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Briefs -- Penn Virginia Corp., U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Chesapeake Energy; Railroad Commission of Texas, Plaquemines LNG, UC Berkeley

October 2, 2015
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Eagle Ford Shale operator Penn Virginia Corp. has sold noncore South Texas assets to an undisclosed buyer for $13 million, the company said. The divested properties are in far southwest Gonzales County, TX, "a significant distance away from our main acreage block, and include three producing wells with September 2015 net production of approximately 250 boe/d, approximately 950 net developed acres and estimated midyear 2015 proved developed reserves, as determined by third party engineers, of approximately 595,000 boe," the company said. "Following the sale, we still hold leasehold interests in 100,400 net acres in South Texas, including approximately 52,500 undeveloped net acres."

The United States Chamber of Commerce has filed an amicus brief in the appeal of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East's (SLFPA-E) lawsuit against dozens of energy companies in Louisiana, accusing them of coastal damage. The case is now before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (see Daily GPIFeb. 17). The U.S. Chamber is arguing that a federal court, not a state court, is the proper forum to decide the case and agreed that the district court properly dismissed the case. "The oil and gas industry applauds the U.S. Chamber for taking a stance on this case," said Louisiana Oil & Gas Association President Don Briggs. "A case like this one can affect the entire business community and the chamber recognizes this fact. This lawsuit filed by the SLFPA-E is solely based on financial extortion against the largest job-producing industry in the state. We feel that the federal court will recognize the ridiculous and unfounded nature of this suit and dismiss it in a timely manner."  

The U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed a petition by a pension fund that had sought to revive a lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy Corp. for failing to adequately disclose its natural gas hedging strategy. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 880 Pension Fund, which represented several investors, failed to convince any U.S. court of the merits of its case. A U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City previously ruled for Chesapeake, as did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The fund petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari to review the circuit court's ruling that found the plaintiffs should have known the risks involved. The fund, which brought its lawsuit in 2009, claimed that the Tenth Circuit had relied improperly on the concept of constructive knowledge (United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 888 v. Chesapeake Energy, No. 14-1233).

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) hearings division closed a record 1,057 oil and gas dockets or administrative law cases in fiscal 2015, which is the most in seven years. The dockets closed in fiscal 2015 also represented 263 more cases closed compared to the previous year's total of 794 dockets closed. Hearings at the RRC are held before a legal examiner and an administrative law judge and can involve protested oil and gas enforcement cases, permit applications for oil and gas facilities such as disposal wells, and requests for changes in field rules or field consolidations.

Staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will prepare an environmental impact statement for the Plaquemines LNG Project involving construction and operation of facilities by Venture Global Plaquemines LNG LLC in Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes in Louisiana. The project was approved for prefiling review in July (see Daily GPIJuly 7). Comments received on the project before July 2 must be filed again in docket No. PF15-27.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected the University of California, Berkeley in partnership with others including the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to lead a five-year, $50 million international research effort centered on water use in energy projects. The Clean Energy Research Center for Water Energy Technologies (CERC-WET) will look at the impact of water resource scarcity and variability on energy systems in the United States, China and around the world as part of a joint effort with China that was launched in 2009 by the Obama administration. DOE and the partnering organizations are putting up $25 million, which will be matched by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and its consortium partners. CERC-WET is focused on "building the foundation for technologies and expertise" that will position both nations to continue to grow with constrained energy and water resources, a spokesperson for UC Berkeley said. In the Berkeley-led consortium three additional UC campuses -- Davis, Merced and UCLA -- are participating, along with Massachusetts-based Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)-US.

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