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Oregon regulators on Tuesday increased retail natural gas rates due to higher commodity costs for the state's three investor-owned gas distributors -- NW Natural GasAvista Utilities and Cascade Natural Gas -- effective Saturday (Nov. 1). The largest increases approved by the Oregon Public Utility Commission will be imposed on industrial customers, ranging up to 13.4% for Avista's largest customers. The state's largest gas distributor, NW Natural, will increase rates overall by $23 million, or 3.4% (10.4% for industrials); for Avista, the increase totals $7.73 million, or 8.3%; and Cascade will have a $543,000 increase, or 0.86% (3.7% for industrials). The state's gas supplies come from suppliers in western Canada and the U.S. Rockies.

American Electric Power, which owns seven regional electric utilities across 11 states, is getting a boost from onshore oil and gas development. The Columbus, OH-based company reported a profit of $493 million ($1.01/share) for the third quarter. "We continue to see economic improvement in the states where we operate, primarily in areas with shale gas operations," said CEO Nicholas Akins. AEP revenues have increased from $4.2 to $4.3 billion over the last year, while four states with heavy shale development are driving growth and profits, including Ohio, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Texas. Temporary power, compression and separation units are all in high-demand in these service areas. The third quarter was the company's fourth consecutive period of industrial sales growth and its fifth consecutive for commercial sales growth.

Charlotte, NC-based Piedmont Natural Gas has received approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) for its affiliate agreements with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).  Since Piedmont is both a financial partner and a customer of the proposed natural gas pipeline (see Daily GPISept. 2), Piedmont's affiliate agreements with ACP are subject to NCUC approval. Ultimate approval of the project rests with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The pipeline would carry gas from the Marcellus Shale and would be the second major interstate gas pipeline serving North Carolina. It is proposed to be in service by late 2018.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. plans to move its north region headquarters next year from Pittsburgh, PA, to North Fayette, PA, farther from the city's downtown, which is home to other regional exploration and production companies, in favor of a larger space for its growing staff. Cabot first brought more staff to Pittsburgh in 2009. Since then, its office has grown from about 30 employees to nearly 90, according to a company spokesman. Cabot's new location is about 16 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, but its new building is roughly 16,000 square-feet bigger. Cabot, which has its corporate headquarters in Houston, continues to increase production in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, where it's the state's second-largest producer, with more than 1 Bcf/d in annual production (see Shale DailyAug. 19).

Samchully Asset Management Co. Ltd., the investment arm of Samchully Group of South Korea, has completed its acquisition of a 34% interest in Cardinal Gas Services LLC, a joint venture of Chesapeake Energy Corp.Total E&P USA and EV Energy Partners LP in eastern Ohio (see Shale DailySept. 23).

Northern Electric, a subsidiary of The Northern Group, said it has expanded electrical, instrumentation and automation services into the midcontinent region of Oklahoma and Kansas. Northern's President, Al Fisher, said the company has a multitude of electricians and instrument technicians in the Mississippi Lime area, and it hopes to grow its midcontinent well pad construction in conjunction with the oil boom currently under way in the region. Northern Electric is focused on upstream and midstream electrical construction across the United States' unconventional shale plays. "As a national industrial oil, gas and petrochemical contractor, we're providing electrical services to several operators in the Bakken, DJ Basin, Utica and others," a spokesman said. The Northern Group has headquarters in Westminster, CO, and satellite offices in Parshall, ND, Houston, TX, Greeley, CO, and Inverness, FL.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has signed a bill into law requiring operators to report production on a monthly basis. The state legislature unanimously supported the bill (see Shale DailyOct. 21). The law will go into effect next year, with the first reports due by March 31 and after that within 45 days of the reporting period's close. Pennsylvania operators were previously required to report production twice a year, or every six months. Corbett also signed a bill requiring exploration and production companies to provide a document to leaseholders detailing the expiration of a lease. The bill, which was sponsored by a Republican state representative, is aimed at clarifying uncertainties about when exactly a lease expires. Operators will now have to provide a document that surrenders interests to the land within 30 days of the lease's termination.

Downeast LNG Inc. (DELNG) has filed at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for authorization to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to free and non-free trade agreement (FTA) countries from its terminal proposed for Washington County, ME. The company is seeking authorization to export up to 173 MMBtu per year, equivalent to about 168 Bcf per year, for a 20-year period to non-FTA countries. The volume represents the peak production rate of the planned liquefaction facility. DELNG also is seeking authorization to export to FTA countries the same volume under the same terms. While essentially a revamp of a previously proposed import terminal, Downeast as re-imagined would have a small amount of regasification capacity just in case it one day becomes advantageous to switch over to imports or provide LNG peaking services to the market (see Daily GPIJune 20). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently said it would prepare an environmental impact statement for the project [CP07-52, CP07-53] (see Daily GPIOct. 6July 23).

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