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Briefs -- PA DEP | Tesoro Corp. | Railroad Commission of Texas | Kinder Morgan Pipelines, Storage | Trans-Pecos Pipeline | Silver Run | WV Forced Pooling

Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Patrick McDonnell plans to hit the road in April for a listening tour about how the agency's Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) can be improved. McDonnell will host nine roundtables with residents and leaders across the state to see how they can get more involved in DEP's decision-making process. The OEJ serves as a point of contact for Pennsylvanians in low income areas and areas with more minorities. It was established more than a decade ago to better protect those communities from industrial development such as oil and gas drilling. OEJ Director Carl Jones said his office wants to go beyond those demographics, however, and start reaching out to include more communities in the public participation process. The agency's oil and gas permitting has slowed in recent years as DEP has faced staff cuts, technical deficiencies and, at times, more applications. A schedule of the roundtables is available on DEP's website.

Stockholders of both San Antonio-based Tesoro Corp. and El Paso-based Western Refining Inc. have approved Tesoro's acquisition of Western in a stock transaction valued at $6.4 billion, which was announced last fall. The separate actions came at special stockholders meetings. The combined company would be headed by Tesoro CEO Greg Goff and the acquiring company's Steven Sterin, executive vice president and CFO. Western CEO Jeff Stevens and Executive Chairman Paul Foster will both join an expanded Tesoro Corp. board. Tesoro officials said that its proposed stock issuance to complete the deal was approved by 99% of the outstanding shares, and about 80% of the Western Refining outstanding shares voted in favor of the merger. The new company would be the sixth-largest U.S. refiner, with slightly more than 1 million b/d of refining capacity concentrated in the West. The companies said they expect the deal to close by the end of the first half of this year.

Legislation (HB 1818) to reauthorize the Railroad Commission of Texas until 2029 has passed the Texas House of Representatives and, following a third reading and voice vote, was expected to head to the Senate for consideration. Among other things, the legislation would grant additional oversight over pipelines in Texas. The Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association supports the bill.

FERC has approved index price changes in their respective tariffs proposed by multiple pipelines owned/operated by Kinder Morgan Inc. (KMI) to reference index prices published by Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI) instead of those published by Intercontinental Exchange as the latter will soon cease to exist as an independent publisher of natural gas price indexes. The pipelines affected are Cheyenne Plains Gas Pipeline Co LLC [RP17-508]; Sierrita Gas Pipeline LLC [RP17-509]; Ruby Pipeline LLC [RP17-512]; El Paso Natural Gas Co. LLC [RP17-504]; Wyoming Interstate Co. LLC [RP17-505]; and Colorado Interstate Gas Co. LLC [RP17-486]. Also making similar changes in index pricing to NGIare KMI's Young Gas Storage Co. Ltd. [RP17-484] and Keystone Gas Storage LLC [PR17-30]. NGI, which has been publishing wholesale natural gas prices for more than 30 years, is an approved price reporting agency in compliance with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s 2003 policy statement [PL03-3] on wholesale natural gas and electricity price indexes.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted Trans-Pecos Pipeline Co.’s request to place into service the Presidio Border Crossing Project in Presidio County, TX. Presidio Crossing [CP15-500] represents the Commission-jurisdictional Texas-Mexico border-crossing facilities of the Texas intrastate Trans-Pecos pipeline, which was expected to enter service by the end of March.

Houston-based Silver Run Acquisition Corp. II, an energy-focused special purpose entity sponsored by an affiliate of Riverstone Holdings LLC, has closed its initial public offering (IPO) for $1.035 billion gross. The record-breaking blank check offering, headed by former Anadarko Petroleum Corp. CEO Jim Hackett, plans to enter into a merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination "with one or more businesses." The IPO was priced at $10/share and sold 103.5 million units, including 13.5 million in the over-allotment option. The initial Silver Run blank check offering, now Centennial Resource Development Inc., is targeting the Permian Basin.

The West Virginia Senate has passed a bill that would allow the state's gas producers to gather mineral owners into a large tract of land to better block-up acreage positions for horizontal drilling. The Senate approved SB 576 on a 19-14 vote. The legislation now heads to the House of Delegates for consideration. It would require a producer to obtain a simple majority agreement from landowners within a proposed tract rather than the current 100%. Producers couldn't force a landowner into a tract if they own a fourth of the minerals. It would also allow gas from nearby properties where mineral rights owners have already agreed to drilling to be accessed. Four democrats voted in favor of the bill,while six Republicans voted against it. Two years ago, a similar bill failed just hours before the regular session ended after the House voted against it. West Virginia is one of only three producing states without some kind of pooling law. This year's session adjourns April 8.

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