NGI The Weekly Gas Market Report

Briefs -- Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania | BP Energy | Consol Energy/Noble Energy | Avista Utilities

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has voted to reduce Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania's revenue increase request, approving a settlement that would increase annual operating revenues by $35 million. Columbia filed its request earlier this year seeking a $55 million revenue increase to help fund upgrades of its underground distribution infrastructure and training for pipeline safety and regulatory compliance (see Daily GPIMarch 23). The PUC said the approved settlement would increase an average residential customer's bill from $77.33 to $83.05 per month, or by about 7%. Columbia provides natural gas service to roughly 421,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in parts of 26 counties. Since 2007, the company has invested nearly $1.1 billion to modernize and expand its distribution system. The settlement also includes a program that provides alternative options to finance the costs of natural gas extension projects for large commercial and industrial customers.

BP Energy continued a long-running dispute with Dominion Cove Point LNG LP (DCP) when it asked FERC to expedite action on a case recently remanded by the United States Court of Appeals and allow it to "turn back" import expansion storage and regasification capacity as the agency previously allowed another existing import customer. BP's filing comes more than three years after Dominion filed an application at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeking authorization to proceed with a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Calvert County, MD, and associated interstate natural gas pipeline facilities (see Daily GPIApril 2, 2013). The export facility was to have a marketed capacity of up to 5.75 million metric tons per annum, the subsidiary of Richmond, VA-based Dominion said at the time. DCP received no requests during a pair of open seasons, according to BP, and instead "...negotiated an early termination of Statoil Natural Gas LLC's Cove Point expansion agreements on a bilateral basis." Just weeks after Dominion filed its application, BP and Shell NA LNG LLC filed protests, citing concerns that it could degrade services to DCP's existing import customers and that the company was showing unduly preferential treatment to certain customers (see Daily GPIMay 8, 2013). BP asked FERC to grant relief effective Jan. 1, 2017, to coincide with the proposed effective date for the earliest Statoil turn back. A proportional turn back right would be at least 190,000 Dth/d of BP's LTD-1 and FTS capacity, the company said.

Consol Energy Inc. and Noble Energy Inc. ended their joint venture (JV) in the Marcellus Shale, giving both companies a clearer path forward with regard to how those assets are developed, in a deal indicative of how rapidly the industry has changed since the partnership was formed in 2011. The companies announced an exchange agreement to divide the 669,000 acres in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and the 1.07 Bcfe/d of production tied to the properties. The deal favors Consol, an Appalachian pure-play that for years has been rebuilding the core of its business to evolve around natural gas production rather than coal. The new production would bulk up its earnings and give the company more assets to sell in the future, if necessary. The JV had originally provided Noble with entry into the Appalachian Basin and a way forward for Consol as it accelerated its development there (see Shale Daily, Aug. 29, 2011).

Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities natural gas utility rates in Idaho will decrease by 7.8% beginning Tuesday, following approval from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Wholesale gas commodity costs, which represent about half of the overall rates for retail customers, are adjusted annually as part of the PUC's purchased gas adjustment. This year's adjustment downward is primarily due to what the PUC called a "warmer-than-normal 2015-16 winter," along with plentiful gas storage and continued high gas production. As a result, average Avista residential and small commercial customers will see a decrease of about $4.65/month.

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