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Briefs -- Peoples Natural Gas | Lac-Megantic Disaster Acquittals | BLM Auction | Brazos Midstream | Kinder Morgan | Aliso Canyon Health Data | PennEast Rehearing Request

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has unanimously approved a $50,000 civil penalty settlement with Peoples Natural Gas Co. LLC that requires the company to implement safety enhancements. The settlement regards Peoples’ alleged failure to correctly classify and document natural gas leaks and make appropriate repairs in a timely manner. The company must now better monitor certain kinds of leaks during extreme cold, implement written guidelines for when and how certain leaks should be replaced or repaired, and train personnel associated with the changes, among other things. The company may not recover the civil penalty from ratepayers. Peoples serves 700,000 natural gas utility customers in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. 

Three former employees of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. were acquitted on charges related to a July 2013 derailment of a 73-car train carrying crude oil that resulted in the deaths of 47 people in Lac-Megantic in eastern Quebec. Following more than a week of deliberations, a jury found the train's conductor and two other men not guilty of criminal negligence, according to reports. The train had been carrying oil from the western U.S. to a refinery in New Brunswick. In the aftermath of the disaster, both the United States and Canada moved to end crude oil deliveries using legacy DOT-111 railway tank cars.   

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to auction 484 acres in Arkansas and Ohio’s Wayne National Forest (WNF) on March 22. The BLM Eastern States Office is to offer 345 WNF acres in the Utica Shale hotbeds of Monroe and Noble counties, OH, along with 139 acres in Van Buren and White counties, AR. BLM began auctioning parcels in the WNF in 2016 and has since generated more than $7 million in proceeds. The bureau auctioned 350 acres in the forest last month during its 4Q2017 lease sale. More information on the March auction is available on the BLM’s website.

Honeywell said its UOP Russell business will provide a third cryogenic natural gas processing plant in the Permian Basin of West Texas to Brazos Midstream Holdings LLC. The high-recovery 200 MMcf/d plant, to be called Comanche III, will extract natural gas liquids from gas produced in the Southern Delaware Basin, Honeywell said. Brazos Midstream subsidiaries purchased Callon Petroleum Co.'s natural gas gathering system in October and signed a long-term, fee-based agreement with the producer for gathering and processing services. The gathering system was to connect to Brazos' existing system and Comanche II, a 200 MMcf/d natural gas processing plant under construction in Reeves County, which would boost total operating capacity to 260 MMcf/d. Last May, the company began operations at Comanche I (60 MMcf/d) and brought associated infrastructure online.

Kinder Morgan Inc. has placed its Utopia Pipeline into service. The 270-mile pipeline, which runs from Harrison County, OH, to Ontario, Canada, opens up another route for Appalachian ethane. The 50,000 b/d system is supported by a long-term contract with Nova Chemicals Corp. KMI also said it can be expanded to more than 75,000 b/d.

With more than 1,000 users reportedly tracking health symptoms allegedly tied to Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon underground natural gas storage facility, Environmental Data Technologies LLC (EDT) said data from Jan. 11-19 showed increased symptoms when emissions spiked at the 3,200-acre storage facility. Advocates attempting to close the 86 Bcf facility said the report showed a pattern between elevated methane levels and illness in the adjacent Porter Ranch neighborhood. EDT said it used real-time readings provided by an independent monitoring system maintained by Argos Scientific

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) has filed a rehearing request with FERC asking the Commission to reconsider the certificate order it issued authorizing the PennEast pipeline. The request signals DRN’s intent to challenge the project’s certificate in court. Before the organization can do so, it must file a rehearing request. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had 30 days to respond to the request. After more than two years of review, FERC recently issued the 120-mile greenfield pipeline a certificate. PennEast would move more than 1 Bcf/d of Appalachian shale gas to New Jersey. The project sponsors are targeting a 2019 in-service date. Environmental opposition groups have increasingly stepped-up their challenges against shale infrastructure projects with rehearing requests at FERC and court challenges. 

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