Anadarko Petroleum Corp. has expanded its share repurchase program to $4 billion, a $1 billion increase, after completing the first $3 billion in repurchases at the end of June. The board also announced a $500 million increase to its debt-reduction program, bringing the total planned to $1.5 billion. The stock buyback and debt reductions, authorized to the end of June 2019, raise the aggregate equity and debt-buyback programs to $5.5 billion, in addition to the recent increase of about $400 million annualized to the common dividend. Share repurchases are to be made from time to time in open market or private transactions, depending on market conditions, and may be discontinued at any time.

QEP Resources Inc. has agreed to sell some of its Uinta Basin assets to Middle Fork Energy Partners LLC for $155 million. The divestiture, subject to customary purchase price adjustments, includes 605 Bcfe of proved reserves and production of 54 MMcfe/d in 1Q2018, consisting of 23% liquids. The properties are located in Duchesne and Uintah counties in eastern Utah. QEP also operates in the Haynesville Shale, and the Williston and Permian basins.  

The pending $5.3 billion merger of Ontario utility Hydro One Ltd. and Spokane, WA-based Avista Corp. has gained approval from the Montana Public Service Commission, leaving three regulatory approvals in Idaho, Oregon and Washington left to clear, which are expected this year. The combination, also approved by Alaska regulators, has gained all required federal approvals. 

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has issued the first in a series of permits for a 1,200 MW natural gas-fired power plant. The North Bergen Liberty Generating Project, under development by Mitsubishi Corp. subsidiary Diamond Generating Corp., has received its waterfront, flood hazard and wetlands permits, as well as its water quality certificate, authorizing the construction of the facility and an underground cable beneath the Hudson River to supply power to New York. The facility is being developed in an industrialized part of the Meadowlands, a patchwork of wetlands in the northeastern part of the state. It has attracted the opposition of environmental groups, and some nearby towns have passed resolutions opposing the plant.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC (MVP) a notice of violation (NOV) for erosion and sediment control issues. DEQ said the NOV is the first step toward enforcement action. MVP construction in the state was voluntarily stopped in June to address soil erosion and sediment control issues. The NOV is unrelated to the work stoppage. The agency said, however, it is continuing inspections and releasing segments to resume work once they’ve reestablished erosion and sediment control. The 300-mile, 2 Bcf/d project would move Appalachian natural gas to Southeast markets.

ConocoPhillips has expanded its share repurchase program by 50% to $3 billion from $2 billion. The Houston super independent said it expects to use cash from operations to fully fund the program for 2018, plus dividend and capital expenditures costs. The share buyback expansion, combined with $3 billion in buybacks from 2016 and 2017, fully utilized the boards' existing share repurchase authorization of $6 billion. Consequently, the board authorized an additional $9 billion in buybacks, bringing the total authorization for the program to $15 billion. The program’s level or pace could be altered depending on various factors, including future earnings and the company's financial condition.

Oneok Inc.'s Stateline natural gas processing plant in Williams County, ND, has resumed full operations following a fire on July 8 that was confined to a single utility building. Fire erupted in the building tied to a 26,000 b/d de-ethanizer plant adjacent to the 200 MMcf/d processing plant. There were no reported injuries; the fire is under investigation. Stateline has been serving Bakken Shale operators since 2013.