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Briefs -- Youngstown Ban, Railroad Commission of Texas, Armour Energy Ltd., Equitrans, Panda Power Funds

Voters in Youngstown, OH, for the fifth time since 2013 voted against a referendum to amend the city's charter in a way that would ban oil and gas development, injection wells and certain industry-related activities. Voters rejected the measure 51-49%, 6,028 against and 5,683 in favor. Tuesday's vote was the narrowest to date (see Shale DailyNov. 6, 2013). Earlier this year, the Mahoning County Board of Elections had decided not to certify the issue for a vote, citing state court precedent, but the state Supreme Court later ordered it back on the ballot (see Shale DailySept. 21). Organizers behind the proposal have repeatedly said they would continue to put the issue before voters until it's passed.

The Railroad Commission of Texas Tuesday voted unanimously to allow two drilling waste disposal wells to continue operating following investigations earlier this year into whether the wells were contributing to seismic activity in the regions where they operate (see Shale DailySept. 11Sept. 2). Researchers found that in both cases it was not likely that the wells were causing earthquakes in the area of the Texas towns Azle and Reno. XTO Energy Inc. and Enervest Operating LLC will be allowed to continue operating their respective injection wells.

Australia-based Armour Energy Ltd. has voted in favor of selling a 75% interest in an exploration project in the country's McArthur Basin to American Energy Partners LP (AELP) (see Shale DailyAug. 20). Armour signed a letter of intent to sell 14.99% of its shares and the farm-out rights to the Oklahoma City producer, which is headed by Aubrey McClendon. The agreement allows AELP to explore 21.5 million acres of Armour's 34 million-acre project. More than 184 million Armour shareholders voted in favor of the transaction versus 10.4 million opposed. Armour recently announced a 66% increase in the McArthur Basin natural gas resource base, which boosted its estimate for prospective resources in the shale play to 57 Tcf from 23 Tcf.

Equitrans LP has submitted an application to FERC for its $172 million Equitrans Expansion project in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, which would provide up to 600,000 Dth/d of incremental north-south capacity and bring natural gas from the Appalachian Basin to market. The Pittsburgh-based company filed for a certificate of public convenience and necessity and abandonment authority for the pipeline project [CP16-13]. Equitrans plans to build, own and operate 7.87 miles of pipeline in Pennsylvania's Allegheny, Greene and Washington counties, and in Wetzel County, WV. The project also calls for an interconnection with the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) (see Daily GPI, Oct. 23), ancillary facilities, and abandoning an existing 4,800 hp compressor station in Greene County. The company said it is planning to begin construction in December 2016.

Dallas-based private equity firm Panda Power Funds LP has secured $835 million in private financing to begin work on one of the nation's largest coal-to-natural gas power conversion projects in central Pennsylvania. Panda said that it expects its 1,124 MW Hummel Station power plant in Snyder County, PA, to be in-service by 1Q2018 (see Daily GPIFeb. 18). Goldman Sachs, Investec and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China arranged $710 million of debt financing for the facility. Siemens Financial Services would be a co-investor under the financing plan with $125 million in committed equity. The plant would be located on the western bank of the Susquehanna River at the former site of a retired coal-fired power plant. That facility was shuttered last year after stiff competition from low-priced gas and increasingly stringent federal emissions standards forced it to close, Panda said. The natural gas-fired facility is expected to provide 180% more power than the former 400 MW coal-fired plant.

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