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Shell pushes on US offshore wind; Trans Mountain expansion improbable in 2019


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Shell pushes on US offshore wind; Trans Mountain expansion improbable in 2019

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With Mass. auction, NJ lease purchase, Shell pushes on US offshore wind future

Royal Dutch Shell PLC sees the oil company's renewable energy segment becoming a key player in the United States' growing offshore wind sector, starting with its $135 million winning bid for a lease off the coast of Massachusetts and the purchase of another lease off of New Jersey.

Trans Mountain expansion, once under construction, likely to languish in 2019

Prospects for a restart of construction on a project to almost triple the capacity of a Canadian government-owned oil pipeline seem less likely in 2019 than they did a year ago as regulatory and legal challenges that shut the project down show no sign of letting up.

Growing US met coal beyond traditional regions may be long shot in fickle market

Coal industry hopes that the U.S. can increase exports of metallurgical coal — a recent bright spot for companies with coal mines in Central Appalachia — by expanding production to untapped regions could be a long shot, as many analysts are hesitant the good times will last long enough for such an expansion to be prudent.


"They're making all the same mistakes as before," Peter McCartney, a climate campaigner for the Wilderness Committee, said the 22-week timeline for reconsideration was politically motivated. "Even Trudeau agreed the process was broken, yet here we are again with the government manipulating the review to get their preferred outcome."


* On the heels of a slew of investigations into the cause of wildfires in Northern California and continuing questions over its safety culture, the California Public Utilities Commission has proposed to revamp Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s corporate structure.

* Moody's changed its outlook on SCANA Corp. to positive from negative and its outlook on Dominion Energy Inc. to stable from negative following a decision by South Carolina regulators to approve the pending merger between the companies.

* Droughts increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful air pollutants in some Western states when grid operators turned to natural gas- and coal-fired generation to make up for hampered hydropower production, climate scientists from Stanford University found.

* Rocky Mountain Power found contaminants such as lead, selenium and radium in the groundwater beneath the Dave Johnston, Jim Bridger and Naughton coal-fired facilities in Wyoming, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. The Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary plans to file a plan next year to address the toxins.

* CellCube Energy Storage Systems Inc. President Stefan Schauss told Bloomberg News in an interview that the cost of its four-hour vanadium redox-flow battery units would slump to $150/kWh from $300/kWh within a four-year period. Schauss also projected a drop in the cost of eight-hour battery units to $100/kWh from $200/kWh.

* Tenaska Pennsylvania Partners LLC achieved commercial operation at the 940-MW Westmoreland natural gas-fired power plant in Pennsylvania. The facility will deliver electricity to the PJM Interconnection market.

Natural gas

* After years of being forced to dump their excess natural gas into glutted Appalachian markets for low, low prices, the region's shale gas producers may end 2018 with a sigh of relief.

* China imported 138,892 tonnes of LNG from the U.S. in November, Bloomberg News reported, citing customs data. The Asian country's total imports of LNG reached a record level 5.99 million tons last month.

* Massachusetts lawmakers approved a bill that would extend state unemployment benefits to about 1,200 gas workers who have been at odds with National Grid USA over a contract since July, The Associated Press reported. The bill now goes to Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker's desk for his signature.

* Enbridge Inc. expects to finish repairs of the impacted section of its East Tennessee natural gas pipeline between Dec. 30, 2018, and Jan. 3, 2019. The pipeline was damaged by an incident that occurred in Pleasant Shade, Tenn., on Dec. 15.

* Royal Dutch Shell PLC has started production at the Prelude floating LNG facility in Australia. The project is expected to have an annual production of 3.6 million tonnes of LNG, 400,000 tonnes of LPG and 1.3 million tonnes of condensate, according to Reuters.


* Delaware Gov. John Carney and a group of bipartisan governors called on the Trump administration to halt seismic testing and offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. "As the governors of ten states on the Atlantic seaboard, we write to reiterate our strong opposition to seismic airgun surveys and oil and gas drilling off our coasts," the governors wrote in a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

* Exxon Mobil Corp. confirmed it halted its seismic data recording and exploration operations offshore of Guyana after Venezuelan authorities interrupted the oil major's contracted vessel, the Houston Chronicle reported.

* Russia's energy minister expects stability in oil prices in the first half of 2019, Reuters reported, citing Rossiya-24 TV. "I think that during the first half, due to joint efforts, which were confirmed by the OPEC and non-OPEC countries this December, the situation will be more stable, more balanced," Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak was quoted as saying.


* As the 115th U.S. Congress comes to an end, so does the current rate of a tax on coal that compensates miners who have a disease they developed while working in the mines.

* Foresight Energy LP disclosed in a SEC filing that it paid a distribution of 5.65 cents per common unit to the holders of its common units. As a result, the partnership adjusted the exercise price applicable to the warrants to acquire newly issued common units and the number of common units issuable upon the exercise of each warrant.

* Renewable energy capacity grew to claim a share of 35% in the electricity generation mix in Germany this year, pulling on par with coal-fired power plants that have seen their share decline over the same period, according to preliminary estimates.


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After years of local shale gas oversupply, pushing Appalachian spot prices $1 to $2 per MMBtu less than the Henry Hub prices, enough pipelines have opened to close the gap.

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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