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Industry Briefs

Enbridge Inc. is holding a binding open season through Nov. 23 for its proposed LaCrosse Pipeline, which is intended to transport gas from Carthage, TX, to multiple delivery points in southeastern Louisiana. Construction of the 340-mile LaCrosse would occur in two phases. In Phase I Enbridge would construct and place in service the 42- and 36-inch diameter pipeline segments from the Enbridge Carthage Hub to Point Coupee Parish, LA, and a 24-inch diameter segment from Point Coupee Parish to Petrologistics LLC's Choctaw Storage facility in Iberville Parish, LA. In Phase II Enbridge would construct and place in service the segment from Point Coupee Parish to an interconnection with Southern Natural Gas Co. in Washington Parish, LA. The planned in-service dates would be phased starting January 2012 through March 2013, Enbridge said. "We are in the process of negotiating third-party agreements that will bring total capacity commitments to exceed 1 Bcf/d and have additional indications of interest that could exceed 1.3 Bcf/d," said Enbridge Energy Co. Inc. President Terrance L. McGill. "We have also secured engineering and environmental firms and survey permission from more than 80% of affected landowners. We are moving forward to initiate regulatory approvals including application to [the] U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and expect to place Phase 1 of the LaCrosse Pipeline in service during the first quarter of 2012." Information is available at www.lacrosse.enbridgeus.com under "Shipper Documents."

The director of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) Division of Oil and Gas has made a final finding that holding annual Beaufort Sea areawide oil and gas lease sales from 2009 to 2018 is in the best interest of the state. ADNR has proposed to offer for lease all available state-owned acreage in Beaufort Sea Areawide oil and gas lease sales over the 10-year period. The lease sale area contains approximately two million acres in 573 tracts ranging in size from 640 to 5,760 acres within the North Slope Borough and consists of state-owned tide and submerged land in the Beaufort Sea between the Canadian border and Point Barrow, AK. The area is adjacent to both the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The southern fringe of the lease sale area includes some state-owned uplands lying between the NPR-A and ANWR. While the area "has all the geologic conditions favorable for a recoverable accumulation of hydrocarbons," ADNR said it expects current market conditions to make remaining undiscovered reservoirs "noneconomic to marginally economic." The complete final finding is available at www.dog.dnr.alaska.gov/oil.

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (KMP) and Copano Energy LLC are forming a 50-50 joint venture (JV) to provide midstream natural gas services to producers operating in the emerging Eagle Ford Shale play in South Texas. As a first phase the companies plan to construct a 22-mile, 24-inch diameter gas gathering pipeline with initial capacity of 350 MMcf/d. The pipeline, which is expected to be completed by the middle of 2010 would originate in LaSalle County, TX, and terminate in Duval County. No financial details were provided. The JV is not yet a done deal. KMP and Copano have signed a letter of intent, which is subject to negotiating an extension of existing contracts between them, including processing and transportation agreements, KMP said. The transactions still require definitive agreements and certain approvals.

Newfield Exploration Co. stands to gain a big leasehold in the Maverick Basin of South Texas under an agreement with TXCO Resources Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in May (see NGI, May 25). TXCO, formerly known as The Exploration Co., agreed to sell a big chunk of its assets for $223 million in cash to Newfield. The purchase price is to be paid at closing with no financing contingencies. Newfield also agreed to an earnest money deposit of $20 million. TXCO's core operating area is in the Maverick Basin, where it holds almost 630,000 net acres (see NGI, April 7, 2008). The San Antonio-based company also operates in the onshore Gulf Coast region, in the Marfa Basin of Texas and in the Midcontinent region of Oklahoma.

A lawsuit filed by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) against state regulators after more stringent drilling rules were enacted will move forward, a Denver judge has ruled. COGA on May 1 filed a lawsuit against the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), one month after the state's new drilling rules took effect (see NGI, June 29; April 27). The lawsuit claims that the COGCC, which oversees regulation of the energy industry in the state, did not accurately determine how much it would cost to implement the rules. The lawsuit questions whether COGCC "accurately and publicly" forecast what it would cost the agency to enforce the new rules, and it questions whether COGCC accurately forecast the cost of compliance by producers that operate in Colorado. The lawsuit, filed in the Second Judicial District of Denver County, asks that the rules be invalidated (COGA vs. COGCC, No. 09-CV-4435). District Court Judge Herbert Stern III issued three rulings that govern how the case will be handled, and he ordered that work on a briefing schedule begin. Stern also rejected a request by COGA to file an amended complaint with the court, and he advised COGA to officially notify the public about the lawsuit.

Williams' Northwest Pipeline GP has received authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to place its 24-inch diameter Colorado Hub Connection into service, it said. The 26.4-mile pipeline and related facilities connect the Meeker/White River Hub, a regional production area hub, with the Northwest Pipeline mainline south of Rangely, CO. The project will provide approximately 360,000 Dth/d of firm service on Northwest's mainline to delivery points as far south as Ignacio, CO. At Ignacio Northwest interconnects with El Paso Natural Gas and Transwestern Pipeline Co. The cost of the project was approximately $60 million. In August 2007 Northwest conducted an open season for the project and filed an application for a FERC certificate in September 2008. Williams Pipeline Partners LP owns a 35% interest in Northwest Pipeline GP.

Spectra Energy's 95-kilometer (60-mile) South Peace Pipeline, which extends the company's existing raw gas gathering system in the rapidly developing Montney/Doig/Cadomin plays in northeast British Columbia, has been placed into service, the company said. The pipeline, which has a capacity in excess of 220 MMcf/d, provides Montney producers in the emerging South Peace region with access to Spectra's Fort St. John area infrastructure, including the McMahon gas processing plant, the company said.

Columbia Gas of Ohio has filed its gas cost recovery (GCR) adjustment for December with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), registering a more than 50% drop from December of last year. The GCR of 49 cents/100 cubic feet (1 Ccf) of gas will be 70 cents, or 59%, lower than December 2008 when it was $1.19/Ccf. The December GCR is the second-lowest heating-season gas cost charge in the last eight years. It was 48 cents in the November 2001 through January 2002 quarter, the company said. December is the fourth-highest gas usage month of the year for Columbia's residential heating customers and is typically one of the months when bills are highest. The typical residential customer using 114 Ccf would see a December bill of $92.43, according to company estimates. That is a decrease of $77.80 compared to December 2008, when it was $170.23. Gas costs make up about 60% of the typical residential customer bill. Compared to November 2009, the December GCR will be down by 7 cents to reflect lower natural gas costs. Higher natural gas usage due to colder temperatures will increase the typical residential customer's December bill to $92.43, compared to $61.10 in November. Average residential gas usage is 62 Ccf in November, the company said. The December GCR will be in effect from Nov. 25 through Dec. 29.

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