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Industry Briefs

Apache Corp. has retained Scotia Waterous (USA) Inc. to sell about 49,500 net acres (80,000 gross) in East Texas, which at the end of 1Q2011 were producing a total of 41 MMcfe/d net. The acreage to be sold includes 490 proved developed producing wells, which are 80% operated. Proved reserves are estimated at 233 Bcfe, with proved and probable reserves of 338 Bcfe. Most of the total proved and probable reserves are in Freestone, Nacogdoches and Upshur counties; additional acreage to be sold is in Camp, Rust, Angelina, Gregg, Panola, Marion, Harrison, Leon and Limestone counties. Production comes from several producing intervals that include the Bossier, Cotton Valley lime, Travis Peak and Rodessa formations. The bid due date is Aug. 4; the effective date is Sept. 1. For information contact Edward Katterhagen at (713) 437-5064.

In Colorado, Xcel Energy said its quarterly gas cost adjustment for the upcoming third quarter will increase retail residential natural gas utility bills by an average of $4/month, compared with bills for the same quarter last year. Xcel cited warmer-than-normal weather nationally in early June as contributing to the increase by driving up demand for gas for electric generation plants. Xcel compares retail gas utility bills on an annual quarter-over-quarter basis because it reflects the seasonal impact of gas use. Costs associated with an increase or decrease in the gas cost adjustment are passed along to Xcel's customers on a dollar-per-dollar basis. The utility filed the gas cost adjustment rates with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission earlier this week, asking that the change be effective July 1, the same time it has asked for a similar retail electric rate increase of about 2% to be effective.

Ford Motor Co. reported Thursday growing interest in its compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled Transit Connect Taxis, citing recent orders from taxicab companies in the Southern California; Chicago; West Haven, CT; Las Vegas, NV; and St. Louis areas. The Southern California cab companies have ordered 120 of the CNG vehicles; West Haven another 70; and Chicago 12 of them. Ford's taxi model will be part of a formal opening in Chicago of a new CNG fueling station, developed and operated by Clean Energy Fuels Corp., the Seal Beach, CA-based firm that was founded by oil/gas billionaire T. Boone Pickens. The two Southern California cab companies making the CNG vehicle purchases are Yellow Cab of Anaheim and Cabco Yellow Inc. of Orange County. Ford representatives indicated they expect the CNG vehicle market to grow with upcoming climate change-inspired more stringent California and federal rules regarding vehicle emissions.

Officials in Garfield County, CO, said that $3.9 million needs to be refunded to oil and gas operators in the county that were incorrectly assessed taxes against materials used in the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process during a four-year period (2002-05). Across the state other counties with heavy drilling and production could have a similar situation, but a Colorado Department of Revenue spokesperson told NGI that it is not known how many counties or companies may be involved. Overcollections were discovered in 2008 by oil/gas industry accounting firms that were adopting new procedures for handling sales tax collections in the state as drilling activity began to accelerate. With that discovery, Noble Energy Inc. filed a lawsuit against the state to retrieve the overpaid amounts. The Colorado Court of Appeals in April ruled in favor of Noble and other companies that had filed lawsuits. The court determined that the taxes were improper since, in part, they were levied against the sand, liquids and chemicals used in the fracking process even though those materials were never purchased by the oil/gas companies. Therefore, the fracking materials could not be considered "tangible personal property." The refunding process is just beginning and will unfold at the county level, the revenue department spokesperson said.

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