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US, China trade deal could head off further LNG tariffs; Antero to cut spending

Top News

Ariz. regulator takes reins with quest to end 'regulatory capture' by APS

Arizona's new top energy regulator has taken the reins of an agency blighted by a string of recent controversies, including alleged ethics violations and claims of undue influence by regulated entities, with a mission to end the "regulatory capture" of the state's largest electric utility, Arizona Public Service Co.

US, China near trade deal that could head off further LNG tariffs, lobbyist says

China and the U.S. are close to a trade deal that would head off a potential March 2 hike in tariffs on U.S LNG exports, new American Petroleum Institute CEO Mike Sommers said Jan. 8.

Antero to cut spending in 2019 on falling prices, still expects production gains

Antero Resources Corp. plans to reduce its drilling and completion capital budget in 2019 due to falling oil and NGL prices but still raise production totals, the Appalachian shale producer announced Jan. 8.

Coal state Democrats target black lung, miner pensions with new Senate bill

Six Democratic U.S. senators representing coal states introduced a bill Jan. 3 to protect coal miners' pensions and healthcare benefits as well as raise and extend the coal excise tax that supports miners with black lung disease.


"I am here to deliver on my campaign promises to stop the corruption, to stop unjustified rate increases and to lower rates that were unjustly raised, and to make Arizona the solar capitol of the world," said Arizona Corporation Commission member Sandra Kennedy, during her Jan. 7 swearing-in ceremony.


* In less than a year at the helm of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Kevin McIntyre kept the commission close to its historical course on reviews of natural gas infrastructure projects, even as he listened to Democratic colleagues and critics who pushed his Republican majority to expand consideration of the projects' effects on climate change.

* Andrew Wheeler is set to become permanent administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg News reported, citing a source familiar with the matter. The White House was expected to make the announcement "as soon as Tuesday evening."

* Three vice presidents who oversee transmission for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. are retiring, as the company faces billions of dollars in potential liabilities from catastrophic wildfires in which utility lines are suspected or have been implicated as ignition sources.

* Vineyard Wind LLC is committed to begin construction of the planned 800-MW Vineyard Offshore Wind Project this year despite the recent the postponement of two federal meetings due to the partial government shutdown, The Standard-Times in New Bedford, Mass., reported.

* The Solar Energy Industries Association is urging South Carolina lawmakers to pass a bill that would require state regulators to initiate a new proceeding to review and approve rates and terms provided to large-scale solar facilities, allow large customers to contract directly with a renewable energy supplier and remove arbitrary caps on home solar projects.

* The amount of gas-fired generating capacity added in the U.S. in 2018 nearly doubled the amount added the year before, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

* The Maine Public Utilities Commission voted to launch a formal inquiry into complaints regarding high bills and billing errors reported by Central Maine Power Co. customers in 2017, The Associated Press reported.

* North Dakota's Burleigh County Commission denied special use permits for Pure New Energy USA's proposed 250-MW Burleigh-Emmons Wind Project wind farm in Morton Township, N.D., the Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune reported. Pure New Energy intends to continue project development.

* AES Corp. and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative brought online the 28-MW solar photovoltaic facility with 100-MWh energy storage system in Hawaii. The project is expected to provide 11% of Kauai's electric generation and support the state's goal of reaching 100% renewable energy by 2045.

Natural gas

* The Virginia Air Pollution Control Board voted 4-0 to approve an air permit for the 1.5-Bcf/d Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC natural gas pipeline project that allows the construction of a compressor station in Union Hill, Va., a historically African-American community.

* Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is said to be eyeing investments in the U.S. LNG sector and reportedly shortlisted four LNG projects for the same purpose, including Tellurian Inc.'s 27.6-mtpa Driftwood terminal in Louisiana and Sempra Energy's 11-mtpa Port Arthur terminal in Texas, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources close to the matter. The Kingdom-owned company could announce a deal in the first half of 2019.

* Daily natural gas flows to the three U.S. liquefied natural gas export plants remained at near-record levels in December 2018 as the owner of two of them, Cheniere Energy Inc., continued commissioning work on two new trains that the company has said it expects to bring into commercial service in early 2019.

* TransCanada Corp. said it plans to change its name to TC Energy to better reflect the scope of the company's operations as a North American energy infrastructure company. The name change will go into effect immediately after the company's annual and special meeting of shareholders in the second quarter of 2019, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals.

* Energy Transfer LP subsidiary Energy Transfer Operating LP commenced and priced an offering of $4.0 billion of its senior notes, the proceeds of which would be used to make an intercompany loan to its parent company and pay back nearer-term debt.

* A coalition of seven U.S. House Democrats introduced suite of bills to block offshore drilling in one or more regions of the Outer Continental Shelf. The bills come as the Trump administration prepares to release the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's proposed offshore oil and gas Leasing program.


* London-based BP PLC approved a $1.3 billion expansion project at the Atlantis field in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and has identified an additional 1 billion barrels of oil at the Thunder Horse field due to new seismic technology.

* South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson filed a motion in federal court to join a lawsuit aimed at blocking planned seismic testing and offshore drilling along the South Carolina coast.

* Negatively impacted by widespread producer spending discipline and a falling crude oil price, businesses in the oilfield services and equipment sector saw investor returns significantly decline into the end of 2018.

* TransCanada Corp. expects to resume pre-construction activities on the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline project by February and commence construction by June, Bloomberg News reported, citing a court filing.

* Oil and gas services provider TechnipFMC plc signed an offshore agreement with Saudi Arabian Oil, which is effective for six years.

* Sanchez Energy Corp. received a second delisting notice from the New York Stock Exchange over its failure to maintain an average market capitalization of at least $50 million over a period of 30 consecutive trading days, according to a company filing.

* Husky Energy Inc. said it is exploring the sale of its noncore Canadian downstream assets as the Calgary, Alberta-based company turns its attention towards its core assets in its integrated corridor along with its offshore business in Atlantic Canada and the Asia-Pacific region.


* A total of 16,900 MW of U.S. power generation capacity retired in 2018, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, far more than the 11,569 MW retired in 2017.

* Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order Jan. 8 establishing a statewide goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.


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Following three years of decline, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions rose 3.4% in 2018 as the American economy expanded and natural gas-fired generation beat out renewables for replacing a wave of retiring coal plants, according to a preliminary estimate released Jan. 8 by the Rhodium Group.

New from RRA

* Though gains proved to be elusive in December 2018 for nearly all power and diversified utility stocks in our coverage group, relatively strong performance earlier in the fourth quarter saw companies maintain positive gains on the year.

The day ahead

* The EIA petroleum status 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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