RTS, Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. subsidiary Empire District Electric Co. proposed to implement a $1.7 million, or 10.03%, electric base rate increase premised upon a 10.2% return on equity (51.65% of capital) and a 7.54% return on a year-end rate base valued at $63.8 million for a test year ended June 30.

* North Carolina regulation is overall relatively constructive from an investor viewpoint, as it has been for many years. In almost all of the major energy rate cases decided during the last several years, the North Carolina Utilities Commission, or NCUC, adopted settlements, and in those cases that specified a return on equity, the authorized return typically was slightly above the nationwide average at the time established.

The day ahead

* 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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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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