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Briefs -- Louisiana Coastal Damage Lawsuit | Cuomo Comments | EdgeMarc Fine | NRG | Microsoft | Fortem Resources | BP plc | ConocoPhillips | NextDecade | Citizens Energy | BLM Lease Sale

The U.S. Fifth District Court of Appeals has denied a plaintiff's' petition for a rehearing of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East’s (SLFPA-E) lawsuit against oil and gas companies alleging damages to coastal land. Plaintiffs have exhausted all avenues of litigation, except through the U.S. Supreme Court. “We are pleased with the panel's decision to uphold the U.S. district court decision to do away with the SLFPA-E lawsuit. These frivolous lawsuits have contributed to the litigious hellhole we now find our state in.” said Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. “This action throws cold water on current litigation against Louisiana's oil and gas industry.” In July 2013, the Board of Commissioners of SLFPA-E filed a lawsuit in Louisiana state court against 97 exploration and production oil and gas companies alleging that their activities had damaged coastal lands and that they also “increased the risk of flooding due to storm surges and necessitated costly flood protection measures.” The district concluded that on all of the board’s claims, none of the board’s stated grounds for relief constituted a claim under state law. The board then appealed. Last March the appeals court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the claim.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently defended the state Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) decision to deny National Fuel Gas Co. (NFG) subsidiaries water quality certification and other permits for the Northern Access expansion project. In a meeting with The Buffalo News editorial board, Cuomo acknowledged that natural gas would be an important bridge fuel in his administration's push to have more than half of the state's power come from renewable sources by 2030. But he validated DEC's decision to deny the permits after finding that construction would harm the environment. He also disparaged NFG's claims that the project would generate hundreds of jobs, saying those would be temporary and result in only "five permanent jobs." He added that the economic benefits were outweighed by the environmental risks. Northern Access would ship Marcellus Shale natural gas to markets in New York and beyond.

An affiliate of EdgeMarc Energy Holdings LLC has agreed to pay a $185,000 civil penalty to Pennsylvania for violating several state laws. The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said that between 2014 and 2015 inspections of the Constellation Pipeline Project revealed that EM Energy Pipeline Pennsylvania LLC had harmed surface water and wetlands. This included failure to prevent accelerated erosion and sedimentation, and constructing an encroachment or water obstruction without a permit, among other things. DEP said EM Energy has since resolved all of the violations.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry met with NRG Energy Inc. executives and dignitaries, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, at an NRG coal-fired generation plant near Houston. The plant has been retrofitted with a commercial-scale carbon capture technology that is providing carbon dioxide (CO2) for a nearby enhanced oil recovery (EOR) application in the West Ranch oilfield. NRG's Petra Nova project was praised by Perry and Abbott as the CEOs from the three companies sponsoring projects looked on -- NRG's Mauricio Gutierrez, JX Nippon Oil and Gas Exploration Corp.'s Shunsaku Miyake, and Hilcorp Energy Co.'s Jeffery Hildebrand. Hilcorp is using the CO2 captured by the Japanese firm's technology in its EOR operations. Some 90% of the CO2 at the 240 MW WA Parish power plant is captured and shipped to Hilcorp. Three years ago, NRG and JX Nippon announced a joint venture to fund a $1 billion system that would be capable of capturing 1.6 million tons of CO2 from an existing coal-burning unit that would be used for EOR in a legacy field southwest of the power plant.

Microsoft Corp., Puget Sound Energy (PSE), and Washington state regulatory staff, along with seven other parties, reached a sweeping settlement that would allow the global high tech giant to be its own energy supplier while maintaining its commitments to carbon neutrality. If approved by the three-member Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), Microsoft will be allowed to reach its carbon neutrality and renewable energy goals while the state makes progress on pushing renewables and protecting low-income energy utility customers. Under the settlement, Microsoft and PSE have a new contract under which the tech company can obtain its own energy from the wholesale market as long as Microsoft buys only carbon neutral/renewable energy resources, maintains its contribution to PSE's energy efficiency program, and pays a $23.6 million transition fee that the Bellevue, WA-based combination utility would return to its customers. Last October, PSE filed a tariff with the UTC to create new retail service for large industrial/commercial customers like Microsoft.

Las Vegas, NV-based Fortem Resources Inc.,  a publicly traded holder of oil/natural gas properties in western Canada and Utah, has acquired a working interest and related leases in 165,000 acres in southeast Utah from Black Dragon LLC. The acreage is in the Moenkopi Formation in Carbon and Emery counties, adjoining the Grassy Trails oilfield, which has produced 731,000 bbls of crude from the Moenkopi. Fortem is obtaining Black Dragon's 75% working interest in certain leases, hydrocarbons, wells, agreements, equipment, surface rights agreements and assignable permits totaling up to 258 sections of land with an 80% revenue interest. Fortem and Black Dragon entered into and closed a membership interest purchase agreement, with Fortem acquiring all of Black Dragon's interest.

A BP plc well in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay is no longer leaking natural gas, according to the company and the state of Alaska. The well began leaking hydrocarbons last Friday. An oil leak was stopped earlier, but a natural gas leak continued into Monday. “The well is no longer venting gas, which caused an initial spray of crude oil that impacted the well pad…” according to a situation update. “The impacted area is limited to the reserve pit of the gravel pad; however, cleanup responders have not yet confirmed there are no impacts to adjacent tundra. No volume estimate for the crude spray release is available at this time.” The leak was at the BP Exploration Alaska Drill Site 2 pad, Well 3, an oil and natural gas well, in the Greater Prudhoe Bay area, about five miles from the Deadhorse Airport.

A data room set up to market ConocoPhillips’ Kenai liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Kenai, AK, has been closed and the company is reviewing bids for the facility, a spokeswoman confirmed. No timeline was given for the potential selection of a buyer. For 47 years, the plant was the only LNG export facility in North America; it is one of the longest-operating LNG plants in the world. The plant was put up for sale late last year. In 2015 the plant operated for six months, liquefying 20 Bcf of gas and delivering six cargos. Due to market conditions, ConocoPhillips did not conduct an export program in 2016, although the plant remained operational and ready to resume exports.

Privately held liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal developer NextDecade LLC and Harmony Merger Corp. have agreed to a previously announced reverse merger that would take NextDecade public. Assuming no redemptions by Harmony stockholders, the all-stock transaction is expected to yield a combined entity with an enterprise value of more than $1 billion, with up to an additional $200 million of contingent stock consideration to be paid to NextDecade’s members when certain milestones are achieved. Closing is expected late in the second quarter. “We believe a transaction with Harmony will strengthen our ability to bring competitively priced, U.S.-produced LNG to the world market in the early part of the next decade,” said NextDecade CEO Kathleen Eisbrenner. NextDecade principal equity holders include funds managed by York Capital Management, Valinor Management, and Halcyon Capital Management, which together own a majority interest.

Citizens Energy Group, a utility serving about 800,000 people in the Indianapolis area, reported a failure at one of its natural gas storage wells Wednesday in the Worthington, IN, area. Seven homes were evacuated as a result of the issue, but no injuries or property damage were reported, Citizens spokesman Dan Considine told NGI. The failure also forced the closure of a nearby stretch of highway and shut down nearby electrical lines, leaving around 50 customers without power, he said. Citizens was in the process of venting the remaining gas to conduct repairs, he said. Considine did not specify the exact volume of gas being stored in the well but said the failure would not affect the utility’s other operations.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has clawed back about 43 square miles of public land in western Colorado from a planned June 8 oil and gas lease sale. Tracts in Grand County near Rocky Mountain National Park were dropped, with the sale now covering 115 square miles in parts of Jackson, Routt, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties. BLM Colorado officials said lawsuits had been filed against the sale by Grand County commissioners, a ranch, the Wilderness Society and others. The sale includes acreage in some of the state's highest potential for oil and gas development, according to the Western Slope Chapter of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (WSCOGA). WSCOGA Executive Director David Ludlam said he hoped BLM “reduces the practice of deferring lease nominations for political reasons and instead leases new lands for exploration, knowing that environmental review and appropriate mitigation can and will be applied.” Political deferrals "dissuade investment" in future exploration on federal lands, he said.

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