The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on Thursday imposed a $16.7 million penalty on Southern California Edison Co. (SCE) for "failure to timely report" alleged ex parte communications and "misleading" the regulatory body, a violation of CPUC rules. The five-member CPUC effectively affirmed an administrative law judge's (ALJ) proposed penalty for the alleged breach of CPUC ethics rules (see Daily GPIOct. 29). The penalty follows a disputed ALJ finding that the utility violated CPUC ex parte communications rules on 10 occasions between March 26, 2013 and June 17, 2014 regarding SCE's pending case on the closure of its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). SCE has challenged the charges. In addition to the fine, the CPUC ordered SCE to develop a public website tracking all of its future nonpublic, individual communications related to the SONGS investigation.

The Australian Foreign Investment Review Board has approved Royal Dutch Shell plc's acquisition of  BG Group plc, completing the deal's regulatory review in Australia and leaving one remaining clearance to be obtained: from China's Ministry of Commerce. Last month, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission gave its unconditional approval of the combination of the companies (see Daily GPINov. 19). Clearances were previously obtained in Brazil and the European Union. "The addition of BG's integrated gas assets in Australia to Shell's global portfolio is one of the main strategic drivers behind the recommended combination," said Shell CEO Ben van Beurden. "The Shell-BG combination is a sign of Shell's confidence in the Australian economy. It is also a springboard to change Shell into a simpler, more profitable and resilient company. We remain on track to complete the deal in early 2016."

Seoul, South Korea-based Dongsung FineTec Co. Ltd., a maker of insulation for liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants and other industrial sites, said it will make a $5 million capital investment in a cryogenic insulation manufacturing facility in Lake Charles, LA. The company plans to lease an 11-acre site at the Port of Lake Charles' Industrial Park East. Ten major LNG projects are in the works for the southwest region, including projects by Magnolia LNG, Lake Charles LNG and Live Oak LNG in Calcasieu Parish and Cheniere Energy, Cameron LNG, Venture Global, SCT&E LNG, G2 LNG, Commonwealth LNG and Delphin LNG in Cameron Parish. Dongsung FineTec also expects to serve facilities in other Gulf Coast states. The company has developed fuel tank and insulation solutions for smaller and mid-scale LNG operations as well as large-scale plants. "Clearly, the U.S. and Southwest Louisiana are becoming significant players in the LNG industry," said Dongsung FineTec's James Choi, senior vice president. "We have made a commitment to continue supporting our existing international customers here in the United States. We feel the market, even in these times of low oil prices, has a bright future in relation to the developing natural gas industry.”

Houston-based Marathon Oil Corp. has plugged and abandoned the Solomon exploration well in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico's Lower Tertiary Trend. The well, which Marathon operated with a 58% stake, reached its total depth of 34,600 feet on Walker Ridge Block 225 and "did encounter the Lower Tertiary target interval." The rig was released and no further activity is planned on the block. Venari Resources LLC holds a 22% working interest while Murphy Oil Corp. has 20%.