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The proposed $6.8 billion merger of Exelon Corp. and Pepco Holdings Inc. (PHI) was given a thumbs-up by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC authorized the proposed merger and disposition of assets under section 203 of the Federal Power Act as consistent with the public interest. The item was on the Commission's consent agenda for its Thursday meeting. The merger, which would create the top Mid-Atlantic electric and gas utility with close to 10 million customers, will combine Exelon's three electric and gas utilities -- Chicago's Commonwealth Edison Co., Baltimore's BGE and Philadelphia's PECO -- and PHI's three electric and gas utilities -- New Jersey's Atlantic City Electric, Delaware's Delmarva Power and Washington, DC and Maryland's Pepco (see Daily GPIApril 30). The buyout is the first major transaction for Exelon since completing an $8 billion merger in 2012 with Constellation Energy (see Daily GPI, May 24, 2011). The merger is expected to close in mid-2015.

The Ohio House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow operators to include land owned by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), such as roads and highways, in their drilling units. After clearing the state House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee (see Shale DailyNov. 17), the full House approved the bill by a vote of 71-18. If it clears the state Senate, it would allow operators to lease ODOT land, making it easier to put together drilling units where such property has been a hurdle. The bill was a sweeping piece of legislation that dealt with everything from agriculture and natural resources, to toxic algae and telecommunications. By the time it passed, more than 100 amendments had been considered.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is seeking public input on the priorities and composition of the newly formed Market Risk Advisory Committee. In a request for comment published in the Federal Register, CFTC invited the public to propose topics upon which the MRAC should focus in making recommendations to the Commission on how to improve market structure and mitigate risk, and nominate individuals (including self-nominations) for MRAC membership in accordance with requirements outlined in the committee's charter. The MRAC's mandate is to conduct public meetings and submit reports and recommendations to CFTC on matters of public concern to clearinghouses, exchanges, intermediaries, market makers, end-users and the Commission regarding systemic issues that threaten the stability of derivatives markets and other financial markets; and assist CFTC in identifying and understanding the impact and implications of an evolving market structure and movement of risk across clearinghouses, intermediaries, market makers and end-users. Suggestions and nominations should be e-mailed by Dec. 3 to, or mailed to Petal Walker, Chief Counsel to Commissioner Sharon Bowen, CFTC, Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st St. NW, Washington, DC, 20581. 

Gasfrac Energy Services Inc. officials said during a 3Q2014 conference call that the company is fracturing its first Ohio Utica Shale well with liquefied propane gas gel. The company did not disclose the operator nor where the well is located but said it is an oil well. Initial test results are expected in December. The Calgary-based oilfield services company also indicated that it is looking for a buyer.

A Mid-Atlantic road show to promote the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) in transportation will offer half-day programs on natural gas transportation in Maryland and Virginia this week with Chicago-based Trillium CNG, a fueling station developer/operator, helping sponsor the program series. The programs are aimed at fleet operating businesses and will provide presentations on the current state of the natural gas industry, CNG infrastructure developments, and the advantages of CNG as a transportation fuel. The first meeting was held in Sparks, MD, on Tuesday; others are scheduled 9 a.m. until noon at Rockville, MD (Wednesday), Richmond, VA (Thursday), and Chesapeake, VA (Friday).

The California Energy Commission distributed $21.2 million in grants for school energy efficiency and alternative fuel vehicle technology programs. Three school districts received a total of $13.5 million for energy efficiency measures and solar installations at 14 different sites around the state. For alternative and renewable fuel and vehicle technology $7.7 million was awarded to four recipients -- the South Coast Air Quality Management District, CalSTART Inc., Pacific Ethanol Development LLC and the City of San Mateo. The city will use a $2.4 million grant to produce low- carbon biomethane from unused digester gas at a wastewater treatment plant to fuel fleet vehicles.

Lone Star NGL LLC, a joint venture of Energy Transfer Partners LP and Regency Energy Partners LP, plans to construct a 533-mile, 24- and 30-inch diameter natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline from the Permian Basin to Mont Belvieu, TX, and convert its existing West Texas 12-inch diameter NGL pipeline into crude oil/condensate service. The new pipeline and conversion projects, estimated to cost $1.5-1.8 billion, are expected to be operational by the third quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, respectively. The new pipeline is being built to accommodate Lone Star's contracted NGL transportation volumes that will exceed its existing 290,000 b/d of capacity from the Permian by 2016. The 24-inch diameter pipeline will be sized to transport 375,000 b/d from the Permian to Bosque County while the 30-inch diameter pipeline is sized to transport 495,000 b/d from Bosque County to Mont Belvieu. The pipelines could be expanded easily, according to Lone Star. The 12-inch diameter West Texas NGL pipeline to be converted to crude/condensate service runs from the Midland, TX, area to the Gulf Coast and will be sized to ship 70,000 b/d to Corsicana, TX, and 100,000 b/d to Sour Lake, TX. An open season is to be held later.

Crowley Maritime Corp.'s liquefied natural gas (LNG) unit has been awarded a multi-year contract to supply containerized, U.S.-sourced LNG to a pharmaceutical company's manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico. Crowley did not disclose the customer's name. The contract, executed through Crowley's Carib Energy LLC subsidiary, includes the fuel supply and transportation of LNG. Carib will use over-the-road transportation of 40-foot intermodal containers to carry 10,000 gallons of LNG to its Jacksonville, FL, shipping terminal. Once in Jacksonville, the containers will be loaded onto company-owned vessels departing for Puerto Rico. Upon arrival on the island, Crowley's Puerto Rico-based logistics team will deliver the LNG to the customer's facilities. There the LNG will be re-gasified into pipeline natural gas for boiler consumption. Crowley entered the LNG market by acquiring Carib last year. Earlier this year it struck a deal to provide LNG to Coca-Cola bottlers in Puerto Rico (see Daily GPIMarch 12). In 2011, Carib Energy became the first company to receive authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy to export LNG to free trade agreement countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean (see Daily GPIAug. 2, 2011). It was awarded a license to transport up to 11.53 Bcf/year over a 25-year term.

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