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Briefs -- Sabal Trail, Devon Layoffs, Noble Deepwater

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has raised multiple concerns/objections to the route proposed for the Sabal Trail Pipeline backed by Spectra Energy Corp. and NextEra Energy Inc. (see Daily GPINov. 21, 2014) [CP15-17]. EPA said it has "environmental objections" to "a significant portion of the proposed pipeline route due to the magnitude of the impacts to jurisdictional wetlands..." The proposed route has the potential to violate a portion of the Clean Water Act and could affect community water supplies, EPA said in commenting on the draft environmental impact statement. In its 30-page filing, EPA outlined numerous reasons Sabal Trail's proposed route should be changed, including concerns about the potential impact on what are known as "environmental justice" communities, areas populated by low-income residents. Georgia lawmakers raised similar concerns in a separate filing (see Daily GPIOct. 27). Also like the Georgia lawmakers, EPA raised concerns about the pipeline’s passage through sensitive karst areas with unstable geology.

Devon Energy Corp. has reduced its employee headcount in Canada by about 15%, resulting in the loss of about 200 jobs. "In the past two years, Devon has seen a significant reduction in capital spending in Canada as major projects have been completed, and the company expects capital to remain at lower-than-historic levels for the foreseeable future," spokesman John Porretto told NGI. "There is no companywide mandate for layoffs, and this reduction is specific to Devon's Canadian operations. The company will continue to evaluate its hiring and organizational structure to fit the evolving needs of its business."

A single-well field at Noble Energy Inc.'s Big Bend development in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico has ramped up and is expected to reach a maximum production rate of 20,000 boe/d gross by early November. The project in Mississippi Canyon Block 698, complements Noble's Dantzler development in Block 782, where first production is expected in early November, the Houston producer said. The fields are subsea tiebacks to the Thunder Hawk production facility operated by Murphy Oil Corp. and combined they are expected to contribute to Noble a maximum production rate of 20,000 boe/d net. Big Bend is coming online less than three years from discovery and within the sanctioned budget, said operations chief Gary Willingham. Big Bend is the first of three major projects planned to come online for Noble in the Gulf of Mexico over the next year. Noble operates Big Bend with 54% stake along with partners W&T Energy VI LLC (20%), Red Willow Offshore LLC (15.4%) and Houston Energy Deepwater Ventures V LLC (10.6%). Noble has a 45% interest and also operates Dantzler for partners Ridgewood Energy Corp. (35%) and W&T (20%).

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