Columbia Gas Transmission LLC (TCO) is holding a binding open season through April 23 for the Mountaineer XPress Project (MXP), which could carry up to 2.7 Bcf/d of Utica and Marcellus shale gas to the TCO pool and other points. The Columbia Pipeline Group pipeline had held a nonbinding open season in September (see Daily GPISept. 8, 2014). "TCO has executed binding precedent agreements with anchor and non-anchor shippers that collectively provide TCO sufficient support to move forward with the project," the pipeline said in its notice. "The purpose of this open season is to provide all interested parties the opportunity to bid on approximately 500,000 Dth/d of project capacity. The potential MXP in-service date is Nov. 1, 2018, with potential interim service beginning as early as the first half of 2018 for receipts along TCO's WB Line."

Excelerate Energy LP has asked FERC to extend a previously granted abeyance of the Lavaca Bay LNG Project proceeding until Sept. 1 [CP14-73]. In late 2014 Excelerate asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to place the proceeding for the proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal off the Texas coast in abeyance until April 1 because of global economic conditions, including the oil price collapse (see Daily GPIDec. 30, 2014). Excelerate said granting its latest motion would give the company more time to evaluate the project's economic value.

A federal judge has sentenced a former Consol Energy Inc. manager to 30 months in prison and ordered him to pay a $5,000 fine for a royalties scheme in which he stole $440,000 from the company's interests at parcels in West Virginia and Illinois. Scott D. Hamilton, 38, who worked as a land records manager for Consol, pleaded guilty to 60 counts of mail fraud in November after federal prosecutors filed charges against him (see Shale DailySept. 23, 2014). He has also paid back the $440,000 in restitution. From 2009 to 2011, Hamilton established a fake company to file deed transfers that turned Consol's royalty interests over to him. He forged signatures of a notary public and made up names for a company representative and attorney to ensure that the deeds appeared genuine, according to prosecutors. 

Republic Steel said it would temporarily lay off about 200 workers from its Lorain, OH, plant because of declining demand from the oil and gas industry. The plant, about 30 miles west of Cleveland, will lay off both hourly and salaried workers. It is unclear how long the layoffs will last. The plant is the latest in the Appalachian Basin to announce cutbacks related to the drop in commodity prices. Vallourec Star LPTMK IPSCO and U.S. Steel Corp., which announced layoffs at its Lorain plant in January, have all announced work-stoppages and job cuts (see Shale DailyFeb. 4). The facilities make steel pipe for oil and gas wells.