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Cheniere Energy Partners LP's Sabine Pass Liquefaction LC has signed up to be the anchor shipper on Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC's (Transco) Gulf Trace expansion, a 1.2 million Dth/d project to serve the Sabine Pass Liquefaction project being developed in Cameron Parish, LA (see Daily GPIApril 17). The Sabine contract is sufficient to support the pipeline expansion, Transco said. A binding open season for additional capacity is to end May 8. The first phase of Sabine Pass is scheduled for completion as early as the fourth quarter of 2015. Gulf Trace will make Transco's production area mainline and southwest Louisiana lateral systems bidirectional from Station 65 in St. Helena Parish, LA, to Cameron Parish, LA. In addition to the pipeline reversal, a new, eight-mile 36-inch diameter lateral pipeline and two new compressor stations are planned. The cost of the project is estimated at $300 million; in-service is expected in early 2017.

When Energy Capital Partners subsidiary EquiPower announced last year that it planned to close the 1,492 MW Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, MA, it was cheered on by the Sierra Club and others that said the 53-year-old facility -- which has three coal-fired units, one natural gas/oil-fired unit and four small diesel-fired units -- is a polluter. But in documents filed at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission related to ISO New England's Forward Capacity Auction Results (ER14-1409), Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and others argue that the decision is already driving up customer costs. EquiPower withdrew the Brayton plant from the auction, "an act that appears to have contributed -- perhaps substantially -- to a shortage of capacity and triggered administrative pricing rules which more than doubled the overall costs of capacity obligations from the previous year throughout New England," Jepsen said in his filing. By closing Brayton, EquiPower is driving up profits at its other New England plants, Jepsen said. He asked FERC to investigate whether "an exercise of market power occurred and, if so, whether the rates resulting from the auction are unjust and unreasonable." EquiPower responded in its own filing that "based on what it believed to be reasonable operating and market assumptions and forecasts known at the time...operating the Brayton Point Generating Facility after May 31, 2017 would result in operating risks and losses..."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a final greenhouse gas (GHG) prevention of significant deterioration construction permit to FGE Power for the FGE Texas project near Westbrook, TX, allowing the company to build the 1,620 MW natural-gas fired combined-cycle power plant between Midland and Abilene. In 2010 EPA finalized national GHG regulations, which require that air permits be obtained for projects that would substantially increase GHG emissions. Texas is working to replace the federal implementation plan with its own state program, which would eliminate the need for businesses to seek air permits from EPA. The FGE permit is the 36th such permit EPA has issued in Texas. The agency has proposed an additional five permits and has 19 more in development.

The Warren Buffett brand, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has been stamped on MidAmerican Energy Holdings Inc. to become Berkshire Hathaway Energy. MidAmerican holdings include interstate pipelines Kern River Gas Transmission and Northern Natural Gas, as well as utilities PacifiCorp and NV Energy Inc., which it bought in 2013 (see Daily GPIMay 31, 2013).  MidAmerican is the largest of Buffett-owned entities to adopt the the Berkshire name, reflecting "the benefits we gain from Berkshire...ownership, particularly our ability to reinvest in our businesses and take a long-term view of our customers' needs," said CEO Greg Abel. Berkshire also owns BNSF Railway Co., which is moving crude oil across North America and testing natural gas-fueled locomotive engines, and shares in ExxonMobil Corp. and National Oilwell Varco Inc. (see Daily GPINov. 15, 2013March 8, 2013).

Numerous instances of seismic activity in the vicinity of oil/gas drilling waste injection wells (see Shale DailyApril 17April 8March 19) have prompted state regulatory agencies, geologic surveys, the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission (OGCC) and the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) to form a group to study the matter. There are nearly 151,000 Class II underground injection control wells across the country used by the oil and natural gas industry to dispose of produced water or enhance resource recovery, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data. Participants in the Induced Seismicity by Injection Work Group will share research and practical experience to equip states with tools to evaluate the potential connection between tremors and injection wells and prepare for dealing with them when they happen. The effort is part of a OGCC-GWPC initiative called States First.

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