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Briefs -- EQT Corp. | PA DEP | Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher | Sempra Energy | Spectra Energy | Vesta Midstream | Consol Energy

An EQT Corp. subcontractor accidentally drilled into an abandoned coal mine in Southwest Pennsylvania, causing mine wastewater to empty into the Monongahela River. Keystone Clearwater Solutions LLC was drilling for a pipeline on January 28 to carry river water to EQT's drilling site in Forward Township, about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, when it breached the mine causing the wastewater to leak into a tributary. While the incident was isolated, the Monongahela is one of three major rivers that run through the city. EQT hired another contractor to cleanup and the spill has mostly been contained. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said the incident was not expected to cause problems for public drinking water supplies. Gas extraction has increasingly intersected with abandoned and operational mines in the state. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has opened a 45-day public comment period for input on two permits it's been drafting and a new well site inspection protocol. The new general permit for unconventional well sites (GP-5A) and revisions for the general permit for natural gas compressor stations (GP-5) are part of Gov. Tom Wolf's plans to reduce oil and gas industry emissions. The proposals would also affect remote pigging stations, transmission stations and processing plants. DEP said they establish best available technology for leak detection and repair, recordkeeping and reporting requirements, among other things. The proposal also would require natural gas operators to inspect the installation of well pads within 30 days and quarterly after wells are put into production. The comment period opened on Feb. 4 and will close on March 22. The proposals are available on the agency's website.

Law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP has opened a Houston office with a team of lawyers with energy transactional experience, including public and private mergers and acquisitions, asset acquisitions and divestitures, and joint ventures; debt and equity capital markets; finance and restructuring; tax (focused on master limited partnerships); and regulatory matters, the firm said. The team will initially consist of eight partners, who are to be announced in the coming weeks. “Our new Houston office will be initially focused on energy transactions, but we expect the office to work closely with the Dallas office and other lawyers throughout our firm to attract restructuring, litigation, appellate and regulatory opportunities," said Rob Walters, partner in charge of the firm’s Dallas office.

Sempra Energy's Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and regional air quality regulators on Wednesday reached an $8.5 million settlement on a lawsuit filed against the utility regarding the four-month leak last year at the Aliso Canyon underground natural gas storage facility, California's largest. As part of the agreement with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), SoCalGas agreed to contribute $1 million to help fund a study of the public health effects from the methane leak from one of the facility's storage wells. Representatives of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council immediately criticized the study contribution as being  too small. SCAQMD originally sought $5 million from SoCalGas for the study.

Spectra Energy Corp. and Spectra Energy Partners will issue their fourth quarter earnings Feb. 17. However, given the proximity of the earnings releases with the anticipated first quarter closing of the previously announced merger with Enbridge Inc., they will not host a quarterly conference call but will provide financial results and project updates in their news releases.

Tulsa-based Vesta Midstream Partners LLC said it plans to design and construct its Oil City Gathering and Processing System in Carter County, OK, to offer low- and high-pressure gas gathering and processing services to wells in the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province (aka, the SCOOP). "Anchored by a long-term producer contract with a significant acreage dedication, Vesta is well-positioned to provide a broad spectrum of midstream services to producers in the SCOOP and STACK [the Sooner Trend of the Anadarko Basin, mostly in Canadian and Kingfisher counties] areas," Vesta said. "As the company begins construction and works to meet the needs of its producer customers, Vesta will also consider projects in other oil and gas basins as well." Vesta formed recently with private-equity backing from Dallas-based Energy Spectrum Partners VII LP.

Consol Energy Inc. increased its year/year proved reserves by 11% in 2016, booking 6.3 Tcfe. The company said oil, condensate and natural gas liquids accounted for 423 Bcfe, or roughly 7% of the total. The Marcellus and Utica shales represented 99% of the wet reserves. Consol added 720 Bcfe of proved reserves last year through extensions and discoveries, helping it replace 183% of the 394 Bcfe it produced in 2016.

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