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The Houston Ship Channel on Tuesday reopened to limited traffic, with nearly 100 ships and boats waiting to exit or enter, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) reported. The waterway carries 11% of U.S. refined products to the domestic market. A ferry that operates between Galveston Island the Bolivar Peninsula also returned to normal service. The USCG closed the ship channel to traffic on Saturday after a ship collided with an oil barge in Galveston Bay, spilling close to 170,000 bbl of crude oil (see Shale DailyMarch 24). The Texas Land Office said some of the oil not removed has been carried naturally into the Gulf of Mexico.

Double Eagle Petroleum Co. is changing its name to Escalera Resources Co. (ESCR) effective April 1 to reposition beyond domestic, onshore natural gas production. Charles F. Chambers is taking the helm as CEO and chairman from Richard D. Dole, who is to become vice chairman. Chambers previously was managing director of Castleton Commodities International LLC's oil and gas business. He also has served as CEO of Rosetta Resources Inc. and was an executive vice president of Calpine Corp. Erkan "Eric" Icsel has been appointed president of new international subsidiary Escalera International Co. LLC. Chambers, Dole and Icsel are to be based in Houston, while Escalera's finance, administration and Rocky Mountain operations would remain in Denver. The producer is active in developing Atlantic Rim coalbed methane and in Wyoming's Pinedale Anticline. It also has exploration opportunities in the Niobrara formation.

EVO CNG and Trillium CNG are developing a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station in Fort Worth, TX, for freight hauler, Central Freight Lines. The CNG fueling depot, which is to open later this spring, will be Central Freight's third natural gas fueling facility in Texas. The station is designed to accommodate Class 8 tractor/trailers. The station will have public access and operate 24/7 with four dual-hose dispensers, including Trillium's fast-fill technology. The facility will handle smaller natural gas vehicles along with the Class 8 tractor/trailers.

Two federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offices in Utah on Friday opened a 30-day comment period on the environmental assessment (EA) for upcoming summer oil and natural gas lease sales involving 66,673 acres and 35 parcels. The two EAs involve a much larger swath of territory, covering 157 parcels equating to more than 300,000 acres. The comment period runs through April 21 for the lease sale scheduled for Aug. 19. BLM's Salt Lake field office in West Valley City, UT, will offer the vast majority of the acreage (64,610 acres and 33 parcels immediately west of Salt Lake City). The Fillmore field office in central Utah will offer 2,063 acres in two parcels about 100 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently granted Jordan Cove LNG LP long-term, multi-contract authorization to import natural gas from Canada for the purpose of liquefaction and re-export from the planned Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Coos Bay, OR. Because the United States and Canada are parties to a free trade agreement (FTA), the authorization was presumed by DOE to be in the public interest and was granted "without modification or delay." In February Canada's National Energy Board green-lighted export of Canadian gas to the United States for liquefaction and further export via Jordan Cove (see Daily GPIFeb. 21). And on Monday Jordan Cove received DOE authorization to export LNG to countries that are not FTA parties with the United States (see Daily GPIMarch 24).

The Kentucky House has voted to approve HB 31, which if enacted would strip the rights of natural gas liquids (NGL) pipelines to use eminent domain. If approved by the state Senate and signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshere, who has indicated he wants the legislation enacted, it may impact the proposed route of the Bluegrass Pipeline NGL project (see Shale DailyFeb. 28). Bluegrass joint owners Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP designed the pipeline to traverse about 1,100 miles south from Appalachia to the Gulf Coast; about 200 miles would travel through Kentucky.

Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that more than 20,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from a pipeline in southern Ohio owned and operated by Sunoco Logistics Partners LP. The leak was first discovered on March 17 in a stream and nearby wetland in a nature preserve located in Colerain Township, just north of Cincinnati (see Shale DailyMarch 21). Initially, local and federal officials said a 5-inch crack in the pipeline had leaked up to 10,000 gallons of crude, or about 240 barrels. Sunoco said a clamp was placed on the 20-inch diameter pipeline, which stopped the leak and allowed it to resume operations. The pipeline is part of Mid-Valley Pipeline Co.'s roughly 1,000 mile system that delivers crude from Texas to Michigan. What caused the pipeline to crack is under investigation.

CME Group has reached a settlement with Nymex member David Kotz over alleged position limits violations from September 2011 in Henry Hub natural gas futures contracts. Under the settlement Kotz neither admitted nor denied fault. A panel of the Nymex business conduct committee found that on Sept. 27, 2011, Kotz maintained an intraday open futures equivalent position of 1,081 short October 2011 Henry Hub natural gas futures contracts, consisting of both short outright positions and short trading at settlement (TAS) positions, which was 81 contracts (8.1%) over the standard expiration month limit of 1,000 contracts in effect for trade dates Sept. 26, 27 and 28, 2011. The panel also found that the transaction that put Kotz over the position limit was a 300-lot TAS spread trade and that Kotz liquidated this overage, resulting in profits of $11,860.00. Later that day, the panel said Kotz executed a short TAS transaction for 100 October 2011 Henry Hub natural gas futures contracts, which resulted in an intraday short position of 1,096 contracts, 96 contracts (9.6%) over the applicable position limit and that he liquidated this overage resulting in profits of $13,190.00. Inline with the terms of the settlement offer, the panel ordered Kotz to pay a fine of $15,000 to the exchange and to disgorge profits of $25,050.

CME Group has reached a settlement with Nymex member QuantRes Asset Management Ltd. over an alleged position limits violation from April 2013 in Henry Hub natural gas futures contracts. As part of the settlement, QuantRes neither admitted nor denied the rule violation. A panel of the Nymex business conduct committee found that on April 24, 2013, QuantRes maintained an open futures equivalent position of 2,178 long May 2013 Henry Hub natural gas futures contracts, which was 1,178 contracts (117.80%) over the standard expiration month limit in effect for trade dates April 24, 25, and 26, 2013. The panel ordered QuantRes to pay a fine of $35,000 to the exchange.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Canadian authorities to cooperate in the oversight of regulated entities that operate on a cross-border basis in the United States and in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, or Quebec. CFTC Acting Chairman Mark Wetjen signed the agreement with leaders of the Alberta Securities Commission, the British Columbia Securities Commission, the Ontario Securities Commission and the Autorite des marchds financiers. The MOU expresses willingness to cooperate in the interest of fulfilling each agency's respective regulatory mandates regarding derivatives markets. The scope of the agreement includes markets and organized trading platforms, central counterparties, trade repositories, and intermediaries, dealers and other market participants.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) staff plans to hold a public roundtable on Wednesday (April 3) to discuss issues concerning end-users and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) in response to comments and requests for clarification from commercial end-users that have been impacted by the law. The roundtable is to consist of three panels, discussing the obligations of end-users under Regulation 1.35 concerning recordkeeping for commodity interest and related cash or forward transactions; the appropriate regulatory treatment of forward contracts with embedded volumetric optionality; and the appropriate regulatory treatment for purposes of the $25 million (special entity) de minimis threshold for swap dealing to government-owned electric utilities. The roundtable is to be held at 9:30 a.m. EDT at the CFTC headquarters conference center in Washington, DC. A listen-only audio feed will be available by calling (888) 469-2184, passcode 775222.

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