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Briefs -- West Virginia, Stone Energy, Northern Natural Gas, ICE

February 19, 2016
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The West Virginia Senate has passed two bills to benefit the oil and gas industry. SB 508, which would clarify the language that defines a private nuisance, passed 20-12 and has been sent to the state House judiciary committee (see Shale DailyFeb. 18). It would make it more difficult for residents to file lawsuits against producers and other businesses by requiring them to prove physical property damage or a bodily injury claim. SB 565, which would allow drillers to construct access roads and well pads before submitting plans and receiving a permit, passed the chamber 31-1 and has been sent to the House energy committee. Operators could start work without submitting engineering plans or receiving a permit from the state, but they would still be required to do so before drilling any wells. The legislature's 60-day 2016 legislative session adjourns March 12.

Stone Energy Corp. said in its year-end earnings report that it would continue to shut in natural gas production from the Mary Field in West Virginia throughout 2016. The 39,200-acre field is the company's largest in the Appalachian Basin. Low commodity prices and negative differentials forced it to shut in the assets last September and curtail 100-110 MMcfe/d of Marcellus Shale production (see Shale DailySept. 25, 2015). This year's $200 million budget would mostly go toward the company's deepwater Gulf of Mexico assets and maintaining core leasehold interests and maintenance in Appalachia.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff will prepare an environmental assessment (EA) for Northern Natural Gas Co.'s proposed Cedar Station Upgrade Project in Dakota County, MN. A scoping process has been opened and FERC will accept comments through March 24, according to a notice of intent [PF15-32]. Staff will host a public scoping meeting March 15 in Eagan, MN. Northern Natural plans to construct and operate 7.8 miles of 20-inch diameter pipeline from its Rosemont Junction in Rosemont, MN, to the Cedar Station Meter Station in Eagan, which would allow it to increase pressure at the Cedar Station to 650 psig from 400 psig. The project would accommodate a contractual obligation to meet a delivery pressure for Northern States Power Co.'s Black Dog Generating Station, according to Northern Natural.

Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) reported Tuesday that effective for trading beginning on Tuesday, March 1, ICE's definition for the TETCO-M3 physical gas market on ICE will change from "Texas Eastern Transmission Corp. - M3 Zone (delivered)" to "Texas Eastern Transmission Corp. - M3 Zone (delivered, excluding points on the Philadelphia lateral)." This definition change will apply to both bilateral trades and NGX cleared trades.

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