Texas Senate lawmakers on Tuesday approved HB 1818, legislation that reauthorizes the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), the state’s primary oil and natural gas regulator, until 2029. House lawmakers approved the measure in March. The bill does not change the name of the commission — as many have recommended over the years — and makes relatively modest changes to its operations. The oil and natural gas industry had supported the bill. Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners President Ed Longanecker testified in support of the bill in the House. HB 1818 is now on its way to Gov. Greg Abbott.

Federal and state agents last week arrested 15 illegal aliens working under false identities at Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal construction site in Cameron, LA. The workers were contract employees of Bechtel Oil Gas and Chemicals (OG&C). Those arrested had been charged with identity theft, using social security numbers of actual citizens, and making false claims of United States citizenship to obtain jobs at the facility over the past three years. The defendants are in the United States illegally, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas. Bechtel said in a statement that it is cooperating with authorities in the matter. The defendants obtained state-issued identification cards from Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, and other states. With these they were able to pass the E-verify systems used by their employers to ascertain U.S. citizenship or alien lawful work permits. All 15 aliens were identified after being arrested under their assumed names, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. If convicted, the defendants each face up to five years in federal prison.

Samson Resources II LLC is offering for sale its assets in East Texas and North Louisiana through a process to be conducted by Jefferies and Houlihan Lokey. Samson owns 210,000 net acres (which excludes its fee minerals and other small nonoperated working interests) with an 86% working interest in the leasehold, most of which it operates. Samson will accept offers on the assets marketed as a whole and as four separate sub-packages; specifically: North Louisiana, Shelby Trough, East Texas Haynesville and Gregg-Rusk-Nacogdoches. The data room is to open in late May. For information contact Geoff Angulo at Jefferies, (281) 774-2130, or gangulo@jefferies.com. Tulsa-based Samson emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 1 after discharging $4 billion in debt. The company also owns acreage in the Powder River and Greater Green River basins of Wyoming, which it said it intends to hold and develop.

Denver-based Foothills Exploration Inc. said it will purchase 67,330 gross acres (49,600 net) in the Uinta-Piceance Basin from an undisclosed seller. Financial details were not released. The acreage is 100% held by production, and the deal includes 85 wells, 31 of them producing and 54 of them shut-in. All but 19 of the wells will be operated by Foothills. The deal, which would deliver 100% working interest (87% net revenue interest), “bolsters the company’s current acreage position in the Rockies and specifically in the Uinta-Piceance Basin to over 100,000 acres, while adding significant proven reserves and expanding proved undeveloped drilling inventory,” Foothills said. The deal is expected to close by the end of June.

WGL Holdings Inc. shareholders have approved the company’s plan to merge operations with Calgary-based AltaGas Ltd. During a special shareholder meeting at WGL’s corporate offices Wednesday, a proposal to approve the transaction was approved by 96.22% of the shares voted, which represented 71.88% of all outstanding WGL shares of common stock entitled to vote, the company said. The boards of directors of WGL and AltaGas have already unanimously approved the transaction, which is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018. The C$8.4 billion (US$6.4 billion) purchase was announced by the utilities in January. Under terms of the friendly takeover, the utility for which WGL is named — Washington Gas Light Co. — would not change its brand and would retain all current staff including executives. It will keep regulated public energy services in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, the merger partners said.