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Texas approves El Paso Electric sale; judge upholds former coal CEO's conviction

Top News

Texas regulators OK $4.3B deal to take El Paso Electric private

The Public Utility Commission of Texas on Jan. 16 approved Sun Jupiter Holdings' proposed $4.3 billion acquisition of El Paso Electric Co., and the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission discussed the proposed merger during a public hearing.

To hit trade goals by 2021, US oil and gas industry needs 20% of China's market

"A million barrels per day [of oil] could do the trick" after China and the U.S. announced details of the first phase of a trade agreement after two years of political and commercial conflict, energy analysis firm ClearView Energy Partners LLC said.

Lackluster M&A market could upend private equity's upstream model

The lack of M&A activity in upstream oil and gas may have permanently altered the way private equity does business in the sector, Haynes and Boone LLP partner Buddy Clark said.

Federal judge upholds conviction of former coal CEO Don Blankenship

A federal judge upheld former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's misdemeanor conviction on charges of conspiring to violate mine safety laws.


"[Connecticut] is at the mercy of a regional capacity market that's driving investment in more natural gas and fossil fuel power plants that we don't want and that we don't need," Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes said in a speech, adding that the state is assessing whether to continue its involvement in the ISO New England marketplace due to the grid operator's "lack of leadership on carbon."


* Dozens of regulated electric utilities in the U.S. are at a high risk of climate change-related physical or financial impacts over the next decade or two due to rising average temperatures and more intense and frequent storms, rainfall and floods, Moody's Investors Service said in a new report.

* PG&E Corp. subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said in a regulatory filing that it is in talks with Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom over the utilities' bankruptcy reorganization plan, and it anticipates that the ongoing discussions with the governor's office "will lead to material changes to certain nonfinancial terms of the PG&E Plan, such as governance."

* After pulling its initial proposal to facilitate better use of fast-ramping resources in managing power system supply and demand mismatches, the Midcontinent ISO received the go-ahead to move forward with its amended plan for handling increased supply-side volatility brought on by the growing integration of intermittent renewable resources.

* The Houston Chronicle talked to Sempra Energy's top executive in Texas on the San Diego-headquarterd company's plans in the Lone Star State, which include electric transmissions utility Oncor Electric Delivery Co. LLC and an LNG facility in Port Arthur, Texas. "The platform we now have in Texas fits into the next decade of where the energy world is going," Sempra's Brian Lloyd said.

* The reputation of diesel cars was shattered by the Volkswagen AG emissions-cheating scandal, but new models now compare favorably to gasoline engines when it comes to emissions.

* The U.S. renewables energy sector saw total investments of $55.5 billion in 2019, up 28% from the previous year, driven by a surge in solar and wind investments, Bloomberg News reported, citing BloombergNEF.

* The U.S. Department of Energy finalized a new rulemaking process for setting appliance efficiency standards that opponents said will make establishing new standards more difficult.

* The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy for allegedly failing to release documents about a $1.5 million study that examined how grid improvements can bolster renewable energy access.

* Denmark-based renewable energy giant Ørsted A/S said it will open an "innovation hub" in Providence, R.I., to serve the burgeoning offshore wind industry in the U.S.

* Operators of coal-fired plants in West and East Germany would receive a total of €4.35 billion for agreeing to retire their plants early, The Associated Press reported.

Natural gas

* Aqua America Inc. and its subsidiaries got the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's approval on a settlement related to the company's previously announced $4.28 billion acquisition of gas distribution company PNG Cos. LLC.

* China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. could be looking to renegotiate delivery and price terms of a potential $16 billion LNG deal with Cheniere Energy Inc. in the wake of declining LNG prices, Reuters reported, citing industry officials.

* The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously agreed to set rates for the state's major investor-owned gas and electric utilities every four years, changing a decades-old tradition of doing so every three years.

* New York regulators approved significantly lower electric and gas rate increases than Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc. requested in a settlement that included provisions to mitigate climate change.

* The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a $1.95 million civil penalty to Sunoco Pipeline LP for violations resulting from construction activities on the Mariner East 2 pipeline project at Raystown Lake in Huntingdon County, Pa.

* EQT Corp. priced an offering of $1.75 billion senior notes consisting of $1 billion of 6.125% senior notes due Feb. 1, 2025, and $750 million of 7.000% senior notes due Feb. 1, 2030, at par, according to a Jan. 15 news release.

* Working gas in storage was at 3,039 Bcf as of Jan. 10, a decrease of 109 Bcf from the previous week and an increase of 494 Bcf from the same time in 2019, according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration report.

* The New York Public Service Commission issued an energy efficiency order that will save more than 35 trillion Btu of energy through 2025.


* TC Energy Corp. unveiled a construction timeline for its controversial Keystone XL crude oil pipeline project to link Canada's oil sands region with a pipeline hub in the U.S. Midwest, but the company has yet to provide essential details of how it will proceed.

* A Scottish court allowed Premier Oil PLC to proceed with its proposed acquisition of BP PLC's North Sea assets and extend its debt maturities, Bloomberg News reported.

* The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal of a law that would have allowed British Columbia to limit shipments of oil sands-derived bitumen within its boundaries. The law would have effectively killed Trans Mountain Corp.'s under-construction pipeline expansion.

* Analysts anticipate that oilfield services majors will have exited 2019 with a whimper as prudent spending by exploration and production companies capped earnings potential, particularly in the U.S. land markets.

* Eni SpA secured an exploration license for Block 28 in Namibe Basin off the coast of Angola, while Total SA won Block 29, Bloomberg News reported.

* The price of low-sulphur Pyrenees crude oil, produced by BHP Group, reached $100 per barrel due to new shipping rules, the Financial Times reported.

* Oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP and Total have spent $536 billion on dividends and stock buybacks since 2010 while reporting a total of $329 billion in free cash flow, the Houston Chronicle reported, citing a report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.


* The European Commission is willing to approve sending national government aid to coal plant operators for closing early and to manufacturers to decarbonize their production to support the EU's 2050 carbon neutrality goal.

* Under a rate settlement agreement pending approval by state regulators, Xcel Energy Inc. subsidiary Southwestern Public Service Co. will retire the two steam turbines that make up the 1,067-MW Tolk coal-fired plant in Texas by the end of 2032.


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Looking at distinct industry segments, U.S. and Canadian oil and gas storage and transportation companies covered by S&P Global Market Intelligence closed out 2019 with $42.64 billion in capital raises, the largest amount of money for a single industry segment.

New from RRA

* The Public Utility Commission of Texas, because of overlapping issues, is postponing consideration of AEP Texas Inc.'s rate case until after a settlement is finalized and approved in CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric LLC's rate case.

The day ahead

* The Baker-Hughes rig count 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.

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