Law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP has opened a Houston office with a team of lawyers with energy transactional experience, including public and private mergers and acquisitions, asset acquisitions and divestitures, and joint ventures; debt and equity capital markets; finance and restructuring; tax (focused on master limited partnerships); and regulatory matters, the firm said. The team will initially consist of eight partners, who are to be announced in the coming weeks. “Our new Houston office will be initially focused on energy transactions, but we expect the office to work closely with the Dallas office and other lawyers throughout our firm to attract restructuring, litigation, appellate and regulatory opportunities,” said Rob Walters, partner in charge of the firm’s Dallas office.

Sempra Energy‘sSouthern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and regional air quality regulators on Wednesday reached an $8.5 million settlement on a lawsuit filed against the utility regarding the four-month leak last year at the Aliso Canyon underground natural gas storage facility, California’s largest. As part of the agreement with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), SoCalGas agreed to contribute $1 million to help fund a study of the public health effects from the methane leak from one of the facility’s storage wells. Representatives of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council immediately criticized the study contribution as being too small. SCAQMD originally sought $5 million from SoCalGas for the study.

Spectra Energy Corp. and Spectra Energy Partners will issue their fourth quarter earnings Feb. 17. However, given the proximity of the earnings releases with the anticipated first quarter closing of the previously announced merger with Enbridge Inc., they will not host a quarterly conference call but will provide financial results and project updates in their news releases.